Unformatted text preview: he contents. I crossed over to it, studying the contents. There were one or
two pieces of old silver, a baby shoe belonging to King Charles the First, some Chinese jade figures, and
quite a number of African implements and curios. Wanting to examine one of the jade figures more
closely, I lifted the lid. It slipped through my fingers and fell.
At once I recognized the sound I had heard. It was this same table lid being shut down gently and
carefully. I repeated the action once or twice for my own satisfaction.
Then I lifted the lid to scrutinize the contents more closely.
I was still bending over the open silver table when Flora Ackroyd came into the room.
Quite a lot of people do not like Flora Ackroyd, but nobody can help admiring her. And to her friends
she can be very charming. The first thing that strikes you about her is her extraordinary fairness. She has
the real Scandinavian pale gold hair. Her eyes are blue - blue as the waters of a Norwegian fiord, and her
skin is cream and roses. She has square, boyish shoulders and slight hips. And to a jaded medical man it
is very refreshing to come across such perfect health. A simple straightforward English girl - I may be oldfashioned, but I think the genuine article takes a lot of
Flora joined me by the silver table, and expressed heretical doubts as to King Charles I ever having worn
the baby shoe.
'And anyway,' continued Miss Flora, 'all this making a fuss about things because someone wore or used
them seems to me all nonsense. They're not wearing or using them now.
That pen that George Eliot wrote The Mill on the Floss with - that sort of thing - well, it's only just a pen
after all. If you're really keen on George Eliot, why not get The Mill on the Floss in a cheap edition and
read it.' 'I suppose you never read such old out-of-date stuff. Miss Flora?' 'You're wrong, Dr Sheppard.
I love The Mill on the Floss: I was rather pleased to hear it. The things young women read nowadays and
profess to enjoy positively frighten me.
'You haven't congratulated me yet, Dr Sheppard,' said Flora. 'Haven't you heard?' She held out her left
hand. On the third finger of it was an exquisitely set single pearl.
'I'm going to marry Ralph, you know,' she went on.
'Uncle is very pleased. It keeps me in the family, you see.' I took both her hands in mine.
My dear,' I said, 'I hope you'll be very happy.' 'We've been engaged for about a month,' continued Flora
in her cool voice, 'but it was only announced yesterday.
Uncle is going to do up Cross-stones, and give it to us to live in, and we're going to pretend to farm.
Really, we shall hunt all the winter, town for the season, and then go yachting. I love the sea. And, of
course, I shall take a great interest in the parish affairs, and attend all the Mothers' Meetings.' Just then
Mrs Ackroyd rustled in, full of apologies for being late.
I am sorry to say I detest Mrs Ackroyd. She is all chains and teeth and bones. A most unpleasant
woman. She has small pale flinty blue eyes, and however gushing her words may be, those eyes others
always remain coldly s...
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