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next, and trying not to think of herself as cut off from home or any
refuge whatever from the world she had resolved to face. She felt
smaller and more adventurous even than she had expected to feel. "Let
me see," she said to herself, trying to control a slight sinking of the
heart, "I am going to take a room in a lodging-house because that is
cheaper.... But perhaps I had better get a room in an hotel to-night
and look round....
"It's bound to be all right," she said.
But her heart kept on sinking. What hotel should she go to? If she told
a cabman to drive to an hotel, any hotel, what would he do--or say? He
might drive to something dreadfully expensive, and not at all the quiet
sort of thing she required. Finally she decided that even for an hotel
she must look round, and that meanwhile she would "book" her luggage at
Waterloo. She told the porter to take it to the booking-office, and it
was only after a disconcerting moment or so that she found she ought to
have directed him to go to the cloak-room. But that was soon put right,
and she walked out into London with a peculiar exaltation of mind, an
exaltation that partook of panic and defiance, but was chiefly a sense
of vast unexampled release.
She inhaled a deep breath of air--London air.
She dismissed the first hotels she passed, she scarcely knew why, mainly
perhaps from the mere dread of entering them, and crossed Waterloo
Bridge at a leisurely pace. It was high afternoon, there was no great
throng of foot-passengers, and many an eye from omnibus and pavement
rested gratefully on her fresh, trim presence as she passed young
and erect, with the light of determination shining through the quiet
self-possession of her face. She was dressed as English girls do dress
for town, without either coquetry or harshness: her collarless blouse
confessed a pretty neck, her eyes were bright and steady, and her dark
hair waved loosely and graciously over her ears....
It seemed at first the most beautiful afternoon of all time to her,
and perhaps the thrill of her excitement did add a distinctive and
culminating keenness to the day. The river, the big buildings on the
north bank, Westminster, and St. Paul's, were rich and wonderful with
the soft sunshine of London, the softest, the finest grained, the most
penetrating and least emphatic sunshine in the world. The very carts
and vans and cabs that Wellington Street poured out incessantly upon
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