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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

64             Memory and Design

the nail—and this reminded him that many years previously,
while quite a child, he had done the same thing. Thereon he
fell to thinking of that time which was impressed upon his
memory partly because there was a great disturbance in the
house about a missing five-pound note and partly becaitse it
was while he had the scarlet fever.

Following the train of thought aroused by his torn finger,
he asked himself how he had torn it, and after a while it came
back to him that he had been lying ill in bed as a child of
seven at the house of an aunt who lived in Hertfordshire.
His arms often hung out of the bed and, as his hands wandered
over the wooden frame, he felt that there was a place where a
nut had come out so that he could put his fingers in. One
day, in trying to stuff a piece of paper into this hole, he
stuffed it in so far and so tightly that he tore the quick of his
nail. The whole thing came back vividly and, though he had
not thought of it for nearly twenty years, he could see the
room in his aunt's house and remembered how his aunt used
to sit by his bedside writing at a little table from which he
had got the piece of paper which he had stuffed into the hole.

So far so good. But then there flashed upon him an idea
that was not so pleasant. I mean it came upon him with
irresistible force that the piece of paper he had stuffed into
the hole in the bedstead was the missing five-pound note
about which there had been so much disturbance. At that
time he was so young that a five-pound note was to him only
a piece of paper ; when he heard that the money wras missing,
he had thought it was five sovereigns ; or perhaps he was
too ill to think anything, or to be questioned ; I forget what I
was told about this—at any rate he had no idea of the value
of the piece of paper he was stuffing into the hole. But now
the matter had recurred to him at all he felt so sure that it
was the note that he immediately went down to Hertford-
shire, where his aunt was still living, and asked, to the sur-
prise of every one, to be allowed to wash his hands in the
room he had occupied as a child. He was told that there
were friends staying in the house who had the room at
present, but, on his saying he had a reason and particularly
begging to be allowed to remain alone a little while in this
room, he was taken upstairs and left there.

He went to the bed, lifted up the chintz which then covered