‘Very stupid, Mamma dear,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t dream of telling you all we said to each other.’

At this moment the boy covered with buttons entered.


‘Mr Silverdale’s not at home, miss,’ he said. ‘But he will be given your note when he comes in, and send an answer.’

Now Mrs Keeling had a very high opinion of her powers of tact and intuition. Here was a situation that promised to drive the final nail into the cheap and flimsy coffin of Mrs Fyson’s hopes. Mr Silverdale had come to tea all alone with Alice, and here was Alice writing him a note that required an answer not half an hour afterwards. Her intuition instantly told her that Mr Silverdale had made a proposal of marriage to 杭州桑拿按摩体验Alice, and that Alice had written to him saying that he must allow her a little time to think it over. (Why Alice should not have said that, or why Alice should not have instantly accepted him, her intuition did not tell her.) But it was certain that no other grouping of surmises would fit the facts. Then her intuition having done its work, though bursting with curiosity she summoned her tact to her aid, and began to talk about the spider’s web again. She was determined not to pry into her daughter’s heart, but wait for her daughter to open the door of it herself. Alice (and this only served to confirm Mrs Keeling’s conjectures) responded instantly to this tactful treatment, and began to talk so excitedly about the spider’s web, and the plush monkey, and their journey to Brighton next day, that Mrs Keeling almost began to be afraid 杭州夜生活西湖阁 that she was feverish again. But presently this volubility died down, and she{220} sat, so Mrs Keeling rightly conjectured, listening for something. Once she was certain that she heard steps in the next room, and went to see if her father had come in: once she was almost sure that the telephone bell had rung, and wondered who it could be disturbing them at their chat over the fire. Then, without doubt, the telephone bell did ring, and on this occasion she pretended she had not heard it, but hurriedly left the room on the pretext of taking her tonic. She left the door open, and Mrs Keeling could distinctly hear her asking her tonic apparently who it was, though well aware that it was strychnine…. Then after a pause she heard her thanking her tonic ever ever so much, and she came back looking as if it had done her a great deal 杭州保健按摩上门服务 of good already.

Odd as it may appear, there were limits to Mrs Keeling’s tact, or to state the matter in other terms, none to her curiosity. For a little while she resisted the incoming tide; but when Alice had informed her brightly for the third time that their train started at 11.29 next morning, she felt so strongly that a mother was her daughter’s


proper confidante, that her tact retreated rapidly towards vanishing point.

‘I saw Mrs Fyson this afternoon,’ she said, beginning gently.

‘And did she see you?’ asked Alice, with a sort of idiotic eagerness. All the time there was ringing in her head, like a peal of baritone bells through{221} the quackings of the telephone, the lovely words, ‘My dear little Helper! Bless you, my dear little Helper.’

‘I imagine so, as I was opening the bazaar,’ said Mrs Keeling, with some 杭州洗浴桑拿寻欢 dignity.

‘Of course, yes,’ said Alice, with enthusiasm. ‘How stupid of me not to have thought of that. That lovely spider! Do remember to tell Jane not to dust it away. I haven’t seen Mrs Fyson for a long time, nor Julia. I must write a note to Julia wishing her good-bye before I go to Brighton. Dear Julia.’

She got up and overturned a tray


of pens in her eagerness to write to Julia. This, of course, gave fresh provender to her mother’s intuition. She could put two and two together as well as most people, and hardly ever failed to make the result ‘five.’ It was quite obvious that Mr Silverdale had proposed to Alice, and that in consequence Mrs Fyson’s ill-founded expectations for Julia had fallen as flat as a card-house. No wonder Alice could afford to forgive her friend.

‘Well, I’m glad to hear you speak like that, dear,’ she said, ‘because the last time you mentioned Julia’s name was to tell me that you didn’t want to hear it mentioned again. Mrs Fyson, too, I dare say she is a very well-meaning woman, though she does go about saying that all sorts of things are happening without any grounds except that she wants them to.{222}’

Alice made a large blot on her paper in agitation at hearing this allusion, and took another sheet of paper.

‘And I am sure Julia has an excellent heart,’ she said enthusiastically, recalling Mr Silverdale’s definite assurance that ‘it’ was not Julia. At the time she had been so full of more personal emotion that she had scarcely cared; now the balm of that was divinely soothing.

‘Quite an excellent heart,’ she said. ‘Julia has always been my friend, except just lately. And now it is all right again. Don’t you think that quarrels sometimes lead to even warmer attachments, Mamma?’

Mrs Keeling tried to recollect something about quarrels she had been party to. There was the case of the two little tiffs she had had lately with her husband, once when he had distinctly sworn at her, once when he had asked her so roughly what she meant with regard to her little joke about Norah and the catalogue. One of those, so it suddenly seemed to her now, had led to a pearl-pendant, which seemed to illustrate Alice’s theory of quarrels leading to warmer attachments. She had not connected the two before. She wondered whether Mrs Fyson would say that that was very clever too…. She determined to think it over when she had leisure.杭州夜网桑拿按摩论坛 At present she was too curious about Alice to attend to it. But she would think it over at Brighton.{223}

‘Don’t you think they lead to warmer attachments, Mamma?’ repeated Alice, finding she got no answer.

Mrs Keeling was very cunning. She would apply this to Alice’s quarrel with Julia and just see what Alice would say next.

‘Well, dear,’ she said. ‘You couldn’t well be more warmly attached to Julia than you were. I’m sure you used to be quite inseparable.’

Alice gave a little hoarse laugh.

‘Oh, that,’ she said. ‘Dear Julia; I hope we shall be great friends again, when I come back from Brighton. I shall be very glad to, I am sure.’

Clearly the quarrels which led to warmer attachments had nothing to do with Alice’s late fury about Fysons, and her mother, throwing tact and delicacy about a daughter’s heart to the winds, 杭州桑拿按摩哪里好 tried another method of battering her way into it. She could not conceive why Alice did not tell her that Mr Silverdale had proposed to her.

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