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
"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 quite forgotten the terms - if "terms" they could be called -
that he had ended by accepting from herself; they had burdened her
memory as little as her conscience. "Oh yes, I see what you mean -
you've been very nice about that; but why drag it in so often?"
She had been perfectly urbane with him ever since the rough scene
of explanation in his room the morning he made her accept HIS
"terms" - the necessity of his making his case known to Morgan.
She had felt no resentment after seeing there was no danger Morgan
would take the matter up with her. Indeed, attributing this
immunity to the good taste of his influence with the boy, she had
once said to Pemberton "My dear fellow, it's an immense comfort
you're a gentleman." She repeated this in substance now. "Of
course you're a gentleman - that's a bother the less!" Pemberton
reminded her that he had not "dragged in" anything that wasn't
already in as much as his foot was in his shoe; and she also
repeated her prayer that, somewhere and somehow, he would find her
sixty francs. He took the liberty of hinting that if he could findDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>