he had no patience with his prickings of conscience: one could do a dastardly thing if one chose, but it
was contemptible to regret it afterwards. He thought the letter cowardly and hypocritical. He was disgusted
at its sentimentality.
"It would be very easy if you could do a beastly thing," he muttered to himself, "and then say you were sorry, and that put it all right again."
He hoped with all his heart he would have the chance one day to do Griffiths a bad turn.
But at all events he knew that Mildred was in town. He dressed hurriedly, not waiting to shave, drank a cup of tea, and took a cab to her rooms. The cab seemed to crawl. He was painfully anxious to see her, and unconsciously he uttered a prayer to the God he did not believe in to make her receive him kindly. He only wanted to forget. With beating heart he rang the bell. He forgot all his suffering in the passionate desire to enfold her once more in his arms.
"Is Mrs. Miller in?" he asked joyously.
"She's gone," the maid answered.
He looked at her blankly.
"She came about an hour ago and took away her things."
For a moment he did not know what to say.
"Did you give her my letter? Did she say where she was going?"
Then he understood that Mildred had deceived him again. She was not coming back to him. He made an effort to save his face.
"Oh, well, I daresay I shall hear from her. She may have sent a letter to another address."
He turned away and went back hopeless to his rooms. He might have known that she would do this; she had never cared for him, she had made a fool of him from the beginning; she had no pity, she had no kindness, she had no charity. The only thing was to accept the inevitable. The pain he was suffering was horrible, he would sooner be dead than endure it; and the thought came to him that it would be better to finish with the whole thing: he might throw himself in the river or put his neck on a railway line; but he had no sooner set the thought into words than he rebelled against it. His reason told him that he would get over his unhappiness in time; if he tried with all his might he could forget her; and it would be grotesque to kill himself on account of a vulgar slut. He had only one life, and it was madness to fling it away. He felt that he would never overcome his passion, but he knew that after all it was only a matter of time.
He would not stay in London. There everything reminded him of his unhappiness. He telegraphed to his uncle that he was coming to Blackstable, and, hurrying to pack, took the first train he could. He wanted to get away from the sordid rooms in which he had endured so much suffering. He wanted to breathe clean air. He was disgusted with himself. He felt that he was a little mad.
Since he was grown up Philip had been given the best spare room at the vicarage. It was a corner- room and in front of one window was an old tree which blocked the view, but from the other you saw, beyond the garden and the vicarage field, broad meadows. Philip remembered the wall-paper from his earliest years. On the walls were quaint water colours of the early Victorian period by a friend of the Vicar's youth. They had a faded charm. The dressing-table was surrounded by stiff muslin. There was an old tall-boy to put your clothes in. Philip gave a sigh of pleasure; he had never realised that all those things meant anything to him at all. At the vicarage life went on as it had always done. No piece of furniture had been moved from one place to another; the Vicar ate the same things, said the same things,
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