It would be like that with me. Martin would come back. I was only going to meet him. It was dark midnight with me now, but I was sailing into the sunrise!
Perhaps I was like a child, but I think that comforted me.
At all events I went down to the little triangular cabin with a cheerful heart, forgetting that I was a runaway, a homeless wanderer, an outcast, with nothing before me but the wilderness of London where I should be friendless and alone.
The fire had gone out by this time, the oil-lamp was swinging to the motion of the ship, the timbers were creaking, and the Liverpool women were asleep.
At eight o’clock next morning I was in the train leaving Liverpool for London.
I had selected a second-class compartment labelled “For Ladies,” and my only travelling companion was a tall fair woman, in a seal-skin coat and a very large black hat. She had filled the carriage with the warm odour of eau-de-Cologne and the racks on both sides with her luggage, which chiefly consisted of ladies’ hat boxes of various shapes and sizes.
Hardly had we started when I realised that she was a very loquacious and expansive person.
Was I going all the way? Yes? Did I live in Liverpool? No? In London perhaps? No? Probably I lived in the country? Yes? That was charming, the country being so lovely.
I saw in a moment that if my flight was to be carried out to any purpose I should have to conceal my identity; but how to do so I did not know, my conscience never before having had to accuse me of deliberate untruth.
Accident helped me. My companion asked me what was my husband’s profession, and being now accustomed to think of Martin as my real husband, I answered that he was a commander.
“You mean the commander of a ship?”
“Ah, yes, you’ve been staying in Liverpool to see him off on a voyage. How sweet! Just what I should do myself if my husband were a sailor.”
Then followed a further battery of perplexing questions.
Had my husband gone on a long voyage? Yes? Where to? The South. Did I mean India, Australia, New Zealand? Yes, and still farther.
“Ah, I see,” she said again. “He’s probably the captain of a tramp steamer, and will go from port to port as long as he can find a cargo.”
Hardly understanding what my companion meant by this, I half agreed to it, and then followed a volley of more personal inquiries.
I was young to be married, wasn’t I? Probably I hadn’t been married very long, had I? And not having settled myself in a home perhaps I was going up to London to wait for my husband? Yes? How wise—town being so much more cheerful than the country.
“Any friends there?”