Perhaps it would take the form of sudden dispersal—a frightened sauve qui

peut, a scuttling into selfish corners. Certainly they were less elastic

than of yore; they were evidently looking for something they didn’t find.

The Dorringtons hadn’t re-appeared, the princes had scattered; wasn’t

that the beginning of the end? Mrs. Moreen had lost her reckoning of the

famous “days”; her social calendar was blurred—it had turned its face to

the wall. Pemberton suspected that the great, the cruel discomfiture had

been the unspeakable behaviour of Mr. Granger, who seemed not to know

what he wanted, or, what was much worse, what they wanted. He kept

sending flowers, as if to bestrew the path of his retreat, which was

never the path of a return. Flowers were all very well, but—Pemberton

could complete the proposition. It was now positively conspicuous that

in the long run the Moreens were a social failure; so that the young man

was almost grateful the run had not been short. Mr. Moreen indeed was

still occasionally able to get away on business and, what was more

surprising, was likewise able to get back. Ulick had no club but you

couldn’t have discovered it from his appearance, which was as much as

ever that of a person looking at life from the window of such an

institution; therefore Pemberton was doubly surprised at an answer he

once heard him make his mother in the desperate tone of a man familiar

with the worst privations. Her question Pemberton had not quite caught;

it appeared to be an appeal for a suggestion as to whom they might get to

take Amy. “Let the Devil take her!” Ulick snapped; so that Pemberton

could see that they had not only lost their amiability but had ceased to

believe in themselves. He could also see that if Mrs. Moreen was trying

to get people to take her children she might be regarded as closing the

hatches for the storm. But Morgan would be the last she would part with.

One winter afternoon—it was a Sunday—he and the boy walked far together

in the Bois de Boulogne. The evening was so splendid, the cold

lemon-coloured sunset so clear, the stream of carriages and pedestrians

so amusing and the fascination of Paris so great, that they stayed out

later than usual and became aware that they should have to hurry home to

arrive in time for dinner. They hurried accordingly, arm-in-arm,

good-humoured and hungry, agreeing that there was nothing like Paris

after all and that after everything too that had come and gone they were

not yet sated with innocent pleasures. When they reached the hotel they

found that, though scandalously late, they were in time for all the

dinner they were likely to sit down to. Confusion reigned in the

apartments of the Moreens—very shabby ones this time, but the best in the

house—and before the interrupted service of the table, with objects

displaced almost as if there had been a scuffle and a great wine-stain

(C) 2013