The Helpmate by May Sinclair Page 1 of 406

BOOK I
CHAPTER I

It was four o'clock in the morning. Mrs. Walter Majendie still lay on the extreme edge of the bed, with her face turned to the dim line of sea discernible through the open window of the hotel bedroom.

Since midnight, when she had gone to bed, she had lain in that uncomfortable position, motionless, irremediably awake. Mrs. Walter Majendie was thinking.

At first the night had gone by her unperceived, black and timeless. Now she could measure time by the dull progress of the dawn among the objects in the room. A slow, unhappy thing, born between featureless grey cloud and sea, it had travelled from the window, shimmered in the watery square of the looking-glass, and was feeling for the chair where her husband had laid his clothes down last night.


He had thought she was asleep, and had gone through his undressing noiselessly, with movements of angelic and elaborate gentleness that well-nigh disarmed her thought. He was sleeping now. She tried not to hear the sound of his placid breathing. Only the other night, their wedding night, she had lain awake at this hour and heard it, and had turned her face towards him where he lay in the divine unconsciousness of sleep.

The childlike, huddled posture of the sleeper had then stirred her heart to an unimaginable tenderness.

Now she had got to think, to adjust a new and devastating idea to a beloved and divine belief.

Somewhere in the quiet town a church clock clanged to the dawn, and the sleeper stretched himself. The five hours' torture of her thinking wrung a low sob from the woman at his side.



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