“I don’t want company yet. You and Bettina are all I need. I haven’t said I was to live here a thousand years, or that I wouldn’t get tired of myself in less time, but until I do—”
There was a ring at the front-door bell and Mrs. Mundy went to answer it. The puzzled look I often saw in her eyes when talking to me still filled them, but she said nothing more except good night, and when I heard her footsteps in the hall below I went to the door and locked it. This new privacy, this sense of freedom from unescapable interruption, was still so precious, that though an unnecessary precaution, I turned the key that I might feel perfectly sure of quiet hours ahead, and at my sigh of satisfaction I laughed.
Going into my bedroom, which adjoined my sitting-room, I hung in the closet the coat I had left on a chair, put away my hat and gloves, and again looked around, as if they were still strange—the white bed and bureau, the wash-rugs, the muslin curtains, the many contrasts to former furnishings—and again I sighed contentedly. They were mine.
The house I am now living in is indeed an old-fashioned one, but well built and of admirable design. The rooms are few—only eight in all—and four of them I have taken for myself—the upper four. The lower floor is occupied by Mrs. Mundy and Bettina, her little granddaughter. When I first saw the house its condition was discouraging. Not for some time had it been occupied, and repairs of all kinds were needed. To get it in order gave me strange joy, and the weeks in which it was being painted and papered and beautified with modern necessities were of an interest only a person, a woman person, can feel who has never had a home of her own before. When everything was finished, the furnishings in place, and I established, I knew, what I no longer made effort to deny to myself—that I was doing a daring thing. I was taking chances in a venture I was still afraid to face.
Kitty came to see me yesterday. Her mortification at my living in Scarborough Square is poignant. Not since she learned of my doing so has her amazement, her incredulity, her indignation and resentment, lessened in the least, but her curiosity is great and her affection sincere, and yesterday she yielded to both.
She was on her wedding journey when I left the house in which for many years we had lived together, and, knowing it would spoil her trip did I tell of what I had done, I did not tell. Two days ago she got back, and over the telephone I gave her my new address.
“But I can’t understand—” During most of her visit Kitty was crying. She cries easily and well. “I can’t take it in, can’t even glimpse why you want to live in such a horrid old place. It’s awful!”
“Oh no, it isn’t. It’s a very nice place. Look how the sun comes through those little panes of glass in those deep windows and chirps all over the floor. I never knew before how much company sunshine could be; how many different things it could do, until I came to Scarborough Square. This is a very interesting place, Kitty.”