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faces he had forgotten five minutes after parting with them. Sovereign
after sovereign melted out of his hand; the end of the second week
found his capital diminished by some five-and-twenty pounds. In an hour
of physical and moral nausea, he packed his travelling-bag, journeyed
to Newhaven, and as a sort of penance, crossed the Channel by
third-class passage. Arrived in Paris, he felt himself secure, and soon
recovered sanity.

Thanks to his studious habits, he was equipped with book-French; now,
both for economy's sake and for his mental advantage, he struggled with
the spoken language, and so far succeeded as to lodge very cheaply in a
rather disreputable hotel, and to eat at restaurants where dinner of
several courses cost two francs and a half. His life was
irreproachable; he studied the Paris of art and history. But perforce
he remained companionless, and solitude had begun to weigh upon him.

This morning, whilst he sat over his bowl of coffee and _petit pain_, a
certain recollection haunted him persistently. Yesterday, in turning
out his pockets, he had come upon a scrap of paper, whereon was written:

"93, Belmont Street, Chalk Farm Road, London, N.W."

This formula it was which now kept running through his mind, like a
refrain which will not be dismissed.

He reproached himself for neglect of his promise to Mrs. Brewer. More
than that, he charged himself with foolish disregard of a possibility
which might have boundless significance for him. Here, it seemed, was
sufficient motive for a return to London. The alternative was to wander
on, and see more of foreign countries; a tempting suggestion, but
marred by the prospect of loneliness. He would go back among his own
people and make friends. Without comradeship, liberty had little savour.

Still travelling with as small expense as might be, he reached London
in the forenoon, left his luggage at Victoria Station, and, after a
meal, betook himself in the northerly direction. It was a rainy and
uncomfortable day, but this did not much affect his spirits; he felt
like a man new risen from illness, seemed to have cast off something
that had threatened his very existence, and marvelled at the state of
mind in which it had been possible for him to inhabit London without
turning his steps towards the address of Eve Madeley.

He discovered Belmont Street. It consisted of humble houses, and was
dreary enough to look upon. As he sought for No. 93, a sudden
nervousness attacked him; he became conscious all at once of the
strangeness of his position. At this hour it was unlikely that Eve
would be at home an inquiry at the house and the leaving of a verbal
message would discharge his obligation; but he proposed more than that.
It was his resolve to see Eve herself, to behold the face which, in a
picture, had grown so familiar to him. Yet till this moment he had
overlooked the difficulties of the enterprise. Could he, on the
strength of an acquaintance with Mrs. Brewer, claim the friendly
regards of this girl who had never heard his name? If he saw her once,
on what pretext could he seek for a second meeting?

Possibly he would not desire it. Eve in her own person might disenchant
him.

Meanwhile he had discovered the house, and without further debate he
knocked. The door was opened by a woman of ordinary type, slatternly,
and with suspicious eye.

"Miss Madeley _did_ live here," she said, "but she's been gone a month
or more."

"Can you tell me where she is living now?"

After a searching look the woman replied that she could not. In the
manner of her kind, she was anxious to dismiss the inquirer and get the
door shut. Gravely disappointed, Hilliard felt unable to turn away
without a further question.

"Perhaps you know where she is, or was, employed?"

But no information whatever was forthcoming. It very rarely is under
such circumstances, for a London landlady, compounded in general of
craft and caution, tends naturally to reticence on the score of her
former lodgers. If she has parted with them on amicable terms, her
instinct is to shield them against the menace presumed in every
inquiry; if her mood is one of ill-will, she refuses information lest
the departed should reap advantage. And then, in the great majority of
cases she has really no information to give.

The door closed with that severity of exclusion in which London doors
excel, and Hilliard turned despondently away. He was just consoling
himself with the thought that Eve would probably, before long,
communicate her new address to the friends at Dudley, and by that means
he might hear of it, when a dirty-faced little girl, who had stood
within earshot while he was talking, and who had followed him to the
end of the street, approached him with an abrupt inquiry.

"Was you asking for Miss Madeley, Sir?"

"Yes, I was; do you know anything of her?"

"My mother did washing for her, and when she moved I had to take some
things of hers to the new address."

"Then you remember it?"

"It's a goodish way from 'ere, Sir. Shall I go with you?"

Hilliard understood. Like the good Samaritan of old, he took out
twopence. The face of the dirty little girl brightened wonderfully.

"Tell me the address; that will be enough."

"Do you know Gower Place, Sir?"

"Somewhere near Gower Street, I suppose?"

His supposition was confirmed, and he learnt the number of the house to
which Miss Madeley had transferred herself. In that direction he at
once bent his steps.

Gower Place is in the close neighbourhood of Euston Road; Hilliard
remembered that he had passed the end of it on his first arrival in
London, when he set forth from Euston Station to look for a lodging. It
was a mere chance that he had not turned into this very street, instead
of going further. Several windows displayed lodging-cards. On the
whole, it looked a better locality than Belmont Street. Eve's removal
hither might signify an improvement of circumstances.

The house which he sought had a clean doorstep and unusually bright
windows. His knock was answered quickly, and by a young, sprightly
woman, who smiled upon him.

"I believe Miss Madeley lives here?"

"Yes, she does."

"She is not at home just now?"

"No. She went out after breakfast, and I'm sure I can't say when she'll
be back."

Hilliard felt a slight wonder at this uncertainty. The young woman,
observing his expression, added with vivacious friendliness:

"Do you want to see her on business?"

"No; a private matter."

This occasioned a smirk.

"Well, she hasn't any regular hours at present. Sometimes she comes to
dinner, sometimes she doesn't. Sometimes she comes to tea, but just as
often she isn't 'ome till late. P'r'aps you'd like to leave your name?"

"I think I'll call again."

"Did you expect to find her at 'ome now?" asked the young woman, whose
curiosity grew more eager as she watched Hilliard's countenance.

"Perhaps," he replied, neglecting the question, "I should find her here
to-morrow morning?"

"Well, I can say as someone's going to call, you know."

"Please do so."

Therewith he turned away, anxious to escape a volley of interrogation
for which the landlady's tongue was primed.

He walked into Gower Street, and pondered the awkward interview that
now lay before him. On his calling to-morrow, Miss Madeley would
doubtless come to speak with him at the door; even supposing she had a
parlour at her disposal, she was not likely to invite a perfect
stranger into the house. How could he make her acquaintance on the
doorstep? To be sure, he brought a message, but this commission had
been so long delayed that he felt some shame about discharging it. In
any case, his delivery of the message would sound odd; there would be
embarrassment on both sides.

Why was Eve so uncertain in her comings and goings? Necessity of
business, perhaps. Yet he had expected quite the opposite state of
things. From Mrs. Brewer's description of the girl's character, he had
imagined her leading a life of clockwork regularity. The point was very
trivial, but it somehow caused a disturbance of his thoughts, which
tended to misgiving.

In the meantime he had to find quarters for himself. Why not seek them
in Gower Place?

After ten minutes' sauntering, he retraced his steps, and walked down
the side of the street opposite to that on which Eve's lodgings were
situated. Nearly over against that particular house was a window with a
card. Carelessly he approached the door, and carelessly asked to see
the rooms that were to let. They were comfortless, but would suit his
purpose for a time. He engaged a sitting-room on the ground-floor, and
a bed-room above, and went to fetch his luggage from Victoria Station.

On the steamer last night he had not slept, and now that he was once
more housed, an overpowering fatigue constrained him to lie down and
close his eyes. Almost immediately lie fell into oblivion, and lay
sleeping on the cranky sofa, until the entrance of a girl with
tea-things awakened him.

From his parlour window he could very well observe the houses opposite
without fear of drawing attention from any one on that side; and so it
happened that, without deliberate purpose of espial, he watched the
door of Eve Madeley's residence for a long time; till, in fact, he grew
weary of the occupation. No one had entered; no one had come forth. At
half-past seven he took his hat and left the house.

Scarcely had he closed the door behind him when he became aware that a
lightly tripping and rather showily dressed girl, who was coming down
the other side of the way, had turned off the pavement and was plying
the knocker at the house which interested him. He gazed eagerly.
Impossible that a young person of that garb and deportment should be
Eve Madeley. Her face was hidden from him, and at this distance he
could not have recognised the features, even presuming that his
familiarity with the portrait, taken more than two years ago, would
enable him to identify Eve when he saw her. The door opened; the girl
was admitted. Afraid of being noticed, he walked on.

The distance to the head of the street was not more than thirty yards;
there lay Gower Street, on the right hand the Metropolitan station, to
the left a long perspective southwards. Delaying in doubt as to his
course, Hilliard glanced back. From the house which attracted his eyes
he saw come forth the girl who had recently entered, and close
following her another young woman. They began to walk sharply towards
where he stood.

He did not stir, and the couple drew so near that he could observe
their faces. In the second girl he recognised - or believed that he
recognised - Eve Madeley.

She wore a costume in decidedly better taste than her companion's; for
all that, her appearance struck him as quite unlike that he would have
expected Eve Madeley to present. He had thought of her as very plainly,
perhaps poorly, clad; but this attire was ornate, and looked rather
expensive; it might be in the mode of the new season. In figure, she
was altogether a more imposing young woman than he had pictured to
himself. His pulses were sensibly quickened as he looked at her.

The examination was of necessity hurried. Walking at a sharp pace, they
rapidly came close to where he stood. He drew aside to let them pass,
and at that moment caught a few words of their conversation.

"I told you we should be late," exclaimed the unknown girl, in friendly
remonstrance.

"What does it matter?" replied Eve - if Eve it were. "I hate standing at
the doors. We shall find seats somewhere."

Her gay, careless tones astonished the listener. Involuntarily he began
to follow; but at the edge of the pavement in Gower Street they
stopped, and by advancing another step or two he distinctly overheard
the continuation of their talk.

"The 'bus will take a long time."

"Bother the 'bus!" This was Eve Madeley again - if Eve it could really
be. "We'll have a cab. Look, there's a crawler in Euston Road. I've
stopped him!"

"I say, Eve, you _are_ going it!"

This exclamation from the other girl was the last sentence that fell on
Hilliard's ear. They both tripped off towards the cab which Eve's
gesture had summoned. He saw them jump in and drive away.

"I say, Eve, you _are_ going it!" Why, there his doubt was settled; the
name confirmed him in his identification. But he stood motionless with
astonishment.

They were going to a theatre, of course. And Eve spoke as if money were
of no consequence to her. She had the look, the tones, of one bent on
enjoying herself, of one who habitually pursued pleasure, and that in
its most urban forms.

Her companion had a voice of thinner quality, of higher note, which
proclaimed a subordinate character. It sounded, moreover, with the
London accent, while Eve's struck a more familiar note to the man of
the Midlands. Eve seemed to be the elder of the two; it could not be
thought for a moment that her will was guided by that of the more
trivial girl.

Eve Madeley - the meek, the melancholy, the long-suffering, the
pious - what did it all mean?

Utterly bewildered, the young man walked on without thought of
direction, and rambled dreamily about the streets for an hour or two.
He could not make up his mind whether or not to fulfil the promise of
calling to see Miss Madeley to-morrow morning. At one moment he
regretted having taken lodgings in Gower Place; at another he
determined to make use of his advantage, and play the spy upon Eve's
movements without scruple. The interest she had hitherto excited in him
was faint indeed compared with emotions such as this first glimpse of
her had kindled and fanned. A sense of peril warned him to hold aloof;
tumult of his senses rendered the warning useless.

At eleven o'clock he was sitting by his bedroom window, in darkness,
watching the house across the way.




CHAPTER VI


It was just upon midnight when Eve returned. She came at a quick walk,
and alone; the light of the street-lamps showed her figure distinctly
enough to leave the watcher in no doubt. A latchkey admitted her to the
house. Presently there appeared a light at an upper window, and a
shadow kept moving across the blind. When the light was extinguished
Hilliard went to bed, but that night he slept little.

The next morning passed in restless debate with himself. He did not
cross the way to call upon Eve: the thought of speaking with her on the
doorstep of a lodging-house proved intolerable. All day long he kept
his post of observation. Other persons he saw leave and enter the
house, but Miss Madeley did not come forth. That he could have missed
her seemed impossible, for even while eating his meals he remained by
the window. Perchance she had left home very early in the morning, but
it was unlikely.

Through the afternoon it rained: the gloomy sky intensified his fatigue
and despondence. About six o'clock, exhausted in mind and body, he had
allowed his attention to stray, when the sudden clang of a street organ
startled him. His eyes turned in the wonted direction - and instantly he
sprang up. To clutch his hat, to rush from the room and from the house,
occupied but a moment. There, walking away on the other side, was Eve.
Her fawn-coloured mantle, her hat with the yellow flowers, were the
same as yesterday. The rain had ceased; in the western sky appeared
promise of a fair evening.

Hilliard pursued her in a parallel line. At the top of the street she
crossed towards him; he let her pass by and followed closely. She
entered the booking-office of Gower Street station; he drew as near as
possible and heard her ask for a ticket -

"Healtheries; third return."

The slang term for the Health Exhibition at Kensington was familiar to
him from the English papers he had seen in Paris. As soon as Eve had
passed on he obtained a like ticket and hastened down the steps in
pursuit. A minute or two and he was sitting face to face with her in
the railway carriage.

He could now observe her at his leisure and compare her features with
those represented in the photograph. Mrs. Brewer had said truly that
the portrait did not do her justice; he saw the resemblance, yet what a
difference between the face he had brooded over at Dudley and that
which lived before him! A difference not to be accounted for by mere
lapse of time. She could not, he thought, have changed greatly in the
last two or three years, for her age at the time of sitting for the
photograph must have been at least one-and-twenty. She did not look
older than he had expected: it was still a young face, but - and herein
he found its strangeness - that of a woman who views life without
embarrassment, without anxiety. She sat at her ease, casting careless
glances this way and that. When her eyes fell upon him he winced, yet
she paid no more heed to him than to the other passengers.

Presently she became lost in thought; her eyes fell. Ah! now the
resemblance to the portrait came out more distinctly. Her lips shaped
themselves to that expression which he knew so well, the half-smile
telling of habitual sadness.

His fixed gaze recalled her to herself, and immediately the countenance
changed beyond recognition. Her eyes wandered past him with a look of
cold if not defiant reserve; the lips lost all their sweetness. He was
chilled with vague distrust, and once again asked himself whether this
could be the Eve Madeley whose history he had heard.

Again she fell into abstraction, and some trouble seemed to grow upon
her mind. It was difficult now to identify her with the girl who had
talked and laughed so gaily last evening. Towards the end of the
journey a nervous restlessness began to appear in her looks and
movements. Hilliard felt that he had annoyed her by the persistency of
his observation, and tried to keep his eyes averted. But no; the
disturbance she betrayed was due to some other cause; probably she paid
not the least regard to him.

At Earl's Court she alighted hurriedly. By this time Hilliard had begun
to feel shame in the ignoble part he was playing, but choice he had
none - the girl drew him irresistibly to follow and watch her. Among the
crowd entering the Exhibition he could easily keep her in sight without
risk of his espial being detected. That Eve had come to keep an
appointment with some acquaintance he felt sure, and at any cost he
must discover who the person was.

The event justified him with unexpected suddenness. No sooner had she
passed the turnstile than a man stepped forward, saluting her in form.
Eve shook hands with him, and they walked on.

Uncontrollable wrath seized on Hilliard and shook him from head to
foot. A meeting of this kind was precisely what he had foreseen, and he
resented it violently.

Eve's acquaintance had the external attributes of a gentleman. One
could not easily imagine him a clerk or a shop-assistant smartened up
for the occasion. He was plain of feature, but wore a pleasant, honest
look, and his demeanour to the girl showed not only good breeding but
unmistakable interest of the warmest kind. His age might perhaps be
thirty; he was dressed well, and in all respects conventionally.

In Eve's behaviour there appeared a very noticeable reserve; she rarely
turned her face to him while he spoke, and seemed to make only the
briefest remarks. Her attention was given to the objects they passed.

Totally unconscious of the scenes through which he was moving, Hilliard
tracked the couple for more than an hour. He noticed that the man once
took out his watch, and from this trifling incident he sought to derive
a hope; perhaps Eve would be quit ere long of the detested
companionship. They came at length to where a band was playing, and sat
down on chairs; the pursuer succeeded in obtaining a seat behind them,
but the clamour of instruments overpowered their voices, or rather the
man's voice, for Eve seemed not to speak at all. One moment, when her
neighbour's head approached nearer than usual to hers, she drew
slightly away.

The music ceased, whereupon Eve's companion again consulted his watch.

"It's a most unfortunate thing." He was audible now. "I can't possibly
stay longer."

Eve moved on her chair, as if in readiness to take leave of him, but
she did not speak.

"You think it likely you will meet Miss Ringrose?"

Eve answered, but the listener could not catch her words.

"I'm so very sorry. If there had been any - - "

The voice sank, and Hilliard could only gather from observance of the
man's face that he was excusing himself in fervent tones for the
necessity of departure. Then they both rose and walked a few yards
together. Finally, with a sense of angry exultation, Hilliard saw them
part.

For a little while Eve stood watching the musicians, who were making
ready to play a new piece. As soon as the first note sounded she moved
slowly, her eyes cast down. With fiercely throbbing heart, thinking and
desiring and hoping he knew not what, Hilliard once more followed her.
Night had now fallen; the grounds of the Exhibition shone with
many-coloured illumination; the throng grew dense. It was both easy and
necessary to keep very near to the object of his interest.

There sounded a clinking of plates, cups, and glasses. People were
sitting at tables in the open air, supplied with refreshments by the
waiters who hurried hither and thither. Eve, after a show of
hesitation, took a seat by a little round table which stood apart; her
pursuer found a place whence he could keep watch. She gave an order,
and presently there was brought to her a glass of wine with a sandwich.

Hilliard called for a bottle of ale: he was consumed with thirst.

"Dare I approach her?" he asked himself. "Is it possible? And, if
possible, is it any use?"

The difficulty was to explain his recognition of her. But for that, he
might justify himself in addressing her.

She had finished her wine and was looking round. Her glance fell upon
him, and for a moment rested. With a courage not his own, Hilliard
rose, advanced, and respectfully doffed his hat.

"Miss Madeley - - "

The note was half interrogative, but his voice failed before he could
add another syllable. Eve drew herself up, rigid in the alarm of female
instinct.

"I am a stranger to you," Hilliard managed to say. "But I come from
Dudley; I know some of your friends - - "

His hurried words fell into coherence. At the name "Dudley" Eve's
features relaxed.

"Was it you who called at my lodgings the day before yesterday?"

"I did. Your address was given me by Mrs. Brewer, in whose house I have
lived for a long time. She wished me to call and to give you a kind
message - to say how glad they would be to hear from you - - "

"But you _didn't_ leave the message."

The smile put Hilliard at his ease, it was so gentle and friendly.

"I wasn't able to come at the time I mentioned. I should have called
to-morrow."

"But how is it that you knew me? I think," she added, without waiting
for a reply, "that I have seen you somewhere. But I can't remember
where."

"Perhaps in the train this evening?"

"Yes so it was You knew me then?"

"I thought I did, for I happened to come out from my lodgings at the
moment you were leaving yours, just opposite, and we walked almost
together to Gower Street station. I must explain that I have taken
rooms in Gower Place. I didn't like to speak to you in the street; but
now that I have again chanced to see you - - "

"I still don't understand," said Eve, who was speaking with the most
perfect ease of manner. "I am not the only person living in that house.
Why should you take it for granted that I was Miss Madeley?"

Hilliard had not ventured to seat himself; he stood before her, head
respectfully bent.

"At Mrs. Brewer's I saw your portrait."

Her eyes fell.

"My portrait. You really could recognise me from that?"

"Oh, readily! Will you allow me to sit down?"

"Of course. I shall be glad to hear the news you have brought. I
couldn't imagine who it was had called and wanted to see me. But
there's another thing. I didn't think Mrs. Brewer knew my address. I
have moved since I wrote to her daughter."

"No; it was the old address she gave me. I ought to have mentioned
that: it escaped my mind. First of all I went to Belmont Street."

"Mysteries still!" exclaimed Eve. "The people _there_ couldn't know
where I had gone to."

"A child who had carried some parcel for you to Gower Place volunteered
information."

Outwardly amused, and bearing herself as though no incident could
easily disconcert her, Eve did not succeed in suppressing every sign of
nervousness. Constrained by his wonder to study her with critical


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