A Man's Woman HTML version

Chapter VII.
Throughout her ride from Medford to the City it was impossible for Lloyd, so great
was the confusion in her mind, to think connectedly. She had been so fiercely
shocked, so violently shattered and weakened, that for a time she lacked the
power and even the desire to collect and to concentrate her scattering thoughts.
For the time being she felt, but only dimly, that a great blow had fallen, that a
great calamity had overwhelmed her, but so extraordinary was the condition of
her mind that more than once she found herself calmly awaiting the inevitable
moment when the full extent of the catastrophe would burst upon her. For the
moment she was merely tired. She was willing even to put off this reaction for a
while, willing to remain passive and dizzied and stupefied, resigning herself
helplessly and supinely to the swift current of events.
Yet while that part of her mind which registered the greater, deeper, and more
lasting impressions remained inactive, the smaller faculty, that took cognisance
of the little, minute-to-minute matters, was as busy and bright as ever. It
appeared that the blow had been struck over this latter faculty, and not, as one
so often supposes, through it. She seemed in that hour to understand the
reasonableness of this phenomenon, that before had always appeared so
inexplicable, and saw how great sorrow as well as great joy strikes only at the
greater machinery of the brain, overpassing and ignoring the little wheels and
cogs, that work on as briskly as ever in storm or calm, being moved only by
temporary and trivial emotions and impressions.
So it was that for upward of an hour while the train carried her swiftly back to the
City, Lloyd sat quietly in her place, watching the landscape rushing past her and
cut into regular divisions by the telegraph poles like the whirling pictures of a
kinetoscope. She noted, and even with some particularity, the other
passengers—a young girl in a smart tailor-made gown reading a book, cutting
the leaves raggedly with a hairpin; a well-groomed gentleman with a large
stomach, who breathed loudly through his nose; the book agent with his oval
boxes of dried figs and endless thread of talk; a woman with a little boy who wore
spectacles and who was continually making unsteady raids upon the water-
cooler, and the brakeman and train conductor laughing and chatting in the
forward seat.
She took an interest in every unusual feature of the country through which the
train was speeding, and noted each stop or increase of speed. She found a
certain diversion, as she had often done before, in watching for the mile-posts
and in keeping count of the miles. She even asked the conductor at what time
the train would reach the City, and uttered a little murmur of vexation when she
was told that it was a half-hour late. The next instant she was asking herself why
this delay should seem annoying to her. Then, toward the close of the afternoon,
came the City itself. First a dull-gray smudge on the horizon, then a world of