Page:The Yellow Book - 02.djvu/20

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The Gospel of Content

her child, and so ignorant of the perfect freedom that political exiles could count upon in England. "Then," said I, "what expectation is there that she will admit me, an absolute stranger to her, who may be employed by the police for anything she knows to the contrary?" The answer was: "Of course that has been thought of. But you have only to send up your name, which, in the certainty that you would have no objection, has been communicated to her already. Her own name, in England, is Madame Vernet."

It was a Saturday evening in November, the air thick with darkness and a drizzling rain, the streets black and shining where lamplight fell upon the mud on the paths and the pools in the roadway, when I found my way to King s Cross on this small errand of kindness. King's Cross is a most unlovely purlieu at its best, which must be in the first dawn of a summer day, when the innocence of morning smiles along its squalid streets, and the people of the place, who cannot be so wretched as they look, are shut within their poor and furtive homes. On a foul November night nothing can be more miserable, more melancholy. One or two great thoroughfares were crowded with foot-passengers who bustled here and there about their Saturday marketings, under the light that flared from the shops and the stalls that lined the roadway. Spreading on every hand from these thoroughfares, with their noisy trafficking so dreadfully eager and small, was a maze of streets built to be "respectable" but now run down into the forlorn poverty which is all for concealment without any rational hope of success. It was to one of these that I was directed—a narrow silent little street of three-storey houses, with two families at least in every one of them.

Arrived at No. 17, I was admitted by a child after long delay, and by her conducted to a room at the top of the house. No