Page:The Yellow Book - 01.djvu/158

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142
Two Sketches

another family—she had so frequently become a mother in the past. But month succeeded month, and she forever disappointed me, and at last I abandoned hope. In solitude and exile Mercedes degenerated sadly; got monstrously fat; too indolent to gnaw, let her teeth grow to a preposterous length; and in the end died of a surfeit of smetana.

When I returned to Paris, at the age of twenty, to faire mon droit in the Latin Quarter, I paid a visit to our old house, and discovered the same old concierge in the loge. I asked her about the mice, and she told me her children had found the care of them such a bother that at first they had neglected them, and at last allowed them to escape. "They took to the walls, and for a long time afterwards, Monsieur, the mice of this neighbourhood were pied. To this day they are of a paler hue than elsewhere."

 
 

II—A Broken Looking-Glass

He climbed the three flights of stone stairs, and put his key into the lock; but before he turned it, he stopped—to rest, to take breath. On the door his name was painted in big white letters, Mr. Richard Dane. It is always silent in the Temple at midnight; to-night the silence was dense, like a fog. It was Sunday night; and on Sunday night, even within the hushed precincts of the Temple, one is conscious of a deeper hush.

When he had lighted the lamp in his sitting-room, he let himself drop into an arm-chair before the empty fireplace. He was tired, he was exhausted. Yet nothing had happened to tire him. He had dined, as he always dined on Sundays, with the Rodericks, in Cheyne Walk; he had driven home in a hansom. There was

no