And surely the gods laughed long and loud when Damaris chose that very day to return by public steamer from Denderah where she had been to visit the Temple of Hathor the Egyptian Aphrodite.
“But still his tongue ran on,
Of weight it bore, with greater ease.”
Lady Thistleton’s daughters were exhaustively energetic. It belied their colouring, which was dun and which, though of the same family, is distinct from mousey. It has infinitely more vim and a vast endurance and a great patience; also is it sullen and boring, but reliable.
Ellen, the elder, had been engaged to a younger son of The Inverness of Inverness. His colouring, except of course for the eyes, which were of a snapping blue, reminded one of a tomato salad dressed with chilis and smothered in mustard-sauce. His temper corresponded. They had fought over everything until they had smashed their engagement.
Berenice was engaged to a parson in Edinburgh, one of the Smythe-Smythes of London. She made a doormat of herself, loving the herculean minister, and, though longing to stay at home and get married, had, at her lover’s earnest request, consented to accompany her mother and sister to Egypt instead.
To his fervent mind the loss of a few months of married life would be compensated for by the biblical discourses upon the Land of Moses with which, later on, as his wife, she would be able to enliven Mother’s Meetings.
They admired Damaris a lot, though her independence and colouring shocked them not a little. In the seclusion of the double bedroom, as they brushed or twisted their lanky locks in Hindes’, they whispered about her love-affair, which had presumably gone agley, and thrilled with a distinct feeling of wrong-doing over the gossip anent the mythical Sheikh.
If they had asked Damaris about the myth, she would have told them everything quite simply and truthfully. This would have cleared up the mist but spoilt the feeling of wrong-doing.
Lady Thistleton was large and recumbent and averse to sight-seeing, but after a heart-to-heart talk with her daughters had seen to it that Damaris had no time for moping.
Damaris went here, there and everywhere; played tennis; paid duty-calls, as you must when somebody extends her wing-feathers as shelter; acted in charades; attended concerts; and was thoroughly miserable.
Jane Coop was miserable too; so was the bulldog, and, through a certain unconfessed and indefinable vigilance they both felt called upon to exercise in behalf of their beloved mistress, were distinctly nervy.
“Drat the men!” had said the maid, giving pithy verbal expression to the ragged state of her nerves as she cut the stalks of the beautiful flowers which came daily without name or message. The dog’s method of expressing himself was somewhat more violent; it consisted of the sudden seizure between his great teeth of the posterior portion of the nether garments of low-caste males, white or coloured.