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Mr Haredale stood in the widow's parlour with the door-key in his hand, gazing by turns at Mr Chester and at Gabriel Varden, and occasionally glancing downward at the key as in the hope that of its own accord it would unlock the mystery; until Mr Chester, putting on his hat and gloves, and sweetly inquiring whether they were walking in the same direction, recalled him to himself.
'No,' he said. 'Our roads diverge--widely, as you know. For the present, I shall remain here.'
'You will be hipped, Haredale; you will be miserable, melancholy, utterly wretched,' returned the other. 'It's a place of the very last description for a man of your temper. I know it will make you very miserable.'
'Let it,' said Mr Haredale, sitting down; 'and thrive upon the thought. Good night!'
Feigning to be wholly unconscious of the abrupt wave of the hand which rendered this farewell tantamount to a dismissal, Mr Chester retorted with a bland and heartfelt benediction, and inquired of Gabriel in what direction HE was going.
'Yours, sir, would be too much honour for the like of me,' replied the locksmith, hesitating.
'I wish you to remain here a little while, Varden,' said Mr Haredale, without looking towards them. 'I have a word or two to say to you.'
'I will not intrude upon your conference another moment,' said Mr Chester with inconceivable politeness. 'May it be satisfactory to you both! God bless you!' So saying, and bestowing upon the locksmith a most refulgent smile, he left them.
'A deplorably constituted creature, that rugged person,' he said, as he walked along the street; 'he is an atrocity that carries its own punishment along with it--a bear that gnaws himself. And here is one of the inestimable advantages of having a perfect command over one's inclinations. I have been tempted in these two short interviews, to draw upon that fellow, fifty times. Five men in six would have yielded to the impulse. By suppressing mine, I wound him deeper and more keenly than if I were the best swordsman in all Europe, and he the worst. You are the wise man's very last resource,' he said, tapping the hilt of his weapon; 'we can but appeal to you when all else is said and done. To come to you before, and thereby spare our adversaries so much, is a barbarian mode of warfare, quite unworthy of any man with the remotest pretensions to delicacy of feeling, or refinement.'
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