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2017/05/16 17:42
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Who could have dreamt she would have taken such a curious line? That she should be shocked, distressed, indignant, was to be expected--it was what he dreaded. But she was none of these things. The affair with Mrs. Atwood seemed to pass her by. She blamed him because he didn't own up, because he was cruel to Eileen Atwood when he denied that he had ever cared for her. He had cared, as much as it was in him to care at all--then. Now, he was absolutely truthful when he had said that Lallie's shoe-string was more to him than Eileen Atwood's whole body. But it had not pleased Lallie. Women were incomprehensible. He knew that Lallie did not love him, but he had believed that he could make her love him in time. She was so affectionate, so passionately grateful for kindness: surely, surely she must respond some day if only he got his chance.

Had this horrible woman ruined it entirely? He felt that he could gladly have strangled Mrs. Atwood with his own hands: yet his knees bent under him and his pulses were thundering in his ears. He went into the deserted dining-room and mixed himself a stiff whisky-and-soda, and drank it at a draught. He felt better after it and more hopeful.

Poor little Lallie! It had been a horrid scene. He wouldn't appeal to her again--not just now while she was still angry, but in Hamchester--thank Heaven! she would be somewhere within reach where he could see her sometimes. Perhaps by and by, when she had cooled down, she would listen to reason. By the way, he might go and see that schoolmaster fellow who was acting as her guardian. The Chesters said he was a very decent chap, quite a man of the world. Ballinger thought he might just give a hint that there had been unpleasantness about another woman, and a tolerant, broad-minded man--the Chesters said he was that--would say something sensible to Lallie, and it would have weight. She was forever quoting him. She'd probably take it from him.

It never occurred to Sidney Ballinger that a guardian of any sort could regard him other than in the most favourable light. After all, eight thousand a year is eight thousand a year, and "I'm not a bad chap or wastrel. There's nothing against me really," he reflected.

By tea-time he was able to take quite an optimistic view of the situation.
CHAPTER XXI
Nearly three weeks later, Tony Bevan sat on a seat in the sun watching "Pots." It was Thursday afternoon and there was an "extra half."

In front of him, standing with legs wide apart, very conscious of a new covert coat and gaiters, stood Punch; a round diminutive Punch all by himself, and overjoyed at his isolation. His family were at least three seats away.

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