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Gillow, lumbering after them, wasalready halfway up the stairs.
“My face? My face? What’s the matter with my face? Do youknow any reason why I shouldn’t go to the Hickses to-night?”Susy broke out in sudden wrath.
“None whatever; except that if you do it will bore me t nike free trainers uk o death,”Strefford returned, with serenity.
“Oh, in that case–!””No; come on. I hear those fools banging on the door already.”He caught her by the hand, and they started up the stairway.
But on the first landing she paused, twisted her hand out ofhis, and without a word, without a conscious thought, dasheddown the long flight, across the great resounding vestibule andout into the darkness of the calle.
Strefford caught up with her, and they stood a moment silent inthe night.
“Susy–what the devil’s the matter?””The matter? Can’t you see? That I’m tired, that I’ve got asplitting headache–that you bore me to death, one and al nike free 3.0 review l ofyou!” She turned and laid a deprecating hand on his arm.
“Streffy, old dear, don’t mind me: but for God’s sake find agondola and send me home.””Alone?””Alone.”It was never any concern of nike free run 2 review Streff’s if people wanted to dothings he did not understand, and she knew that she could counton his obedience. They walked on in silence to the next canal,and he picked up a passing gondola and put her in it.
“Now go and amuse yourself,” she called after him, as the boatshot under the nearest bridge. Anything, anything, to be alone,away from the folly and futility that would be all she had leftif Nick were to drop out of her life ….
“But perhaps he has dropped already–dropped for good,” shethought as she set her foot on the Vanderlyn threshold.
The short summer night was already growing transparent: a newborn breeze stirred the soiled surface of the water and sent itlapping freshly against the old palace doorways. Nearly twoo’clock! Nick had no doubt come back long ago. Susy hurried upthe stairs, reassured by the nike free review mere thought nike free running shoes of his nearness. Sheknew that when their eyes and their lips met it would beimpossible for anything to keep them apart.
The gondolier dozing on the landing roused himself to receiveher, and to proffer two envelopes. The upper one was a telegramfor Strefford: she threw it down again and paused under thelantern hanging from the painted vault, the other envelope inher hand. The address it bore was in Nick’s wr nike free run plus iting. “When didthe signore leave this for me? Has he gone out again?”Gone out again? But the signore had not come in since dinner:
of that the gondolier was positive, as he had been on duty allthe evening. A boy had brought the letter–an unknown boy: hehad left it without waiting. It must have been about half anhour after the signora had herself gone out with her guests.
Susy, hardly hearing him, fl cheap nike free run 2 ed on to her own room, and there,beside the very lamp which, two months before, had illuminatedEllie Vanderlyn’s fatal letter, she opened Nick’s.
“Don’t think me hard on you, dear; but I’ve got to work thisthing out by myself. The sooner the better-don’t you agree? SoI’m taking the express to Milan presently. You’ll get a properletter in a day or two. I wish I could think, now, of somethingto say that would show you I nike free 3.0 sale ‘m not a brute–but I can’t. N. L. “There was not much of the night left in which to sleep, even hada semblance of sleep been achievable. The letter fell fromSusy’s hands, and she crept out onto the balcony and coweredthere, her forehead pressed against the balustrade, the dawnwind stirring in her thin laces. Through her closed eyelids andthe tightly-clenched fingers pressed against them, she felt thepenetra nike huarache free run tion of the growing light, the relentless advance ofanother day–a day without purpose and without meaning–a daywithout Nick. At length she dropped her hands, and staring fromdry lids saw a rim of fire above the roofs across the GrandCanal. She sprang up, ran back into her room, and dragging theheavy curtains shut across the windows, stumbled over in thedarkness to the lounge and fell among its pillows-facedownward- -groping, delving for a deeper night ….
She started up, stiff and aching, to see a golden wedge of sunon the floor at her feet. She had slept, then–was itpossible?–it must be eight or nine o’clock already! She hadslept–slept like a drunkard–with that letter on the table ather elbow! Ah, now she remembered–she had dreamed that theletter was a dream! But there, inexorably, it lay; and shepicked it up, an nike huarache free d slowly, painfully re-read it. Then she toreit into shreds hunted for a match, and kneeling before the emptyhearth, as though she were accomplishing some funeral rite, sheburnt every shred of it to ashes. Nick would thank her for thatsome day!
After a bath and a hurried toilet she began to be aware offeeling younger and more hopeful. After all, Nick had merelysaid that he was going away for “a day or two.” And nike huarache the letterwas not cruel: there were tender things in it, showing throughthe curt words. She smiled at herself a little stiffly in theglass, put a dash of red on her colourless lips, and rang forthe maid.
“Coffee, Giovanna, please; and will you tell Mr. Strefford thatI should like to see him presently.”If Nick really kept to his intention of staying away for a fewdays she must trump up some explanation of his abs nike free ence; but hermind refused to work, and the only thing she could think of wasto take Strefford into her confidence. She knew that he couldbe trusted in a real difficulty; his impish malice transformeditself into a resourceful ingenuity when his friends requiredit.
The maid stood looking at her with a puzzled gaze, and Susysomewhat sharply repeated her order. “But don’t wake him onpurpose,” she added, foreseein nike free 5.0 v4 g the probable effect onStrefford’s temper.
“But, signora, the gentleman is already out.””Already out?” Strefford, who could hardly be routed from hisbed before luncheon-time! “Is it so late?” Susy cried,incredulous.
“After nine. And the gentleman took the eight o’clock train forEngland. Gervaso said he had received a telegram. He left wordthat he would write to the signora.”The door closed upon the maid, and Susy continued to gaze at herpainted image in the glass, as if she had been trying tooutstare an importunate stranger. There was no one left for herto take counsel of, then–no one but poor Fred Gillow! She madea grimace at the idea.
But what on earth could have summoned Strefford back to England?
Chapter 12
NICK LANSING, in the Milan express, was roused by the same barof sunshine lying across his knees. He yawned, looked withdisgust at his stolidly sleeping neighbours, and wondered why hehad decided

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