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Marching Men

CHAPTER V.5
Edith Carson was six years older than McGregor and lived entirely within herself.
Hers was one of those natures that do not express themselves in words.
Although at his coming into the shop her heart beat high no colour came to her
cheeks and her pale eyes did not flash back into his a message. Day after day
she sat in her shop at work, quiet, strong in her own kind of faith, ready to give
her money, her reputation, and if need be her life to the working out of her own
dream of womanhood. She did not see in McGregor the making of a man of
genius as did Margaret and did not hope to express through him a secret desire
for power. She was a working woman and to her he represented all men. In her
secret heart she thought of him merely as the man--her man.
And to McGregor Edith was companion and friend. He saw her sitting year after
year in her shop, putting money into the savings bank, keeping a cheerful front
before the world, never assertive, kindly, in her own way sure of herself. "We
could go on forever as we are now and she be none the less pleased," he told
himself.
One afternoon after a particularly hard week of work he went out to her place to
sit in her little workroom and think out the matter of marrying Margaret Ormsby. It
was a quiet season in Edith's trade and she was alone in the shop serving a
customer. McGregor lay down upon the little couch in the workroom. For a week
he had been speaking to gatherings of workmen night after night and later had
sat in his own room thinking of Margaret. Now on the couch with the murmur of
voices in his ears he fell asleep.
When he awoke it was late in the night and on the floor by the side of the couch
sat Edith with her ringers in his hair.
McGregor opened his eyes quietly and looked at her. He could see a tear
running down her cheek. She was staring straight ahead at the wall of the room
and by the dim light that came through a window he could see the drawn cords of
her little neck and the knot of mouse coloured hair on her head.
McGregor closed his eyes quickly. He felt like one who has been aroused out of
sleep by a dash of cold water across his breast. It came over him with a rush that
Edith Carson had been expecting something from him--something he was not
prepared to give.
She got up after a time and crept quietly away into the shop and with a great
clatter and bustle he arose also and began calling loudly. He demanded the time
and complained about a missed appointment. Turning up the gas, Edith walked
 
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