Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/385

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A Bundle of Life.

PROLOGUE.

I.

SIR SIDNEY WARCOP was a gentleman who had been born with many good and perfect gifts, but he had pawned them to his Adversary for a few casks of brandy and a little soda. In his early manhood he had been considered a handsome, dashing young buck of the old school, a three-bottle hero, a sad dog, an irresistible rake—a good-hearted devil. Now he was reformed, and reformation had meant in his case, as in that of many, the substitution of many disagreeable virtues for a few atoning sins. Once over-generous, he was now frugal; once fearless, he was now discreet ; once too loving, he was now indifferent; once a zealot, he was now unprejudiced; once candid, he was now abyssmal—in a phrase, he was the embodiment of gentlemanly correctness, well-bred honour, and polite religion.

At the age of six and twenty he had surprised society in two ways: first, by running away with his enemy's wife; and secondly, by marrying the lady on the death, some months later, of her distracted

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