While she was gone he stood disconsolately eyeing the models in the window, and suddenly it seemed to him incredible that Megan--his Megan could ever be dressed save in the rough tweed skirt, coarse blouse, and tam-o'-shanter cap he was wont to see her in. The young woman had come back with several dresses in her arms, and Ashurst eyed her laying them against her own modish figure. There was one whose colour he liked, a dove-grey, but to imagine Megan clothed in it was beyond him. The young woman went away, and brought some more. But on Ashurst there had now come a feeling of paralysis. How choose? She would want a hat too, and shoes, and gloves; and, suppose, when he had got them all, they commonised her, as Sunday clothes always commonised village folk! Why should she not travel as she was? Ah! But conspicuousness would matter; this was a serious elopement. And, staring at the young woman, he thought: 'I wonder if she guesses, and thinks me a blackguard?'
"Do you mind putting aside that grey one for me?" he said desperately at last. "I can't decide now; I'll come in again this afternoon."
"Oh! certainly. It's a very tasteful costume. I don't think you'll get anything that will suit your purpose better."
"I expect not," Ashurst murmured, and went out.
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."