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Chapter 5 (continued)
It is a curious law of Nature that the most undeserving brothers always have the best sisters. Thrifty, plodding young men, who get up early, and do it now, and catch the employer's eye, and save half their salaries, have sisters who never speak civilly to them except when they want to borrow money. To the Claude Nutcombes of the world are vouchsafed the Elizabeths.
The great aim of Elizabeth's life was to make a new man of Nutty. It was her hope that the quiet life and soothing air of Brookport, with--unless you counted the money-in-the-slot musical box at the store--its absence of the fiercer excitements, might in time pull him together and unscramble his disordered nervous system. She liked to listen of a morning to the sound of Nutty busy in the next room with a broom and a dustpan, for in the simple lexicon of Flack's there was no such word as 'help'. The privy purse would not run to a maid. Elizabeth did the cooking and Claude Nutcombe the housework.
Several days after Claire Fenwick and Lord Dawlish, by different routes, had sailed from England, Elizabeth Boyd sat up in bed and shook her mane of hair from her eyes, yawning. Outside her window the birds were singing, and a shaft of sunlight intruded itself beneath the blind. But what definitely convinced her that it was time to get up was the plaintive note of James, the cat, patrolling the roof of the porch. An animal of regular habits, James always called for breakfast at eight-thirty sharp.
Elizabeth got out of bed, wrapped her small body in a pink kimono, thrust her small feet into a pair of blue slippers, yawned again, and went downstairs. Having taken last night's milk from the ice-box, she went to the back door, and, having filled James's saucer, stood on the grass beside it, sniffing the morning air.
Elizabeth Boyd was twenty-one, but standing there with her hair tumbling about her shoulders she might have been taken by a not-too-close observer for a child. It was only when you saw her eyes and the resolute tilt of the chin that you realized that she was a young woman very well able to take care of herself in a difficult world. Her hair was very fair, her eyes brown and very bright, and the contrast was extraordinarily piquant. They were valiant eyes, full of spirit; eyes, also, that saw the humour of things. And her mouth was the mouth of one who laughs easily. Her chin, small like the rest of her, was strong; and in the way she held herself there was a boyish jauntiness. She looked--and was--a capable little person.
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