The Odd Women

By George Gissing ; Patricia Ingham | Go to book overview

3 AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN

VIRGINIA's reply to Miss Nunn's letter brought another note next morning--Saturday. It was to request a call from the sisters that same afternoon.

Alice, unfortunately, would not be able to leave home. Her disorder had become a feverish cold, caught, doubtless, between open window and door whilst the bedroom was being aired for breakfast. She lay in bed, and her sister administered remedies of the chemist's advising.

But she insisted on Virginia's leaving her in the afternoon. Miss Nunn might have something of importance to tell or to suggest. Mrs Conisbee, sympathetic in her crude way, would see that the invalid wanted for nothing.

So, after a dinner of mashed potatoes and milk* ('The Irish peasantry live almost entirely on that,' croaked Alice, 'and they are physically a fine race'), the younger sister started on her walk to Chelsea. Her destination was a plain, low, roomy old house in Queen's Road, over against the Hospital Gardens. On asking for Miss Nunn, she was led to a back room on the ground floor, and there waited for a few moments. Several large book-cases, a wellequipped writing-table, and kindred objects, indicated that the occupant of the house was studious; the numerous bunches of cut flowers, which agreeably scented the air, seemed to prove the student a woman.

Miss Nunn entered. Younger only by a year or two than Virginia, she was yet far from presenting any sorrowful image of a person on the way to old-maidenhood. She had a clear, though pale skin, a vigorous frame, a brisk movement--all the signs of fairly good health. Whether or not she could be called a comely woman, might have furnished matter for male discussion; the prevailing voice of her own sex would have denied her charm of feature. At first view the countenance seemed masculine, its expression somewhat aggressive,--eyes shrewdly observant and lips consciously impregnable. But the connoisseur delayed his verdict. It was a face that invited, that compelled, study. Self-confidence, intellectual keenness, a bright humour, frank courage, were traits legible enough; and when

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The Odd Women
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • THE ODD WOMEN i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vi
  • Introduction vii
  • NOTE ON THE TEXT xxvi
  • SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY xxviii
  • A CHRONOLOGY OF GEORGE GISSING xxx
  • Contents 4
  • 1 - The Fold and the Shepherd 5
  • 2 - Adrift 11
  • 3 - An Independent Woman 25
  • 4 - Monica's Majority 31
  • 5 - The Casual Acquaintance 46
  • 6 - A Camp of the Reserve 59
  • 7 - A Social Advance 72
  • 8 - Cousin Everard 87
  • 9 - The Simple Faith 100
  • 10 - First Principles 110
  • 11 - At Nature's Bidding 120
  • 12 - Weddings 130
  • 13 - Discord of Leaders 142
  • 14 - Motives Meeting 155
  • 15 - The Joys of Home 167
  • 16 - Health from the Sea 181
  • 17 - The Triumph 194
  • 18 - A Reinforcement 209
  • 19 - The Clank of the Chains 219
  • 20 - The First Lie 227
  • 21 - Towards the Decisive 235
  • 22 - Honour in Difficulties 247
  • 23 - In Ambush 262
  • 24 - Tracked 271
  • 25 - The Fate of the Ideal 281
  • 26 - The Unideal Tested 297
  • 27 - The Reascent 310
  • 28 - The Burden of Futile Souls 325
  • 29 - Confession and Counsel 338
  • 30 - Retreat with Honour 352
  • 31 - A New Beginning 362
  • EXPLANATORY NOTES 372
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