Sabre washed his hands and went down. Mabel was in the morning room, seated at the centre table where the flowers had been and where now was her embroidery basket. She was embroidering, an art which, in common with all the domestic arts, she performed to perfection. “Bagshaw’s late?” said Sabre.
Mabel glanced at the clock. Her gesture above her busy needle was pretty.
“Well, he wasn’t absolutely sure about coming. I thought we wouldn’t wait. Ah, there he is.”
Sabre thought, “Good. That business is over. Nothing in it. Only Mabel’s way.”
Sounds in the hall. “In the morning room,” came Low Jinks’s voice. “Lunch ... wash your hands, sir?”
There was only one person in all England who, arriving at Crawshaws, would not have been gently but firmly enfolded by the machine-like order of its perfect administration and been led in and introduced with rites proper to the occasion. But that one person was the Reverend Cyril Boom Bagshaw, and he now strolled across the threshold and into the room.
He strolled in. He wore a well-made suit of dark grey flannel, brown brogue shoes and a soft collar with a black tie tied in a sailor’s knot. He disliked clerical dress and he rarely wore it. He was dark. His good-looking face bore habitually a rather sulky expression as though he were a little bored or dissatisfied. You would never have thought, to look at him, that he was a clergyman, or, as he would have said, a priest, and in not thinking that you would have paid him the compliment that pleased him most. This was not because Mr. Boom Bagshaw lacked earnestness in his calling, for he was enormously in earnest, but because he disliked and despised the conventional habits and manners and appearance of the clergy and, in any case, intensely disliked being one of a class. For the same reasons he wore a monocle; not because the vision of his right eye was defective but because no clergyman wears a monocle. It is not done by the priesthood and that is why the Reverend Cyril Boom Bagshaw did it.
He strolled negligently into the morning room, his hands in his trouser pockets, the skirt of his jacket rumpled on his wrists. He gave the impression of having been strolling about the house all day and of now strolling in here for want of a better room to stroll into. He nodded negligently to Sabre, “Hullo, Sabre.” He smiled negligently at Mabel and seated himself negligently on the edge of the table, still with his hands in his pockets. He swung one leg negligently and negligently remarked, “Good morning, Mrs. Sabre. Embroidery?”
Sabre had the immediate and convinced feeling that the negligent and reverend gentleman was not in his house but that he was permitted to be in the house of the negligent and reverend gentleman. And this was the feeling that the negligent and reverend gentleman invariably gave to his hosts, whoever they might be; likewise to his congregations. Indeed it was said by a profane person (who fortunately does not enter this history) that the Deity entered Mr. Boom Bagshaw’s church on the same terms, and accepted them.