Arthur Burdon and Dr. Porhoet walked in silence. Arthur had just arrived in Paris, He was a surgeon at St Luke’s hospital, and had come to study the methods of the French doctors; but the real object of his visit to Paris was certainly to see Margaret Dauncey.
He looked upon himself as a happy man. He loved Margaret with all his heart and he was sure of her affection for him. It was impossible that anything could disturb the pleasant life they had planned together.
“We’re going to fix the date of our marriage now,” Arthur remarked to Dr. Porhoet. I’m buying furniture already.”
“I think only English people could behave as oddly as you in postponing your marriage without any reason for two years,” replied the doctor.
“You see, Margaret was ten when I first saw her, and only seventeen when I asked her to marry me. She seemed hardly ready for marriage. She was still growing. We loved each other and we had a long
time before us. We could wait.”
At that moment a man walked past them, a big stout fellow, dressed in a bright check suit. He gravely took off his hat and greeted Dr. Porhoet. The doctor smiled and returned the salutation.
“Who is your fat friend?” asked Arthur.
“He is an Englishman too. His name is Oliver Haddo.”
“An artist?” asked Arthur in the scornful tone in which he spoke of those whose work was not so practical as his own.
“Not exactly. I met him some time ago by chance. When I was collecting the material for my little book on the old alchemists I read a great deal in the library of the “Arsenal”, which as you may know is rich in works dealing with the occult sciences. One day I was studying some question on which it seemed impossible to find any authorities. The librarian could not help me, and I wanted to give up the search, when this person brought me the book I needed. I was very grateful to the stranger. We left together that afternoon, and our common studies gave a theme of conversation. I found that his knowledge was extraordinary wide, and he was able to give me information about works I had never even heard of.”
“And what is he by profession?”
Doctor Porhoet smiled. “You know, Paris is full of odd people. It is the home for every kind of eccentricity. It seems incredible, but my friend Oliver Haddo says he is a magician. I think he is quite serious.”
“Silly ass,” answered Arthur scornfully.