Five minutes later she saw that he had gone away. Thereupon— having in the meantime clad herself—she left the house and walked at a quick step towards a region Of North London with which she had no acquaintance. In an hour’s time she had found another lodging, which she took by the day only. Then back again to Islington. She told her landlady that a sudden necessity compelled her to leave; she would have a cab and remove her box at once. There was the hazard that Sidney might return just as she was leaving; she braved it, and in another ten minutes was out of reach. .
Let his be the blame. She had warned him, and he chose to disregard her wish. Now she had cut the last bond that fretted her, and the hours rushed on like a storm-wind driving her whither they would.
Her mind was relieved from the stress of conflict; despair had given place to something that made her laugh at all the old scruples. So far from dreading the judgments that would follow her disappearance, she felt a pride in evil repute. Let them talk of her! If she dared everything, it would be well understood that she had not done so without a prospect worthy of herself. If she broke away from the obligations of a life that could never be other than poor and commonplace, those who knew her would estimate the compensation she had found. Sidney Kirkwood was aware of her ambitions; for his own sake he had hoped to keep her on the low level to which she was born; now let him recognise his folly! Some day she would present herself before him:—’Very sorry that I could not oblige you, my dear sir, but you see that my lot was to be rather different from that you kindly planned for me.’ Let them gossip and envy!
It was a strange night that followed. Between one and two o’clock the heavens began to be overflashed with summer lightning; there was no thunder, no rain. The blue gleams kept illuminating the room for more than an hour. Clara could not lie in bed. The activity of her brain became all but delirium; along her nerves, through all the courses of her blood, seemed to run fires which excited her with an indescribable mingling of delight and torment. She walked to and fro, often speaking aloud, throwing up her arms. She leaned from the open window and let the lightning play freely upon her face: she fancied it had the effect of restoring her wasted health. Whatever the cause, she felt stronger and more free from pain than for many months.
At dawn she slept. The striking of a church-clock woke her at nine, giving her just time to dress with care and set forth to keep her appointment.