“She means to marry him.”
“Elsie April means to marry Wrissell?”
“He was in and out of the box all night. It was as plain as a pikestaff.”
“What’s amiss with my Elsie April?” Edward Henry demanded.
“She’s a thought too pleasant for my taste,” answered Nellie.
Astonishing, how pleasantness is regarded with suspicion in the Five Towns, even by women who can at a pinch be angels!
Often during the brief night he gazed sleepily at the vague next bed and mused upon the extraordinariness of women’s consciences. His wife slept like an innocent. She always did. It was as though she gently expired every evening and returned gloriously to life every morning. The sunshiny hours between three and seven were very long to him, but it was indisputable that he did not hear the clock strike six: which was at any rate proof of a little sleep to the good. At five minutes past seven he thought he heard a faint rustling noise in the corridor, and he arose and tiptoed to the door and opened it. Yes, the Majestic had its good qualities! He had ordered that all the London morning daily papers should be laid at his door as early as possible—and there the pile was, somewhat damp, and as fresh as fruit, with a slight odour of ink. He took it in.
His heart was beating as he climbed back into bed with it and arranged pillows so that he could sit up, and unfolded the first paper. Nellie had not stirred.
Once again he was disappointed in the prominence given by the powerful London press to his London enterprise. In the first newspaper, a very important one, he positively could not find any criticism of the Regent’s first night. There was nearly a page of the offensive Isabel Joy, who was now appealing, through the newspapers, to the President of the United States. Isabel had been christened the World-Circler, and the special correspondents of the entire earth were gathered about her carpeted cell. Hope still remained that she would reach London within the hundred days. An unknown adherent of the cause for which she suffered had promised to give ten thousand pounds to that cause if she did so. Further, she was receiving over sixty proposals of marriage a day. And so on and so on! Most of this he gathered in an instant from the headlines alone. Nauseating! Another annoying item in the paper was a column and a half given to the foundation-stone-laying of the First New Thought Church, in Dean Street, Soho—about a couple of hundred yards from its original site. He hated the First New Thought Church as one always hates that to which one has done an injury.