I divined that my coming had stopped conversation in the room, and that its other occupants were looking at me. I could see nothing of the room except the shining of the fire in the window-glass, but I stiffened in all my joints with the consciousness that I was under close inspection.
There were three ladies in the room and one gentleman. Before I had been standing at the window five minutes, they somehow conveyed to me that they were all toadies and humbugs, but that each of them pretended not to know that the others were toadies and humbugs: because the admission that he or she did know it, would have made him or her out to be a toady and humbug.
They all had a listless and dreary air of waiting somebody's pleasure, and the most talkative of the ladies had to speak quite rigidly to repress a yawn. This lady, whose name was Camilla, very much reminded me of my sister, with the difference that she was older, and (as I found when I caught sight of her) of a blunter cast of features. Indeed, when I knew her better I began to think it was a Mercy she had any features at all, so very blank and high was the dead wall of her face.
'Poor dead soul!' said this lady, with an abruptness of manner quite my sister's. 'Nobody's enemy but his own!'
'It would be much more commendable to be somebody else's enemy,' said the gentleman, 'far more natural.'
'Cousin Raymond,' observed another lady, 'we are to love our neighbour.'
'Sarah Pocket,' returned Cousin Raymond, 'if a man is not his own neighbour, who is?'
Miss Pocket laughed, and Camilla laughed and said (checking a yawn), 'The idea!' But I thought they seemed to think it rather a good idea too. The other lady, who had not spoken yet, said gravely and emphatically, 'Very true!'
'Poor soul!' Camilla presently went on (I knew they had all been looking at me in the mean time), 'he is so very strange! Would anyone believe that when Tom's wife died, he actually could not be induced to see the importance of the children's having the deepest of trimmings to their mourning? 'Good Lord' said he, 'Camilla, what can it signify so long as the poor bereaved little things are in black?' So like Matthew! The idea!'
- Debolina Raja Gupta