The Old Wives' Tale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 811 pages of information about The Old Wives' Tale.

Now he was walking down Salisbury Street.  He did not wish to be walking down Salisbury Street; but there he was!

“Oh, hell!” he murmured.  “I suppose I must go through with it.”

He felt desperate.  He was ready to pay any price in order to be able to say to himself that he had accomplished what he had set his heart on.

“My wife hasn’t gone out, has she?” he asked of the hall-porter.

“I’m not sure, sir; I think not,” said the hall-porter.

The fear that Sophia had already departed made him sick.  When he noticed her trunk still there, he took hope and ran upstairs.

He saw her, a dark crumpled, sinuous piece of humanity, half on and half off the bed, silhouetted against the bluish-white counterpane; her hat was on the floor, with the spotted veil trailing away from it.  This sight seemed to him to be the most touching that he had ever seen, though her face was hidden.  He forgot everything except the deep and strange emotion which affected him.  He approached the bed.  She did not stir.

Having heard the entry and knowing that it must be Gerald who had entered, Sophia forced herself to remain still.  A wild, splendid hope shot up in her.  Constrained by all the power of her will not to move, she could not stifle a sob that had lain in ambush in her throat.

The sound of the sob fetched tears to the eyes of Gerald.

“Sophia!” he appealed to her.

But she did not stir.  Another sob shook her.

“Very well, then,” said Gerald.  “We’ll stay in London till we can be married.  I’ll arrange it.  I’ll find a nice boarding-house for you, and I’ll tell the people you’re my cousin.  I shall stay on at this hotel, and I’ll come and see you every day.”

A silence.

“Thank you!” she blubbered.  “Thank you!”

He saw that her little gloved hand was stretching out towards him, like a feeler; and he seized it, and knelt down and took her clumsily by the waist.  Somehow he dared not kiss her yet.

An immense relief surged very slowly through them both.

“I—­I—­really—­” She began to say something, but the articulation was lost in her sobs.

“What?  What do you say, dearest?” he questioned eagerly.

And she made another effort.  “I really couldn’t have gone to Paris with you without being married,” she succeeded at last.  “I really couldn’t.”

“No, no!” he soothed her.  “Of course you couldn’t.  It was I who was wrong.  But you didn’t know how I felt. ...  Sophia, it’s all right now, isn’t it?”

She sat up and kissed him fairly.

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