It was not without question and cross-question Margaret elicited that this final snub was not given until after tea. Cook defended the invitation.
"It's 'ard if in an establishment like this you can't offer a young man a cup of tea." She complained, not without waking a sympathetic echo in Margaret's own heart, that Pineland was that dull, not a bit o' life in it. Married men came round with the carts and a girl delivered the milk.
"'E was pleasant company enough till 'e started arskin' questions."
Then it appeared it was Stevens who "gave him as good as he gave," asking him what it was he did want to know, and being satirical with him. The housemaid had chimed in with Stevens; there may have been some little feminine jealousy at the back of it. Cook was young and frivolous, the two others more sedate. Stevens and the housemaid must have set upon cook and her presumed admirer. In any case the young man was given his congé immediately after tea, before he had established a footing. Stevens' report had been exaggerated, Margaret's terror excessive and unreasonable. She dismissed the erring cook now with the mildest of rebukes, then set herself to write to Gabriel. The time was limited, since the man was returning by the 5.5. She heard later, by the way, that he quite replaced the stranger in the cook's facile affections. Stevens again was responsible for the statement that