were happy hours when he remained, as he also called it—and as the name,

really, of their right ideal—“jolly” superficial; the proof of which was

his fundamental assumption that he should presently go to Oxford, to

Pemberton’s college, and, aided and abetted by Pemberton, do the most

wonderful things. It depressed the young man to see how little in such a

project he took account of ways and means: in other connexions he mostly

kept to the measure. Pemberton tried to imagine the Moreens at Oxford

and fortunately failed; yet unless they were to adopt it as a residence

there would be no modus vivendi for Morgan. How could he live without an

allowance, and where was the allowance to come from? He, Pemberton,

might live on Morgan; but how could Morgan live on _him_? What was to

become of him anyhow? Somehow the fact that he was a big boy now, with

better prospects of health, made the question of his future more

difficult. So long as he was markedly frail the great consideration he

inspired seemed enough of an answer to it. But at the bottom of

Pemberton’s heart was the recognition of his probably being strong enough

to live and not yet strong enough to struggle or to thrive. Morgan

himself at any rate was in the first flush of the rosiest consciousness

of adolescence, so that the beating of the tempest seemed to him after

all but the voice of life and the challenge of fate. He had on his

shabby little overcoat, with the collar up, but was enjoying his walk.

It was interrupted at last by the appearance of his mother at the end of

the sala. She beckoned him to come to her, and while Pemberton saw him,

complaisant, pass down the long vista and over the damp false marble, he

wondered what was in the air. Mrs. Moreen said a word to the boy and

made him go into the room she had quitted. Then, having closed the door

after him, she directed her steps swiftly to Pemberton. There was

something in the air, but his wildest flight of fancy wouldn’t have

suggested what it proved to be. She signified that she had made a

pretext to get Morgan out of the way, and then she enquired—without

hesitation—if the young man could favour her with the loan of three

louis. While, before bursting into a laugh, he stared at her with

surprise, she declared that she was awfully pressed for the money; she

was desperate for it—it would save her life.

“Dear lady, c’est trop fort!” Pemberton laughed in the manner and with

the borrowed grace of idiom that marked the best colloquial, the best

anecdotic, moments of his friends themselves. “Where in the world do you

suppose I should get three louis, du train dont vous allez?”

“I thought you worked—wrote things. Don’t they pay you?”

“Not a penny.”

“Are you such a fool as to work for nothing?”

“You ought surely to know that.”

Mrs. Moreen stared, then she coloured a little. Pemberton saw she had

(C) 2013