Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/458

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IX.

Teresa sat alone in the drawing-room before dinner that evening. The lamps were lit and their hazy light fell on the orange velvet draperies, the vases of blue Sevres, the Chinese embroideries on scarlet satin, the copper bowls, the tiger skins and the Indian shawls. Teresa loved colour, gorgeous sunsets, the blare of trumpets, loud music—all that could send some note of the tremendous into the undramatic tragedy of her existence. To-night she wore a gown of silver brocade: lace concealed her neck, and long sleeves her arms, but neither brocade nor lace could hide the slight, almost angular figure of their wearer. She held a book of devotions in her lap, the leaves of which she turned at random, but her glance fell now on the clock, and now on the mirror—rarely on the volume and its grotesque old woodcuts of saints and ecstatic virgins. At last the sound of footsteps in the corridor without, and the opening of a door, marred the disquieting repose of her vigil. She let fall the book of prayers; the little crash it made on striking the floor and the rustle of her silk petticoat drowned the words of greeting which she addressed to Wiche, who now entered.

He chose a chair near hers, but she, half-unconsciously, shrank back. He was too engrossed in his own thoughts, however, to notice the movement.

"I fear I seemed most ungrateful this afternoon,"

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