“I think it’s a pity Nellie should have to go,” said Denry.
“Oh! Do you?” replied Ruth.
“Yes; going out to a strange country like that. She’s not what you may call the Canadian kind of girl. If she could only get something to do here. ...If something could be found for her.”
“Oh, I don’t agree with you at all,” said Ruth. “Do you really think she ought to leave her parents just now? Her place is with her parents. And besides, between you and me, she’ll have a much better chance of marrying there than in this town—after all this. Of course I shall be very sorry to lose her—and Mrs Cotterill, too. But....”
“I expect you’re right,” Denry concurred.
And they sped on luxuriously through the lamp-lit night of the Five Towns. And Denry pointed out his house as they passed it. And they both thought much of the security of their positions in the world, and of their incomes, and of the honeyed deference of their bankers; and also of the mistake of being a failure.... You could do nothing with a failure.
On a frosty morning in early winter you might have seen them together in a different vehicle—a first-class compartment of the express from Knype to Liverpool. They had the compartment to themselves, and they were installed therein with every circumstance of luxury. Both were enwrapped in furs, and a fur rug united their knees in its shelter. Magazines and newspapers were scattered about to the value of a labourer’s hire for a whole day; and when Denry’s eye met the guard’s it said “shilling.” In short, nobody could possibly be more superb than they were on that morning in that compartment.
The journey was the result of peculiar events.
Mr Cotterill had made himself a bankrupt, and cast away the robe of a Town Councillor. He had submitted to the inquisitiveness of the Official Receiver, and to the harsh prying of those rampant baying beasts, his creditors. He had laid bare his books, his correspondence, his lack of method, his domestic extravagance, and the distressing fact that he had continued to trade long after he knew himself to be insolvent. He had for several months, in the interests of the said beasts, carried on his own business as manager at a nominal salary. And gradually everything that was his had been sold. And during the final weeks the Cotterill family had been obliged to quit their dismantled house and exist in lodgings. It had been arranged that they should go to Canada by way of Liverpool, and on the day before the journey of Denry and Ruth to Liverpool they had departed from the borough of Bursley (which Mr Cotterill had so extensively faced with terra-cotta) unhonoured and unsung. Even Denry, though he had visited them in their lodgings to say good-bye, had not seen them off at the station; but Ruth Capron-Smith had seen them off at the station. She had interrupted a sojourn to Southport in order to come to Bursley, and despatch them therefrom with due friendliness. Certain matters had to be attended to after their departure, and Ruth had promised to attend to them.