Nadine Waldenech's bedroom was a large square apartment on the ground floor at her mother's cottage at Meering in North Wales. It was rather a large cottage, for it was capable of holding about eighteen people, but Dodo was quite firm in the subject of its not being a house. In the days when it was built, forty years ago, this room of Nadine's had been the smoking-room, but since everybody now smoked wherever he or she chose, which was mostly everywhere, just as they breathed or talked wherever they chose, Nadine with her admirable commonsense had argued uselessness of a special smoking-room, for she wanted it very much herself, and her mother had been quite convinced. It opened out of the drawing-room, and so was a convenient place for those who wished to drop in for a little more conversation after bed-time had been officially proclaimed. Bed-time, it may be remarked, was only officially proclaimed in order to get rid of bores, who then secluded themselves in their tiresome chambers. The room at this period was completely black with regard to the color of carpet and floor and walls and ceiling. That was Nadine's last plan and since it was the last, of necessity, a very recent one. She had observed that when it was all white, people looked rather discolored, like mud on snow, whereas against a black background they seemed to be of gem-like brilliance. But since she always looked brilliant herself, the new scheme was prompted by a wholly altruistic motive. She liked her friends to look brilliant too, and she would have felt thus even if she had not been brilliant herself, for out of a strangely compounded nature, anything akin to jealousy had been certainly omitted. There had been a good many friends in her bedroom lately, and there were a certain number here to-night. She expected more. Collectively they constituted that which was known as the clan. The bed was an enormous four-poster with mahogany columns at the corners of it. At present it was occupied by only three people. She herself lay on the right of it with her head on the pillow. She had already taken off her dinner-dress when her first visitor arrived, and had on a remarkable dressing-gown of Oriental silk, which looked like a family of intoxicated rainbows and, leaving her arms bare, came down to her feet, so that only the tips of her pink satin shoes peeped out. In the middle of the bed was lying Esther Sturgis, and across it at the foot Bertie Arbuthnot the younger, who was twenty-one years old and about the same number of feet in height. In consequence his head dangled over one side like a tired and sunburnt lily, and his feet over the other. He and his hostess were both smoking cigarettes as if against time, the ash of which they flicked upon the floor, relighting fresh ones from a silver box that lay about the center of the bed. They neither of them had the slightest idea what happened to the smoked-out ends. Esther Sturgis on the other hand was occasionally sipping hot camomile tea. What she did not sip she spilt.