He himself strolled in the opposite direction, not to seem to be watching her.
He was in good spirits: felt like a general, who, after repulsing many desperate attacks successfully, orders an advance, and sees the tide of battle roll away from his bayonets. His very body seemed elastic, indomitable; he walked lustily out into the country, sniffed the perfumed hedges, and relished life. To be sure he could not walk away from all traces of his misdeeds; he fell in with objects that to an ordinary sinner might have spoiled the walk, and even marred the spring-time. He found his creditor Maxley with grizzly beard and bloodshot eyes, belabouring a milestone; and two small boys quizzing him, and pelting him with mud: and soon after he met his creditor, old Dr. Phillips, in a cart, coming back to Barkington to end his days there, at the almshouse. But to our triumphant Bankrupt and Machiavel these things were literally nothing: he paced complacently on, and cared no more for either of those his wrecks than the smiling sea itself seems to care for the dead ships and men it washed ashore a week ago.
He came home before luncheon for his gossip with Jane; but she had not returned. All the better; her budget would be the larger.
To while the time he got his file of the _Times,_ and amused himself noting down the fluctuations in Peruvian bonds,
While thus employed he heard a loud knock at his door, and soon after Peggy's voice and a man's in swift collision. Hasty feet came along the passage, the parlour door opened, and a young man rushed in pale as ashes, and stared at him; he was breathless, and his lips moved, but no sound came.
Mr. Hardie rose like a tower and manned himself to repulse this fresh assault.
The strange visitor gasped out, "You are wanted at our house."
JANE HARDIE had found Albion Villa in the miserable state that precedes an auction: the house raw, its contents higgledy-piggledy. The stair carpets, and drawing-room carpets, were up, and in rolls in the dining-room; the bulk of the furniture was there too; the auction was to be in that room. The hall was clogged with great packages, and littered with small, all awaiting the railway carts; and Edward, dusty and deliquescent, was cording, strapping, and nailing them at the gallop, in his shirt sleeves.