The Old Wives' Tale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 635 pages of information about The Old Wives' Tale.

“Ah!” he reflected in the turmoil of his soul:  “God is not mocked!” That was his basic idea:  God is not mocked!  Daniel was a good fellow, honourable, brilliant; a figure in the world.  But what of his licentious tongue?  What of his frequenting of bars?  (How had he come to miss that train from Liverpool?  How?) For many years he, Samuel, had seen in Daniel a living refutation of the authenticity of the old Hebrew menaces.  But he had been wrong, after all!  God is not mocked!  And Samuel was aware of a revulsion in himself towards that strict codified godliness from which, in thought, he had perhaps been slipping away.

And with it all he felt, too, a certain officious self-importance, as he woke his wife and essayed to break the news to her in a manner tactfully calm.  He had assisted at the most overwhelming event ever known in the history of the town.

II

“Your muffler—­I’ll get it,” said Constance.  “Cyril, run upstairs and get father’s muffler.  You know the drawer.”

Cyril ran.  It behoved everybody, that morning, to be prompt and efficient.

“I don’t need any muffler, thank you,” said Samuel, coughing and smothering the cough.

“Oh!  But, Sam—­” Constance protested.

“Now please don’t worry me!” said Samuel with frigid finality.  “I’ve got quite enough—!” He did not finish.

Constance sighed as her husband stepped, nervous and self-important, out of the side-door into the street.  It was early, not yet eight o’clock, and the shop still unopened.

“Your father couldn’t wait,” Constance said to Cyril when he had thundered down the stairs in his heavy schoolboy boots.  “Give it to me.”  She went to restore the muffler to its place.

The whole house was upset, and Amy still an invalid!  Existence was disturbed; there vaguely seemed to be a thousand novel things to be done, and yet she could think of nothing whatever that she needed to do at that moment; so she occupied herself with the muffler.  Before she reappeared Cyril had gone to school, he who was usually a laggard.  The truth was that he could no longer contain within himself a recital of the night, and in particular of the fact that he had been the first to hear the summons of the murderer on the window-pane.  This imperious news had to be imparted to somebody, as a preliminary to the thrilling of the whole school; and Cyril had issued forth in search of an appreciative and worthy confidant.  He was scarcely five minutes after his father.

In St. Luke’s Square was a crowd of quite two hundred persons, standing moveless in the November mud.  The body of Mrs. Daniel Povey had already been taken to the Tiger Hotel, and young Dick Povey was on his way in a covered wagonette to Pirehill Infirmary on the other side of Knype.  The shop of the crime was closed, and the blinds drawn at the upper windows of the house.  There was absolutely nothing to

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The Old Wives' Tale from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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