A Man's Woman HTML version

Chapter VIII.
The day after the funeral, Bennett returned alone to Dr. Pitts's house at Medford,
and the same evening his trunks and baggage, containing his papers—the
records, observations, journals, and log-books of the expedition—followed him.
As Bennett entered the gate of the place that he had chosen to be his home for
the next year, he was aware that the windows of one of the front rooms upon the
second floor were wide open, the curtains tied up into loose knots; inside a
servant came and went, putting the room to rights again, airing it and changing
the furniture. In the road before the house he had seen the marks of the wheels
of the undertaker's wagon where it had been backed up to the horse-block. As he
closed the front door behind him and stood for a moment in the hallway, his
valise in his hand, he saw, hanging upon one of the pegs of the hat-rack, the hat
Ferriss had last worn. Bennett put down his valise quickly, and, steadying himself
against the wall, leaned heavily against it, drawing a deep breath, his eyes
The house was empty and, but for the occasional subdued noises that came
from the front room at the end of the hall, silent. Bennett picked up his valise
again and went upstairs to the rooms that had been set apart for him. He did not
hang his hat upon the hat-rack, but carried it with him.
The housekeeper, who met him at the head of the stairs and showed him the
way to his apartments, inquired of him as to the hours he wished to have his
meals served. Bennett told her, and then added:
"I will have all my meals in the breakfast-room, the one you call the glass-room, I
believe. And as soon as the front room is ready I shall sleep there. That will be
my room after this."
The housekeeper stared. "It won't be quite safe, sir, for some time. The doctor
gave very strict orders about ventilating it and changing the furniture."
Bennett merely nodded as if to say he understood, and the housekeeper soon
after left him to himself. The afternoon passed, then the evening. Such supper as
Bennett could eat was served according to his orders in the breakfast-room.
Afterward he called Kamiska, and went for a long walk over the country roads in
a direction away from the town, proceeding slowly, his hands clasped behind his
back. Later, toward ten o'clock, he returned. He went upstairs toward his room
with the half-formed idea of looking over and arranging his papers before going
to bed. Sleep he could not; he foresaw that clearly.