BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
12. CHAPTER XII.
"They are, though. That is Mrs. Waule's gig--the last yellow gig left,
I should think. When I see Mrs. Waule in it, I understand how yellow
can have been worn for mourning. That gig seems to me more funereal
than a hearse. But then Mrs. Waule always has black crape on.
How does she manage it, Rosy? Her friends can't always be dying."
"I don't know at all. And she is not in the least evangelical,"
said Rosamond, reflectively, as if that religious point of view
would have fully accounted for perpetual crape. "And, not poor,"
she added, after a moment's pause.
"No, by George! They are as rich as Jews, those Waules and Featherstones;
I mean, for people like them, who don't want to spend anything.
And yet they hang about my uncle like vultures, and are afraid
of a farthing going away from their side of the family. But I
believe he hates them all."
The Mrs. Waule who was so far from being admirable in the eyes
of these distant connections, had happened to say this very morning
(not at all with a defiant air, but in a low, muffied, neutral tone,
as of a voice heard through cotton wool) that she did not wish "to
enjoy their good opinion." She was seated, as she observed, on her own
brother's hearth, and had been Jane Featherstone five-and-twenty years
before she had been Jane Waule, which entitled her to speak when her
own brother's name had been made free with by those who had no right to it.
"What are you driving at there?" said Mr. Featherstone,
holding his stick between his knees and settling his wig,
while he gave her a momentary sharp glance, which seemed
to react on him like a draught of cold air and set him coughing.
Mrs. Waule had to defer her answer till he was quiet again,
till Mary Garth had supplied him with fresh syrup, and he had begun
to rub the gold knob of his stick, looking bitterly at the fire.
It was a bright fire, but it made no difference to the chill-looking
purplish tint of Mrs. Waule's face, which was as neutral as her voice;
having mere chinks for eyes, and lips that hardly moved in speaking.