Chapter 9: Lucy As a Work of Art
A few days after the engagement was announced Mrs. Honeychurch
made Lucy and her Fiasco come to a little garden-party in the
neighbourhood, for naturally she wanted to show people that her
daughter was marrying a presentable man.
Cecil was more than presentable; he looked distinguished, and it
was very pleasant to see his slim figure keeping step with Lucy,
and his long, fair face responding when Lucy spoke to him. People
congratulated Mrs. Honeychurch, which is, I believe, a social
blunder, but it pleased her, and she introduced Cecil rather
indiscriminately to some stuffy dowagers.
At tea a misfortune took place: a cup of coffee was upset over
Lucy's figured silk, and though Lucy feigned indifference, her
mother feigned nothing of the sort but dragged her indoors to
have the frock treated by a sympathetic maid. They were gone some
time, and Cecil was left with the dowagers. When they returned he
was not as pleasant as he had been.
"Do you go to much of this sort of thing?" he asked when they
were driving home.
"Oh, now and then," said Lucy, who had rather enjoyed herself.
"Is it typical of country society?"
"I suppose so. Mother, would it be?"
"Plenty of society," said Mrs. Honeychurch, who was trying to
remember the hang of one of the dresses.
Seeing that her thoughts were elsewhere, Cecil bent towards Lucy
"To me it seemed perfectly appalling, disastrous, portentous."
"I am so sorry that you were stranded."
"Not that, but the congratulations. It is so disgusting, the way
an engagement is regarded as public property--a kind of waste
place where every outsider may shoot his vulgar sentiment. All
those old women smirking!"
"One has to go through it, I suppose. They won't notice us so
much next time."