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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 4,784 pages of information about Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works.

Nobody went to bed that night, but in the morning the report was the same:  “Unconscious—­a question of hours.”  Once only did he recover consciousness, and then asked for Harz.  A telegram had come from him, he was on the way.  Towards seven of the evening the long-expected storm broke in a sky like ink.  Into the valleys and over the crests of mountains it seemed as though an unseen hand were spilling goblets of pale wine, darting a sword-blade zigzag over trees, roofs, spires, peaks, into the very firmament, which answered every thrust with great bursts of groaning.  Just beyond the veranda Greta saw a glowworm shining, as it might be a tiny bead of the fallen lightning.  Soon the rain covered everything.  Sometimes a jet of light brought the hilltops, towering, dark, and hard, over the house, to disappear again behind the raindrops and shaken leaves.  Each breath drawn by the storm was like the clash of a thousand cymbals; and in his room Mr. Treffry lay unconscious of its fury.

Greta had crept in unobserved; and sat curled in a corner, with Scruff in her arms, rocking slightly to and fro.  When Christian passed, she caught her skirt, and whispered:  “It is your birthday, Chris!”

Mr. Treffry stirred.

“What’s that?  Thunder?—­it’s cooler.  Where am I?  Chris!”

Dawney signed for her to take his place.

“Chris!” Mr. Treffry said.  “It’s near now.”  She bent across him, and her tears fell on his forehead.

“Forgive!” she whispered; “love me!”

He raised his finger, and touched her cheek.

For an hour or more he did not speak, though once or twice he moaned, and faintly tightened his pressure on her fingers.  The storm had died away, but very far off the thunder was still muttering.

His eyes opened once more, rested on her, and passed beyond, into that abyss dividing youth from age, conviction from conviction, life from death.

At the foot of the bed Dawney stood covering his face; behind him Dominique knelt with hands held upwards; the sound of Greta’s breathing, soft in sleep, rose and fell in the stillness.

XXIX

One afternoon in March, more than three years after Mr. Treffry’s death, Christian was sitting at the window of a studio in St. John’s Wood.  The sky was covered with soft, high clouds, through which shone little gleams of blue.  Now and then a bright shower fell, sprinkling the trees, where every twig was curling upwards as if waiting for the gift of its new leaves.  And it seemed to her that the boughs thickened and budded under her very eyes; a great concourse of sparrows had gathered on those boughs, and kept raising a shrill chatter.  Over at the far side of the room Harz was working at a picture.

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