She fetched her hand-glass. There was her face. And suppose one wreathed Jacob in a turban? There was his face. She lit the lamp. But as the daylight came through the window only half was lit up by the lamp. And though he looked terrible and magnificent and would chuck the Forest, he said, and come to the Slade, and be a Turkish knight or a Roman emperor (and he let her blacken his lips and clenched his teeth and scowled in the glass), still—there lay Tom Jones.
“Archer,” said Mrs. Flanders with that tenderness which mothers so often display towards their eldest sons, “will be at Gibraltar to-morrow.”
The post for which she was waiting (strolling up Dods Hill while the random church bells swung a hymn tune about her head, the clock striking four straight through the circling notes; the glass purpling under a storm-cloud; and the two dozen houses of the village cowering, infinitely humble, in company under a leaf of shadow), the post, with all its variety of messages, envelopes addressed in bold hands, in slanting hands, stamped now with English stamps, again with Colonial stamps, or sometimes hastily dabbed with a yellow bar, the post was about to scatter a myriad messages over the world. Whether we gain or not by this habit of profuse communication it is not for us to say. But that letter-writing is practised mendaciously nowadays, particularly by young men travelling in foreign parts, seems likely enough.
For example, take this scene.
Here was Jacob Flanders gone abroad and staying to break his journey in Paris. (Old Miss Birkbeck, his mother’s cousin, had died last June and left him a hundred pounds.)
“You needn’t repeat the whole damned thing over again, Cruttendon,” said Mallinson, the little bald painter who was sitting at a marble table, splashed with coffee and ringed with wine, talking very fast, and undoubtedly more than a little drunk.
“Well, Flanders, finished writing to your lady?” said Cruttendon, as Jacob came and took his seat beside them, holding in his hand an envelope addressed to Mrs. Flanders, near Scarborough, England.
“Do you uphold Velasquez?” said Cruttendon.
“By God, he does,” said Mallinson.
“He always gets like this,” said Cruttendon irritably.
Jacob looked at Mallinson with excessive composure.
“I’ll tell you the three greatest things that were ever written in the whole of literature,” Cruttendon burst out. “’Hang there like fruit my soul.’” he began. ...
“Don’t listen to a man who don’t like Velasquez,” said Mallinson.
“Adolphe, don’t give Mr. Mallinson any more wine,” said Cruttendon.
“Fair play, fair play,” said Jacob judicially. “Let a man get drunk if he likes. That’s Shakespeare, Cruttendon. I’m with you there. Shakespeare had more guts than all these damned frogs put together. ‘Hang there like fruit my soul,’” he began quoting, in a musical rhetorical voice, flourishing his wine-glass. “The devil damn you black, you cream-faced loon!” he exclaimed as the wine washed over the rim.