“I’ve been a-looking at him,” said Slimy, whose one eye, for all that, had seemed busy all the time in quite a different direction. “I seen him somewheres, but I can’t just make out where.”
“Not many people you haven’t seen, I think,” said Abraham, nodding, as he went out of the room. Waymark followed, and was glad to get into the open streets again.
Julian Casti was successful in his application for the post of dispenser at the All Saints’ Hospital, and shortly after Easter he left the shop in Oxford Street, taking lodgings in Beaufort Street, Chelsea. His first evening there was spent in Waymark’s company, and there was much talk of the progress his writing would make, now that his hours of liberty were so considerably extended. For the first time in his life he was enjoying the sense of independence. Waymark talked of moving from Walcot Square, in order to be nearer to his friend. He, too, was possessed of more freedom than had been the case for a long time, and his head was full of various fancies. They would encourage each other in their work, afford by mutual appreciation that stimulus which is so essential to the young artist.
But in this world, though man may propose, it is woman who disposes. And at this moment, Julian’s future was being disposed of in a manner he could not well have foreseen.
Harriet Smales had heard with unconcealed pleasure of his leaving the shop and taking lodgings of his own. She had been anxious to come and see the rooms, and, though the following Sunday was appointed for her visit, she could not wait so long, but, to her cousin’s surprise, presented herself at the house one evening, and was announced by the landlady, who looked suspicious. Julian, with some nervousness, hastened to explain that the visitor was a relative, which did not in the least alter his landlady’s preconceived ideas. Harriet sat down and looked about her with a sigh of satisfaction. If she could but have such a home! Girls had no chance of getting on as men did. If only her father could have lived, things would have been different. Now she was thrown on the world, and had to depend upon her own hard work. Then she gave way to an hysterical sob, and Julian—who felt sure that the landlady was listening at the door—could only beg her nervously not to be so down-hearted.
“Whatever success I have,” he said to her, “you will share it.”
“If I thought so!” she sighed, looking down at the floor, and moving the point of her umbrella up and down. Harriet had saturated her mind with the fiction of penny weeklies, and owed to this training all manner of awkward affectations which she took to be the most becoming manifestations of a susceptible heart. At times she would express herself in phrases of the most absurdly high-flown kind, and lately she had got into the habit of heaving profound