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CHAPTER XIII AFTER THE STORM
Bob Otway was down very early upon the morning after the great storm, and he was not a little surprised to find Dick Fenton waiting upon the plateau before the hotel, whence he surveyed the newly-fallen snow with greedy eyes. In truth, Dick was telling himself that he would take Marjory up to the wood again, and compel her to confess that she loved him; an unnecessary repetition of an ancient story, but pleasant enough when white arms go with it.

Bob Otway was less sentimental. He confessed that he felt a little down, and he added the information that the concierge was a "nut." There had been great "events" last night after Dick went to bed to dream of Marjory; much damage had been done. All this would be charged for when the weekly bills were sent on, and as Bob asked ruefully: "What do you think a 'cello's worth, Dick; is it worth thirty shillings?" By which he implied the destruction of such an instrument and his own share therein.

"It was Rivers who began it," he explained, as they strolled about arm in arm, waiting for the bell to announce morning coffee: "He tried to hang up the big clock in the hall with a drawing pin, and when the concierge spotted him, Billy Godeyer was doing the same for the picture of the Battle of Sedan. Then Rivers found that the band had left their instruments behind in the drawing-room, and we had a concert. Never saw such rot; I played the 'cello and all the hair came out of the bow before I'd sawed out half a tune. They say we smashed five notes in the piano, but I don't believe it. Old Gordon Snagg doesn't like noise, so we played on his account; he'd pay the damage if he were a gentleman."

Dick agreed to that, but didn't much care to talk about music. The night had brought pleasant dreams of Marjory. He really was rather sorry that they had chosen the "little widow" for their ambassador.

"We were in too much of a hurry," he said, arguing in a philosophical if amatory vein. "Why not let it run until we get back to England? It's beastly to think about money in such a place as this, and I'm sure Marjory would hate me for doing it. I'll speak to my uncle when I get back, and he might do something for me. Perhaps he'll send me out to Canada; there's lots of cash to be made there, and why shouldn't we make some of it? Let's have some fun, Bob. You're such a gloomy beggar; you always look at things in the worst light."

Bob retorted that it depended upon the age of the lady; a vague and half-truthful remembrance of the havoc which the sun had played with the otherwise peach-like skin of a nameless nymph. The morning found him in a dubious-mood about Nellie, but less alarmed about the enormity of the offence. She really was a "jolly little girl," and it had been quite impossible not to propose to her in the circumstances. With good luck, her views upon the final step of matrimony might be as distant as his own. And who could say that something would not turn up?

"Mrs. Rider will make the devil of a row about it, and we shall have to clear out," he said musingly. "I know she brought the girls here to get 'em off, but she won't think very much of the particular planks for this particular plunge. I'm sorry, too, that we spoke to the 'little widow.' It's rather jolly to be thought rich, though it wouldn't be honest to the girls to leave them under that impression. I shall tell Nellie just what I've got when we're up in the wood this morning. Two hundred a year sounds all right when someone else is paying your hotel bill. It's when you come to running a pug dog and a motor-car that you find where the slice pinches."

"But one would begin in a small way, Bob."

Bob shook his head.

"That's what the modern girl tells you; she follows it up with the hint that she'd like a flat overlooking the park, and really couldn't live in Bayswater. It's a day of big ideas and little balances. I believe my old guv'nor was right when he said that money was the greatest curse that ever came into the world. There'd be a lot of happiness if it wasn't for money, Dick. Think of it, if fashion wasn't so rotten, we might camp out the first year, live in a tent for two, and sleep by the roadside. I'm told it's healthy, and I know Mecredy did it. There'd be no rent to pay, and we might sell our portraits as an advertisement for a tonic. As it is, we've just got to own up that we're paupers; and if the girls take pity on us—well, we'll feel smaller than ever."
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