The Tempting of Tavernake
I.26. A Crisis
Pritchard was the first visitor who had ever found his way into Tavernake's lodgings. It
was barely eight o'clock on the same morning. Tavernake, hollow-eyed and bewildered,
sat up upon the sofa and gazed across the room.
"Pritchard!" he exclaimed. "Why, what do you want?"
Pritchard laid his hat and gloves upon the table. Already his first swift glance had taken
in the details of the little apartment. The overcoat and hat which Tavernake had worn the
night before lay by his side. The table was still arranged for some meal of the previous
day. Apart from these things, a single glance assured him that Tavernake had not been to
Pritchard drew up an easy-chair and seated himself deliberately.
"My young friend," he announced, "I have come to the conclusion that you need some
Tavernake rose to his feet. His own reflection in the looking-glass startled him. His hair
was crumpled, his tie undone, the marks of his night of agony were all too apparent. He
felt himself at a disadvantage.
"How did you find me out?" he asked. "I never gave you my address."
"Even in this country, with a little help," he said, "those things are easy enough. I made
up my mind that this morning would be to some extent a crisis with you. You know,
Tavernake, I am not a man who says much, but you are the right sort. You've been in
with me twice when I should have missed you if you hadn't been there."
Tavernake seemed to have lost the power of speech. He had relapsed again into his place
upon the sofa. He simply waited.
"How in the name of mischief," Pritchard continued, impressively, "you came to be
mixed up in the lives of this amiable trio, I cannot imagine! I am not saying a word
against Miss Beatrice, mind. All that surprises me is that you and she should ever have
come together, or, having come together, that you should ever have exchanged a word.
You see, I am here to speak plain truths. You are, I take it, a good sample of the hard,
stubborn, middle-class Briton. These three people of whom I have spoken, belong--Miss
Beatrice, perhaps, by force of circumstances--but still they do belong to the land of
Bohemia. However, when one has got over the surprise of finding you on intimate terms
with Miss Beatrice, there comes a more amazing thing. You, with hard common sense