“Good day, Ingleby,” said Algernon, addressing the eldest of them, the same lad who had been Rhoda’s squire in the tea-room on the night of Mrs. Algernon Errington’s début in Whitford society. “Where are you off to?”
“We’re going to have a row. I’ve got a boat, and we’re going up the river as far as Duckwell Reach. We have leave from 佛山桑拿体验 the doctor. Deuce of a job to get it, though!”
“Oh, because he’s nervous about the river; thinks it dangerous, and all that.”
“Well, you know, Ingleby,” said a younger boy, with much eagerness, “lots of people have been drowned in that bit of the river between here and Duckwell Reach.”
“Lots of people! Gammon!”
“Well, two since I’ve been here!”
“Oh, I daresay. Well, if you funk it you needn’t come. There’s plenty without you.”
“You know I don’t funk it for myself, Ingleby. I can swim.”
“Yes, my friend. You wouldn’t get into my boat if you couldn’t. I’m on honour with the doctor to take none but swimmers,” said Ingleby, turning to Algernon; “and of course that settles the matter. But, for my part, I should have thought anybody but the quite small boys might walk out of the Whit if they tumbled into it.” “Oh no! You do our noble river injustice. You are not a Whitfordian or you would know better than that. There are some very ugly places between here and Duckwell Reach; places where I wouldn’t give much for your chance of getting out if once you fell in, swimmer though you are. Good-bye. A pleasant row to you.”
The boys pursued their way to the boat, and Algernon, turning off at right angles when he reached the bottom of the lane, got into Whit Meadow through a turnstile at the foot of the Grammar School playground.
There was a footpath through the meadow, and some fields beyond, which made a pleasant walk enough in fine summer weather, and was then a good deal frequented. But at this season it was damp, muddy, and lonely. The day was fine, but the ground had been saturated by previous rains, and that part of the meadow nearest to the margin of the river was almost a swamp. The path continued to skirt the Whit for some miles, running in the direction of Duckwell, and as Algernon walked along it he saw the windings of the river shining in the sun, and presently there appeared on it the boat full of schoolboys. One of them wore a scarlet cap, and thus made a bright spot of colour in the landscape. The sound of their young voices was carried across the water to Algernon’s ears.
He stood for a minute or so at the gate of his own garden, which ran down behind the house to the river path, and watched them. The thought crossed his mind that, if any accident should occur to the boat at that spot, there would be little chance of assistance reaching it quickly. Ivy Lodge was the last house on that side of the river between Whitford and Duckwell Reach. And on the willow-fringed shore opposite not a living creature was to be seen, except some cattle grazing in the plashy fields.
The whole scene—the vivid green of the marsh grass, the grey willows, the boat with its wet oars flashing at regular intervals, the red-capped boy, and the sound of the fresh, shrill laughter of the crew, all fixed themselves on his mind with that vividness of impression which trivial external things so often make upon a brain labouring with some inward trouble.
“What a state your boots are in!” exclaimed Castalia, pausing at the foot of the stairs, which she happened to be descending as her husband entered the house. “And why did you come by the back way?”
“I was worried, and did not wish to meet people and be chattered to. I thought the meadow-path would be quiet, and so it was.”
“Quiet! Yes; but how horribly muddy! Do change your wet boots at once, Ancram!”
There was little need for her to insist on this proceeding. Algernon hastened to his room, pulled off his wet boots, and desired that they should be thrown away.
“They can be dried and cleaned, sir,” said plump-faced Lydia, aghast at this order.
“My good girl you may do what you please with them. I shall never wear them again. Slight boots of that sort that have once been wet through become shapeless, don’t you understand? Take them away.”
When the master of the house descended to the drawing-room, he found a paper, squarely folded in the shape of a letter, lying in a conspicuous position on the centre table. It was Mr. Gladwish the shoemaker’s bill, accompanied by an urgent request for immediate payment.
“More wall-paper, Cassy,” said her husband, flinging himself on the sofa.
“Do you know, Lydia tells me the man was quite insolent!” said Castalia. “What can be done with such people? 佛山桑拿按摩蒲友论坛 They don’t seem to me to have the least idea who we are!”
“Oh, confound the brutes! Don’t let us talk about them!”
But Castalia continued to talk about them in a strain of mingled wonder and disgust. She did not cease until dinner was announced, and Algernon was by that time so thoroughly wearied by his conjugal tête-à-tête, that he even received with something like satisfaction the announcement that Castalia expected the Misses Rose and Violet McDougall to pass the evening at Ivy Lodge.
“I daresay your mother will come too,” said Castalia, “and bring Rhoda Maxfield with her. I asked her.”
“Rhoda? Why on earth do you invite that little Maxfield?”
“What is your objection to her, Ancram?”
“Oh, I have no objection to her in the world. But I should not have thought she was precisely the sort of person to suit you.”
“That’s 佛山夜生活什么价格 exactly what Miss Bodkin says! Miss Bodkin tried to keep Rhoda apart from me, I am perfectly sure. And I can’t fathom her motive. And now you say the same sort of thing. However, I always notice that you echo her words. But I don’t intend to be guided by Miss Bodkin’s likes and dislikes. I haven’t the same opinion of Miss Bodkin’s wisdom that the people have here, and I shall choose my friends for myself. It’s quite absurd, the fuss that is made in this place about Miss Bodkin; absolutely sickening. Rose McDougall
is the only person of the whole set who seems to keep her senses on the subject.”
“Rose McDougall will never lose her senses from admiration of another woman,” returned Algernon. And then the colloquy was broken up by the arrival of the Misses McDougall, clogged and cloaked, and attended by their maid-servant. 南海黄岐桑拿 After having exchanged greetings with these ladies, Algernon withdrew, murmuring something about going to smoke his cigar.
“You’ll not be long, Ancram, shall you?” said his wife, in a complaining tone. But he disappeared from the room without replying to her.
“I’m so dreadfully afraid that I drive your husband away when I come here, my dear,” said Rose McDougall with a spiteful glance at Algernon’s retreating figure.
“Good gracious, no! He doesn’t think of minding you at all.”
“Oh, I daresay he does not mind me; does not think me of importance enough to be taken any notice of. But I cannot help observing that he always keeps out of the way as much as possible when I am spending an evening here.”
“Nonsense!” said Castalia, tranquilly continuing to string steel beads on to red silk for the manufacture of a purse.
“You might 佛山桑拿qq as well say that it is I who drive Mr. Errington away, Rose,” put in Violet.
“Not at all!” returned her sister, with sudden sharpness. “That’s quite a different matter.”
“I don’t see why, Rose!”
The true answer to this remark, in the elder Miss McDougall’s mind, would have been, “You are so utterly insignificant, compared with me, that you are effaced in my company, and are neither liked nor disliked on your own merits.” But she could not quite say that, so she merely repeated with increased sharpness, “That’s a very different matter.”