The address to which I was now proceeding, led me some distance away from
Mr. Sherwin's place of abode, in the direction of the populous neighbourhood
which lies on the western side of the Edgeware Road. The house of Margaret's
aunt was plainly enough indicated to me, as soon as I entered the street where it
stood, by the glare of light from the windows, the sound of dance music, and the
nondescript group of cabmen and linkmen, with their little train of idlers in
attendance, assembled outside the door. It was evidently a very large party. I
hesitated about going in.
My sensations were not those which fit a man for exchanging conventional
civilities with perfect strangers; I felt that I showed outwardly the fever of joy and
expectation within me. Could I preserve my assumed character of a mere friend
of the family, in Margaret's presence?--and on this night too, of all others? It was
far more probable that my behaviour, if I went to the party, would betray
everything to everybody assembled. I determined to walk about in the
neighbourhood of the house, until twelve o'clock; and then to go into the hall, and
send up my card to Mr. Mannion, with a message on it, intimating that I was
waiting below to accompany him to North Villa with Margaret.
I crossed the street, and looked up again at the house from the pavement
opposite. Then lingered a little, listening to the music as it reached me through
the windows, and imagining to myself Margaret's occupation at that moment.
After this, I turned away; and set forth eastward on my walk, careless in which
direction I traced my steps.
I felt little impatience, and no sense of fatigue; for in less than two hours more I
knew that I should see my wife again. Until then, the present had no existence for
me--I lived in the past and future. I wandered indifferently along lonely bye-
streets, and crowded thoroughfares. Of all the sights which attend a night-walk in
a great city, not one attracted my notice. Uninformed and unobservant, neither
saddened nor startled, I passed through the glittering highways of London. All
sounds were silent to me save the love-music of my own thoughts; all sights had
vanished before the bright form that moved through my bridal dream. Where was
my world, at that moment? Narrowed to the cottage in the country which was to
receive us on the morrow. Where were the beings in the world? All merged in
Sometimes, my thoughts glided back, dreamily and voluptuously, to the day
when I first met her. Sometimes, I recalled the summer evenings when we sat
and read together out of the same book; and, once more, it was as if I breathed
with the breath, and hoped with the hopes, and longed with the old longings of
those days. But oftenest it was with the morrow that my mind was occupied. The
first dream of all young men--the dream of living rapturously with the woman they
love, in a secret retirement kept sacred from friends and from strangers alike,
was now my dream; to be realised in a few hours, to be realised with my waking
on the morning which was already at hand!