Caste eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 249 pages of information about Caste.
we saved the papers.  That little native woman that brought them to you must be rewarded later.  By the way, Barlow, I took the liberty of explaining all that to Elizabeth, and I think she’s pretty badly cut up over the way she acted.  But you understand, don’t you, Captain?  I believe that if it had been my case I’d have, well, I’d have known that it was because the girl cared.  Elizabeth is undemonstrative—­too much so, in fact; but I fancy—­well, never mind:  it’s so long ago that I took notice of these things that I find I’m trying to speak in an unknown tongue.”

The little man rose and bustled about, pulling out drawers from the cabinet and shoving them back again, venting little asthmatic coughs of sheer nervousness.  Then coming up to Barlow he held out his hand saying:  “My dear boy, God be with you; but don’t take chances—­will you?”

At that instant Elizabeth appeared at the doorway:  “Captain Barlow will have breakfast with us, won’t he, father—­it’s all ready, and Boodha says he has a chop-and-kidney curry that is a dream?”

“Jupiter!” Hodson exclaimed; “fancy I’m getting India head; was sending Barlow off without a word about breakfast.  Of course he’ll stay—­thanks, Elizabeth.”

The tired drawn parchment face of the Resident became revivified, it was the face of a happy boy; the grey eyes blued to youth.  Inwardly he murmured:  “Elizabeth is wonderful!  I knew it; good girl!”

It was a curious breakfast—­mentally.  Elizabeth was the Elizabeth of the verandah.  Perhaps it was the passionate beating of the pillow the day before, when she had realised for the first time what Barlow meant to her, that now cast her into defence; encased her in an armour of protection; caused her to assume a casualness.  She would give worlds to not have said what she had said the day before, but the Captain must know that she had been roused by a knowledge of his intimacy with the Gulab.  Just what had occurred did not matter—­not in the least; it was his place to explain it.  That was Elizabeth’s way—­it was her manner of thought; a subservience of impulse to propriety, to class.  In the light of her feeling when she had lain, wet-eyed, beating the pillow, she knew that if he had put his arms about her and said just even stupid words—­“I’m sorry, Beth, you know I love you”—­she would have capitulated, perhaps even in the capitulation have said a Bethism:  “It doesn’t matter—­we’ll never mention it again.”

But Barlow, very much of a boy, couldn’t feel this elusive thing, and rode away after breakfast from the bungalow muttering:  “By gad!  Elizabeth should have said something over roasting me.  Fancy she doesn’t care a hang.  Anyway—­I’ll give her credit for that—­she doesn’t hunt with the hounds and run with the hare.  If it’s the prospect of sharing a title with me, a rotter would have eaten the leek.  Yes, Elizabeth is class.”


Project Gutenberg
Caste from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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