267Next came Godwin. Did you not grudge me that pleasure, now ? At least, mourn that you were not there with me ? Grudge not, mourn not, dearest Jeanuie ; it was the most unutterable stupidity ever enacted on this earth. We went, Jack and I, to the huge Frenchwoman Mrs. Kenny’s (once Mrs. Holcroft), Badams’s mother-in-law, a sort of more masculine Aurelia (‘Wilhelm Meister’), who lives, moves, and has her being among plays, operas, dilettantes, and playwrights. Badams and his wife had not returned from the country, but in a few minutes came. Mrs. Godwin already sate gossiping in the dusk—an old woman of no significance; by and-by dropped in various play-wrightesses and playwrights, whom I did not even look at’; shortly before candles Godwin himself (who had been drinking good green tea by his own hearth before stirring out). He is a bald, bushy-browed, thick, hoary, hale little figure, taciturn enough, and speaking when he does speak with a certain epigrammatic spirit, wherein, except a little shrewdness, there is nothing but the most commonplace character. (I should have added that he wears spectacles, has full grey eyes, a very large blunt characterless nose, and ditto chin.) By degrees I hitched myself near him, and was beginning to open him and to open on him, for he had stared twice at me, when suddenly enough began a speaking of French among the Kennys and Badamsinas (for they are all French-English), and presently Godwin was summoned off to—take a hand at whist! I had already flatly declined. There did the philosopher sit, and a swarm of noisy children, chattering women, noisy dilettantes round him; and two women literally crashing hoarse thunder out of a piano (for it was louder than an iron forge) under pretext of its being music by Rossini. I thought of my own piano, and the far different fingering it got; looked sometimes not without sorrow at the long-nosed whist-player, and in the space of an hour (seeing supper about to be laid in another room) took myself away.