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104. CHAPTER CIV (continued)
The social evening was held in the restaurant in the basement. The tables were put on one side so that there might be room for dancing, and smaller ones were set out for progressive whist.
"The 'eads 'ave to get there early," said Mrs. Hodges.
She introduced him to Miss Bennett, who was the belle of Lynn's. She was the buyer in the `Petticoats,' and when Philip entered was engaged in conversation with the buyer in the `Gentlemen's Hosiery;' Miss Bennett was a woman of massive proportions, with a very large red face heavily powdered and a bust of imposing dimensions; her flaxen hair was arranged with elaboration. She was overdressed, but not badly dressed, in black with a high collar, and she wore black glace gloves, in which she played cards; she had several heavy gold chains round her neck, bangles on her wrists, and circular photograph pendants, one being of Queen Alexandra; she carried a black satin bag and chewed Sen-sens.
"Please to meet you, Mr. Carey," she said. "This is your first visit to our social evenings, ain't it? I expect you feel a bit shy, but there's no cause to, I promise you that."
She did her best to make people feel at home. She slapped them on the shoulders and laughed a great deal.
"Ain't I a pickle?" she cried, turning to Philip. "What must you think of me? But I can't 'elp meself."
Those who were going to take part in the social evening came in, the younger members of the staff mostly, boys who had not girls of their own, and girls who had not yet found anyone to walk with. Several of the young gentlemen wore lounge suits with white evening ties and red silk handkerchiefs; they were going to perform, and they had a busy, abstracted air; some were self-confident, but others were nervous, and they watched their public with an anxious eye. Presently a girl with a great deal of hair sat at the piano and ran her hands noisily across the keyboard. When the audience had settled itself she looked round and gave the name of her piece.
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