The Painted Veil Chapter 74

It was not till Kitty was fairly settled at the Townsends that she discovered that she was weary. The comfort and the unaccustomed amenity of this life broke up the strain under which she had been living. She had forgotten how pleasant it was to take one’s ease, how lulling to be surrounded by pretty things, and how agreeable it was to receive attention. She sank back with a sigh of relief into the facile existence of the luxurious East. It was not displeasing to feel that in a discreet and well-bred fashion she was an object of sympathetic interest. Her bereavement was so recent that it was impossible for entertainments to be given for her, but ladies of consequence in the Colony (His Excellency’s wife, the wives of the Admiral and of the Chief Justice) came to drink a quiet cup of tea with her. His Excellency’s wife said that His Excellency was most anxious to see her and if she would come very quietly to luncheon at Government House (‘not a party, of course, only ourselves and the A.D.C.’s!’), it would be very nice. These ladies used Kitty as though she were a piece of porcelain which was as fragile as it was precious. She could not fail to see that they looked upon her as a little heroine, and she had sufficient humour to play the part with modesty and discretion. She wished sometimes that Waddington were there; with his malicious shrewdness he would have seen the fun of the situation; and when alone they might have had a good laugh over it together. Dorothy had had a letter from him, and he had said all manner of things about her devoted work at the convent, about her courage and her self control. Of course he was skillfully pulling their legs: the dirty dog.