“Very little. Just told me your name, and that you had arrived here. Why should I have asked for more? What could he have told me that I did not know already from my brother’s letter? Three lines! And how much they meant to me! I will show them to you one day, Kirylo Sidorovitch. But now I must go. The first talk between us cannot be a matter of five minutes, so we had better not begin....”
I had been standing a little aside, seeing them both in profile. At that moment it occurred to me that Mr. Razumov’s face was older than his age.
“If mother”—the girl had turned suddenly to me, “were to wake up in my absence (so much longer than usual) she would perhaps question me. She seems to miss me more, you know, of late. She would want to know what delayed me—and, you see, it would be painful for me to dissemble before her.”
I understood the point very well. For the same reason she checked what seemed to be on Mr. Razumov’s part a movement to accompany her.
“No! No! I go alone, but meet me here as soon as possible.” Then to me in a lower, significant tone—
“Mother may be sitting at the window at this moment, looking down the street. She must not know anything of Mr. Razumov’s presence here till—till something is arranged.” She paused before she added a little louder, but still speaking to me, “Mr. Razumov does not quite understand my difficulty, but you know what it is.”
With a quick inclination of the head for us both, and an earnest, friendly glance at the young man, Miss Haldin left us covering our heads and looking after her straight, supple figure receding rapidly. Her walk was not that hybrid and uncertain gliding affected by some women, but a frank, strong, healthy movement forward. Rapidly she increased the distance—disappeared with suddenness at last. I discovered only then that Mr. Razumov, after ramming his hat well over his brow, was looking me over from head to foot. I dare say I was a very unexpected fact for that young Russian to stumble upon. I caught in his physiognomy, in his whole bearing, an expression compounded of curiosity and scorn, tempered by alarm—as though he had been holding his breath while I was not looking. But his eyes met mine with a gaze direct enough. I saw then for the first time that they were of a clear brown colour and fringed with thick black eyelashes. They were the youngest feature of his face. Not at all unpleasant eyes. He swayed slightly, leaning on his stick and generally hung in the wind. It flashed upon me that in leaving us together Miss Haldin had an intention—that something was entrusted to me, since, by a mere accident I had been found at hand. On this assumed ground I put all possible friendliness into my manner. I cast about for some right thing to say, and suddenly in Miss Haldin’s last words I perceived the clue to the nature of my mission.