After a little more preparation and modification, Mrs. Day took her seat at the head of the table, and during the latter or tea division of the meal, presided with much composure. It may cause some surprise to learn that, now her vagary was over, she showed herself to be an excellent person with much common sense, and even a religious seriousness of tone on matters pertaining to her afflictions.
The effect of Geoffrey’s incidental allusions to Mr. Shiner was to restrain a considerable flow of spontaneous chat that would otherwise have burst from young Dewy along the drive homeward. And a certain remark he had hazarded to her, in rather too blunt and eager a manner, kept the young lady herself even more silent than Dick. On both sides there was an unwillingness to talk on any but the most trivial subjects, and their sentences rarely took a larger form than could be expressed in two or three words.
Owing to Fancy being later in the day than she had promised, the charwoman had given up expecting her; whereupon Dick could do no less than stay and see her comfortably tided over the disagreeable time of entering and establishing herself in an empty house after an absence of a week. The additional furniture and utensils that had been brought (a canary and cage among the rest) were taken out of the vehicle, and the horse was unharnessed and put in the plot opposite, where there was some tender grass. Dick lighted the fire already laid; and activity began to loosen their tongues a little.
“There!” said Fancy, “we forgot to bring the fire-irons!”
She had originally found in her sitting-room, to bear out the expression ‘nearly furnished’ which the school-manager had used in his letter to her, a table, three chairs, a fender, and a piece of carpet. This ‘nearly’ had been supplemented hitherto by a kind friend, who had lent her fire-irons and crockery until she should fetch some from home.
Dick attended to the young lady’s fire, using his whip-handle for a poker till it was spoilt, and then flourishing a hurdle stick for the remainder of the time.
“The kettle boils; now you shall have a cup of tea,” said Fancy, diving into the hamper she had brought.
“Thank you,” said Dick, whose drive had made him ready for some, especially in her company.
“Well, here’s only one cup-and-saucer, as I breathe! Whatever could mother be thinking about? Do you mind making shift, Mr. Dewy?”
“Not at all, Miss Day,” said that civil person.
“—And only having a cup by itself? or a saucer by itself?”
“Don’t mind in the least.”
“Which do you mean by that?”
“I mean the cup, if you like the saucer.”
“And the saucer, if I like the cup?”
“Exactly, Miss Day.”
“Thank you, Mr. Dewy, for I like the cup decidedly. Stop a minute; there are no spoons now!” She dived into the hamper again, and at the end of two or three minutes looked up and said, “I suppose you don’t mind if I can’t find a spoon?”