Mab walked through the house full of wedding aftermath and hurrying maids and Susan with inflamed nose and cap awry hurrying them still more. Queer that folk should rejoice because two more humans were caught and forced into the mould which implacable Nature runs for us all. He looked out on the long gay curves of the garden beds where the English trees, planted by the Captain forty years since, were grown tall and broad and full of rustling leaves. So did the English race, planted in a new soil, develop faster than in England. Some said they did not weather so well. Too much sap.
Always there had been too much sap in Mab. There was still. And it seemed there was too much in young Richard. History beginning over again in the blind, persistent, senseless way she had. Where were they all going, these Comyns who had lived through the birth-throes of a nation and the birth-throes of their own souls?
In the salon, Madam, who rarely sang now, was singing low to her harp:
"Jours de tendresse comme un beau songe on fui;
Jours de tristesse, de chagrins et d'ennui …"
Mab heard William portentous behind him and fled as though he had been the beautiful thought of Madam's song. From the parapet he looked down into the paddocks below. There went page 276two more whom Nature was catching to run into her damned mould: Brevis, elegant and intent, and Mab's dear maid, her skirts dipping over the English grass, and shoals of little blue butterflies and gauzy beetles rising about her like incense. They were on the trodden way that led to Bredon, that passed by the old Comyn hut. Mab made a hasty movement as though to follow, to forbid the plighting of Jenny's love in that haunted place.
Then Susan called from the veranda, and he walked slowly back through the sun and the heavy scents. Susan was tearful again, although one would marvel that she could have any moisture left.
"Mab, I must send off the lists of guests and presents to the papers," cried Susan, fussing into the library where the big walnut table was covered with white slips. "And I can't find Jenny, who really ought to know better, and if you would kindly check them for me …"
Mab complied. A hair bracelet with turquoise clasps had got among the guests in company with a cornelian necklace and Mr. Dickens's works. But as Ellen and Joseph Merrick were in with the gifts, there were no gaps, although even as gifts they were rather rough on Charlotte.
"Poor Ellen," said Susan, crossing her out of the gifts. "It was so very generous of dear Mamma to let her come for a whole hour. Oh, dear! I wonder where my darling Lottie is at the moment, and I told her to make sure that the sheets were aired at St. Mary's. It's sure to be damp, being so near the sea."