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heartily, and was even good enough to order it,
taking care that it should be a sort of special
dinner in a special room, and with special wine,
which he looked after, and perhaps with special
charges, which he did not. The special wine,
which came up all powdered with sawdust, and
was carried tenderly, like a fire-arm that might
"go off" at any second, mounted softly into Mr.
Tilney's cheeks and Roman features, and coloured
them finely. Under the light, now that the stiff
hat was off, Mr. Tillotson saw that he was a
"youngish" sexagenarian, with very thin hair
and a blue tie speckled over with "pigeon's
eggs," and that his manner, though in company
with some oddities, was that of a gentleman. He
was pleasant company, and kept up an animated,
if not conversation, at least commentary, on life
generally for that only bounded the range of his
subjects.

"After all, one's own fireside," continued Mr.
Tilney, " what is there comes near that? You
try the one thing and you try the other thing
the courts and the campsand you come back to
it. I am no saint, and, thank God, have never
set up to be pious; but Home, and the smiling
what-d'ye-call-'ems? that is the true charm.
You put yourself into that evening train at the
call of business, and I dare say were looking back
at every stationI don't wondera cold night
in a railway carriage after the cheerful hearth
and the bright faces? Come now?"

Something like a twitch passed over Mr.
Tillotson's face. "I am sorry," he said, "that
such a pleasant picture has no existence for me.
I have left a fireside indeed behind me, but it is
a solitary, miserable one, and to that I must
return. I have never been married, and see nothing
to tempt me ever to marry."

"I beg your pardon. I do, indeed, from my
soul," said the other, making a glass of the brown
sherry return back to the table when half way
on its journey. "I did not mean to touch on
anything sore. I did not, indeed. No, no, God
forbid."

"No, of course not," said Mr. Tillotson, sadly.
"Naturally, how could you know?"

"There it is!" said Mr. Tilney. "Naturally,
how should I know? But I ought to have known.
Bless me, twenty years ago, when I was with
Macgregor and Foley and Billy the Middy, as
we called himthat is, his late Majesty King
"Williamthey would have taught me better than
that. Foley, who was major under Paget
Dawson, said often and often, 'Dammy, sir, assume
that every man has done something to be ashamed
of. Assume that in every boot there's a brace of
corns.'"

But from the date of this discovery Mr. Tilney
began to look at his neighbour as if quite another
Mr. Tillotson had come to sit down there and
was entertaining him with the brown sherry.
His manner became softer and more deferential,
and he checked his own tendencies to soliloquy
to a surprising degree.

"But if you talk of rubs and trials," he went
on, "we all catch them. Not a doubt of it. Man
never can, but always must be, blestfine line
that. God knows I have had my sharestruggle,
struggle, struggle, from that high," and he put
his hand on the seat of a chair beside him. "The
very year his Majesty, formerly the Sailor Dook,
died, they got me a little place about the palace,
a trifling thing; and what d'ye think, in before
he was a year gone, they took it from me,
abolished it, sir! was that dishonouring his remains!
And the dean up there will tell you in his pulpit
this is all good for us. Sir, at this moment I
might have my hand on the banisters of the
palace stairsI might be sitting in my purple
and linen, with the rest of them, instead of," he
added bitterly, "fighting the battle of life, sir,
in a hole-and-corner place like this!"

Mr. Tillotson answered him gently and
impassionately.

"We have all to bear these thingsall. If
it is any comfort to you, you may know that there
are many whose miseries are greater, and who
wouldoh how joyfully!welcome the
disappointments of money, and place, and prosperity,
in the room of the agonies of mind and con-
science. Compared with such," he went on,
earnestly, "believe me, you are supremely happy.
You have your family, your children. You have
not your fireside crowded with black shadows
the haunting spectres of the pastthat drive
you to see in business and occupation some sort
of distraction, but which pursue you wherever
you go. Ah, think what is a little place abolished
beside this!"

Mr. Tilney filled his glass again.

"You put it excellently, my dear sir, and with
great feeling. As you say, what is a place?
it is the shock, the wound, the wound, sir. After
years of devotion to be cut adrift. It was the
unkindnesssometimes of nights it comes on
mejust as you describe, at the foot of the
bed. Ah, had I courted my Maker, Tillotson,
with one three-quarters of the devotion with
which I courted my king, hehe" (he paused
to recover the quotation)—"he wouldn't have
treated me in this sort of way. No, no, not he."
After a pause, "You spoke of business, I think?"
Then Mr. Tilney, well back in his chair, with his
armpits over the knobs, said, frankly, "Now,
what can we do for you? I should be glad to
tell you anything and everything."

Mr. Tillotson then disclosed the object of his
coming down to that decaying country town.
"Of course you have seen in the Times the
Foncier Capital Company. They are doing
wonderfully, and are spreading their business.
They want to work up the country districts. I
myself am a director, and am very deep in it, as
they call it. In short, we are going to have a
branch here. There is no need to make a
mystery or secret about it, and so I tell you.
We are determined to make the experiment, at
all events. Now, what do you think of the
prospect?"

"Well," said Mr. Tilney, filling out some

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