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question, with an apology for digressing. No, I have not been able
to dispose of Mr. Jack Maldon yet. I believe,' he said this with
some hesitation, 'I penetrate your motive, and it makes the thing
more difficult.'

'My motive,' returned Doctor Strong, 'is to make some suitable
provision for a cousin, and an old playfellow, of Annie's.'

'Yes, I know,' said Mr. Wickfield; 'at home or abroad.'

'Aye!' replied the Doctor, apparently wondering why he emphasized
those words so much. 'At home or abroad.'

'Your own expression, you know,' said Mr. Wickfield. 'Or abroad.'

'Surely,' the Doctor answered. 'Surely. One or other.'

'One or other? Have you no choice?' asked Mr. Wickfield.

'No,' returned the Doctor.

'No?' with astonishment.

'Not the least.'

'No motive,' said Mr. Wickfield, 'for meaning abroad, and not at

'No,' returned the Doctor.

'I am bound to believe you, and of course I do believe you,' said
Mr. Wickfield. 'It might have simplified my office very much, if
I had known it before. But I confess I entertained another

Doctor Strong regarded him with a puzzled and doubting look, which
almost immediately subsided into a smile that gave me great
encouragement; for it was full of amiability and sweetness, and
there was a simplicity in it, and indeed in his whole manner, when
the studious, pondering frost upon it was got through, very
attractive and hopeful to a young scholar like me. Repeating 'no',
and 'not the least', and other short assurances to the same
purport, Doctor Strong jogged on before us, at a queer, uneven
pace; and we followed: Mr. Wickfield, looking grave, I observed,
and shaking his head to himself, without knowing that I saw him.
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