Late that evening, having found what I wanted, I returned in the mingled mist and darkness to the boarding-house to pack up my belongings. That was not difficult to do, and after settling my account and sending young John for a cab I was making for the door when the landlady came up to me.
“Will you not leave your new address, my dear, lest anybody should call,” she said.
“Nobody will call,” I answered.
“But in case there should he letters?”
“There will be no letters,” I said, and whispering to the driver to drive up Oxford Street, I got into the cab.
It was then quite dark. The streets and shops were alight, and I remembered that as I crossed the top of the Charing Cross Road I looked down in the direction of the lofty building in which Mildred’s window would be shining like a lighthouse over Piccadilly.
Poor dear ill-requited Mildred! She has long ago forgiven me. She knows now that when I ran away from the only friend I had in London it was because I could not help it.
She knows, too, that I was not thinking of myself, and that in diving still deeper into the dungeon of the great city, in hiding and burying myself away in it, I was asking nothing of God but that He would let me live the rest of my life—no matter how poor and lonely—with the child that He was sending to be a living link between my lost one and me.
In the light of what happened afterwards, that was all so strange, and oh, so wonderful and miraculous!
My new quarters were in the poorer district which stands at the back of Bayswater.
The street was a cul-de-sac (of some ten small houses on either side) which was blocked up at the further end by the high wall of a factory for the “humanization” of milk, and opened out of a busy thoroughfare of interior shops like a gully-way off a noisy coast.
My home in this street was in number one, and I had been attracted to it by a printed card in the semi-circular fan-light over the front door, saying: “A ROOM TO LET FURNISHED.”
My room, which was of fair size, was on the first floor and had two windows to the street, with yellow holland blinds and white muslin curtains.
The furniture consisted of a large bed, a horse-hair sofa, three cane-bottomed chairs, a chest of drawers (which stood between the windows), and a mirror over the mantelpiece, which had pink paper, cut into fanciful patterns, over the gilt frame, to keep off the flies.
The floor was covered with linoleum, but there were two strips of carpet, one before the fire and the other by the bed: the walls were papered with a bright red paper representing peonies in bloom; and there were three pictures—a portrait of a great Welsh preacher with a bardic name ("Dyfed"), an engraving entitled “Feed my Sheep” (showing Jesus carrying a lamb), and a memorial card of some member of the family of the house, in the form of a tomb with a weeping angel on either side.