Edgar Grayson had discovered an effective technique for gauging whether a gentleman whose eyes had met his at the club was interested in further interaction. He would stand up before making his goodbyes to whomever he was talking, signaling that he was soon to leave. Once he got on the street, he would pull out a cigarette, and wait. As he hoped, Winthrop (Wynn to his friends) Ellison also left the club within a few minutes, and glanced in either direction as soon as he exited. Edgar was prepared. “I say, I seem to have left my lighter in the club. Do you mind?”
“Certainly,” Wynn obliged.
Ellison cupped the flame, their hands briefly touching. Edgar then offered a cigarette from his case, which Wynn took.
A non-interested gentleman would likely not accept the offered cigarette, nor linger. Wynn was not one of those men, happy to engage in conversation about a mutual acquaintance.
“Fine chap, Lord Findlay. That’s who you were speaking to, I think?”
“Yes, recently engaged to my cousin, Eleanor.”
They carried on the harmless small talk about other members of society for the length it took to finish their cigarettes, formally introducing themselves in the process.
Usually, a few hansoms had gone by, it was easy enough to hail the next.
“I’m headed west,” Edgar said, implying Mayfair, although he lived at a somewhat less fashionable, but respectable address farther on. “Can I drop you off?”
This was the moment of truth, taking it to the next step. If Wynn declined, it would have been a harmless enough encounter, no harm done.
But Wynn did not decline, even though, they would find out later during post-passion conversation, he lived in the utterly opposite direction.