Smoking slowly, and looking just over the top of his wife’s head, Malioring answered:
“I’ll have a try; and don’t you worry!”
Lady Malloring turned away. Her soreness still wanted salve.
“Those two young people,” she murmured, “said some very unpleasant things to me. The boy, I believe, might have some good in him, but the girl is simply terrible.”
“H’m! I think just the reverse, you know.”
“They’ll come to awful grief if they’re not brought up sharp. They ought to be sent to the colonies to learn reality.”
“Come out, Mildred, and see how they’re getting on with the new vinery.” And they went out together through the French window.
The vinery was of their own designing, and of extraordinary interest. In contemplation of its lofty glass and aluminium-cased pipes the feeling of soreness left her. It was very pleasant, standing with Gerald, looking at what they had planned together; there was a soothing sense of reality about that visit, after the morning’s happening, with its disappointment, its reminder of immorality and discontent, and of folk ungrateful for what was done for their good. And, squeezing her husband’s arm, she murmured:
“It’s really exactly what we thought it would be, Gerald!”
About five o’clock of that same afternoon, Gerald Malloring went to see Tod. An open-air man himself, who often deplored the long hours he was compelled to spend in the special atmosphere of the House of Commons, he rather envied Tod his existence in this cottage, crazed from age, and clothed with wistaria, rambler roses, sweetbrier, honeysuckle, and Virginia creeper. Freeland had, in his opinion, quite a jolly life of it—the poor fellow not being able, of course, to help having a cranky wife and children like that. He pondered, as he went along, over a talk at Becket, when Stanley, still under the influence of Felix’s outburst, had uttered some rather queer sayings. For instance, he had supposed that they (meaning, apparently, himself and Malloring) were rather unable to put themselves in the position of these Trysts and Gaunts. He seemed to speak of them as one might speak generically of Hodge, which had struck Malloring as singular, it not being his habit to see anything in common between an individual case, especially on his own estate, and the ethics of a general proposition. The place for general propositions was undoubtedly the House of Commons, where they could be supported one way or the other, out of blue books. He had little use for them in private life, where innumerable things such as human nature and all that came into play. He had stared rather hard at his host when Stanley had followed up that first remark with: “I’m bound to say, I shouldn’t care to have to get up at half past five, and go out without a bath!”