Mr. Jarvis bustled away. Arnold himself found plenty to do. The business of Messrs. Weatherley & Company must go on, whatever happened. He set himself sedulously to make his mind a complete blank. It was not until the offices were closed, and he turned at last westwards, that he permitted himself even to realize this strange thing that had happened. On that first walk was born an impulse which remained with him for many weeks afterwards. He found himself always scanning the faces of the streams of people whom he was continually passing, on foot and in vehicles, half expecting that somewhere among them he would catch a glimpse of the features of the lost Mr. Weatherley.
TALK OF TREASURE SHIPS
In the twilight of the long spring evening, Ruth sat waiting in the bare room which had been Arnold’s habitation during these days of his struggle against poverty. She was sitting on the couch, drawn up as usual to the window, her elbows upon her knees, her hands supporting her delicate, thoughtful face. Already the color which the sunshine had brought seemed to have been drained from her cheeks. Her eyes were unnaturally bright, her expression seemed to have borrowed something of that wistful earnestness of one of the earlier Madonnas, seeking with pathetic strenuousness to discover the germs of a truth which was as yet unborn. The clouds, which hung low over the other side of the river, were tinged with an unusual coloring, smoke-stained as they hovered over the chimneys. They grew clearer and more full of amber color as they floated slowly southwards. Through the open window came the ceaseless roar of the city, the undernote of grinding, commonplace life, seeking always to stifle and enchain the thoughts which would escape. Before her was spread out a telegram. She had read it many times, until every word was familiar to her. It was from Arnold, and she had received it several hours ago.
Please be prepared
to go out with me directly I return
this evening. All well. Love. Arnold.
It was past eight o’clock before her vigil was at an end. She listened to his step upon the stairs, and, as he entered, looked at him with all the eagerness of a wistful child, tremulously anxious to read his expression. A little wave of tenderness swept in upon him. He forgot in a moment the anxieties and worries of the day, and greeted her gayly.
“You got my telegram?”
“You extravagant person!” she answered. “Yes, I have been ready for quite a long time.”
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t even pay for the telegram. As I had to stay late, I took the liberty of sending it through the firm’s accounts. You see, I have become quite an important person in Tooley Street all of a sudden. I’ll tell you about it presently. Now hold on tightly to your stick. I’m much too impatient to go down the steps one by one. I’m going to carry you all the way.”