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The Money Moon(Chapter12)

2006-08-28 23:15

  Chapter XII. In which may be found a full, true, and particular account of the sale

  "Uncle Porges, there's a little man in the hall with a red, red nose, an' a blue, blue chin,——"

  "Yes, I've seen him,——also his nose, and chin, my Porges."

  "But he's sticking little papers with numbers on them, all over my Auntie Anthea's chairs,——an' tables. Now what do you s'pose he's doing that for?"

  "Who knows? It's probably all on account of his red nose, and blue chin, my Porges. Anyway, don't worry about him,——let us rather, find our Auntie Anthea."

  They found her in the hall. And it was a hall, here, at Dapplemere, wide, and high, and with a minstrel's gallery at one end; a hall that, years and years ago, had often rung with the clash of men-at-arms, and echoed with loud, and jovial laughter, for this was the most ancient part of the Manor.

  It looked rather bare, and barren, just now, for the furniture was all moved out of place,——ranged neatly round the walls, and stacked at the farther end, beneath the gallery where the little man in question, blue of chin, and red of nose, was hovering about it, dabbing little tickets on chairs, and tables,——even as Small Porges had said.

  And, in the midst of it all, stood Anthea, a desolate figure, Bellew thought, who, upon his entrance, bent her head to draw on her driving gloves, for she was waiting for the dog-cart which was to bear her, and Small Porges to Cranbrook, far away from the hollow tap of the auctioneer's hammer.

  "We're getting rid of some of the old furniture, you see, Mr. Bellew," she said, laying her hand on an antique cabinet nearby,——"we really have much more than we ever use."

  "Yes," said Bellew. But he noticed that her eyes were very dark and wistful, despite her light tone, and that she had laid her hand upon the old cabinet with a touch very like a caress.

  "Why is that man's nose so awful' red, and his chin so blue, Auntie Anthea?" enquired Small Porges, in a hissing stage whisper.

  "Hush Georgy!——I don't know," said Anthea.

  "An' why is he sticking his little numbers all over our best furniture!"

  "That is to guide the auctioneer."

  "Where to,——an' what is an auctioneer?"

  But, at this moment, hearing the wheels of the dog-cart at the door, Anthea turned, and hastened out into the sunshine.

  "A lovely day it do be for drivin'," said Adam touching his hat, "an' Bess be thinkin' the same, I do believe!" and he patted the glossy coat of the mare, who arched her neck, and pawed the gravel with an impatient hoof. Lightly, and nimbly Anthea swung herself up to the high seat, turning to make Small Porges secure beside her, as Bellew handed him up.

  "You'll——look after things for me, Adam?" said Anthea, glancing back wistfully into the dim recesses of the cool, old hall.

  "Aye,——I will that, Miss Anthea!"

  "Mr. Bellew, we can find room for you if you care to come with us?"

  "Thanks," said he, shaking his head, "but I rather think I'll stay here, and——er——help Adam to——to——look after things, if you don't mind."

  "Then,——'Good-bye!'" said Anthea, and, nodding to Adam, he gave the mare her head, and off they went.

  "Good-bye!" cried Small Porges, "an' thank you for the shilling Uncle Porges."

  "The mare is——er——rather fresh this morning, isn't she, Adam?" enquired Bellew, watching the dog-cart's rapid course.

  "Fresh sir?"

  "And that's rather a——er——dangerous sort of thing for a woman to drive, isn't it?"

  "Meanin' the dog-cart, sir?"

  "Meaning the dog-cart, Adam."

  "Why, Lord love ye, Mr. Belloo sir!" cried Adam with his great laugh, "there ain't nobody can 'andle the ribbons better than Miss Anthea,——there ain't a horse as she can't drive,——ah! or ride, for that matter,——not no-wheres, sir."

  "Hum!" said Bellew, and, having watched the dog-cart out of sight, he turned and followed Adam into the stables.

  And here, sitting upon a bale of hay, they smoked many pipes together in earnest converse, until such time as the sale should begin.

  As the day advanced, people began arriving in twos and threes, and, among the first, the Auctioneer himself. A jovial-faced man, was this Auctioneer, with jovial manner, and a jovial smile. Indeed, his joviality seemed, somehow or other, to have got into the very buttons of his coat, for they fairly winked, and twinkled with joviality. Upon catching sight of the furniture he became, if possible, more jovial than ever, and beckoning to his assistant,——that is to say to the small man with the red nose and the blue chin, who, it seemed answered to the name of Theodore,——he clapped him jovially upon the back,——(rather as though he were knocking him down to some unfortunate bidder),——and immediately fell into business converse with him,——albeit jovial still.

  But all the while intending purchasers were arriving; they came on horse, and afoot, and in conveyances of every sort and kind, and the tread of their feet, and the buzz of their voices awoke unwonted echoes in the old place. And still they came, from far and near, until some hundred odd people were crowded into the hall.

  Conspicuous among them was a large man with a fat, red neck which he was continually mopping at, and rubbing with a vivid bandanna handkerchief scarcely less red. Indeed, red seemed to be his pervading colour, for his hair was red, his hands were red, and his face, heavy and round, was reddest of all, out of whose flaming circumference two diminutive but very sharp eyes winked and blinked continually. His voice, like himself, was large with a peculiar brassy ring to it that penetrated to the farthest corners and recesses of the old hall. He was, beyond all doubt, a man of substance, and of no small importance, for he was greeted deferentially on all hands, and it was to be noticed that people elbowed each other to make way for him, as people ever will before substance, and property. To some of them he nodded, to some he spoke, and with others he even laughed, albeit he was of a solemn, sober, and serious nature, as becomes a man of property, and substance.

  Between whiles, however, he bestowed his undivided attention upon the furniture. He sat down suddenly and heavily, in chairs; he pummelled them with his plump, red fists,——whereby to test their springs; he opened the doors of cabinets; he peered into drawers; he rapped upon tables, and altogether comported himself as a thoroughly knowing man should, who is not to be hocussed by veneer, or taken in by the shine, and splendour of well applied bees-wax. Bellew, watching all this from where he sat screened from the throng by a great carved sideboard, and divers chairs, and whatnots,——drew rather harder at his pipe, and, chancing to catch Adam's eye, beckoned him to approach.

  "Who is that round, red man, yonder, Adam?" he enquired, nodding to where the individual in question was engaged at that moment poking at something or other with a large, sausage-like finger.

  "That!" replied Adam in a tone of profound disgust, "that be Mr. Grimes, o' Cranbrook, sir. Calls hisself a corn-chandler,——but I calls 'im,——well, never mind what, sir,——only it weren't at corn-chandling as 'e made all 'is money, sir,——and it be him as we all work, and slave for,——here at Dapplemere Farm."

  "What do you mean, Adam?"

  "I mean as it be him as holds the mortgage on Dapplemere, sir."

  "Ah,——and how much?"

  "Over three thousand pound, Mr. Belloo sir!" sighed Adam, with a hopeless shake of the head, "an' that be a powerful lot o' money, sir."

  Bellew thought of the sums he had lavished upon his yacht, upon his three racing cars, and certain other extravagances. Three thousand pounds,——fifteen thousand dollars! It would make her a free woman,——independent,——happy! Just fifteen thousand dollars,——and he had thrown away more than that upon a poker game, before now!

  "Lord!" exclaimed Adam, "the very sight o' that theer Grimes's pig eyes a-starin' at Miss Anthea's furnitur' do make the Old Adam rise up in me to that amazin' extent, Mr. Belloo sir——why, jest look at 'im a-thumpin' an' a poundin' at that theer chair!" Saying which, Adam turned, and elbowing his way to where Mr. Grimes was in the act of testing the springs of an easy chair, he promptly,——and as though forced by a struggling mob,——fell up against Mr. Grimes, and jostled Mr. Grimes, and trod heavily upon the toes of Mr. Grimes, and all with an expression of the most profound unconsciousness and abstraction, which, upon the indignant Corn-chandler's loud expostulations, immediately changed to a look of innocent surprise.

  "Can't you look where you're going?——you clumsy fool!" fumed the irate Grimes, redder of neck than ever.

  "Ax your pardon, Mr. Grimes," said Adam solemnly, "but what wi' people's legs, an' cheer legs, an' the legs o' tables,——not to mention sideboards an' cab'nets,——which, though not 'aving no legs, ain't to be by no manner o' means despised therefore,——w'ot wi' this an' that, an' t'other, I am that con-fined, or as you might say, con-fused, I don't know which legs is mine, or yourn, or anybody else's. Mr. Grimes sir,——I makes so bold as to ax your pardon all over again, sir." During which speech, Adam contrived, once more, to fall against, to tread upon, and to jostle the highly incensed Mr. Grimes back into the crowd again. Thereafter he became a Nemesis to Mr. Grimes, haunting him through the jungle of chairs, and tables, pursuing him into distant corners, and shady places, where, so sure as the sausage-like finger poised itself for an interrogatory poke, or the fat, red fist doubled itself for a spring-testing punch, the innocent-seeming Adam would thereupon fall against him from the rear, sideways, or in front.

  Meanwhile, Bellew sat in his secluded corner, watching the crowd through the blue wreaths of his pipe, but thinking of her who, brave though she was, had nevertheless run away from it all at the last moment. Presently, however, he was aware that the Corn-chandler had seated himself on the other side of the chiffonier, puffing, and panting with heat, and indignation,——where he was presently joined by another individual,——a small, rat-eyed man, who bid Mr. Grimes a deferential "Good-day!"

  "That there Adam," puffed the Corn-chandler, "that there Adam ought to be throwed out into the stables where he belongs. I never see a man as was so much growed to feet and elbers, in all my days! He ought to be took," repeated the Corn-chandler, "and shook, and throwed out into the yard."

  "Yes," nodded the other, "took, and shook, and throwed out——neck, and crop, sir! And now,——what might you think o' the furniture, Mr. Grimes?"

  "So so, Parsons," nodded Grimes, "so so!"

  "Shall you buy?"

  "I am a-going," said the Corn-chandler with much deliberation, "I am a-going to take them tapestry cheers, sir, likewise the grand-feyther clock in the corner here, likewise the four-post bed-stead wi' the carved 'ead-board,——and——most particular, Parsons, I shall take this here side-board. There ain't another piece like this in the county, as I know of,——solid ma-hogany, sir!——and the carvings!" and herewith, he gave two loud double knocks upon the article of furniture in question. "Oh! I've 'ad my eye on this side-board for years, and years,——knowed I'd get it some day, too,——the only wonder is as she ain't had to sell up afore now."

  "Meaning Miss Anthea, sir?"

  "Ah,——her! I say as it's a wonder to me,——wo't wi' the interest on the mortgage I 'old on the place, and one thing and another,——it's a wonder to me as she's kept her 'ead above water so long. But——mark me, Parsons, mark me,——she'll be selling again soon, and next time it'll be lock, stock, and barrel, Parsons!"

  "Well, I don't 'old wi' women farmers, myself!" nodded Parsons. "But,——as to that cup-board over there,——Sheraton, I think,——what might you suppose it to be worth,——betwixt friends, now?" enquired Parsons, the rat eyed.

  "Can't say till I've seed it, and likewise felt it," answered the Corn-chandler, rising. "Let me lay my 'and upon it, and I'll tell you——to a shilling," and here, they elbowed their way into the crowd. But Bellew sat there, chin in hand, quite oblivious to the fact that his pipe was out, long since.

  The tall, old grand-father clock ticking in leisurely fashion in the corner behind him, solemn and sedate, as it had done since, (as the neat inscription upon the dial testified), it had first been made in the Year of Grace 1732, by one Jabez Havesham, of London;——this ancient time-piece now uttered a sudden wheeze, (which, considering its great age, could scarcely be wondered at), and, thereafter, the wheezing having subsided, gave forth a soft, and mellow chime, proclaiming to all and sundry, that it was twelve o'clock. Hereupon, the Auctioneer, bustling to and fro with his hat upon the back of his head, consulted his watch, nodded to the red nosed, blue-chinned Theodore, and, perching himself above the crowd, gave three sharp knocks with his hammer.

  "Gentlemen!" he began, but here he was interrupted by a loud voice upraised in hot anger.

  "Confound ye for a clumsy rascal! Will ye keep them elbers o' yourn to out o' my weskit, eh? Will ye keep them big feet o' yourn to yeself? If there ain't room enough for ye,——out ye go, d'ye hear——I'll have ye took, and shook,——and throwed out where ye belong; so jest mind where ye come a trampin', and a treadin'."

  "Tread!" repeated Adam, "Lord! where am I to tread? If I steps backward I tread on ye,——If I steps sideways I tread on ye, if I steps for-ard I tread on ye. It do seem to me as I can't go nowhere but there you be a-waitin' to be trod on, Mr. Grimes, sir."

  Hereupon the Auctioneer rapped louder than ever, upon which, the clamour subsiding, he smiled his most jovial smile, and once more began:

  "Gentlemen! you have all had an opportunity to examine the furniture I am about to dispose of, and, as fair minded human beings I think you will admit that a finer lot of genuine antique was never offered at one and the same time. Gentlemen, I am not going to burst forth into laudatory rodomontade, (which is a word, gentlemen that I employ only among an enlightened community such as I now have the honour of addressing),——neither do I propose to waste your time in purposeless verbiage, (which is another of the same kind, gentlemen),——therefore, without further preface, or preamble, we will proceed at once to business. The first lot I have to offer you is a screen,——six foot high,——bring out the screen, Theodore! There it is, gentlemen,——open it out, Theodore! Observe, Gentlemen it is carved rosewood, the panels hand painted, and representing shepherds, and shepherdesses, disporting themselves under a tree with banjo and guitar. Now what am I offered for this hand-painted, antique screen,——come?"

  "Fifteen shillings!" from someone deep hidden in the crowd.

  "Start as low as you like, gentlemen! I am offered a miserable fifteen shillings for a genuine, hand-painted——"

  "Sixteen!" this from a long, loose-limbed fellow with a patch over one eye, and another on his cheek.

  "A pound!" said Adam, promptly.

  "A guinea!" nodded he of the patches.

  "Twenty-five shillin's!" said Adam.

  "At twenty-five shillings!" cried the Auctioneer, "any advance?——a genuine, hand-painted, antique screen,——going at twenty-five——at twenty-five,——going——going——gone! To the large gentleman in the neckcloth, Theodore!"

  "Theer be that Job Jagway, sir," said Adam, leaning across the side-board to impart this information,——"over yonder, Mr. Belloo sir,——'im as was bidding for the screen,——the tall chap wi' the patches. Two patches be pretty good, but I do wish as I'd give him a couple more, while I was about it, Mr. Belloo sir." Here, the Auctioneer's voice put an end to Adam's self-reproaches, and he turned back to the business in hand.

  "The next lot I'm going to dispose of, gentlemen, is a fine set of six chairs with carved antique backs, and upholstered in tapestry. Also two arm-chairs to match,——wheel 'em out, Theodore! Now what is your price for these eight fine pieces,——look 'em over and bid accordingly."

  "Thirty shillings!" Again from the depths of the crowd.

  "Ha! ha!——you joke sir!" laughed the Auctioneer, rubbing his hands in his most jovial manner, "you joke! I can't see you, but you joke of course, and I laugh accordingly, ha! ha! Thirty shillings for eight, fine, antique, tapestried, hand-carved chairs,——Oh very good,——excellent, upon my soul!"

  "Three pound!" said the fiery-necked Corn-chandler.

  "Guineas!" said the rat-eyed Parsons.

  "Four pound!" nodded the Corn-chandler.

  "Four pound ten!" roared Adam.

  "Five!" nodded Grimes, edging away from Adam's elbow.

  "Six pound ten!" cried Adam.

  "Seven!"——from Parsons.

  "Eight!" said Grimes.

  "Ten!" roared Adam, growing desperate.

  "Eleven!" said Grimes, beginning to mop at his neck again.

  Adam hesitated; eleven pounds seemed so very much for those chairs, that he had seen Prudence and the rosy-cheeked maids dust regularly every morning, and then,——it was not his money, after all. Therefore Adam hesitated, and glanced wistfully towards a certain distant corner.

  "At eleven,——at eleven pounds!——this fine suite of hand-carved antique chairs, at eleven pounds!——at eleven!——at eleven, going——going!——"

  "Fifteen!" said a voice from the distant corner; whereupon Adam drew a great sigh of relief, while the Corn-chandler contorted himself in his efforts to glare at Bellew round the side-board.

  "Fifteen pounds!" chanted the Auctioneer, "I have fifteen,——I am given fifteen,——any advance? These eight antique chairs, going at fifteen!——going! for the last time,——going!——gone! Sold to the gentleman in the corner behind the side-board, Theodore."

  "They were certainly fine chairs, Mr. Grimes!" said Parsons shaking his head.

  "So so!" said the Corn-chandler, sitting down heavily, "So so, Parsons!" and he turned to glare at Bellew, who, lying back in an easy chair with his legs upon another, puffed at his pipe, and regarded all things with a placid interest.

  It is not intended to record in these pages all the bids that were made as the afternoon advanced, for that would be fatiguing to write, and a weariness to read; suffice it that lots were put up, and regularly knocked down but always to Bellew, or Adam. Which last, encouraged by Bellew's bold advances, gaily roared down, and constantly out-bid all competitors with such unhesitating pertinacity, that murmurs rose, and swelled into open complaint. In the midst of which, the fiery-visaged Corn-chandler, purple now, between heat, and vexation, loudly demanded that he lay down some substantial deposit upon what he had already purchased, failing which, he should, there and then, be took, and shook, and throwed out into the yard.

  "Neck, and crop!" added Mr. Parsons.

  "That seems to be a fair proposition," smiled the Auctioneer, who had already experienced some doubts as to Adam's financial capabilities, yet with his joviality all unruffled,——"that seems to be a very fair proposal indeed. If the gentleman will put down some substantial deposit now——"

  "Aye, for sure!" nodded Adam, stepping forward; and, unbuttoning a capacious pocket he drew out a handful of bank-notes, "shall I gi'e ye a hundred pound,——or will fifty be enough?"

  "Why," said the Auctioneer, rubbing his hands as he eyed the fistful of bank-notes, "ten pound will be all that is necessary, sir,——just to ensure good faith, you understand."

  Hereupon, Bellew beckoning to Adam, handed him a like amount which was duly deposited with the Auctioneer.

  So, once more, the bidding began,——once more lots were put up,——and knocked down——now to Adam, and now to Bellew. The bed with the carved head-board had fallen to Adam after a lively contest between him, and Parsons, and the Corn-chandler, which had left the latter in a state of perspiring profanity, from which he was by no means recovered, when the Auctioneer once more rapped for silence.

  "And now, gentlemen, last, but by no means least, we come to the gem of the sale,——a side-board, gentlemen,——a magnificent, mahogany side-board, being a superb example of the carver's art! Here is a side-board, gentlemen, which,——if it can be equalled,——cannot be excelled——no, gentlemen, not if you were to search all the baronial halls, and lordly mansions in this land of mansions, and baronials. It is a truly magnificent piece, in perfect condition,——and to be sold at your own price. I say no more. Gentlemen,——how much for this magnificent, mahogany piece?"

  "Ten pound!"

  "Eleven!"

  "Fifteen!"

  "Seventeen!" said Adam, who was rapidly drawing near the end of his resources.

  "Eighteen!" This from Job Jagway.

  "Go easy there, Job!" hissed Adam, edging a little nearer to him, "go easy, now,——Nineteen!"

  "Come, come Gentlemen!" remonstrated the Auctioneer, "this isn't a coal-scuttle, nor a broom, nor yet a pair of tongs,——this is a magnificent mahogany side-board,——and you offer me——nineteen pound!"

  "Twenty!" said Job.

  "Twenty-one!" roared Adam, making his last bid, and then, turning, he hissed in Job's unwilling ear,——"go any higher, an' I'll pound ye to a jelly, Job!"

  "Twenty-five!" said Parsons.

  "Twenty-seven!"

  "Twenty-eight!"

  "Thirty!" nodded Grimes, scowling at Adam.

  "Thirty-two!" cried Parsons.

  "Thirty-six!"

  "Thirty-seven!"

  "Forty!" nodded Grimes.

  "That drops me," said Parsons, sighing, and shaking his head.

  "Ah!" chuckled the Corn-chandler, "well, I've waited years for that side-board, Parsons, and I ain't going to let you take it away from me——nor nobody else, sir!"

  "At forty!" cried the Auctioneer, "at forty!——this magnifi——"

  "One!" nodded Bellew, beginning to fill his pipe.

  "Forty-one's the bid,——I have forty-one from the gent in the corner——"

  "Forty-five!" growled the Corn-chandler.

  "Six!" said Bellew.

  "Fifty!" snarled Grimes.

  "One!" said Bellew.

  "Gent in the corner gives me fifty-one!" chanted the Auctioneer——"any advance?——at fifty-one——"

  "Fifty-five!" said Grimes, beginning to mop at his neck harder than ever.

  "Add ten!" nodded Bellew.

  "What's that?" cried Grimes, wheeling about.

  "Gent in the corner offers me sixty-five,——at sixty-five,——this magnificent piece at sixty-five! What, are you all done?——at sixty-five, and cheap at the price,——come, gentlemen, take your time, give it another look over, and bid accordingly."

  The crowd had dwindled rapidly during the last hour, which was scarcely to be wondered at seeing that they were constantly out-bid——either by a hoarse voiced, square-shouldered fellow in a neck-cloth, or a dreamy individual who lolled in a corner, and puffed at a pipe.

  But now, as Grimes, his red cheeks puffed out, his little eyes snapping in a way that many knew meant danger (with a large D)——as the rich Corn-chandler, whose word was law to a good many, turned and confronted this lounging, long-legged individual,——such as remained closed round them in a ring, in keen expectation of what was to follow. Observing which, the Corn-chandler feeling it incumbent upon him now or never, to vindicate himself as a man of property, and substance, and not to be put down, thrust his hands deep into his pockets, spread his legs wide apart, and stared at Bellew in a way that most people had found highly disconcerting, before now. Bellew, however, seemed wholly unaffected, and went on imperturbably filling his pipe.

  "At sixty-five!" cried the Auctioneer, leaning towards Grimes with his hammer poised, "at sixty-five——Will you make it another pound, sir!——come,——what do you say?"

  "I say——no sir!" returned the Corn-chandler, slowly, and impressively, "I say no, sir,——I say——make it another——twenty pound, sir!" Hereupon heads were shaken, or nodded, and there rose the sudden shuffle of feet as the crowd closed in nearer.

  "I get eighty-five! any advance on eighty-five?"

  "Eighty-six!" said Bellew, settling the tobacco in his pipe-bowl with his thumb.

  Once again the Auctioneer leaned over and appealed to the Corn-chandler, who stood in the same attitude, jingling the money in his pocket, "Come sir, don't let a pound or so stand between you and a side-board that can't be matched in the length and breadth of the United Kingdom,——come, what do you say to another ten shillings?"

  "I say, sir," said Grimes, with his gaze still riveted upon Bellew, "I say——no sir,——I say make it another——twenty pound sir!"

  Again there rose the shuffle of feet, again heads were nodded, and elbows nudged neighbouring ribs, and all eyes were focussed upon Bellew who was in the act of lighting his pipe.

  "One hundred and six pounds!" cried the Auctioneer, "at one six!——at one six!——"

  Bellew struck a match, but the wind from the open casement behind him, extinguished it.

  "I have one hundred and six pounds! is there any advance, yes or no?——going at one hundred and six!"

  Adam who, up till now, had enjoyed the struggle to the utmost, experienced a sudden qualm of fear.

  Bellew struck another match.

  "At one hundred and six pounds!——at one six,——going at one hundred and six pounds——!"

  A cold moisture started out on Adam's brow, he clenched his hands, and muttered between his teeth. Supposing the money were all gone, like his own share, supposing they had to lose this famous old side-board,——and to Grimes of all people! This, and much more, was in Adam's mind while the Auctioneer held his hammer poised, and Bellew went on lighting his pipe.

  "Going at one hundred and six!——going!——going!——"

  "Fifty up!" said Bellew. His pipe was well alight at last, and he was nodding to the Auctioneer through a fragrant cloud.

  "What!" cried Grimes, "'ow much?"

  "Gent in the corner gives me one hundred and fifty six pounds," said the Auctioneer, with a jovial eye upon the Corn-chandler's lowering visage, "one five six,——all done?——any advance? Going at one five six,——going! going!——gone!" The hammer fell, and with its tap a sudden silence came upon the old hall. Then, all at once, the Corn-chandler turned, caught up his hat, clapped it on, shook a fat fist at Bellew, and crossing to the door, lumbered away, muttering maledictions as he went.

  By twos and threes the others followed him until there remained only Adam, Bellew, the Auctioneer, and the red-nosed Theodore. And yet, there was one other, for, chancing to raise his eyes to the minstrel's gallery, Bellew espied Miss Priscilla, who, meeting his smiling glance, leaned down suddenly over the carved rail, and very deliberately, threw him a kiss, and then hurried away with a quick, light tap-tap of her stick.

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