The Odd Women

By George Gissing ; Patricia Ingham | Go to book overview
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24 TRACKED

WHEN Widdowson went up to the bed-room that night, Monica was already asleep. He discovered this on turning up the gas; the light fell upon her face, and he was drawn to the bedside to look at her. The features signified nothing but repose; her lips were just apart, her eyelids lay softly with their black fringe of exquisite pencilling, and her hair was arranged as she always prepared it for the pillow. He watched her for full five minutes, and detected not the slightest movement, so profound was her sleep. Then he turned away, muttering savagely under his breath--'Hypocrite! Liar!'

But for a purpose in his thoughts, he would not have laid down beside her. On getting into bed, he kept as far away as possible, and all through the wakeful night his limbs shrank from the touch of hers.

He rose an hour earlier than usual. Monica had long been awake, but she moved so seldom that he could not be sure of this; her face was turned from him. When he came back to the room after his bath, Monica propped herself on her elbow and asked why he was moving so early.

'I want to be in the City at nine,' he replied, with a show of cheerfulness. 'There's a money affair I must see after.'

'Something that's going wrong?'

'I'm afraid so. I must lose no time in looking to it.--What plans have you for to-day?'

'None whatever.'

'It's Saturday, you know. I promised to see Newdick this afternoon. Perhaps I may bring him to dinner.'

About twelve o'clock he returned from his business. At two he went away again, saying that he should not be back before seven, it might be a little later. In Monica these movements excited no special remark; they were merely a continuance of his restlessness. But no sooner had he departed, after luncheon, than she went to her dressing-room, and began to make slow, uncertain preparations for leaving home herself.

This morning she had tried to write a letter for Bevis, but vainly. She knew not what to say to him, uncertain of her own desires and of

-271-

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