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“To begin with, Captain Hastings, you must understand that Hunter’s Lodge, where we are going, and where the tragedy took place, is only a small shooting-box in the heart of the Derbyshire moors. Our real home is near Newmarket, and we usually rent a flat in town for the season. Hunter’s Lodge is looked after by a housekeeper who is quite capable of doing all we need when we run down for an occasional week-end. Of course, during the shooting season, we take down some of our own servants from Newmarket. My uncle, Mr. Harrington Pace (as you may know, my mother was a Miss Pace of New York), has, for the last three years, made his home with us. He never got on well with my father, or my elder brother, and I suspect that my being somewhat of a prodigal son myself rather increased than diminished his affection towards me. Of course I am a poor man, and my uncle was a rich one—in other words, he paid the piper! But, though exacting in many ways, he was not really hard to get on with, and we all three lived very harmoniously together. Two days ago my uncle, rather wearied with some recent gaieties of ours in town, suggested that we should run down to Derbyshire for a day or two. My wife telegraphed to Mrs. Middleton, the housekeeper, and we went down that same afternoon. Yesterday evening I was forced to return to town, but my wife and my uncle remained on. This morning I received this telegram.” He handed it over to me:
Just then, a window opened in the gloom. “Children,” said Lady Markham’s voice, “are you there? I think I see something like you, though it is so dark. Bring your little sister in, Markham. She must not catch cold on the eve of going back to town.”
He settled back into his armchair, composing a painfully attentive countenance, and I sat down and began:
"But he's still wrong. No rational being is supposed ever to see me face to face. But you do."
Not everything he saw was familiar. The walls of the room itself were strange. They were not metal or plaster or knotty pine; they were not papered, painted or overlaid with stucco. They seemed to be made of some sort of hard organic compound, perhaps a sort of plastic or processed cellulose. It was hard to tell colors in the pinkish light. But they seemed to have none. They were "neutral"—the color of aged driftwood or unbleached cloth.
situated and so unfortunate, or else of such exceptional imaginative force or training (which is itself, perhaps, from the practical point of view, a misfortune), as to be capable of a discontent with life as it is, so passionate as to outweigh instinctive timidities and discretions. Rest assured that to make any large section of the comfortable upper middle class Socialists, you must either misrepresent, and more particularly under-represent Socialism, or you must quicken their imaginations far beyond the present state of affairs.
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