FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
7. CHAPTER VII
While I was in this bewildered frame of mind, sorely needing
a little quiet time by myself to put me right again, my daughter
Penelope got in my way (just as her late mother used to get in my
way on the stairs), and instantly summoned me to tell her all
that had passed at the conference between Mr. Franklin and me.
Under present circumstances, the one thing to be done was to
clap the extinguisher upon Penelope's curiosity on the spot.
I accordingly replied that Mr. Franklin and I had both
talked of foreign politics, till we could talk no longer,
and had then mutually fallen asleep in the heat of the sun.
Try that sort of answer when your wife or your daughter
next worries you with an awkward question at an awkward time,
and depend on the natural sweetness of women for kissing and
making it up again at the next opportunity.
The afternoon wore on, and my lady and Miss Rachel came back.
Needless to say how astonished they were, when they heard that
Mr. Franklin Blake had arrived, and had gone off again on horseback.
Needless also to say, that THEY asked awkward questions directly,
and that the "foreign politics" and the "falling asleep in the sun"
wouldn't serve a second time over with THEM. Being at the end
of my invention, I said Mr. Franklin's arrival by the early train
was entirely attributable to one of Mr. Franklin's freaks.
Being asked, upon that, whether his galloping off again
on horseback was another of Mr. Franklin's freaks, I said,
"Yes, it was;" and slipped out of it--I think very cleverly--
in that way.
Having got over my difficulties with the ladies, I found more
difficulties waiting for me when I went back to my own room.
In came Penelope--with the natural sweetness of women--
to kiss and make it up again; and--with the natural curiosity
of women--to ask another question. This time she only wanted
me to tell her what was the matter with our second housemaid,