In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, Mr. Fransemmery, a juryman, went to Mrs. Braxfield, a rural witness, while Mr. Blick, a detective, was in her house:

Mrs. Braxfield herself opened the door of Woodland Cottage to Mr. Fransemmery, and making out his identity by the light of the lamp in her hall, bade him enter in tones of warm welcome.

Never rains but it pours!” she exclaimed, as she ushered the visitor towards her parlour. “I’ve got one caller already, and now here’s another; glad to see you, Mr. Fransemmery!”

Mr. Fransemmery stepped into a well-lighted, cosy sitting-room, and found himself staring at Blick. Blick smiled and nodded; he recognized the newcomer as the bland and spectacled gentleman who had acted as foreman of the jury at the recent inquest. Mr. Fransemmery, of course, knew who Blick was. He hesitated on the threshold.

“If you’re talking business matters—” he suggested.

“Not at all!” exclaimed Mrs. Braxfield. “This young gentleman—too young, I tell him, to have such a job as he has!—simply came to ask me what he calls a pertinent question about my evidence the other morning. I’m a very good-tempered woman, as you well know, Mr. Fransemmery, or I might have given his question another name, and called it impertinent! What do you think he wanted to know, Mr. Fransemmery? If I was certain that the man I saw on the hill-side the morning of the murder was Mr. John Harborough? The idea!”

Blick, who looked very much at home in an easy chair, gave Mrs. Braxfield a whimsical glance.

“Well, you haven’t told me yet if you were certain!” he said.

Actually, I have three questions here:

  1. I found that "Never rains but it pours" refers to happening of bad things, if so, how could she welcome him warmly while she regard this visit as a bad thing?

  2. Mr. Blick was a detective, and Mrs. Braxfield was just a rural witness, so it's impossible that they were talking about "commercial business matters", so is "business" here just an adjective like "important"?

  3. I found the possible meanings of "whimsical", but I just can't get its exact meaning in this context, so can somebody explain it simpler terms in connection with the context?


"Never rains but it pours" is not necessarily associated with bad things. The general meaning is simply that when one thing happens, then many things happen at once. If there are lots of visitors/events in this day, the meaning would be that "oh, it's not just one visitor/event, but many!". Mrs. Braxfield explains her reasons for using the phrase by noting that "I’ve got one caller already". She didn't just get one visitor, she got two, so it "never rains but it pours".

Also, someone can offer an outwardly warm welcome, such as by using a welcoming tone, but inwardly dislike the visit. The outward warmness is required by the etiquette of being a polite host.

"Business" can mean "the important thing we are working on together". For example, Merriam-Webster 5a:

serious activity requiring time and effort and usually the avoidance of distractions

If Mrs. Braxfield is a witness and Mr. Blick is a detective, their "business" together could be the case. "Talking business matters" could mean discussing the case and Braxfield's memories of it, something that is work, requiring time and effort and no distractions.

The first definition of "whimsical" in your link seems the best one here:

Playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way.

Mr. Blick is trying to make Mrs. Braxfield feel comfortable talking to him. Acting at home in her familiar easy chair is one way he demonstrates that he is comfortable. He makes Braxfield feel more comfortable by demonstrating approachability. Glancing in a playful, amusing way could be part of this display of comfort.

  • 3
    The OED entry for ‘never rains’ might be a useful addition. ‘It never rains but it pours: events of a particular kind (esp. misfortunes) tend to occur at the same time or in rapid succession.’
    – Spagirl
    Apr 26 at 8:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.