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

It was so wonderful and startling that he burst openly into tears.  She saw in the facile intensity of his emotion a guarantee of their future happiness.  And as he had soothed her, so now she soothed him.  They clung together, equally surprised at the sweet, exquisite, blissful melancholy which drenched them through and through.  It was remorse for having quarrelled, for having lacked faith in the supreme rightness of the high adventure.  Everything was right, and would be right; and they had been criminally absurd.  It was remorse; but it was pure bliss, and worth the quarrel!  Gerald resumed his perfection again in her eyes!  He was the soul of goodness and honour!  And for him she was again the ideal mistress, who would, however, be also a wife.  As in his mind he rapidly ran over the steps necessary to their marriage, he kept saying to himself, far off in some remote cavern of the brain:  “I shall have her!  I shall have her!” He did not reflect that this fragile slip of the Baines stock, unconsciously drawing upon the accumulated strength of generations of honest living, had put a defeat upon him.

After tea, Gerald, utterly content with the universe, redeemed his word and found an irreproachable boarding-house for Sophia in Westminster, near the Abbey.  She was astonished at the glibness of his lies to the landlady about her, and about their circumstances generally.  He also found a church and a parson, close by, and in half an hour the formalities preliminary to a marriage were begun.  He explained to her that as she was now resident in London, it would be simpler to recommence the business entirely.  She sagaciously agreed.  As she by no means wished to wound him again, she made no inquiry about those other formalities which, owing to red-tape, had so unexpectedly proved abortive!  She knew she was going to be married, and that sufficed.  The next day she carried out her filial idea of telegraphing to her mother.

CHAPTER II

SUPPER

I

They had been to Versailles and had dined there.  A tram had sufficed to take them out; but for the return, Gerald, who had been drinking champagne, would not be content with less than a carriage.  Further, he insisted on entering Paris by way of the Bois and the Arc de Triomphe.  Thoroughly to appease his conceit, it would have been necessary to swing open the gates of honour in the Arc and allow his fiacre to pass through; to be forced to drive round the monument instead of under it hurt the sense of fitness which champagne engenders.  Gerald was in all his pride that day.  He had been displaying the wonders to Sophia, and he could not escape the cicerone’s secret feeling:  that he himself was somehow responsible for the wonders.  Moreover, he was exceedingly satisfied with the effect produced by Sophia.

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