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Barnet thought not. There was no other house near that was likely to be mistaken for it. And he did not care for a name.

‘But I think it has a name!’ Downe observed: ‘I went past–when was it?–this morning; and I saw something,–“Chateau Ringdale,” I think it was, stuck up on a board!’

‘It was an idea she–we had for a short time,’ said Barnet hastily. ‘But we have decided finally to do without a name–at any rate such a name as that. It must have been a week ago that you saw it. It was taken down last Saturday . . . Upon that matter I am firm!’ he added grimly.

Downe murmured in an unconvinced tone that he thought he had seen it yesterday.

Talking thus they drove into the town. The street was unusually still for the hour of seven in the evening; an increasing drizzle had prevailed since the afternoon, and now formed a gauze across the yellow lamps, and trickled with a gentle rattle down the heavy roofs of stone tile, that bent the house-ridges hollow-backed with its weight, and in some instances caused the walls to bulge outwards in the upper story. Their route took them past the little town-hall, the Black-Bull Hotel, and onward to the junction of a small street on the right, consisting of a row of those two-and-two windowed brick residences of no particular age, which are exactly alike wherever found, except in the people they contain.

‘Wait–I’ll drive you up to your door,’ said Barnet, when Downe prepared to alight at the corner. He thereupon turned into the narrow street, when the faces of three little girls could be discerned close to the panes of a lighted window a few yards ahead, surmounted by that of a young matron, the gaze of all four being directed eagerly up the empty street. ‘You are a fortunate fellow, Downe,’ Barnet continued, as mother and children disappeared from the window to run to the door. ‘You must be happy if any man is. I would give a hundred such houses as my new one to have a home like yours.’

‘Well–yes, we get along pretty comfortably,’ replied Downe complacently.

‘That house, Downe, is none of my ordering,’ Barnet broke out, revealing a bitterness hitherto suppressed, and checking the horse a moment to finish his speech before delivering up his passenger. ‘The house I have already is good enough for me, as you supposed. It is my own freehold; it was built by my grandfather, and is stout enough for a castle. My father was born there, lived there, and died there. I was born there, and have always lived there; yet I must needs build a new one.’

‘Why do you?’ said Downe.

‘Why do I? To preserve peace in the household. I do anything for that; but I don’t succeed. I was firm in resisting “Chateau Ringdale,” however; not that I would not have put up with the absurdity of the name, but it was too much to have your house christened after Lord Ringdale, because your wife once had a fancy for him. If you only knew everything, you would think all attempt at reconciliation hopeless. In your happy home you have had no such experiences; and God forbid that you ever should. See, here they are all ready to receive you!’

‘Of course! And so will your wife be waiting to receive you,’ said Downe. ‘Take my word for it she will! And with a dinner prepared for you far better than mine.’

‘I hope so,’ Barnet replied dubiously.

He moved on to Downe’s door, which the solicitor’s family had already opened. Downe descended, but being encumbered with his bag and umbrella, his foot slipped, and he fell upon his knees in the gutter.