The Secret Sanctuary

The Secret Sanctuary

by Warwick Deeping

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Overview

Bartholomew Stretton, Esq., was shown into Beal's dining-room.

"Dr. Beal won't keep you a minute, sir."

"Quite so, quite so. He expects me--I think."

Mr. Stretton put his hat and gloves on the table, and picking up a
month-old copy of Punch, looked at one or two of the pictures and
then discarded the paper with an air of impatience. He was in no
mood to appreciate humour. He glanced round Beal's dining-room as
though he disliked it. His restlessness would not permit him to
sit down; it carried him to one of the windows and exhibited to him
a section of Wimpole Street: iron railings, pavement, road, more
pavement, more railings, a series of windows and three green front
doors decorated with a number of very clean brass plates. It was
raining. People passed with open umbrellas. To Mr. Stretton the
rain, the pavements, the houses, and the people all looked the same
colour.

"Beastly place!"

It occurred to him that he had never seen Wimpole Street till six
months ago, that it had not existed so far as he was concerned, and
that it would have had no present existence had he not needed help.
And yet he hated the street as a comfort-loving man hates anything
which associates itself with some very unpleasant and importunate
reality. Wimpole Street was an ugly smudge across the suburban
serenity of Mr. Stretton's vision of life. He had been a
successful man, a genially self-satisfied man, and that Fate should
have administered a kick to him just when he was entering the last
lap seemed monstrous and an outrage. It was the kind of scandal
that impels a man to write angry letters to the papers--but this
affair was too personal and too serious for such splutterings in
self-relief. The problem--for it was a problem--stuck in poor old
Stretton's throat, made his lower lip lax and querulous, and gave a
slightly bewildered irritability to his blue eyes.

The street depressed him so thoroughly that he turned about and
began to wander round the room, looking at Rollin Beal's exquisite
Georgian furniture and pictures with an air of perfunctory
attention. He really did not see them, the beauty and the
distinction of them; they were just so many chairs and cabinets and
pieces of coloured porcelain and canvas. He had to look at
something; the mental attitude of the man who reads every page of
the morning and the evening paper.

An oval mirror in a mahogany frame hanging slightly tilted above
the Adam mantelpiece showed Bartholomew Stretton a reflection of
himself. Instantly interested, he paused, like a very young child.
He put up a hand and smoothed his hair, and gave a little touch to
his tie. An observant person could have told him that he belonged
to a previous generation, and that he should have worn a white top-
hat, a white waistcoat and spats, and black-and-white check
trousers.

As a matter of fact, he did wear spats, but they were biscuit-brown
in colour. Mr. Stretton was very punctilious about being up to
date. He was very punctilious in all the externals. When golf
knickers were baggy, he wore them baggy. He was the most careful
of formalists. That was why his son's disaster had hurt him so
badly. He was sorry for his son; he was sorry for his wife--but he
was bitterly sorry for himself.

The door opened.

"Dr. Beal is ready for you, sir."

Bartholomew Stretton was shown into Rollin Beal's consulting-room.
A tall man with kind eyes and an ironical mouth rose from his desk
and extended a hand.

"Well, how are things?"

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013682573
Publisher: WDS Publishing
Publication date: 01/21/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 249 KB

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