He ushered her into a slip of a hall hung with old prints. She noticed the letters and notes heaped on the table among his gloves and sticks; then she found herself in a small library, dark but cheerful, with its walls of books, a pleasantly faded Turkey rug, a littered desk, and, as he had foretold, a tea-tray on a low table near the window. A breeze had sprung up, swaying inward the muslin curtains, and bringing a fresh scent of mignonette and petunias from the flower-box on the balcony.
Lily sank with a sigh into one of the shabby leather chairs.
'How delicious to have a place like this all to one's self! What a miserable thing it is to be a woman.' She leaned back in a luxury of discontent.
Selden was rummaging in a cupboard for the cake.
'Even women,' he said, 'have been known to enjoy the privileges of a flat.'
'Oh, governesses -- or widows. But not girls -- not poor, miserable, marriageable girls!'
'I know a girl who lives in a flat.'
She sat up in surprise. 'You do?'
'I do,' he assured her, emerging from the cupboard with the sought-for cake.
'Oh, I know -- you mean Gerty Farish.' She smiled a little unkindly. 'But I said marriageable -- and besides, she has a horrid little place, and no maid, and such queer things to eat. Her cook does the washing and the food tastes of soap. I should hate that, you know.'
'You should n't dine with her on wash-days,' said Selden, cutting the cake.
from The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton
Reading Edith, finally!!