potatoes which came with it. ‘What are we going to do this afternoon?’

‘What you like,’ replied her aunt. ‘Crete? Edris? What are your suggestions?’

‘I shall explore the city,’ said Mr Tidson, ‘and possibly I shall seek an interview with the editor of the local paper. I shall be happiest alone.’

‘I shall sit in the sun lounge, which appears to be warm and pleasant, and get on with my embroidery,’ said Crete.

‘Then you and I will walk to St Cross,’ said Miss Carmody, ‘if you would like that, Connie.’

Connie said that she would like it very much, and Crete asked what there was to see at St Cross. Whilst Miss Carmody (interrupted often by Mr Tidson, who had read up St Cross in a guide book before he had left London) was answering this question, the plates were changed and the party received jam roll and custard, or, if they preferred it, plum tart.

Mr Tidson finished his beer, and, before anyone could prevent it, he had crossed over to Mrs Bradley’s table and was soon in a deep discussion upon cheese, for she had chosen cheese and biscuit rather than the sweet course. Mr Tidson was inclined to reproach her for declining the excellent jam roll, and they had a pleasant and inspiring conversation before he returned to his place.

After lunch Mrs Bradley accepted an invitation from Miss Carmody to accompany herself and her niece to St Cross, and none of them saw any more of the Tidsons until dinner.

‘I hope you are staying a good long time,’ said Connie, to the great surprise of her aunt.

‘I hope to stay as long as you all do,’ Mrs Bradley replied. ‘I am very fond of Winchester, and, besides, Miss Carmody and I have much to talk about.’

‘You’ll have more still if Uncle Edris finds his water-nymph,’ said Connie. Mrs Bradley looked interested and asked for an explanation, although she had already, on the telephone, received tidings of the water-nymph from Miss Carmody. She could perceive, however, that Connie was even more in need of help than Mr Tidson.

‘Ah,’ she said, when Connie, who had some wit and a gift of mimicry, had given a lively picture of Mr Tidson’s raptures, ‘that explains the expression in his eye. He looks gleeful, a sign I have learned to dread in my patients. But all is now made clear. Clear as the waters of the Itchen,’ she added, regarding the crystal river with great favour, for they had made short work of the distance between the Domus and College Walk.

‘You don’t think Edris is mad?’ asked Miss Carmody anxiously. ‘I shouldn’t mind in the ordinary way, but I don’t much want him mad in an hotel.’

‘No, it is not the place,’ Mrs Bradley gravely agreed. ‘But, indeed, no such thought had crossed my mind. I remarked upon my patients because, with the exception of very small children engaged upon very dark deeds, I do not see gleeful persons unless they are in some degree abnormal.’

‘But Uncle Edris is a small child engaged upon dark deeds,’ observed Connie. Mrs Bradley disregarded this, and looked expectantly at Miss Carmody.

‘Yes, I am afraid that Edris is abnormal. He has lived thirty-five years surrounded by nothing but bananas,’ Miss Carmody explained with great simplicity.

‘I see,’ Mrs Bradley replied. She looked thoughtful. ‘No doubt that would make a great impression, especially on a sensitive spirit. Has Mr Tidson a sensitive spirit?’

Connie glanced at her to find out whether she could be laughing, but Mrs Bradley was gazing benignly upon the prospect of St Catherine’s Hill, which could be seen half a mile away on the further side of the river. Her expression gave no clue to her thoughts, but, whatever these may have been, it hardly seemed likely, judging from her profile, that they were of a humorous nature.

The conversation turned to earthworks, and then to thirteenth-century architecture, and the subject of Mr Tidson’s peculiarities was not resumed. The three ladies had an interesting hour at the medieval hospital, over which they were conducted by one of the brothers, and then they returned to the city by the way they had come, and, at Connie’s request, had tea not at the hotel but at tea-rooms which were partly supported by the only remaining pillar of William the Conqueror’s Norman palace, a relic which Connie found romantic.

It was half-past five before they returned to the Domus. Crete Tidson had given up her embroidery and was reading an evening paper brought to her by a young man who had already fallen in love with her greenish hair, slim body and (as he said) fathomless eyes. Of Mr Tidson there was no sign.

‘You might be the naiad yourself, Crete,’ said Miss Carmody, greeting her. ‘Has Edris come in yet from his walk?’

Crete, who had looked startled by the reference to the naiad, resumed her expression of remoteness and slight boredom, and replied that Edris had come in to tea at half-past four and had eaten everything on the tray except the one piece of brown bread and butter which had fallen to his wife’s portion. She added that he had then gone out again.

‘He is as pleased as a child with Winchester,’ she remarked at the conclusion of this narrative.

‘I should not have supposed that a child would have been particularly pleased with Winchester. I should have thought it was an adult person’s heaven,’ Mrs Bradley thoughtfully observed. Crete gave her the same kind of sharp and startled glance as she had bestowed upon Miss Carmody at mention of the naiad, but Mrs Bradley remained in bland contemplation of the scarlet geraniums which, apart from smooth lawn, brown earth, a gravel path, a disused chicken coop and an aristocratic mound which covered the out-of-date air-raid shelter, formed the chief attraction of the somewhat unimaginative garden.

‘Well, Edris is rather like a child, in many ways, when he is pleased. That was what I meant,’ said Crete. ‘Have you all had tea? And is there a bookshop near? I cannot embroider all the time.’

Connie told her where to find a bookshop, and said that there was a lending library at the back of it.

‘You go through the shop,’ she added helpfully.

‘No, thank you!’ said Crete. ‘I only like new books. By that I mean books which have not been handled by others.’

‘But I expect they have. The new ones, I mean,’ said Miss Carmody. ‘People handle the new books to see what they want in exchange for their book tokens. No one ever knows what to do with a book token. I’ve noticed it.’

‘Oh, I do!’ cried Connie. ‘All my friends give me book tokens, and I give them book tokens, too. It saves all the bother of presents.’

‘But it isn’t the same fun,’ said Miss Carmody, who had certain old-fashioned ideas, although not very many.

‘Well, I must have a book, and it must be a new one. Edris will have to find me something,’ said Crete. ‘He will know what to get, no doubt. I am not hard to please.’

Confronted upon his return with the task of finding her a book which should be both light and sensible, Mr Tidson, who seemed to be in great good humour, promised to attend to it in the morning, as the shop would most certainly be shut at that time of the evening.

‘I will get you a guide book,’ he said. ‘It will save you the trouble of visiting the places of interest, and will last you longer than a novel.’

Miss Carmody, to whom these uses of a guide book had not previously occurred, looked somewhat surprised. Mrs Bradley cackled, and Crete observed that Edris sometimes had very good ideas. She added that she had had no intention whatsoever of visiting the places of interest, but that one should be informed upon matters of cultural and historic importance, and that a guide book would be most welcome.

Upon this note of conjugal understanding and felicity, husband and wife went up to dress for dinner, and Connie, who did not think much of the walk she had had that afternoon, went out, as she said, to stretch her legs. Miss Carmody, with a grateful sigh, sat down beside Mrs Bradley.

‘Well, what do you make of Edris and Crete?’ she enquired.

‘They seem well matched,’ replied Mrs Bradley thoughtfully. This comment seemed to cause Miss Carmody some surprise. ‘Will they enjoy their stay in England, do you think?’ Mrs Bradley went on.

‘It is not a stay. It is permanent,’ Miss Carmody replied. She hesitated, and then added, ‘Edris has retired from his banana plantation, although not as comfortably, I believe, as he had hoped. He has had losses, I understand, and then I suppose trade must have suffered somewhat during the war. I believe they have not much to live on, and as I believe they propose to live on me, that will not be much for them, either.’

Politeness forbade Mrs Bradley to ask more, and she turned the conversation on to Connie, who seemed, she

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