The General went on:
“A lot of new men have taken to racing that no one knows anything about. That fellow who bought George’s horse, for instance; you’d never have seen his nose in Tattersalls when I was a young man. I find when I go racing I don’t know half the colours. It spoils the pleasure. It’s no longer the close borough that it was. George had better take care what he’s about. I can’t imagine what we’re coming to!”
On Margery Pendyce’s hearing, those words, “I can’t imagine what we’re coming to,” had fallen for four-and-thirty years, in every sort of connection, from many persons. It had become part of her life, indeed, to take it for granted that people could imagine nothing; just as the solid food and solid comfort of Worsted Skeynes and the misty mornings and the rain had become part of her life. And it was only the fact that her nerves were on edge and her heart bursting that made those words seem intolerable that morning; but habit was even now too strong, and she kept silence.
The General, to whom an answer was of no great moment, pursued his thoughts.
“And you mark my words, Margery; the elections will go against us. The country’s in a dangerous state.”
Mrs. Pendyce said:
“Oh, do you think the Liberals will really get in?”
From custom there was a shade of anxiety in her voice which she did not feel.
“Think?” repeated General Pendyce. “I pray every night to God they won’t!”
Folding both hands on the silver knob of his Malacca cane, he stared over them at the opposing wall; and there was something universal in that fixed stare, a sort of blank and not quite selfish apprehension. Behind his personal interests his ancestors had drilled into him the impossibility of imagining that he did not stand for the welfare of his country. Mrs. Pendyce, who had so often seen her husband look like that, leaned out of the window above the noisy street.
The General rose.
“Well,” he said, “if I can’t do anything for you, Margery, I’ll take myself off; you’re busy with your dressmakers. Give my love to Horace, and tell him not to send me another telegram like that.”
And bending stiffly, he pressed her hand with a touch of real courtesy and kindness, took up his hat, and went away. Mrs. Pendyce, watching him descend the stairs, watching his stiff sloping shoulders, his head with its grey hair brushed carefully away from the centre parting, the backs of his feeble, active knees, put her hand to her breast and sighed, for with him she seemed to see descending all her past life, and that one cannot see unmoved.
MRS. BELLEW SQUARES HER ACCOUNTS
Mrs. Bellew sat on her bed smoothing out the halves of a letter; by her side was her jewel-case. Taking from it an amethyst necklet, an emerald pendant, and a diamond ring, she wrapped them in cottonwool, and put them in an envelope. The other jewels she dropped one by one into her lap, and sat looking at them. At last, putting two necklets and two rings back into the jewel-case, she placed the rest in a little green box, and taking that and the envelope, went out. She called a hansom, drove to a post-office, and sent a telegram: