WIDDOWSON tried two or three lodgings; he settled at length in a mall house at Hampstead; occupying two plain rooms. Here, at long intervals, his friend Newdick came to see him; but no one else. He had brought with him a selection of solid books from his library, and over these the greater part of each day was spent. Not that he studied with any zeal; reading, and of a kind that demanded close attention, was his only resource against melancholia; he knew not how else to occupy himself. Adam Smith's classical work,* perused with laborious throughness, gave him employment for a couple of months; subsequently he plodded through all the volumes of Hallam.
His landlady, and the neighbours who were at leisure to observe him when he went out for his two hour's walk in the afternoon, took him for an old gentleman of sixty-five or so. He no longer held himself upright, and when out of doors seldom raised his eyes from the ground; grey streaks had begun to brindle his hair; his face grew yellower and more deeply furrowed. Of his personal appearance, even of cleanliness, he became neglectful, and occasionally it happened that he lay in bed all through the morning, reading, dozing, or in a state of mental vacuity.
It was long since he had seen his relative, the sprightly widow; but he had heard from her. On the point of leaving England for her summer holiday, Mrs Luke sent him a few lines, urging him, in the language of her world, to live more sensibly and let his wife 'have her head' now and then; it would be better for both of them. Then followed the time of woe, and for many weeks he gave no thought to Mrs Luke. But close upon the end of the year, he received one day a certain Society Journal, addressed in a hand he knew to the house at Herne Hill. In it was discoverable, marked with a red pencil, the following paragraph:
'Among the English who this year elected to take their repose and recreation at Trouville, there was no more brilliant figure than Mrs Luke Widdowson. This lady is well known in the monde where one never s'ennuie; where smart people are gathered together, there is the charming widow sure to be seen. We are able to announce that, before leaving Trouville, Mrs Widdowson had consented to a private
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Publication information: Book title: The Odd Women. Contributors: George Gissing - Author, Patricia Ingham - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 362.