Mabel could not in the least understand it, and common sense and common custom were entirely on her side; Mark admitted that. The ridiculous and trivial affair only took on a deeper significance—not apparent to Mark at the time, but apparent later in the fact that he could not make Mabel understand his attitude.
The matter of the den and another matter, touching the servants, came up between them in the very earliest days of their married life. From London, on their return from their honeymoon, Mark had been urgently summoned to the sick-bed of his father, in Chovensbury. Mabel proceeded to Crawshaws. He joined her a week later, his father happily recovered. Mabel had been busy “settling things”, and she took him round the house with delicious pride and happiness. Mark, sharing both, had his arm linked in hers. When they came to the fourth sitting room Mabel announced gaily, “And this is your den!”
Mark gave a mock groan. “Oh, lord, not den!”
“Yes, of course, den. Why ever not?”
“I absolutely can’t stick den.” He glanced about “Who on earth’s left those fearful old slippers there?”
“They’re a pair of father’s. I took them specially for you for this room. You haven’t got any slippers like that.”
He gazed upon the heels downtrodden by her heavy father. He did not much like her heavy father. “No, I haven’t,” he said, and thought grimly, “Thank God!”
“But, Mark, what do you mean, you can’t stick ’den’?”
He explained laughingly. He ended, “It’s just like lounge hall. Lounge hall makes me feel perfectly sick. You’re not going to call the hall a lounge hall, are you?”
She was quite serious and the least little bit put out. “No—I’m not. But I can’t see why. I’ve never heard such funny ideas.”
He was vaguely, transiently surprised at her attitude towards his funny ideas. “Well, come on, let’s see upstairs.”
“Yes, let’s, dear.”
He stepped out, and she closed the door after them. “Well, that’s your den.”
As if he had never spoken! A vague and transient discomfort shot through him.
It was when they came down again, completely happy and pleased, that the servant incident occurred. Mabel was down the stairs slightly before him and turned a smiling face up to him as he descended. “By Jove, it’s jolly,” he said. “We’ll be happy here,” and he kissed her.