So the sealskin mantle (for it was spring again) went up with Denry to Bleakridge.
The moon shone in the chill night. The house stood back from Trafalgar Road in the moonlight—a squarish block of a building.
“Oh!” said Mrs Machin, “it isn’t so large.”
“No! He didn’t want it large. He only wanted it large enough,” said Denry, and pushed a button to the right of the front door. There was no reply, though they heard the ringing of the bell inside. They waited. Mrs Machin was very nervous, but thanks to her sealskin mantle she was not cold.
“This is a funny doorstep,” she remarked, to kill time.
“It’s of marble,” said Denry.
“What’s that for?” asked his mother.
“So much easier to keep clean,” said Denry.
“Well,” said Mrs Machin, “it’s pretty dirty now, anyway.”
“Quite simple to clean,” said Denry, bending down. “You just turn this tap at the side. You see, it’s so arranged that it sends a flat jet along the step. Stand off a second.”
He turned the tap, and the step was washed pure in a moment.
“How is it that that water steams?” Mrs Machin demanded.
“Because it’s hot,” said Denry. “Did you ever know water steam for any other reason?”
“Hot water outside?”
“Just as easy to have hot water outside as inside, isn’t it?” said Denry.
“Well, I never!” exclaimed Mrs Machin. She was impressed.
“That’s how everything’s dodged up in this house,” said Denry. He shut off the water.
And he rang once again. No answer! No illumination within the abode!
“I’ll tell you what I shall do,” said Denry at length. “I shall let myself in. I’ve got a key of the back door.”
“Are you sure it’s all right?”
“I don’t care if it isn’t all right,” said Denry, defiantly. “He asked me to be up here, and he ought to be here to meet me. I’m not going to stand any nonsense from anybody.”
In they went, having skirted round the walls of the house.
Denry closed the door, pushed a switch, and the electric light shone. Electric light was then quite a novelty in Bursley. Mrs Machin had never seen it in action. She had to admit that it was less complicated than oil-lamps. In the kitchen the electric light blazed upon walls tiled in grey and a floor tiled in black and white. There was a gas range and a marble slopstone with two taps. The woodwork was dark. Earthenware saucepans stood on a shelf. The cupboards were full of gear chiefly in earthenware. Denry began to exhibit to his mother a tank provided with ledges and shelves and grooves, in which he said that everything except knives could be washed and dried automatically.
“Hadn’t you better go and find your Mr Wilbraham?” she interrupted.
“So I had,” said Denry; “I was forgetting him.”