I see you skulking around as if you think you’re Hercule Poirot looking for clues to a murder which, I assure you, has not happened. I run a respectable household. Your invitation was to my husband’s soiree, which is in the drawing room. As an aspiring Miss Marple, I am certain you have noticed the distinction between the drawing room and the library.
Are you avoiding my husband by feigning an interest in books? Surely a man so accomplished at skulking must have a guilty conscience, which is a perfect qualification for my husband’s company. If I had such a thing, I would be positively revelling in the company of rogues he invited in my name. As I do not, I prefer my own company which you are now intruding on.
Keep your impertinences to yourself.
Of course I have a conscience. I have maintained its pristine condition by doing my duty as a hostess. I have supplied you with canapés, with the most accomplished harpist in the Home Counties and I with brandy. I graced you with my company until the brandy rendered you convivial enough to keep your own. Now I wish to keep my own company in my own library outwith the presence of those who do not know their Voltaire from their Trollope.
Please remove your petit-bourgeois smirk from your countenance. It’s an essential distinction in this room if no other. You may, if you please, smirk your way around the rest of the house for as long as the name ‘Trollope’ entertains you. You may smirk at it in the kitchens, in the parlour, in my bedroom, and if it pleases you, the servant’s quarters are entirely at your disposal.
In short, every room in the house is yours to smirk in, except for this one.
Close the door behind you, and do not lurk on the other side.
He’s gone, George. You can come out from under the chair now.