It was with some sense of relief that he entered Hyde Park, for here there were fewer people. And as he walked on, the day brightened. A warmer light began to suffuse the pale mist lying over the black-green masses of rhododendrons, the leafless trees, the damp grassplots, the empty chairs; and as he was regarding a group of people on horseback who, almost at the summit of the red hill, seemed about to disappear into the mist, behold! a sudden break in the sky; a silvery gleam shot athwart from the south, so that these distant figures grew almost black; and presently the frail sunshine of November was streaming all over the red ride and the raw green of the grass. His spirits rose somewhat. When he reached the Serpentine, the sunlight was shining on the rippling blue water; and there were pert young ladies of ten or twelve feeding the ducks; and away on the other side there was actually an island amidst the blue ripples; and the island, if it was not as grand as Staffa nor as green as Ulva, was nevertheless an island, and it was pleasant enough to look at, with its bushes, and boats, and white swans. And then he bethought him of his first walks by the side of this little lake—when Oscar was the only creature in London he had to concern himself with—when each new day was only a brighter holiday than its predecessor—when he was of opinion that London was the happiest and most beautiful place in the world; and of that bright morning, too, when he walked through the empty streets at dawn, and came to the peacefully flowing river.
These idle meditations were suddenly interrupted. Away along the bank of the lake his keen eye could make out a figure, which, even at that distance, seemed so much to resemble one he knew, that his heart began to beat quick. Then the dress—all of black, with a white hat and white gloves; was not that of the simplicity that had always so great an attraction for her? And he knew that she was singularly fond of Kensington Gardens; and might she not be going thither for a stroll before going back to the Piccadilly Theater? He hastened his steps. He soon began to gain on the stranger; and the nearer he got the more it seemed to him that he recognized the graceful walk and carriage of this slender woman. She passed under the archway of the bridge. When she had emerged from the shadow, she paused for a moment or two to look at the ducks on the lake; and this arch of shadow seemed to frame a beautiful sunlit