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8. CHAPTER VIII
The friendship between Margaret and Mrs. Wilcox, which was to develop so quickly and with such strange results, may perhaps have had its beginnings at Speyer, in the spring. Perhaps the elder lady, as she gazed at the vulgar, ruddy cathedral, and listened to the talk of her husband and Helen, may have detected in the other and less charming of the sisters a deeper sympathy, a sounder judgment. She was capable of detecting such things. Perhaps it was she who had desired the Miss Schlegels to be invited to Howards End, and Margaret whose presence she had particularly desired. All this is speculation; Mrs. Wilcox has left few clear indications behind her. It is certain that she came to call at Wickham Place a fortnight later, the very day that Helen was going with her cousin to Stettin.
"Helen!" cried Fraulein Mosebach in awestruck tones (she was now in her cousin's confidence)--"his mother has forgiven you!" And then, remembering that in England the new-comer ought not to call before she is called upon, she changed her tone from awe to disapproval, and opined that Mrs. Wilcox was keine Dame.
"Bother the whole family!" snapped Margaret. "Helen, stop giggling and pirouetting, and go and finish your packing. Why can't the woman leave us alone?"
"I don't know what I shall do with Meg," Helen retorted, collapsing upon the stairs. She's got Wilcox and Box upon the brain. Meg, Meg, I don't love the young gentleman; I don't love the young gentleman, Meg, Meg. Can a body speak plainer?"
"Most certainly her love has died," asserted Fraulein Mosebach.
"Most certainly it has, Frieda, but that will not prevent me from being bored with the Wilcoxes if I return the call."
Then Helen simulated tears, and Fraulein Mosebach, who thought her extremely amusing, did the same. "Oh, boo hoo! boo hoo hoo! Meg's going to return the call, and I can't. 'Cos why? 'Cos I'm going to German-eye."
"If you are going to Germany, go and pack; if you aren't, go and call on the Wilcoxes instead of me."
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