his bed. He had been tolerably schooled by this time to the “foreign

ways” of his hosts. Mrs. Moreen was ardent, and when she was ardent she

didn’t care what she did; so she now sat down on his bed, his clothes

being on the chairs, and, in her preoccupation, forgot, as she glanced

round, to be ashamed of giving him such a horrid room. What Mrs.

Moreen’s ardour now bore upon was the design of persuading him that in

the first place she was very good-natured to bring him fifty francs, and

that in the second, if he would only see it, he was really too absurd to

expect to be paid. Wasn’t he paid enough without perpetual money—wasn’t

he paid by the comfortable luxurious home he enjoyed with them all,

without a care, an anxiety, a solitary want? Wasn’t he sure of his

position, and wasn’t that everything to a young man like him, quite

unknown, with singularly little to show, the ground of whose exorbitant

pretensions it had never been easy to discover? Wasn’t he paid above all

by the sweet relation he had established with Morgan—quite ideal as from

master to pupil—and by the simple privilege of knowing and living with so

amazingly gifted a child; than whom really (and she meant literally what

she said) there was no better company in Europe? Mrs. Moreen herself

took to appealing to him as a man of the world; she said “Voyons, mon

cher,” and “My dear man, look here now”; and urged him to be reasonable,

putting it before him that it was truly a chance for him. She spoke as

if, according as he _should_ be reasonable, he would prove himself worthy

to be her son’s tutor and of the extraordinary confidence they had placed

in him.

After all, Pemberton reflected, it was only a difference of theory and

the theory didn’t matter much. They had hitherto gone on that of

remunerated, as now they would go on that of gratuitous, service; but why

should they have so many words about it? Mrs. Moreen at all events

continued to be convincing; sitting there with her fifty francs she

talked and reiterated, as women reiterate, and bored and irritated him,

while he leaned against the wall with his hands in the pockets of his

wrapper, drawing it together round his legs and looking over the head of

his visitor at the grey negations of his window. She wound up with

saying: “You see I bring you a definite proposal.”

“A definite proposal?”

“To make our relations regular, as it were—to put them on a comfortable


“I see—it’s a system,” said Pemberton. “A kind of organised blackmail.”

Mrs. Moreen bounded up, which was exactly what he wanted. “What do you

mean by that?”

“You practise on one’s fears—one’s fears about the child if one should go


“And pray what would happen to him in that event?” she demanded, with


“Why he’d be alone with _you_.”

(C) 2013