2021-04-17 02:32:30

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ENGLISH And vestments, said Mrs Keeling again going on precisely at the point where sleep had overtaken her, I cant see that theres any harm in them, though your fatherWell, Im sure its little reward one gets for being a mother in these days, she said, or a wife either, for what with your fathers typewriter lording it in the library, and you telling me whats right and what isnt in my own room, theres little left for me to be mistress of. I wear myself to the bone in doing my duty to you and him, and all I get is to be sworn at and scolded, and when I lie awake at night making plans for your future,{227} you tell me that I might just as well have gone to sleep, for you wont permit them. Pray may I go and dress, or haw you any other orders for me?

Poor parson has no business to indulge himself, he said, and blew the inhaled smoke up the chimney in a gay puff.I have ascertained that there is a break in it next Midsummer on both sides, notice to be given at Lady Day. The present owner had determined to put up their rent then, and the Committee, I believe, thought that quite reasonable. But he wants cash, and has instructed me to look out for a purchaser.I shall not have the catalogue completed. And I shall insist on paying for what you have done. I shall get an estimate of your work made and a price fixed.{190}

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As soon as his visitor was gone, Keeling went straight on with his mornings work. There were a couple of heads of departments to see, and after that, consulting his memoranda, he found he had made an appointment to interview a new private type-writer, in place of one whom he had lately been obliged to dismiss.

I doubt it. Good-night. I dare say I shall be all right to-morrow.

Then she had gone back with her shorthand notes to her room, and all morning the noise of her nimble fingers disturbed him through the felt-lined door. He was in two minds about that: sometimes he thought he would send her into Hughs room, where another typewriter worked. Hugh was accustomed to the clack of the machine, and two would be no worse than one. Then again he thought that the muffling of the noise alone disturbed him, that if she sat at the table in the window, and did her work there, he would not notice it. It was the concealed clacking of the keys that worried him. Perhaps it would even help him to attend to his own business to see how zealously she attended to hers. Those deft long fingers! They were the incarnation of the efficiency which to him was the salt of life.She did not wait to put on a shawl, but walked quickly across the drawing-room, where she had so often heard his nimble tripping approach, and across the inner hall and out into that Gothic apartment where she would surely find him. Before she got there she had only one desire left, to abase herself and be raised up again. She was short-sighted, and as she came into the outer hall, her heart for a moment leaped within her, for she thought she saw him standing in the dusky corner by the library door. Then, with a sickening reaction, she saw the phantom resolve itself into a coat and hat of her fathers hanging up{215} there, and she saw that the hall was empty, and Mr Silverdale gone. Still she would not give up; he might be standing just outside, unable quite to leave her like this, and opening the front door, she looked out on to the star-sown dusk. But certainly there was no one there.Mr Silverdale got up off the hearthrug where he had been sitting nursing his knees with miraculous celerity. She behind her hidden eyes heard{208} him and knew, she felt she knew, that in another moment would come the touch of his hands on hers as he took them, and bade her look at him. Perhaps he would say, Look at me, my darling; perhaps his delicious joking ways would even at this sublimest of moments still assert themselves and he would say Peep-o! But whatever he did would be delicious, would be perfect. But no touch came on her hands, and there was a long, an awful moment of dead silence, while behind poor Alices hands the dazzle died out of her vision. Before it was broken, she perceived that beyond a shadow of doubt he did not mean her, and both were tongue-tied, he in the shame of having provoked a passion he had no use for, she in the shame of having revealed the passion he had not invited. She had come to the wrong house: she was an unbidden guest who must be directed outside the front-door again.

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Mrs Keeling got up.

She paused in her work but did not look at him.

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Apr-17 02:32:30