SHE stood on the platform watching the receding train. The white steam curled above the few bushes that hid the curve of the line, evaporating in the pale evening. A moment more and the last carriage would pass out of sight, the white gates at the crossing swinging slowly forward to let through the impatient passengers.
An oblong box painted reddish brown and tied with a rough rope lay on the seat beside her. The movement of her back and shoulders showed that the bundle she carried was a heavy one, and the sharp bulging of the grey linen cloth that the weight was dead. She wore a faded yellow dress and a black jacket too warm for the day. A girl of twenty, firmly built with short, strong arms and a plump neck that carried a well-turned head with dignity. Her well-formed nostrils redeemed her somewhat thick, fleshy nose, and it was a pleasure to see her grave, almost sullen, face light up with sunny humour; for when she laughed a line of almond-shaped teeth showed between red lips. She was laughing now, the porter having asked her if she were afraid to leave her bundle with her box. Both, he said, would go up together in the donkey-cart. The donkey-cart came down every evening to fetch parcels. The man lingered, and she heard from him that all the down lands she could see right up to Beading belonged to the squire.
'Beading?' she said. 'I thought the Barfields lived in Shoreham.'
'So they do,' he answered, 'near Shoreham yonder,' and he pointed to a belt of trees; 'they be too fine folk for the town. Shoreham, you see, isn't what it was in days gone by with shipyards about the harbour, and ships from all parts dropping their sails as they come within the breakwaters.