Slower and slower came his sentences, and as the last word died away he was heard to be asleep, breathing through a tiny hole left beneath the eave of his moustache. Hilary, who had waited for that moment, gently put the manuscript on the desk, and beckoned to the girl. He did not ask her to his study, but spoke to her in the hall.
“While Mr. Stone is like this he misses you. You will come, then, at present, please, so long as Hughs is in prison. How do you like your room?”
The little model answered simply: “Not very much.”
“It’s lonely there. I shan’t mind, now I’m coming here again.”
“Only for the present,” was all Hilary could find to say.
The little model’s eyes were lowered.
“Mrs. Hughs’ baby’s to be buried to-morrow,” she said suddenly.
“In Brompton Cemetery. Mr. Creed’s going.”
“What time is the funeral?”
The girl looked up stealthily.
“Mr. Creed’s going to start at half-past nine.”
“I should like to go myself,” said Hilary.
A gleam of pleasure passing across her face was instantly obscured behind the cloud of her stolidity. Then, as she saw Hilary move nearer to the door, her lip began to droop.
“Well, good-bye,” he said.
The little model flushed and quivered. ‘You don’t even look at me,’ she seemed to say; ‘you haven’t spoken kindly to me once.’ And suddenly she said in a hard voice:
“Now I shan’t go to Mr. Lennard’s any more.”
“Oh, then you have been to him!”
Triumph at attracting his attention, fear of what she had admitted, supplication, and a half-defiant shame—all this was in her face.
“Yes,” she said.
Hilary did not speak.
“I didn’t care any more when you told me I wasn’t to come here.”
Still Hilary did not speak.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” she said, with tears in her voice.
“No, no,” said Hilary; “of course not!”
The little model choked.
“It’s my profession.”
“Yes, yes,” said Hilary; “it’s all right.”
“I don’t care what he thinks; I won’t go again so long as I can come here.”
Hilary touched her shoulder.
“Well, well,” he said, and opened the front door.
The little model, tremulous, like’ a flower kissed by the sun after rain, went out with a light in her eyes.
The master of the house returned to Mr. Stone. Long he sat looking at the old man’s slumber. “A thinker meditating upon action!” So might Hilary’s figure, with its thin face resting on its hand, a furrow between the brows, and that painful smile, have been entitled in any catalogue of statues.
FUNERAL OF A BABY