Peter Rockett, with his eyes bulging from his head, watched his grave employer cut and deal and gather in the stakes, with as much astonishment as if that dignified gentleman had walked head downward on the ceiling. Yet John Corbett proceeded with the game, as grave and solemn as when he asked a blessing at the table.
He hurried his steps and was just in sight of his study window, when he was met by his parlourmaid, a neat, trim young woman who rejoiced in the euphonious name of Hester Rockett, and who said as she approached him: "If you please, sir, Mrs. Spruce." His genial face fell a little, and he heaved a short sigh. "Mrs. Spruce? Oh, Lord! I mean, very well! Show her in, Hester.
The same rule applied to the tea and the bread. Also when one had finished his meal the correct plan of procedure was to gather up his plate, knife and fork and cup and saucer and carry them out to the kitchen, where Mrs. Corbett or Peter Rockett hastily washed them to be ready for the next one.
Thus spoke Miss Rockett, as one who shakes off a petty annoyance she knew not that the serious trouble was just beginning. A few minutes later Mrs. Rockett went up to the Hall, bent on humbly apologising for her daughter's impertinence. After being kept waiting for a quarter of an hour she was admitted to the presence of the housekeeper, who had a rather grave announcement to make. 'Mrs.
Under the wall lamp, which was fastened to the window frame, Da Corbett, in his cretonne-covered barrel-chair of home manufacture, read the War Cry, while Peter Rockett, on his favorite seat, the wood-box, played one of the Army tunes on his long-suffering Jew's-harp. "They can't get away as long as the storm lasts, anyway," Mrs.
When, after a minute or two, the hostess presented that young lady to her, Miss Shale raised her eyebrows a little, smiled in another direction, and gave a just perceptible nod. May's behaviour was as nearly as possible the same. 'Do you cycle, Miss Rockett? asked Mrs. Lindley. 'No, I don't. The fact is, I have never found time to learn.
A peculiar smile distorted Miss Shale's full red lips. Without another word she mounted her machine and rode away up the elm avenue. Now Mrs. Rockett had seen this encounter, and heard the words exchanged: she was lost in consternation. 'What do you mean by behaving like that, May? Why, I was running out myself to open, and then I saw you were there, and, of course, I thought you'd do it.
'Of course, she added, 'it's unnecessary to say anything about me to the Shale people. They and I have nothing in common, and it will be better for us to ignore each other's existence. These characteristic phrases troubled Mr. and Mrs. Rockett.
And was it not a reasonable hope that Betsy, good steady girl, should some day marry the promising young gardener whom Sir Edwin had recently taken into his service, and so re-establish the old order of things at the lodge? 'I half wish May wasn't coming, said Mrs. Rockett after long and anxious thought. 'Last time she was here she quite upset me with her strange talk.
Wot with Bob Pretty on one side and Squire Rockett on the other, them two keepers' lives was 'ardly worth living. Then the squire got a head-keeper named Cutts, a man as was said to know more about the ways of poachers than they did themselves.