The Door in the Wall and Other Stories HTML version

The Cone
The night was hot and overcast, the sky red, rimmed with the lingering sunset of mid-
summer. They sat at the open window, trying to fancy the air was fresher there. The trees
and shrubs of the garden stood stiff and dark; beyond in the roadway a gas- lamp burnt,
bright orange against the hazy blue of the evening. Farther were the three lights of the
railway signal against the lowering sky. The man and woman spoke to one another in low
"He does not suspect?" said the man, a little nervously.
"Not he," she said peevishly, as though that too irritated her. "He thinks of nothing but
the works and the prices of fuel. He has no imagination, no poetry."
"None of these men of iron have," he said sententiously. "They have no hearts."
"HE has not," she said. She turned her discontented face towards the window. The distant
sound of a roaring and rushing drew nearer and grew in volume; the house quivered; one
heard the metallic rattle of the tender. As the train passed, there was a glare of light above
the cutting and a driving tumult of smoke; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
black oblongs--eight trucks--passed across the dim grey of the embankment, and were
suddenly extinguished one by one in the throat of the tunnel, which, with the last, seemed
to swallow down train, smoke, and sound in one abrupt gulp.
"This country was all fresh and beautiful once," he said; "and now--it is Gehenna. Down
that way--nothing but pot-banks and chimneys belching fire and dust into the face of
heaven . . . . . But what does it matter? An end comes, an end to all this cruelty . . . . . TO-
MORROW." He spoke the last word in a whisper.
"TO-MORROW," she said, speaking in a whisper too, and still staring out of the window.
"Dear!" he said, putting his hand on hers.
She turned with a start, and their eyes searched one another's. Hers softened to his gaze.
"My dear one!" she said, and then: "It seems so strange --that you should have come into
my life like this--to open--" She paused.
"To open?" he said.
"All this wonderful world--" she hesitated, and spoke still more softly--"this world of
LOVE to me."
Then suddenly the door clicked and closed. They turned their heads, and he started
violently back. In the shadow of the room stood a great shadowy figure--silent. They saw
the face dimly in the half-light, with unexpressive dark patches under the penthouse