At the bottom they separated, the man in the white waistcoat sentimentally to the billiard room, the old ladies to dine and say to each other: “A dear little woman!” “Such a rattle!” and Mrs. MacAnder to her cab.
When Mrs. MacAnder dined at Timothy’s, the conversation (although Timothy himself could never be induced to be present) took that wider, man-of-the-world tone current among Forsytes at large, and this, no doubt, was what put her at a premium there.
Mrs. Small and Aunt Hester found it an exhilarating change. “If only,” they said, “Timothy would meet her!” It was felt that she would do him good. She could tell you, for instance, the latest story of Sir Charles Fiste’s son at Monte Carlo; who was the real heroine of Tynemouth Eddy’s fashionable novel that everyone was holding up their hands over, and what they were doing in Paris about wearing bloomers. She was so sensible, too, knowing all about that vexed question, whether to send young Nicholas’ eldest into the navy as his mother wished, or make him an accountant as his father thought would be safer. She strongly deprecated the navy. If you were not exceptionally brilliant or exceptionally well connected, they passed you over so disgracefully, and what was it after all to look forward to, even if you became an admiral—a pittance! An accountant had many more chances, but let him be put with a good firm, where there was no risk at starting!
Sometimes she would give them a tip on the Stock Exchange; not that Mrs. Small or Aunt Hester ever took it. They had indeed no money to invest; but it seemed to bring them into such exciting touch with the realities of life. It was an event. They would ask Timothy, they said. But they never did, knowing in advance that it would upset him. Surreptitiously, however, for weeks after they would look in that paper, which they took with respect on account of its really fashionable proclivities, to see whether ‘Bright’s Rubies’ or ‘The Woollen Mackintosh Company’ were up or down. Sometimes they could not find the name of the company at all; and they would wait until James or Roger or even Swithin came in, and ask them in voices trembling with curiosity how that ’Bolivia Lime and Speltrate’ was doing—they could not find it in the paper.
And Roger would answer: “What do you want to know for? Some trash! You’ll go burning your fingers—investing your money in lime, and things you know nothing about! Who told you?” and ascertaining what they had been told, he would go away, and, making inquiries in the City, would perhaps invest some of his own money in the concern.
It was about the middle of dinner, just in fact as the saddle of mutton had been brought in by Smither, that Mrs. MacAnder, looking airily round, said: “Oh! and whom do you think I passed to-day in Richmond Park? You’ll never guess—Mrs. Soames and—Mr. Bosinney. They must have been down to look at the house!”