“I wonder if she suspected I was so near her. I wonder whether she looked for me as I looked for her. Not as I did, of course, for she is everything to me, and I am only an old friend to her; but yet I think she would have been sorry to miss me by so little.
“What an idiot I am! when I have not even the smallest notion whether she could be on board or not. Very likely I shall find them still at the dear old Cottage.”
But after his soliloquy he shook his head in a disconsolate manner, and betook himself to a novel by way of distraction.
Two more days and they reached New York. They got in early in the morning, and Maurice, the moment he found himself on shore, hurried to the railway station. On inquiry there, however, he found that to start immediately would be, in fact, rather to lose, than to gain time. A train starting that evening would be his speediest conveyance; and for that he resolved to wait. He then turned to a telegraph office, intending to send a message to his father, but on second thoughts abandoned that idea also, considering that Mr. Leigh already expected him, and that further warning could do no good and might do harm.
He spent the day, he scarcely knew how. He dined somewhere, and read the newspapers. He found himself out in the middle of reading with the greatest appearance of interest an article copied from the Times which he had read in England weeks before. He looked perpetually at his watch, and when, at last, he found that his train would be due in half an hour, he started up in the greatest haste, and drove to the station as if he had not a moment to spare.
What a Babel the car seemed when he did get into it! There were numbers of women and children, not a few babies. It was bitterly cold, and everybody was anxious to settle themselves at once for the night. Everybody was talking, sitting down, and getting up again, turning the seats backwards and forwards to suit their parties, or their fancies, soothing the shivering, crying children, or discussing the probability of being impeded by the snow. But when the train was fairly in motion, when the conductor had made his progress through the cars, when everybody had got their tickets, and there was no more to be done, all subsided gradually into a dull sleepy quiet, broken occasionally by a child’s cry, but still undisturbed enough to let those passengers who did not care to sleep, think in peace.