George Pendyce gazed before him at this vision over the grey mare’s back, and she who sat beside him muffled in her fur was touching his arm with hers. And back to them the second groom, hugging himself above the road that slipped away beneath, saw another kind of vision, for he had won five pounds, and his eyes were closed. And the grey mare saw a vision of her warm light stall, and the oats dropping between her manger bars, and fled with light hoofs along the lanes where the side-lamps shot two moving gleams over dark beech-hedges that rustled crisply in the northeast wind. Again and again she sneezed in the pleasure of that homeward flight, and the light foam of her nostrils flicked the faces of those behind. And they sat silent, thrilling at the touch of each other’s arms, their cheeks glowing in the windy darkness, their eyes shining and fixed before them.
The second groom awoke suddenly from his dream.
“If I owned that ’orse, like Mr. George, and had such a topper as this ‘ere Mrs. Bellew beside me, would I be sittin’ there without a word?”
MRS. PENDYCE’S DANCE
Mrs. Pendyce believed in the practice of assembling county society for the purpose of inducing it to dance, a hardy enterprise in a county where the souls, and incidentally the feet, of the inhabitants were shaped for more solid pursuits. Men were her chief difficulty, for in spite of really national discouragement, it was rare to find a girl who was not “fond of dancing.”
“Ah, dancing; I did so love it! Oh, poor Cecil Tharp!” And with a queer little smile she pointed to a strapping red-faced youth dancing with her daughter. “He nearly trips Bee up every minute, and he hugs her so, as if he were afraid of falling on his head. Oh, dear, what a bump! It’s lucky she’s so nice and solid. I like to see the dear boy. Here come George and Helen Bellew. Poor George is not quite up to her form, but he’s better than most of them. Doesn’t she look lovely this evening?”
Lady Maiden raised her glasses to her eyes by the aid of a tortoise-shell handle.
“Yes, but she’s one of those women you never can look at without seeing that she has a—a—body. She’s too-too—d’you see what I mean? It’s almost—almost like a Frenchwoman!”
Mrs. Bellew had passed so close that the skirt of her seagreen dress brushed their feet with a swish, and a scent as of a flower-bed was wafted from it. Mrs. Pendyce wrinkled her nose.
“Much nicer. Her figure’s so delicious,” she said.
Lady Maiden pondered.
“She’s a dangerous woman. James quite agrees with me.”
Mrs. Pendyce raised her eyebrows; there was a touch of scorn in that gentle gesture.
“She’s a very distant cousin of mine,” she said. “Her father was quite a wonderful man. It’s an old Devonshire family. The Cheritons of Bovey are mentioned in Twisdom. I like young people to enjoy. themselves.”