‘I don’t know whether it’s worth while,’ she said, after a long silence, as they drew near to York Road Station, whence they were to take train for Clapham Junction.
‘Not worth while?’ exclaimed Virginia. ’You don’t think it would be an improvement?’
’Yes, I suppose it would. I shall see how I feel about it tomorrow morning.’
She spent the evening at Lavender Hill, but without change in the mood thus indicated. A strange inquietude appeared in her behaviour. It was as though she were being urged to undertake something hard and repugnant.
On her return to Walworth Road, just as she came within sight of the shop, she observed a man’s figure some twenty yards distant, which instantly held her attention. The dim gaslight occasioned some uncertainty, but she believed the figure was that of Widdowson. He was walking on the other side of the street, and away from her. When the man was exactly opposite Scotcher’s establishment he gazed in that direction, but without stopping. Monica hastened, fearing to be seen and approached. Already she had reached the door, when Widdowson—yes, he it was—turned abruptly to walk back again. His eye was at once upon her; but whether he recognized her or not Monica could not know. At that moment she opened the door and passed in.
A fit of trembling seized her, as if she had barely escaped some peril. In the passage she stood motionless, listening with the intensity of dread. She could hear footsteps on the pavement; she expected a ring at the door-bell. If he were so thoughtless as to come to the door, she would on no account see him.
But there was no ring, and after a few minutes’ waiting she recovered her self-command. She had not made a mistake; even his features had been discernible as he turned towards her. Was this the first time that he had come to look at the place where she lived— possibly to spy upon her? She resented this behaviour, yet the feeling was confused with a certain satisfaction.
From one of the dormitories there was a view of Walworth Road. She ran upstairs, softly opened the door of that room, and peeped in. The low burning gas showed her that only one bed had an occupant, who appeared to be asleep. Softly she went to the window, drew the blind aside, and looked down into the street. But Widdowson had disappeared. He might of course be on this side of the way.
‘Who’s that?’ suddenly asked a voice from the occupied bed.
The speaker was Miss Eade. Monica looked at her, and nodded.
‘You? What are you doing here?’
‘I wanted to see if some one was standing outside.’
‘You mean him?’
The other nodded.
’I’ve got a beastly headache. I couldn’t hold myself up, and I had to come home at eight o’clock. There’s such pains all down my back too. I shan’t stay at this beastly place much longer. I don’t want to get ill, like Miss Radford. Somebody went to see her at the hospital this afternoon, and she’s awfully bad. Well, have you seen him?’