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"AN EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF JENNY LANE" By Arthur Symons With an Afterword by Alan Johnson (Arizona State University) Jenny Lane rose every morning at seven o'clock, and found, every morning, the same pile of socks to darn. Every morning, after the maid had done her dusting, she took down the seven cups and saucers, which a grandfather had brought in his ship from India, and carefully dusted them; then she dusted the harp which had belong to her mother, and which stood, recalling her memory, in a corner of the parlour. The younger children had to be in school by nine; at nine Onslow had to start on his bicycle, so as to reach the office in town by ten o'clock. Her father was no longer anxious to be afield early, and he would sometimes call to her to help him in finding one of those curious old books which he took such pride in possessing, and which he liked to bring home from sales, and range in rows, one above another, where he could see them and handle them. It was Onslow who read them, and Mr Lane was sometimes a little put out at finding a volume of Ben Jonson or Pope missing from his book-case: of course Onslow nad it, perhaps in his bedroom, or possibly in his desk at the office. Jenny did not read Pope or Ben Jonson, but there was a Tennyson which no one else cared for, in which she used to read some poems over and over again. She generally had time in the evening; indeed, her life was not over-filled with occupation, though such tasks as she had were the same every day. She was not expected to see to anything on the farm; her duties were all indoors. She had made so many antimacassars in her time, that at twenty-seven it seemed to her that it was time to adopt a new kind of fancy-work; her younger sister Emily, too, before she was married, had made antimacassars, and there were not enough chairs for them in the house. She could not think of anything else to do, and she was rather glad on the whole, when young Jones, and the farmer from the neighbouring village, came over to Hilldene to see her. She knew why he came, and she had not absolutely said No, as she had done to all who had come before; not that she liked him better, but because it seemed, after all, the only thing to do. There was no reason why Jones should not make a good husband, as husbands went; she had no extravagant ideas on the subject. One day she unlocked a certain drawer in her room, took out a small bundle, and sat down by the fire with the bundle on her knees. It was a packet of printer's proofs, the proofs of a volume of poems. She turned over the pages: there were corrections, here and there in a picturesque handwriting, the handwriting of a man who wrote for effect. When she had turned over several Eages she took up the packet in her hands and held it towards the fire, esitated, drew it back, and sat for a long time looking into the fire and holding the packet on the edge of her knees. Finally, she drew it towards her, tied it up again, and put it back in the drawer. Next day she accepted young Jones. Seven years before, Jenny had said to herself that she would never marry, and it had seemed to her a splendid sentiment—a renunciation for an ideal. In 351 seven years a sentiment gets worn out. She had not forgotten her ideal, but it seemed useless living up to it any longer. She felt that the time for being romantic had passed. It was difficult even to remember exactly how she had been affected by that episode which was the romance of Jenny Lane's existence. She had been twenty then, and now she was twenty-seven. That was the difference. One day (this was when she was twenty) Onslow had come home full...


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pp. 351-359
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