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"This is the second time," said he, "that you've pushed your ugly face uninvited into my company. I don't understand such impertinence, not I; and, what's more, I don't intend to put up with it. Make yourself scarce, vinegar-mug, will you? and, I say, as you appear to have a good deal of spare time on hand, suppose that instead of annoying me, who don't want you, you were to look a little sharper after your wife. I saw brother Eichardson coming down the hill from the cottage a little while since."

At this there was a titter from the other table. Mr Parkins glared for a moment at George without speaking, then, with a look of angry contempt, he left the room. "Shut him up rather, eh?" said George to his young friends. "Unparalleled impudence, to come and take me to task!" Already, though, while the words were hardly out, he repented .of them—felt their cruel injustice. But he had been carried away by his temper just as when he hurled the stone at Ned Eoberts's head. A vile speech it was, and none knew better than George himself that it was so. Of course the allusion was to something, and it was this: When the strictest of the sect had been dissatisfied with Mrs Parkins on her first arrival, some more liberal brethren (and loudest among them George Bateman) had cried shame on them, and challenged them to find a flaw in the object of their dislike; the consequence had been groans and upturnings of the eyes, indicating that the manner of Mrs Parkins towards brother Eichardson was more free than was consistent with a spiritual deportment. They had not dared to put their imputation into words, but it was understood, and it caused much wrath to Mr Parkins. As for Mrs Parkins, she remained kind, genial, and even more gentle and forbearing to the green-eyed than to the other believers. She was sorry for them, but for herself did not seem to think the implied slander worth a thought; it glanced off her as a hailstone glances from a surface of crystal glass.

Mr Parkins was made extremely angry by George's insults in the coffee-room, and resolved that, so far as he was concerned, George might pursue his fate, and Mr Parkins didn't particularly care if that fate should be a miserable one. Even Mr Parkins, though, let it be understood, was only angry at the insult which he could hardly forgive. It is impossible that he can have given the slightest belief to the slander—belief, pooh! Mrs Parkins, when it was told her, only said, " To think of poor George's disappointment turning his head so! I'm sorry for him; I really am. He behaved like a friend to me when he was like himself, and I don't forget it." Enough of George for the present. He was very wicked, very ill-tempered, and very disagreeable; but there is no particular incident of his life worth recording. A good deal of public interest was, however, directed towards his uncle, whose marriage preparations went forward apace. From asking each other and asking themselves if it were possible that Mr Bateman could mean to marry, the Gritvalers had now got to asking, why on earth he should not marry if he liked; what there was so very strange about it; and they knew—that is, they had every one in his own mind decided—that he would marry. And so they talked and talked away; and when any fair one sniffed, and said that Miss Maine had not been long in consoling herself for her lost lover, there were a dozen voices ready to commend Patty's spirit, and to add that Mr Ned Eoberts deserved all he had got, and a great deal more—that he ought to be hanged, that he did.

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CHAPTER IX.

Patty's Married Life.

Meanwhile Mr Bateman was taking his measures in far too happy a frame of mind to heed much what Gritvale might be saying. He kept most honourably to what he had said in making his proposal to Patty. He manifested no sort of expectation of ever gaining her heart, and he never tired of doing everything which he thought would give her pleasure and wean her from her despondency. The practical character of his plans and movements impressed both ladies favourably, and secured their admiration and confidence. He may not have been so well adapted as Ned Koberts for setting up in an innermost shrine and worshipping; but outside of the shrine, coping with the rough places and intricacies of the world, or divining and labouring for the pleasure of one whom he loved, he left Ned

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Roberts nowhere. It was a truth, a fortunate truth, that he did not compete with Ned at all—their grounds were entirely different, and so there was not a continual comparison going on. If Bateman did anything clever or kind, he could be commended without implied disparagement of Ned: if Ned, like a demigod, claimed his place sometimes in the starry memory of days gone for ever, the hero-worship, the reflection of early idolatry, did not in the least interfere with the physical fact of plain, honest work-a-day Bateman .

The pair, when wedded, were to live in a house of which Mr Bateman had for some time past occupied a room or two. It had become his, rather against his will, by one of those mysterious arrangements with which business men are often familiar. He had a claim for a sum of money, and did not want a house; somehow he got the house, and did without his money, the agent who managed the transaction saying to him, "Never mind, sir, the house is worth more than the money for which it is substituted." To this Mr Bateman replied, " That the house would be dear to him at any price;" whereupon the agent said, "He would be sure to want a house some day." And now the day had

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