Margaret Dauncey lived in an art studio near the Boulevard Montparnasse with Susie Boyd. That afternoon Arthur was coming to see them. The young women were expecting him. Susie was looking forward to the meeting with interest. She had heard a great deal about the young man, and knew about his romance with Margaret. For years Susie had led the monotonous life of a teacher in a school for young ladies, and when Margaret, who had been her pupil, told her of her intention to spend a couple of years in Paris to study art, Susie willingly agreed to accompany her. She had a great infection for Margaret and with almost maternal pride watched how each year added new charm to her extraordinary beauty. She was proud to think that she would hand over to Arthur Burdon a woman whose character she had helped to form.
Susie knew, partly from fragments of letters which Margaret read to her, partly from her conversation, how passionately he adored his bride, and she saw that Margaret loved him too. The story of their love was very romantic. Margaret was the daughter of a lawyer with whom Arthur had been friendly, and when he died, many years after it, Arthur became the girl’s guardian. He tried to give her everything she could possibly want, and when at 17 she told him of her wish to go to Paris and learn drawing, he agreed at once. The preparations for the journey were made when Margaret discovered by chance that her father had died penniless and she had lived ever since at Arthur’s expense. When she went to see him with tears in her eyes and told him what she knew, Arthur was very embarrassed.
“But why did you do it?” she asked him. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?” “I didn’t want you to feel any obligation to me, and I wanted you to feel quite free.”
She cried. She could not stop her tears.
“Don’t be silly,” he laughed. ‘You owe me nothing. I’ve done very little for you, and
what I have done gave me a great deal of pleasure.” “I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”
“Oh, don’t say that,” he cried out. “It makes it much more difficult for me to say what I want to.”
She looked at him quickly and reddened.
“I would do anything in the world for you,” she said.
“I don’t want you to be grateful to me, because I hoped… I’d be able to ask you to marry me some day…”
Margaret laughed as she held out her hands.
“You must know that I’ve been wanting you to say that since I was ten.”
She was quite willing to give up her idea of Paris and be married immediately, but Arthur had made up his mind they could not marry till she was nineteen. He asked her not to change her plans and to go to Paris, but suggested that she should not live alone; because of that she went to live with Susie.
Susie Boyd was thirty, but she looked older. She was not pretty, but her face was so kind, her sense of humour so attractive, that no one after ten minutes thought of her ugliness. Her taste was so good, her talent for dressing so remarkable, that she was able to make the most of herself. It was due to her influence that Margaret was dressed always in the latest fashion.
There was a knock at the door, and Arthur came in.
‘This is the fairy prince,” said Margaret, leading him to her friend.
“I’m glad to see you to thank you for all you’ve done for Margaret,” he smiled, taking Susie’s hand.
While Margaret was preparing tea, his eyes followed her movements with a touching doglike devotion. Margaret felt that he was looking at her and turned round. Their eyes met and they stood some time gazing at each other silently.