They talked for two or three minutes longer, when, the train being on the point of starting, Devitt said:
“Send me your address and I’ll see you have your old work again.”
Mavis thanked him.
“Just met Miss Toombs?” he asked.
“She’s been staying with me. Thank you so much.”
Mavis hurried from the man’s carriage to that containing her friend, who was standing anxiously by the window.
“It’s all right!” cried Mavis excitedly.
“What’s all right, dear?” cried Miss Toombs as the train began to move.
“I’m coming to work at Melkbridge. It’s au revoir, dear!”
Mavis was astonished, and not a little disquieted, to see the expression of concern which came over her friend’s disappearing face at this announcement.
AN OLD FRIEND
Four days later, Mavis spent the late afternoon with her baby and Jill in the grounds of Chelsea Hospital. She then took a ’bus to Ebury Bridge (Jill running behind), to get out here and walk to her lodging. As she went up Halverton Street, she noticed, in the failing light, a tall, soldierly looking man standing on the other side of the road. But the presence of men of military bearing, even in Halverton Street, was not sufficiently infrequent to call for remark. Mavis opened her door with the key and went to her room. Here, she fed her baby and ate something herself. When her boy fell asleep, Mavis left him in charge of Jill and went out to do some shopping. She had not gone far when she heard footsteps behind her, as if seeking to overtake her. Mavis, who was well used to being accosted by night prowlers, quickened her steps, but to no purpose: a moment or two later, someone touched her arm. She turned angrily, to see Windebank beside her. Her expression relaxed, to become very hard.
“Don’t you know me?” he asked huskily.
She stopped, but did not reply. She recalled the man she had seen standing on the other side of the road, and whom she now believed to have been Windebank. If it were he, and he had been waiting to see her, he had undoubtedly seen her baby. Rage, self-pity at the realisation of her helplessness, defiance, desire to protect the good name of the loved one, filled her being. She walked for some moments in silence, he following.
“Are you very angry?” he asked.
The deep note of sincerity in his voice might have arrested her wrath. If anything, his emotion stimulated her anger.
“Why do, you take pleasure in spying on me?” she cried. “I always knew you were a beast.”
“Eh! Oh, rot!” he replied.
“Why can’t you leave me alone? You would if you knew how I hated you.”
“Do you mean that?” he asked quietly.
“You shouldn’t have spied on me.”