Elsie returned to England in the spring, and Mildred wandered from boarding-house to boarding-house. She took a studio and spent a good deal of money on models, frames, and costumes. But nothing she did satisfied her, and, after various failures, she returned to Daveau's, convinced that she must improve her drawing. She was, moreover, determined to put her talent to the test of severe study.
'Afraid of what? there's nothing to be afraid of. You asked me just now if I believed in Daveau's, I didn't like to say; I had only just been introduced to you; but it seems to me that I know you better now... Daveau's is a curse. It is the sterilisation of art. You must give up Daveau's, and come and work here. 'I'm afraid it would make no difference.
She did not forget M. Daveau's black beard; she saw it and remembered it long afterwards. But she never could recall her impressions of the journey she only remembered that it had seemed a long while, and that she was very hungry when they arrived.
She got to the studio every morning at eight, she worked there till five. As she did not know how to employ her evenings, she took M. Daveau's advice and joined his night-class. For three months she bore the strain of these long days easily; but the fourth month pressed heavily upon her, and in the fifth month she was a mere mechanism.
He leaned across the table, and Mildred liked his brusque, but withal well-bred manner. She wondered what his pictures were like. At Daveau's only the names of the principal exhibitors at the Salon were known, and he had told her that he had not sent there for the last three years. He didn't care to send to the vulgar place more than he could help.
Though she never touched it, Miss Brand could not live without, a grand piano. 'What's the use? she'd say. 'I've only to open the score to remember to hear Rubenstein play the passage. When they were tout a fait bien installees, they had friends to dinner, and they were especially proud of M. Daveau's company. Mildred liked this large, stout man.