Penny Green, like Rome, had not been built in a day. The houses of the Penny Green Garden Home, on the other hand, were being run up in as near to a day as enthusiastic developers, feverish contractors (vying one with another) and impatient tenants could encompass. Nor was Penny Green built for a day. The houses and cottages of Penny Green had been built under the influence of many and different styles of architecture; and they had been built not only by people who intended to live in them, and proposed to be roomy and well cup boarded and stoutly beamed and floored in them, but who, not foreseeing restless and railwayed generations, built them to endure for the children of their children’s children and for children yet beyond. Sabre’s house was of grey stone and it presented over the doorway the date 1667.
“Nearly two hundred and fifty years,” Mabel had once said.
“And I bet,” Sabre had replied, “it’s never been better kept or run than you run it now, Mabel.”
The tribute was well deserved. Mabel, who was in many ways a model woman, was preeminently a model housewife. “Crawshaws” was spotlessly kept and perfectly administered. Four living rooms, apart from the domestic offices, were on the ground floor. One was the morning room, in which they principally lived; one the dining room and one the drawing-room. They were entered by enormously heavy doors of oak, fitted with latches, the drawing-room up two steps, the dining room down one step and the morning room and the fourth room on the level. All were low-beamed and many-windowed with lattice windows; all were stepped into as stepping into a very quiet place, and somehow into a room which one had not expected to be there, or not quite that shape if a room were there. Sabre never quite lost that feeling of pleasant surprise on entering them. They had moreover, whether due to the skill of the architect or the sagacity of Mabel, the admirable, but rare attribute of being cool in summer and warm in winter.
The only room in the house which Sabre did not like was the fourth sitting room on the ground floor; and it was his own room, furnished and decorated by Mabel for his own particular use and comfort. But she called it his “den”, and Sabre loathed and detested the word den as applied to a room a man specially inhabits. It implied to him a masculine untidiness, and he was intensely orderly and hated untidiness. It implied customs and manners of what he called “boarding-house ideas",—the idea that a man must have an untidily comfortable apartment into which he can retire and envelop himself in tobacco smoke, and where he “can have his own things around him”, and “have his pipes and his pictures about him”, and where he can wear “an old shooting jacket and slippers",—and he loathed and detested all these phrases and the ideas they connoted. He had no “old shooting jacket” and he would have given it to the gardener if he had; and he detested wearing slippers and never did wear