The Jervaise Comedy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 196 pages of information about The Jervaise Comedy.

And as I trotted back to the Hall, I found a symbol in my dress for the drama of the night.  It was, I thought, all artificial and unreal, now that I looked back upon it in the blaze of a brilliant August morning.  Beginning with the foolishness of a dance at that time of year—­even a “tennis-dance” as they called it—­the subsequent theatrical quality of the night’s adventure seemed to me, just then, altogether garish and fantastic.  I began to wonder how far I had dramatised and distorted the actual events by the exercise of a romantic imagination?  In the sweet freshness of the familiar day, I found myself exceedingly inclined to be rational.  Also, I was aware of being quite unusually hungry.

The front door of the Hall was standing wide open, and save for a glimpse of the discreet John very busy in his shirt-sleeves, I saw no one about.  I was glad to reach my room unobserved.  I knew that my feeling was unreasonable, but entering that sedate house, under the blaze of the morning sun, I was ashamed of my tawdry dress.  A sense of dissipation and revelry seemed to hang about me—­and of an uncivilised dirtiness.

A cold bath and a change of clothes, however, fully restored my self-respect; and when I was summoned by the welcome sound of a booming gong, the balance of sensation was kicking the other beam.  My sleep in the open had left me finally with a feeling of superiority.  I was inclined to despise the feeble, stuffy creatures who had been shut up in a house all night.

I knew the topography of the house fairly well after my night’s experience of it, and inferred the breakfast-room without any difficulty.  But when I reached the door I stood and listened in considerable astonishment.  Luckily, I was not tempted to make the jaunty entrance my mood prompted.  I had not seen a soul as I had made my way from my room in the north wing down into the Hall.  The place seemed to be absolutely deserted.  And, now, in the breakfast-room an almost breathless silence was broken only by the slow grumbling of one monotonous voice, undulating about the limited range of a minor third, and proceeding with the steady fluency of a lunatic’s muttering.  I suppose I ought to have guessed the reasonable origin of those sounds, but I didn’t, not even when the muttering fell to a pause and was succeeded by a subdued chorus, that conveyed the effect of a score of people giving a concerted but strongly-repressed groan.  After that the first voice began again, but this time it was not allowed to mumble unsupported.  A murmured chant followed and caricatured it, repeating as far as I could make out the same sequence of sounds.  They began “Ah!  Fah!  Chah!  Hen....”  That continued for something like a minute before it came to a ragged close with another groan.  Then for a few seconds the original voice continued its grumbling, and was followed by an immense quiet.

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The Jervaise Comedy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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