greenish-yellow face; his eyeballs were muddy, his movements
"Mrs. Trent, you must understand," she went on, addressing the ex- magistrate, "has placed us all under a debt of gratitude. She has decorated the old lounge hall upstairs most beautifully, and has secured the services of the sweetest little orchestra."
"But this is Roman magnificence."
"Backhouse thinks the spirits should be treated with more deference," laughed Faull.
"Surely, Mr. Backhouse - a poetic environment ..
"Pardon me. I am a simple man, and always prefer to reduce things to elemental simplicity. I raise no opposition, but I express my opinion. Nature is one thing, and art is another."
"And I am not sure that I don't agree with you," said the ex- magistrate. "An occasion like this ought to be simple, to guard against the possibility of deception - if you will forgive my bluntness, Mr. Backhouse."
"We shall sit in full light," replied Backhouse, "and every opportunity will be given to all to inspect the room. I shall also ask you to submit me to a personal examination."
A rather embarrassed silence followed. It was broken by the arrival of two more guests, who entered together. These were Prior, the prosperous City coffee importer, and Lang, the stockjobber, well known in his own circle as an amateur prestidigitator. Backhouse was slightly acquainted with the latter. Prior, perfuming the room with the faint odour of wine and tobacco smoke, tried to introduce an atmosphere of joviality into the proceedings. Finding that no one seconded his efforts, however, he shortly subsided and fell to examining the water colours on the walls. Lang, tall, thin, and growing bald, said little, but stared at Backhouse a good deal.
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