THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 32: DOWLEY'S HUMILIATION
The king took the hand with a poorly disguised reluctance, and
let go of it as willingly as a lady lets go of a fish; all of which
had a good effect, for it was mistaken for an embarrassment natural
to one who was being called upon by greatness.
The dame brought out the table now, and set it under the tree.
It caused a visible stir of surprise, it being brand new and a
sumptuous article of deal. But the surprise rose higher still
when the dame, with a body oozing easy indifference at every pore,
but eyes that gave it all away by absolutely flaming with vanity,
slowly unfolded an actual simon-pure tablecloth and spread it.
That was a notch above even the blacksmith's domestic grandeurs,
and it hit him hard; you could see it. But Marco was in Paradise;
you could see that, too. Then the dame brought two fine new
stools--whew! that was a sensation; it was visible in the eyes of
every guest. Then she brought two more--as calmly as she could.
Sensation again--with awed murmurs. Again she brought two--
walking on air, she was so proud. The guests were petrified, and
the mason muttered:
"There is that about earthly pomps which doth ever move to reverence."
As the dame turned away, Marco couldn't help slapping on the climax
while the thing was hot; so he said with what was meant for a
languid composure but was a poor imitation of it:
"These suffice; leave the rest."
So there were more yet! It was a fine effect. I couldn't have
played the hand better myself.
From this out, the madam piled up the surprises with a rush that
fired the general astonishment up to a hundred and fifty in the
shade, and at the same time paralyzed expression of it down to
gasped "Oh's" and "Ah's," and mute upliftings of hands and eyes.
She fetched crockery--new, and plenty of it; new wooden goblets
and other table furniture; and beer, fish, chicken, a goose, eggs,
roast beef, roast mutton, a ham, a small roast pig, and a wealth
of genuine white wheaten bread. Take it by and large, that spread
laid everything far and away in the shade that ever that crowd had
seen before. And while they sat there just simply stupefied with
wonder and awe, I sort of waved my hand as if by accident, and
the storekeeper's son emerged from space and said he had come