“Here is a shilling,” said Miss Wilson. “Now go.”
“Threppence change!” cried Smilash. “Honesty has ever been—”
“You may keep the change.”
“You have a noble ’art, lady; but you’re flying in the face of the law of supply and demand. If you keep payin’ at this rate, there’ll be a rush of laborers to the college, and competition’ll soon bring you down from a shilling to sixpence, let alone ninepence. That’s the way wages go down and death rates goes up, worse luck for the likes of hus, as has to sell ourselves like pigs in the market.”
He was about to continue when the policeman took him by the arm, turned him towards the gate, and pointed expressively in that direction. Smilash looked vacantly at him for a moment. Then, with a wink at Fairholme, he walked gravely away, amid general staring and silence.
What had passed between Smilash and Henrietta remained unknown except to themselves. Agatha had seen Henrietta clasping his neck in her arms, but had not waited to hear the exclamation of “Sidney, Sidney,” which followed, nor to see him press her face to his breast in his anxiety to stifle her voice as he said, “My darling love, don’t screech I implore you. Confound it, we shall have the whole pack here in a moment. Hush!”
“Don’t leave me again, Sidney,” she entreated, clinging faster to him as his perplexed gaze, wandering towards the entrance to the shrubbery, seemed to forsake her. A din of voices in that direction precipitated his irresolution.
“We must run away, Hetty,” he said “Hold fast about my neck, and don’t strangle me. Now then.” He lifted her upon his shoulder and ran swiftly through the grounds. When they were stopped by the wall, he placed her atop of it, scrabbled over, and made her jump into his arms. Then he staggered away with her across the fields, gasping out in reply to the inarticulate remonstrances which burst from her as he stumbled and reeled at every hillock, “Your weight is increasing at the rate of a stone a second, my love. If you stoop you will break my back. Oh, Lord, here’s a ditch!”
“Let me down,” screamed Henrietta in an ecstasy of delight and apprehension. “You will hurt yourself, and—Oh, do take—”
He struggled through a dry ditch as she spoke, and came out upon a grassy place that bordered the towpath of the canal. Here, on the bank of a hollow where the moss was dry and soft, he seated her, threw himself prone on his elbows before her, and said, panting:
“Nessus carrying off Dejanira was nothing to this! Whew! Well, my darling, are you glad to see me?”
“But me no buts, unless you wish me to vanish again and for ever. Wretch that I am, I have longed for you unspeakably more than once since I ran away from you. You didn’t care, of course?”
“I did. I did, indeed. Why did you leave me, Sidney?”