This sentiment was strengthened by the reflection that she was unworthy of his regard. She had, of set purpose, lied to him, denied that she was the friend of his early youth. True, he had previously insulted her, but, considering the circumstances, he had every excuse for his behaviour. He certainly led a fast life, but, if anything, Mavis the more admired him for this symptom of virility; she also dimly believed that such conduct qualified him to win a wife who, in every respect, was above reproach. She was poor and friendless, she again reflected. Above all, she had lied to him. She was hopelessly unworthy of one who, in obedience to the sentimental whim she had inspired, seemed contemptuous of his future. She would be worse than she already was, if she countenanced a course of action full of such baleful possibilities for himself. Almost before she knew what she was doing, she kissed him lightly on the cheek, and snatched the violets he was wearing in his coat, before slipping away, to lose herself in the fog.
A GOOD SAMARITAN
Mavis heard him calling her name, first one way, then another; once, he approached and came quite near her, but he changed his direction, to pass immediately out of her ken.
She then hurried in the direction of what she believed to be Hammersmith; she could not know for certain, as the fog increased in intensity every minute. Her mind was too confused to ask anyone if she were going the right way, even if she had cared to know, which, at present, she did not. She was seized with a passion for movement, anything to distract her mind from the emotions possessing it. One moment, she blamed herself for having left Windebank as she had done; the next, she told herself and tried hard to believe that she had done the best conceivable thing under the circumstances.
She walked quickly, careless to where her footsteps led her, as if hurrying from, or to Windebank’s side; she was not certain which she desired. She had walked for quite twenty minutes when she was brought up short by a blow on the forehead. Light flashed in her eyes; she put out her arms to save herself from a fall. She had walked into a tree, contact with which had bruised her face and torn skin from her forehead. Pain and dizziness brought her to the realisation of the fact that it was late, and that she was penniless; also, that she was unaware of her whereabouts. She resolved to get back to her lodging with as little delay as possible. She groped about, hoping to find someone who would tell her where she was and direct her to Kiva Street. After some minutes, she all but walked into a policeman, who told her how she was near the King’s Road, Chelsea, also how to get to her destination. She hastened on, doing her utmost to follow his directions. This was not easy, the fog and the pain in her head both confusing her steps. Once or twice, she was almost overcome by faintness; then, she was compelled to cling to railings for support until she had strength to continue her way.