Wondering in which direction he should next turn, he suddenly found himself repeating, with unaccountable transition of thought, the words “South Bank, Regent’s Park.” In all likelihood, he said to himself presently, they were suggested by some inscription on a passing omnibus, noted unconsciously. The address was that he had read in Miss Enderby’s note-book. Why not ramble in that direction as well as another, and amuse himself by guessing which house it was that the governess lived in? He had not seen her since the uproar which had terminated his connection with the young Tootles. Was it true that she had then already decided to give up her position? If not, his outbreak of temper had doubtless resulted unpleasantly for her, seeing that Mrs. Tootle would almost certainly dismiss her out of mere spite. Several times during the last two days he had thought of conveying to her a note by some means, to express in some way or other this fear, and the regret it caused him; the real motive, he knew well enough, would be a hope of receiving a reply from her. But now she had perhaps left the school, and he did not know her exact address. He made his way across the Park in the direction of St. John’s Wood, and had soon reached South Bank.
He had walked once the length of the road, and was looking at the nearest houses before he turned, when a lady came round the corner and paused to avoid him, as he stood in the middle of the pavement. It was Miss Enderby herself. Her embarrassment was apparently not as great as his own. She smiled with friendliness; seemed indeed in a happier frame of mind than any in which Waymark had as yet seen her. But she did not offer her hand, and the other, having raised his hat, was almost on the point of passing on, when he overcame his diffidence and spoke.
“I came here to try and discover where you lived, Miss Enderby.”
There was something grotesque in this abruptness; his tone only saved it from impertinence. The girl looked at him with frank surprise.
“Pray don’t misunderstand me,” he went on hurriedly. “I wished, if possible, to—well, to tell you that I feared I acted thoughtlessly the other day; without regard, I mean, to any consequences it might have for yourself.”
“Rather I ought to thank you for defending me. It made no difference in the way you mean. It had already been decided that I should leave. I did not suit Mrs. Tootle.”
It was very pleasant to look down into her earnest face, and watch it as she spoke in this unrestrained way. She seemed so slight and frail, evidently thought so depreciatingly of herself, looked as though her life had in it so little joy, that Waymark had speedily assumed a confident attitude, and gazed at her as a man does at one whom he would gladly guard and cherish.
“You were certainly unsuited for the work, in every way,” he said, with a smile. “Your efforts were quite wasted there. Still, I am sorry you have left.”