BOOK THE SECOND - REAPING
11. Chapter Xi - Lower and Lower (continued)
The seizure of the station with a fit of trembling, gradually
deepening to a complaint of the heart, announced the train. Fire
and steam, and smoke, and red light; a hiss, a crash, a bell, and a
shriek; Louisa put into one carriage, Mrs. Sparsit put into
another: the little station a desert speck in the thunderstorm.
Though her teeth chattered in her head from wet and cold, Mrs.
Sparsit exulted hugely. The figure had plunged down the precipice,
and she felt herself, as it were, attending on the body. Could
she, who had been so active in the getting up of the funeral
triumph, do less than exult? 'She will be at Coketown long before
him,' thought Mrs. Sparsit, 'though his horse is never so good.
Where will she wait for him? And where will they go together?
Patience. We shall see.'
The tremendous rain occasioned infinite confusion, when the train
stopped at its destination. Gutters and pipes had burst, drains
had overflowed, and streets were under water. In the first instant
of alighting, Mrs. Sparsit turned her distracted eyes towards the
waiting coaches, which were in great request. 'She will get into
one,' she considered, 'and will be away before I can follow in
another. At all risks of being run over, I must see the number,
and hear the order given to the coachman.'
But, Mrs. Sparsit was wrong in her calculation. Louisa got into no
coach, and was already gone. The black eyes kept upon the
railroad-carriage in which she had travelled, settled upon it a
moment too late. The door not being opened after several minutes,
Mrs. Sparsit passed it and repassed it, saw nothing, looked in, and
found it empty. Wet through and through: with her feet squelching
and squashing in her shoes whenever she moved; with a rash of rain
upon her classical visage; with a bonnet like an over-ripe fig;
with all her clothes spoiled; with damp impressions of every
button, string, and hook-and-eye she wore, printed off upon her
highly connected back; with a stagnant verdure on her general
exterior, such as accumulates on an old park fence in a mouldy
lane; Mrs. Sparsit had no resource but to burst into tears of
bitterness and say, 'I have lost her!'