"She was ever so complimentary, Bitty!" she said with delight, "Fancy!"
Mrs Payne drank her coffee, before saying warmly,
"I am pleased, dear. I'm sure it's no less than you deserve." Molly Faith smiled at this. It was one thing to have praise from someone new, but it meant more from her dear friend.
"Good morning" Mrs Payne said graciously, as Suzanne Marr sat down rather late at their table. Suzanne Marr responded briskly the same, immediately helping herself to coffee. Mrs Payne looked upon Suzanne Marr carefully as she poured her coffee. Looking tired, Mrs Payne imagined some time had been spent last night regards knitting.
"Did you sleep well, Mrs Marr?" Mrs Payne said brightly. Suzanne Marr put her teaspoon down firmly, as she raised her weary eyes to Mrs Payne's, saying equally brightly,
"Quite well, thank you, Mrs Payne."
Toast soon arrived, to which Suzanne Marr rapidly helped herself. Molly Faith and Mrs Payne looked at each other with concern. It was a custom vigorously adhered to by residents of the nursing home that when toast was served, it was to be offered to each person in turn as courtesy. Mrs Payne picked up the toast rack rigidly, saying purposefully,
"Mrs Faith, would you like a slice of toast?" to which Molly Faith replied with equal diction,
"Yes. Thank you, Mrs Payne." Helping herself to butter, Suzanne Marr heard this display and understood its meaning.
"I am pleased with my knitting" she said, ignoring the attempt.
"I do look forward to seeing it!" Molly Faith said with excitement. Mrs Payne reached to the butter dish, carelessly left off the tray by Suzanne Marr. It was empty.
"Nurse Goode?" Mrs Payne queried with a hint of annoyance. "We seem to have finished the butter, might we have some more?" Nurse Goode set off regards butter, as Mrs Payne carefully scraped the residue from the butter dish. Pleased with her excavations she spread it on her toast, covering all of a fingernail's size and promptly melting in. Mrs Payne carefully nibbled the buttered corner and put the slice back on her plate.
Having finished her toast, Suzanne Marr looked with a mixture of dismay and amusement as she saw there was not a jot of toast remaining in the rack, and that Mrs Payne and Molly Faith were both sat with a piece of dry toast waiting upon butter. Something struck her, and she said at once,
"I say! We probably have the first place, and last place of the craft competition on this very table! To think!"
"Oh, I rather thought.." Molly Faith said quietly, before Mrs Payne interjected,
"I dare say that you coming last is rather pessimistic, Mrs Marr. It's terribly nice of you to encourage Mrs Faith, all the same."
"I think we know I meant no discouragement, Mrs Payne" Suzanne Marr said, sharply. "Still, it is rather likely that Mrs Faith's item does poorly. I am sorry, Mrs Faith. Perhaps you might try watercolours?"
Mrs Payne smiled fiercely as Suzanne Marr ravaged her poor friend.
"I, for one" Mrs Payne retorted with carefree ease, "find Mrs Faith's work quite delightful. I would find much loss in the knitting community should Mrs Faith take to watercolours, although I daresay a lady of her talent may take to anything."
Molly Faith was looking at her toast despondently as Suzanne Marr bid them good morning, with which it took all her might to meekly say the same.
It was some moments of silence later that Nurse Goode appeared with butter.
"Sorry for the delay, Gladys is all a fluster!" she said, the phrase well known for meaning Gladys was cracking under the pressure of breakfast service. Mrs Payne smiled kindly, and before Nurse Goode had time to leave the table, firmly requested,
"Nurse, might we have more toast, and more coffee. Might we have a pair of sharp scissors, and might we be quick about it? Mrs Faith and I have a fearful lot of work regarding the craft competition." Nurse Goode scurried away at this, exclaiming to herself with concern,
"Oh dear, Gladys is going to positively pop!"
Next part to be published Thursday 11th October 2012, 12pm UK
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