“I distrusted you. I did wrong, I atone.”
The Sunday week after Mavis’ meeting with Perigal at Dippenham, she left the train at Paddington a few minutes after six in the evening. She got a porter to wheel her luggage to the cloak-room, reserving a small handbag for her use, which contained her savings.
She then made for the refreshment room, where she ordered and sipped a cup of tea. She would have liked more, but as she had so much to do with her money, she did not think she dare afford the threepence which she would have to pay for another cup. As she rested for some moments in the comparative seclusion of the refreshment room, she derived satisfaction from the fact that she had got away from Melkbridge before any suspicions had arisen of her condition. Upon her return to her lodging after seeing Perigal, she had, at his instigation, written to Mr Devitt, telling him that she would be leaving his employment in a week’s time. She gave no reason for throwing up her work, beyond saying that the state of her health necessitated a change of occupation. She had also given notice to Mrs Farthing, and had spent her spare time in packing up and saying goodbye to her few friends. Her chief difficulty was with her dear Jill, as she knew how many London landladies objected to having dogs in lodgings. At last, she arranged for Mrs Trivett to look after her pet till such time as she could be sent for. Mavis had offered the farmer’s wife a shilling or two a week for Jill’s keep, but her kind friend would not hear of any such arrangement being made. Then had followed Mavis’ goodbye to her dog, a parting which had greatly distressed her. Jill had seemed to divine that something was afoot, for her eyes showed a deep, pleading look when Mavis had clasped her in her arms and covered her black face with kisses. She thought of her now as she sat in the waiting room; tears welled to her eyes. With a sigh she realised that she must set about looking for a lodging. She left the waiting room in order to renew the old familiar quest. Mavis walked into the depressing ugliness of Eastbourne Terrace, at the most dismal hour of that most dismal of all days, the London Sunday in winter. The street lamps seemed to call attention to the rawness of the evening air. The roads, save for a few hurrying, recently released servants, were deserted; every house was lit up—all factors that oppressed Mavis with a sense of unspeakable loneliness. She became overwhelmed with self-consciousness; she believed that every passer-by, who glanced at her, could read her condition in her face; she feared that her secret was known to a curious, resentful world. Mavis felt heartsick, till, with something of an effort, she remembered that this, and all she had to endure in the comparatively near future, should be and were sacrifices upon the shrine of the loved one. She