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CHAPTER 17. PHILANTHROPY, PROFESSIONAL AND UNPROFESSIONAL (continued)
'I am very glad to take your windows in tow,' said the Lieutenant. 'From what I have seen of you when I have been gardening at mine, and you have been looking on, I have thought you (excuse me) rather too studious and delicate. May I ask, is your health at all affected?'
'I have undergone some mental distress,' said Neville, confused, 'which has stood me in the stead of illness.'
'Pardon me,' said Mr. Tartar.
With the greatest delicacy he shifted his ground to the windows again, and asked if he could look at one of them. On Neville's opening it, he immediately sprang out, as if he were going aloft with a whole watch in an emergency, and were setting a bright example.
'For Heaven's sake,' cried Neville, 'don't do that! Where are you going Mr. Tartar? You'll be dashed to pieces!'
'All well!' said the Lieutenant, coolly looking about him on the housetop. 'All taut and trim here. Those lines and stays shall be rigged before you turn out in the morning. May I take this short cut home, and say good-night?'
'Mr. Tartar!' urged Neville. 'Pray! It makes me giddy to see you!'
But Mr. Tartar, with a wave of his hand and the deftness of a cat, had already dipped through his scuttle of scarlet runners without breaking a leaf, and 'gone below.'
Mr. Grewgious, his bedroom window-blind held aside with his hand, happened at the moment to have Neville's chambers under his eye for the last time that night. Fortunately his eye was on the front of the house and not the back, or this remarkable appearance and disappearance might have broken his rest as a phenomenon. But Mr. Grewgious seeing nothing there, not even a light in the windows, his gaze wandered from the windows to the stars, as if he would have read in them something that was hidden from him. Many of us would, if we could; but none of us so much as know our letters in the stars yet--or seem likely to do it, in this state of existence--and few languages can be read until their alphabets are mastered.
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