Vain Fortune eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 171 pages of information about Vain Fortune.

One day he went to Hampstead Heath.  A long walk, he thought, would clear his mind, and he returned home thinking of his play.  The sunset still glittering in the skies; the bare trees were beautifully distinct on the blue background of the suburban street, and at the end of the long perspective, a ’bus and a hansom could be seen coming towards him.  As they grew larger, his thoughts defined themselves, and the distressing problem of his fourth act seemed to solve itself.  That very evening he would sketch out a new dramatic movement around which all the other movements of the act would cluster.  But at the corner of Fitzroy Square, within a few yards of No. 17, he was accosted by a shabbily-dressed man, who inquired if he were Mr. Price.  On being answered in the affirmative, the shabbily-dressed man said, ’Then I have something for ye; I have been a-watching for ye for the last three days, but ye didn’t come out; missed yer this morning:  ’ere it is;’ and he thrust a folded paper into Hubert’s hand.

‘What is this?’

‘Don’t yer know?’ he said with a grin; ’Messrs. Tomkins & Co., Tailors, writ—­twenty-two pound odd.’

Hubert made no answer; he put the paper in his pocket, opened the door quietly, stole up to his room, and sat down to think.  The first thing to do was to examine into his finances.  It was alarming to find that he was breaking into his last five-pound note.  True that he was close on the end of his play, and when it was finished he would be able to draw on Ford.  But a summons to appear in the county court could not fail to do him immense injury.  He had heard of avoiding service, but he knew little of the law, and wondered what power the service of the writ gave his creditor over him.  His instinct was to escape—­hide himself where they would not be able to find him, and so obtain time to finish his play.  But he owed his landlady money, and his departure would have to be clandestine.  As he reflected on how many necessaries he might carry away in a newspaper, he began to feel strangely like a criminal, and while rolling up a couple of shirts, a few pairs of socks, and some collars, he paused, his hands resting on the parcel.  He did not seem to know himself, and it was difficult to believe that he really intended to leave the house in this disreputable fashion.  Mechanically he continued to add to his parcel, thinking all the while that he must go, otherwise his play would never be written.

He had been working very well for the last few days, and now he saw his way quite clearly; the inspiration he had been so long waiting for had come at last, and he felt sure of his fourth act.  At the same time he wished to conduct himself honestly, even in this distressing situation.  Should he tell his landlady the truth?  But the desire to realise his idea was intolerable, and, yielding as if before an irresistible force, he tied the parcel and prepared to go.  At that moment he remembered that he must leave a note for his landlady, and he was more than ever surprised at the naturalness with which lying phrases came into his head.  But when it came to committing them to paper, he found he could not tell an absolute lie, and he wrote a simple little note to the effect that he had been called away on urgent business, and hoped to return in about a week.

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Vain Fortune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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