A woman asked another one to open her handbag and show its contents:

More puzzled than ever,MissMayfield did so, exposing

its meagre contents. There was a purse which, when she

had opened it and looked into it in the hospital, had

contained eight shillings and four pennies and which had

been reduced by one and sixpence for the smallest size of

tubes of toothpaste, and by two shillings when she insisted

upon returningMrsMott-Tyler’s ‘treat’ of morning coffee

during one of their visits to the town; there was a comb

and some hairpins, a powder compact of the old-fashioned

kind, a fountain pen, the book of stamps, a nail file and a

key ring.

Does it mean she paid one shilling and sixpence for a few tubes of toothpaste or only for one tube?

Does it say that she returned Mrs Mott-Tyler two shillings for the coffee which Mrs Mott-Tyler once bought her when in town? Or maybe she bought her a coffee for two shillings as well?
Good question.

She paid one shilling and sixpence to purchase one tube of the smallest size of toothpaste and two additional shillings for morning coffee during one of their visits to the town.
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But it says that she insisted upon "returning"? So what did she return? to me it sounds like Mrs Mott-Tyler bought her coffe once and now she gave her back two shillings for that coffe?
Again, a good question. This is not an easy text.

She was returning a "treat". In this context, returning means to reciprocate.

Mrs. Mott-Tyler treated her to coffee on one of their visits to town. This means that on a previous visit, Mrs. M-T bought coffee for both of them. To treat means to buy.

So, the text infers that on the day in question, she bought a small tube of toothpaste and took Mrs. M-T out to a café and bought coffee for both of them.
I understand. Thanks.
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