At Union Square he felt a sudden relapse into discouragement, like a votary who has watched too long for a sign from the altar. Perhaps, after all, he should never find his face... The air was languid, and he felt tired. He walked between the bald grass-plots and the twisted trees, making for an empty seat. Presently he passed a bench on which a girl sat alone, and something as definite as the twitch of a cord made him stop before her. He had never dreamed of telling his story to a girl, had hardly looked at the women’s faces as they passed. His case was man’s work: how could a woman help him? But this girl’s face was extraordinary—quiet and wide as a clear evening sky. It suggested a hundred images of space, distance, mystery, like ships he had seen, as a boy, quietly berthed by a familiar wharf, but with the breath of far seas and strange harbours in their shrouds... Certainly this girl would understand. He went up to her quietly, lifting his hat, observing the forms—wishing her to see at once that he was “a gentleman.”
“I am a stranger to you,” he began, sitting down beside her, “but your face is so extremely intelligent that I feel... I feel it is the face I’ve waited for ... looked for everywhere; and I want to tell you—”
The girl’s eyes widened: she rose to her feet. She was escaping him!
In his dismay he ran a few steps after her, and caught her roughly by the arm.
“Here—wait—listen! Oh, don’t scream, you fool!” he shouted out.
He felt a hand on his own arm; turned and confronted a policeman. Instantly he understood that he was being arrested, and something hard within him was loosened and ran to tears.
“Ah, you know—you know I’m guilty!”
He was conscious that a crowd was forming, and that the girl’s frightened face had disappeared. But what did he care about her face? It was the policeman who had really understood him. He turned and followed, the crowd at his heels...
IN the charming place in which he found himself there were so many sympathetic faces that he felt more than ever convinced of the certainty of making himself heard.
It was a bad blow, at first, to find that he had not been arrested for murder; but Ascham, who had come to him at once, explained that he needed rest, and the time to “review” his statements; it appeared that reiteration had made them a little confused and contradictory. To this end he had willingly acquiesced in his removal to a large quiet establishment, with an open space and trees about it, where he had found a number of intelligent companions, some, like himself, engaged in preparing or reviewing statements of their cases, and others ready to lend an interested ear to his own recital.