At the end of an extensive stroll through and round his new vast domain, he had come to no decision upon a course of action. Certain details of the strange adventure pleased him—as, for instance, the dandy’s welcoming recognition of his name; that, though puzzling, was a source of comfort to him in his difficulties. He also liked the suite; nay, more, he was much impressed by its gorgeousness, and such novel complications as the forked electric switches, all of which he turned on, and the double windows, one within the other, appealed to the domestic expert in him; indeed, he at once had the idea of doubling the window of the best bedroom at home; to do so would be a fierce blow to the Five Towns Electric Traction Company, which, as everybody knew, delighted to keep everybody awake at night and at dawn by means of its late and its early tram-cars.
However, he could not wander up and down the glittering solitude of his extensive suite for ever. Something must be done. Then he had the notion of writing to Nellie; he had promised himself to write her daily; moreover, it would pass the time and perhaps help him to some resolution.
He sat down to a delicate Louis XVI. desk, on which lay a Bible, a Peerage, a telephone-book, a telephone, a lamp and much distinguished stationery. Between the tasselled folds of plushy curtains that pleated themselves with the grandeur of painted curtains in a theatre, he glanced out at the lights of Devonshire Square, from which not a sound came. Then he lit the lamp and unscrewed his fountain-pen.
“My dear wife—”
That was how he always began, whether in storm or sunshine. Nellie always began, “My darling husband,” but he was not a man to fling “darlings” about. Few husbands in the Five Towns are. He thought “darling,” but he never wrote it, and he never said it, save quizzingly.
After these three words the composition of the letter came to a pause. What was he going to tell Nellie? He assuredly was not going to tell her that he had engaged an unpriced suite at Wilkins’s. He was not going to mention Wilkins’s. Then he intelligently perceived that the note-paper and also the envelope mentioned Wilkins’s in no ambiguous manner. He tore up the sheet and searched for plain paper.