The Odd Women eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 529 pages of information about The Odd Women.

Miss Nunn entered.  Younger only by a year or two than Virginia, she was yet far from presenting any sorrowful image of a person on the way to old-maidenhood.  She had a clear though pale skin, a vigorous frame, a brisk movement—­all the signs of fairly good health.  Whether or not she could be called a comely woman might have furnished matter for male discussion; the prevailing voice of her own sex would have denied her charm of feature.  At first view the countenance seemed masculine, its expression somewhat aggressive—­ eyes shrewdly observant and lips consciously impregnable.  But the connoisseur delayed his verdict.  It was a face that invited, that compelled, study.  Self-confidence, intellectual keenness, a bright humour, frank courage, were traits legible enough; and when the lips parted to show their warmth, their fullness, when the eyelids drooped a little in meditation, one became aware of a suggestiveness directed not solely to the intellect, of something like an unfamiliar sexual type, remote indeed from the voluptuous, but hinting a possibility of subtle feminine forces that might be released by circumstance.  She wore a black serge gown, with white collar and cuffs; her thick hair rippled low upon each side of the forehead, and behind was gathered into loose vertical coils; in shadow the hue seemed black, but when illumined it was seen to be the darkest, warmest brown.

Offering a strong, shapely hand, she looked at her visitor with a smile which betrayed some mixture of pain in the hearty welcome.

‘And how long have you been in London?’

It was the tone of a busy, practical person.  Her voice had not much softness of timbre, and perhaps on that account she kept it carefully subdued.

’So long as that?  How I wish I had known you were so near!  I have been in London myself about two years.  And your sisters?’

Virginia explained Alice’s absence, adding,—­

’As for poor Monica, she has only Sunday free—­except one evening a month.  She is at business till half-past nine, and on Saturday till half-past eleven or twelve.’

‘Oh, dear, dear, dear!’ exclaimed the other rapidly, making a motion with her hand as if to brush away something disagreeable.  ’That will never do.  You must put a stop to that.’

‘I am sure we ought to.’

Virginia’s thin, timid voice and weak manner were thrown into painful contrast by Miss Nunn’s personality.

’Yes, yes; we will talk about it presently.  Poor little Monica!  But do tell me about yourself and Miss Madden.  It is so long since I heard about you.’

’Indeed I ought to have written.  I remember that at the end of our correspondence I remained in your debt.  But it was a troublesome and depressing time with me.  I had nothing but groans and moans to send.’

‘You didn’t stay long, I trust, with that trying Mrs. Carr?’

‘Three years!’ sighed Virginia.

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The Odd Women from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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