As he sat negligently swinging his leg he frequently strained his chin upwards and outwards, rather as if his collar were tight (but it was neatly loose), or as if he were performing an exercise for stretching the muscles of his neck. This was a habit of his.
A silver entree dish was placed before Mabel, another before Sabre. Low Jinks removed her mistress’s cover and Mr. Boom Bagshaw pushed aside a flower vase to obtain a view.
“I don’t eat salmon,” he remarked. The vase was now between himself and Sabre. He again moved it, “Or cutlets.”
Mabel exclaimed, “Oh, dear! Now I got this salmon in specially from Tidborough.”
“I’ll have some of that ham,” said Mr. Boom Bagshaw; and he arose sulkily and strolled to the sideboard where he rather sulkily cut from a ham in thick wedges. The house was clearly his house.
He addressed himself to Mabel. “Now in a very few weeks you’ll no longer have to get things from Tidborough, Mrs. Sabre—salmon or anything else. The shops in Market Square are going the minute they’re complete. I got a couple of fishmongers only yesterday.”
He spoke as if he had shot a brace of fishmongers and slung them over his shoulder and flung them into Market Square. Market Square was that portion of the Garden Home designed for the shopping centre.
“Two!” said Mabel.
“Two. I encourage competition. No one is going to sleep in the Garden Home.”
“What will all the bedrooms be used for then?” Sabre inquired.
Mr. Boom Bagshaw, who was eating his ham with a fork only, holding it at its extremity in the tips of his fingers and occasionally flipping a piece of ham into his mouth and swallowing it without visible mastication, flipped in another morsel and with his right hand moved three more vases which stood between himself and Sabre. He moved each deliberately and set it down with a slight thump, rather as if it were a chessman.
He directed the fork at Sabre and after an impressive moment spoke:
“You know, Sabre, I don’t think you’re quite alive to what it is that is growing up about you. Flippancy is out of place. I abominate flippancy.” ("Well, dash it, it’s my house!” Sabre thought.) “This Garden Home is not a speculation. It’s not a fad. It’s not a joke. What is it? You’re thinking it’s a damned nuisance. You’re right. It is a damned nuisance—”
Sabre began, “Well—”
“Now, listen, Sabre. It is a damned nuisance; and I put it to you that, when a toad is discovered embedded in a solid mass of coal or stone, that coal or stone, when it was slowly forming about that toad, was a damned nuisance to the toad.”
Sabre asked, “Well, am I going to be discovered embedded—”