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6

ordered ; and there ended the trial of the waistcoat, with entire satisfaction to the owner.

Into that coveted pocket he put the cheque ; and then, as he stood musing, his eye happened to fall on his ivory cardcase, and some loose cards bearing the words

MR. JOHN R. CUNLIFF.' He gathered the cards up into the case, and put that with the cheque in his new pocket.

One thought leading to another, he began to hunt for some plain cards and a less showy case ; and having found both, he dropped them carelessly into his coat-pocket. He looked at his watch and spoke aloud

* Two hours yet! They will pass ! But it isn't easy to believe it.'

A spasm of disgust of his own voice drove him to silence, and to the study of the map of the Continent, which hung over the back of a chair in a corner. This interested him. So much so, that he began to make memoranda in pencil, partly from the map, partly from a Murray's Handbook. And thus, and by beginning to sort the papers taken from his pocket-a week's accumulation—while casting a sort of halfcomic, half-helpless look at the medley in his desk, and instituting an auto-da-with a wax taper for stake, he whiled away another hour.

Then he could no longer engage in any occupation. He could read nothing; look at neither plants, pictures, nor photographs. He could not sit still at the table, nor stand still at the window, whither he went determined to watch the doings of the world without, while comfortably secure the world could not watch his doings within.

To and fro, like a wild beast in his cage, he moved. And, like the beast, seemed to take a desperate pleasure in feeling the bars, by always touching with his foot as he reached it the touch being very like a kick—the skirting-board that bounded his walks.

* This infernal hot sun! How hot it is !' he once exclaimed, and drew down the blinds. And then, on his next coming to the spot, he drew them up again, and with a change in his manner and aspect, 'Somehow, one always needs light in this queer world. And I'm a pretty fellow, to have the impudence to say so, just now. Well! Only forty minutes more to the

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time when the postman generally makes his rounds. I can fix him to a nicety. I'll bet he's here within the thirty-seven and the forty-two-that's giving him five minutes' grace. Yes, and what'll

you

bet he brings you ?' Silent, John Cunliff? Yes, he is absolutely silent. The door opens.

The servant enters on tiptoe with a confidential smirk.

' I saw Mr. Arnold coming'

'Not at home! Didn't I say so ? 'almost gasped Cunliff below his breath.

“Yes, sir,' answered the frightened man. . But, sir, I thought I'd run up and tell you before he spoke

'Quick then!'

The servant hurried out; a little too fast, it seemed, for presently he was heard apologising. Then, as Cunliff advanced to shut the door, he met at the threshold, Mr. Arnold, with his brown, healthy vigorous face, volunteer garb, and a superb new rifle in his hand.

Cunliff, how are you? I found the door open—the hall empty; so I thought I wouldn't stand on ceremony.'

Delighted, I'm sure! But you haven't enlisted—taken the Queen's pay

for life, have you a ?' "Oh, the rifle and uniform! Just fresh from Wimbledonon my way home. Private match. Such an exciting onesuch a scene ! We were done for when they told me to go in and lose, for to go in and win was simply impossible. Cunliff, old fellow, I did it! I won!'

Mr. Arnold was a tall, robust man, who found it only a sort of profitable and honourable recreation to guide a lucrative business, and become a popular M.P., and who was therefore able to devote the serious business part of his life, with all its responsibilities, to volunteering and manly sports. He was the crack shot of his corps.

To Cunliff's extreme discomfort, Mr. Arnold began to give, in fuller detail, a glowing, almost boyish recital of his triumphs that morning, when he had won the superb Mountstorm rifle he carried in his hand, after a most critical and exciting contest. He finished by saying :

* But I'll tell you what really did please me. When the thing was done-and, by Jove, I wish you had only heard the shout, and felt the grab, as I was carried off my legs, in spite of most energetic remonstrances of tịst and foot-that Lord Bullyblow, as we used to call him at school-Don't you remember him? Why you polished him off after half an hour's struggle, having previously very kindly disposed of me.'

'I remember,' said Cunliff, with a laugh.

· Well; though he and I always hated one another as boys, and though he's now a furious Tory, and I—'

“Am now a bitter Radical.'

* Perhaps-perhaps net. Well, he was one of the most uproarious. He's left his mark, I can tell you, on my right thigh, with his tremendous grip. I like that, and honour the fellow now, though I held him only as a snob before. But, I say, Canliff, what's the matter with

you

?' Glad to see his chill responses growirg effective at last, Cunliff said :

. Then you don't know ?' "What?'

'That I'm off this evening to the Continent--that is, if certain preliminaries are made easy for me. Travel's expensive, and.: For how long ? ' • Can't say. Most likely a year or two.'

Mr. Arnold gave a low whistle, and began to look so much concerned that Cunliff wondered.

'Haven't heard worse news, old fellow, for a good while. I didn't come to tell you all this bosh. Don't you give me credit for being such an ass. No, I came to ask you, had enough of this kind of life, a very arduous one, I should imagine; and are you willing, say only for the novelty of it, to try another?'

And that is ? '
• Politics.'
John Cunliff shook his head, and laughed, as he replied

· Politics don't interest me. Not now, at least. What do I care which side is in or ont, when I see both sides are substantially the same ? Wait tiil the American is over,

and then let's see. If the North wins, there'll be a tremendous shaking of the dry bones all over the world sooner or later, * and then, perhaps-'

And then, where shall we be if we don't prepare beforehand ?'

have you

war

* Written during the earlier portion of the great struggle.

• Who are the we?'
• The Independent Liberals.'

Independent ? Yes, so independent that they can never, by any chance, be brought into working union against the enemy. A mere mob of sharpshooters--not a disciplined corps. However, that's not my reason for keeping aloof.'

And what is your reason ?

* Arnold, you know very well that, apart from yourself and a few men like you, there isn't in the whole House of Commons, just now, a particle of earnest faith in any one great or good thing, unless it be in that supremely good thing, the English gentleman, sublimated by squirearchy, and by an undying devotion to game-laws.'

“Grant all that, and then? Do you think that if I am in earnest, and if there may be a few others also in earnest, we ought to be left alone-a prey to the Philistines ? '

Hang it, Arnold ! you come too close. And, besides, I haven't time even to think to-day.'

Well, it may give you a twinge or two—I hope most heartily it may--to know that I came to offer you one of the nicest boroughs in England—a place where, if you once get in, they'll never turn you out, nor make you bleed profusely, either, , every

time
you

must be re-elected.' Seriously? Seriously. And if you think our long-standing acquaintance justifies the request, pray pause. I'll say no more, but wait till to-morrow to see whether you go or stay. If you stay, I shall believe the House will obtain a man who can, if he pleases, delight it with his chastened and vigorous eloquence, and yet at the same time obtain and retain the hearts of the people by a breadth of sympathy rare among politicians. The want of our time is a union between the unspoiled but also untrained instincts of the many with the culture, knowledge, and experience of the few.'

It was impossible for Cunliff to listen unmoved. At first he thought his friend was speaking so wildly that he asked himself if his speech were not a bitter jest. But he knew why Arnold said these things. He saw in Cunliff not the man of to-day, but the man of the debating club, and of the solitary walk, and of the students' oil and lamp' of Oxford. Besides, Arnold's tone and manner, so light and conversational, could not prevent Cunliff from understanding they were the ring of true metal; the man's heart was in his words.

6

It was

Cunlift's face flushed with pleasure and surprise. pleasant for the moment to find that if he had forgotten what might have once been supposed to be his true self, others had not. That was his feeling just for a moment; and then a shadow swept across the face that made Arnold unconsciously turn to see if anything was passing the windows, and darkening them.

But the cloud was from within, not from without. With an emotion he did not for once attempt to hide, and which, from its infrequency, was only the more striking to the observer, he said, as he shook his friend cordially by the hand:

* You are partial. I do not deserve-I could not justify that—that which you say of me.

Even the little good you knew of me at college, and which you remember so generously now, has, I fear, died out. The soil was poor, perhaps, and so the showy sprouts have dwindled in the sun. However, that I do value your friendship and good opinion, let me show by saying I will do what you ask.' "You will ? You'll think it over ? Even now,

before you commit yourself to anything else ? ' 'I will.'

Thanks! Good-bye! Stop, Cunliff; do you know people are talking about you and Mrs. Rhys?'

Damn people!" "Hem !' Let them talk-the idiots !! That's very well for you, but-' Of course, I didn't mean to be selfish.' “Of course, of course. And I know there's nothing in it, or I should fight shy of this talk.'

Nothing in the world. I am bound to say that for the lady's sake.

The men looked at each other, shook hands, and parted.

'He'll know all, I suppose, to-morrow,' was Cunliff's secret comment on this. Pleasant!'

He looked at his watch and started. Only ten minutes now. Ten. The postman was due in that time. Could he do better than spend the brief interval in weighing Arnold's proposal ? He felt more disturbed about it than he could quite understand. He took up his waiting place. It was the top step of the conservatory. From thence his eye commanded just a few yards of the open space across which the postman must pass. He never moved till he saw the man, but leaned his back against the lintel of the door, and drew out a cigar,

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