At three o'clock in the afternoon Julia put on her hat. Her dressing table with its triple mirror stood in an alcove. It was a very fine severe little table. It was Julia's vanity to be very fine and dainty in her toilet. Here was no powder box, but lotions and expensive scents. When she sat before the glass she enjoyed the defiant delicacy which she saw in the lines of her lifted head, and there was a thrill which she could not analyze in the sight of her long white hands lying useless in her lap. They made her in love with herself.
Her hat was of bright brown straw and when she slipped on her fur coat she was pleased with the luxurious incongruity of the effect.
Nellie, the old Negro servant, was away, and Julia's step-children, May and Bobby, were at school. As Julia descended the stairway to the lower hall, her silk dress, brushing the carpet, made a cool hissing sound in the quiet passageway.
She opened the front door softly and passed into the long street which appeared sad and deserted in the spring sunshine. Under the cold trees, that were budding here and there, were small blurred shadows. In the tall yellow apartment house across the way windows were open and white curtains shook mysteriously against the light. Above a cornice smoke from a hidden chimney rushed in opaque volumes to dissolve against the cold glow of the remote sky.
Julia walked along, feeling as though she were the one point in which the big silent city in the chill wind grew conscious of itself. It was only when she reached Dudley Allen's doorstep that her mood changed, and she felt that when she went in she would be robbed of her new glorious indifference about her life.
She rang the bell above the small brass plate, and when the white door had opened and she was mounting the soft green-carpeted stairs up the long corridor, it seemed to her that she was going back into herself.
In the passage before Dudley's rooms he came to meet her as he had done before. His hard eyes as they looked at her had a sort of bloom of triumph.