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I was looking from the deck of the packet at the
fast receding shore, and thanking Heaven that
some miles of blue water now separated me from
Watkins, as I hoped, for ever.

I took the express to London, but bearing in
mind the address of " Limner's" on his card. I
knew I had no safety in remaining in town. I
started, therefore, the same night for Ostend,
resolving to shape my future course after a little

For my first day the mere sense of escape
sufficed me. On the second I began to consider
my present position and speculate on the future.
I could not help feeling vexed at what had
befallen me. I had planned out my life to suit a
particular locality, where I understood the habits,
and knew the people well, just as a fisherman
might have devised a peculiar fly and an especial
tackle for a certain river, and here was a fellow
come down to trouble the water, and destroy all
chance of sport for the future. To suppose that
my system would apply elsewhere was absurd,
and I felt very indignant at the man who had
disturbed my daily life and marred my prospects;
for, as to continuing to follow out my previous
plan in his presence and under his scrutiny, I
knew to be impossible.

The Hôtel des Bains, where I stopped, was
comfortable, and the table d'hôte, like all Belgian
tables d'hôte, good. To me, too, it possessed the
unspeakable advantage of a company, not one
individual of which I had ever met before. My
heretofore life had been so completely passed
amongst intimates and acquaintances, that I
now felt as might a fashionable physician, who
had quitted for a short while the toils and
anxieties of practice to enjoy himself in a holiday.
Not desirous of any acquaintanceship with
my neighbours, I limited myself at table almost
entirely to the part of listener. I need scarcely
tell my reader what a dull occupation I had
assigned myself. The travellers were nearly all
taken from a very low-down stratum of middle-
life English, and their criticisms on all that they
saw and heard were little else than sarcastic
admissions of their daily habits when at home. A
few here and there would perhaps exhibit more
breeding, but they, too, showed often a cloven
hoof of another kind, and displayed the
unmistakable signs of the "English leg" abroad, the
loose-lying picket, who brings down raw
subalterns and undergraduates from the universities.
There was one of these there at this time, a
high specimen of his order. He was written in
the hotel listand I suppose authentically
the Honourable Reginald Rokebya stout,
well-whiskered, florid fellow, with a look half-
insinuating, half-insolentan address
compounded of the fascinating and the stern, as a
craft which might turn out to be a yacht or a
privateer. He made some advances to me on my
arrival; but, as I threw out a half hint that I was
reading for orders, he gave me up, and turned
to beat other preserves. Nor had he long to
seek, two very unfledged young officers of a
marching regiment having just then presented
themselves. I saw the first greetings, I heard
the usual admonitions from an old hand on the
Continent, as the Honourable Reginald jocularly
called himself, and all the well-known cautions
against this, that, and t'other. I watched the
exchanged cigars, the chairs set near each other
at dinner, the little muttered drolleries about
the rest of the company, facetiae which almost
convulsed the subs, and then I " assisted" at
the party at billiards, where the honourable cut
as poor a figure as could be desired, losing
everythingeverything but his temper.

Now Nokes and Yokes, of the Fifty-some-
thing, were as uninteresting a pair of white-
eyelashed, long-eared youths as ever graced a
Gazette. There was positively nothing about them
in anyway to attach a sympathy to their fortunes.
Still I saw that they were going to be devoured,
and I could not help watching the bloated old
spider, who was preparing them for his meal. He
saw that I had established myself in observation
over him, and he gave me one or two significant
intimations to mind " what I was at," and not
burn my fingers at another man's candle. I was
never gifted with that sort of heroic love of peril
that sets a man off to search for danger. I was, so
to say, more "nice" than Irish, and I hesitated
whether I should incur the risk of saving these
creatures. It was a knotty question, which
one could argue successfully on either side, and
day after day passed while I litigated with
myself. At lastI believe it was under the
influence of an extra glass of MedocI resolved
on the brave course, and, determining thus
valiantly, I walked into the smoking-room,
where the Honourable Reginald and his victims
usually adjourned before the accustomed little
episode at the billiard-table.

There were no others present, and the three
turned on me, as I came in, a look half-resentful
of my intrusion. I took up Galignani, however,
and began to read, without heeding them. One
of the subsit was Vokes, I believewas
indulging in a budget of " the best things you
ever heard in your life." Such drolleries, such
practical jokes, such witty rejoinders, such
"stunning" replies as are rarely heard out of
the mess-room. His friend, too, though
evidently familiar with these facetiae, acted like a
sort of flapper, reminding him of this or that
he might have omitted; and, when a story was
finished, bursting out in Greek chorus fashion
into a sort of inspired rhapsody of innumerable
hair-breadth escapes and perils, which might or
might not be made narrative.

"I say, Bob," cried he, in one of these
intervals, " tell him that capital thing about the
dinnerthe dinner, you know, that What's-his-
name was going to give Thingumme. You
remember, don't you, when the fellow bolted and
the other chap dined by himself."

"Oh yes; that was a game!" exclaimed the
story-teller. " I must tell you that. I heard it
all from one of ours who was over in Ireland at
the time, and can vouch for its truth. There's
a great snob in Dublin, that goes everywhere
and knows every one. I'll remember his name
presently; and they had him to dinner one day

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