“Well, I always used to call her ‘Nona.’ She’d have thought it funny, as you call it, to put anything else. I tell you it’s just her way.”
“Well, I think it’s a very funny way and I think anybody else would think so. I don’t like her. I never did like her.”
There seemed no more to say.
He walked up to his room. He closed the door behind him and sat on a straight-backed chair, his legs outthrust. Failure? He had come back home thus suddenly with immensely good intentions. Failure? On the whole, no. There was a great deal more he could have said downstairs, and a great deal more he had felt uncommonly inclined to say. But he had left the morning room without saying it, and that was good; that redeemed his sudden return from absolute failure.
Why had he returned? He “worked back” through the morning on the Fargus principle. Not because of his thoughts after the Twyning business; not because of the disturbance of the Twyning business. No. He had returned because he had seen Nona. Thoughts—feelings—had been stirred within him by meeting her. And it had suddenly been rather hateful to have those thoughts and to feel that—that Mabel had no place in them.
Well, why had he come up here? What was he doing up here? Well, it hadn’t been altogether successful. Mabel hadn’t been particularly excited to see him. No, but that didn’t count. Why should she be? He had gone off after breakfast, glum as a bear. Well, then there was that niggling business over why he had returned. Always like that. Never plump out over a thing he put up. Niggling. And then this infernal business about the letter. That word “funny.” She must have used it a hundred times. Still.... The niggling had been carried off, they had gone into the garden together; and this infernal letter business—at least he had come away without boiling over about it. Much better to have come away as he did.... Still....
A gong boomed enormously through the house. It had been one of her father’s wedding presents to Mabel and it always reminded Sabre of the Dean’s, her father’s voice. The Dean’s voice boomed, swelling into a loud boom when he was in mid-speech and reverberating into a distant boom as his periods terminated. This was the warning gong for lunch. In ten minutes, in this perfectly ordered house, a different gong, a set of chimes, would announce that lunch was ready. The reverberations had scarcely ceased when Low Jinks, although she had caused the reverberations, appeared in his room with a brass can of hot water.
“Mr. Boom Bagshaw has not arrived yet, sir,” said Low Jinks; “but the mistress thought we wouldn’t wait any longer.”
She displaced the ewer from the basin and substituted the brass can. She covered the can with a white towel, uncovered the soap dish, and disappeared, closing the door as softly as if it and the doorpost were padded with velvet. Perfect establishment!