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    In the course of that day the vessel was taken in tow, and when, towards evening, the downpour ceased and Mahony again climbed the companion-way, a very different scene met his eye. They now drove through a leaden sea, which the rain had beaten flat, reduced to a kind of surly quiescence. Above them was an iron-grey sky, evenly spread and of a fair height, the lower clouds having withdrawn to the horizon where, in a long, cylinder-like roll, they hung poised on the water’s rim. But this cold and stony aspect of things was more than made up for. Flush with the ship, looking as though it had just risen from the waves, was land — was the English shore.
    Yes, Richard’s fortunes seemed at last to have taken a definite turn for the better, when of a sudden the blow fell which put an end to hopes and fears alike. What was behind it Mary did not know, and never learned. But one morning at breakfast he blurted out in summary fashion that he had resolved, overnight, to shake the dust of Buddlecombe off his feet. And before she had recovered from the shock of this announcement, the house was up for sale, and she hard at work sorting and packing. Coming as it did on top of her renewed confidence, the decision hit Mary hard. It also gave a further push to her tottering faith in Richard’s judgment. Of course, it was clear something unpleasant had happened at the last dinner-party. But she could get nothing out of Richard — absolutely nothing — except that he was done “for all eternity” with place and people. In vain she reasoned, argued, pleaded . . . and even lost her temper. He remained obstinately silent, leaving her to her own conjectures — which led nowhere. Leicester? . . . well, compared with this, his bolting from Leicester had been as easy to understand as A B C— an ugly town with no practice worth speaking of, and the little there was, of the wrong kind. But here where she had thought his first irate “Till Christmas!” was gradually being overlaid; here she could only put his abrupt determination down to one of his most freakish and wayward impulses.


    1.Zara looked so annoyed when this happened that Mary tried to seem unobservant. But after one particularly violent explosion, the words: “Oh, what do you do for it?” escaped her in spite of herself.
    2.But with this, it seemed, she merely displayed her ignorance. For the spirit body, in manifestation, was but the ethereal shadow cast by the physical, and its perfect duplicate. Richard also went on to crush her with St. Paul’s “terrestrial and celestial”; harangued her on the astounding knowledge of the occult possessed by the early Christians. It was no good talking. Everything she said could be turned against her.
    3.Even more disturbing was the visit of Mrs. Henry which followed. Here, he could not but share Mary’s apprehensions lest something untoward should happen which might give servants or acquaintances an inkling of how matters stood. As for poor Mary, she grew quite pale and peaked with the strain; hardly dared let Agnes out of her sight. At dinner-parties — and the best people had to be asked to meet the wife of so important a personage as Mr. Henry — her eye followed the decanters their rounds with an anxiety painful to see. (Between-times, she kept the chiffonier strictly locked.) During this visit, too, the servants made difficulties by refusing to wait on the strange nursemaids, who gave themselves airs; while, to cap all, a pair of the rowdiest and worst-behaved children ever born romped in the passage, or trampled the flower-beds in the garden. No walls were thick enough to keep out their noise; any more than the fact of being in a stranger’s house could improve their manners. The walls were also powerless against Zara’s high-pitched, querulous voice, or the good Ebenezer’s fits of coughing, which shook the unfortunate man till his very bones seemed to rattle. Later on, for variety, they had the shrill screaming of Amelia Grindle’s sick babe (with Mary up and down at night, preparing bottles); had Ned’s children to be tamed and taught to blow their noses; pretty Fanny tumbling into faints half a dozen times a day. Of course, there was no earthly reason why all these good people should not make his home theirs — oh dear no! If Jerry got a fortnight’s holiday, what more natural than that he should choose to spend it in his sister’s comfortable, well-appointed house, rather than in his own poky weatherboard? If Mrs. Devine wanted to take sea-air (“And, really, Richard, one HAS to remember how extraordinarily kind she was to us on landing”), the least one could do was to beg her to exchange Toorak for Brighton-on-Beach. Only the fact of John’s house being but a paltry half-hour’s walk distant, and the ozone both families breathed of the same brand, saved them from having John and Lizzie quartered on them as well.
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