"They do say such things!" said Mrs. Booch.
"They say," said Mrs. Mackridge, inflexibly, "the doctors are not recomm-an-ding it now."
My Mother: "No, ma'am?"
Mrs. Mackridge: "No, ma'am."
Then, to the table at large: "Poor Sir Roderick, before he died, consumed great quan-ta-ties of sugar. I have sometimes fancied it may have hastened his end."
This ended the first skirmish. A certain gloom of manner and a pause was considered due to the sacred memory of Sir Roderick.
"George," said my mother, "don't kick the chair!"
Then, perhaps, Mrs. Booch would produce a favourite piece from her repertoire. "The evenings are drawing out nicely," she would say, or if the season was decadent, "How the evenings draw in!" It was an invaluable remark to her; I do not know how she would have got along without it.
My mother, who sat with her back to the window, would always consider it due to Mrs. Booch to turn about and regard the evening in the act of elongation or contraction, whichever phase it might be.
A brisk discussion of how long we were to the longest or shortest day would ensue, and die away at last exhausted.
Mrs. Mackridge, perhaps, would reopen. She had many intelligent habits; among others she read the paper—The Morning Post. The other ladies would at times tackle that sheet, but only to read the births, marriages, and deaths on the front page. It was, of course, the old Morning Post that cost threepence, not the brisk coruscating young thing of to-day. "They say," she would open, "that Lord Tweedums is to go to Canada."