2021-04-18 02:01:18

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ENGLISH Then I think you are quite mistaken. They are great friends, and Mr Silverdale has the most wonderful and spiritual influence over her. She is quite changed. She is always doing something now for somebody else; she reads to Mamma, she takes a Sunday school, she is busy and happy active.Mrs Keelings party that night, which sat down very punctually at half-past seven, and would disperse at half-past ten, was of the only-a-few-friends nature. Julia Fyson, Alices bosom friend, whom she had begun to dislike very cordially, was there, with her father and mother, the former, small and depressed, the latter, large and full-blooded and of a thoroughly poisonous nature. The four Keelings were there, and the extremely ladylike young woman whom Hugh had lately led to the altar. She was a shade too lady-like,{134} if anything, and never forgot to separate her little finger from the others when she was holding a cup or glass. They were ten in all, Mr Silverdale and Dr Inglis completing the number. As was usual at the table of that generous housekeeper Mrs Keeling, there were vast quantities of nitrogenous food provided in many courses, and it was not till nine that the dining-room door was opened, on the run, by Mr Silverdale to let the ladies leave the room. He made a suitable remark to each as she passed him, and Julia Fyson and Alice, with waists and arms interlaced, stopped to talk to him as they went out. Precisely at that moment, while they were all in the Gothic hall together, the boy covered with buttons opened the front door and admitted Norah Propert. The door into the dining-room was still being held wide by Silverdale, as the interlaced young ladies answered his humorous laments over the setting of the sun now that the ladies were leaving, and through it Keeling standing at the head of the table saw Norah there. She had had but one moment for thought as the front-door was opened to her, but the light from the hall streamed full on to the step and she judged it better to come in than, having been already seen, retreat again. Without looking up she walked across to the library door while still Mrs Fyson stared, and let herself in. She heard the dining-room door opposite close again while she fumbled for the switch of{135} the electric light; she heard indistinguishable murmurs from the hall. Only one caught her ear intelligibly when Mrs Keeling said, Oh, Mr Keelings typewriter. She is cataloguing his books.

Her husband decided that it was her mother she wished to talk about, and interrupted.Well, you heard him to-day. He was the wind and the skylark. He always is if you know how to listen. But I mustnt keep you. You are going farther.

He looked at his watch, not deriving any impression from it, then back at her.It was easy to see out of the depths of futilities that Mrs Keeling was pleased, and her husband retired to his dressing-room and shut the door on her raptures.

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He paused a moment.

Late as it was when Keeling went upstairs, he found a jubilant and wakeful wife waiting for him, with a positive cargo of questions and impressions which she had to unload at once. Her elation took a condescending and critical form, and she neither wanted nor paused for answers.Alice made a large blot on her paper in agitation at hearing this allusion, and took another sheet of paper.Yes, a great deal. Kindly allow me to get on. You are not to tell anybody about it till the day it is opened, when it will be announced. Lord Inverbroom thinks I shall be given a baronetcy. He suggested that I should tell you and see what you thought about it.

Oh, I hope so, said Alice, extending her long neck over her embroidery.It wasnt particularly interesting. But I am so sorry for people in hospital. I shall take a basket of bluebells there one day. Only it makes me feel cheap to read for an hour on Saturday afternoon, or pick some flowers. It is so little, and yet what more can I do? If I were rich I would spend thousands on hospitals.

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Despite his fifty years, and the hard dry business atmosphere of his life, there was something amazingly boyish in the inward agitation{156} in which Keeling, arriving ten minutes before his time at his office next morning, awaited Norahs coming. His midnight excursion, dictated by some imperative necessity from within had, even if it was not a new stage in his emotional history, revealed a chapter already written but not yet read by him. He expected too, quite irrationally, that some corresponding illumination must have come to the girl, that she, like himself, must have progressed along a similar stage. He pictured himself telling her how he had left his house in order to have the satisfaction of seeing her lit window; he had a humorous word to say about the state of his dress shoes (in place of which he must not forget to order a pair from the boot and shoe department this morning). He could see her smile with eyes and mouth in answer to his youthful confession, as she always smiled when, as often happened now, some small mutual understanding flitted to and fro between them, and could easily imagine the tone of her reply, Oh, but how dreadfully foolish of you, Mr Keeling. You want to be laid up too, like Charles. She would not say more than that, but there would be that glimmer of comprehension, of acceptance, that showed she had some share in the adventure, that she allowed it, looked on it with the kind eye of a friend.

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.Again he laughed.

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Apr-18 02:01:18