She had arrived at the apartment house; it had a gray-stone facade and a good deal of wrought iron around the entrance door. A woman who looked like a West Indian of some sort came out. Noticing that June was carrying a potted plant under her arm, she held the door partially open for her. June thanked her and went in. It was a rubber plant she had bought for Van's apartment. He was inclined to be indifferent about flowers, and she feared, about decoration in general. She always had hoped to develop aesthetic appreciation in him, and she considered that she had made remarkable progress during the past year. Practicallly all the adornments in his apartment were objects either of her buying or her choosing.
She knew just how many steps there were to each flight of stairs: nineteen for the first and fifteen for the others. The halls were tiled in black and white, like a bathroom, and tonight, to add to that impression, the stairs and floors were thoroughly wet with the melting snow people had tracked in; the air smelled of wet doormats, wet rubbers, wet clothing. On the third floor a huge perambulator of black leatherette nearly blocked the passageway between the stairs. She frowned at it and thought of the fire regulations.
Because she did not want to be out of breath she mounted the stairs slowly. Not that Van would be there when she arrived - it was still too early - but being out of breath always created in her a false kind of excitement which she particularly wanted to avoid tonight. She turned the key in the lock and stepped inside.