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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesIn The Cage - Chapter XII
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In The Cage - Chapter XII Post by :vishal Category :Long Stories Author :Henry James Date :January 2011 Read :1719

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In The Cage - Chapter XII

She was occasionally worried, however this might be, by the

impression that these sacrifices, great as they were, were nothing

to those that his own passion had imposed; if indeed it was not

rather the passion of his confederate, which had caught him up and

was whirling him round like a great steam-wheel. He was at any

rate in the strong grip of a dizzy splendid fate; the wild wind of

his life blew him straight before it. Didn't she catch in his face

at times, even through his smile and his happy habit, the gleam of

that pale glare with which a bewildered victim appeals, as he

passes, to some pair of pitying eyes? He perhaps didn't even

himself know how scared he was; but SHE knew. They were in danger,

they were in danger, Captain Everard and Lady Bradeen: it beat

every novel in the shop. She thought of Mr. Mudge and his safe

sentiment; she thought of herself and blushed even more for her

tepid response to it. It was a comfort to her at such moments to

feel that in another relation--a relation supplying that affinity

with her nature that Mr. Mudge, deluded creature, would never

supply--she should have been no more tepid than her ladyship. Her

deepest soundings were on two or three occasions of finding herself

almost sure that, if she dared, her ladyship's lover would have

gathered relief from "speaking" to her. She literally fancied once

or twice that, projected as he was toward his doom, her own eyes

struck him, while the air roared in his ears, as the one pitying

pair in the crowd. But how could he speak to her while she sat

sandwiched there between the counter-clerk and the sounder?

 

She had long ago, in her comings and goings made acquaintance with

Park Chambers and reflected as she looked up at their luxurious

front that they of course would supply the ideal setting for the

ideal speech. There was not an object in London that, before the

season was over, was more stamped upon her brain. She went

roundabout to pass it, for it was not on the short way; she passed

on the opposite side of the street and always looked up, though it

had taken her a long time to be sure of the particular set of

windows. She had made that out finally by an act of audacity that

at the time had almost stopped her heart-beats and that in

retrospect greatly quickened her blushes. One evening she had

lingered late and watched--watched for some moment when the porter,

who was in uniform and often on the steps, had gone in with a

visitor. Then she followed boldly, on the calculation that he

would have taken the visitor up and that the hall would be free.

The hall WAS free, and the electric light played over the gilded

and lettered board that showed the names and numbers of the

occupants of the different floors. What she wanted looked straight

at her--Captain Everard was on the third. It was as if, in the

immense intimacy of this, they were, for the instant and the first

time, face to face outside the cage. Alas! they were face to face

but a second or two: she was whirled out on the wings of a panic

fear that he might just then be entering or issuing. This fear was

indeed, in her shameless deflexions, never very far from her, and

was mixed in the oddest way with depressions and disappointments.

It was dreadful, as she trembled by, to run the risk of looking to

him as if she basely hung about; and yet it was dreadful to be

obliged to pass only at such moments as put an encounter out of the

question.

 

At the horrible hour of her first coming to Cocker's he was always-

-it was to be hoped--snug in bed; and at the hour of her final

departure he was of course--she had such things all on her

fingers'-ends--dressing for dinner. We may let it pass that if she

couldn't bring herself to hover till he was dressed, this was

simply because such a process for such a person could only be

terribly prolonged. When she went in the middle of the day to her

own dinner she had too little time to do anything but go straight,

though it must be added that for a real certainty she would

joyously have omitted the repast. She had made up her mind as to

there being on the whole no decent pretext to justify her flitting

casually past at three o'clock in the morning. That was the hour

at which, if the ha'penny novels were not all wrong, he probably

came home for the night. She was therefore reduced to the vainest

figuration of the miraculous meeting toward which a hundred

impossibilities would have to conspire. But if nothing was more

impossible than the fact, nothing was more intense than the vision.

What may not, we can only moralise, take place in the quickened

muffled perception of a young person with an ardent soul? All our

humble friend's native distinction, her refinement of personal

grain, of heredity, of pride, took refuge in this small throbbing

spot; for when she was most conscious of the objection of her

vanity and the pitifulness of her little flutters and manoeuvres,

then the consolation and the redemption were most sure to glow

before her in some just discernible sign. He did like her!

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He never brought Cissy back, but Cissy came one day without him, asfresh as before from the hands of Marguerite, or only, at theseason's end, a trifle less fresh. She was, however, distinctlyless serene. She had brought nothing with her and looked aboutwith impatience for the forms and the place to write. The latterconvenience, at Cocker's, was obscure and barely adequate, and herclear voice had the light note of disgust which her lover's nevershowed as she responded with a "There?" of surprise to the gesturemade by the counter-clerk in answer to her sharp question. Ouryoung friend was
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She would have admitted indeed that it consisted of little morethan the fact that his absences, however frequent and however long,always ended with his turning up again. It was nobody's businessin the world but her own if that fact continued to be enough forher. It was of course not enough just in itself; what it had takenon to make it so was the extraordinary possession of the elementsof his life that memory and attention had at last given her. Therecame a day when this possession on the girl's part actually seemedto enjoy between them, while their eyes met,
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