Page:Miss Mapp.djvu/265

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already), “kindly ring the bell for coffee. I expire if I do not get my coffee at once, and a toothpick. Tell me all the scandal of Tilling, Miss Mapp, while I play​—​all the dreadful histories of that Major and that Captain. Such a grand air has the Captain​—​no, it is the Major, the one who does not limp. Which of all you ladies do they love most? It is Miss Mapp, I believe: that is why she does not answer me. Ah! here is the coffee, and the other king: three lumps of sugar, dear Susan, and then stir it up well, and hold it to my mouth, so that I can drink without interruption. Ah, the ace! He is the intervener, or is it the King’s Proctor? It would be nice to have a proctor who told you all the love-affairs that were going on. Susan, you must get me a proctor: you shall be my proctor. And here are the men​—​the wretches, they have been preferring wine to women, and we will have our bridge, and if anybody scolds me, I shall cry, Miss Mapp, and Captain Flint will hold my hand and comfort me.”

She gathered up a heap of cards and rings, dropped them on the floor, and cut with the remainder.

Miss Mapp was very lenient with the Contessa, who was her partner, and pointed out the mistakes of her and their adversaries with the most winning smile and eagerness to explain things clearly. Then she revoked heavily herself, and the Contessa, so far from being angry with her, burst into peals of unquenchable merriment. This way of taking a revoke was new to Tilling, for the right thing was for the revoker’s partner to sulk and be sarcastic for at least twenty minutes after. The Contessa’s laughter continued to spurt out at intervals during the rest of the rubber, and it was all very pleasant; but at the end she said she was not up to Tilling standards at all,