For half an hour she waited impatiently, but though the cars were filling rapidly there were no indications of starting; and it was almost seven ere the long and heavily loaded train moved slowly from the depot. About fifteen minutes previous to their departure, as Madam Conway was looking ruefully out upon the multitude, she was horrified at seeing directly beneath her window the veritable woman from whom, through the entire day, she had been hiding. Involuntarily she glanced at the vacant seat in front of her, which, as she feared, was soon occupied by Mrs. Douglas and her companion, who, as Madam Conway divined, was “Sam Babbit’s wife.”
Trembling nervously lest she should be discovered, she drew her veil closely over her face, keeping very quiet, and looking intently from the window into the gathering darkness without. But her fears were groundless, for Mrs. Douglas had no suspicion that the crumpled bonnet and sorry figure, sitting so disconsolately in the corner, was the same which but the day before had honored her with a call. She was in high spirits, having had, as she informed her neighbor, “a tip-top time.” On one point, however, she was disappointed. She meant as much as could be to have seen “Theodoshy,” but she “wan’t to hum.” “Her grandmarm was in town,” said she, “but if she was in the room she must have been asleep, or dreadful deaf, for I pounded with all my might. I’m sorry, for I’d like to scrape acquaintance with her, bein’ we’re connected.”
An audible groan came from beneath the thick brown veil, whereupon both ladies turned their heads. But the indignant woman made no sign; and, in a whisper loud enough for Madam Conway to hear, Mrs. Douglas said, “Some Irish critter in liquor, I presume. Look at her jammed bonnet.”
This remark drew from Mrs. Babbit a very close inspection of the veiled figure, who, smothering her wrath, felt greatly relieved when the train started and prevented her from hearing anything more. At the next station, however, Mrs. Douglas showed her companion a crochet collar, which she had purchased for two shillings, and which, she said, was almost exactly like the one worn by the woman who stopped at her house the day before.
Leaning forward, Madam Conway glanced contemptuously at the coarse knit thing, which bore about the same resemblance to her own handsome collar as cambric does to satin.
“Vulgar, ignorant creatures!” she muttered, while Mrs. Babbit, after duly praising the collar, proceeded to make some inquiries concerning the strange lady who had shared Mrs. Douglas’ hospitality.
“I’ve no idee who she was,” said Mrs. Douglas; “but I think it’s purty likely she was some crazy critter they was takin’ to the hospital.”
Another groan from beneath the brown veil, and turning around the kind-hearted Mrs. Douglas asked if she was sick, adding in an aside, as there came no answer, “Been fightin’, I’ll warrant!”