God's Good Man (Chapter 9, page 1 of 16)


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Chapter 9

Maryllia's first solitary dinner in the home of her ancestors passed off with tolerable success. She found something not altogether unpleasant in being alone after all. Plato was always an intelligent, well-behaved and dignified companion in his canine way, and the meal was elegantly served by Primmins, who waited on his new mistress with as much respect and zeal as if she had been a queen. A sense of authority and importance began to impress itself upon her as she sat at the head of her own table in her own dining-hall, with all the Vandykes and Holbeins and Gainsboroughs gazing placidly down upon her from their gilded frames, and the flicker of many wax candles in old silver sconces glancing upon the shields, helmets, rusty pikes and crossed swords that decorated the panelling of the walls between and above the pictures.

"Fancy! No gas and no electric light! It is simply charming!" she thought, "And so becoming to one's dress and complexion! Only there's nobody to see the becomingness. But I can soon remedy that. Lots of people will come down and stay here if I only ask them. There's one thing quite certain about society folk--they will always come where they can be lodged and boarded free! They call it country visiting, but it really means shutting up their houses, dismissing their servants, and generally economising on their housekeeping bills. I've seen SUCH a lot of it!"

She heaved a little sigh over these social reminiscences, and finished her repast in meditative silence. She had not been accustomed to much thinking, and to indulge in it at all for any length of time was actually a novelty. Her aunt had told her never to think, as it made the face serious, and developed lines on the forehead. And she had, under this kind of tutelage, became one of a brilliant, fashionable, dress-loving crowd of women, who spend most of their lives in caring for their complexions and counting their lovers. Yet every now and again, a wave of repugnance to such a useless sort of existence arose in her and made a stormy rebellion. Surely there was something nobler in life--something higher-- something more useful and intelligent than the ways and manners of a physically and morally degenerate society?

It was a still, calm evening, and the warmth of the sun all day had drawn such odours from the hearts of the flowers that the air was weighted with perfume when she wandered out again into her garden after dinner, and looked up wistfully at the gables of the Manor set clear against a background of dark blue sky patterned with stars. A certain gravity oppressed her. There was, after all, something just a little eerie in the on-coming of night in this secluded woodland place where she had voluntarily chosen to dwell all alone and unprotected, rather than lend herself to her aunt's match-making schemes.

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