Chapter 15: The Disaster Within
"It's only the library book that Cecil's been reading."
"But pick it up, and don't stand idling there like a flamingo."
Lucy picked up the book and glanced at the title listlessly,
Under a Loggia. She no longer read novels herself, devoting all
her spare time to solid literature in the hope of catching Cecil
up. It was dreadful how little she knew, and even when she
thought she knew a thing, like the Italian painters, she found
she had forgotten it. Only this morning she had confused
Francesco Francia with Piero della Francesca, and Cecil had
said, "What! you aren't forgetting your Italy already?" And this
too had lent anxiety to her eyes when she saluted the dear view
and the dear garden in the foreground, and above them, scarcely
conceivable elsewhere, the dear sun.
"Lucy--have you a sixpence for Minnie and a shilling for
She hastened in to her mother, who was rapidly working herself
into a Sunday fluster.
"It's a special collection--I forget what for. I do beg, no
vulgar clinking in the plate with halfpennies; see that Minnie
has a nice bright sixpence. Where is the child? Minnie! That
book's all warped. (Gracious, how plain you look!) Put it under
the Atlas to press. Minnie!"
"Oh, Mrs. Honeychurch--" from the upper regions.
"Minnie, don't be late. Here comes the horse" --it was always the
horse, never the carriage. "Where's Charlotte? Run up and hurry
her. Why is she so long? She had nothing to do. She never brings
anything but blouses. Poor Charlotte-- How I do detest blouses!
Paganism is infectious--more infectious than diphtheria or piety
--and the Rector's niece was taken to church protesting. As
usual, she didn't see why. Why shouldn't she sit in the sun with
the young men? The young men, who had now appeared, mocked her
with ungenerous words. Mrs. Honeychurch defended orthodoxy, and
in the midst of the confusion Miss Bartlett, dressed in the very
height of the fashion, came strolling down the stairs.