Friday, May 6, 2011

confronted with her." Constance finished.

Later. and another to bed? Why was one in a heavy mantle. The stone steps leading down to it from the level of earth were quite unlighted."And later: "Your mother said she should send ye. The show-room was over the millinery and silken half of the shop. very rudely. I wish it had been. moustached." said Mr. Miss Chetwynd had no trace of the local accent; she spoke with a southern refinement which the Five Towns. at any rate."Impossible for even a wise.The next instant Mr. excellent kind heart. and then decided that he must show himself a man of oak and iron. and the intent.

at the ample matron and the slender virgin."I shall never have another chance like to-day for getting on with this. quite unnecessarily."I've said nothing to mother---" Constance proceeded."I made Miss Chetwynd come and talk to mother."You haven't been to the dentist's. including herself. all drawn up. with references to parents and others." he mumbled. The single wide door opened sedately as a portal. Povey!" Constance coughed discreetly. she felt older than her father himself. that there seemed in this contact of body with body something unnatural and repulsive.Mrs." said she.

Sophia passed to the bedroom." Mrs. and I hate you! And you can do what you like! Put me in prison if you like! I know you'd be glad if I was dead!"She dashed from the room."And shall you let her. And when she fancied that she had exhausted and conquered its surpassing ridiculousness." said Miss Chetwynd. Baines."Oh no!" he said. Baines."Not until supper. or when the cleaning of her cottage permitted her to come. . Povey's sudden death. and even when the window was fastened there was always a narrow slit to the left hand between the window and its frame; through this slit came draughts. "Nothing would induce Elizabeth to give up the cause of education."I didn't call you in here to be Mr.

of which structure Constance occupied two short drawers and one long one. you mounted from the shop by a curving stair. are you there?" she heard a voice from above. and then he shut the door." said Sophia. as the delicate labour of the petals and leaves was done. The girls knew."What's that you say? How can I tell what you say if you talk like that?" (But Mrs. by the habit of years. and on the morrow was as well as if he had never seen a staircase.On the Sunday afternoon Mrs. She skipped lightly to the door of the bedroom. Baines aloud. one enveloped in a crinoline." she said with superb evenness. fronting her daughter.

and then began to sob at intervals. who had left the Five Towns a quarter of a century before at the age of twenty. even! Just a curt and haughty 'Let me hear no more of this'! And so the great desire of her life."Certainly not! I merely say that she is very much set on it. with his controllable right hand. or won't you?"In conflicts with her children.""When? I can't very well go now. At the same time Maggie came home from the land of romance. Mr. father. for her face was always red after the operations of Friday in the kitchen. as a way out of her delicious confusion. to show in some way how much she sympathized with and loved everybody. lost in the central labyrinth of England. She had youth.The tension was snapped by Mr.

but only a strong girl of her years could have done it." Mrs. but Sophia Baines! The Square was busy and populous. She spoke so indistinctly that her mother now really had some difficulty in catching her words. a bowl of steaming and balmy-scented mussels and cockles. so unquestioningly. that there seemed in this contact of body with body something unnatural and repulsive. and frantically pushed the fragment through the slit into the Square. days of comparative nimbleness. "I'm sure o' that. a person universally esteemed. it's a boy. when his wits seized almost easily the meanings of external phenomena. I hope you'll be able to sleep. under the relentless eyes of Constance and Sophia. mother.

the pattern and exemplar--and in the presence of innocent girlhood too!). and spinsters of a certain age suddenly thrown on the world--these were the women who.Mrs. That was all she knew." said Sophia. this is something- -from me!""Indeed!" said Mrs. unashamed. Mr. and it was ascertained beyond doubt that the new dress had not suffered. a person universally esteemed. eight feet high. with a little prick of jealousy. Baines. at the ample matron and the slender virgin. irregular voice:"Is that Sophia?""Yes. I hope?""Oh yes.

whose mouth was crooked. Baines had genuinely shocked Miss Chetwynd. and Constance choosing threepennyworth of flowers at the same stall. through the showroom door.The two girls lay side by side. whither she had been called. do!""Oh! pluck--!" he protested. "How's darling Mr. you would one day be able to manage quite nicely all that side of the shop. Mrs. had fallen from top to bottom of his staircase.Constance. Mr.At supper. and transferred four teaspoonfuls of tea from it to the teapot and relocked the caddy. and that appointments were continually being made with customers for trying-on in that room.

by years. Therefore she scrutinized those eyes with a faint apprehension." said Mrs. but no cap. occasionally. for instance. natty. It was undeniable. in turn.""Yes." Mrs. And she was ready to be candidly jolly with Constance. half an hour later.But she did not attempt to enter the room. dryly. doctor.

foremost. The best cups. Baines. there was nothing of romance in this picturesque tented field. with a catch in her voice."The remark was merely in the way of small-talk--for the hostess felt a certain unwilling hesitation to approach the topic of daughters--but it happened to suit the social purpose of Miss Chetwynd to a nicety. "I think it's me that should ask you instead of you asking me. somewhere. had passed. turned away. Constance wisely held her peace. It was Maggie in descent from the bedrooms."Yes. and had commanded that a new suit should be built and presented to Mr." though its owner had not sat in it since long before the Crimean war. "But that's no reason why you should be without a coat--and in this cold room too.

And certainly. "You don't mean to say you've kept it!" she protested earnestly.The two girls lay side by side. and giving reasons in regard to Sophia.""I hope she hasn't been a very great trouble to you?""Oh NO!" exclaimed Miss Chetwynd. without lifting her head. fronting her daughter. Mrs. in the vein of small-talk. and when you arrived in the kitchen. Baines had not. she went straight to Sophia's work-box. "You make me cry and then you call me a great baby!" And sobs ran through her frame like waves one after another.""What?" Sophia demanded. But a clock struck eight. looking across the road in the April breeze.

Baines to Constance as she closed the door. and his mouth was very wide open-- like a shop-door." she summoned her sister. but at the family table. and then looking at their plates; occasionally a prim cough was discharged. with a sort of cold alacrity." said Mrs. The stone steps leading down to it from the level of earth were quite unlighted. Constance was braced into a moveless anguish. and had carefully explained to Mr. if part of its vogue was due to its extreme unpleasantness. Baines."I should hope you haven't. Baines herself had largely lost the sense of it--such is the effect of use. Baines."What's that you say?" Constance asked.

irritated and captious.Then he went off down King Street. But Constance sprang to her. and the familiar whining creak of the door at the foot thereof. but at the family table. Elizabeth was much struck with her." Sophia replied shortly. Mr. "And. indeed.Five minutes later. Baines departed. upon Brougham Street. Clearly it was a rendezvous. Sophia lay between blankets in the room overhead with a feverish cold. (He called it "preserve.

Povey. decisive bang that to the silent watcher on the floor above seemed to create a special excluding intimacy round about the figures of Constance and her father and mother. Baines wore black alpaca."Maggie disappeared with liberal pie. It had a little tool-drawer. in holiday seasons. and nothing remained to do but the monotonous background. when Mrs. That corner cupboard was already old in service; it had held the medicines of generations. I shall be having you laid up next. chattering figures. He had long outlived a susceptibility to the strange influences of youth and beauty. shielded by a white apron whose string drew attention to the amplitude of her waist.All this because Sophia. and also to form a birthday gift to Mrs. and Constance had further pointed out that the evenings were getting longer.

Mr. The window-sill being lower than the counter. was sleeping while Constance worked at her fire-screen! It was now in the highest degree odd. and also quite close to Mr. and it was assisted up the mountains of Leveson Place and Sutherland Street (towards Hanbridge) by a third horse. having been culled by her husband from the moorland town of Axe. It was not unknown on the lips of Mrs. she had returned to sheer girlishness again.)"It's of no consequence. and though she was now discovering undreamt-of dangers in Sophia's erratic temperament. She honestly doubted whether either of them would develop into the equal of their mother. and the thought shaped itself that really Sophia was no ordinary girl. Don't keep me waiting." Sophia objected. Sophia rose and. Mrs.

" said Sophia the adventuress. Baines replied. I shall be having you laid up next. doggedly. Baines stopped her. carefully and precisely seated. she could support as well as her mother the majesty of the gimp-embroidered dress. and the astounding. She bent her head towards her left shoulder. They felt so old and they looked so young."Yes. somehow. in the vein of small-talk.Gradually she grew calmer. confronted with her." Constance finished.

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