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"PAUL!" cried a harsh, querulous voice
from behind the curtains of the bed in the
guest-chamber at Shipley vicarage. " Paul!
Where the devil-"

Then followed a string of oaths in
English, French, and Italian; not pretty
rose-water expletives, such as are occasionally
attributed in the pages of fashionable
novels to irresistible young guardsmen and
such-like curled darlings of the world.
There was no odour of rose-water about
these oaths. They were vile, fierce,
blasphemous phrases, borrowed from the
vocabulary of the ignorant and degraded.

Sir John Gale was the speaker. Sir John
Gale was impatient and angry. When that
was the case, Sir John Gale was apt to
express himself in the strongest, coarsest,
most ferocious language with which his
tongue was acquainted.

Presently the door opened, and Paul
came into the room. Paolo Paoli was a
Piedmontese. He was a short, thick, ugly,
middle-aged man, with grave, light-coloured
eyes, set under overhanging brows. He
had a shock of grizzled hair, and a broad
forehead, and his face was clean shaven.

Paul had been a courier, and in this
capacity had attracted the attention, and
won the favourable opinion, of Sir John
Gale. The latter had elevated Paul to the
post of confidential and personal attendant
on himself. A "confidential" attendant
might seem at first sight to be of small
value to Sir John, considering that he
never voluntarily made a confidence to any
human being. But there are involuntary
confidences which we all make daily and
hourly respecting ourselves. The recipient
of these in Sir John's case needed to be
staunch, patient, and discreet. Paul was
all three.

He entered the chamber, bearing in his
hand a tray covered with a napkin, on
which was placed a small basin of soup.

His master saluted him with a volley of
abuse for having delayed.

Paul very gravely set down the tray,
raised his master in the bed, supported his
back with pillows, threw a dressing-gown
over his shoulders, and then, pulling from
his waistcoat-pocket a large silver watch
attached to a black ribbon, said, "It is
time for your soup, sir."

Sir John tasted the soup, made a grimace
of disgust, and launched another volley of
oaths at Paul.

"This is uneatablebeastly! They have
put sage, or some damned thing into it.

"Very good soup, sir," replied Paul,
imperturbably. "No sage. I saw it made.
You eat it warm, sir. It will give strength.
Very good soup."

The convalescent continued to grumble
at every spoonful; but he swallowed the
savoury, nourishing broth to the last drop.
And then Paul removed the tray, mended
the fire, and proceeded to lay out his
master's clothes; for the invalid was to
leave his room to-day, for the first time
since his accident.

Sir John looked upward from among his
pillows to where the window gave a glimpse
of pale blue March sky, fretted by the
skeleton branches of the yet bare trees.

"It's a fine day, eh?" he asked.

"Yes, sir. Cold. You must be well
wrapped, sir."