Susie paused for a minute or two. She wondered how he would accept the suggestion that was in her mind.
’Do you know, it seems to me that common methods are useless. The only chance is to fight him with his own weapons. Would you mind if I went over to Paris to consult Dr Porhoet? You know that he is learned in every branch of the occult, and perhaps he might help us.’
But Arthur pulled himself together.
’It’s absurd. We mustn’t give way to superstition. Haddo is merely a scoundrel and a charlatan. He’s worked on our nerves as he’s worked on poor Margaret’s. It’s impossible to suppose that he has any powers greater than the common run of mankind.’
‘Even after all you’ve seen with your own eyes?’
’If my eyes show me what all my training assures me is impossible, I can only conclude that my eyes deceive me.’
‘Well, I shall run over to Paris.’
Some weeks later Dr Porhoet was sitting among his books in the quiet, low room that overlooked the Seine. He had given himself over to a pleasing melancholy. The heat beat down upon the noisy streets of Paris, and the din of the great city penetrated even to his fastness in the Ile Saint Louis. He remembered the cloud-laden sky of the country where he was born, and the south-west wind that blew with a salt freshness. The long streets of Brest, present to his fancy always in a drizzle of rain, with the lights of cafes reflected on the wet pavements, had a familiar charm. Even in foul weather the sailor-men who trudged along them gave one a curious sense of comfort. There was delight in the smell of the sea and in the freedom of the great Atlantic. And then he thought of the green lanes and of the waste places with their scented heather, the fair broad roads that led from one old sweet town to another, of the Pardons and their gentle, sad crowds. Dr Porhoet gave a sigh.
‘It is good to be born in the land of Brittany,’ he smiled.
But his bonne showed Susie in, and he rose with a smile to greet her. She had been in Paris for some time, and they had seen much of one another. He basked in the gentle sympathy with which she interested herself in all the abstruse, quaint matters on which he spent his time; and, divining her love for Arthur, he admired the courage with which she effaced herself. They had got into the habit of eating many of their meals together in a quiet house opposite the Cluny called La Reine Blanche, and here they had talked of so many things that their acquaintance was grown into a charming friendship.
‘I’m ashamed to come here so often,’ said Susie, as she entered. ’Matilde is beginning to look at me with a suspicious eye.’
‘It is very good of you to entertain a tiresome old man,’ he smiled, as he held her hand. ’But I should have been disappointed if you had forgotten your promise to come this afternoon, for I have much to tell you.’