“Going about as girls do nowadays—” said Mrs. Forster.
Mr. Bowley looked round him, and catching sight of Rose Shaw moved towards her, threw out his hands, and exclaimed: “Well!”
“Nothing!” she replied. “Nothing at all—though I left them alone the entire afternoon on purpose.”
“Dear me, dear me,” said Mr. Bowley. “I will ask Jimmy to breakfast.”
“But who could resist her?” cried Rose Shaw. “Dearest Clara—I know we mustn’t try to stop you...”
“You and Mr. Bowley are talking dreadful gossip, I know,” said Clara.
“Life is wicked—life is detestable!” cried Rose Shaw.
“There’s not much to be said for this sort of thing, is there?” said Timothy Durrant to Jacob.
“Women like it.”
“Like what?” said Charlotte Wilding, coming up to them.
“Where have you come from?” said Timothy. “Dining somewhere, I suppose.”
“I don’t see why not,” said Charlotte.
“People must go downstairs,” said Clara, passing. “Take Charlotte, Timothy. How d’you do, Mr. Flanders.”
“How d’you do, Mr. Flanders,” said Julia Eliot, holding out her hand. “What’s been happening to you?”
“Who is Silvia?
what is she?
That all our swains commend her?”
sang Elsbeth Siddons.
Every one stood where they were, or sat down if a chair was empty.
“Ah,” sighed Clara, who stood beside Jacob, half-way through.
“Then to Silvia let
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling.
To her let us garlands bring,”
sang Elsbeth Siddons.
“Ah!” Clara exclaimed out loud, and clapped her gloved hands; and Jacob clapped his bare ones; and then she moved forward and directed people to come in from the doorway.
“You are living in London?” asked Miss Julia Eliot.
“Yes,” said Jacob.
“There is Mr. Clutterbuck. You always see Mr. Clutterbuck here. He is not very happy at home, I am afraid. They say that Mrs. Clutterbuck ...” she dropped her voice. “That’s why he stays with the Durrants. Were you there when they acted Mr. Wortley’s play? Oh, no, of course not—at the last moment, did you hear—you had to go to join your mother, I remember, at Harrogate—At the last moment, as I was saying, just as everything was ready, the clothes finished and everything—Now Elsbeth is going to sing again. Clara is playing her accompaniment or turning over for Mr. Carter, I think. No, Mr. Carter is playing by himself—This is Bach,” she whispered, as Mr. Carter played the first bars.
“Are you fond of music?” said Mr. Durrant.
“Yes. I like hearing it,” said Jacob. “I know nothing about it.”
“Very few people do that,” said Mrs. Durrant. “I daresay you were never taught. Why is that, Sir Jasper?—Sir Jasper Bigham—Mr. Flanders. Why is nobody taught anything that they ought to know, Sir Jasper?” She left them standing against the wall.