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14. CHAPTER XIV (continued)
"Call? What call?" said he, staring as if her question had been a foolish one, a favourite device of those in mid-stream.
"This afternoon call."
"In the afternoon, of course!" he replied, and looked at Tibby to see how the repartee went. But Tibby was unsympathetic, and said, "Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon?"
"Really!" said Helen; "and you were still calling on Sunday, when your wife came here. A long visit."
"I don't call that fair," said Mr. Bast, going scarlet and handsome. There was fight in his eyes. "I know what you mean, and it isn't so."
"Oh, don't let us mind," said Margaret, distressed again by odours from the abyss.
"It was something else," he asserted, his elaborate manner breaking down. "I was somewhere else to what you think, so there!"
"It was good of you to come and explain," she said. "The rest is naturally no concern of ours."
"Yes, but I want--I wanted--have you ever read The Ordeal of Richard Feverel?"
"It's a beautiful book. I wanted to get back to the earth, don't you see, like Richard does in the end. Or have you ever read Stevenson's Prince Otto?"
Helen and Tibby groaned gently.
"That's another beautiful book. You get back to the earth in that. I wanted--" He mouthed affectedly. Then through the mists of his culture came a hard fact, hard as a pebble. "I walked all the Saturday night," said Leonard. "I walked." A thrill of approval ran through the sisters. But culture closed in again. He asked whether they had ever read E. V. Lucas's Open Road."
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