As Adam sat down on the side of the bed, his mother looked up, startled. Then, eyes shining, she put out her hand and touched his cheek.“Mither!” He took her hand, blue-veined, almost translucent in its fragility.There was a brief silence, broken by a bustling Kirsty who arrived with a steaming drink for the invalid.“Time for yer beef tea, Mither. Now, tak’ it nice and slow,” she ordered, plumping herself down beside Adam. “Mither’s getting stronger every day, and her appetite’s back. Thae fresh eggs Aunt Jenny brocht are nearly done . . .” A look of alarm flitted over her mother’s face, and Kirsty patted her arm. “But Sir Hugh sent a man ower wi’ another hamper this mornin’.“The kindness o’ that man!” She addressed Adam. “Sent his ain doctor tae see tae Mither. He’s in here every ither day!”Kirsty went back into the kitchen to start preparing her father’s dinner, tossing a warning over her shoulder.“Dinnae be tirin’ Mither oot, Adam. The doctor says she must rest.”The invalid turned to him.“I cannae get ower ye paintin’ these pictures o’ the yairds and the river ordinary things, things we see every day and folk payin’ a’ that money for them!” She tapped the catalogue. “Mair money than Faither could get for months o’ hard work.”There was the faintest flush of colour in her cheeks, and her eyes shone with excitement.“But ye’re an artist a real artist. I always knew it, son.”Her pride in him warmed Adam’s heart.“I can do better, Mither, I know I can. There’s a lot of work ahead o’ me yet.”They talked about the money he had managed to share with his parents.“It’s not much, but it’s a start,” he said.“Yer faither didnae want tae tak’ it at first, but Kirsty gave him a right dressin’ down. She’s a terrible lassie for talkin’ back tae him.”Adam felt laughter bubbling up inside him at the thought.“He thanked me, Mither. Oh, it was a wee bit grudging, right enough. But I was glad to think he was comin’ round a wee bit.”“He got a bad fright when I took no’ well, Adam. Sometimes it tak’s somethin’ like that . . .”Her voice petered out, and she suddenly looked frail again.“I think I could sleep now,” was all she said, smiling up at Adam.“I’ll away, then, but I’ll be back soon, Mither.”She nodded, and closed her eyes.Adam sat by the big black range in the kitchen, warming his hands.His thoughts strayed to that awful night. When Sir Hugh had brought them into the cramped kitchen the fire had been out and his mother, her apron awry, lay slumped on the recessed bed, Aunt Jenny crying over her and trying to rouse her from unconsciousness. There was still no sign of the doctor who had been summoned. Thomas’s rage had turned to despair, and gathering his wife’s limp body into his arms, he’d willed her to life, his voice broken by something that sounded like a sob. It had been Sir Hugh Glenavon who had calmed him at last, placing his arm round his shoulders, his voice quiet and urgent. He had calmed them all, in fact, staying into the small hours with them, then returning in the morning with his own personal physician. Adam shivered at the memory of it all. That night, the only thought in his mind had been his mother. Nothing else had mattered not Constance, nor the art school. For he had realised that he could lose the dearest thing of all . . .“Whit’s the news, then, Adam? Is Miss Constance managin’? How’s Josh?” Kirsty’s voice made Adam jump.“What? Sorry, Kirsty, l was miles away.”“She is gettin’ better, Adam. And Faither’s a changed man! He sits in there wi’ her when he’s had his dinner, an’ they talk.”He stared at her.“Talk? What about?”“Dinnae ken he shuts the door o’er. But sometimes I hear her laughin’.”There was a silence as Adam digested this information.“I think it’s down tae Sir Hugh,” his sister said at last. “He comes by noo an’ then, though no’ often, mind, for he’s a busy man. But he and Faither have long talks. And he mak’s sure that Mither has the best o’ care. His ain doctor still comes tae her, an’ then there’s the hampers.”“It’s true what they say, then.” His voice was quiet. “Sir Hugh Glenavon is a great man.”Head down against the biting wind, Adam hurried through the darkening streets of the East End. For weeks after his mother’s sudden collapse he had been unable to work, or even heed Peregrine Scoular’s admonitions. Now, as she recovered, a new ambition was growing in his mind.“Paris . . . Montmartre.” He murmured the words aloud as he hurried towards his lodgings. His plan was to go and paint there, to grow as an artist, to live the real bohemian life. Once again, he mentally counted the money he had made by the sale of his paintings. He smiled at the thought of the gift he’d been able to hand to his parents, which had left him just enough to get to Paris, and to pay his way until he’d sold some of his work.At this thought he no longer felt the winter chill that struck at him through his threadbare jacket. He quickened his step . . .