It occurred to him as he walked down to the station—perhaps he went early on the chance of finding her there alone—that he ought seriously to study the features of this girl’s face; for was there not a great deal of character to be learned, or guessed at, that way? He had but the vaguest notion of what she was really like. He knew that her teeth were pearly white when she smiled, and that the rippling golden-brown hair lay rather low on a calm and thoughtful forehead; but he had a less distinct impression that her nose was perhaps the least thing retrousse; and as to her eyes? They might be blue, gray, or green, but one thing he was sure of was that they could speak more than was ever uttered by any speech. He knew, besides, that she had an exquisite figure: perhaps it was the fact that her shoulders were a trifle squarer than is common with women that made her look somewhat taller than she really was.
He would confirm or correct these vague impressions. And as the chances were that they would spend a whole long day together, he would have abundant opportunity of getting to know something about the character and disposition of this new acquaintance, so that she should no longer be to him a puzzling and distracting will-o’-the-wisp. What had he come to London for but to improve his knowledge of men and of women, and to see what was going on in the larger world? And so this earnest student walked down to the station.
There were a good many people about, mostly in groups chatting with each other; but he recognized no one. Perhaps he was looking out for Colonel and Mrs. Ross; perhaps for a slender figure in black, with blue beads; at all events, he was gazing somewhat vacantly around when some one turned close by him. Then his heart stood still for a second. The sudden light that sprang to her face when she recognized him blinded him. Was it to be always so? Was she always to come upon him in a flash, as it were? What chance had the poor student of fulfilling his patient task when, on his approach, he was sure to be met by this surprise of the parted lips, and sudden smile, and bright look? He was far too bewildered to examine the outline of her nose or the curve of the exquisitely short upper lip.
But the plain truth was that there was no extravagant joy at all in Miss White’s face, but a very slight and perhaps pleased surprise; and she was not in the least embarrassed.
“Are you looking for Mrs. Ross,” said she, “like myself?”
“Yes,” said he; and then he found himself exceedingly anxious to say a great deal to her, without knowing where to begin. She had surprised him too much—as usual. She was so different from what he had been dreaming about. Here was no one of the imaginary creatures that had risen before his mind during the stillness of the night. Even the pale dreamer in black and blue beads was gone. He found before him (as far as he could make out) a quiet, bright-faced, self-possessed girl, clad in