Chapter 41PHILIP walked down the Boulevard du Montparnasse. It was not at all like the Paris he had seen in the spring during his visit to do the accounts of the Hotel St. Georges--he thought already of that part of his life with a shudder--but reminded him of what he thought a provincial town must be. There was an easy- going air about it, and a sunny spaciousness which invited the mind to day-dreaming. The trimness of the trees, the vivid whiteness of the houses, the breadth, were very agreeable; and he felt himself already thoroughly at home. He sauntered along, staring at the people; there seemed an elegance about the most ordinary, workmen with their broad red sashes and their wide trousers, little soldiers in dingy, charming uniforms. He came presently to the Avenue de l'Observatoire, and he gave a sigh of pleasure at the magnificent, yet so graceful, vista. He came to the gardens of the Luxembourg: children were playing, nurses with long ribbons walked slowly two by two, busy men passed through with satchels under their arms, youths strangely dressed. The scene was formal and dainty; nature was arranged and ordered, but so exquisitely, that nature unordered and unarranged seemed barbaric. Philip was enchanted. It excited him to stand on that spot of which he had read so much; it was classic ground to him; and he felt the awe and the delight which some old don might feel when for the first time he looked on the smiling plain of Sparta.
As he wandered he chanced to see Miss Price sitting by herself on a bench. He hesitated, for he did not at that moment want to see anyone, and her uncouth way seemed out of place amid the happiness he felt around him; but he had divined her sensitiveness to affront, and since she had seen him thought it would be polite to speak to her.
"What are you doing here?" she said, as he came up.
"Enjoying myself. Aren't you?"
"Oh, I come here every day from four to five. I don't think one does any good if one works straight through."
"May I sit down for a minute?" he said.
"If you want to."
"That doesn't sound very cordial," he laughed.
"I'm not much of a one for saying pretty things."
Philip, a little disconcerted, was silent as he lit a cigarette.
"Did Clutton say anything about my work?" she asked suddenly.
"No, I don't think he did," said Philip.
"He's no good, you know. He thinks he's a genius, but he isn't. He's too lazy, for one thing. Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains. The only thing is to peg away. If one only makes up one's mind badly enough to do a thing one can't help doing it."
She spoke with a passionate strenuousness which was rather striking. She wore a sailor hat of black straw, a white blouse which was not quite clean, and a brown skirt. She had no gloves on, and her hands wanted washing. She was so unattractive that Philip wished he had not begun to talk to her. He could not make out whether she wanted him to stay or go.
"I'll do anything I can for you," she said all at once, without reference to anything that had gone before. "I know how hard it is."
"Thank you very much," said Philip, then in a moment: "Won't you come and have tea with me somewhere?"
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