“Fancy her having caught the spirit of the place already!” exclaimed Alicia. “He went on: ’Mr. and Mrs. Simpson have a beautiful garden and grow most of their own vegetables. We sit in it a great deal and I think of all that has passed. I hope ever that it has been for the best and pray for you always. Oh that your feet may be set in the right path and that we may walk hand in hand upon the way to Zion!’” Lindsay lowered his voice and read the last sentences rapidly, as if the propulsion of the first part of the letter sent him through them. Then he stopped abruptly, and Alicia looked up.
“That’s all, only,” he added, with an awkward smile, “the usual formula.”
“’God bless you’?” she asked, and he nodded.
“It has a more genuine ring than most formulas,” she observed.
“Yes, hasn’t it? May I have another cup?” He restored the pink sheet to its pink envelope, and both to his breast-pocket, while she poured out the other cup, but Miss Filbert was still present with them. They went on talking about her, and entirely in the tone of congratulation—the suitability of the Simpsons, the suitability of Plymouth, the probability that she would entirely recover, in its balmy atmosphere, her divine singing voice. Plymouth certainly was in no sense a tonic, but Miss Filbert didn’t need a tonic; she was too much inclined to be strung up as it was. What she wanted was the soothing, quieting influence of just Plymouth’s meetings and just Plymouth’s teas. The charms that so sweetly and definitely characterised her would expand there; it was a delightful flowery environment for them, and she couldn’t fail to improve in health. Devonshire’s visitors got tremendously well fed, with fish items of especial excellence.
Nobody could have been more impressed with Hilda’s influence upon Mr. Llewellyn Stanhope’s commercial probity than Mr. Llewellyn Stanhope himself. He was a prey to all noble feelings; they ruled his life and spoiled his bargains; and gratitude, when it had a chance, which was certainly seldom in connection with leading ladies, dominated him entirely. He sat in the bar of the Great Eastern Hotel with tears in his eyes, talking about what Miss Howe had done for him, and gave unnecessary backsheesh to coolies who brought him small bills—so long, that is, as they were the small bills of this season. When they had reference to the liabilities of a former and less prosperous year he waved them away with a bitter levity which belonged to the same period. His view of his obligations was strictly chronological, and in taking it he counted, like the poet, only happy hours. The bad debt and the bad season went consistently together to oblivion; the sun of to-day’s remarkable receipts could not be expected to penetrate backwards.