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472 pages, Paperback
First published February 5, 1998
The room to which she led me was cramped and mean and perfectly colorless; everything in it – the wallpaper, the carpets, even the tiles beside the hearth – having been rubbed or bleached or grimed to some variety of gray. There was no gas, only two oil-lamps with cracked and sooty chimneys. Above the mantel there was one small looking-glass, as cloudy and as speckled as the back of an old man’s hand. The window faced the Market…All I really saw, however, was the bed – a horrible old down mattress, yellow at the edges and blackened in the middle with an ancient bloodstain the size of a saucer – and the door. The bed, for all its rankness, seemed at that moment wonderfully inviting…
"I feel like I've been repeating other people's speeches all my life. Now, when I want to make a speech, I hardly know how."
"If you are fretting over how to tell me you are leaving-"
"I am fretting," I said, "over how to tell you how I love you; over how to say that you are the world to me."
‘When I see her,’ I said, ‘it’s like – I don’t know what it’s like. It’s like I never saw anything at all before. It’s like I am filling up, like a wine-glass when it’s filled with wine. I watch the acts before her and they are like nothing – they’re like dust. Then she walks on the stage and – she is so pretty; and her suit is so nice; and her voice is so sweet … She makes me want to smile and weep, at once. She makes me sore, here.’ I placed a hand upon my chest, upon the breast-bone. ‘I never saw a girl like her before. I never knew that there were girls like her …’ My voice became a trembling whisper then, and I found that I could say no more.