“About the rent,” she began, “and the bills ...”
Peter said, “Oh, I’ll pay you the rent and the bills before I go. I promise I will. But I can’t pay much else, you know, Mrs. Baker. So when people come to dun me, tell them I’ve gone no one knows where. I’m awfully sorry about it, but I’ve simply no money left.”
His smile, as always, softened her, and she nodded.
“I’ll deal with ’em, sir ... I knew you was over-spending yourself, as it were; I could have told you, but I didn’t like. You’d always lived so cheap and quiet till the day before yesterday; then all these new things so suddenly. Ader and I said as you must ’ave come in for some money, or else as (you’ll excuse me, sir) you was touched in the ’ead.”
“I wasn’t,” said Peter. “Not in the least. I wanted the things, so I got them. But now I come to think of it, I shan’t want most of them any more, as I’m going away, so I think I’ll just return them to the shops they came from. Of course they won’t be pleased, but they’ll prefer it to losing the money and the things, I suppose, won’t they. And we haven’t spoiled them a bit, except that cushion Francesco has just walked over, and that can be cleaned, I expect. I had to have them, you know, just when I wanted them; I couldn’t have borne not to; but I don’t really need them any more, because I’m going to have other things now. Oh, I’m talking too much, and you want to be cooking the supper, don’t you, and I want to put Thomas to bed.”
THE LAST LOSS
Three days later it was Easter Day. In the evening, about half-past nine, when Thomas lay sleeping and Peter was packing the rugs and cushions and pictures he hadn’t paid for into brown paper parcels (a tedious job), Rodney came in. Peter hadn’t seen him for some time.
“What on earth,” said Rodney, lighting his pipe and sitting down, “are you doing with all that upholstery? Has someone been sending you Easter presents? Well, I’m glad you’re getting rid of them as speedily as may be.”
Peter said ruefully, because he was tired of the business, “The stupid things aren’t paid for. So I’m packing them up to be sent back directly the shops open again. I can’t afford them, you see. Already most of my belongings are in pawn.”
“I see.” Rodney wasn’t specially struck by this; it was the chronic condition of many of his friends, who were largely of the class who pawn their clothes on Monday and redeem them on Saturday to wear for Sunday, and pawn them again, paying, if they can afford it, a penny extra to have the dresses hung up so that they don’t crush.
“A sudden attack of honesty,” Rodney commented. “Well, I’m glad, because I don’t see what you want to cumber yourself with all those cushions and rugs for. You’re quite comfortable enough without them.”
Peter said, “Thomas and I wanted nice things to look at. We were tired of horse-hair and ‘Grace Sufficient’. Thomas is fastidious.”