Queen Lucia

E.F. Benson
Queen Lucia

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Title: Queen Lucia
Author: E. F. Benson
Release Date: November, 2004 [EBook #6840] [Yes, we are more than
one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on January 31,

Edition: 10
Language: English
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Queen Lucia

by E. F. Benson
Chapter ONE
Though the sun was hot on this July morning Mrs Lucas preferred to
cover the half-mile that lay between the station and her house on her
own brisk feet, and sent on her maid and her luggage in the fly that her
husband had ordered to meet her. After those four hours in the train a
short walk would be pleasant, but, though she veiled it from her
conscious mind, another motive, sub-consciously engineered, prompted
her action. It would, of course, be universally known to all her friends
in Riseholme that she was arriving today by the 12.26, and at that hour
the village street would be sure to be full of them. They would see the
fly with luggage draw up at the door of The Hurst, and nobody except
her maid would get out.
That would be an interesting thing for them: it would cause one of
those little thrills of pleasant excitement and conjectural exercise which

supplied Riseholme with its emotional daily bread. They would all
wonder what had happened to her, whether she had been taken ill at the
very last moment before leaving town and with her well-known
fortitude and consideration for the feelings of others, had sent her maid
on to assure her husband that he need not be anxious. That would
clearly be Mrs Quantock's suggestion, for Mrs Quantock's mind,
devoted as it was now to the study of Christian Science, and the
determination to deny the existence of pain, disease and death as
regards herself, was always full of the gloomiest views as regards her
friends, and on the slightest excuse, pictured that they, poor blind
things, were suffering from false claims. Indeed, given that the fly had
already arrived at The Hurst, and that its arrival had at this moment
been seen by or reported to Daisy Quantock, the chances were vastly in
favour of that lady's having already started in to give Mrs Lucas absent
treatment. Very likely Georgie Pillson had also seen the anticlimax of
the fly's arrival, but he would hazard a much more probable though
erroneous solution of her absence. He would certainly guess that she
had sent on her maid with her luggage to the station in order to take a
seat for her, while she herself, oblivious of the passage of time, was
spending her last half hour in contemplation of the Italian masterpieces
at the National Gallery, or the Greek bronzes at the British Museum.
Certainly she would not be at the Royal Academy, for the culture of
Riseholme, led by herself, rejected as valueless all artistic efforts later
than the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and a great deal of what went
before. Her husband with his firm grasp of the obvious, on the other
hand, would be disappointingly capable even before her maid
confirmed his conjecture, of concluding that she had merely walked
from the station.
The motive, then, that made her send her cab on, though
subconsciously generated, soon penetrated into her consciousness, and
these guesses at what other people would think when they saw it arrive
without her, sprang from the dramatic element that formed so large a
part of her mentality, and made her always take, as by right divine, the
leading part in the histrionic entertainments with which the cultured of
Riseholme beguiled or rather strenuously occupied such moments as
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