Mrs. Betty Steel sat alone at the breakfast-table ecig forum
with a silver teapot covered with a crimson cosy before her, and a pile of letters and newspapers at her elbow. The west front of St. Antonia’s showed through the window, buttress and pinnacle glimmering up into the morning sunlight. Frost-rimed trees spun a scintillant net against the blue. The quiet life of the old town went up with its lazy plumes ofDR REBORN
Mrs. Betty Steel drew a slice of toast from the rack, toyed with it, and looked reflectively at her husband’s empty chair. She was a dark, sinuous, feline creature was Mrs. Betty, with a tight red mouth, and an olive whiteness of skin under her black wreath of hair. Her hands were thin, mercurial, and yet suggestive of pretty and graceful claws. A clever woman, cleverer with her head than with her heart, acute, elegant, aggressive, yet often circuitous in her methods. She had abundant impulse in her, blood, and clan, even evidenced by the way in which she ripped the wrapper from a copy of the Wilmenden Mail.
Mrs. Betty buried her face in the pages, crumbling her toast irritably as her eyes ran to and fro over the head-lines. She glanced up as her husband entered, a smooth-faced, compressed, and professional person, with an assured manner and an incisive cut of the mouth and chin.
“Any news in this hub of monotony?”
His wife put down the paper, and called back the dog who was poking his nose near the bacon-dish on the fire-guard.
“Quack medicines much in evidence. The fellows are arrant Papists, Parker; they promise to cure everything with nothing. Tea or coffee?”
Mrs. Betty spoke with the slight drawl that was habitual to her. Her admirers felt it to be distinguished, but its effect upon shop assistants was to spread the instincts of socialism.
Dr. Parker Steel declared for coffee, and took salt to his porridge. He was not a man who wasted words, save perhaps on the most paying patients. Professional ambition, and an aggressive conviction that he was to be the leading citizen in Roxton filled the greater part of the gentleman’s sphere of consciousness.
“And local sensations?”
“Mrs. Pindar’s ball, , sausage-rolls and jelly, and a floor like glue—probably higher education