More About Portia and Daphne

Just a little later in the book, giving you a sense of the humor present.

from The Death of the Heart
Elizabeth Bowen

" And also, Portia comes from abroad."

"Oh! And what do you think of our English policemen, then?"

"Daphne, don't always joke, dear. Be a good girl and tell Doris to clear tea."

Dphne put her head back and bellowed, "Doris!" and Doris gave her a look as she nimbled in with the tray. Portia realised later that that tomblike hush of Smoot's library, where she had to sit all day, dealing out hated books, was not only antipathetic but even dangerous to Daphne. So, once home, she kept fit by making a loud noise. Daphne never simply touched objects, she slapped down her hand on them, she made up her mouth the gesture of someone cutting their throat. Even when the wireless was not on full blast, Daphne often shouted as though it were. So. when Daphne's homecoming step was heard on the esplanade, Mrs. Heccomb had learned to draw a shutter over her nerves. So much of her own working life had been spent in intercepting noise that might annoy others, in saying "Qiuetly, please, dear," to young people, that she may even have got a sort of holiday pleasure from letting Daphne rip. The degree of blare and glare she permitted Daphne may even have been Mrs. Heccomb's own tribute to the life force it had for so long been her buiness to check.  So much did she identify noise with Dapthne's presence that if the wireless stopped or there were a pause in the shouting, Mrs. Heccomb would get up from her painting and either close a window or poke the fire--any lack felt by any one of her senses always made her imagine she felt cold.


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