"I do not know," Mr. Stone resumed, speaking in a far-off voice, "whether she would be virtuous."
Cecilia heard Stephen drinking sherry; Thyme, too, was drinking something; she herself drank nothing, but, pink and quiet, for she was a well-bred woman, said:
"You have no new potatoes, dear. Charles, give Mr. Stone some new potatoes."
By the almost vindictive expression on Stephen's face she saw, however, that her failure had decided him to resume command of the situation. "Talking of brotherhood, sir," he said dryly, "would you go so far as to say that a new potato is the brother of a bean?"
Mr. Stone, on whose plate these two vegetables reposed, looked almost painfully confused.
"I do not perceive," he stammered, "any difference between them."
"It's true," said Stephen; "the same pale spirit can be extracted from them both."
"You laugh at me," he said. "I cannot help it; but you must not laugh at life--that is blasphemy."