The scene is the blue and white room in the house of the Misses Susan andPhoebe Throssel in Quality Street; and in this little country town there is asatisfaction about living in Quality Street which even religion cannot give.Through the bowed window at the back we have a glimpse of the street. It ispleasantly broad and grass-grown, and is linked to the outer world by onedemure shop, whose door rings a bell every time it opens and shuts. Thus bymerely peeping, every one in Quality Street can know at once who has beenbuying a Whimsy cake, and usually why. This bell is the most familiar soundof Quality Street. Now and again ladies pass in their pattens, a maid perhapsprotecting them with an umbrella, for flakes of snow are falling discreetly.Gentlemen in the street are an event; but, see, just as we raise the curtain,there goes the recruiting sergeant to remind us that we are in the period ofthe Napoleonic wars. If he were to look in at the window of the blue andwhite room all the ladies there assembled would draw themselves up; they knowhim for a rude fellow who smiles at the approach of maiden ladies andcontinues to smile after they have passed. However, he lowers his head to-dayso that they shall not see him, his present design being converse with theMisses Throssel's maid.
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