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CHAPTER 10: WINE AND WEAKNESS
Sporting old parson who knows how to swear?" laughed Rattray. "Never saw him in my life before; wondered who the deuce he was."
"Really?" said I. "He professed to know something of you."
"Against me, you mean? My dear Cole, don't trouble to perjure yourself. I don't mind, believe me. They're easily shocked, these country clergy, and no doubt I'm a bugbear to 'em. Yet, I could have sworn I'd never seen this one before. Let's have another look."
We were walking away together. We turned on the top of the bank. And there the old clergyman was planted on the moorside, and watching us intently from under his hollowed hands.
"Well, I'm hanged!" exclaimed Rattray, as the hands fell and their owner beat a hasty retreat. My companion said no more; indeed, for some minutes we pursued our way in silence. And I thought that it was with an effort that he broke into sudden inquiries concerning my journey and my comfort at the cottage.
This gave me an opportunity of thanking him for his little attentions. "It was awfully good of you," said I, taking his arm as though I had known him all my life; nor do I think there was another living man with whom I would have linked arms at that time.
"Good?" cried he. "Nonsense, my dear sir! I'm only afraid you find it devilish rough. But, at all events, you're coming to dine with me to-night."
"Am I?" I asked, smiling.
"Rather!" said he. "My time here is short enough. I don't lose sight of you again between this and midnight."
"It's most awfully good of you," said I again.
"Wait till you see! You'll find it rough enough at my place; all my retainers are out for the day at a local show."
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