He was like a child between a promised toy and an old one which had been taken away from him; and he was astonished at himself. He distinctly heard the Boers sympathised with, the British Government blamed. It's the right thing, the lawful thing. Scraps of conversation came his way through the clatter of plates and glasses. One woman was not the same as another. A son--something to look forward to, something to make the rest of life worth while, something to leave himself to, some perpetuity of self. He went stolidly through his dinner and special coffee without making his presence known, and when at last he had finished, was careful not to be seen going towards the sanctum of Madame Lamotte. If only Irene had given him a son, he wouldn't now be squirming after women!
If only Irene will come back I'll be as considerate as she wishes; she could live her own life; but perhaps--perhaps she would come round to me. To one so secretive as Soames the thought of reentry into quiet possession of his own property with nothing given away to the world was intensely alluring. This, which last Sunday would have set his nerves tingling, now gave him much the same feeling a man has when a dog that he owns wriggles and looks at him. He went stolidly through his dinner and special coffee without making his presence known, and when at last he had finished, was careful not to be seen going towards the sanctum of Madame Lamotte. And doggedly along by the railings of the Green Park, towards his father's house, he went, trying to tread on his shadow walking before him in the brilliant moonlight. And in saying them Soames did but vent the jealous rankling of his instincts. So pretty, seemingly so candid; could she be angling for him? Madame Lamotte, with coffee and liqueur, put an end to that colloquy. There's everything before you. His eyes travelled round the little room; but the eyes of his mind went another journey--a half-light, and silvery walls, a satinwood piano, a woman standing against it, reined back as it were from him--a woman with white shoulders that he knew, and dark eyes that he had sought to know, and hair like dull dark amber. He turned to Madame Lamotte and said: The thought had jumped out of its little dark sentry-box in his inner consciousness. To see her might bring back his singleness of intention, calm his exasperation, clear his mind. He was trying to think Annette the same as that other. One woman's much the same as another, after all. They were, as he entered, having supper--such a much nicer-looking supper than the dinner he had eaten that he felt a kind of grief--and they greeted him with a surprise so seemingly genuine that he thought with sudden suspicion: He was like a child between a promised toy and an old one which had been taken away from him; and he was astonished at himself. There were dishes she could have recommended; what a pity! Annette looked up at him for a moment, looked down, and played with her fork. And yet--it was strange--but there seemed another face and form in the room too; and the itch in his nerves, was it for that--or for this? Only last Sunday desire had seemed simple--just his freedom and Annette. Once outcast, always outcast! It makes no scandal, no disturbance. If only Irene had given him a son, he wouldn't now be squirming after women! Annette shrugged her shoulders. He distinctly heard the Boers sympathised with, the British Government blamed. Outside in the streets of Soho, which always gave him such a feeling of property improperly owned, he mused.
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