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Until now it had been plain sailing. Now . . . well, Mary invariably dated the beginning of the real trouble with Cuffy from the day on which he flew into such a naughty passion with his horse. Exactly an easy child to manage he had never been; he was too fanciful for that. There was no need for Richard to fuss and fidget about keeping ugly things from him. Cuffy himself would have none of them. Before he was a twelve-month old, did he, in looking at his Queen of Hearts story-book, draw near the picture of the thieving knave, you saw his eyes getting bigger and bigger. And if he could not contrive, with his baby hands, to turn two pages at once and nobody else might do it for him he would avert his eyes altogether, or lay his palm flat over the wretchs ugly face. The Dore illustrations to his big fairy-book had a kind of horrid fascination for him. There he would sit staring at these dense and gloomy forests, these ruined, web-hung castles surrounded by their stagnant moats and then, when bedtime came, he turned frightened. It was of no use trying to shame him with: A great boy like you! Why, the Dumplings arent a bit afraid. Or cheerily assuring him: There are no such things, darling, as witches and giants. Theyre only made up to amuse little children.

Oh, yes, the children. Why . . . the truth is, dearest Mary, I havent . . . they are not with me. Henry thought . . . he thought . . .

On the platform at Leicester, reached towards five oclock, so many muddied feet had passed and repassed that, even under cover, not a clean or a dry spot was left. And still the rain fell, hissing and spitting off the edges of the roof, lying as chocolate-coloured puddles between the rails. In the station-yard the wet cabs and omnibuses glistened in the dusk; and every hollow of their leather aprons held its pool of water. The drivers, climbing down from their boxes, shook themselves like dogs; the patient horses drooped their heads and stood weak-kneed, their coats dark and shiny with moisture.

The liking was chiefly on their part. For though, since setting sail, he had been rid of the big-mouthed colonial boaster, and among runaways like himself, men who were almost as glad as he to turn their backs on Australia but a single one of the thirty cabin-passengers contemplated returning this was far from saying that he had found in them congenial spirits. They chafed him in ways they did not dream of. The Midases of the party it was ruled sharply off into those who had amassed a fortune and those who patently had not; none went home but for one or other reason; he himself was the only half tint on the palette these lucky specimens were for ever trumpeting the opinion that the colonies were a good enough place in which to fill your money-bags; but to empty them, you repaired to more civilised climes. And to hear his case or at least what had once been his intention put thus crudely made Mahony wince. The speakers reminded him of underbred guests, who start belittling their entertainment before they are fairly over their hosts door-sill. At the same time he had to laugh in his sleeve. For where, pray, could Monsieur le Boucher and Monsieur lEpicier undo their purse-strings to better effect, find a society more exactly cut to their shape, than in the Antipodes, where no display was too showy, no banquet too sumptuous, no finery too loud; and where the man who could slap a well-filled pocket was anyones equal? Even less to his taste was the group of lean kine. With nothing to show for themselves but broken health and shattered illusions, these men saw the land of their exile through the smoked glasses of hate, and had not a single good word to say for it. Which of course was nonsense.

My dear, Eliza would find him for you in less than half an hour. Besides, Mary, its very unlikely anyone would want him in such a hurry as all that.