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9. Chapter IX (continued)
"He dragged me in," said Ridley, "or I should have been ashamed. I'm dusty and dirty and disagreeable." He pointed to his boots which were white with dust, while a dejected flower drooping in his buttonhole, like an exhausted animal over a gate, added to the effect of length and untidiness. He was introduced to the others. Mr. Hewet and Mr. Hirst brought chairs, and tea began again, Susan pouring cascades of water from pot to pot, always cheerfully, and with the competence of long use.
"My wife's brother," Ridley explained to Hilda, whom he failed to remember, "has a house here, which he has lent us. I was sitting on a rock thinking of nothing at all when Elliot started up like a fairy in a pantomime."
"Our chicken got into the salt," Hewet said dolefully to Susan. "Nor is it true that bananas include moisture as well as sustenance.
Hirst was already drinking.
"We've been cursing you," said Ridley in answer to Mrs. Elliot's kind enquiries about his wife. "You tourists eat up all the eggs, Helen tells me. That's an eye-sore too"--he nodded his head at the hotel. "Disgusting luxury, I call it. We live with pigs in the drawing-room."
"The food is not at all what it ought to be, considering the price," said Mrs. Paley seriously. "But unless one goes to a hotel where is one to go to?"
"Stay at home," said Ridley. "I often wish I had! Everyone ought to stay at home. But, of course, they won't."
Mrs. Paley conceived a certain grudge against Ridley, who seemed to be criticising her habits after an acquaintance of five minutes.
"I believe in foreign travel myself," she stated, "if one knows one's native land, which I think I can honestly say I do. I should not allow any one to travel until they had visited Kent and Dorsetshire-- Kent for the hops, and Dorsetshire for its old stone cottages. There is nothing to compare with them here."
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