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The dining-room windows, both front and back, the one looking into Oakley Street, the other into a small back-yard with three sooty shrubs in it (known as the garden), were all open, so that the table stood in mid-stream of such air as there was. But in spite of this the heat was stifling, since, for once in a way, July had remembered that it was the duty of good little summers to be hot. Hot in consequence it had been: heat reverberated from the house-walls, it rose through the boot from the paving-stones, it poured down from a large superheated sun that walked the sky all day long in a benignant and golden manner. Dinner was over, but the small party of four who had eaten it still lingered.

Mabel Armytage — it was she who had laid down the duty of good little summers — spoke first.

“Oh, Jim, it sounds too heavenly,” she said. “It makes me feel cool to think of it. Just fancy, in a fortnight’s time we shall all four of us be there, in our own shooting-lodge—”

“Farm-house,” said Jim.

“Well, I didn’t suppose it was Balmoral, with our own coffee-coloured salmon river roaring down to join the waters of our own loch.”

Jim lit a cigarette.

“Mabel, you mustn’t think of shooting-lodges and salmon rivers and lochs,” he said. “It’s a farm-house, rather a big one, though I’m sure we shall find it hard enough to fit in. The salmon river you speak of is a big burn, no more, though it appears that salmon have been caught there.

But when I saw it, it would have required as much cleverness on the part of a salmon to fit into it as it will require on our parts to fit into our farm-house. And the loch is a tarn.”

Mabel snatched the “Guide to Highland Shootings” out of my hand with a rudeness that even a sister should not show her elder brother, and pointed a withering finger at her husband.

“‘Achnaleish,’” she declaimed, “‘is situated in one of the grandest and most remote parts of Sutherlandshire. To be let from August 12 till the end of October, the lodge with shooting and fishing belonging. Proprietor supplies two keepers, fishing-gillie, boat on loch, and dogs. Tenant should secure about 500 head of grouse, and 500 head of mixed game, including partridge, black-game, woodcock, snipe, roe deer; also rabbits in very large number, especially by ferreting. Large baskets of brown trout can be taken from the loch, and whenever the water is high sea-trout and occasional salmon. Lodge contains’ — I can’t go on; it’s too hot, and you know the rest. Rent only £350!”

Romans et littérature
18 avril
Library of Alexandria

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