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Chapter 78 (continued)
'Why, father!' cried Joe, entering at the moment, 'you're in spirits to-day!'
'It's nothing partickler,' said Mr Willet, chuckling again. 'It's nothing at all partickler, Joseph. Tell me something about the Salwanners.' Having preferred this request, Mr Willet chuckled a third time, and after these unusual demonstrations of levity, he put his pipe in his mouth again.
'What shall I tell you, father?' asked Joe, laying his hand upon his sire's shoulder, and looking down into his face. 'That I have come back, poorer than a church mouse? You know that. That I have come back, maimed and crippled? You know that.'
'It was took off,' muttered Mr Willet,with his eyes upon the fire, 'at the defence of the Salwanners, in America, where the war is.'
'Quite right,' returned Joe, smiling, and leaning with his remaining elbow on the back of his father's chair; 'the very subject I came to speak to you about. A man with one arm, father, is not of much use in the busy world.'
This was one of those vast propositions which Mr Willet had never considered for an instant, and required time to 'tackle.' Wherefore he made no answer.
'At all events,' said Joe, 'he can't pick and choose his means of earning a livelihood, as another man may. He can't say "I will turn my hand to this," or "I won't turn my hand to that," but must take what he can do, and be thankful it's no worse.--What did you say?'
Mr Willet had been softly repeating to himself, in a musing tone, the words 'defence of the Salwanners:' but he seemed embarrassed at having been overheard, and answered 'Nothing.'
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