“Next August, remember, Jacob,” said Mrs. Durrant, shaking hands with him on the terrace where the fuchsia hung, like a scarlet ear-ring, behind her head. Mr. Wortley came out of the window in yellow slippers, trailing the Times and holding out his hand very cordially.
“Good-bye,” said Jacob. “Good-bye,” he repeated. “Good-bye,” he said once more. Charlotte Wilding flung up her bedroom window and cried out: “Good-bye, Mr. Jacob!”
“Mr. Flanders!” cried Mr. Clutterbuck, trying to extricate himself from his beehive chair. “Jacob Flanders!”
“Too late, Joseph,” said Mrs. Durrant.
“Not to sit for me,” said Miss Eliot, planting her tripod upon the lawn.
“I rather think,” said Jacob, taking his pipe from his mouth, “it’s in Virgil,” and pushing back his chair, he went to the window.
The rashest drivers in the world are, certainly, the drivers of post-office vans. Swinging down Lamb’s Conduit Street, the scarlet van rounded the corner by the pillar box in such a way as to graze the kerb and make the little girl who was standing on tiptoe to post a letter look up, half frightened, half curious. She paused with her hand in the mouth of the box; then dropped her letter and ran away. It is seldom only that we see a child on tiptoe with pity—more often a dim discomfort, a grain of sand in the shoe which it’s scarcely worth while to remove—that’s our feeling, and so—Jacob turned to the bookcase.
Long ago great people lived here, and coming back from Court past midnight stood, huddling their satin skirts, under the carved door-posts while the footman roused himself from his mattress on the floor, hurriedly fastened the lower buttons of his waistcoat, and let them in. The bitter eighteenth-century rain rushed down the kennel. Southampton Row, however, is chiefly remarkable nowadays for the fact that you will always find a man there trying to sell a tortoise to a tailor. “Showing off the tweed, sir; what the gentry wants is something singular to catch the eye, sir—and clean in their habits, sir!” So they display their tortoises.
At Mudie’s corner in Oxford Street all the red and blue beads had run together on the string. The motor omnibuses were locked. Mr. Spalding going to the city looked at Mr. Charles Budgeon bound for Shepherd’s Bush. The proximity of the omnibuses gave the outside passengers an opportunity to stare into each other’s faces. Yet few took advantage of it. Each had his own business to think of. Each had his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart; and his friends could only read the title, James Spalding, or Charles Budgeon, and the passengers going the opposite way could read nothing at all—save “a man with a red moustache,” “a young man in grey smoking a pipe.” The October sunlight rested upon all these men and women sitting immobile;