Not a member?     Existing members login below:

Night and Day

CHAPTER XXIII
When Ralph Denham entered the room and saw Katharine seated with her back
to him, he was conscious of a change in the grade of the atmosphere such as a
traveler meets with sometimes upon the roads, particularly after sunset, when,
without warning, he runs from clammy chill to a hoard of unspent warmth in
which the sweetness of hay and beanfield is cherished, as if the sun still shone
although the moon is up. He hesitated; he shuddered; he walked elaborately to
the window and laid aside his coat. He balanced his stick most carefully against
the folds of the curtain. Thus occupied with his own sensations and preparations,
he had little time to observe what either of the other two was feeling. Such
symptoms of agitation as he might perceive (and they had left their tokens in
brightness of eye and pallor of cheeks) seemed to him well befitting the actors in
so great a drama as that of Katharine Hilbery's daily life. Beauty and passion
were the breath of her being, he thought.
She scarcely noticed his presence, or only as it forced her to adopt a manner of
composure, which she was certainly far from feeling. William, however, was even
more agitated than she was, and her first instalment of promised help took the
form of some commonplace upon the age of the building or the architect's name,
which gave him an excuse to fumble in a drawer for certain designs, which he
laid upon the table between the three of them.
Which of the three followed the designs most carefully it would be difficult to tell,
but it is certain that not one of the three found for the moment anything to say.
Years of training in a drawing-room came at length to Katharine's help, and she
said something suitable, at the same moment withdrawing her hand from the
table because she perceived that it trembled. William agreed effusively; Denham
corroborated him, speaking in rather high-pitched tones; they thrust aside the
plans, and drew nearer to the fireplace.
"I'd rather live here than anywhere in the whole of London," said Denham.
("And I've got nowhere to live") Katharine thought, as she agreed aloud.
"You could get rooms here, no doubt, if you wanted to," Rodney replied.
"But I'm just leaving London for good--I've taken that cottage I was telling you
about." The announcement seemed to convey very little to either of his hearers.
"Indeed?--that's sad. . . . You must give me your address. But you won't cut
yourself off altogether, surely--"
"You'll be moving, too, I suppose," Denham remarked.
William showed such visible signs of floundering that Katharine collected herself
and asked:
"Where is the cottage you've taken?"
In answering her, Denham turned and looked at her. As their eyes met, she
realized for the first time that she was talking to Ralph Denham, and she
remembered, without recalling any details, that she had been speaking of him
quite lately, and that she had reason to think ill of him. What Mary had said she
could not remember, but she felt that there was a mass of knowledge in her mind
which she had not had time to examine--knowledge now lying on the far side of a
 
 
Remove