The Old Wives' Tale eBook

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

“That’s a funny way to go to Bursley Station, that is,” said Amy, observing that Constance was descending King Street instead of crossing it into Wedgwood Street.  And she caught Spot ’a fair clout on the head,’ to indicate to him that she had him alone in the house now.

Constance was taking a round-about route to the station, so that, if stopped by acquaintances, she should not be too obviously going to the station.  Her feelings concerning the arrival of Sophia, and concerning the town’s attitude towards it, were very complex.

She was forced to hurry.  And she had risen that morning with plans perfectly contrived for the avoidance of hurry.  She disliked hurry because it always ‘put her about.’


The express from London was late, so that Constance had three-quarters of an hour of the stony calmness of Knype platform when it is waiting for a great train.  At last the porters began to cry, “Macclesfield, Stockport, and Manchester train;” the immense engine glided round the curve, dwarfing the carriages behind it, and Constance had a supreme tremor.  The calmness of the platform was transformed into a melee.  Little Constance found herself left on the fringe of a physically agitated crowd which was apparently trying to scale a precipice surmounted by windows and doors from whose apertures looked forth defenders of the train.  Knype platform seemed as if it would never be reduced to order again.  And Constance did not estimate highly the chances of picking out an unknown Sophia from that welter.  She was very seriously perturbed.  All the muscles of her face were drawn as her gaze wandered anxiously from end to end of the train.

Presently she saw a singular dog.  Other people also saw it.  It was of the colour of chocolate; it had a head and shoulders richly covered with hair that hung down in thousands of tufts like the tufts of a modern mop such as is bought in shops.  This hair stopped suddenly rather less than halfway along the length of the dog’s body, the remainder of which was naked and as smooth as marble.  The effect was to give to the inhabitants of the Five Towns the impression that the dog had forgotten an essential part of its attire and was outraging decency.  The ball of hair which had been allowed to grow on the dog’s tail, and the circles of hair which ornamented its ankles, only served to intensify the impression of indecency.  A pink ribbon round its neck completed the outrage.  The animal had absolutely the air of a decked trollop.  A chain ran taut from the creature’s neck into the middle of a small crowd of persons gesticulating over trunks, and Constance traced it to a tall and distinguished woman in a coat and skirt with a rather striking hat.  A beautiful and aristocratic woman, Constance thought, at a distance!  Then the strange idea came to her:  “That’s Sophia!” She was sure. ...  She was not sure. ...  She was sure.  The woman emerged from the crowd.  Her eye fell on Constance.  They both hesitated, and, as it were, wavered uncertainly towards each other.

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