The Vehement Flame eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 508 pages of information about The Vehement Flame.

No one heard her fall, so no one came to help her—­except her little dog, scrabbling stiffly out of his basket, and coming to crouch, whining, against her shoulder.  It was only a minute before her eyelids flickered open;—­closed—­opened again.  After a while she tried to rise, clutching with one hand at the rung of a chair, and with the other trying to prop herself up; but her head swam, and she sank back.  She lay still for a minute; then realized that if Maurice came in and found her there on the floor, he would know that she had read the telegram....  So again she tried to pull herself up; caught at the edge of his desk, turned sick, saw everything black; tried again; then, slowly, the room whirling about her, got into a chair and lay back, crumpled up, blindly dizzy, and conscious of only one thing:  she must get upstairs to her own room before Edith and Maurice came home!  She didn’t know why she wanted to do this; she was even a little surprised at herself, as she had been surprised when, that night on the mountain, “to save Maurice,” she had, instinctively, done one sensible thing after another.  So now she knew that, when he came home with Edith, Maurice must be saved “a scene.”  He must not discover, yet, that ... she knew.

For of course now, it was knowledge, not suspicion:  Maurice was summoned to see a sick boy called Jacky; Jacky was the child of L. D.; and L. D. was the Dale woman, who had lived in the house on Maple Street.  Her shameful suspicion had not been shameful!  It had been the recognition of a fact....  Clutching at supporting chairs, Eleanor, somehow, got out of the library; saw that brown envelope in the hall, stopped (holding with one hand to the table), to make sure it was sealed.  Bingo, following her, whimpered to be lifted and carried upstairs, but she didn’t notice him.  She just clung to the banisters and toiled up to her room.  She pushed open her door and looked at her bed, desiring it so passionately that it seemed to her she couldn’t live to reach it—­to fall into it, as one might fall into the grave, enamored with death.  Down in the hall the little dog cried.  She didn’t faint again.  She just lay there, without feeling, or suffering.  After a while she heard the front door open and close; heard Edith’s voice:  “Hullo, Eleanor!  Where are you?  We’ve had a bully time!” Heard Maurice:  “Headache, Nelly?  Too ba—­” Then silence; he must have seen the envelope—­picked it up—­read it....  That was why he didn’t finish that word—­so hideously exact!—­“bad.”  After a while he came tiptoeing into the room.

“Headache?  Sorry.  Anything I can do?”


He did not urge; he was too engrossed in the shock of an escaped catastrophe; suppose Eleanor had read that dispatch!  Good God!  Was Lily mad?  He must go and see her, quick, and say—­He grew so angry as he thought of what he was going to say that he did not hear Edith’s friendly comments on “poor dear Eleanor.”

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The Vehement Flame from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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