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When he was thoroughly restored, so that he could examine the rip and command his feelings, he said, ah, now he understood it–his servant must have done it while dressing him that morning.

His servant! There was something awe-inspiring in effrontery like this.

Nearly every day he interested himself in some article of my clothing. One would hardly have expected this sort of infatuation in a man who always wore the same suit, and it a suit that seemed coeval with the Conquest.

It was an unworthy ambition, perhaps, but I did wish I could make this man admire something about me or something I did–you would have felt the same way. I saw my opportunity: I was about to return to London, and had “listed” my soiled linen for the wash. It made quite an imposing mountain in the corner of the room–fifty-four pieces. I hoped he would fancy it was the accumulation of a single week. I took up the wash-list, as if to see that it was all right, and then tossed it on the table, with pretended forgetfulness. Sure enough, he took it up and ran his eye along down to the grand total. Then he said, “You get off easy,” and laid it down again.

His gloves were the saddest ruin, but he told me where I could get some like them. His shoes would hardly hold walnuts without leaking, but he liked to put his feet up on the mantelpiece and contemplate them. He wore a dim glass breastpin, which he called a “morphylitic diamond”– whatever that may mean–and said only two of them had ever been found –the Emperor of China had the other one.

Afterward, in London, it was a pleasure to me to see this fantastic vagabond come marching into the lobby of the hotel in his grand-ducal way, for he always had some new imaginary grandeur to develop–there was nothing stale about him but his clothes. If he addressed me when strangers were about, he always raised his voice a little and called me “Sir Richard,” or “General,” or “Your Lordship”–and when people began to stare and look deferential, he would fall to inquiring in a casual way why I disappointed the Duke of Argyll the night before; and then remind me of our engagement at the Duke of Westminster’s for the following day. I think that for the time being these things were realities to him. He once came and invited me to go with him and spend the evening with the Earl of Warwick at his town house. I said I had received no formal invitation. He said that that was of no consequence, the Earl had no formalities for him or his friends. I asked if I could go just as I was. He said no, that would hardly do; evening dress was requisite at night in any gentleman’s house. He said he would wait while I dressed, and then we would go to his apartments and I could take a bottle of champagne and a cigar while he dressed. I was very willing to see how this enterprise would turn out, so I dressed, and we started to his lodgings. He said if I didn’t mind we would walk. So we tramped some four miles through the mud and fog, and finally found his “apartments”; they consisted of a single room over a barber’s shop in a back street. Two chairs, a small table, an ancient valise, a wash-basin and pitcher (both on the floor in a corner), an unmade bed, a fragment of a looking-glass, and a flower- pot, with a perishing little rose geranium in it, which he called a century plant, and said it had not bloomed now for upward of two centuries–given to him by the late Lord Palmerston (been offered a prodigious sum for it)–these were the contents of the room. Also a brass candlestick and a part of a candle. Rogers lit the candle, and told me to sit down and make myself at home. He said he hoped I was thirsty, because he would surprise my palate with an article of champagne that seldom got into a commoner’s system; or would I prefer sherry, or port? Said he had port in bottles that were swathed in stratified cobwebs, every stratum representing a generation. And as for his cigars- -well, I should judge of them myself. Then he put his head out at the door and called: