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Night and Day

CHAPTER XXXIV
The lamps were lit; their luster reflected itself in the polished wood; good wine
was passed round the dinner-table; before the meal was far advanced civilization
had triumphed, and Mr. Hilbery presided over a feast which came to wear more
and more surely an aspect, cheerful, dignified, promising well for the future. To
judge from the expression in Katharine's eyes it promised something--but he
checked the approach sentimentality. He poured out wine; he bade Denham help
himself.
They went upstairs and he saw Katharine and Denham abstract themselves
directly Cassandra had asked whether she might not play him something --some
Mozart? some Beethoven? She sat down to the piano; the door closed softly
behind them. His eyes rested on the closed door for some seconds
unwaveringly, but, by degrees, the look of expectation died out of them, and, with
a sigh, he listened to the music.
Katharine and Ralph were agreed with scarcely a word of discussion as to what
they wished to do, and in a moment she joined him in the hall dressed for
walking. The night was still and moonlit, fit for walking, though any night would
have seemed so to them, desiring more than anything movement, freedom from
scrutiny, silence, and the open air.
"At last!" she breathed, as the front door shut. She told him how she had waited,
fidgeted, thought he was never coming, listened for the sound of doors, half
expected to see him again under the lamp-post, looking at the house. They
turned and looked at the serene front with its gold-rimmed windows, to him the
shrine of so much adoration. In spite of her laugh and the little pressure of
mockery on his arm, he would not resign his belief, but with her hand resting
there, her voice quickened and mysteriously moving in his ears, he had not time--
they had not the same inclination--other objects drew his attention.
How they came to find themselves walking down a street with many lamps,
corners radiant with light, and a steady succession of motor- omnibuses plying
both ways along it, they could neither of them tell; nor account for the impulse
which led them suddenly to select one of these wayfarers and mount to the very
front seat. After curving through streets of comparative darkness, so narrow that
shadows on the blinds were pressed within a few feet of their faces, they came to
one of those great knots of activity where the lights, having drawn close together,
thin out again and take their separate ways. They were borne on until they saw
the spires of the city churches pale and flat against the sky.
"Are you cold?" he asked, as they stopped by Temple Bar.
"Yes, I am rather," she replied, becoming conscious that the splendid race of
lights drawn past her eyes by the superb curving and swerving of the monster on
which she sat was at an end. They had followed some such course in their
thoughts too; they had been borne on, victors in the forefront of some triumphal
car, spectators of a pageant enacted for them, masters of life. But standing on
the pavement alone, this exaltation left them; they were glad to be alone
together. Ralph stood still for a moment to light his pipe beneath a lamp.
 
 
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