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shown the "nasty place" half a dozen times into the
bargain. It was only when he heard the distant
booming of the luncheon-gong that the Colonel was
able to tear himself away from the brown horse's

While going into the house we passed through what
he called "the cleaning room", which was a sort of
wide corridor with a skylight to it. Along the wall
stood an astonishing array of hunting boots. These
struck me as being so numerous that I had the
presence of mind to count them. There were twenty-
seven pairs. Now a good pair of top-boots, if properly
looked after and repaired, will last the owner a good
many years; and a new pair once in three years
might be considered a liberal allowance for a man
who has started with two or three pairs. But the
Colonel was nothing if not regular in his habits;
every autumn he visited, with the utmost solemnity,
an illustrious bootmaker in Oxford Street; and each
impeccable little pair of boots had signalized the
advent of yet another opening meet. And, since they
had been impeccably cared for and the Colonel
seldom hunted more than three days a week, they had
consequently accumulated. As we walked past them
it was as though Lord Roberts were inspecting the
local Territorials, and the Colonel would have been
gratified by the comparison to the gallant Field-

It did not strike me at the time that there was
something dumbly pathetic about those chronological
boots with their mahogany, nut-brown, and salmon-
coloured tops. But I can see now that they symbolized
much that was automatic and sterile in the Colonel's
career. He had retired from the Army twenty years
before, and was now sixty-six, though active and well