"I give up!" he said quietly. "I'll never try again."
He wandered unconsciously to the ferry and, having his yearly book of tickets in his pocket, took the train for home from force of habit. He left the cars at a station several miles from Weir, and wandered across the country. Just at sundown, covered with mud and weak from hunger and drunkenness, he crossed the lawn before Lucy's house and, looking up, saw her.
He had stumbled into a world of peace and purity! A soft splendor filled the sky and the bay and the green slopes, with their clumps of mighty forest trees. The air was full of the scents of flowers and the good-night song of happy birds. And in the midst of it all, lady of the great domain, under her climbing rose vines, sat the young, fair woman, clad in some fleecy white garments, her head bent, her blue eyes fixed on the distance--waiting.
George stopped, sobered by a sudden wrench of his heart. There was the world to which he belonged--there! His keen eye noted every delicate detail of her beauty and of her dress. He was of her sort, her kind--he, kicked into the gutter from that foul shop as a tramp!
This is what I have lost! his soul cried to him.
He had not as yet recognized Lucy. But now she saw him, and with a little inarticulate cry like that of a bird, she flew down the steps. "Ah! It is you!" she said. "I thought you would come to welcome me some time!"
Her voice was like a soft breath; her airy draperies blew against him. It was as if a wonderful, beautiful dream were folding him in--and in.
He drew back. "I am not fit, Miss Dunbar. I did not know you were here. Why--look at me!"