Join date: Jun 11, 2022


Charlotte was Kean’s only child but she bore no resemblance to him, being tall, extremely tall for a woman, all of five foot eight and thin with it. Moreover, she had what was commonly called a neb on her. Her nose was large; her mouth, too, was large but in proportion to her face. Her eyes were a greeny grey and her hair was black. She was an ugly young woman yet in some strange way she had just missed being beautiful for each feature taken by itself was good even though, together, one cancelled another out. Her features gave the impression of strength, even of masculinity. It was understood in the office that she knew as much about the business as did her father, yet she rarely came here. Rory hadn’t seen her but half a dozen times in four years, and each appearance had given him material for jokes in the kitchen, especially at the Sunday gatherings

He had from time to time openly teased John George about her. John George had said he felt sorry for her, because a young woman like her had little chance of being married. His words had proved true, for here she was at twenty-eight and still on the shelf.

But there was one thing his master’s daughter possessed that he couldn’t make game of, in fact it had the power to make him feel ill at ease, and that was her voice. There was no hint of the Tyneside twang about it. This he understood had come about by her being sent away to one of those posh schools when she was no more than ten, from which she hadn’t come back to Shields for good until she was turned seventeen.

She gave them no greeting—one didn’t greet clerks —but stared at Rory before demanding briefly, ‘My father in?’

‘Yes, miss.’ Rory inclined his head towards the door.

She stood for a moment longer looking from one to the other. Then her eyes resting once more on Rory, she surveyed him from head to toe, as he said bitterly afterwards, ‘Like some bloody buyer at a livestock show.’ But he wasn’t going to be intimidated by any look she could cast over him, and so he returned it. His eyes ranged from her fur-trimmed hat down over her grey velour coat with its brown fur collar, right to her feet encased in narrow-toed brown kid boots. He had noticed her feet before. They were so narrow he wondered how she balanced on them, how she got boots to fit them. But when you had money you could be fitted from top to toe and inside an’ all, but he’d like to bet with that face her habit shirts would be made of calico, unbleached at that, no lace camisoles for her. Anyway, she had nothing to push in them.


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