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Charles Willing Beale
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They seated themselves in the spacious old leather-covered pew; Ah
Ben and Dorothy upon one side, while Paul sat opposite. The men were
soon engaged with their pipes, while Miss Guir had settled herself
upon a pile of cushions in the corner nearest the chimney.
"You have been absent from home to-day, I believe," said Henley to
the old man, by way of opening the conversation, and with the hope of
eliciting an answer which would throw some light upon his habits.
"Yes," Ah Ben replied, blowing a volume of smoke from under his long,
white moustache; "I seldom pass the entire day in this house. There
are few things that give me more pleasure than roaming alone through
the forest. One seems to come in closer touch with first principles.
Nature, Mr. Henley, must be courted to be comprehended."
"I suppose so," answered Paul, not knowing what else to say, and
wondering at the man's odd method of passing the time.
A long silence followed after this, only interrupted at intervals by
guttural mutterings from the parrot, which seemed to be lodged
somewhere in the upper regions of the obscure stairway. When the
clock struck eleven, the bird shrieked out, as upon the previous
"Dorothy! Dorothy! it is bed time!"
Miss Guir arose, and saying "Good night," left Ah Ben and Mr. Henley