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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 226 pages of information about A Damsel in Distress.
associates administer refreshments of an afternoon with a proud languor calculated to knock the nonsense out of the cheeriest customer.  Here you will find none of the coarse bustle and efficiency of the rival establishments of Lyons and Co., nor the glitter and gaiety of Rumpelmayer’s.  These places have an atmosphere of their own.  They rely for their effect on an insufficiency of light, an almost total lack of ventilation, a property chocolate cake which you are not supposed to cut, and the sad aloofness of their ministering angels.  It is to be doubted whether there is anything in the world more damping to the spirit than a London tea-shop of this kind, unless it be another London tea-shop of the same kind.

Maud sat and waited.  Somewhere out of sight a kettle bubbled in an undertone, like a whispering pessimist.  Across the room two distressed gentlewomen in fancy dress leaned against the wall.  They, too, were whispering.  Their expressions suggested that they looked on life as low and wished they were well out of it, like the body upstairs.  One assumed that there was a body upstairs.  One cannot help it at these places.  One’s first thought on entering is that the lady assistant will approach one and ask in a hushed voice “Tea or chocolate?  And would you care to view the remains?”

Maud looked at her watch.  It was twenty past four.  She could scarcely believe that she had only been there five minutes, but the ticking of the watch assured her that it had not stopped.  Her depression deepened.  Why had Geoffrey told her to meet him in a cavern of gloom like this instead of at the Savoy?  She would have enjoyed the Savoy.  But here she seemed to have lost beyond recovery the first gay eagerness with which she had set out to meet the man she loved.

Suddenly she began to feel frightened.  Some evil spirit, possibly the kettle, seemed to whisper to her that she had been foolish in coming here, to cast doubts on what she had hitherto regarded as the one rock-solid fact in the world, her love for Geoffrey.  Could she have changed since those days in Wales?  Life had been so confusing of late.  In the vividness of recent happenings those days in Wales seemed a long way off, and she herself different from the girl of a year ago.  She found herself thinking about George Bevan.

It was a curious fact that, the moment she began to think of George Bevan, she felt better.  It was as if she had lost her way in a wilderness and had met a friend.  There was something so capable, so soothing about George.  And how well he had behaved at that last interview.  George seemed somehow to be part of her life.  She could not imagine a life in which he had no share.  And he was at this moment, probably, packing to return to America, and she would never see him again.  Something stabbed at her heart.  It was as if she were realizing now for the first time that he was really going.

She tried to rid herself of the ache at her heart by thinking of Wales.  She closed her eyes, and found that that helped her to remember.  With her eyes shut, she could bring it all back—­that rainy day, the graceful, supple figure that had come to her out of the mist, those walks over the hills . . .  If only Geoffrey would come!  It was the sight of him that she needed.

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