For the rest, she was a small, fair-haired woman, with penciled dark eyebrows, a small aquiline nose, gold pince-nez, and an exquisite taste in dress.
The two were seated this Tuesday evening, a week after Mrs. Stapleton’s visit to the Stantons, in the drawing-room of the Queen’s Gate house, over the remnants of what corresponded to five-o’clock tea. I say “corresponded,” since both of them were sufficiently advanced to have renounced actual tea altogether. Mrs. Stapleton partook of a little hot water out of a copper-jacketed jug; her hostess of boiled milk. They shared their Plasmon biscuits together. These things were considered important for those who would successfully find the Higher Light.
At this instant they were discussing Mr. Vincent.
“Dearest, he seems to me so different from the others,” mewed Lady Laura. “He is such a man, you know. So often those others are not quite like men at all; they wear such funny clothes, and their hair always is so queer, somehow.”
“Darling, I know what you mean. Yes, there’s a great deal of that about James Vincent. Even dear Tom was almost polite to him: he couldn’t bear the others: he said that he always thought they were going to paw him.”
“And then his powers,” continued Lady Laura—“his powers always seem to me so much greater. The magnetism is so much more evident.”
Mrs. Stapleton finished her hot water.
“We are going on Sunday?” she said questioningly.
“Yes; just a small party. And he comes here tomorrow, you remember, just for a talk. I have asked a clergyman I know in to meet him. It seems to me such a pity that our religious teachers should know so little of what is going on.”
“Who is he?”
“Oh, Mr. Jamieson ... just a young clergyman I met in the summer. I promised to let him know the next time Mr. Vincent came to me.”
Mrs. Stapleton murmured her gratification.
These two had really a great deal in common besides their faith. It is true that Mrs. Stapleton was forty, and her friend but thirty-one; but the former did all that was possible to compensate for this by adroit toilette tactics. Both, too, were accustomed to dress in soft materials, with long chains bearing various emblems; they did their hair in the same way; they cultivated the same kinds of tones in their voices—a purring, mewing manner—suggestive of intuitive kittens. Both alike had a passion for proselytism. But after that the differences began. There was a deal more in Mrs. Stapleton besides the kittenish qualities. She was perfectly capable of delivering a speech in public; she had written some really well-expressed articles in various Higher periodicals; and she had a will-power beyond the ordinary. At the point where Lady Laura began to deprecate and soothe, Mrs. Stapleton began to clear decks for action, so to speak, to be incisive, to be fervent, even to be rather eloquent.