It’s hard to say, unless you’re one of those who can say anything, just what Tabitha meant by walking in and taking tea out from under everyone's noses but the result was something of an exaggerated mess. Mrs. Tallborn stood up immediately and walked out, sniffing as though her feelings had been so hurt that tears were already brimming. Miss. Talous, always seeking her next charity, leaned over and set her cake back on the table. “My dear, if you are in any way in need,”
But I was saved having to answer such an obserd question in a delicate way by Mrs. Smith laughing loudly, “If I had known that is all it takes to get rid of that priss, I’d have told my maid to start taking the tea out early years ago!”
Poor Mrs. Anderson, who had just moved to the area as a new bride, still sat staring blankly at her empty cup obviously unsure of what to do with it or herself.
“Now Mrs. Anderson,” Mrs. Smith called across the table as though she were on the other side of a foot ball field, what can you expect when the woman lives with her practically deaf mother? “You drink right up! No one is as well to do as Mrs. Gifford here. Not in the whole state!”
I’m afraid to say I began to blush, my husband’s wealth is something we try very hard not to broadcast, but Mrs. Smith’s husband is our accountant and a much less discreet person. I sputtered a few words trying to think of a way to go find out what Tabitha had done with the tea tray.
However that’s when Miss Talous added her sniff to the scene. “Well, I guess if you are unwilling to share with even your friends, why should you be expected to share with those who are in need?” And with that she got up and left the room. It all went back to last month when she asked for a contribution and I had only promised to discuss it with my husband.
Mrs. Smith laughed again, “Two down! Now this is company.” She looked at poor Mrs. Anderson who seemed to be perpetually mute and frozen staring at an empty tea cup. “Now don’t believe a word of it my dear. That woman wouldn’t have one of her charities if it weren't for Mrs. Gifford’s anonymous donations.”
“Mrs. Smith that is enough!” It came out of my mouth before I could catch it but REALLY she was going to lose her husband a client if this kept up.
That’s when Mrs. Smith got up. “Well, it’s the truth and I won’t be chastised for telling the truth.” She turned and slipped profanities all the way down the hall.
I turned to my last and most important guest. She was not only new to the area but also married to a man that traveled much for his work leaving her alone months at a time. I had hoped to introduce her to her neighbors and the most influential of women in the neighborhood. Now each had made something of a fool of themselves over a little bit of tea, how was she to trust them?
She still looked down at her tea cup as though it might hold the answers to the universes toughest questions. I leaned forward to touch her shoulder and make sure the scene hadn’t disturbed her too much when Mrs. Tallborn soared back into the room followed by Miss Talous and Mrs. Smith. They all stood indignantly at their tallest and Mrs. Tallborn spoke for them all, "Mrs. Anderson would you kindly move your car so that we may all depart this unhospitible home?”
I looked up trying to think of a way to sooth feelings and still wondering what had gotten into Tabitha when the aged maid sontered back into the room carrying the roast beef I had intended for dinner along with several plates. “Here you are Mam.” She smiled as though doing exactly what she had been told. I made a mental note to have her see a doctor.
The three women looked at me dumb founded and I just looked back at them, as silent as our new friend. It didn’t take Mrs. Smith long to recover. “Why Anibell, why didn’t you say this was a luncheon!” She sat right down placing her discarded napkin right back over her ample lap. “It would have saved a whole lot of fuss.”
Mrs. Tallborn took one last sniff and sat down to murmuring something that sounded a bit like ‘I’m terribly sorry.’
Miss. Talous hesitated a bit longer till I waved her with a smile back to the seat in which I had slipped, before the meeting began, a little envelope of money for her charity. She caught up the envelope and gave a wan smile of thanks.
“Ladies, I’m so,” I began only to be cut off.
“Now what must our Dear Mrs. Anderson think of us?! Here we come to show her what great friends we’ll be and instead we show ourselves to be petty little…” She paused and looked at the girl who seemed to prefer her empty tea cup to the roast beef. “My dear, can you ever forgive us?” She reached out a sympathetic hand and touched the girl’s shoulder.
The blond head jerked up with a snort. She blinked rapidly and looked slightly shocked, “I’m awake.” She looked down at the beef in confusion “Did I miss something?”