Suddenly there came an interruption. The shrill whistling of the engine, the shutting off of steam, the violent application of the brake. The train came to a standstill. The man put down the window and looked out.
“What is it?” she asked, with admirable nonchalance, making no effort to leave her seat.
“I think that there has been an accident to some one,” he said. “I will go and see.”
“Come back and tell me,” she said. “Myself I shall not look. I am not fond of horrors.”
She took up her book, and he jumped down upon the line and made his way to where a little group of men were standing in a circle. Some one turned away with white face as he approached and stopped him.
“Don’t look!—for God’s sake, don’t look!” he said. “It’s too awful. It isn’t fit. Fetch a tarpaulin, some one.”
“Was he run over?” some one asked. “Threw himself from that carriage,” the guard answered, moving his head towards a third-class compartment, of which the door stood open. “He was dragged half a mile, and—there isn’t much left of him, poor devil,” he added, with a little break in his speech.
“Does any one know who he was?” the young man asked.
“No one—nor where he got in.”
The young man set his teeth and moved towards the carriage. His hand stole for a moment to his pocket, then he seemed to pick something up from the dusty floor.
“Here’s a card,” he said to the guard, “on the seat where he was.”
The man took it and spelt the name out.
“Mr. Douglas Guest,” he said. “Well, we shall know who he was, at any rate. It’s lucky you found it, sir. Now we’ll get on, if you please.”
A tarpaulin-covered burden was carefully deposited in an empty carriage, and the little troop of people melted away. She looked up from her book as he entered.
“It was an accident, or a suicide,” he said, gravely. “A man threw himself from an empty carriage in front and was run over. It was a horrible affair.”
“Do they know who he was?” she asked.
“There was a card found near him,” he answered. “Mr. Douglas Guest. That was his name.”
Was it his fancy, or did she look at him for a moment more intently during the momentary silence which followed his speech? It must have been his fancy. Yet her next words puzzled him.
“You have not told me yet” she said, “your own name. I should like to know it.”
He hesitated for a moment. His own name. A name to be kept—to live and die under—the hall mark of his new identity. How poor his imagination was. Never an inspiration, and she was watching him. There was so much in a name, and he must find one swiftly, for Mr. Douglas Guest was dead.
“My name is Jesson,” he said—“Douglas Jesson.”