There he stood in the parlour of the poky littlehouse where she had taken him, waiting for her,while she went upstairs a moment to see a woman.He heard her quick step above; heard her voicecheerful, then low; looked at the mats, tea-caddies,glass shades; waited quite impatiently; lookedforward eagerly to the walk home, determined tocarry her bag; then heard her come out; shuta door; say they must keep the windows openand the doors shut, ask at the house for anythingthey wanted (she must be talking to a child),when, suddenly, in she came, stood for a momentsilent (as if she had been pretending up there,and for a moment let herself be now), stoodquite motionless for a moment against a pictureof Queen Victoria wearing the blue ribbon of theGarter; and all at once he realised that it wasthis: it was this:—she was the most beautifulperson he had ever seen.

With stars in her eyes and veils in her hair,with cyclamen and wild violets—what nonsensewas he thinking? She was fifty at least; she hadeight children. Stepping through fields of flowersand taking to her breast buds that had broken andlambs that had fallen; with the stars in her eyesand the wind in her hair—He took her bag.

"Good-bye, Elsie," she said, and they walkedup the street, she holding her parasol erect and27
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