The Old Wives' Tale eBook

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

She arose silently and began to dress, full of a determination to treat Gerald as a good wife ought to treat a husband.  Gerald did not stir; he was an excellent sleeper:  one of those organisms that never want to go to bed and never want to get up.  When her toilet was complete save for her bodice, there was a knock at the door.  She started.

“Gerald!” She approached the bed, and leaned her nude bosom over her husband, and put her arms round his neck.  This method of being brought back to consciousness did not displease him.

The knock was repeated.  He gave a grunt.

“Some one’s knocking at the door,” she whispered.

“Then why don’t you open it?” he asked dreamily.

“I’m not dressed, darling.”

He looked at her.  “Stick something on your shoulders, girl!” said he.  “What does it matter?”

There she was, being a simpleton again, despite her resolution!

She obeyed, and cautiously opened the door, standing behind it.

A middle-aged whiskered servant, in a long white apron, announced matters in French which passed her understanding.  But Gerald had heard from the bed, and he replied.

“Bien, monsieur!” The servant departed, with a bow, down the obscure corridor.

“It’s Chirac,” Gerald explained when she had shut the door.  “I was forgetting I asked him to come and have lunch with us, early.  He’s waiting in the drawing-room.  Just put your bodice on, and go and talk to him till I come.”

He jumped out of bed, and then, standing in his night-garb, stretched himself and terrifically yawned.

“Me?” Sophia questioned.

“Who else?” said Gerald, with that curious satiric dryness which he would sometimes import into his tone.

“But I can’t speak French!” she protested.

“I didn’t suppose you could,” said Gerald, with an increase of dryness; “but you know as well as I do that he can speak English.”

“Oh, very well, then!” she murmured with agreeable alacrity.

Evidently Gerald had not yet quite recovered from his legitimate displeasure of the night.  He minutely examined his mouth in the glass of the Louis Philippe wardrobe.  It showed scarcely a trace of battle.

“I say!” he stopped her, as, nervous at the prospect before her, she was leaving the room.  “I was thinking of going to Auxerre to-day.”

“Auxerre?” she repeated, wondering under what circumstances she had recently heard that name.  Then she remembered:  it was the place of execution of the murderer Rivain.

“Yes,” he said.  “Chirac has to go.  He’s on a newspaper now.  He was an architect when I knew him.  He’s got to go and he thinks himself jolly lucky.  So I thought I’d go with him.”

The truth was that he had definitely arranged to go.

“Not to see the execution?” she stammered.

“Why not?  I’ve always wanted to see an execution, especially with the guillotine.  And executions are public in France.  It’s quite the proper thing to go to them.”

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