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CHAPTER 14. WHEN SHALL THESE THREE MEET AGAIN? (continued)
Three are to meet at the gatehouse to-night. How does each one of the three get through the day?
Neville Landless, though absolved from his books for the time by Mr. Crisparkle--whose fresh nature is by no means insensible to the charms of a holiday--reads and writes in his quiet room, with a concentrated air, until it is two hours past noon. He then sets himself to clearing his table, to arranging his books, and to tearing up and burning his stray papers. He makes a clean sweep of all untidy accumulations, puts all his drawers in order, and leaves no note or scrap of paper undestroyed, save such memoranda as bear directly on his studies. This done, he turns to his wardrobe, selects a few articles of ordinary wear--among them, change of stout shoes and socks for walking--and packs these in a knapsack. This knapsack is new, and he bought it in the High Street yesterday. He also purchased, at the same time and at the same place, a heavy walking-stick; strong in the handle for the grip of the hand, and iron-shod. He tries this, swings it, poises it, and lays it by, with the knapsack, on a window-seat. By this time his arrangements are complete.
He dresses for going out, and is in the act of going--indeed has left his room, and has met the Minor Canon on the staircase, coming out of his bedroom upon the same story--when he turns back again for his walking-stick, thinking he will carry it now. Mr. Crisparkle, who has paused on the staircase, sees it in his hand on his immediately reappearing, takes it from him, and asks him with a smile how he chooses a stick?
'Really I don't know that I understand the subject,' he answers. 'I chose it for its weight.'
'Much too heavy, Neville; MUCH too heavy.'
'To rest upon in a long walk, sir?'
'Rest upon?' repeats Mr. Crisparkle, throwing himself into pedestrian form. 'You don't rest upon it; you merely balance with it.'
'I shall know better, with practice, sir. I have not lived in a walking country, you know.'
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