Mr Waddington of Wyck by May Sinclair Page 1 of 248

MR. WADDINGTON OF WYCK
I

1

Barbara wished she would come back. For the last hour Fanny Waddington had kept on passing in and out of the room through the open door into the garden, bringing in tulips, white, pink, and red tulips, for the flowered Lowestoft bowls, hovering over them, caressing them with her delicate butterfly fingers, humming some sort of song to herself.

The song mixes itself up with the Stores list Barbara was making: "Two dozen glass towels. Twelve pounds of Spratt's puppy biscuits. One dozen gent.'s all-silk pyjamas, extra large size" ... "A-hoom-hoom, a-hoom-hoom" (that Impromptu of Schubert's), and with the notes Barbara was writing: "Mrs. Waddington has pleasure in enclosing...."

Fanny Waddington would always have pleasure in enclosing something.... "A ho-om-boom, hoom, hee." A sound so light that it hardly stirred the quiet of the room. If a butterfly could hum it would hum like Fanny Waddington.


Barbara Madden had not been two days at Lower Wyck Manor, and already she was at home there; she knew by heart Fanny's drawing-room with the low stretch of the Tudor windows at each end, their lattices panelled by the heavy mullions, the back one looking out on to the green garden bordered with wallflowers and tulips; the front one on to the round grass-plot and the sundial, the drive and the shrubbery beyond, down the broad walk that cut through it into the clear reaches of the park.

She liked the interior, the Persian carpet faded to patches of grey and fawn and old rose, the port-wine mahogany furniture, the tables thrusting out the brass claws of their legs, the latticed cabinets and bookcases, the chintz curtains and chair-covers, all red dahlias and powder-blue parrots on a cream-coloured ground.

But when Fanny wasn't there you could feel the room ache with the emptiness she left.



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