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    Meanwhile, thought his wife, he was in his element, all tenderness and consideration for John — he went to endless trouble in procuring for him the newest make of water-bed — which was just what one would expect of Richard. Nor would he have him teased about religious questions or his approaching end. On the other hand, had John shown the least desire for religious consolation, Richard would have been the person to see that he got it.
    With which Richard slung a towel round his neck and retired to the bathroom, leaving Mary to the reflection that, if ever there was a person who knew how to complicate the doing of a simple kindness, it was Richard. Here he went, detesting Tilly with all his old fervour and dead set from the start against Purdy and his coming to the house. (It was true Purdy had got rather loud and bumptious; but a sensible woman like Tilly might be trusted soon to knock the nonsense out of him.) Meanwhile she, Mary, had somehow to propitiate all three; and in particular to hinder Richard from showing what he felt. For if the match came off, Purdy would become a rich and important personage to whom every door would open. And then Richard, too, would come round — would have to. If, that was, she could meanwhile contrive to keep him from making lifelong enemies of the happy pair.


    2.Alighting from his car at a corner of the square, he stood, bag in hand, and gazed at his old home. It was very early on a gusty, grey, spring morning; and he himself was cold and unslept. Already, too, the spiritual depression that is Ireland’s first gift to her homing sons was invading him: looking about him he saw only stagnation and decay. Here now he stood, a worn and elderly wayfarer, over whose head thirty odd years had passed since, as a boy, he light-heartedly trod this pavement. Thirty years! Yet it might have been yesterday. For nothing was changed — or nothing but himself. And, as he moved towards the house, he had — in self-defence as it were — a moment of vision, in which the long trail of his life swept past the eye of his mind: his rich, motley life, with all its blanks and prizes, its joys, pains and compensations, let alone the multitude of other lives with which it had made contact. And to think there had been moments when he counted it a failure!
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