Bellgrove 70

‘What I would do,’ he said, ‘is something that no gentleman could possibly divulge. Faith: that is what you need. Faith in me, my dear.’

‘There would be nothing you could do,’ said Irma, ignoring her husband’s suggestion that she should have faith in him. ‘Nothing at all. You’re too old.’

Bellgrove, who had been about to resume his seat, remained standing. His back was to his wife. A dull pain began to grow beneath his ribs. A sense of black injustice of bodily decay came over him, but a rebellious voice crying in his heart ‘I am young, I am young,’ while carnal witness of his three score years and ten sank suddenly at the knees.

In a moment Irma was at his side. ‘Oh my dear one! What is it? What is it?’

She lifted his head and put a cushion beneath it. Bellgrove was fully conscious. The shock of finding himself suddenly on the floor had upset him for a moment or two and had taken his breath away, but that was all.

‘My legs went,’ he said, looking up at the earnest face above him with its wonderfully sharp nose. ‘But I am all right again.’

Directly he had made this remark he was sorry for it, for he could have done with an hour of nursing.