luxurious quarters in the capital of pleasure; that was exactly where

they naturally _would_ be established in view of going to pieces.

Moreover didn’t she mention that Mr. Moreen and the others were enjoying

themselves at the opera with Mr. Granger, and wasn’t _that_ also

precisely where one would look for them on the eve of a smash? Pemberton

gathered that Mr. Granger was a rich vacant American—a big bill with a

flourishy heading and no items; so that one of Paula’s “ideas” was

probably that this time she hadn’t missed fire—by which straight shot

indeed she would have shattered the general cohesion. And if the

cohesion was to crumble what would become of poor Pemberton? He felt

quite enough bound up with them to figure to his alarm as a dislodged

block in the edifice.

It was Morgan who eventually asked if no supper had been ordered for him;

sitting with him below, later, at the dim delayed meal, in the presence

of a great deal of corded green plush, a plate of ornamental biscuit and

an aloofness marked on the part of the waiter. Mrs. Moreen had explained

that they had been obliged to secure a room for the visitor out of the

house; and Morgan’s consolation—he offered it while Pemberton reflected

on the nastiness of lukewarm sauces—proved to be, largely, that his

circumstance would facilitate their escape. He talked of their

escape—recurring to it often afterwards—as if they were making up a

“boy’s book” together. But he likewise expressed his sense that there

was something in the air, that the Moreens couldn’t keep it up much

longer. In point of fact, as Pemberton was to see, they kept it up for

five or six months. All the while, however, Morgan’s contention was

designed to cheer him. Mr. Moreen and Ulick, whom he had met the day

after his return, accepted that return like perfect men of the world. If

Paula and Amy treated it even with less formality an allowance was to be

made for them, inasmuch as Mr. Granger hadn’t come to the opera after

all. He had only placed his box at their service, with a bouquet for

each of the party; there was even one apiece, embittering the thought of

his profusion, for Mr. Moreen and Ulick. “They’re all like that,” was

Morgan’s comment; “at the very last, just when we think we’ve landed them

they’re back in the deep sea!”

Morgan’s comments in these days were more and more free; they even

included a large recognition of the extraordinary tenderness with which

he had been treated while Pemberton was away. Oh yes, they couldn’t do

enough to be nice to him, to show him they had him on their mind and make

up for his loss. That was just what made the whole thing so sad and

caused him to rejoice after all in Pemberton’s return—he had to keep

thinking of their affection less, had less sense of obligation.

Pemberton laughed out at this last reason, and Morgan blushed and said:

(C) 2013