Two weeks after Joan left Riggan, she entered the village of Ashley-Wold on foot. With the exception of a few miles here and there, when a friendly wagoner had offered her a lift, she had made all her journey in this manner. She had met with discouragement and disappointment. She had not fancied that it would be an easy matter to find work, though she had expressed no doubt to Anice, but it was even a more difficult matter than she had imagined. At some places work was not to be had, in others the fact that she was an utter stranger went against her.
It was evening when she came to Ashley-Wold; the rain was falling soft and slowly, and the air was chill. She was cold, and faint with hunger. The firelight that shone through the cottage windows brought to her an acute sense of her bodily weariness through its suggestion of rest and cheerfulness. The few passers-by—principally men and women returning from their daily labor—glanced at her curiously.
She had held to the letter as a last resource. When she could not help herself she would ask for assistance, but not until then. Still she had always turned her face toward Ashley-Wold. Now she meant to go to Mrs. Galloway and deliver the letter.
Upon entering the village she had stopped and asked a