Poor Pennyloaf! Arrived at Shooter’s Gardens, and having groped her way blindly up to the black hole which was her wedding-chamber, she just managed to light a candle, then sank down upon the bare floor and wept. You could not have recognised her; her pretty face was all blood and dirt. She held in her hand the fragment of a hat, and her dolman had disappeared. Her husband was not in much better plight; his waistcoat and shirt were rent open, his coat was filth-smeared, and it seemed likely that he had lost the sight of one eye. Sitting there in drunken lassitude, he breathed nothing but threats of future vengeance.
An hour later noises of a familiar kind sounded beneath the window. A woman’s voice was raised in the fury of mad drunkenness, and a man answered her with threats and blows.
‘That’s mother,’ sobbed Pennyloaf. ’I knew she wouldn’t get over to-day. She never did get over a Bank-holiday.’
Mrs. Candy had taken the pledge when her husband consented to return and live with her. Unfortunately she did not at the same time transfer herself to a country where there are no beer-shops and no Bank-holidays. Short of such decisive change, what hope for her?
Bob was already asleep, breathing stertorously. As for Pennyloaf, she was so overwearied that hours passed before oblivion fell upon her aching eyelids. She was thinking all the time that on the morrow it would be necessary to pawn her wedding-ring.
THE BRINGER OF ILL NEWS
Knowing the likelihood that Clara Hewett would go from home for Bank-holiday, Sidney made it his request before he left Hanover Street on Sunday night that Jane might be despatched on her errand at an early hour next morning. At eight o’clock, accordingly, Snowdon went forth with his granddaughter, and, having discovered the street to which Sidney had directed him, he waited at a distance whilst Jane went to make her inquiries. In a few minutes the girl rejoined him.
‘Miss Hewett has gone away,’ she reported.
‘To spend the day, do you mean?’ was Snowdon’s troubled question.
’No, she has left the house. She went yesterday, in the afternoon. It was very sudden, the landlady says, and she doesn’t know where she’s gone to.’
Jane had no understanding of what her information implied; seeing that it was received as grave news, she stood regarding her grandfather anxiously. Though Clara had passed out of her world since those first days of illness, Jane held her in a memory which knew no motive of retention so strong as gratitude. The thought of harm or sorrow coming upon her protector had a twofold painfulness. Instantly she divined that Clara was in some way the cause of Sidney Kirkwood’s inability to go into the country to-day. For a long time the two had been closely linked in her reflections; Mrs. Peckover and Clem used constantly to exchange