The small crowd of persons collected, all eminent in the Canadian world, and some beyond it, examined their hostess of the afternoon with a kindly amusement. Elizabeth had sent round letters; Anderson, who was well known, it appeared, in Winnipeg, had done a good deal of telephoning. And by the letters and the telephoning this group of busy people had allowed itself to be gathered; simply because Elizabeth was her father’s daughter, and it was worth while to put such people in the right way, and to send them home with some rational notions of the country they had come to see.
And she, who at home never went out of her way to make a new acquaintance, was here the centre of the situation, grasping the identities of all these strangers with wonderful quickness, flitting about from one to another, making friends with them all, and constraining Philip to do the same. Anderson followed her closely, evidently feeling a responsibility for the party only second to her own.
He found time, however, to whisper to Mariette, as they were all about to mount the car:
“Mais oui—tres gracieuse!” said the other, but without a smile, and with a shrug of the shoulders. He was only there to please Anderson. What did the aristocratic Englishwoman on tour—with all her little Jingoisms and Imperialisms about her—matter to him, or he to her?
While the stream of guests was slowly making its way into the car, while Yerkes at the further end, resplendent in a buttonhole and a white cap and apron, was watching the scene, and the special engine, like an impatient horse, was puffing and hissing to be off, a man, who had entered the cloak-room of the station to deposit a bundle just as the car-party arrived, approached the cloak-room door from the inside, and looked through the glazed upper half. His stealthy movements and his strange appearance passed unnoticed. There was a noisy emigrant party in the cloak-room, taking out luggage deposited the night before; they were absorbed in their own affairs, and in some wrangle with the officials which involved a good deal of lost temper on both sides.
The man was old and grey. His face, large-featured and originally comely in outline, wore the unmistakable look of the outcast. His eyes were bloodshot, his mouth trembled, so did his limbs as he stood peering by the door. His clothes were squalid, and both they and his person diffused the odours of the drinking bar from which he had just come. The porter in charge of the cloak-room had run a hostile eye over him as he deposited his bundle. But now no one observed him; while he, gathered up and concentrated, like some old wolf upon a trail, followed every movement of the party entering the Gaddesden car.
George Anderson and his French Canadian friend left the platform last. As Anderson reached the door of the car he turned back to speak to Mariette, and his face and figure were clearly visible to the watcher behind the barred cloak-room door. A gleam of savage excitement passed over the old man’s face; his limbs trembled more violently.