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PART II CHAPTER I THE SOUL'S AWAKENING
He raised his head, sniffed as if inhaling something, and quickened his step.

What a glorious day it was; even Fleet Street had a touch of youth about it.

A flower-woman and her wares caught his eye; he bought a bunch of late violets and, with his hat tilted back, dived in his trousers' pocket and produced a handful of silver. He gave her a shilling and, without asking for change, walked on, the violets in his buttonhole.

He was making west like a homing pigeon. He walked like a man in a hurry but with no purpose, his glance skimmed things and seemed to rest only on things coloured or pleasant to look on, his eyes showed no speculation. He seemed like a person with no more past than a dreamer. The present seemed to him everything—just as it is to the dreamer.

In the Strand he stopped here and there to glance at the contents of shops; neckties attracted him. Then Fuller's drew him in by[Pg 52] its colour. He had a vanilla-and-strawberry ice and chatted to the girls, who did not receive his advances, however, with much favour.

Then he came to Romanos'; it attracted him, and he went in. Gilded youths were drinking at the bar, and a cocktail being mixed by the bar-tender fascinated Simon by its colour; he had one like it, chatted to the man, paid, and walked out.

It was now eleven.

Still walking gaily and lightly, as one walks in a happy dream, he reached the Charing Cross Hotel, asked the porter to show him the rooms he had reserved, and enquired if his luggage had come.

The luggage had come and was deposited in the bedroom of the suite: two large brand-new portmanteaux and a hat-box, also a band-box from Lincoln Bennett's.

The portmanteaux and hat-box were locked, but in the band-box were the keys, gummed up in an envelope; there was also a straw hat in the band-box—a boater.

The porter, having unstrapped the portmanteaux, departed with a tip, and our gentleman began to unpack swiftly and with the eagerness of a child going to a party.

O Youth! What a star thou art, yet what a[Pg 53] folly! And yet can all wisdom give one the pleasure of one's first ball-dress, of the young man's brand-new suit? And there were brand-new suits and to spare, check tweed, blue serge, boating flannels; shoes, too, and boots from the Burlington Arcade, ties and socks from Beale and Inman's.

It was like a trousseau.

As he unpacked he whistled. Whistled a tune that was young in the sixties—"Champagne Charley," no less.

Then he dressed, vigorously digging his head into a striped shirt, donning a purple tie, purple socks, and a grey tweed suit of excellent cut.

All his movements were feverish, light, rapid. He did not seem to notice the details of the room around him; he seemed skimming along the surface of things in a hurry to get to some goal of pleasure. Flushed and bright-eyed, he scarcely looked fifty now, yet, despite this reduction in age, his general get-up had a touch of the raffish. Purple socks and ties are a bit off at fifty; a straw "boater" does not reduce the effect, nor do tan shoes.

But Simon was quite satisfied with himself.

Still whistling, he bundled his old things away in a drawer and left the other things lying about for the servants to put away, and sat down on[Pg 54] the side of the bed with the wallet in his hands.

He opened it and turned the notes out on the quilt. The gorgeous bundle to "bust" or do what he liked with held him in its thrall as he turned over the contents, not counting the amount, but just reviewing the notes and the huge sums on most of them.

Heavens! What a delight even in a dream! To be young and absolutely free from all restraint, free from all ties, unconscious of relatives, unconscious of everything but immediate surroundings, with virginal appetites and desires and countless sovereigns to meet them with. Dangling his heels, and with his straw hat beside him, he gloated on his treasure; then, picking out three ten-pound notes and putting the remainder in the wallet, he locked the wallet away in his portmanteau and put the key under the wardrobe.

Then, leaving his room, he came downstairs with his straw hat on the back of his head and a smile for a pretty chambermaid who passed him coming up.

The girl laughed and glanced back, but whether she was laughing at or with him it would be hard to say. Chambermaids have strange tastes.

It was in the hall that he met Moxon, senior partner in Plunder's, the great bill-discounting firm; a tall man, serious of face and manner.

"Why, God bless my soul, Pettigrew!" cried Moxon, "I scarcely knew you."

"You have the advantage of me, old cock," replied Simon airily, "for I'm —— if I ever met you before."

&qu............
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