“I’ll get some of my young fellows to carry him up for you,” said Mrs. King. “Don’t you fret about it now, dear. Men often have a drop too much, and it’s better to take no notice provided they don’t get too noisy or too ready with their fists.”
Marcella smiled faintly and stood stiff as a sentry while Mrs. King fetched out half a dozen of her lodgers who were playing cards in the kitchen. They carried Louis upstairs. He was so drugged that he did not waken.
It was a bare room, up three flights of stairs. Marcella watched while the men carried him in and laid him on the bed. Mrs. King seemed inclined to stay and gossip in whispers, but, after thanking her, and saying they would talk to-morrow, Marcella shut the door and locked it.
Then she looked round. There were three candles burning. With a little cry of superstitious fear she blew one out and pinched the wick. Through the two big windows she could see the ships in the harbour with rows of shining portholes: ferries were fussing to and fro like fiery water beetles. From the man-of-war she saw the winking Morse light signalling to the Heads. Trams clanged by in the distance; in a public-house near by men were singing and laughing. In the room Louis was snoring gustily. She turned from the open window and looked at him.
“There! I’m married to him now,” she said, and looked from him round the room. The walls were whitewashed: there was a good deal of blue in the make-up of the whitewash, which gave the room a very cold impression. There was a text “God Bless Our Home,” adorned with a painted garland of holly, over the door. Above the mantelpiece, which was bare save for the two candles, was a Pears’ Annual picture—Landseer’s “Lion and Lioness,” fastened to the wall with tacks driven through little round buttons of scarlet flannel. There was a table covered with white oil-cloth on which stood a basin and jug and an old pink saucer. Two chairs leaned against the wall; one of them proved to have only three legs. A small mirror with mildew marks hung on the wall. Under one of the windows was a small table covered with a threadbare huckaback towel. The floor was bare except for a slice of brown carpet by the bed; Marcella liked the bare clean boards. They looked like the deck of a ship. She liked the room. Its clean bareness reminded her, a little, of rooms in the farm after the furniture had been sold.
Her baggage lay in a forlorn heap with Louis’s, all jumbled together just as the Customs Officers had left it. Taking off her shoes she put on her bedroom slippers and began to move about quietly, unpacking things, hanging her frocks on a row of pegs in the alcove, for there was no cupboard of any description—putting some books on the mantelpiece, her toilet things on the table. She was doing things in a dream, but it was a dream into which outside things penetrated,