The Old Wives' Tale eBook

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

Thus she was turned out of her house, but not by the Midland Clothiers Company.  Old people said to one another:  “Have you heard that Mrs. Povey is dead?  Eh, dear me!  There’ll be no one left soon.”  These old people were bad prophets.  Her friends genuinely regretted her, and forgot the tediousness of her sciatica.  They tried, in their sympathetic grief, to picture to themselves all that she had been through in her life.  Possibly they imagined that they succeeded in this imaginative attempt.  But they did not succeed.  No one but Constance could realize all that Constance had been through, and all that life had meant to her.

Cyril was not at the funeral.  He arrived three days later. (As he had no interest in the love affairs of Dick and Lily, the couple were robbed of their wedding-present.  The will, fifteen years old, was in Cyril’s favour.) But the immortal Charles Critchlow came to the funeral, full of calm, sardonic glee, and without being asked.  Though fabulously senile, he had preserved and even improved his faculty for enjoying a catastrophe.  He now went to funerals with gusto, contentedly absorbed in the task of burying his friends one by one.  It was he who said, in his high, trembling, rasping, deliberate voice:  “It’s a pity her didn’t live long enough to hear as Federation is going on after all!  That would ha’ worritted her.” (For the unscrupulous advocates of Federation had discovered a method of setting at naught the decisive result of the referendum, and that day’s Signal was fuller than ever of Federation.)

When the short funeral procession started, Mary and the infirm Fossette (sole relic of the connection between the Baines family and Paris) were left alone in the house.  The tearful servant prepared the dog’s dinner and laid it before her in the customary soup-plate in the customary corner.  Fossette sniffed at it, and then walked away and lay down with a dog’s sigh in front of the kitchen fire.  She had been deranged in her habits that day; she was conscious of neglect, due to events which passed her comprehension.  And she did not like it.  She was hurt, and her appetite was hurt.  However, after a few minutes, she began to reconsider the matter.  She glanced at the soup-plate, and, on the chance that it might after all contain something worth inspection, she awkwardly balanced herself on her old legs and went to it again.

THE END

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