(* signifies a new contribution)
*Mrs Williams turned her attention to
*the state of the roads
* for the third time since breakfast. Her swarthy bulk conveyed a remarkable agitation of emotion for one usually so sedentary. She stirred on the chaise, shiney from her long residence, and sent Charlotte to the pine house to discover from the Doctor and the Commodore the cause of the delay.
"All this snow and there they spend all the morning. Brushes and little bags, forsooth," she said to the air in front of her. "Clever is as clever does, but fiddling with flowers', with, with flowers...peas...unnatural...in the extreme
*conditions we are experiencing and a shocking waste of coal at tuppence the hundreweight and who's to say but that we shall all be brought upon the parish and what will His Botanical Cleverness have to say then to peas I wonder with the girls' dowries all ate up look at the time and little Jack set to polishing shoes in Green Park. Mr Williams" she made a brief, uncharacteristic attempt to recall anything in particular about her late husband, but his face and character were more of a blank to her than the face of the full-case pendulum clock, "Mr Williams would not have countenanced peas he was never a man for greenstuff and squandering money on flowers - had nothing at all to say to the boom in tulips". i Charlotte had returned, bursting with news. "I say, Mr Williams had nothing at all to say to tulips" she told her grand daughter "and
* "The cottage! The cottage ahoy! Bring fire buckets!"
"Charlotte, my dear, you who are so fond of potatoes, have you ever considered"
*crossing a potato with a tomato why,
imagine the Economy!
fruit above and vegetable below my word there's
something your fine Dublin physician never thought of I am sure my dear
but really all this shouting" and then in a very slightly diminished voice
clearly audible throughout the parlour but understood by all to be unspoken "and
why shouldn't I set my thoughts in neat little phrases I should like to
know no ink wasted on
upper case or punctuation nor
electrons nor bandwidth the
Economy! what joys, what Joyce a poor body can
take in a few small economies" and then in her normal fine, strong carrying
voice, the bane and terror of unemployed servants throughout London and
Sussex, "so much shouting
it is a wonder the Commodore does not
fire buckets? flower buckets? La!
but there is the coach at last come my dear
all this horrid snow."
*-white door of the pinehouse from whose chimney issued cheerful chrysanthemum shaped puffs of smoke.
Stephen turned his gaze from the puffs of smoke to the flowers at his feet and thence to the whitey-yellowy-goldeny Grunida prancing and hallooing beside the coach, brisk with the vitality of his mixed inheritance. What, oh what had been the essence of last night's dream, full of portent and stranger and more satisfying than any he had known? What was the image that had returned to him in the pinehouse and would very likely have found expression had he not upset the unfortunate flagon of alcohol.
"Jack", he murmured abstractedly, "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosopy". Jack moved Charlotte's drooping head to a more comfortable position on his shoulder and leant closer towards his friend, "Do you know brother, I have felt the same thing. Only last night I had a dream in which I saw your peas and their young ordered mathematically very like ... but I find that the idea is fading and the words won't come or... but yes! I have it!!! Oh, but it must be committed to paper immediately! Would you have such a thing as an ink horn about you, Stephen?"
"Captain, that is to say, Commodore Aubrey you must find yourself prodigiously at your ease in the coach with your legs stretched out in that incovenient way". Mrs Williams grasped the opportunity to emerge from her sulk and to feign shrinking herself into the upholstery, " Pray do not bother to re-arrange yourself , I am not one to complain of being so crowded though my pelisse is sadly crushed and what were you saying? What is that you were whispering about with Dr Maturin?"
"We were merely speculating on ...
"Speculating! I have no patience with this craze for speculation. Nothing good ever came of it and I should be ashamed was I to speculate with my daughters' portions. Oh, _I_ was not taken in by the South Sea Company. _ I_ am not one for your speculating and I shall be entrusting _my_ capital to a sound merchant in an enterprise..." she paused to steady her voice and blow a nose tickling with avarice and chrysanthemums.
"No, no, mama," Sophie directed a placating smile at Stephen which almost absolved her mother from the sin of having so outrageously disrupted his thoughts, " I think the conversation was of dreams, of the prophetical nature of dreams. You know how you yourself mentioned to me in the parlour while you were attempting to rise from the chaise longue of an excellent notion that had just come to you in a dream".
"Yes. That is true, child. But then _my_ dreams are of more use than _some_ people's and so I shall be entrusting, as I have been wishing to tell you all morning only I was left quite alone except for Charlotte poor lamb, _my_ ten thousand to the care of Mr Montefiore of the City just as soon as ever we get to London cannot those Albinos drive the horses quicker? In an enterprise of great value and", Mrs Williams paused emphatically to gain the full attention of the coach, " NO ONE TO KNOW WHAT IT IS."
*Sophie, sensing the
disruption in Jack's conversation, drew her mother into a long, rambling
and highly if not specifically detailed account of this venture. Jack
turned to Stephen: "My dream was thus. Your peas have two characters each
with two states, making four combinations. Do you follow, Stephen?" Stephen
nodded, rapidly doing the sums in his head. "But
there are two parents, and thus sixteen combinations," Jack said.
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