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poker when I went up to the fireplace to stir
the fire, but still pretended not to know him.

"Is this a cut?" said Mr. Drummle.

"Oh!" said I, poker in hand; "it's you, is
it? How do you do? I was wondering who it
was, who kept the fire off."

With that, I poked tremendously, and having
done so, planted myself side by side with Mr.
Drummle, my shoulders squared and my back to
the fire.

"You have just come down?" said Mr.
Drummle, edging me a little away with his

"Yes," said I, edging him a little away with
my shoulder.

"Beastly place," said Drummle.—"Your
part of the country, I think?"

"Yes," I assented. "I am told it's very like
your Shropshire."

"Not in the least like it," said Drummle.

Here Mr. Drummle looked at his boots, and
I looked at mine, and then Mr. Drummle looked
at my boots, and I looked at his.

"Have you been here long?" I asked,
determined not to yield an inch of the fire.

"Long enough to be tired of it," returned
Drummle, pretending to yawn, but equally

"Do you stay here long?"

"Can't say," answered Mr. Drummle. "Do

"Can't say," said I.

I felt here, through a tingling in my blood,
that if Mr. Drummle's shoulder had claimed
another hair's breadth of room, I should have
jerked him into the window; equally, that if my
own shoulder had urged a similar claim, Mr.
Drummle would have jerked me into the nearest
box. He whistled a little. So did I.

"Large tract of marshes about here, I
believe?" said Drummle.

"'Yes. What of that?" said I.

Mr. Drummle looked at me, and then at my
boots, and then said, "Oh!" and laughed.

"Are you amused, Mr. Drummle?"

"No," said he, "not particularly. I am
going out for a ride in the saddle. I mean to
explore those marshes for amusement. Out-of-
the-way villages there, they tell me. Curious
little public-housesand smithiesand that.

"Yes, sir."

"Is that horse of mine ready?"

"Brought round to the door, sir."

"I say. Look here, you sir. The lady won't
ride to-day; the weather won't do."

"Very good, sir."

"And I don't dine, because I'm going to dine
at the lady's."

"Very good, sir."

Then Drummle glanced at me, with an
insolent triumph on his great-jowled face that cut
me to the heart, dull as he was, and so
exasperated me, that I felt inclined to take him in
my arms as the robber in the story-book is said to
have taken the old lady, and seat him on the fire.

One thing was manifest to both of us, and
that was that until relief came, neither of us
could relinquish the fire. There we stood, well
squared up before it, shoulder to shoulder, and
foot to foot, with our hands behind us, not
budging an inch. The horse was visible outside
in the drizzle at the door, my breakfast was put
on table, Drummle's was cleared away, the
waiter invited me to begin, I nodded, we both
stood our ground.

"Have you been to the Grove since?" said

"No," said I, "I had quite enough of the
Finches the last time I was there."

"Was that when we had a difference of

"Yes," I replied, very shortly.

"Come, come! They let you off easily enough,"
sneered Drummle. "You shouldn't have lost
your temper."

"Mr. Drummle," said I, "you are not
competent to give advice on that subject. When I
lose my temper (not that I admit having done so
on that occasion), I don't throw glasses."

"I do," said Drummle.

After glancing at him once or twice in an
increased state of smouldering ferocity, I said:

"Mr. Drummle, I did not seek this conversation,
and I don't think it an agreeable one."

"I am sure it's not," said he, superciliously
over his shoulder; "I don't think anything about

"And therefore," I went on, "with your
leave, I will suggest that we hold no kind of
communication in future."

"Quite my opinion," said Drummle, "and
what I should have suggested myself, or done
more likelywithout suggesting. But don't lose
your temper. Haven't you lost enough without

"What do you mean, sir?"

"Wai-ter!" said Drummle, by way of
answering me.

The waiter reappeared.

"Look here, you sir. You quite understand
that the young lady don't ride to-day, and that I
dine at the young lady's?"

"Quite so, sir."

When the waiter had felt my fast-cooling tea-
pot with the palm of his hand, and had looked
imploringly at me, and had gone out, Drummle,
careful not to move the shoulder next me, took
a cigar from his pocket and bit the end off, but
showed no sign of stirring. Choking and boiling
as I was, I felt that we could not go a word
further, without introducing Estella's name, which
I could not endure to hear him utter; and therefore
I looked stonily at the opposite wall, as if
there were no one present, and forced myself to
silence. How long we might have remained in
this ridiculous position it is impossible to say,
but for the incursion of three thriving farmers
laid on by the waiter, I thinkwho came into
the coffee-room unbuttoning their great-coats and
rubbing their hands, and before whom, as they
charged at the fire, we were obliged to give way.

I saw him through the window, seizing his
horse's mane, and mounting in his blundering