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ing his lordship, and that it Miss Wynches said most relooked like a crisis in the Near proachfully

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East. "Yes yes," said the old man, very kind kind . . . didn't catch your name," and Gaydon paused at the abruptness, and also looked round and saw Miss Wynches.

It was her opportunity and she took it. Nor have I ever seen her look so audaciously unconscious as when she spoke, "You know Mr Gaydon, of course, God-pop," she began, "He's frightfully rising in your line, I mean politics.' "Yes, yes," said Lord Elkindale.

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"Of course he is, God-pop. It's too wicked of you to forget things. I believe I should be very angry if I was Mr Gaydon.

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"Quite quite," said Lord Elkindale, and then seemed to recollect something,-"He's not the man you're engaged to, is he? Tommy you always call him."

"Oh, no," said Miss Wynches, and looked round over her shoulder. "This is Tommy.

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"Perhaps it's constant association with you," said Miss Wynches amiably, and the Great Panjandrum allowed himself to smile before turning to Tommy again.

"You've not yet told me how you come to be here."

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Why, the fact is," said Tommy, who had for the first time since I knew him almost looked uncomfortable at hearing his praises sounded, "Stretford and I had a small bet about the date of the thing."

"When the insurgents would march?"

"Yes. I said Friday at latest, and Reftan Bey would be round to you this morning. Stretford gave 'em another fortnight."

"You knew better than Stretford," said Lord Elkindale in amazement.

Sir Adrian Stretford was the well-known Ambassador then at Vienna, and what he did not know of the Near East was not considered worth knowing.

"Well, I'm rather special on Macedonia," said Tommy modestly. "I happened to hear one or two details, which Stretford wouldn't accept, from some of the head-men there, who are friends of mine, and I knew you'd be wanting one of us by the end of the week."

"It was because Tommy was so positive about it," said Miss Wynches, as finely casual as ever, "that I got Lady Massenger to decoy you down. It's much nicer here than in the stuffy old F.O., and you'll both have much clearer brains to talk things over with."

Lord Elkindale's eyes had the gleam in them that I had noticed before, but this time it was apparently a friendly one. "It was very considerate of you, Penelope," he said. "But as a result of it you'll have to say goodbye to Mr Carr Atford for the next day or two."

"Never mind, God - pop," said Miss Wynches amiably, and Lord Elkindale gleamed again.

"I can't even congratulate you, I'm afraid," he said, "for if we fail, your young man will be the best-hated man in the country. I shall let 'em know that he's running the thing, not I."

"Oh, I daresay Tommy 'll pull you through," said Miss Wynches. "Going in?"

"I'm afraid we must," said Lord Elkindale. He turned to his hostess, whom I fancy he only that moment recollected, with a fine old-fashioned courtesy.

"I beg you to excuse me for retiring, Lady Massenger, and taking Mr Carr Atford with me. It is a matter of State importance, which only Mr Carr Atford can advise me upon." He bowed and led Tommy off, a mole hill beside mountain.

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"What a fantigue God-pop seems to be in," observed Miss Wynches to Lady Massenger.

"Oh yes," said that lady; "thank goodness Mr Atford was here. How clever of you to have to have managed it, Pen. Fancy Mr Atford advising Lord Elkindale, and being the only man who could do it."

I think she felt, as indeed we all did, that the apotheosis of Tommy as the saviour, so to speak, of his country was something that demanded our amazement, but she happened to address herself to Gaydon, who was nearest. He was almost to be excused for answering as he did.

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"Yes, he manages to hide his light under a bushel, doesn't he?"

Miss Wynches took it with her usual radiant cordiality. "But that is Tommy," she said. "It's so silly of him, of course. I shall have to break him of it when we're married. And now, while they're talking State secrets, would you like to play me a game of croquet?"

"I think," I said to Mrs Adling as she marched Gaydon off, he couldn't, I take it, refuse, "I think that last remark is the cruellest I ever heard, if it was intended."

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"It wasn't," said Mrs Adling. "That's where Pen's so brilliant. Like her god - parent. He didn't intend anything either."

"When he snubbed Gaydon, you mean? There was no collusion? He didn't do it by request?"

"Of course not. There wasn't time for the request. Besides, Pen wouldn't request."

"Then it was pure absentmindedness?"

Mrs Adling smiled reflectively for a moment. "I fancy, you know," she said, “that a man like Lord Elkin

dale, with his experience of his fellow-creatures, knows bounce when he sees it spots it

at once.'

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"And doesn't mind appearing absent-minded under the circumstances?" "Exactly."

"It was rather a happy revanche for Tommy," I said. "I should like to be sure that it was purely fortuitous."

Mrs Adling leant back in her chair. "Oh, we can't be," she said; "and I don't say, mind, that Pen mayn't have foreseen it," she smiled again. "Poor Mr Gaydon! What he must have felt when the great Pan didn't know him! I think he deserved it, though. He was so much too sure of what Pen meant by that phrase of hers."

"You mean- "I began. "This is Tommy," said Mrs Adling, mimicking.


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CURLING weather had come, and lasted long enough to make the unslacking outer world of Commerce wonder what was wrong with Scotland, whose business correspondence was gone all ajee, whose English cheques for days incredibly remained uncashed, whose industry seemed mysteriously suspended. "What's the matter? Is it drink?" impatient city houses asked by telegram, and got their first prompt answer at a cost of sixpence-"No, it's curling; nothing doing till a thaw."

A noble frost! The weathercocks were faithful to the North for weeks; by night the dome was strewn with shimmering hosts of brittle stars that seemed to crackle in the cold; the sun went down each afternoon empurpled by the weather; the bone-dry countryside was hard as tempered metal; and the highways tinkled underfoot like glass. Poor sheep, trembling in the fanks! birds chittering on unsheltered boughs! But strong landward men were happy in that weather. Schawfield was become a place where work was only for women, and their husbands played as in the glorious ancient days of mastery. Only the village baker, hoary himself as if with frost,

smashing the ice on his sponging-tubs, or cleaning his ovensole with a frozen scuffle, was compelled to his daily tasks by the appetites of men, which ever grow more exigent in sport and cold. The blacksmith threw aside his leathern apron, damped his fire, put a rubber ferrule on his timber leg, and spent his days upon the

ice. Heaven favoured Divvert with an epidemic of the mumps that closed his school. Merchant bodies balanced their books at nights; farmers, with their cattle steaming snug in byres, gave no glance at their fields from that first morning they had hurried past them behind a cart of curling-stones. Even Dr Cleghorn, on a Friday, dragged himself back to the study from the Whiggate Loch with anguish.

Sir Andrew curled, as the blacksmith said, like a man who had done it for a living all his days, and the Hunt was off so long as the wind was North. Norah and Maurice skated on the long, wide riverpool below the bridge. Sometimes, coming home at night, with a weariness that was like a balm to every bone, the baronet would stop, unseen, upon the bank and hear their merry voices echoing under the

which no green should ever come again, but beautiful, most intricate!

limey arch. They seemed to Occupy another world: he might have been a ghost, so distant did they seem from him, engrossed in young delights. The very night, o'erwhelming and contemplative, appeared to stand outside with him and murmur "Passing! passing!-passing!" He would go into Fancy Farm to a Spartan meal and a re--in creases of the plain, no

monstrant Aunt Amelia.

"Come back earlier to-night," she counselled him one morning; "Norah and I are expecting visitors." He was so keen upon his practice for a bonspiel that their interchange of comprehending glances quite escaped him, and it was like him that he should never ask who the visitors might be.

"Oh, I'll be home early," he assured her. "In any case you need not delay dinner."

"You can't stay curling after dark, at least," said Miss Amelia.

"Dear Aunt," said he, "there are such things as candles, and the weather looks like changing. I'm entirely in the hands of providence-and Paterson."

"Paterson?" she repeated on

a note of question.

"The eminent poacher," said Sir Andrew laughing, as he donned his curler's bonnet;

"he is skip of our rink to-day."

He walked to the loch; the weather looked like anything but change; John Frost had taken the universe in his hands and squeezed from it the final drop of moisture. In a windless air the woods seemed turned to phantom trees on

Old snow, drifted in the ditches, showed the tracks of birds and the devices of those eerie beasts that lope across the fields at midnight; a fine wild Arctic sentiment, a hint of chaos, and the chilled and puckered landscape of the moon was everywhere

longer flat, but showing dip and mound with purple shadows, in frozen little waterfalls and icy columns in below the banks. A scent, unnameable, of earth congealed, and rotten leaves, corrupt no longer, but all cleansed by the arresting and aseptic agent, gave to the day a tonic quality that made him feel omnipotent, and set him whistling like a boy.

The loch was in a fold of the foot-hills, hid behind a wood of sombre pines. As he walked between their naked columns with his footsteps deafened by the fallen needles, and while yet a good way off, he heard the booming of the ice, responsive to the channel-stones; the tiny glen appeared to hum as if its ribs were tightened cords plucked to some inner resonance by the jocund gods. A moment came to him there and then which seemed to concentrate the gladness of a yearan ecstasy that was like an inward ache, that rare and curious mood when we seem on the verge of knowing immortality while yet in our fleshy cells.

He shouted at this wizard portal of the spirit, like a boy again, half fearful of its lone

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