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he turns to enter the shop, when a hand is laid upon his shoulder.
“How are you, Guy?”.
“What, you here, Vivian!” And the two men grasp hands heartily. “Where are you staying ?"
“At the Westminster.”
“Rouen! What the deuce were you doing there ?"
"Oh, only spoiling a few pages of my sketch-book.”
“How long did you stop ?”
"About a fortnight,” answers Guy, a little confused.
The other looks at him shrewdly.
“Were you sketching landscapes or faces ?” he asks, smiling. Then, linking his arm in Guy's,-" Come and have some lunch."
“My dear fellow, it isn't two hours since I breakfasted.”
“Never mind; you needn't eat anything. My wife is sure to want to see you, and I'll introduce you to a very charming woman.”
“Thanks; but- "
“But you don't care about charming women. Never mind; come and see this one. Only for heaven's sake don't fall in love with her. She is an awful flirt, and lives upon broken hearts."
« Then I'm afraid she won't find me amusing. I'm a poor hand at making love to fashionable women. But how is Mrs. Vivian pa
"Oh, as capricious and worrying as ever," emphatically. “If God made man, I'm sure the devil made women-confound them !"
“What, the old story !” laughs Guy.
“Of course, the old story, or I shouldn't be boring my life out here, just when the 'country is at its best.”
“What induced you to come ?”
“Why, I mean to go to Norway this Summer, so I'm paving the way by giving in to my wife a little.”
"I see, but you don't say how she is ? in health I mean." .
"Perfectly well, of course; but pretending to be delicate, as usual. Guy, my boy, take experience you haven't bought for once, and don't marry." "
"I don't intend to do so."
“I didn't, either, but that doesn't make any difference. You meet a woman, a madness seizes you, you must have her, so you marry her, if she unhappily can't get anybody better, and lament it ever after."
"And if she won't have you,” laughs Guy, “you lament her all your life as the
only woman you ever could have cared for.”
“A man consoles himself for a lost love,” responds his friend contemptuously, “but never for lost freedom.”
“The old story!” thought Guy. “What a pity two people, both very nice in their way, can't hit it off better !".
“Here we are!” says Mr. Vivian, opening the door of a sitting-room. “Gertrude, here's Guy! Where's Milly ?”
A fair woman, pretty, if a little passée, comes forward quickly, saying, with unfeigned pleasure, “Oh, Guy! how glad I am to see you !"
Then follow a whole string of questions. Mrs. Vivian is not the least inclined to let him off about his visit to Rouen, as her husband has done. Guy is getting confused; when Mr. Vivian rushes to the rescue.
“Confound it, Gertrude !” (impatiently),
“ do change the subject. One would have thought you had lived long enough in the world to know that it is not discreet to press unmarried men with so many questions."
“Or married ones either, perhaps !* retorts his wife, with a touch of sarcasm.
“If that is intended for me, let me assure you that my experience of one of the sex has never tempted me to pursue my researches further.”
“ As great a bear as ever, you see, Guy !" says Mrs. Vivian. colouring a little, for this attached couple never spare their friends a " scene of domestic interest."
"He always was a shocking bad fellow !* laughs Guy, good-humouredly, anxious to divert retort.
"Ah ! my dear boy, it's deuced easy for you fellows to be always good-tempered and pleasant, you've nothing to try you.