Then a little dim street caught his eye, and he knocked at the door of the first house exhibiting a card in the parlour window. But they did not let their bedroom under seven shillings, and this seemed to Hubert to be an extravagant price. He tried farther on, and at last found a clean room for six shillings. Having no luggage, he paid a week’s rent in advance, and the landlady promised to get him a small table, on which he could write, a small table that would fit in somewhere near the window. She asked him when he would like to be called, and put the candlestick on the chair. Hubert looked round the room, and a moment sufficed to complete the survey. It was about seven feet long. The lower half of the window was curtained by a piece of muslin hardly bigger than a good-sized pocket-handkerchief; to do anything in this room except to lie in bed seemed difficult, and Hubert sat down on the bed and emptied out his pockets. He had just four pounds, and the calculation how long he could live on such a sum took him some time. His breakfast, whether he had it at home or in the coffee-house, would cost him at least fourpence. He thought he would be able to obtain a fairly good dinner in one of the little Italian restaurants for ninepence. His tea would cost the same as his breakfast. To these sums he must add twopence for tobacco and a penny for an evening paper—impossible to do without tobacco, and he must know what was going on in the world. He could therefore live for one shilling and eightpence a day—eleven shillings a week—to which he would have to add six shillings a week for rent, altogether seventeen shillings a week. He really did not see how he could do it cheaper. Four times seventeen are sixty-eight; sixty-eight shillings for a month of life, and he had eighty shillings—twelve shillings for incidental expenses; and out of that twelve shillings he must buy a shirt, a sponge, and a tooth brush, and when they were bought there would be very little left. He must finish his play under the month. Nothing could be clearer than that.
Next morning he asked the landlady to let him have a cup of tea and some bread and butter, and he ate as much bread as he could, to save himself from being hungry in the middle of the day. He began work immediately, and continued until seven, and feeling then somewhat light-headed, but satisfied with himself, went to the nearest Italian restaurant. The food was better than he expected; but he spent twopence more than he had intended, so, to accustom himself to a life of strict measure and discipline, he determined to forego his tea that evening. And so he lived and worked until the end of the week.