If one's soul was really enslaved at one's mistress's feet,
how could one talk coherently about weakened tea?
Stopping for tea, an afternoon last week... and tea it was, leaf-tea in cups and saucers, bread, butter and that blackcurrant jam, radishes and salt, à la façon française... recalled a story by Saki, entitled: Tea.
Proposing marriage, even to a nice girl like Joan, was a rather irksome business
But as James Cushat-Prinkly sets out one afternoon to fulfil his duty, he realises with distaste that his arrival coincides with the hour of afternoon tea.
Joan would be seated at a low table, spread with an array of silver kettles and cream-jugs and delicate porcelain tea-cups, behind which her voice would tinkle pleasantly in a series of little friendly questions about weak or strong tea, how much, if any, sugar, milk, cream and so-forth.
He takes a detour via a distant cousin Rhoda, who happens to be having a picnic-meal of bread and butter and caviare, red-pepper and lemon, and tea. Based on this, and amusing conversation, Cushat-Prinkly's marriage proposal is instantly transferred to this cousin.
Only to find, coming into the drawing-room, once married:
Rhoda was seated at a low table, behind a service of dainty porcelain and gleaming silver. There was a pleasant tinkling note in her voice as she handed him a cup. 'You like it weaker than that, don't you? Shall I put some more hot water to it?'
Tea, by Saki
In 76 Short Stories, Collins, London 1956