“Study it on utilitarian principles. Lady Twaddle-twaddle sends her cook, or her gardener, or her boot-boy to be treated in Roxton Hospital. You exercise yourself on the boot-boy or the cook, and Lady Twaddle-twaddle approves the cure. Praise is never thrown away. Let the old ladies who attend missionary meetings say of you, ‘that Dr. Steel is so kind and attentive to the poor.’ We have to lay the foundation of a palace in the soil.”
Parker Steel chuckled, knowing that behind Mrs. Betty’s elegant verbiage there was a tenacity of purpose that would have surprised her best friends.
“I wonder whether Murchison is as privileged as I am?” he said, passing his cup over the red tea cosy.
“I suppose the woman gushes for 杭州桑拿耍耍网 him, just as I work my wits for you.”
“The Amazons of Roxton.”
“We live in a civilized age, Parker, but the battle is no less bitter for us. I use my head. Half the words I speak are winged for a final end.”
“You are clever enough, Betty,” he confessed.
“We both have brains”—and she gave an ironical laugh—“I shall not be content till the world, our world, fully recognizes that fact. Old Hicks is past his work. Murchison is the only rival you need consider. Therefore, Parker, our battle is with the gentleman of Lombard Street.”
“And with the wife?”
“That is my affair.”
Such life feuds as are chronicled in the hatred of a Fredegonde for a Brunehaut may be studied in miniature in many a modern setting. Ever since childhood Betty Steel and Catherine Murchison had been born foes. Their innate instincts had seemed antagonistic 杭州水疗会所哪家好 and repellent, and the life of Roxton had not chastened the tacit feud. Girls together at the same school, they had fought for leadership and moral sway. Catherine had been one of those creatures in whom the deeper feelings of womanhood come early to the surface. Children had loved her; her arms had been always open to them, and she had stood out as a species of little mother to whom the owners of bleeding knees had run for comfort.
The rivalry of girlhood had deepened into the rivalry of womanhood. They were the “beauties” of Roxton; the one generous, ruddy, and open-hearted; the other sleek, white-faced, a studied artist in elegance and charm. Both were admired and championed by their retainers; Catherine popular with the many, Betty served by the few. Miss Elizabeth had beheld herself the less favored goddess, and as of old 杭州水疗spa the apple of Paris had had the power to inflame.
Catherine’s final crime against her rival had been her marrying of James Murchison. Miss Betty had chosen the gentleman for herself, though she would rather have bitten her tongue off than have confessed the fact. The hatred of the wife had been extended to the husband, and Dr. Parker Steel had assuaged the smart. And thus the rivalry of these two women lived on intensified by the professional rivalry of two men.
As for my lady Betty, she hated the wife in Lombard Street with all the quiet virulence of her nature. It was the hate of the head for the heart, of the intellect for the soul. Envy and jealousy were sponsors to the bantling that Betty Steel had reared. Catherine Murchison had children; Mrs. Steel had none. Her detestation of her rival was the
more intense even because 杭州丝袜会所门店 she recognized the good in her that made her loved by others. Catherine Murchison had a larger following than Mrs. Steel in Roxton, and the truth strengthened the poison in the stew.
With Catherine the feeling was more one of distaste than active enmity. Betty Steel repelled her, even as certain electrical currents repel the magnet. She mistrusted the woman, avoided her, even ignored her, an attitude which did not fail to influence Mrs. Betty. Catherine Murchison’s heart was too full of the deeper happiness of life for her to trouble her head greatly about the pale and fastidious Greek whose dark eyes flashed whenever she passed the great red brick house in Lombard Street. Life had a June warmth for Catherine. Nor had she that innate restlessness of soul that fosters jealousy and the passion for climbing above the common 杭州按摩街 crowd.
Parker Steel reminded his wife, as he rose from the breakfast-table, of a certain charity concert that was to be given at the Roxton public hall the same evening.
“Are you going?”
“Yes, I believe so; Mrs. Fraser extorted a guinea from us; I may as well get something for my money. And you?”
Her husband smoothed his hair and looked in the mirror.
“Expecting a confinement. If you get a chance, be polite to old Fraser, she would be worth bagging in the future, and Murchison thieved her from old Hicks.”
Catherine Murchison sang at the charity concert that night, and Mrs. Betty listened to her with the outward complacency of an angel. The big woman in her black dress, with a white rose in her ruddy hair, bowed and smiled to the enthusiasts of the Roxton slums who knew her nearly as well as they knew her husband. Catherine Murchison’s rare contralto flowed unconcernedly over her rival’s head. She sang finely, and without effort, and the voice seemed part of her, a touch of the sunset, a breath from the fields of June. Catherine’s nature came out before men in her singing. A glorious unaffectedness, a charm with no trick of the self-conscious egoist. It was this very naturalness, this splendid unconcern that had forever baffled Mrs. Betty Steel. The woman was proof against the mundane sneer. Ridicule could not touch her, and the burrs of spite fell away from her smooth completeness.
“By George, what a voice that woman has!”