The e-reading revolution may have reached our shores this year but it has yet to reckon with Australia's summer holidays. Intense sunlight plays havoc with screens and the sand invades every nook and cranny, so as convenient and sexy as your new iPad may be, the battered paperback, its pages pocked and swollen from contact with briny hands, will likely remain the beach format of choice for a few years yet. Geordie Williamson
But now she could not bear the way she sounded. She was not a person anyone could love.. And thus fled to her room. There she wept, bitterly, an ugly sound punctuated by great gulps. She could not stop herself. She could hear his footsteps in the passage outside. He walked up and down, up and down.'Come in,' she prayed. 'Oh dearest, do come in.'But he did not come in. He would not come in. This was the man she had practically contracted to give away her fortune to. He offered to marry her as a favour and then he would not even come into her room. Later, she could smell him make himself a sweet pancake for his lunch. She thought this a childish thing to eat, and selfish, too. If he were a gentleman he would now come to her room and save her from the prison her foolishness had made for her. He did not come. She heard him pacing in his room.
He was tender with her. He wiped her eyelids with his handkerchief, not noticing how soiled it was. It was stained with ink, crumpled, stuck together. Her lids were large and tender and the handkerchief was stiff, not nearly soft enough. He moistened a corner in his mouth. He was painfully aware of the private softness of her skin, of how the eyes trembled beneath their coverings. He dried the tears with an affection, a particularity, that had never been exercised before. It was a demonstration of 'nature.' He was a birth-wet foal rising to his feet.
Lucinda might sneak from her own house at midnight to place a wager somewhere else, but she dared not touch the pack that lay in her own sideboard. She knew how passionate he had become about his 'weakness.' She dared not even ask him how it was he had reversed his opinions on the matter. But, oh, how she yearned to discuss it with him, how much she wished to deal a hand on a grey wool blanket. There would be no headaches then, only this sweet consummation of their comradeship. But she said not a word. And although she might have her 'dainty' shoes tossed to the floor, have her bare toes quite visible through her stockings, have a draught of sherry in her hand, in short appear quite radical, she was too timid, she thought, too much a mouse, to reveal her gambler's heart to him. She did not like this mouselike quality. As usual, she found herself too careful, too held in. Once she said: 'I wish I had ten sisters and a big kitchen to laugh in.'Her lodger frowned and dusted his knees. She thought: He is as near to a sister as I am likely to get, but he does not understand. She would have had a woman friend so they could brush each other's hair, and just, please God, put aside this great clanking suit of ugly armor. She kept her glass dreams from him, even whilst she appeared to talk about them. He was an admiring listener, but she only showed him the opaque skin of her dreams--window glass, the price of transporting it, the difficulties with builders who would not pay their bills inside six months. He imagined this was her business, and of course it was, but all the things she spoke of were a fog across its landscape which was filled with such soaring mountains she would be embarrassed to lay claim to them. Her true ambition, the one she would not confess to him, was to build something Extraordinary and Fine from glass and cast iron. A conservatory, but not a conservatory. Glass laced with steel, spun like a spider web--the idea danced around the periphery of her vision, never long enough to be clear. When she attempted to make a sketch, it became diminished, wooden, inelegant. Sometimes, in her dreams, she felt she had discovered its form, but if she had, it was like an improperly fixed photograph which fades when exposed to daylight. She was wise enough, or foolish enough, to believe this did not matter, that the form would present itself to her in the end.
Valkyrie walked to the back door, which hadn't been closed properly, shut it and locked it. There was now a baby in the house, after all. She couldn't take the chance that a wild animal might wander in and make off with Alice, like those dingoes in Australia. She was probably being unfair to both dingoes and Australia, but she couldn't risk it. Locked doors kept the dingoes out, and that's all there was to it, even if she didn't know what a dingo actually was. She took out her phone, searched the Internet, found a picture of a baby dingo and now she really wanted a baby dingo for a pet.