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The Magician few weeks later for her marriage, and it would be simpler to despatch them all from one place. Susie went out. At the door it occurred to her to ask the concierge if she knew where Margaret had gone that morning. 'Parfaitement, Mademoiselle,' answered the old woman. 'I heard her tell the coachman to go to the British Consulate.' The last doubt was leaving Susie. She went to the dressmaker and there discovered that by Margaret's order the boxes containing her things had gone on the previous day to the luggage office of the Gare du Nord. 'I hope you didn't let them go till your bill was paid,' said Susie lightly, as though in jest. The dressmaker laughed. 'Mademoiselle paid for everything two or three days ago.' With indignation, Susie realised that Margaret had not only taken away the trousseau bought for her marriage with Arthur; but, since she was herself penniless, had paid for it with the money which he had generously given her. Susie drove then to Mrs Bloomfield, who at once reproached her for not coming to see her. 'I'm sorry, but I've been exceedingly busy, and I knew that Margaret was looking after you.' 'I've not seen Margaret for three weeks,' said the invalid. 'Haven't you? I thought she dropped in quite often.' Susie spoke as though the matter were of no importance. She asked herself now where Margaret could have spent those afternoons. By a great effort she forced herself to speak of casual things with the garrulous old lady long enough to make her visit seem natural. On leaving her, she went to the Consulate, and her last doubt was dissipated. Then nothing remained but to go home and wait for Arthur. Her first impulse had been to see Dr Porhoet and ask for his advice; but, even if he offered to come back with her to the studio, his presence would be useless. She must see Arthur by himself. Her heart was wrung as she thought of the man's agony when he knew the truth. She had confessed to herself long before that she loved him passionately, and it seemed intolerable that she of all persons must bear him this great blow. She sat in the studio, counting the minutes, and thought with a bitter smile that his eagerness to see Margaret would make him punctual. She had eaten nothing since the petit dejeuner of the morning, and she was faint with hunger. But she had not the heart to make herself tea. At last he came. He entered joyfully and looked around. 'Is Margaret not here yet?' he asked, with surprise. 'Won't you sit down?' He did not notice that her voice was strange, nor that she kept her eyes averted. 'How lazy you are,' he cried. 'You haven't got the tea.' 'Mr Burdon, I have something to say to you. It will cause you very great pain.' He observed now the hoarseness of her tone. He sprang to his feet, and a thousand fancies flashed across his brain. Something horrible had happened to Margaret. She was ill. His terror was so great that he could not 10


The Magician  
The Magician  

W. Somerset Maugham