Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/320

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

ticularly nice." And she hurried past them in search of the head waiter. The worry of nursing her husband had fixed a plaintive frown upon her forehead; she was pale and looked unhappy and more than usually inefficient, and her eyes wandered more vaguely than ever from point to point.

"Poor thing!" Mrs. Thornbury exclaimed. She told them that for some days Hughling Elliot had been ill, and the only doctor available was the brother of the proprietor, or so the proprietor said, whose right to the title of doctor was not above suspicion.

"I know how wretched it is to be ill in a hotel," Mrs. Thornbury remarked, once more leading the way with Rachel to the garden. "I spent six weeks on my honeymoon in having typhoid at Venice," she continued. "But even so, I look back upon them as some of the happiest weeks in my life. Ah, yes," she said, taking Rachel's arm, "you think yourself happy now, but it's nothing to the happiness that comes afterwards. And I assure you I could find it in my heart to envy you young people! You've a much better time than we had, I may tell you. When I look back upon it, I can hardly believe how things have changed. When we were engaged I wasn't allowed to go for walks with William alone—some one had always to be in the room with us—I really believe I had to show my parents all his letters!—though they were very fond of him too. Indeed, I may say they looked upon him as their own son. It amuses me," she continued, "to think how strict they were to us, when I see how they spoil their grandchildren!"

The table was laid under the tree again, and taking her place before the teacups, Mrs. Thornbury beckoned and nodded until she had collected quite a number of people, Susan and Arthur and Mr. Pepper, who were strolling about, waiting for the tournament to begin. A murmuring tree, a river brimming in the moonlight, Terence's words came back to Rachel as she sat drinking the tea and listening to the words which flowed on so lightly, so kindly, and with such silvery smoothness. This long life and all these children had left her very smooth; they seemed to have rubbed away the marks of individuality, and to have left only what was old and maternal.

"And the things you young people are going to see!" Mrs.