Israel Zangwill. The Grey Wig: Stories and Novelettes
The Grey Wig: Stories and Novelettes The Grey Wig; Chassé-Croisé; The Woman Beater; The Eternal Feminine; The Silent Sisters; The Big Bow Mystery; Merely Mary Ann; The Serio-Comic Governess
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THE GREY WIG
Stories and Novelettes
Author of 'The Mantle of Elijah' 'Children of the Ghetto' etc., etc.
TO MY MOTHER AND SISTERS
Mainly a Study of Woman
IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED
This Volume embraces my newest and oldest work, and includes-for the sake of uniformity of edition-a couple of shilling novelettes that are out of print.
Mentone, February, 1903.
THE GREY WIG
They both styled themselves 'Madame,' but only the younger of the old ladies had been married. Madame Valiere was still a
But though they met continuously in the musty corridor, and even dined-when they did dine-at the same
But even a haloed past does not give one a licence to annoy one's neighbours. Madame Depine felt resentfully, and she hated Madame Valiere as a haughty minion of royalty, who kept a cough, which barked loudest in the silence of the night.
'Why doesn't she go to the hospital, your Princess?' she complained to Madame la Proprietaire.
'Since she is able to nurse herself at home,' the opulent-bosomed hostess replied with a shrug.
'At the expense of other people,' Madame Depine retorted bitterly. 'I shall die of her cough, I am sure of it.'
Madame showed her white teeth sweetly. 'Then it is you who should go to the hospital.'
Time wrote wrinkles enough on the brows of the two old ladies, but his frosty finger never touched their glossy brown hair, for both wore wigs of nearly the same shade. These wigs were almost symbolic of the evenness of their existence, which had got beyond the reach of happenings. The Church calendar, so richly dyed with figures of saints and martyrs, filled life with colour enough, and fast-days were almost as welcome as feast-days, for if the latter warmed the general air, the former cloaked economy with dignity. As for
At intervals, indeed, secular excitements broke the even tenor. A country cousin would call upon the important Parisian relative, and be received, not in the little bedroom, but in state in the mustily magnificent salon of the hotel-all gold mirrors and mouldiness-which the poor country mouse vaguely accepted as part of the glories of Paris and success. Madame Depine would don her ponderous gold brooch, sole salvage of her bourgeois prosperity; while, if the visitor were for Madame Valiere, that
Another break in the monotony was the day on which the lottery was drawn-the day of the pagan god of Luck. What delicious hopes of wealth flamed in these withered breasts, only to turn grey and cold when the blank was theirs again, but not the less to soar up again, with each fresh investment, towards the heaven of the hundred thousand francs! But if ever Madame Depine stumbled on Madame Valiere buying a section of a
It came when Madame la Proprietaire made her
Hitherto that portly lady's hair had been black. But now, as suddenly as darkness vanishes in a tropic dawn, it was become light. No gradual approach of the grey, for the black had been equally artificial. The wig is the region without twilight. Only in the swart moustache had the grey crept on, so that perhaps the growing incongruity had necessitated the sudden surrender to age.
To both Madame Depine and Madame Valiere the grey wig came like a blow on the heart.