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any money?"

Yes, his money too had flown; luckily, only a small sum. It was for the
loss of his watch and chain that he grieved; they had been worn for
years by his father, and on that account had a far higher value for him
than was represented by their mere cost.

As a matter of form, he supplied the police with information concerning
the theft. Of recovery there could be little hope.

Thoroughly awakened and sober, he walked across London to Gower Place
arriving in the light of dawn. Too spiritless to take off his clothing,
he lay upon the bed, and through the open window watched a great cloud
that grew rosy above the opposite houses.

Would Eve be at the place of meeting today? It seemed to him totally
indifferent whether she came or not; nay, he all but hoped that she
would not. He had been guilty of prodigious folly. The girl belonged to
another man; and even had it not been so, what was the use of flinging
away his money at this rate? Did he look for any reward correspondent
to the sacrifice? She would never love him, and it was not in his power
to complete the work he had begun, by freeing her completely from harsh
circumstances, setting her in a path of secure and pleasant life.

But she would not come, and so much the better. With only himself to
provide for he had still money enough to travel far. He would see
something of the great world, and leave his future to destiny.

He dozed for an hour or two.

Whilst he was at breakfast a letter arrived for him. He did not know
the handwriting on the envelope, but it must be Eve's. Yes. She wrote a
couple of lines: "I will be at the station to-morrow at a quarter to
eleven. - E. M."




CHAPTER XIV


One travelling bag was all he carried. Some purchases that he had made
in London - especially the great work on French cathedrals - were already
despatched to Birmingham, to lie in the care of Robert Narramore.

He reached Charing Cross half an hour before train-time, and waited at
the entrance. Several cabs that drove up stirred his expectation only
to disappoint him. He was again in an anguish of fear lest Eve should
not come. A cab arrived, with two boxes of modest appearance. He
stepped forward and saw the girls' faces.

Between him and Eve not a word passed. They avoided each other's look.
Patty, excited and confused, shook hands with him.

"Go on to the platform," he said. "I'll see after everything. This is
all the luggage?"

"Yes. One box is mine, and one Eve's. I had to face it out with the
people at home," she added, between laughing and crying. "They think
I'm going to the seaside, to stay with Eve till she gets better. I
never told so many fibs in my life. Uncle stormed at me, but I don't
care."

"All right; go on to the platform."

Eve was already walking in that direction. Undeniably she looked ill;
her step was languid; she did not raise her eyes. Hilliard, when he had
taken tickets and booked the luggage through to Paris, approached his
travelling companions. Seeing him, Eve turned away.

"I shall go in a smoking compartment," he said to Patty. "You had
better take your tickets."

"But when shall we see you again?"

"Oh, at Dover, of course."

"Will it be rough, do you think? I do wish Eve would talk. I can't get
a word out of her. It makes it all so miserable, when we might be
enjoying ourselves."

"Don't trouble: leave her to herself. I'll get you some papers."

On returning from the bookstall, he slipped loose silver into Patty's
hands.

"Use that if you want anything on the journey. And - I haven't forgot my
promise."

"Nonsense!"

"Go and take your places now: there's only ten minutes to wait."

He watched them as they passed the harrier. Neither of the girls was
dressed very suitably for travelling; but Eve's costume resembled that
of a lady, while Patty's might suggest that she was a lady's-maid. As
if to confirm this distinction, Patty had burdened herself with several
small articles, whereas her friend carried only a sunshade. They
disappeared among people upon the platform. In a few minutes Hilliard
followed, glanced along the carriages till he saw where the girls were
seated, and took his own place. He wore a suit which had been new on
his first arrival in London, good enough in quality and cut to give his
features the full value of their intelligence; a brown felt hat, a
russet necktie, a white flannel shirt. Finding himself with a talkative
neighbour in the carriage, he chatted freely. As soon as the train had
started, he lit his pipe and tasted the tobacco with more relish than
for a long time.

On board the steamer Eve kept below from first to last. Patty walked
the deck with Hilliard, and vastly to her astonishment, achieved the
voyage without serious discomfort. Hilliard himself, with the sea wind
in his nostrils, recovered that temper of buoyant satisfaction which
had accompanied his first escape from London. He despised the weak
misgivings and sordid calculations of yesterday. Here he was, on a
Channel steamer, bearing away from disgrace and wretchedness the woman
whom his heart desired. Wild as the project had seemed to him when
first he conceived it, he had put it into execution. The moment was
worth living for. Whatever the future might keep in store for him of
dreary, toilsome, colourless existence, the retrospect would always
show him this patch of purple - a memory precious beyond all the
possible results of prudence and narrow self-regard.

The little she-Cockney by his side entertained him with the flow of her
chatter; it had the advantage of making him feel a travelled man.

"I didn't cross this way when I came before," he explained to her.
"From Newhaven it's a much longer voyage."

"You like the sea, then?"

"I chose it because it was cheaper - that's all."

"Yet you're so extravagant now," remarked Patty, with eyes that
confessed admiration of this quality.

"Oh, because I am rich," he answered gaily. "Money is nothing to me."

"Are you really rich? Eve said you weren't."

"Did she?"

"I don't mean she said it in a disagreeable way. It was last night. She
thought you were wasting your money upon us."

"If I choose to waste it, why not? Isn't there a pleasure in doing as
you like?"

"Oh, of course there is," Patty assented. "I only wish I had the
chance. But it's awfully jolly, this! Who'd have thought, a week ago,
that I should be going to Paris? I have a feeling all the time that I
shall wake up and find I've been dreaming."

"Suppose you go down and see whether Eve wants anything? You needn't
say I sent you."

From Calais to Paris he again travelled apart from the girls. Fatigue
overcame him, and for the last hour or two he slept, with the result
that, on alighting at the Gare du Nord, he experienced a decided
failure of spirits. Happily, there was nothing before him but to carry
out a plan already elaborated. With the aid of his guide-book he had
selected an hotel which seemed suitable for the girls, one where
English was spoken, and thither he drove with them from the station.
The choice of their rooms, and the settlement of details took only a
few minutes; then, for almost the first time since leaving Charing
Cross, he spoke to Eve.

"Patty will do everything she can for you," he said; "I shall be not
very far away, and you can always send me a message if you wish.
To-morrow morning I shall come at about ten to ask how you are - nothing
more than that - unless you care to go anywhere."

The only reply was "Thank you," in a weary tone. And so, having taken
his leave he set forth to discover a considerably less expensive
lodging for himself. In this, after his earlier acquaintance with
Paris, he had no difficulty; by half-past eight his business was done,
and he sat down to dinner at a cheap restaurant. A headache spoilt his
enjoyment of the meal. After a brief ramble about the streets, he went
home and got into a bed which was rather too short for him, but
otherwise promised sufficient comfort.

The first thing that came into his mind when he awoke next morning was
that he no longer possessed a watch; the loss cast a gloom upon him.
But he had slept well, and a flood of sunshine that streamed over his
scantily carpeted floor, together with gladly remembered sounds from
the street, soon put him into an excellent humour. He sprang tip,
partly dressed himself, and unhasped the window. The smell of Paris had
become associated in his mind with thoughts of liberty; a grotesque
dance about the bed-room expressed his joy.

As he anticipated, Patty alone received him when he called upon the
girls. She reported that Eve felt unable to rise.

"What do you think about her?" he asked. "Nothing serious, is it?"

"She can't get rid of her headache."

"Let her rest as long as she likes. Are you comfortable here?"

Patty was in ecstasies with everything, and chattered on breathlessly.
She wished to go out; Eve had no need of her - indeed had told her that
above all she wished to be left alone.

"Get ready, then," said Hilliard, "and we'll have an hour or two."

They walked to the Madeleine and rode thence on the top of a tram-car
to the Bastille. By this time Patty had come to regard her strange
companion in a sort of brotherly light; no restraint whatever appeared
in her conversation with him. Eve, she told him, had talked French with
the chambermaid.

"And I fancy it was something she didn't want _me_ to understand."

"Why should you think so?"

"Oh, something in the way the girl looked at me."

"No, no; you were mistaken. She only wanted to show that she knew some
French."

But Hilliard wondered whether Patty could be right. Was it not possible
that Eve had gratified her vanity by representing her friend as a
servant - a lady's-maid? Yet why should he attribute such a fault to
her? It was an odd thing that he constantly regarded Eve in the least
favourable light, giving weight to all the ill he conjectured in her,
and minimising those features of her character which, at the beginning,
he had been prepared to observe with sympathy and admiration. For a man
in love his reflections followed a very unwonted course. And, indeed,
he had never regarded his love as of very high or pure quality; it was
something that possessed him and constrained him - by no means a source
of elevating emotion.

"Do you like Eve?" he asked abruptly, disregarding some trivial
question Patty had put to him.

"Like her? Of course I do."

"And _why_ do you like her?"

"Why? - ah - I don't know. Because I do."

And she laughed foolishly.

"Does Eve like _you_?" Hilliard continued.

"I think she does. Else I don't see why she kept up with me."

"Has she ever done you any kindness?"

"I'm sure I don't know. Nothing particular. She never gave anything, if
you mean that. But she has paid for me at theatres and so on."

Hilliard quitted the subject.

"If you like to go out alone," he told her before they parted, "there's
no reason why you shouldn't - just as you do in London. Remember the way
back, that's all, and don't be out late. And you'll want some French
money."

"But I don't understand it, and how can I buy anything when I can't
speak a word?"

"All the same, take that and keep it till you are able to make use of
it. It's what I promised you."

Patty drew back her hand, but her objections were not difficult to
overcome.

"I dare say," Hilliard continued, "Eve doesn't understand the money
much better than you do. But she'll soon be well enough to talk, and
then I shall explain everything to her. On this piece of paper is my
address; please let Eve have it. I shall call to-morrow morning again."

He did so, and this time found Eve, as well as her companion, ready to
go out. No remark or inquiry concerning her health passed his lips; he
saw that she was recovering from the crisis she had passed through,
whatever its real nature. Eve shook hands with him, and smiled, though
as if discharging an obligation.

"Can you spare time to show us something of Paris?" she asked.

"I am your official guide. Make use of me whenever it pleases you."

"I don't feel able to go very far. Isn't there some place where we
could sit down in the open air?"

A carriage was summoned, and they drove to the Fields Elysian. Eve
benefited by the morning thus spent. She left to Patty most of the
conversation, but occasionally made inquiries, and began to regard
things with a healthy interest. The next day they all visited the
Louvre, for a light rain was falling, and here Hilliard found an
opportunity of private talk with Eve; they sat together whilst Patty,
who cared little for pictures, looked out of a window at the Seine.

"Do you like the hotel I chose?" he began.

"Everything is very nice."

"And you are not sorry to be here?"

"Not in one way. In another I can't understand how I come to be here at
all."

"Your physician has ordered it."

"Yes - so I suppose it's all right."

"There's one thing I'm obliged to speak of. Do you understand French
money?"

Eve averted her face, and spoke after a slight delay.

"I can easily learn."

"Yes. You shall take this Paris guide home with you. You'll find all
information of that sort in it. And I shall give you an envelope
containing money - just for your private use. You have nothing to do
with the charges at the hotel."

"I've brought it on myself; but I feel more ashamed than I can tell
you."

"If you tried to tell me I shouldn't listen. What you have to do now is
to get well. Very soon you and Patty will be able to find your way
about together; then I shall only come with you when you choose to
invite me. You have my address."

He rose and broke off the dialogue.

For a week or more Eve's behaviour in his company underwent little
change. In health she decidedly improved, but Hilliard always found her
reserved, coldly amicable, with an occasional suggestion of forced
humility which he much disliked. From Patty he learnt that she went
about a good deal and seemed to enjoy herself.

"We don't always go together," said the girl. "Yesterday and the day
before Eve was away by herself all the afternoon. Of course she can get
on all right with her French. She takes to Paris as if she'd lived here
for years."

On the day after, Hilliard received a postcard in which Eve asked him
to be in a certain room of the Louvre at twelve o'clock. He kept the
appointment, and found Eve awaiting him alone.

"I wanted to ask whether you would mind if we left the hotel and went
to live at another place?"

He heard her with surprise.

"You are not comfortable?"

"Quite. But I have been to see my friend Mdlle. Roche - you remember.
And she has shown me how we can live very comfortably at a quarter of
what it costs now, in the same house where she has a room. I should
like to change, if you'll let me."

"Pooh! You're not to think of the cost - - "

"Whether I am to or not, I do, and can't help myself. I know the hotel
is fearfully expensive, and I shall like the other place much better.
Miss Roche is a very nice girl, and she was glad to see me; and if I'm
near her, I shall get all sorts of advantages - in French, and so on."

Hilliard wondered what accounts of herself Eve had rendered to the
Parisienne, but he did not venture to ask.

"Will Patty like it as well?"

"Just as well. Miss Roche speaks English, you know, and they'll get on
very well together."

"Where is the place?"

"Rather far off - towards the Jardin des Plantes. But I don't think that
would matter, would it?"

"I leave it entirely to you."

"Thank you," she answered, with that intonation he did not like. "Of
course, if you would like to meet Miss Roche, you can."

"We'll think about it. It's enough that she's an old friend of yours."




CHAPTER XV


When this change had been made Eve seemed to throw off a burden. She
met Hilliard with something like the ease of manner, the frank
friendliness, which marked her best moods in their earlier intercourse.
At a restaurant dinner, to which he persuaded her in company with
Patty, she was ready in cheerful talk, and an expedition to Versailles,
some days after, showed her radiant with the joy of sunshine and
movement. Hilliard could not but wonder at the success of his
prescription.

He did not visit the girls in their new abode, and nothing more was
said of his making the acquaintance of Mdlle. Roche. Meetings were
appointed by post-card - always in Patty's hand if the initiative were
female; they took place three or four times a week. As it was now
necessary for Eve to make payments on her own account, Hilliard
despatched to her by post a remittance in paper money, and of this no
word passed between them. Three weeks later he again posted the same
sum. On the morrow they went by river to St. Cloud - it was always a
trio, Hilliard never making any other proposal - and the steam-boat
afforded Eve an opportunity of speaking with her generous friend apart.

"I don't want this money," she said, giving him an envelope. "What you
sent before isn't anything like finished. There's enough for a month
more."

"Keep it all the same. I won't have any pinching."

"There's nothing of the kind. If I don't have my way in this I shall go
back to London."

He put the envelope in his pocket, and stood silent, with eyes fixed on
the river bank.

"How long do you intend us to stay?" asked Eve.

"As long as you find pleasure here."

"And - what am I to do afterwards?"

He glanced at her.

"A holiday must come to an end," she added, trying, but without
success, to meet his look.

"I haven't given any thought to that," said Hilliard, carelessly;
"there's plenty of time. It will be fine weather for many weeks yet."

"But I have been thinking about it. I should be crazy if I didn't."

"Tell me your thoughts, then."

"Should you be satisfied if I got a place at Birmingham?"

There again Was the note of self-abasement. It irritated the listener.

"Why do you put it in that way? There's no question of what satisfies
me, but of what is good for you."

"Then I think it had better be Birmingham."

"Very well. It's understood that when we leave Paris we go there."

A silence. Then Eve asked abruptly:

"You will go as well?"

"Yes, I shall go back."

"And what becomes of your determination to enjoy life as long as you
can?"

"I'm carrying it out. I shall go back satisfied, at all events."

"And return to your old work?"

"I don't know. It depends on all sorts of things. We won't talk of it
just yet."

Patty approached, and Hilliard turned to her with a bright, jesting
face.

Midway in August, on his return home one afternoon, the concierge let
him know that two English gentlemen had been inquiring for him; one of
them had left a card. With surprise and pleasure Hilliard read the name
of Robert Narramore, and beneath it, written in pencil, an invitation
to dine that evening at a certain hotel in the Rue de Provence. As
usual, Narramore had neglected the duties of a correspondent; this was
the first announcement of his intention to be in Paris. Who the second
man might be Hilliard could not conjecture.

He arrived at the hotel, and found Narramore in company with a man of
about the same age, his name Birching, to Hilliard a stranger. They had
reached Paris this morning, and would remain only for a day or two, as
their purpose was towards the Alps.

"I couldn't stand this heat," remarked Narramore, who, in the very
lightest of tourist garbs, sprawled upon a divan, and drank something
iced out of a tall tumbler. "We shouldn't have stopped here at all if
it hadn't been for you. The idea is that you should go on with us."

"Can't - impossible - - "

"Why, what are you doing here - besides roasting?"

"Eating and drinking just what suits my digestion."

"You look pretty fit - a jolly sight better than when we met last. All
the same, you will go on with us. We won't argue it now; it's
dinner-time. Wait till afterwards."

At table, Narramore mentioned that his friend Birching was an architect.

"Just what this fellow ought to have been," he said, indicating
Hilliard. "Architecture is his hobby. I believe he could sit down and
draw to scale a front elevation of any great cathedral in
Europe - couldn't you, Hilliard?"

Laughing the joke aside, Hilliard looked with interest at Mr. Birching,
and began to talk with him. The three young men consumed a good deal of
wine, and after dinner strolled about the streets, until Narramore's
fatigue and thirst brought them to a pause at a cafe on the Boulevard
des Italiens. Birching presently moved apart, to reach a newspaper, and
remained out of earshot while Narramore talked with his other friend.

"What's going on?" he began. "What are you doing here? Seriously, I
want you to go along with us. Birching is a very good sort of chap, but
just a trifle heavy - takes things rather solemnly for such hot weather.
Is it the expense? Hang it! You and I know each other well enough, and,
thanks to my old uncle - - "

"Never mind that, old boy," interposed Hilliard. "How long are you
going for?"

"I can't very well be away for more than three weeks. The brass
bedsteads, you know - - "

Hilliard agreed to join in the tour.

"That's right: I've been looking forward to it," said his friend
heartily. "And now, haven't you anything to tell me? Are you alone
here? Then, what the deuce do you do with yourself?"

"Chiefly meditate."

"You're the rummest fellow I ever knew. I've wanted to write to you,
but - hang it! - what with hot weather and brass bedsteads, and this and
that - - Now, what _are_ you going to do? Your money won't last for
ever. Haven't you any projects? It was no good talking about it before
you left Dudley. I saw that. You were all but fit for a lunatic asylum,
and no wonder. But you've pulled round, I see. Never saw you looking in
such condition. What is to be the next move?"

"I have no idea."

"Well, now, _I_ have. This fellow Birching is partner with his brother,
in Brum, and they're tolerably flourishing. I've thought of you ever
since I came to know him; I think it was chiefly on your account that I
got thick with him - though there was another reason I'll tell you about
that some time. Now, why shouldn't you go into their office? Could you
manage to pay a small premium? I believe I could square it with them. I
haven't said anything. I never hurry - like things to ripen naturally.
Suppose you saw your way, in a year or two, to make only as much in an
architect's office as you did in that - - machine-shop, wouldn't it be
worth while?"

Hilliard mused. Already he had a flush on his cheek, but his eyes
sensibly brightened.

"Yes," he said at length with deliberation. "It would be worth while."

"So I should think. Well, wait till you've got to be a bit chummy with
Birching. I think you'll suit each other. Let him see that you do
really know something about architecture - there'll be plenty of
chances."

Hilliard, still musing, repeated with mechanical emphasis:

"Yes, it would be worth while."

Then Narramore called to Birching, and the talk became general again.

The next morning they drove about Paris, all together. Narramore,
though it was his first visit to the city, declined to see anything
which demanded exertion, and the necessity for quenching his thirst
recurred with great frequency. Early in the afternoon he proposed that
they should leave Paris that very evening.

"I want to see a mountain with snow on it. We're bound to travel by
night, and another day of this would settle me. Any objection,
Birching?"

The architect agreed, and time-tables were consulted. Hilliard drove
home to pack. When this was finished, he sat down and wrote a letter:


"DEAR MISS MADELEY, - My friend Narramore is here, and has persuaded me
to go to Switzerland with him. I shall be away for a week or two, and
will let you hear from me in the meantime. Narramore says I am looking
vastly better, and it is you I have to thank for this. Without you, my
attempts at 'enjoying life' would have been a poor business. We start
in an hour or two, - Yours ever,

"MAURICE HILLIARD."




CHAPTER XVI


He was absent for full three weeks, and arrived with his friends at the
Gare de Lyon early one morning of September. Narramore and the
architect delayed only for a meal, and pursued their journey homeward;
Hilliard returned to his old quarters despatched a post-card asking Eve
and Patty to dine with him that evening, and thereupon went to bed,
where for some eight hours he slept the sleep of healthy fatigue.

The place he had appointed for meeting with the girls was at the foot


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