just when ethel thought that everything was "back to normal" , a postcard arrived from cousin stephen, not from ankara or calcutta but from bournemouth - only two miles away.
rabham, the hired man, was watching her from the french window, so she placed the postcard in the desk drawer and turned briskly toward cousin markton, who was lounging on the blue divan and smoking his eternal meerschaum.
“cousin stephen will be arriving later today."
"stephen, stephen. can't seem to place him. "
"you would have met him at the wedding of cousin sophia and cousin tancred. tall, slender, bit of a bully, bit of a cad, more than a bit of a snob."
"with one green eye and one violet? wore a monocle over the violet eye?"
"the very same."
"what's he been up to, eh? no good, most likely." markton took his pipe out of his mouth and studied it. "staying a while, is he?"
"he doesn't say how long he intends to stay."
"hmmm." markton twitched his shoulders and put his pipe back in his mouth.
“he might stay a long time,” markton finally observed.
“he might,” ethel agreed.
“or he might only stay a day or so.”
“he might do that also.”
“it’s a bit of a mystery, isn’t it?”
“i suppose it is.”
“everything is a bit of a mystery, isn’t it, when you get right down to it.”
ethel changed the subject. “the hired man is standing at the window again, staring at me.”
“you mean rabham? oh, he’s quite harmless. besides, how do you know he is staring at you particularly?”
“i know that he is. would you mind going outside and speaking to him?”
“oh, very well.” markton sat up, carefully knocked the ashes out of his pipe , and placed the pipe beside the ashtray on the low table beside the blue divan.
with a slight groan, markton pushed himself up off the divan and went outside and confronted rabham.
ethel watched them through the window.
after a couple of minutes, markton turned and reentered the house, followed by the hired man.
“rabham has a little sing he would like to sing to us,” markton announced.
“really?” ethel asked.
“yes, go ahead, rabham.”
rabham took a deep breath, and standing erect as a soldier on parade, commenced to sing in a loud clear voice.
“that was splendid, rabham, quite splendid indeed,” markton announced when the song was finished.
“just don’t eat it all,” ethel admonished rabham. “we have to save some for cousin stephen.”