Business is business. Paul had a message to deliver to the cook respecting “two fried, coffee, and one stale.” He delivered it and returned. Jeanne was still sobbing.

“Ah, Miss Jeanne,” cried Paul, stricken, “what is the matter? What is it? Why do you weep?”

“The patron,” sobbed Jeanne. “He—”

“My angel,” said Paul, “he is a pig.”

This was perfectly true. No conscientious judge of character could have denied that Paul had hit the bull’s eye. Bredin was a pig. He looked like a pig; he ate like a pig; he grunted like a pig. He had the lavish embonpoint of a pig. Also a porcine soul. If you had tied a bit of blue ribbon round his neck you could have won prizes with him at a show.

Paul’s eyes flashed with fury. “I will slap him in the eye,” he roared.

“He called me a tortoise.”

“And kick him in the stomach,” added Paul.

Jeanne’s sobs were running on second speed now. The anguish was diminishing. Paul took advantage of the improved conditions to slide an arm part of the way round her waist. In two minutes he had said as much as the ordinary man could have worked off in ten. All good stuff, too. No padding.

Jeanne’s face rose from her apron like a full moon. She was too astounded to be angry.

Paul continued to babble. Jeanne looked at him with growing wrath. That she, who received daily the affectionate badinage of gentlemen in bowler hats and check suits, who had once been invited to the White City by a solicitor’s clerk, should be addressed in this way by a waiter! It was too much. She threw off his hand.

“Wretched little man!” she cried, stamping angrily.

“My angel!” protested Paul.

Jeanne uttered a scornful laugh.

“You!” she said.

There are few more withering remarks than “You!” spoken in a certain way. Jeanne spoke it in just that way.

Paul wilted.

“On eighteen shillings a week,” went on Jeanne, satirically, “you would support a wife, yes? Why—”

Paul recovered himself. He had an opening now, and proceeded to use it.

“Listen,” he said. “At present, yes, it is true, I earn but eighteen shillings a week, but it will not always be so, no. I am not only a waiter. I am also an artist. I have painted a great picture. For a whole year I have worked, and now it is ready. I will sell it, and then, my angel—?”

Jeanne’s face had lost some of its scorn. She was listening with some respect. “A picture?” she said, thoughtfully. “There is money in pictures.”

For the first time Paul was glad that his arm was no longer round her waist. To do justice to the great work he needed both hands for purposes of gesticulation.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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