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Reggie had his way, and Sir Philip his; and each alike succeeded. That was to say, poor Sir Philip had succeeded once; buthere the speaker would shake his head-Phil was a different sort of fellow now. That confounded white elephant of a place sucked his life-blood like a vampire. He ought to have got rid of Old Cary Hall long ago; it was all very fine to stick to it for old sake's sake -very fine and creditable and all that-but family pride might be carried too far.

After all, a man ought to be his own number one; Sir Philip's well-meaning sponsors would shrug their shoulders, stating the case from an abstract, impartial point of view; until it came to pass that at length even the staunchest forsook his cause, and came to regard his adherence to out-of-date noblesse oblige as a silly prejudice, musty and worthless as his own cobwebs.

All but one--Sir Philip's nephew Reginald.

35

CHAPTER V.

"IT IS LITTLE BETTER THAN A ROTTEN FUNGUS."

HITHERTO Only a single side of Reggie's character has been presented to our readers, but there was one person-possibly only one-who knew the other, and this formed a link between the pair of men which not infrequently gave the neighbourhood a theme for discussion or meditation.

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Strange that those two should get on together as they do," worthy old Dr. Stevens, the retired surgeon, and father of the place in point of age, would soliloquise, leaning over the ivied wall, and tapping it with his stick; "strange, strange! In the natural course of events the nephew will succeed the uncle, and might be supposed to take some interest in his heritage. He sees it going to the dogs; going? -it's gone already! Year by year the moss thickens on the doorsteps, and the weeds choke the gravel-yet Sir Philip cares not a brass farthing "Sir Philip made no confidences"and by the time this young man comes in for

Old Cary Hall the place will be uninhabitable from sheer decay. It might be remedied now; in another twenty years or so it will be too late. Sir Philip, never coming near the place, trifling away his time, and shirking his responsibilities in foreign lands, may shut his eyes to the ruin going on here," continued the old man, sorrowfully regarding the thick, interlaced branches which overhung the stream-no longer a rippling, sunlit stream, as when it showed between the grassy banks of Lady Tilbury's park, but a deep, sullen current; "one can understand it of him; but I should have expected a brisk young fellow like Reginald to look at things differently. He ought to make a fuss; insist upon something being done. As there seems no chance of the old possessors of the soil ever being in a position to take up residence here again, it is their duty to try and get rid of the place-dispose of it in open market, if need be. Any purchaser would be better than none at all. And it is quite on the cards that some of those rich Americans who are overrunning us just now, would be ready to snap at a place like Old Cary Hall, full of tapestry and heirlooms, panelled chambers, and ghostly staircases. Sir Philip might start by asking a fancy price-letting it be known that he was willing to be tempted; then if he

failed to get that, have it put about that he was not a marrying man, and had no fancy for dull country life. The real facts of the case might leak out; it might be known that he was forced to part because it was impossible for him to keep; but his poverty is no secret as it is; there would be no further betrayal of it in disposing of the estate. O Sir Philip, you ought to sell, you ought indeed!" The white head, with its old-mannish wideawake hat, shook admonishingly at the exile, and the silverheaded cane tapped the wall with rueful taps.

"I'm sorry for you, my good sir, even though I never knew you," continued the old gentleman, gently luxuriating in his sorrow; "you and I have never come across each other, and I daresay you would say I was a newcomer in these parts, though I have been here for fifteen years; but I should like to see these great gates opening and shutting, the avenue in yonder cleared and swept, with carriage wheelmarks upon it; I should like to see smoke rising from the vineries, clothes flying on the washing-green, horses feeding in the paddocks. Best of all, Sir Philip, would it be to see that great gloomy house open to the sunshine, cheered by light and warmth, echoing to the sounds of children's voices-a happy English home, with the blessing of the Lord

upon it."

Pleased with his own exordium, the old man raised his hands to suit the desired benediction, and the next moment started so violently as to let fall the stick which was poised above his head, and which hit him smartly on the shoulder as it fell. It seemed such an extraordinary thing to be accosted at the moment by young Mr. Goffe that the thin blood flushed in his cheeks from a confused sense of guilt and impropriety as he turned to respond to the young man's greeting.

Reggie shifted his gun to his left shoulder (he had been shooting at Tilbury Court), and held out his hand.

"Good old wall that to rest upon, doctor," observed he cheerfully. "About all it is good for-eh? What were you cocking your stick at-rats-weasels?"

No, Mr. Reginald; I—I was not looking for-for anything." Then the tremulous tones became a trifle more steady. "I was but standing a moment to see the sun go down behind the turret yonder. This is a favourite peep of mine. It is the only place from where you can get any view of the Hall, and it is only by clambering up the bank here that you get it. But I know just the bit of broken wall "

"So do I." Reggie laughed and nodded. "I thought no one else did. So, it appears,

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