She returned wearily to the thought of Percy Gryce, as a wayfarer picks up a heavy load and toils on after a brief rest.
She had died during one of their brief visits to New York, and there Lily at once became the centre of a family council composed of the wealthy relatives whom she had been taught to despise for living like pigs.
Miss Bart, during this brief exchange of words, remained in admirable erectness, slightly isolated from the embarrassed group about her.
In the cab they continued to remain silent through the brief drive which carried them to the illuminated portals of the Stepneys’ hotel.
If Lily recalled this early emotion it was not to compare it with that which now possessed her; the only point of comparison was the sense of lightness, of emancipation, which she remembered feeling, in the whirl of a waltz or the seclusion of a conservatory, during the brief course of her youthful romance.
The house, in its state of unnatural immaculateness and order, was as dreary as a tomb, and as Lily, turning from her brief repast between shrouded sideboards, wandered into the newly-uncovered glare of the drawing-room she felt as though she were buried alive in the stifling limits of Mrs. Peniston’s existence.
It was in this mind that he had been making his way back to the station when Miss Bart crossed his path; but though, after his brief word with her, he kept mechanically on his course, he was conscious of a gradual change in his purpose.
But these flashes of amusement were but brief reactions from the long disgust of her days.
She must shut them out for a few hours; she must take a brief bath of oblivion.
She was still languid from her brief sleep and the exhilaration of the evening, and the sight of Selden’s writing brought back the culminating moment of her triumph: the moment when she had read in his eyes that no philosophy was proof against her power.
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It took but a brief plunge down the steep white road to the station to land him safely in the afternoon express for Nice; and not till he was installed in the corner of an empty carriage, did he exclaim to himself, with a reaction of self-contempt: "What the deuce am I running away from?"