Thus Mavis worked and dreamed.
SPIDER AND FLY
One night, Mavis went back to “Dawes’” earlier than usual. She was wearing the boots bought with her carefully saved pence; these pinched her feet, making her weary and irritable. She wondered if she would have the bedroom to herself while she undressed. Of late, the queenly Miss Potter had given up going out for the evening and returning at all hours in the morning. Her usual robust health had deserted her; she was constantly swallowing drugs; she would go out for long walks after shop hours, to return about eleven, completely exhausted, when she would hold long, whispered conversations with her friend Miss Allen.
Mavis was delighted to find the room vacant. The odour of drugs mingled with the other smells of the chamber, which she mitigated, in some measure, by opening the window as far as she was able. She pulled off her tight boots, enjoying for some moments a pleasurable sense of relief; then she tumbled into bed, soon to fall asleep. She was awakened by the noise of voices raised in altercation. Miss Potter and Miss Impett were having words. The girls were in bed, although no one had troubled to turn off the flaring jet. As they became more and more possessed with the passion for effective retort, Mavis saw vile looks appearing on their faces: these obliterated all traces of youth and comeliness, substituting in their stead a livid commonness.
“We know all about you!” cried loud-voiced Miss Impett.
“Happily, that’s not a privilege desired in your case,” retorted Miss Potter.
“And why not?” Miss Impett demanded to know.