stood before the fire. By degrees it became an enormous injury to me that he stood before the fire, and I got up, determined to have my share of it. I had to put my hands behind his legs for the poker when I went up to the fire-place 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 Dummle, my shoulders squared and my back to the fire.

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

`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 determined.

`Do you stay here long?'

`Can't say,' answered Mr Drummle. `Do you?'

`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-houses - and smithies - and that. Waiter!'

`Yes, sir.'

`Is that horse of mine ready?'

`Brought round to the door, sir.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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