Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/228

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212
A Study in Temptations.
 

As the landlady pointed out, had he been really poor, he would have driven home in the carriage—a poor man could not afford to miss such chances; further, he would not have been alone, for his family, or at least his neighbours, would have seized the opportunity for a breath of fresh air and a nice change: they would have made it, in fact, a chastened holiday-jaunt. She did not use that particular phrase, but her nod was to that effect. Her crowning observation that he was a student, or something of that, who had got some young woman into trouble, and the poor thing had died of a broken heart, and he was being eat up by remorse, was made in a whisper so thrilling, that it pierced through the thin door and reached Jenyns's sensitive ear. He waited to hear no more, but leaving half-a-crown (his last) on the table, walked so quickly and noiselessly out of the house, that the group in the bar-room, who were so eagerly discussing him, did not notice his departure.

Once on the main road, he seemed to gain a certain composure and his strength of limb; he walked hurriedly and was, in fact, racing against the thoughts which threatened every moment to outstrip and overcome him. When he finally halted it was nearly evening, and he had reached a dingy dwelling in one of the streets near King's Cross. The neighbourhood was poor and the door of the house stood open—as doors may, when there is little to offer friends and nothing to tempt the thieving.

A small boy and his mother stood by the area railings, and they both looked after Jenyns as he passed in.

"Mother," said the boy, tugging at the woman's