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.
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 affection 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 his wife, 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...
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