By the time she had had her supper, which was sufficiently good, and written a few notes—one to the doctor’s wife to say that she thought she would be quite comfortable in her new quarters, and one to the head of the agency through which she had obtained her post with Miss Wickham—Nora found herself ready for bed.
The next day dawned bright and fine; one of those delightful spring days to which the great city occasionally treats you as if to protest against the injustice of her reputation for being dark and gloomy.
There were a number of pleasant looking people in the coffee room when Nora went down to breakfast, which turned out to be abundant and well cooked. Having inquired her direction—a sense of location was not one of her gifts—she set out gaily enough for a whole day of sightseeing. She might never get another position and have eventually to go out as a charwoman—the detail that she would be illy equipped for any such undertaking she humorously dismissed—but a day or two of unalloyed enjoyment she was going to have, come what might.
The day was a complete success. Having done several of the picture galleries, lunched and dined frugally at one of the A. B. C. restaurants, Nora returned at nightfall, tired but happy. Oh, the blessed freedom of it!
The next morning on coming down stairs she found at her plate a letter from the agency. The management of affairs, it seemed, had passed into other hands. Doubtless Miss Marsh’s name would be found on the books of several years back, but it was not familiar to the new director. However, they would, of course, be pleased to put themselves at Miss Marsh’s service. If she would be good enough to give them an early call, bringing any and all references she might have, etc., etc.
Miss Marsh tore the note into tiny fragments. The agency could wait, everything could wait, for the moment. She must have her fling, the first taste of freedom in all these years. After that——!
October had come. Nora was no longer in the comfortable little hotel to which the doctor’s wife had sent her. Early in July she had thought it wiser to seek cheaper quarters where breakfast was not ‘included.’ Every penny must be counted now, and by combining breakfast and lunch late in the morning she found she could do quite well until night, besides saving an appreciable sum for the end of the week, when her room must be paid for.
The summer had been one long nightmare of heat. It had been years according to all accounts since the unhappy Londoners had so sweltered beneath the scorching rays of an almost tropic sun. Often, when tossing on her little bed or when seated by her small window which gave on a sort of court, with the forlorn hope of finding some air stirring, had she thought with longing of the pleasant garden at Tunbridge Wells and is perfumed breezes.