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MALLOCK W.
In an enchanted island
page 24

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THE EVE OF STARTING 21 letter. The whole proceedings were fertile in that unintended humour which is the redeeming feature of modern popular government. By Christmas Eve, however, they had perforce come to an end ; and I felt that I owed to them one of the keenest pleasures of life—the pleasure they caused me by their cessa-tion. The day after Christmas Day I came up to London to collect some necessaries I had already ordered for my journey. If it had not been that I found myself thus occupied, I should hardly even yet have realised that I was on the point of starting. I dined out twice, I went to the theatre once. Every-thing happened in such a natural and habitual way that it seemed as if it would go on happening so indefinitely ; and I felt as if I were dreaming, rather than as if I were awake, when, on the fourth evening, somewhere about eight o'clock, I found myself muffled on the platform at Charing Cross, with the curves of the huge roof glimmering dimly in the gaslight, and a wind, which seemed like a message from foreign seas, sweeping in through the open arch at the end, along the chimneys of the dark Continental train. Five minutes later I was drifting out into the night, and my thoughts dwelt regretfully on a room not yet two miles away from me, where a pear half eaten was still perhaps lying on a dessert plate, with a glass half full, as if waiting for me to return to them ; and on another room, where a bed which I should not sleep in was still tumbled with the last disorders of packing.

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