There was again a long silence. Julian reflected.
“We will talk about this again to-morrow,” he said, “when you have had time to think. You are under some strange delusion. After all, I expect you will find the spoon, and then you’ll be sorry for having been so hasty.”
Harriet became obstinately silent. She cut a piece of bread and butter, and took it into the other room. Julian paced up and down.
One or two days after this, Ida Starr came home from work with a heavy heart. Quite without notice, and without explanation, her employer had paid her a week’s wages and dismissed her. Her first astonished questions having been met with silence by the honest but hard-grained woman who kept the laundry, Ida had not condescended to any further appeal. The fact was that the laundress had received a visit from a certain Mrs. Sprowl, who, under pretence of making inquiries for the protection of a young female friend, revealed the damaging points of Ida’s story, and gained the end plotted with Harriet Casti.
Several circumstances united to make this event disastrous to Ida. Her wages were very little more than she needed for her week to week existence, yet she had managed to save a shilling or two now and then. The greater part of these small savings she had just laid out in some new clothing, the reason for the expense being not so much necessity, as a desire to be rather better dressed when she accompanied Waymark on those little country excursions which had reestablished themselves of late. By no means the smallest part of Ida’s heroism was that involved in this matter of external appearance. A beautiful woman can never be indifferent to the way in which her beauty is arrayed. That Waymark was not indifferent to such things she knew well, and often she suffered from the thought that one strong means of attraction was lost to her. If at one moment Ida was conscious of her claim to inspire a noble enthusiasm, at another she fell into the saddest self-distrust, and, in her hunger for love, would gladly have sought every humblest aid of grace and adornment. So she had yielded to the needs of her heart, and only this morning was gladdened by the charm of some new clothing which became her well, and which Waymark would see in a day or two. It lay there before her now that she returned home, and, in the first onset of trouble, she sat down and cried over it.
She suffered the more, too, that there had been something of a falling off of late in the good health she generally enjoyed. The day’s work seemed long and hard; she felt an unwonted need of rest. And these things caused trouble of the mind. With scarcely an hour of depression she had worked on through those months of solitude, supported by the sense that every day brought an accession of the strength of purity, that the dark time was left one more stage behind, and that trust in herself was growing assured.