Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
For the sophisticated conversationalists of Mrs. Brookenham’s social set, innuendo and the hinted nuance are a way of life. Indeed, their lives reside largely in talk. After Mr. Longdon spends his first evening at Mrs. Brookenham’s, he has a long conversation with Gustavus Vanderbank, a remarkably handsome and imposing member of the set. Van is taken with the older man, whose manner contrasts charmingly with that of the set, and Mr. Longdon, despite misgivings about that set, is similarly pleased. Mr. Longdon confides to Van that he was a suitor to both Van’s mother and Mrs. Brook’s mother, Lady Julia, and that he never forgot his feelings for the latter, who is dramatically different from her daughter. Upon seeing a picture of Nanda, Mr. Longdon exclaims on her similarity to Lady Julia. The conversation ends with Mr. Longdon’s revealing that the conversational tone of Mrs. Brook’s evening indeed shocks him.
When she catches her son Harold in the act of stealing a five-pound note, Mrs. Brook has a colloquy with him. She is in her family mode, a studied and languorous melancholy quite at odds with her public manner, and her conversation turns on the problem of getting Harold invited to house parties and the family’s financial straits. Harold leaves when the duchess enters, and the talk turns to Nanda, who is visiting her married friend Tishy Grendon. The duchess chides Mrs. Brook for allowing her daughter to mingle with such questionable...
(The entire section is 1093 words.)
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