The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 37

All morning Adam had felt as if the letter had been burning a hole in his pocket. It had arrived just as he was leaving for art school, and he hadn’t had a moment on his own since then. On a break between classes, he sought out the quietness of the library and pulled the missive from his pocket. For a moment or two, he savoured the thrill of anticipation, turning the envelope over in his hands. It was postmarked Paris.“Good old Rhuari,” he murmured, smiling to himself. Rhuari Mathison, another of Peregrine’s prize pupils, had taken himself off to Paris a few months before, promising to write once he’d got the feel of the place. He hadn’t been a close friend, and Adam had doubted that he would keep his promise, so the letter came as something of a surprise.Rhuari was having a wonderful time. Adam read his letter over again and again, absorbing every detail of descriptions of Montmartre, of the artists he’d met, of the relaxed lifestyle in Paris.For an artist, this is the place to be, Rhuari had written. Everywhere you turn there’s inspiration. It’s a different world.Adam lingered over the letter so long that he arrived late at one of Peregrine’s classes, incurring his teacher’s wrath and one of his more memorable dramatic performances.“He hates the winter, and I think he’s bored,” Josh whispered once the heat had died down and Peregrine had left the room for his usual smoke. “Always becomes melodramatic when he gets bored.”Adam chuckled. He almost told his friend about the letter, but something stopped him. Perhaps he would let Josh read it later. Meanwhile, he placed it carefully into the box where he kept his savings.The days that followed saw him counting them again and again, calculating whether he might have enough to give him a start in Paris, if the notion so took him. It offset the slight feeling of boredom that was overtaking Josh and himself as well as Peregrine Scoular.“Nothing but classes, and finishing off commissions that we got through the exhibition.” Josh sighed one evening. “I need new ideas. It’s hard to get inspiration in the city in the dead of winter.”Adam nodded.“Maybe we’re feeling too comfortable. It’s a bad thing for an artist, being too comfortable . . .”Josh glanced at him.“We could speak to Peregrine about going back to Abbeylands. In the spring might be a good idea. Just think, the orchards would be in blossom . . .”Adam said nothing, but looked thoughtful. “I’m sure Constance would come,” Josh pressed on. “And it might help both of you.”Adam looked up sharply.“With what?”“With whatever ails the two of you. Anyone can see that you’re meant for each other, yet you’re hardly speaking. Have you quarrelled?”Adam stood up, having no wish to argue with his good-natured friend.“Rhuari Mathison had the right idea,” he said as he left the room. “I must let you read his letter.”Adam could not sleep. Paris still dominated his thoughts, but a jumble of reasons why he shouldn’t leave crowded into his mind. There, in the darkness, he tried to deal with them one by one.There was his mother’s illness. But, he assured himself, she was gathering her strength again, up and about, trying to send Aunt Jenny back to her job at Mr Anderson’s. Things would soon be back to normal again at home.And Constance. How long would she hold him at arm’s length? Was studying an excuse for turning away from him altogether? Instead, was the social gap between them too wide for her to bridge? He winced at the thought, and when sleep came to him at last, it was Constance he dreamed of, smiling up at him on the riverbank at Abbeylands.Next day, he encountered her in one of the narrow little passages leading to the library. Constance was leaving as he entered, and for a moment or two the confined space forced them so close together that he could feel her breath on his cheek. She stumbled slightly on the miniature staircase, her face flaming in discomfiture at Adam’s closeness. He steadied her by gripping her upper arms, and she flinched as if she’d been burned. “I’m all right, Adam. There’s no need to . . .”Her voice died away as their eyes met. “I miss you.” Adam could feel her trembling beneath his touch.She looked away.“How can you, Adam? We see each other every day, after all.”“Look at me, Constance.” His voice was suddenly rough. “You know fine well what I mean. You’re here, but you stand away from me. How can you do that, Constance? How can you?”


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