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    He went up a great many flights of stairs, and he noticed, as he had very seldom noticed, how the carpet became steadily shabbier, until it ceased altogether, how the walls were discolored, sometimes by cascades of damp, and sometimes by the outlines of picture-frames since removed, how the paper flapped loose at the corners, and a great flake of plaster had fallen from the ceiling. The room itself was a cheerless one to return to at this inauspicious hour. A flattened sofa would, later in the evening, become a bed; one of the tables concealed a washing apparatus; his clothes and boots were disagreeably mixed with books which bore the gilt of college arms; and, for decoration, there hung upon the wall photographs of bridges and cathedrals and large, unprepossessing groups of insufficiently clothed young men, sitting in rows one above another upon stone steps. There was a look of meanness and shabbiness in the furniture and curtains, and nowhere any sign of luxury or even of a cultivated taste, unless the cheap classics in the book-case were a sign of an effort in that direction. The only object that threw any light upon the character of the room's owner was a large perch, placed in the window to catch the air and sun, upon which a tame and, apparently, decrepit rook hopped dryly from side to side. The bird, encouraged by a scratch behind the ear, settled upon Denham's shoulder. He lit his gas-fire and settled down in gloomy patience to await his dinner. After sitting thus for some minutes a small girl popped her head in to say,

    "I hardly know her well enough to form any definite opinion of her, though she has been kindness itself to me."

    Her guests this evening were rather tedious. The fact was, as she explained to Dorian, behind a very shabby fan, one of her married daughters had come up quite suddenly to stay with her, and, to make matters worse, had actually brought her husband with her. "I think it is most unkind of her, my dear," she whispered. "Of course I go and stay with them every summer after I come from Homburg, but then an old woman like me must have fresh air sometimes, and besides, I really wake them up. You don't know what an existence they lead down there. It is pure unadulterated country life. They get up early, because they have so much to do, and go to bed early, because they have so little to think about. There has not been a scandal in the neighbourhood since the time of Queen Elizabeth, and consequently they all fall asleep after dinner. You shan't sit next either of them. You shall sit by me and amuse me."

    Chapter 9

    "The day is not very distant, Gage, when a Dacre would hardly have returned two members for my county, if a Delme had willed it otherwise. But there is little occasion for me to have said thus much. Miss Vernon, I trust, has other plans; and I believe my own feelings are not enlisted deep enough, to make me forget the hopes and purposes of half a life-time."

    I wheeled about with a start. I had heard no one approach; it was not sound which had disturbed me.

    Pougatcheff looked at me fixedly in silence for a few seconds, winking his left eye with the most cunning, mocking expression. At last he burst into a long peal of laughter, so hearty, that I, just from seeing him, began to laugh, without knowing why.


    Through the crack in the door, Gregor could see that the gas had been lit in the living room. His father at this time would normally be sat with his evening paper, reading it out in a loud voice to Gregor's mother, and sometimes to his sister, but there was now not a sound to be heard. Gregor's sister would often write and tell him about this reading, but maybe his father had lost the habit in recent times. It was so quiet all around too, even though there must have been somebody in the flat. "What a quiet life it is the family lead", said Gregor to himself, and, gazing into the darkness, felt a great pride that he was able to provide a life like that in such a nice home for his sister and parents. But what now, if all this peace and wealth and comfort should come to a horrible and frightening end? That was something that Gregor did not want to think about too much, so he started to move about, crawling up and down the room.

    When considering the reasons for women’s lower wages, reference was made to the fact that women had other sources of income than those derived from their work; and no discussion of the economic position of women would be honest which did not take into account the undoubted fact that women can make more money by the sale of their bodies than in any other way. This may sound an extreme statement, but it is advisedly[100] made. Kings have given their mistresses titles, and have made their sons peers. How many women have been ennobled for any other services? While a first-class university woman rarely gets a higher salary than five hundred pounds a year, an illiterate courtesan, if she plays her cards well and has luck, may dip her hands into millions. The two cynical volumes of Emil Reich, entitled, Woman through the Ages, give proof of those qualities in woman which man has chosen to reward with the highest titles and the greatest riches. Every poor sweated girl knows she can in one night double her week’s wage if she chooses. This is a fact. If we do not fearlessly face it, we may as well give up talking about the women’s movement, for it will only be play. The clearest knowledge, the closest thinking, are wanted on the part of women and men; hitherto, except for those personally involved either as buyers or sellers, knowledge has been confined to the police (almost entirely occupied with penalising one only of the two parties to the transactions), to doctors and nurses and officials of workhouses and asylums of many sorts, and to a small body of rescue-workers. The list is significant.

    What, still restless and torn with horror? Then bring out the whole truth if you must, and be quiet after!

    He yoked the new horse to the plough, and it took to the furrow splendidly — but that was all; it didn’t take to anything else. Dad gripped the handles —“Git up!” he said, and tapped Smith’s horse with the rein. Smith’s horse pranced and marked time well, but didn’t tighten the chains. Dad touched him again. Then he stood on his fore-legs and threw about a hundredweight of mud that clung to his heels at Dad’s head. That aggravated Dad, and he seized the plough-scraper, and, using both hands, calmly belted Smith’s horse over the ribs for two minutes, by the sun. He tried him again. The horse threw himself down in the furrow. Dad took the scraper again, welted him on the rump, dug it into his back-bone, prodded him in the side, then threw it at him disgustedly. Then Dad sat down awhile and breathed heavily. He rose again and pulled Smith’s horse by the head. He was pulling hard when Dave and Joe came up. Joe had a bow-and-arrow in his hand, and said, “He’s a good furrer ’orse, eh, Dad? Smith SAID you couldn’t pull him out of it.”

    "Well," I says, "I dunno as us ladies would know that. But you do love light things when you've had to go around dressed dark, either 'count of economy or 'count of being afraid of getting talked about. Or both."

    And yet somehow, even with his ears stopped up, sounds seemed to penetrate to him and to carry their own tale. He heard, or thought that he heard, the long hissing of the carbolic engine. Then he was conscious of some movement among the dressers. Were there groans, too, breaking in upon him, and some other sound, some fluid sound, which was more dreadfully suggestive still? His mind would keep building up every step of the operation, and fancy made it more ghastly than fact could have been. His nerves tingled and quivered. Minute by minute the giddiness grew more marked, the numb, sickly feeling at his heart more distressing. And then suddenly, with a groan, his head pitching forward, and his brow cracking sharply upon the narrow wooden shelf in front of him, he lay in a dead faint.

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