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The Return

Sheila, calm, alert, reserved, was sitting at the open window when he awoke again. His
breakfast tray stood on a little table beside the bed. He raised himself on his elbow and
looked at his wife. The morning light shone full on her features as she turned quickly at
sound of his stirring.
'You have slept late,' she said, in a low, mellow voice.
'Have I, Sheila? I suppose I was tired out. It is very kind of you to have got everything
ready like this.'
'I am afraid, Arthur, I was thinking rather of the maids. I like to inconvenience them as
little as possible; in their usual routine, I mean. How are you feeling, do you think, this
'I--I haven't seen the glass, Sheila.'
She paused to place a little pencil tick at the foot of the page of her butcher's book. 'And
did you--did you try?'
'Did I try? Try what?'
'I understood,' she said, turning slowly in her chair, 'you gave me to understand that you
went out with the specific intention of trying to regain.... But there, forgive me, Arthur; I
think I must be getting a little bit hardened to the position, so far at least as any hope is in
my mind of rather amateurish experiments being of much help. I may seem
unsympathetic in saying frankly what I feel. But amateurish or no, you are curiously
erratic. Why, if you really were the Dr Ferguson whose part you play so admirably you
could scarcely spend a more active life.'
'All you mean, Sheila, I suppose, is that I have failed.'
'"Failed" did not enter my mind. I thought, looking at you just now in your clothes on the
bed, one might for the moment be deceived into thinking there was a slight--quite the
slightest improvement. There was not quite that'--she hovered for the right word--'that
tenseness. Whether or not, whether you desired any such change or didn't, I should have
supposed in any case it would have been better to act as far as possible like any ordinary
person. You were certainly in an extraordinarily sound sleep. I was almost alarmed; until
I remembered that it was a little after two when I looked up from reading aloud to keep
myself awake and discovered that you had only just come home. I had no fire. You know
how easily late hours bring on my headaches; a little thought might possibly have
suggested that I should be anxious to hear. But no; it seems I cannot profit by experience,