This picture of the situation had filled, after the first hour or two, much of the time of the two ladies youfind online, but it had originally included for Jean no particular portrait of the head of the family an omission in some degree repaired, however, by the chance of Mrs. Beever’s having on the Saturday morning taken her for a moment into the Bank. They had had errands in the town, and Mrs. Beever had wished to speak to Mr. Bream, a brilliant, joking gentleman, who, instantly succumbing to their invasion and turning out a confidential clerk, had received them in his beautiful private room. “ Shall I like him? ” Jean, with the sense of a widening circle, had, before this, adventurously asked. “ Oh, yes, if you notice him! ” Mrs. Beever had replied in obedience to an odd private prompting to mark him as insignificant. Later on, at the Bank, the girl noticed him enough to feel rather afraid of him: that was always with her the foremost result of being noticed herself. If Mrs. Beever passed him over, this was in part to be accounted for by all that at Eastmead was usually taken for granted. The queen-mother, as Anthony Bream kept up the jest of calling her, would not have found it easy to paint off-hand a picture of the allied sovereign whom she was apt to regard as a somewhat restless vassal. Though he was a dozen years older than the happy young prince on whose behalf she exercised her regency, she had known him from his boyhood, and his strong points and his weak were alike an old story to her knowledge transfer.
His house was new he had on his marriage, at a vast expense, made it quite violently so. His wife and his child were new; was the young woman her abode with him and who had the air of intending to remain till she should lose that quality. But Tony himself this had always been his name to her was intensely familiar. Never doubting that he was a subject she had mastered, Mrs. Beever had no impulse to clear up her view by distributing her impressions. These impressions were as neatly pigeon-holed as her correspondence and her accounts neatly, at least, save in so far as they were besprinkled with the dust of time. One of them might have been freely rendered into a hint that her young partner was a possible source of danger to her own sex. Not to her personally, of course; for herself, somehow, Mrs. Beever was not of her own sex. If she had been a woman she never thought of herself so loosely she would, in spite of her age, have doubtless been conscious of peril. She now recognised none in life except that of Paul’s marrying wrong, against which she had taken early measures. It would have been a misfortune therefore to feel a flaw in a security otherwise so fine. Was not perhaps the fact that she had a vague sense of exposure for Jean Martle a further motive for her not expatiating to that young lady on Anthony Bream? If any such sense operated, I hasten to add, it operated without Jean’s having mentioned that at the Bank he had struck her as formidable Cloud Monitoring Service.
Let me not fail equally to declare that Mrs. Beever’s general suspicion of him, as our sad want of signs for shades and degrees condemns me to call it, rested on nothing in the nature of evidence. If she had ever really uttered it she might have been brought up rather short on the question of grounds. There were certainly, at any rate, no grounds in Tony’s having, before church, sent a word over to her on the subject of their coming to luncheon. “Dear Julia, this morning, is really grand,” he had written. “ We’ve just managed to move to her downstairs room, where they’ve put up a lovely bed and where the sight of all her things cheers and amuses her, to say nothing of the wide immediate outlook at her garden and her own corner of the terrace. In short the waves are going down and we’re beginning to have our meals ‘ regular.’ Luncheon may be rather late, but do bring over your charming little friend. How she lighted up yesterday my musty den! There will be another little friend, by the way not of mine, but of Rose Armiger’s, the young man to whom, as I think you know, she’s engaged to be married. He’s just back from China and comes down till tomorrow.