What is Mr. Hopkins doing with Miss Coles? Do they kiss? But your market basket: that disappoints me, for Algernon said you had the biggest market-basket of all. I bought the biggest I could find: is it as big as yours?”
Miss Mapp’s head was in a whirl. The Contessa said in the loudest possible voice all that everybody else only whispered; she displayed (in her basket) all that everybody else covered up with thick layers of paper. If Miss Mapp had only guessed that the Contessa would have a market-basket, she would have paraded the High Street with a leg of mutton protruding from one end and a pair of Wellington boots from the other.... But who could have suspected that a Contessa ...
Black thoughts succeeded. Was it possible that Mr. Wyse had been satirical about the affairs of Tilling? If so, she wished him nothing worse than to be married to Susan. But a playful face must be put, for the moment, on the situation.
“Too lovely of you, dear Contessa,” she said. “May we go marketing together to-morrow, and we will measure the size of our baskets? Such fun I have, too, laughing at the dear people in Tilling. But what thrilling news this morning about our sweet Susan and your dear brother, though of course I knew it long ago.”
“Indeed! how was that?” said the Contessa quite sharply.
Miss Mapp was “nettled” at her tone.
“Oh, you must allow me two eyes,” she said, since it was merely tedious to explain how she had seen them from behind a curtain kissing in the garden. “Just two eyes.”
“And a nose for scent,” remarked the Contessa very genially.