'No, no. They sold up everything and let the flat. He's in lodgings somewhere or other. I'm not quite intimate enough with him to go and see him under the circumstances. But I'm surprised you know nothing about it.'
'I haven't seen much of them this year. Reardon--well, I'm afraid he hasn't very much of the virtue you claim for yourself. It rather annoys him to see me going ahead.'
'Really? His character never struck me in that way.'
'You haven't come enough in contact with him. At all events, I can't explain his change of manner in any other way. But I'm sorry for him; I am, indeed. At a hospital? I suppose Carter has given him the old job again?'
'Don't know. Biffen doesn't talk very freely about it; there's a good deal of delicacy in Biffen, you know. A thoroughly good-hearted fellow. And so is Reardon, I believe, though no doubt he has his weaknesses.'
'Oh, an excellent fellow! But weakness isn't the word. Why, I foresaw all this from the very beginning. The first hour's talk I ever had with him was enough to convince me that he'd never hold his own. But he really believed that the future was clear before him; he imagined he'd go on getting more and more for his books. An extraordinary thing that that girl had such faith in him!'
They parted soon after this, and Milvain went homeward, musing upon what he had heard. It was his purpose to spend the whole evening on some work which pressed for completion, but he found an unusual difficulty in settling to it. About eight o'clock he gave up the effort, arrayed himself in the costume of black and white, and journeyed to Westbourne Park, where his destination was the house of Mrs Edmund Yule. Of the servant who opened to him he inquired if Mrs Yule was at home, and received an answer in the affirmative.
'Then please to give my name, and ask if Mrs Yule can see me.'