“Here’s the train coming in.”
“Bother! It’s so nice talking to you. I’m no end of sorry the mater isn’t taking you on.”
“I am too,” replied Mavis, who, at once, saw the meaning that Lowther might misread into her words.
“Can I look you up when next I’m in town?” he asked eagerly.
“Oh yes, you can look me up,” she replied diffidently.
“We ought to go out to supper one evening.”
“I should be delighted.”
“You would! Really you would?”
“If you brought your sister. I must find a seat.”
“No hurry. It always waits some time here; milk-cans and all that. By Jove! I wish I were going up alone with you. And that’s what I meant. I thought we’d go out to supper at the Savoy or Kettner’s by ourselves, eh?”
She looked at him coldly, critically.
“Or say the Carlton,” he added, thinking that such munificence might dazzle her.
“I’ll get in here,” she said.
Seeing Mavis select a third-class carriage, his appreciation of her immediately lessened.
“Tell you what,” he said to her through the window, “we won’t bother about going out to grub; we’ll have a day in the country; we can enjoy ourselves just as much there. Eh, dear? Oh, I beg your pardon, but you’re so pretty, you know, and all that.”
Mavis noticed the way in which he leered at her while he said these words. She bit her lip in order to restrain the words that were on her tongue; it was of no avail.
“I’ll tell you something,” she cried.
“Yes—yes; quickly, the train is just off.”
“If my father had been alive, and we’d been living here, you’d not have dared to speak to me like that; in fact, you wouldn’t have had the chance.”
It was a crestfallen, tired, and heartsick Mavis who opened the door of Brandenburg College with her latch-key in the evening. The only thing that sustained her was the memory of the white look of anger which appeared in Lowther Devitt’s face when she had unmistakably resented his insult.
MAVIS LEAVES HER NEST
Mavis did not tell the whole truth to the two old ladies; they gathered from her subdued manner that she had not been successful in her quest.
The girl was too weary to give explanations, to talk, even to think; the contemplation of the wreck of the castles that she had been building in the air had tired her: she went to bed, resolving to put off further thought for the future until the morrow.
Several times in the night, she awoke with a start, when she was oppressed with a great fear of the days to come; but each time she put this concern from her, as if conscious that she required all the rest she could get, in order to make up her mind to the course of action which she should pursue on the morrow.
When she definitely awoke, she determined on one thing, that, unless pressed by circumstances, she would not ask the Devitts for help.