The sixth member took a severely bitten pen from between her lips, and said: “Now you mention it, I think I’ll go down there again for the week-end. I can pawn my ear-rings.”
Nobody of course took any notice of her, yet in a way her remark was logical. For that singing Spring that had for a moment trespassed in the room had reminded her of very familiar things, and for a few seconds she had stood upon a beloved hill, and had looked down between beech trees on a far valley, like a promised land; and had seen in the valley a pale river and a dark town, like milk and honey.
As for Miss Ford, she had become rather white. Although the blind had now pulled itself down, and dismissed April, Miss Ford continued to look at the window. But she cleared her throat and said hoarsely: “Will you kindly answer my questions? I asked you what your trade was.”
“It’s too dretful of me to interrupt,” said Lady Arabel suddenly. “But, do you know, Meta, I feel we are wasting this committee’s time. This young person needs no assistance from us.” She turned to the Stranger, and added: “My dear, I am dretfully ashamed. You must meet my son Rrchud.... My son Rrchud knows....”
She burst into tears.
The Stranger took her hand.
“I should like awfully to meet Rrchud, and to get to know you better,” she said. She grew very red. “I say, I should be awfully pleased if you would call me Angela.”
It wasn’t her name, but she had noticed that something of this sort is always said when people become motherly and cry.
Then she went away.
“Lawdy,” said the Mayor. “I didn’t expect she’d go out by the door, somehow. Look—she’s left some sort of hardware over there in the corner.”
It was a broomstick.
THE COMMITTEE COMES TO MAGIC
I don’t suppose for a moment that you know Mitten Island: it is a difficult place to get to; you have to change ’buses seven times, going from Kensington, and you have to cross the river by means of a ferry. On Mitten Island there is a model village, consisting of several hundred houses, two churches, and one shop.
It was the sixth member who discovered, after the committee meeting, that the address on the forsaken broomstick’s collar was: Number 100 Beautiful Way, Mitten Island, London.
The sixth member, although she was a member of committees, was neither a real expert in, nor a real lover of, Doing Good. In Doing Good, I think, we have got into bad habits. We try in groups to do good to the individual, whereas, if good is to be done, it would seem more likely, and more consonant with precedent, that the individual might do it to the group. Without the smile of a Treasurer we cannot unloose our purse-strings; without the sanction of a Chairman we have no courage; without Minutes we have no memory. There is hardly one of us who would dare to give a flannelette nightgown to a Factory Girl who had Stepped Aside, without a committee to lay the blame on, should the Factory Girl, fortified by the flannelette nightgown, take Further Steps Aside.