He spent a quarter of an hour in the place, and then came out again. Without mounting higher, he descended and recrossed the square to the house of the man who had lost the key.
"Can you tell me how much the rent is?" he asked.
The man mentioned a figure, the comparative lowness of which seemed accounted for by the character of the neighbourhood and the abominable state of unrepair of the place.
"Would it be possible to rent a single floor?"
The long-nosed man did not know; they might...
"Who are they ?"
The man gave 0leron the name of a firm of lawyers in Lincoln's Inn.
"You might mention my name--Barrett," he added.
Pressure of work prevented Oleron from going down to Lincoln's Inn that afternoon, but he went on the morrow, and was instantly offered the whole house as a purchase for fifty pounds down, the remainder of the purchase-money to remain on mortgage. It took him half an hour to disabuse the lawyer's mind of the idea that he wished anything 'more of the place than to rent a single floor of it. This made certain hums arid haws of a difference, and the lawyer was by no means certain that it lay within his power to do as 0leron suggested; but it was finally extracted from him that, provided the notice-boards were allowed to remain up, and that, provided it was agreed that in the event of the whole house letting, the arrangement should terminate automatically without further notice, something might be done. That the old place should suddenly let over his head seemed to Oleron the slightest of risks to take, and he promised a decision within a week. On the morrow he visited the house again, went through it from top to bottom, and then went home to his lodgings to take a bath.
He was immensely taken with that portion of the house he had already determined should be his own. Scraped clean and repainted, and with that old furniture of 0leron's grandmother's, it ought to be entirely charming. He went to the storage warehouse to refresh his memory of his half-forgotten belongings, and to take the measurements; and thence he went to a decorator's. He was very busy with his regular work, and could have wished that the notice-board had caught his attention either a few months earlier or else later in the year; but the quickest way would be to suspend work entirely until after his removal....
A fortnight later his first floor was painted throughout in a tender, eider-flower white, the paint was dry, and Oleron was in the middle of .his installation. He was animated, delighted; and he rubbed his hands as he polished and made disposals of his grandmother's effects--the tall lattice-parted china cupboard with its Derby and Mason and Spode, the large folding Sheraton table, the long, low bookshelves (he had had two of them "copied"'), the chairs, the Sheffield candlesticks, the riveted rose-bowls . These things he set against his newly painted eider-white walls--walls of wood panelled in the happiest proportions, and moulded and coffered to the low-seated window-recesses. in a mood of gaiety and rest that the builders of rooms no longer know. The ceilings were lofty, and faintly painted with an old pattern of stars; even the tapering mouldings of his iron fireplace were as delicately designed as jewellery; and 0leron walked about rubbing his hands, frequently stopping for the mere pleasure of the glimpses from white room to white room ....
"Charming, charming!" he said to himself. "I wonder what Elsie Bengough will think of this!"
He bought a bolt and a Yale .lock for his door, and shut off his quarters from the rest of the house. If he now wanted to read in bed, his book could be had for stepping into the next room. All the time, he thought how exceedingly lucky he was to get the place. He put up a hat-rack in the little square hall, and hung up his hats and caps and coats; and passers through the small triangular square late at night, looking up over the little serried row of wooden "To Let" hatchets, could see the light within Oleron's red blinds, or else the sudden darkening of one blind and the illumination of another, as Oleron, candlestick in hand, passed from room to room, making final settings of his furniture, or preparing to resume the work that his removal had interrupted.
The Beckoning Fair One -by- Oliver OnionsBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.