She shook her head slowly.
“Ghosts” she said, with a faint smile, “are sometimes very difficult people to deal with.”
EXIT MR. DOUGLAS GUEST
Through the heart of England the express tore on—through town and country, underneath the earth and across high bridges. All the while the man and the woman talked. To him she was a revelation. Every moment of his life had been spent in a humdrum seclusion—every moment of hers seemed to have been lived out to its limit in those worlds of which he had barely even dreamed. She was older than he had thought her—thirty, perhaps, or thirty-one—and her speech and gestures every now and then had a foreign flavour. She talked to him of countries which he had scarcely dared hope to visit, and of men and women whose names were as household words. She spoke of them with an ease and familiarity which betokened close acquaintance—talking to him with a mixture of kindness and reserve as if he were some strange creature who had had the good fortune to interest her for the moment, but from whom at any time she might draw aloof. Every word she spoke he hung upon. He had come out into the world to seek for adventures—not, indeed, in the spirit of the modern Don Quixote, tingling only for new sensations to stimulate; but with the more robust and breezy spirit of his ancestors, seeking for a fuller life and a healthy excitement, even at the cost of hard blows and many privations. Surely this was an auspicious start—an adventure this indeed! During a momentary silence she looked across at him with genuine curiosity, her eyes half closed, her brows knitted. What enthusiasm! She was not a vain woman, and she knew that her personality had little, if anything, to do with the flush upon his cheeks and the bright light in his eyes. She herself, a much travelled, a learned, a brilliant, even a famous woman, had become only lately conscious of a certain jaded weariness in her outlook upon life. Even the best had begun to pall, the sameness of it had commenced its fatal work. More than once lately a touch of that heart languor, which is the fruit of surfeit, had startled her by its numbing and depressing effect. Here at last was a new type—a man with clean pages before him—young, emotional, without a doubt intellectual. But for his awful clothes he was well enough to look upon, he had no affectations, his instincts were apparently correct. His manners were hoydenish, but there was nothing of the clown about him. She asked him a direct question concerning himself.
“Tell me,” she said, “what you really are. A worker, a student—or have you a trade?”
He flushed up to his brows.
“I was brought up” he said, in a low tone, “for the ministry. It was no choice of mine. I had an uncle and guardian who ruled our household as he ruled everybody and everything with which he came in contact.”