That night he was again playing at the Beargarden, and he lost a great part of Mr Melmotte’s money. He did in fact lose much more than the L200; but when he found his ready money going from him he issued paper.
Paul Montague had other troubles on his mind beyond this trouble of the Mexican Railway. It was now more than a fortnight since he had taken Mrs Hurtle to the play, and she was still living in lodgings at Islington. He had seen her twice, once on the following day, when he was allowed to come and go without any special reference to their engagement, and again, three or four days afterwards, when the meeting was by no means so pleasant. She had wept, and after weeping had stormed. She had stood upon what she called her rights, and had dared him to be false to her. Did he mean to deny that he had promised to marry her? Was not his conduct to her, ever since she had now been in London, a repetition of that promise? And then again she became soft, and pleaded with him. But for the storm he might have given way. At the moment he had felt that any fate in life would be better than a marriage on compulsion. Her tears and her pleadings, nevertheless, touched him very nearly. He had promised her most distinctly. He had loved her and had won her love. And she was lovely. The very violence of the storm made the sunshine more sweet. She would sit down on a stool at his feet, and it was impossible to drive her away from him. She would look up in his face and he could not but embrace her. Then there had come a passionate flood of tears and she was in his arms. How he had escaped he hardly knew, but he did know that he had promised to be with her again before two days should have passed.
On the day named he wrote to her a letter excusing himself, which was at any rate true in words. He had been summoned, he said, to Liverpool on business, and must postpone seeing her till his return. And he explained that the business on which he was called was connected with the great American railway, and, being important, demanded his attention. In words this was true. He had been corresponding with a gentleman at Liverpool with whom he had become acquainted on his return home after having involuntarily become a partner in the house of Fisker, Montague, and Montague. This man he trusted and had consulted, and the gentleman, Mr Ramsbottom by name, had suggested that he should come to him at Liverpool. He had gone, and his conduct at the Board had been the result of the advice which he had received; but it may be doubted whether some dread of the coming interview with Mrs Hurtle had not added strength to Mr Ramsbottom’s invitation.