Freed again from the suspicious matter-of-factness of the world, he took a long breath, and went back to visions. In fancy he saw the trustful, pretty creature who was going to join her life to his; saw himself and her stealing forth at night, walking over the moor under the moon, he with his arm round her, and carrying her new garments, till, in some far-off wood, when dawn was coming, she would slip off her old things and put on these, and an early train at a distant station would bear them away on their honeymoon journey, till London swallowed them up, and the dreams of love came true.
"Frank Ashurst! Haven't seen you since Rugby, old chap!"
Ashurst's frown dissolved; the face, close to his own, was blue-eyed, suffused with sun--one of those faces where sun from within and without join in a sort of lustre. And he answered:
"Oh! nothing. Just looking round, and getting some money. I'm staying on the moor."
"Are you lunching anywhere? Come and lunch with us; I'm here with my young sisters. They've had measles."
Hooked in by that friendly arm Ashurst went along, up a hill, down a hill, away out of the town, while the voice of Halliday, redolent of optimism as his face was of sun, explained how "in this mouldy place the only decent things were the bathing and boating," and so on, till presently they came to a crescent of houses a little above and back from the sea, and into the centre one an hotel--made their way.
"Come up to my room and have a wash. Lunch'll be ready in a jiffy."
Ashurst contemplated his visage in a looking-glass. After his farmhouse bedroom, the comb and one spare shirt regime of the last fortnight, this room littered with clothes and brushes was a sort of Capua; and he thought: 'Queer--one doesn't realise But what--he did not quite know.