The Greater Trumps

The Greater Trumps

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by Charles Williams
     
 

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"...perfect Babel," Mr. Coningsby said peevishly, threw himself into a
chair, and took up the evening paper. "But Babel never was perfect, was
it?" Nancy said to her brother in a low voice, yet not so low that her
father could not hear if he chose. He did not choose, because at the
moment he could not think of a sufficiently short sentence; a minuteSee more details below

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"...perfect Babel," Mr. Coningsby said peevishly, threw himself into a
chair, and took up the evening paper. "But Babel never was perfect, was
it?" Nancy said to her brother in a low voice, yet not so low that her
father could not hear if he chose. He did not choose, because at the
moment he could not think of a sufficiently short sentence; a minute
afterwards it occurred to him that he might have said, "Then it's
perfect now." But it didn't matter; Nancy would only have been rude
again, and her brother too. Children were. He looked at his sister, who
was reading on the other side of the fire. She looked comfortable and
interested, so he naturally decided to disturb her.

"And what have you been doing to-day, Sybil?" he asked, with an
insincere good will, and as she looked up he thought angrily, "Her
skin's getting clearer every day."

"Why, nothing very much," Sybil Coningsby said. "I did some shopping,
and I made a cake, and went for a walk and changed the library books.
And since tea I've been reading."

"Nice day," Mr. Coningsby answered, between a question and a sneer,
wishing it hadn't been, though he was aware that if it hadn't been...
but then it was certain to have been. Sybil always seemed to have nice
days. He looked at his paper again. "I see the Government are putting a
fresh duty on dried fruits," he snorted.

Sybil tried to say something, and failed. She was getting stupid, she
thought, or (more probably) lazy. There ought to be something to say
about the Government putting a duty on dried fruits. Nancy spoke
instead.

"You're slow, auntie," she said. "The correct answer is: 'I suppose that
means that the price will go up!' The reply to that is, 'Everything goes
up under this accursed Government!'"

"Will you please let me do my own talking, Nancy?" her father snapped at
her.

"Then I wish you'd talk something livelier than the Dead March in Saul,"
Nancy said.

"You're out of date again, Nancy," jeered her brother. "Nobody plays
that old thing nowadays."

"Go to hell!" said Nancy.

Mr. Coningsby immediately stood up. "Nancy, you shall not use such
language in this house," he called out.

"O, very well," Nancy said, walked to the window, opened it, put her
head out, and said to the world, but (it annoyed her to feel) in a more
subdued voice, "Go to hell." She pulled in her head and shut the window.
"There, father," she said, "that wasn't in the house."

Sybil Coningsby said equably, "Nancy, you're in a bad temper."

"And suppose I am?" Nancy answered. "Who began it?"

"Don't answer your aunt back," said Mr. Coningsby, still loudly. "She at
least is a lady."

"She's more," said Nancy. "She's a saint. And I'm a worm and the child
of..."

She abandoned the sentence too late. Her father picked up his paper,
walked to the door, turned his head, uttered, "If I am wanted, Sybil, I
shall be in my study," and went out. Ralph grinned at Nancy; their aunt
looked at them both with a wise irony.

"What energy!" she murmured, and Nancy looked back at her, half in
anger, half in admiration.

"Doesn't father ever annoy you, auntie?" she asked.

"No, my dear," Miss Coningsby said.

"Don't we ever annoy you?" Nancy asked again.

"No, my dear," Miss Coningsby said.

"Doesn't anyone ever annoy you, aunt?" Ralph took up the chant.

"Hardly at all," Miss Coningsby said. "What extraordinary ideas you
children have! Why should anyone annoy me?"

"Well, we annoy father all right," Nancy remarked, "and I never mean to
when I begin. But Ralph and I weren't making all that noise--and anyhow
Babel wasn't perfect."

Sybil Coningsby picked up her book again. "My dear Nancy, you never do
begin; you just happen along," she said, and dropped her eyes so
resolutely to her page that Nancy hesitated to ask her what she meant.

The room was settling back into the quiet which had filled it before Mr.
Coningsby's arrival, when the bell of the front door rang. Nancy sprang
to her feet and ran into the hall. "Right, Agnes," she sang: "I'll see
to it."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940013775732
Publisher:
WDS Publishing
Publication date:
01/13/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
685,531
File size:
0 MB

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