Sunday, 31 January 2010

An honest English face

The setting: a Channel steamer, travelling from Boulogne to Folkestone. The hero of Charlotte Yonge's novel Heartease overhears a conversation between two disreputable-looking men, in which they are being vaguely disrespectful about some unnamed people. He realises that he knows one of the men and the people they are talking about, but they don't know him. They notice he is listening:

As he spoke, the stranger turned on him an honest English face, the lips compressed into an expression of the utmost contempt, while indignation flashed into the penetrating gray eyes that looked on him steadily. His bold defiant gaze fell, quailing and scowling; he seemed to become small, shrink away, and disappeared.

Such a Victorian scene. I wish such things could really happen.

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