The Way We Live Now
Everybody Goes To Them
When the Melmottes went from Caversham the house was very desolate. The task of
entertaining these people was indeed over, and had the return to London been fixed for a
certain near day, there would have been comfort at any rate among the ladies of the
family. But this was so far from being the case that the Thursday and Friday passed
without anything being settled, and dreadful fears began to fill the minds of Lady
Pomona and Sophia Longestaffe. Georgiana was also impatient, but she asserted boldly
that treachery, such as that which her mother and sister contemplated, was impossible.
Their father, she thought, would not dare to propose it. On each of these days three or
four times daily hints were given and questions were asked, but without avail. Mr
Longestaffe would not consent to have a day fixed till he had received some particular
letter, and would not even listen to the suggestion of a day. 'I suppose we can go at any
rate on Tuesday,' Georgiana said on the Friday evening. 'I don't know why you should
suppose anything of the kind,' the father replied. Poor Lady Pomona was urged by her
daughters to compel him to name a day; but Lady Pomona was less audacious in urging
the request than her younger child, and at the same time less anxious for its completion.
On the Sunday morning before they went to church there was a great discussion upstairs.
The Bishop of Elmham was going to preach at Caversham church, and the three ladies
were dressed in their best London bonnets. They were in their mother's room, having just
completed the arrangements of their church-going toilet. It was supposed that the
expected letter had arrived. Mr Longestaffe had certainly received a despatch from his
lawyer, but had not as yet vouchsafed any reference to its contents. He had been more
than ordinarily silent at break. fast, and so Sophia asserted more disagreeable than ever.
The question had now arisen especially in reference to their bonnets. 'You might as well
wear them,' said Lady Pomona, 'for I am sure you will not be in London again this year.'
'You don't mean it, mamma,' said Sophia.
'I do, my dear. He looked like it when he put those papers back into his pocket. I know
what his face means so well.'
'It is not possible,' said Sophia. 'He promised, and he got us to have those horrid people
because he promised.'
'Well, my dear, if your father says that we can't go back, I suppose we must take his word
for it. It is he must decide of course. What he meant I suppose was, that he would take us
back if he could.'