FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
9. CHAPTER IX
They consumed the whole morning, and part of the afternoon,
in the everlasting business of decorating the door,
Penelope standing by to mix the colours, as directed; and my lady,
as luncheon time drew near, going in and out of the room,
with her handkerchief to her nose (for they used a deal
of Mr. Franklin's vehicle that day), and trying vainly to get
the two artists away from their work. It was three o'clock
before they took off their aprons, and released Penelope
(much the worse for the vehicle), and cleaned themselves of
their mess. But they had done what they wanted--they had finished
the door on the birthday, and proud enough they were of it.
The griffins, cupids, and so on, were, I must own, most beautiful
to behold; though so many in number, so entangled in flowers
and devices, and so topsy-turvy in their actions and attitudes,
that you felt them unpleasantly in your head for hours
after you had done with the pleasure of looking at them.
If I add that Penelope ended her part of the morning's work
by being sick in the back-kitchen, it is in no unfriendly
spirit towards the vehicle. No! no! It left off stinking
when it dried; and if Art requires these sort of sacrifices--
though the girl is my own daughter--I say, let Art
Mr. Franklin snatched a morsel from the luncheon-table, and rode
off to Frizinghall--to escort his cousins, as he told my lady.
To fetch the Moonstone, as was privately known to himself and
This being one of the high festivals on which I took my place
at the side-board, in command of the attendance at table,
I had plenty to occupy my mind while Mr. Franklin was away.
Having seen to the wine, and reviewed my men and women who
were to wait at dinner, I retired to collect myself before
the company came. A whiff of--you know what, and a turn at a
certain book which I have had occasion to mention in these pages,
composed me, body and mind. I was aroused from what I am
inclined to think must have been, not a nap, but a reverie,
by the clatter of horses' hoofs outside; and, going to the door,
received a cavalcade comprising Mr. Franklin and his three cousins,
escorted by one of old Mr. Ablewhite's grooms.