TONY BICKET, replete, was in vein that fine afternoon; his balloons left him freely, and he started for home in the mood of a conqueror. Victorine, too, had colour in her cheeks. She requited the story of his afternoon with the story of hers. A false tale for a true--no word of Danby & Winter, the gentleman with the sliding smile, of the Grand Marnier, or 'the altogether.' She had no compunction. It was her secret, her surprise; if, by sitting in or out of 'the altogether,' not yet decided, she could make their passagemoney--well, she should tell him she had won it on a horse. That night she asked:
"Am I so very thin, Tony?" more than once. "I do so want to get fat."
Bicket, still troubled that she had not shared that lunch, patted her tenderly, and said he would soon have her as fat as butter--he did not explain how.
They dreamed together of blue butterflies, and awoke to chilly gaslight and a breakfast of cocoa and bread-andbutter. Fog! Bicket was swallowed up before the eyes of Victorine ten yards from the door. She returned to the bedroom with anger in her heart. Who would buy balloons in a fog? She would do anything rather than let Tony go on standing out there all the choking days! Undressing again, she washed herself intensively, in case--! She had not long finished when her landlady announced the presence of a messenger boy. He bore an enormous parcel entitled "Mr. Bicket."