Constance sat in the gathering darkness, Adam’s letter in her hand. She glanced at it again, although she had read it so often that she knew the words by heart.I am bound for Paris to paint and to see a bit of the world. There seems no point in delay now. Adam.Her eyes welled up with tears. How could he have left so suddenly? She shivered at the finality of his message.There was a tap at the door, and Josh edged into the room.“You’ve let the fire go out,” was all he said as he busied himself at the fireplace. Having coaxed the fire into life again, he sat down and pulled a large handkerchief from his breast pocket, offering it to her. “There’s no use in crying over . . .” He stopped and reddened.“Spilt milk?” Constance’s voice was muffled. “Say it, Josh. You and Kirsty think I’ve driven Adam away, don’t you? That I’ve made a mistake, and it’s all my fault!”Josh didn’t reply at once.“I’ll light the lamps. It’s dark in here,” he said eventually. His pleasant face was serious as he talked for a few moments about practical things, recommending strong, sweet tea. “It’s fine when you’ve had a bit of a shock.” “Thank you, Josh.” Constance’s voice was faint as she stared into the fire.“He left letters with Miss Downie for Kirsty and me,” Josh said as they drank their tea. “Just saying he’d be in touch when he got settled, and asking Kirsty to take a letter to his mother. She’s gone over there now, and said to tell you that she won’t be back tonight.”Constance remembered how stricken Kirsty’s face had been when she had arrived with Josh, looking for Adam, only to be told that he’d departed. “Kirsty blames me,” she said now, quietly. “You blame me, too, don’t you?”Josh reached over and took her hand.“There’s no blame in this for anyone,” was his reply. “Adam needs to do this right now. If he stayed here, he was going to get stale, to lose the will to succeed. Perhaps he felt he couldn’t delay a moment longer.” Constance looked at the letter in her lap, then screwed it up and tossed it on the fire. ****Adam awoke with a start. Sleep had swept away the memory of his long journey and his arrival in Paris, and for a few moments he didn’t know where he was. The brightness of morning light against the white walls of his room hurt his eyes. Outside could be heard the rattle of a cart, and through the open window drifted a pleasant aroma. He closed his eyes again and inhaled deeply.As he lay there, in this new world that had already enchanted him, he recalled the wonder he had felt as he and Rhuari had left the noise and bustle of the great station, and had made their way up the longest hill he’d ever climbed, taking it in turn to heft his suitcase on to their shoulders.Montmartre was a world apart, with its pastel-washed houses, some ivy-clad with shuttered windows that lent an air of mystery. The streets were narrow, cobbled and winding upwards, and here and there lay pretty squares fringed in green, with people taking their ease outside cafs or under the trees. This was an artists’ place. They were to be found sketching and painting, it seemed, in every corner.