“The County!” growled Mr. Jowett. “Except for Elliot here, and the Hopes and the Tweedies and the Olivers, there are practically none of the old families left. I tell you what it is—”
But Mrs. Duff-Whalley had had enough for the moment of Mr. Jowett’s conversation, so she nodded to Mrs. Jowett, and with an arch admonition to the men not to stay too long, she swept the ladies before her to the drawing-room.
“I will the country see
Where old simplicity,
Though hid in grey,
Doth look more gay
Than foppery in plush and scarlet clad.”
THOMAS RANDOLPH, 1605-35.
A letter from Pamela Reston to her brother.
" ... It was a tremendous treat to get your budget this morning after three mails of silence. I got your cable saying you were back before I knew you contemplated going, so I never had to worry. I think the War has shaken my nerves in a way I hadn’t realised. I never used to worry about you very much, knowing your faculty of falling on your feet, but now I tremble.
“Sikkim must be marvellous, and to try an utterly untried route was thrilling, but what uncomfortable times men do give themselves! To lie in a tiny tent in the soaking rain with your bedding crawling with leeches, ‘great, cold, well-nourished fellows.’ Ugh! And yet, I suppose you counted the discomforts as nothing when you gazed at Everest while yet the dawn ‘walked tiptoe on the mountains’ (will it ever be climbed, I wonder!), and even more wonderful, as you describe it, must have been the vision from below the Alukthang glacier, when the mists slowly unveiled the face of Pandim to the moon....
“And I shall soon hear of it all by word of mouth. It is the best of news that you are coming home. I don’t think you must go away again without me. I have missed you dreadfully these last six months.
“Besides, you ought to settle at home for a bit now, don’t you think? First, your long exploring expedition and then the War: haven’t you been across the world, away long enough to make you want to stay at home? You are one of the very worst specimens of an absentee landlord.... After profound calculations I have come to the conclusion that you will get two letters from me from Priorsford before you leave India. I am sending this to Port Said to make sure of not missing you. You will have lots of time to read it on board ship if it is rather long.
“Shall I meet you in London? Send me a wire when you get this. What I should like to do would be to conduct you personally to Priorsford. I think you would like it. The countryside is lovely, and after a week or two we could go somewhere for Christmas. The Champertouns have asked me to go to them, and of course their invitation would include you. They are second or third cousins, and we’ve never seen them, but they are our mother’s people, and I have always wanted to see where she was brought up. However, we can settle all that later on....