The Womans Way (Chapter 1, page 1 of 17)


 
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Chapter 1

Celia climbed up the steps to her room slowly; not because she was very
tired, but because her room was nearly at the top of Brown's Buildings
and she had learnt that, at any rate, it was well to begin slowly. It
was only the milk boy and the paper boy who ran up the stairs, and they
generally whistled or sang as they ran, heedless of feminine reproofs or
masculine curses. There was no lift at Brown's; its steps were as stony
and as steep as those of which Dante complained; the rail on which
Celia's hand rested occasionally was of iron; and Brown's whitewashed
corridors, devoid of ornament, were so severe as to resemble those of a
prison; indeed, more than one of the inhabitants of the Buildings spoke
of them, with grim facetiousness, as The Jail. Without having to pause
to gain her breath, for at twenty-two, when you are well and strong,
even sixty steep steps do not matter very much, Celia unlocked a door,
bearing the number "105," and entered her room.

It was not large; to descend to detail, it measured exactly ten feet by
fifteen feet; but scantily furnished as it was, it contrasted pleasantly
with the prison-like corridor on which it opened. Like that of the Baby
Bear, everything in the apartment was small; a tiny table, a diminutive
armchair, a miniature bookcase; the one exception was a wardrobe, which
was not in reality a wardrobe; it served a double purpose; for when the
doors were opened, they disclosed a bed, standing on its head, which
came down at night and offered Celia repose. The room had a cheerful
air; there was a small fire in the tiny grate, and the light of the
flickering coal was reflected on one or two cheap, but artistically
good, engravings, and on the deep maroon curtains--"Our celebrated art
serge, 1s. 6d. a yard, double width"--which draped the windows looking
down on Elsham Street, which runs parallel with its great, roaring,
bustling brother, Victoria Street.

 
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