E. M. Forster: Howards End

16. CHAPTER XVI (continued)

"You in there?"

"Yes--he's gone some time."

Margaret went to her. "Why, you're all alone," she said.

"Yes--it's all right, Meg. Poor, poor creature--"

"Come back to the Wilcoxes and tell me later--Mr. W much concerned, and slightly titillated."

"0h, I've no patience with him. I hate him. Poor dear Mr. Bast! he wanted to talk literature, and we would talk business. Such a muddle of a man, and yet so worth pulling through. I like him extraordinarily."

"Well done," said Margaret, kissing her, "but come into the drawing-room now, and don't talk about him to the Wilcoxes. Make light of the whole thing."

Helen came and behaved with a cheerfulness that reassured their visitor--this hen at all events was fancy-free.

"He's gone with my blessing," she cried, "and now for puppies."

As they drove away, Mr. Wilcox said to his daughter:

"I am really concerned at the way those girls go on. They are as clever as you make 'em, but unpractical--God bless me! One of these days they'll go too far. Girls like that oughtn't to live alone in London. Until they marry, they ought to have some one to look after them. We must look in more often--we're better than no one. You like them, don't you, Evie?"

Evie replied: "Helen's right enough, but I can't stand the toothy one. And I shouldn't have called either of them girls."

Evie had grown up handsome. Dark-eyed, with the glow of youth under sunburn, built firmly and firm-lipped, she was the best the Wilcoxes could do in the way of feminine beauty. For the present, puppies and her father were the only things she loved, but the net of matrimony was being prepared for her, and a few days later she was attracted to a Mr. Percy Cahill, an uncle of Mrs. Charles's, and he was attracted to her.

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