But it was harder than she had foreseen, to maintain reserve and reticence when her heart was throbbing with passion; the effect upon her of Waymark’s comparative coldness was so much harder to bear than she had imagined. Her mind tortured itself incessantly with the fear that some new love had taken possession of him. And now there had befallen her this new misfortune, which, it might be, would once more bring about a crisis in her life.
Of course she must forthwith set about finding new work. It would be difficult, seeing that she had now no reference to give. Reflection had convinced her that it must have been some discovery of her former life which had led to her sudden dismissal, and this increased her despondency. Yet she would not give way to it. On the following morning she began her search for employment, and day after day faced without result the hateful ordeal. Hope failed as she saw her painfully-eked-out coins become fewer and fewer. In a day or two she would have nothing, and what would happen then?
When she returned to London to begin a new life, now nearly a year ago, she had sold some and pawned the rest of such possessions as would in future be useful to her. Part of the money thus obtained had bought the furniture of her rooms; what remained had gone for a few months to supplement her weekly wages, thus making the winter less a time of hardship than it must otherwise have been. One or two articles yet remained capable of being turned into small sums, and these she now disposed of at a neighbouring pawnbroker’s—the same she had previously visited on the occasion of pawning one or two of the things, the tickets for which Harriet Casti had so carefully inspected. She spoke to no one of her position. Yet now the time was quickly coming when she must either have help from some quarter or else give up her lodgings. In food she was already stinting herself to the verge of starvation. And through all this she had to meet her friends as hitherto, if possible without allowing any trace of her suffering to become visible. Harriet, strange to say, had been of late a rather frequent visitor, and was more pressing than formerly in her invitations. Ida dreaded her coming, as it involved the unwarrantable expense of obtaining luxuries now unknown in her cupboard, such as tea and butter. And, on the other hand, it was almost impossible to affect cheerfulness in the company of the Castis. At times she caught Julian’s eyes fixed upon her, and felt that he noticed some change in her appearance. She had a sense of guilt in their presence, as if she were there on false pretences. For, together with her daily work, much of her confidence had gone; an inexplicable shame constantly troubled her. She longed to hide herself away, and be alone with her wretchedness.