’Good-bye, Dezzy—dear Dezzy! I know how glad you’ll be about the gates. Write to me as often as you can. By the way, Miss Bremerton has got a brother in the war—with General Maude. That ought to make me like her. But why did she leave us to find it out through the Rectory? She never says anything about herself that she can help. Do you think you’ll really get to France in January? Ever your loving
It was a bright January day. Lunch was just over at Mannering, and the luncheon-party had dispersed—attracted to the garden and the park by the lure of the sunshine after dark days of storm and wind. Mrs. Gaddesden alone was left sitting by the fire in the hall. There was a cold wind, and she did not feel equal to facing it. She was one of those women, rare in these days, who, though still young, prefer to be prematurely old; in whom their great-grandmothers, and the ‘elegant’ lackadaisical ways of a generation that knew nothing of exercise, thick boots and short skirts, seem to become once more incarnate. Though Mannering was not ill-warmed, Alice moved about it in winter wrapped in a picturesque coat of black velvet trimmed with chinchilla, her head wreathed in white lace. From this rather pompous setting her fair hair, small person, and pinched pale face looked out perhaps with greater dignity than they could have achieved unadorned. Her chilliness, her small self-indulgences, including an inordinate love of cakes and all sweet things, were the standing joke of the twins when they discussed the family freely behind the closed doors of the ‘Den.’ But no one disliked Alice Gaddesden, though it was hard to be actively fond of her. She and her husband were quite good friends; but they were no longer of any real importance to each other. He was a good deal older than she; and was often away from London on ‘war work’ in the Midlands. On these occasions Alice generally invited herself to Mannering. She thus got rid of housekeeping, which in these days of rations worried her to death. Moreover, food at Mannering was much more plentiful than food in town—especially since the advent of Elizabeth Bremerton.