Hope Mirrlees was described by Virginia Woolf as "a very self conscious, wilful, prickly and perverse yound woman, rather conspicuously well dressed and pretty, with a view of her own about books and style, an aristocratic and conservative tendency in opinion and a corresponding taste for the beautiful and elaborate in literature" (Diary, 22 March 1919).
The Lady Who Wrote Lud-in-the-Mist by Michael Swanwick
"Leer," he said solemnly, when Dame Jessamine had left the room, "there are very queer things happening at that Academy... very queer things."
"Indeed?" said Endymion Leer, in a tone of surprise. "What sort of things?"
Master Ambrose gave a short laugh: "Not the sort of things, if my suspicions are correct, that one cares to talk about -- even between men. But I can tell you, Leer, though I'm not what one could call a fanciful man, I believe if I'd stayed much longer in that house I should have gone off my head, the whole place stinks with... well, with pernicious nonsense, and I actually found myself, I, Ambrose Honeysuckle, seeing things -- ridiculous things."
Endymion Leer looked interested.
"What sort of things, Master Ambrose?" he asked.
"Oh, it's not worth repeating -- except in so far as it shows that the fancies of silly overwrought women can sometimes be infectious. I actually imagined that I saw the Senate room portrait of Duke Aubrey reflected on the window. And if I take to fancying things -- well, there must be something very fishy in the offing."
Endymion Leer's expression was inscrutable.
"Optical delusions have been known before, Master Ambrose," he said calmly. "Even the eyes of Senators may sometimes play them tricks. Optical delusions, legal fictions -- and so the world wags on."
Master Ambrose grunted. He loathed the fellow's offensive way of putting things.
But he was sore at heart and terribly anxious, and he felt the need of having his fears either confirmed or dispelled, so, ignoring the sneer, he said with a weary sigh: "However, that's a mere trifle. I have grave reasons for fearing that my daughter has... has... well, not to put too fine a point on things, I'm afraid that my daughter has eaten fairy fruit."
Endymion Leer flung up his hands in horror, and then he laughed incredulously.
"Impossible, my dear sir, impossible! Your good lady told me you were sadly anxious about her, but let me assure you such an idea is mere morbidness on your part. The thing's impossible."
"Is it?" said Master Ambrose grimly; and producing the slipper from his pocket he held it out, saying, "What do you say to that? I found it in Miss Crabapple's parlour. I'm not much of a botanist, but I've never seen purple strawberries in Dorimare... Toasted cheese! What's taken the man?"
For Endymion Leer had turned livid, and was staring at the design on the shoe with eyes as full of horror as if it had been some hideous goblin.