The duplicate Rembrandt.
The day began well. The breakfast rolls were crisper than usual, the butter was sweeter, and never had Diane’s slender white hands poured out more delicious coffee. Jack Clare was in the highest spirits as he embraced his wife and sallied forth into the Boulevard St. Germain, with a flat, square parcel wrapped in brown paper under his arm. From the window of the entresol Diane waved a coquettish farewell.
“Remember, in an hour,” she called down to him. “I shall be ready by then, Jack, and waiting. We will lunch at Bignon’s—”
“And drive in the Bois, and wind up with a jolly evening,” he interrupted, throwing a kiss. “I will hasten back, dear one. Be sure that you put on your prettiest frock, and the jacket with the ermine trimming.”
It was a clear and frosty January morning, in the year 1892, and the streets of Paris were dry and glistening. There was intoxication in the very air, and Jack felt thoroughly in harmony with the fine weather. What mattered it that he had but a few francs in his pocket—that the quarterly remittance from his mother, who dreaded the Channel passage and was devoted to her foggy London, would not be due for a fortnight? The parcel under his arm meant, without doubt, a check for a nice sum. He and Diane would spend it merrily, and until the morrow at least his fellow-workers at Julian’s Academy would miss him from his accustomed place.
Bright-eyed grisettes flung coy looks at the young artist as he strode along, admiring his well-knit figure, his handsome boyish features chiseled as finely as a cameo, the crisp brown hair with a slight tendency to curl, his velvet jacket and flowing tie. Jack nodded and smiled at a familiar face now and then, or paused briefly to greet a male acquaintance; for the Latin Quarter had been his little world for three years, and he was well-known in it from the Boulevard St. Michel to the quays of the Seine. He snapped his fingers at a mounted cuirassier in scarlet and silver who galloped by him on the Point Royal, and whistled a few bars of “The British Grenadiers” as he passed the red-trowsered, meek-faced, under-sized soldiers who shouldered their heavy muskets in the courts of the Louvre. The memory of Diane’s laughing countenance, as she leaned from the window, haunted him in the Avenue de l’Opera.
“She’s a good little girl, except when she’s in a temper,” he said to himself, “and I love her every bit as much as I did when we were married a year ago. Perhaps I was a fool, but I don’t regret it. She was as straight as a die, with a will of her own, and it was either lose her altogether or do the right thing. I couldn’t bear to part with her, and I wasn’t blackguard enough to try to deceive her. I’m afraid there will be a row some day, though, when the Mater learns the truth. What would she say if she knew that Diane Merode, one of the most popular and fascinating dancers of the Folies Bergere, was now Mrs. John Clare?”