Jacob's Room eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about Jacob's Room.
Flanders liked Mrs. Jarvis, always said of her that she was too good for such a quiet place, and, though she never listened to her discontent and told her at the end of it (looking up, sucking her thread, or taking off her spectacles) that a little peat wrapped round the iris roots keeps them from the frost, and Parrot’s great white sale is Tuesday next, “do remember,”—­Mrs. Flanders knew precisely how Mrs. Jarvis felt; and how interesting her letters were, about Mrs. Jarvis, could one read them year in, year out—­the unpublished works of women, written by the fireside in pale profusion, dried by the flame, for the blotting-paper’s worn to holes and the nib cleft and clotted.  Then Captain Barfoot.  Him she called “the Captain,” spoke of frankly, yet never without reserve.  The Captain was enquiring for her about Garfit’s acre; advised chickens; could promise profit; or had the sciatica; or Mrs. Barfoot had been indoors for weeks; or the Captain says things look bad, politics that is, for as Jacob knew, the Captain would sometimes talk, as the evening waned, about Ireland or India; and then Mrs. Flanders would fall musing about Morty, her brother, lost all these years—­had the natives got him, was his ship sunk—­would the Admiralty tell her?—­the Captain knocking his pipe out, as Jacob knew, rising to go, stiffly stretching to pick up Mrs. Flanders’s wool which had rolled beneath the chair.  Talk of the chicken farm came back and back, the women, even at fifty, impulsive at heart, sketching on the cloudy future flocks of Leghorns, Cochin Chinas, Orpingtons; like Jacob in the blur of her outline; but powerful as he was; fresh and vigorous, running about the house, scolding Rebecca.

The letter lay upon the hall table; Florinda coming in that night took it up with her, put it on the table as she kissed Jacob, and Jacob seeing the hand, left it there under the lamp, between the biscuit-tin and the tobacco-box.  They shut the bedroom door behind them.

The sitting-room neither knew nor cared.  The door was shut; and to suppose that wood, when it creaks, transmits anything save that rats are busy and wood dry is childish.  These old houses are only brick and wood, soaked in human sweat, grained with human dirt.  But if the pale blue envelope lying by the biscuit-box had the feelings of a mother, the heart was torn by the little creak, the sudden stir.  Behind the door was the obscene thing, the alarming presence, and terror would come over her as at death, or the birth of a child.  Better, perhaps, burst in and face it than sit in the antechamber listening to the little creak, the sudden stir, for her heart was swollen, and pain threaded it.  My son, my son—­ such would be her cry, uttered to hide her vision of him stretched with Florinda, inexcusable, irrational, in a woman with three children living at Scarborough.  And the fault lay with Florinda.  Indeed, when the door opened and the couple came out, Mrs. Flanders would have flounced upon her—­only it was Jacob who came first, in his dressing-gown, amiable, authoritative, beautifully healthy, like a baby after an airing, with an eye clear as running water.  Florinda followed, lazily stretching; yawning a little; arranging her hair at the looking-glass—­while Jacob read his mother’s letter.

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Jacob's Room from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.