Preparations were next made for taking Thames on board. The room in which this interview took place had a sordid and miserable look. Were I a painter of subject pictures, I would exhaust all my skill in proportion and perspective and atmosphere upon the august seat of empire, I would present it gray and dignified and immense and respectable beyond any mere verbal description, and then, in vivid black and very small, I would put in those valiantly impertinent vans, squatting at the base of its altitudes and pouring out a swift, straggling rush of ominous little black objects, minute figures of determined women at war with the universe. And what a noise they made! This is how I used to call them. Both had dropped the rather elaborate politeness of the dining-room, and in their faces an impartial observer would have discovered little lines of obstinate wilfulness in common; a certain hardness—sharp, indeed, in the father and softly rounded in the daughter—but hardness nevertheless, that made every compromise a bargain and every charity a discount.
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