Page:Miss Mapp.djvu/239

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In front of this lurid background of despair moved the figures which would have commanded all her attention, have aroused all the feelings of disgust and pity of which she was capable, had only Diva stuck to kingfisher-blue. There they sat on the sofa, talking in voices which it was impossible to overhear, and if ever a woman made up to a man, and if ever a man was taken in by shallow artifices, “they,” thought Miss Mapp, “are the ones.” There was no longer any question that Susan was doing her utmost to inveigle Mr. Wyse into matrimony, for no other motive, not politeness, not the charm of conversation, not the low, comfortable seat by the fire could possibly have had force enough to keep her for a whole evening from the bridge-table. That dinner en famille, so Miss Mapp sarcastically reflected​—​what if it was the first of hundreds of similar dinners en famille? Perhaps, when safely married, Susan would ask her to one of the family dinners, with a glassful of foam which she called champagne, and the leg of a crow which she called game from the shooting-lodge.... There was no use in denying that Mr. Wyse seemed to be swallowing flattery and any other form of bait as fast as they were supplied him; never had he been so made up to since the day, now two years ago, when Miss Mapp herself wrote him down as uncapturable. But now, on this awful evening of crimson-lake, it seemed only prudent to face the prospect of his falling into the nets which were spread for him.... Susan the sister-in-law of a Contessa. Susan the wife of the man whose urbanity made all Tilling polite to each other, Susan a Wyse of Whitchurch! It made Miss Mapp feel positively weary of earth....

Nor was this the sum of Miss Mapp’s mental activities, as she sat being dummy to Diva, for, in addition to the