"I think he ought to. I make sacrifices for him. Though I've
heard of those YOU make I don't see them."
Mrs. Moreen stared a moment; then with emotion she grasped her
inmate's hand. "WILL you make it - the sacrifice?"
He burst out laughing. "I'll see. I'll do what I can. I'll stay
a little longer. Your calculation's just - I DO hate intensely to
give him up; I'm fond of him and he thoroughly interests me, in
spite of the inconvenience I suffer. You know my situation
perfectly. I haven't a penny in the world and, occupied as you see
me with Morgan, am unable to earn money."
Mrs. Moreen tapped her undressed arm with her folded bank-note.
"Can't you write articles? Can't you translate as I do?"
"I don't know about translating; it's wretchedly paid."
"I'm glad to earn what I can," said Mrs. Moreen with prodigious
"You ought to tell me who you do it for." Pemberton paused a
moment, and she said nothing; so he added: "I've tried to turn off
some little sketches, but the magazines won't have them - they're
declined with thanks."
"You see then you're not such a phoenix," his visitor pointedly
smiled - "to pretend to abilities you're sacrificing for our sake."
"I haven't time to do things properly," he ruefully went on. Then
as it came over him that he was almost abjectly good-natured to
give these explanations he added: "If I stay on longer it must be
on one condition - that Morgan shall know distinctly on what
footing I am."
Mrs. Moreen demurred. "Surely you don't want to show off to a
"To show YOU off, do you mean?"
Again she cast about, but this time it was to produce a still finer
flower. "And YOU talk of blackmail!"
"You can easily prevent it," said Pemberton.
"And YOU talk of practising on fears," she bravely pushed on.
"Yes, there's no doubt I'm a great scoundrel."
His patroness met his eyes - it was clear she was in straits. Then
she thrust out her money at him. "Mr. Moreen desired me to give
you this on account."
"I'm much obliged to Mr. Moreen, but we HAVE no account."
"You won't take it?"
"That leaves me more free," said Pemberton.
"To poison my darling's mind?" groaned Mrs. Moreen.
"Oh your darling's mind -!" the young man laughed.
She fixed him a moment, and he thought she was going to break out
tormentedly, pleadingly: "For God's sake, tell me what IS in it!"
But she checked this impulse - another was stronger. She pocketed
the money - the crudity of the alternative was comical - and swept
out of the room with the desperate concession: "You may tell him
any horror you like!"
A couple of days after this, during which he had failed to profit
by so free a permission, he had been for a quarter of an hour
walking with his charge in silence when the boy became sociable
again with the remark: "I'll tell you how I know it; I know itDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>