Page:Miss Mapp.djvu/268

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great deal to say to you”), when the general macédoine of sables, au reservoirs, and thanks for such a nice evening took place in the hall. Miss Mapp was not, in fact, sure, when she thought it over, that the Contessa was a nice friend for Major Benjy. She did not do him the injustice of imagining that he would ask her to tea alone; the very suggestion proved that it must be a piece of the Contessa’s Southern extravagance of expression. But, after all, thought Miss Mapp to herself, as she writhed at the idea, her other extravagant expressions were proved to cover a good deal of truth. In fact, the Major’s chance of being asked to the select bridge-party diminished swiftly towards vanishing point.

It was time (and indeed late) to set forth on morning marketings, and Miss Mapp had already determined not to carry her capacious basket with her to-day, in case of meeting the Contessa in the High Street. It would be grander and Wysier and more magnificent to go basketless, and direct that the goods should be sent up, rather than run the risk of encountering the Contessa with a basket containing a couple of mutton cutlets, a ball of wool and some tooth-powder. So she put on her Prince of Wales’s cloak, and, postponing further reflection over the bridge-party till a less busy occasion, set forth in unencumbered gentility for the morning gossip. At the corner of the High Street, she ran into Diva.

“News,” said Diva. “Met Mr. Wyse just now. Engaged to Susan. All over the town by now. Everybody knows. Oh, there’s the Padre for the first time.”

She shot across the street, and Miss Mapp, shaking the dust of Diva offer her feet, proceeded on her chagrined way. Annoyed as she was with Diva, she was almost more annoyed with Susan. After all she had done for Susan,