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CHAPTER 10: WINE AND WEAKNESS (continued)
"Then I certainly shall not give you the trouble "
He interrupted me with his jovial laugh.
"My good fellow," he cried, "that's the fun of it! How do you suppose I've been spending the day? Told you I was going to Lancaster, did I? Well, I've been cooking our dinner instead - laying the table - getting up the wines - never had such a joke! Give you my word, I almost forgot I was in the wilderness!"
"So you're quite alone, are you?"
"Yes; as much so as that other beggar who was monarch of all he surveyed, his right there was none to dispute, from the what-is-it down to the glade -"
"I'll come," said I, as we reached the cottage. "Only first you must let me make myself decent."
"You're decent enough!"
"My boots are wet; my hands -"
"All serene! I'll give you five minutes."
And I left him outside, flourishing a handsome watch, while, on my way upstairs, I paused to tell Mrs. Braithwaite that I was dining at the hall. She was busy cooking, and I felt prepared for her unpleasant expression; but she showed no annoyance at my news. I formed the impression that it was no news to her. And next minute I heard a whispering below; it was unmistakable in that silent cottage, where not a word had reached me yet, save in conversation to which I was myself a party.
I looked out of window. Rattray I could no longer see. And I confess that I felt both puzzied and annoyed until we walked away together, when it was his arm which was immediately thrust through mine.
"A good soul, Jane," said he; "though she made an idiotic marriage, and leads a life which might spoil the temper of an archangel. She was my nurse when I was a youngster, Cole, and we never meet without a yarn." Which seemed natural enough; still I failed to perceive why they need yarn in whispers.
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