2021-04-17 01:20:42

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ENGLISH Yes. I think it does. I dont want to make unpleasantness.

The prospect of Mr Silverdales presence at dinner that night had filled Alice with secret and gentle flutterings, and accounted for the fact that she wore her amethyst cross and practised several of Mendelssohns Songs Without Words before evening service, in case she was asked to play after dinner. She reaped her due reward for these prudent steps, since Mr Silverdale expressed his admiration for amethysts at dinner, and afterwards came and sat close by the piano, beating time with scarcely perceptible movements of a slim white hand, not in the manner of one assisting her with the rhythm, but as if he himself pulsated with it. He had produced an extraordinarily unfavourable impression on John by constantly{53} calling him by his Christian name, by talking about Tom Brown when he heard he was at Rugby, and by using such fragments of schoolboy slang as he happened to recollect from his boyish days. These in the rapidly changing vernacular of schoolboys were now chiefly out of date, but John saw quite clearly that the design was to be boys together, and despised him accordingly. On Mr Keeling he produced merely the impression of a very ladylike young man of slightly inane disposition, and as Hugh was away, spending the evening at the house of his fiance, Mr Silverdale was thrown on the hands of the ladies for mutual entertainment. With them he succeeded as signally as he had failed with John, saying that though preaching a sermon might be dry work for his hearers it was hungry work for the performer, eating salmon mayonnaise with great gusto, and remarking across the table to John, Jolly good grub, isnt it, John? a remark that endeared him to Mrs Keeling, though it made John feel slightly sick, and caused him to leave in a pointed manner on his plate the portion of the good grub which he had not yet consumed. Like a wise tactician, therefore, Mr Silverdale abandoned the impregnable, and delivered his assaults where he was more likely to be successful. He had an eager and joyful manner, as of one who found the world an excellent joke.Suddenly the whole of the vague internal movements of her mind flashed into his vision, as intelligible as some perfectly simple business{146} proposition. She had a certain justification too: it was awkward that Norah had run into the exit of the ladies, that his wife had been saying that none of them ever entered the library. He knew the mind of Bracebridge pretty well, the slightly malicious construction that women like Mrs Fyson would find themselves compelled to put on it all. He knew also the mind of his wife, and the effect which it clearly had had on her. Her sense of propriety, of dignity had been assaulted: it was a queer thing to have happened. Then there was Norahs presence in her drawing-room. He had insisted on that, for, at the moment, it seemed the most straightforward thing to do. But he was beginning to think it had been a mistake. Something about the girl, her beauty (and never had that struck him so forcibly as when he saw her standing by Alice), her air of breeding, of education, of simplicity in front of those draped easels and painted looking-glasses had stirred some long latent potentiality for jealousy in his wife. It was that suggestion which suddenly enraged him.

Take that on account, please, he said. If you want to be business-like, give me a receipt. And I advise you to spend some of it on a little holiday.Damned condescending of her, thought Keeling to himself. What right had a secretary at twenty-five shillings a week to send him messages through her brother? But if a message was to be sent, he was glad it was that one.Of a sudden vistas not wholly new to him, but at present very vaguely contemplated, rushed into focus. Some three years ago when, at the age of fourteen, John would naturally have taken his place in the Stores, beginning at the bottom even as Hugh had done, Keeling had determined his destiny otherwise, and had sent him to a public school. In taking this step, he had contemplated the vista that now was growing distinct and imminent. John was to enter a sphere of life which had not opened its gate to his father. The public school should be succeeded by the University, the University by some profession in which a perfectly different standard of person from that to which his father belonged made honourable careers. Putting it more bluntly, John was to be a gentleman. Though there was no one less of a snob than Keeling, he knew the difference between what John had already begun to be and himself perfectly well. Already John walked, talked, entered a room, sat down, got up in a manner quite different from that of the rest of his family. Even his mother, the daughter of the{69} P. & O. captain, even Alice, for all the French, German, and music lessons with which her girlhood had been made so laborious a time, had notKeeling found it hard to define his thought to himselfa certain unobtrusive certainty of themselves which after three years only of a public school was as much a personal possession of Johns as his brown eyes and his white teeth. That quality had grown even as Johns stature had grown each time he came back for his holidays, and it was produced apparently by mere association with gentlemen. Little as Keeling thought of Mr Silverdale, he was aware that Mr Silverdale had that quality too. He might be silly and affected and unmanly, but when he and John ten days ago had sat opposite each other on Sunday evening, John sick and disgusted, Silverdale familiar and self-advertising, though he appeared to talk about drunkards, it was easy to see that they both belonged to a different class from the rest of them. Keeling admired and envied the quality, whatever it was, which produced the difference, and, since association with those who had it produced it, he saw no reason to suppose that it was out of his reach.

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Yes, and me the Lady Mayoress, she said. Why, Im ever so nervous even now in the thinking of all the grand parties I shall have to give. And the hospital will be finished next year too, and what a to-do we shall have over that. And what do you say now, Mamma, to having your cup of coffee in my boudoir quietly with Alice and me, leaving the gentlemen to have a cigarette.

Ill see him, he said. Show him up.Keeling stopped his drumming fingers, and looked up with his grim face relaxing.He took her hand and playfully pretended to feel her pulse.

Very well. I engage you from to-day. There is a good deal to do this morning. If you are ready we will begin at once.I do not know whether you wish to talk to me about your mother, your rheumatism, your teapot, or your housekeeping, he remarked. I will talk about any you please, but one at a time.

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No, no, said Mr Silverdale hurriedly.No, I cant allow that for a moment, he said.

This was slightly too daring an experiment for Alice, but she resolved to have a try in her bedroom that night.

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Apr-17 01:20:42