Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

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The room was steady enough now, but she had lost the preternatural acuteness of her senses, and felt confused.  She heard Barbara say:  “I can take you to the door in my cab,” and murmuring:  “I will get ready,” went into her bedroom.  For a moment she was so utterly bewildered that she did nothing.  Then every other thought was lost in a strange, soft, almost painful delight, as if some new instinct were being born in her; and quickly, but without confusion or hurry, she began packing.  She put into a valise her own toilet things; then flannel, cotton-wool, eau de Cologne, hot-water bottle, Etna, shawls, thermometer, everything she had which could serve in illness.  Changing to a plain dress, she took up the valise and returned to Barbara.  They went out together to the cab.  The moment it began to bear her to this ordeal at once so longed-for and so terrible, fear came over her again, so that she screwed herself into the corner, very white and still.  She was aware of Barbara calling to the driver:  “Go by the Strand, and stop at a poulterer’s for ice!” And, when the bag of ice had been handed in, heard her saying:  “I will bring you all you want—­if he is really going to be ill.”

Then, as the cab stopped, and the open doorway of the staircase was before her, all her courage came back.

She felt the girl’s warm hand against her own, and grasping her valise and the bag of ice, got out, and hurried up the steps.

CHAPTER IX

On leaving Nettlefold, Miltoun had gone straight back to his rooms, and begun at once to work at his book on the land question.  He worked all through that night—­his third night without sleep, and all the following day.  In the evening, feeling queer in the head, he went out and walked up and down the Embankment.  Then, fearing to go to bed and lie sleepless, he sat down in his arm-chair.  Falling asleep there, he had fearful dreams, and awoke unrefreshed.  After his bath, he drank coffee, and again forced himself to work.  By the middle of the day he felt dizzy and exhausted, but utterly disinclined to eat.  He went out into the hot Strand, bought himself a necessary book, and after drinking more coffee, came back and again began to work.  At four o’clock he found that he was not taking in the words.  His head was burning hot, and he went into his bedroom to bathe it.  Then somehow he began walking up and down, talking to himself, as Barbara had found him.

She had no sooner gone, than he felt utterly exhausted.  A small crucifix hung over his bed, and throwing himself down before it, he remained motionless with his face buried in the coverlet, and his arms stretched out towards the wall.  He did not pray, but merely sought rest from sensation.  Across his half-hypnotized consciousness little threads of burning fancy kept shooting.  Then he could feel nothing but utter physical sickness, and against this his will revolted. 

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