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7. CHAPTER VII
And little Augustus Pelham said to me, 'It's the younger generation knocking at the door,' and I said to him, 'Oh, but the younger generation comes in without knocking, Mr. Pelham.' Such a feeble little joke, wasn't it, but down it went into his notebook all the same."
"Let us congratulate ourselves that we shall be in the grave before that work is published," said Mr. Hilbery.
The elderly couple were waiting for the dinner-bell to ring and for their daughter to come into the room. Their arm-chairs were drawn up on either side of the fire, and each sat in the same slightly crouched position, looking into the coals, with the expressions of people who have had their share of experiences and wait, rather passively, for something to happen. Mr. Hilbery now gave all his attention to a piece of coal which had fallen out of the grate, and to selecting a favorable position for it among the lumps that were burning already. Mrs. Hilbery watched him in silence, and the smile changed on her lips as if her mind still played with the events of the afternoon.
When Mr. Hilbery had accomplished his task, he resumed his crouching position again, and began to toy with the little green stone attached to his watch-chain. His deep, oval-shaped eyes were fixed upon the flames, but behind the superficial glaze seemed to brood an observant and whimsical spirit, which kept the brown of the eye still unusually vivid. But a look of indolence, the result of skepticism or of a taste too fastidious to be satisfied by the prizes and conclusions so easily within his grasp, lent him an expression almost of melancholy. After sitting thus for a time, he seemed to reach some point in his thinking which demonstrated its futility, upon which he sighed and stretched his hand for a book lying on the table by his side.
Directly the door opened he closed the book, and the eyes of father and mother both rested on Katharine as she came towards them. The sight seemed at once to give them a motive which they had not had before. To them she appeared, as she walked towards them in her light evening dress, extremely young, and the sight of her refreshed them, were it only because her youth and ignorance made their knowledge of the world of some value.
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