“They said they liked my appearance,” Sally went on, “and ’ud give me a try. I go in to-morrow. It won’t be a over easy place, neither. I’ve to do all the cleaning in the house, and there’s a baby to look after when I’m not in the shop.”
“And what will they give you?”
“Ten shillings a month for the first half-year; then a rise.”
“And you’re satisfied?”
“Oh, it’ll do till something better turns up. Oh, I say, I met your friend just after I’d come away.”
“Did you?” said Ida quietly.
“Yes; and I told him he could tell his friend where I was, if he liked.”
“The Irishman, you know,” explained Sally, moving about the room. “I told you he’d been asking after me.”
Ida seemed all at once to awake from a dream. She uttered a long “Ah!” under her breath, and for a moment looked at the girl like one who is struck with an unexpected explanation. Then she turned away to the window, and again gazed up at the blue sky, standing so for nearly a minute.
“Are you engaged to-night?” Sally asked presently.
“No; will you sit with me?”
“You’re not feeling very well to-day, are you?”
“I think not,” replied Ida, passing her hand over her forehead. “I’ve been thinking of going out of London for a few days, perhaps to the seaside.”
“Go to Weymouth!” cried Sally, delighted at the thought. “Go and see my people, and tell un how I’m getting on. They’ll make you hide with un all the time you’re there, s’nough. It isn’t a big house, but it’s comfortable, and see if our mother wouldn’t look after you! It’s three weeks since I wrote; if I don’t mind there’ll be our father up here looking after I. Now, do go!”
“No, it’s too far. Besides, if I go, I shall want to be quite alone.”
On the following evening Waymark was expected. At his last visit he had noticed that Ida was not in her usual spirits. To-night he saw that something was clearly wrong, and when Ida spoke of going to the seaside, he strongly. urged her to do so.
“Where should you go to?” he asked.
“I think to Hastings. I went there once, when I was a child, with my mother—I believe I told you. I had rather go there than anywhere else.”
“I feel the need of a change myself,” he said, a moment after, and without looking at her. “Suppose I were to go to Hastings, too—at the same time that you’re there—would you dislike it?”
She merely shook her head, almost indifferently. She did not care to talk much to-night, and frequently nodded instead of replying with words.
“But—you would rather I didn’t?” he urged.
“No, indeed,” still in the same indifferent way. “I should have company, if I found it dull.”
“Then let us go down by the same train—will you, Ida?”
As far as she remembered, it was the first time that he had ever addressed her thus by her name. She looked up and smiled slightly.