“I hoped that I should find you both,” she said. “Yes,” to Damaris’ solemn and enquiring eyes—“I happened to meet our good, kind Canon and have a little conversation with him. I hope”—to Faircloth—“you and I may come to know one another better, know one another as friends. You are not going?—No, indeed, you must stay to luncheon. It would grieve me—and I think would grieve my brother Charles also, if you refused to break bread in this house.”
DEALING WITH EMBLEMS, OMENS AND DEMONSTRATIONS
Deadham resembled most country parishes in this, that, while revelling in internal dissensions, when attacked from without its inhabitants promptly scrapped every vendetta and, for the time being, stood back to back against the world.
As one consequence of such parochial solidarity, the village gentry set in a steady stream towards The Hard on the Monday afternoon following the historic Sunday already chronicled. Commander and Mrs. Battye called. Captain and Mrs. Taylor called, bringing with them their daughter Louisa, a tight-lipped, well instructed High School mistress, of whom her parents stood—one couldn’t but notice it—most wholesomely in awe. As is the youthful cuckoo in the nest of the hedge sparrow, so was Louisa Taylor to the authors of her being.—Mrs. Horniblow called also, flanked by her two girls, May and Doris—plain, thick-set, energetic, well-meaning young persons, whom their shrewd mother loved, sheltered, rallied, and cherished, while perfectly aware of their limitations as to beauty and to brains. Immediately behind her slipped in Mrs. Cripps. The doctor abstained, conscious of having put a match to the fuse which had exploded yesterday’s astounding homiletic torpedo. The whole affair irritated him to the point of detestable ill-temper. Still, if only to throw dust in the public eye, the house of Cripps must be represented. He therefore deputed the job—like so many another ungrateful one—to his forlorn-looking and red-eyed spouse. This vote of confidence, if somewhat crudely proposed and seconded, was still so evidently sincere and kindly meant that Damaris and Miss Felicia felt constrained to accept it in good part.
Conversation ran upon the weather, the crops, the migratory wild fowl now peopling the Haven, the Royal Family—invariably a favourite topic this, in genteel circles furthest removed from the throne—in anecdotes of servants and of pets interspersed with protests against the rise in butcher Cleave’s prices, the dullness of the newspapers and the surprising scarcity of eggs.—Ran on any and every subject, in short, save that of sermons preached by curates enamoured of the Decalogue.