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the rest of the evening

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the rest of the evening

In the hall they found Sprats enveloped in an ulster which completely covered her dinner-gown; Lucian was cramming a handful of money, obviously taken at random from a receptacle where paper-currency and gold and silver coins were all mingled together, into a pocket; a footman was carrying a case of food and wine out to the cab. Mrs. Berenson insisted on seeing the two apostles of charity depart—the entire episode had put her into a good temper, and she enlivened the next hour with artless descriptions of her various states of feeling.

Her chatter amused Saxonstowe; Darlington and Mrs. Damerel appeared to have heard much of it on previous occasions, and received it with equanimity. As soon as dinner was over she announced that if Lucian{125} had been at home she had meant to spend
in expounding her ideas on the subject of the wished-for drama to him, but as things were she would go round to the Empire for an hour—she would just be in time, she said, to see a turn in which the performer, a contortionist, could tie himself into a complicated knot, dislocate every joint in his body, and assume the most grotesque positions, all without breaking himself in pieces.

‘It is the grimmest performance,’ she said to Saxonstowe; ‘it makes me dream, and I wake screaming; and the sensation of finding that the dream is a dream, and not a reality, is so exquisite that I treat myself to it at least once a week. I think that all great artists should cultivate sensations—don’t you?’

Upon this point Saxonstowe was unable to give a satisfactory answer, but he replied very politely that he trusted Mrs. Berenson would enjoy her treat. Soon after her departure he made his own adieu, leaving Mrs. Damerel to entertain Darlington and two or three other men who had dropped in after dinner, and who seemed in nowise surprised to find Lucian not at home  The entire
room was faced with polished granite..
CHAPTER XIV
Lucian swooped down upon the humble dwelling in which his less fortunate fellow resided, like an angel who came to destroy rather than to save. He took everything into his own hands, as soon as the field of operations lay open to him, and it was quite ten minutes before Sprats, by delicate finesse, managed to shut him up in one room with the invalid, while she and the wife talked practical matters in another. At the end of an hour she got him safely away from the house. He was in a pleasurable state of mind; the situation had been full of charm to him, and he walked out into the street gloating over the fact that the sick man and his wife and children were now fed and warmed and made generally comfortable, and had money in the purse wherewith to keep the wolf from the door for many days.

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