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HOME > Inspiring Novel > The Spoils of Poynton > CHAPTER XX
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 There came to her at her sister's no telegram in answer to her own: the rest of that day and the whole of the next elapsed without a word either from Owen or from his mother. She was free, however, to her infinite relief, from any direct dealing1 with suspense2, and conscious, to her surprise, of nothing that could show her, or could show Maggie and her brother-in-law, that she was excited. Her excitement was composed of pulses as swift and fine as the revolutions of a spinning top: she supposed she was going round, but she went round so fast that she couldn't even feel herself move. Her emotion occupied some quarter of her soul that had closed its doors for the day and shut out even her own sense of it; she might perhaps have heard something if she had pressed her ear to a partition. Instead of that she sat with her patience in a cold, still chamber3 from which she could look out in quite another direction. This was to have achieved an equilibrium4 to which she couldn't have given a name: indifference5, resignation, despair were the terms of a forgotten tongue. The time even seemed not long, for the stages of the journey were the items of Mrs. Gereth's surrender. The detail of that performance, which filled the scene, was what Fleda had now before her eyes. The part of her loss that she could think of was the reconstituted splendor6 of Poynton. It was the beauty she was most touched by that, in tons, she had lost—the beauty that, charged upon big wagons7, had safely crept back to its home. But the loss was a gain to memory and love; it was to her too, at last, that, in condonation8 of her treachery, the old things had crept back. She greeted them with open arms; she thought of them hour after hour; they made a company with which solitude9 was warm and a picture that, at this crisis, overlaid poor Maggie's scant10 mahogany. It was really her obliterated11 passion that had revived, and with it an immense assent12 to Mrs. Gereth's early judgment13 of her. She too, she felt, was of the religion, and like any other of the passionately14 pious15 she could worship now even in the desert. Yes, it was all for her; far round as she had gone she had been strong enough: her love had gathered in the spoils. She wanted indeed no catalogue to count them over; the array of them, miles away, was complete; each piece, in its turn, was perfect to her; she could have drawn16 up a catalogue from memory. Thus again she lived with them, and she thought of them without a question of any personal right. That they might have been, that they might still be hers, that they were perhaps already another's, were ideas that had too little to say to her. They were nobody's at all—too proud, unlike base animals and humans, to be reducible to anything so narrow. It was Poynton that was theirs; they had simply recovered their own. The joy of that for them was the source of the strange peace in which the girl found herself floating.  
It was broken on the third day by a telegram from Mrs. Gereth. "Shall be with you at 11.30—don't meet me at station." Fleda turned this over, but was sufficiently17 expert not to disobey the injunction. She had only an hour to take in its meaning, but that hour was longer than all the previous time. If Maggie had studied her convenience the day Owen came, Maggie was also at the present juncture18 a miracle of refinement19. Increasingly and resentfully mystified, in spite of all reassurance20, by the impression that Fleda suffered more than she gained from the grandeur21 of the Gereths, she had it at heart to exemplify the perhaps truer distinction of nature that characterized the house of Vetch. She was not, like poor Fleda, at every one's beck, and the visitor was to see no more of her than what the arrangement of luncheon22 might tantalizingly23 show. Maggie described herself to her sister as intending for a just provocation24 even the understanding she had had with her husband that he also should remain invisible. Fleda accordingly awaited alone the subject of so many manœuvres—a period that was slightly prolonged even after the drawing-room door, at 11.30, was thrown open. Mrs. Gereth stood there with a face that spoke25 plain, but no sound fell from her till the withdrawal26 of the maid, whose attention had immediately attached itself to the rearrangement of a window-blind and who seemed, while she bustled27 at it, to contribute to the pregnant silence; before the duration of which, however, she retreated with a sudden stare.
"He has done it," said Mrs. Gereth, turning her eyes avoidingly but not unperceivingly about her and in spite of herself dropping an opinion upon the few objects in the room. Fleda, on her side, in her silence, observed how characteristically she looked at Maggie's possessions before looking at Maggie's sister. The girl understood and at first had nothing to say; she was still dumb while Mrs. Gereth selected, with hesitation28, a seat less distasteful than the one that happened to be nearest. On the sofa near the window the poor woman finally showed what the two past days had done for the age of her face. Her eyes at last met Fleda's. "It's the end."
"They're married?"
"They're married."
Fleda came to the sofa in obedience29 to the impulse to sit down by her; then paused before her while Mrs. Gereth turned up a dead gray mask. A tired old woman sat there with empty hands in her lap. "I've heard nothing," said Fleda. "No answer came."
"That's the only answer. It's the answer to everything." So Fleda saw; for a minute she looked over her companion's head and far away. "He wasn't at Waterbath; Mrs. Brigstock must have read your telegram and kept it. But mine, the one to Poynton, brought something. 'We are here—what do you want?'" Mrs. Gereth stopped as if with a failure of voice; on which Fleda sank upon the sofa and made a movement to take her hand. It met no response; there could be no attenuation30. Fleda waited; they sat facing each other like strangers. "I wanted to go down," Mrs. Gereth presently continued. "Well, I went."
All the girl's effort tended for the time to a single aim—that of taking the thing with outward detachment, speaking of it as having happened to Owen and to his mother and not in any degree to herself. Something at least of this was in the encouraging way she said: "Yesterday morning?"
"Yesterday morning. I saw him."
Fleda hesitated. "Did you see her?"
"Thank God, no!"
Fleda laid on her arm a hand of vague comfort, of which Mrs. Gereth took no notice. "You've been capable, just to tell me, of this wretched journey, of this consideration that I don't deserve?"
"We're together, we're together," said Mrs. Gereth. She looked helpless as she sat there, her eyes, unseeingly enough, on a tall Dutch clock, old but rather poor, that Maggie had had as a wedding-gift and that eked31 out the bareness of the room.
To Fleda, in the face of the event, it appeared that this was exactly what they were not: the last inch of common ground, the ground of their past intercourse32, had fallen from under them. Yet what was still there was the grand style of her companion's treatment of her. Mrs. Gereth couldn't stand upon small questions, couldn't, in conduct, make small differences. "You're magnificent!" her young friend exclaimed. "Th............
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