The Purple Heights eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 284 pages of information about The Purple Heights.

CHAPTER XII

“NOT BY BREAD ALONE”

Mrs. Peter Champneys drove away from the scene of her wedding, feeling as if boiling water had been poured over her.  No man of all the men she had ever met had looked at her with just such an expression as she had encountered in Peter Champneys’s eyes, and the memory of it filled her with a rankling sense of injustice.  He had married her for the same reason she had married him, hadn’t he?  Then why should he think himself a whit better than she was?  It seemed to her that all the unkindness, all the slights she had ever endured, had come to a head in Peter’s distressed and astonished glance.

Nancy had no illusions as to her own personal appearance, but it occurred to her that her bridegroom left considerable to be desired in that respect, himself.  With his hatchet face and his outstanding ears and his big nose—­why, he was as homely as that dried old priest in the glass case in the museum!—­and him looking down on people every mite as good as he was!  That was really the crux of the thing:  Nancy had her own pride, and Peter had managed to trample upon it roughshod.  She felt she could never forgive him, and her sense of injury included Chadwick Champneys as well.  She hadn’t asked him to make his nephew marry her, had she?  The suggestion had come from the Champneys, not from her.  Yet it was plain to her that both these men considered her a very inferior person.  She couldn’t understand them.

She liked the furnished apartment she and Mr. Champneys were to occupy until their house was ready, better than she had liked the hotel, though the Japanese butler, Hoichi, overawed her.  She wasn’t used to Japanese butlers and she didn’t know exactly how to treat this suave, deft, silent yellow man who was so efficient and so ubiquitous.  It was different where the maids were concerned; she who had been so lately an unpaid drudge was afraid these trained, clever servants might suspect her former state of servitude and she covered her fear with a manner so insupportable that Mr. Chadwick Champneys, who looked upon arrogant rudeness to social inferiors as a sort of eighth deadly sin, was presently forced to remonstrate.

“Nancy,” he ventured one morning, “I have been observing your manner to the servants with—­er—­disapproval.  A habitual lack of consideration is a serious deficiency.  It is really a lack of breeding—­and of heart.  A lady”—­he fixed his large dark eyes upon her—­“is never impolite.”

He touched her on the quick.  She knew these Champneys didn’t think she was a lady, but for this old man to come right out and say so to her face—­“Say, I guess I know how to be a lady without you havin’ to tell me!”

“I am more than willing to be convinced,” said the South Carolinian, pointedly.

At that, of a sudden, Nancy flared.  She lifted a pair of sullen and mutinous eyes, and her lips quivered.  He saw with surprise that she was trembling.

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Project Gutenberg
The Purple Heights from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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