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night, for no conceivable reason, an unwonted wakefulness came upon him. Unaccountably he realised he was a contemptible liar, All through the small hours of Monday he reviewed the tale of his falsehoods, and when he tried air max 90 sale to turn his mind from that, the financial problem suddenly rose upon him. He heard two o’clock strike, and three. It is odd how unhappy some of us are at times, when we are at our happiest.
Chapter 34
“Good morning, Madam,” said Hoopdriver, as Jessie came into the breakfast room of the Golden Pheasant on Monday morning, and he smiled, bowed, rubbed his hands together, and pulled out a chair for her, and rubbed his hands again.
She stopped abruptly, with a puzzled expression on her face. “Where HAVE I seen that before?” she said.
“The chair?” said Hoopdriver, flushing.
“No–the attitude.”
She came forward and shook ha nike air max nds with him, looking the while curiously into his face. “And–Madam?”
“It’s a habit,” said Mr. Hoopdriver, guiltily. “A bad habit. Calling ladies Madam. You must put it down to our colonial roughness. Out there up country–y’know–the ladies–so rare–we call ’em all Madam.”
“You HAVE some funny habits, brother Chris,” said Jessie. “Before you sell your diamond shares and go into society, as you say, and stand nike air max sale for Parliament–What a fine thing it is to be a man!–you must cure yourself. That habit of bowing as you do, and rubbing your hands, and looking expectant.”
“It’s a habit.”
“I know. But I don’t think it a good one. You don’t mind my telling you?”
“Not a bit. I’m grateful.”
“I’m blessed or afflicted with a trick of observation,” said Jessie, looking at the breakfast table. Mr. Hoopdriver put his hand to his moustache and then, thinking this might be another habit, checked his arm and stuck his hand into his pocket. He felt juiced awkward, to use his private formula. Jessie’s eye wandered to the armchair, where a piece of binding was loose, and, possibly to carry out her theory of an observant disposition, she turned and asked him for a pin.
Mr. Hoopdriver’s hand fluttered instinctively to his lappel, and there, planted by habit, were a couple of stray pins he had impoun nike air max 95 ded.
“What an odd place to put pins!” exclaimed Jessie, taking it.
“It’s ‘andy,” said Mr. Hoopdriver. “I saw a chap in a shop do it once.”
“You must have a careful disposition,” she said, over her shoulder, kneeling down to the chair.
“In the centre of Africa–up country, that is–one learns to value pins,” said Mr. Hoopdriver, after a perceptible pause. “There weren’t over many pins in Africa. They don’t lie about on the ground there.” His face was now in a fine, red glow. Where would the draper break out next? He thrust his hands into his coat pockets, then took one out again, furtively removed the second pin and dropped it behind him gently. It fell with a loud ‘ping’ on the fender. Happily she made no remark, being preoccupied with the binding of the chair.
Mr. Hoopdriver, instead of sitting down, went up to the table and stood against it, with his finger-tips upon nike air max 1 the cloth. They were keeping breakfast a tremendous time. He took up his rolled serviette looked closely and scrutinisingly at the ring, then put his hand under the fold of the napkin and examined the texture, and put the thing down again. Then he had a vague impulse to finger his hollow wisdom tooth–happily checked. He suddenly discovered he was standing as if the table was a counter, and sat down forthwith. He drummed with his hand on the table. He felt dreadfully hot and self-conscious.
“Breakfast is late,” said Jessie, standing up.
“Isn’t it?”
Conversation was slack. Jessie wanted to know the distance to Ringwood. Then silence fell again.
Mr. Hoopdriver, very uncomfortable and studying an easy bearing, looked again at the breakfast things and then idly lifted the corner of the tablecloth on the ends of his fingers, and regarded it. “Fifteen three,” he thought, privately.
“Why do you do that?” said Jessie.
“WHAT?” nike air max 90 said Hoopdriver, dropping the tablecloth convulsively.
“Look at the cloth like that. I saw you do it yesterday, too.”
Mr. Hoopdriver’s face became quite a bright red. He began pulling his moustache nervously. “I know,” he said. “I know. It’s a queer habit, I know. But out there, you know, there’s native servants, you know, and–it’s a queer thing to talk about–but one has to look at things to see, don’t y’know, whether they’re quite clean or not. It’s got to be a habit.”
“How odd!” said Jessie.
“Isn’t it?” mumbled Hoopdriver.
“If I were a Sherlock Holmes,” said Jessie, “I suppo Nike TN se I could have told you were a colonial from little things like that. But anyhow, I guessed it, didn’t I?”
“Yes,” said Hoopdriver, in a melancholy tone, “you guessed it.”
Why not seize the opportunity for a neat confession, and add, “unhappily in this case you guessed wrong.” Did she suspect? Then, at the psychological moment, the girl bumped the door open with her tray and brought in the coffee and scrambled eggs.
“I am rather lu nike air max classic cky wi cheap nike air max trainers th my intuitions, sometimes,” said Jessie.
Remorse that had been accumulating in his mind for two days surged to the top of his mind. What a shabby liar he was!
And, besides, he must sooner or later, inevitably, give himself away.
Chapter 35
Mr. Hoopdriver helped the eggs and then, instead of beginning, sat with his cheek on his hand, watching Jessie pour out the coffee. His ears were a cheap nike air max bright red, and his eyes bright. He took his coffee cup clumsily, cleared his throat, suddenly leant back in his chair, and thrust his hands deep into his pockets. “I’ll do it,” he said aloud.
“Do what?” said Jessie, looking up in surprise over the coffee pot. She was just beginning her scrambled egg.
“Own up.”
“Own what?”
“Miss Milton– I’m a liar.” He put his head on one side and regarded her with a frown of tremendous resolution. Then in measured accents, and moving his Cheap Nike TN head slowly from side to side, he announced, “Ay’m a deraper.”
“You’re a draper? I thought–”
“You thought wrong. But it’s bound to come up. Pins, attitude, habits–It’s plain enough.
“I’m a draper’s assistant let out for a ten-days holiday. Jest a draper’s assistant. Not much, is it? A counter-jump nike tns er.”
“A draper’s assistant isn’t a position to be ashamed of,” she said, recovering, and not quite understanding yet what this all meant.
“Yes, it is,” he said, “for a man, in this country now. To be just another man’s hand, as I am. To have to wear what clothes you are told, and go to church to please customers, and work–There’s no other kind of men stand such hours. A drunken bricklayer’s a king to it.”
“But why are you telling me this now?”
“It’s important you should know at once.”
“But, Mr. Benson–”
“That isn’t all. If you don’t mind my speaking about myself a bit, there’s a few things I’d like to t cheap nike air max ell you. I can’t go on deceiving you. My name’s not Benson. WHY I told you Benson, I DON’T know. Except that I’m a kind of fool. Well–I wanted somehow to seem more than I was. My name’s Hoopdriver.”
“And that about South Africa–and that lion.”
And the discovery of diamonds on the ostrich farm. Lies too. And all the reminiscences of the giraffes–lies too. I never rode on no giraffes. I’d be afraid.”
He looked at her with a kind of sullen satisfaction. He had eased his conscience, anyhow. She regarded him in infinite perplexity. This was a new side altogether to the man. “But WHY,” she began.
“Why did I tell you such things? _I_ don’t know. Silly sort of chap, I expect. I suppose I wanted to impress you. But somehow, now, I want you to know the truth.”
Silence. Breakfast untouched. “I thought I’d tell you,” said Mr. Hoopdriver. “I suppose it’s snobbishness and all that kind of thing, as much as anything. I lay awake pretty near all last night t hinking about myself; thinking what a got-up imitation of a man I was, and all that.”
“And you haven’t any diamond shares, and you are not going into Parliament, and you’re not–”
“All Lies,” said Hoopdriver, in a sepulchral voice. “Lies from beginning to end. ‘Ow I came to tell ’em I DON’T know.”
She stared at him blankly.
“I never set eyes on Africa in my life,” said Mr. Hoopdriver, completing the confession. Then he pulled his right hand from his pocket, and with the nonchalance of one to whom the bitterness of death is passed, began to drink his coffee.
“It’s a little surprising,” began Jessie, vaguely.
“Think it over,” said Mr. Hoopdriver. “I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart.”
And then breakfast proceeded in silence. Jessie ate very little, and seemed lost in thought. Mr. Hoopdriver was so overcome by contrition and anxiety that he consumed an extraordinarily large breakfast out of pure nervousness, an

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