So quietly did the mowing of the old scythe go on, that fully three months had passed unnoticed since the two English brothers had been laid in one tomb in the strangers' cemetery at Rome. Mr and Mrs Sparkler were established in their own house: a little manSion, rather of the Tite Barnacle class, quite a triumph of inconvenience, with a perpetual smell in it of the day before yesterday's soup and coach-horses, but extremely dear, as being exactly in the centre of the habitable globe. In this enviable abode (and envied it really was by many people), Mrs Sparkler had intended to proceed at once to the demolition of the Bosom, when active hostilities had been suspended by the arrival of the Courier with his tidings of death. Mrs Sparkler, who was not unfeeling, had received them with a violent burst of grief, which had lasted twelve hours; after which, she had arisen to see about her mourning, and to take every precaution that could ensure its being as becoming as Mrs Merdle's. A gloom was then cast over more than one distinguished family (according to the politest sources of intelligence), and the Courier went back again.
Mr and Mrs Sparkler had been dining alone, with their gloom cast over them, and Mrs Sparkler reclined on a drawing-room sofa. It was a hot summer Sunday evening. The residence in the centre of the habitable globe, at all times stuffed and close as if it had an incurable cold in its head, was that evening particularly stifling.
The bells of the churches had done their worst in the way of clanging among the unmelodious echoes of the streets, and the lighted windows of the churches had ceased to be yellow in the grey dusk, and had died out opaque black. Mrs Sparkler, lying on her sofa, looking through an open window at the opposite side of a narrow street over boxes of mignonette and flowers, was tired of the view. Mrs Sparkler, looking at another window where her husband stood in the balcony, was tired of that view. Mrs Sparkler, looking at herself in her mourning, was even tired of that view: though, naturally, not so tired of that as of the other two.
'It's like lying in a well,' said Mrs Sparkler, changing her position fretfully. 'Dear me, Edmund, if you have anything to say, why don't you say it?'
Mr Sparkler might have replied with ingenuousness, 'My life, I have nothing to say.' But, as the repartee did not occur to him, he contented himself with coming in from the balcony and standing at the side of his wife's couch.
'Good gracious, Edmund!' said Mrs Sparkler more fretfully still, you are absolutely putting mignonette up your nose! Pray don't!'
Mr Sparkler, in absence of mind--perhaps in a more literal absence of mind than is usually understood by the phrase--had smelt so hard at a sprig in his hand as to be on the verge of the offence in question. He smiled, said, 'I ask your pardon, my dear,' and threw it out of window.
'You make my head ache by remaining in that position, Edmund,' said Mrs Sparkler, raising her eyes to him after another minute; 'you look so aggravatingly large by this light. Do sit down.'
'Certainly, my dear,' said Mr Sparkler, and took a chair on the same spot.
'If I didn't know that the longest day was past,' said Fanny, yawning in a dreary manner, 'I should have felt certain this was the longest day. I never did experience such a day.'
'Is that your fan, my love?' asked Mr Sparkler, picking up one and presenting it.
'Edmund,' returned his wife, more wearily yet, 'don't ask weak questions, I entreat you not. Whose can it be but mine?'
'Yes, I thought it was yours,' said Mr Sparkler.
'Then you shouldn't ask,' retorted Fanny. After a little while she turned on her sofa and exclaimed, 'Dear me, dear me, there never was such a long day as this!' After another little while, she got up slowly, walked about, and came back again.
'My dear,' said Mr Sparkler, flashing with an original conception, 'I think you must have got the fidgets.'
'Oh, Fidgets!' repeated Mrs Sparkler.