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WHEN Mr. Goodchild had looked out
of the Lancaster Inn-window for two hours
on end, with great perseverance, he began
to entertain a misgiving that he was
growing industrious. He therefore set
himself next, to explore the country from the
tops of all the steep hills in the neighbourhood.

He came back at dinner-time, red and
glowing, to tell Thomas Idle what he had
seen. Thomas, on his back reading, listened
with great composure, and asked him whether
he really had gone up those hills, and bothered
himself with those views, and walked all
those miles?

"Because I want to know," added Thomas,
"what you would say of it, if you were obliged
to do it?"

"It would be different, then," said Francis.
"It would be work, then; now, it's play."

"Play!" repeated Thomas Idle, utterly
repudiating the reply. "Play! Here is a
man goes systematically tearing himself to
pieces, and putting himself through an
incessant course of training, as if he were
always under articles to fight a match for
the champion's belt, and he calls it Play!
Play!" exclaimed Thomas Idle, scornfully
contemplating his one boot in the air. "You
can't play. You don't know what it is. You
make work of everything."

The bright Goodchild amiably smiled.

"So you do," said Thomas." I mean it.
To me you are an absolutely terrible fellow.
You do nothing like another man. Where
another fellow would fall into a footbath
of action or emotion, you fall into a
mine. Where any other fellow would be a
painted butterfly, you are a fiery dragon.
Where another man would stake a sixpence,
you stake your existence. If you were to go
up in a balloon, you would make for Heaven;
and if you were to dive into the depths of the
earth, nothing short of the other place
would content you. What a fellow you are,

The cheerful Goodchild laughed.

"It's all very well to laugh, but I wonder
you don't feel it to be serious," said Idle.

"A man who can do nothing by halves
appears to me to be a fearful man."

"Tom, Tom," returned Goodchild, "if I
can do nothing by halves, and be nothing by
halves, it's pretty clear that you must take
me as a whole, and make the best of me."

With this philosophical rejoinder, the airy
Goodchild clapped Mr. Idle on the shoulder
in a final manner, and they sat down to

"By the bye," said Goodchild, "I have been
over a lunatic asylum too, since I have been

"He has been," exclaimed Thomas Idle, casting
up his eyes, "over a lunatic asylum! Not
content with being as great an Ass as Captain
Barclay in the pedestrian way, he makes a
Lunacy Commissioner of himselffor

"An immense place," said Goodchild,
"admirable offices, very good arrangements,
very good attendants; altogether a remarkable

"And what did you see there?" asked Mr.
Idle, adapting Hamlet's advice to the
occasion, and assuming the virtue of interest,
though he had it not.

"The usual thing," said Francis Goodchild,
with a sigh. "Long groves of blighted men-
and-women-trees; interminable avenues of
hopeless faces; numbers, without the slightest
power of really combining for any earthly
purpose; a society of human creatures who
have nothing in common but that they have
all lost the power of being humanly social
with one another."

"Take a glass of wine with me," said
Thomas Idle," and let us be social."

"In one gallery, Tom," pursued Francis
Goodchild, "which looked to me about the
length of the Long Walk at Windsor, more
or less—"

"Probably less," observed Thomas Idle.

"In one gallery, which was otherwise quite
clear of patients (for they were all out), there
was a poor little dark-chinned, meagre man,
with a perplexed brow and a pensive face,
stooping low over the matting on the floor,
and picking out with his thumb and
fore-finger the course of its fibres. The afternoon
sun was slanting in at the large end-window,
and there were cross patches of light and
shade all down the vista, made by the unseen