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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 168 pages of information about The Toys of Peace, and other papers.
was ensconced in the midst of the former’s personal possessions there was an obvious difficulty in altering the order of departure.  I pointed out to the Bishop that a leopard’s habits and tastes are not those of an otter, and that it naturally preferred walking to wading; and that in any case a meal of an entire goat, washed down with tub-water, justified a certain amount of repose; if I had had guns fired to frighten the animal away, as the Bishop suggested, it would probably merely have left the bedroom to come into the already over-crowded drawing-room.  Altogether it was rather a relief when they both left.  Now, perhaps, you can understand my appreciation of a sleepy countryside where things don’t happen.”

THE PENANCE

Octavian Ruttle was one of those lively cheerful individuals on whom amiability had set its unmistakable stamp, and, like most of his kind, his soul’s peace depended in large measure on the unstinted approval of his fellows.  In hunting to death a small tabby cat he had done a thing of which he scarcely approved himself, and he was glad when the gardener had hidden the body in its hastily dug grave under a lone oak-tree in the meadow, the same tree that the hunted quarry had climbed as a last effort towards safety.  It had been a distasteful and seemingly ruthless deed, but circumstances had demanded the doing of it.  Octavian kept chickens; at least he kept some of them; others vanished from his keeping, leaving only a few bloodstained feathers to mark the manner of their going.  The tabby cat from the large grey house that stood with its back to the meadow had been detected in many furtive visits to the hen-coups, and after due negotiation with those in authority at the grey house a sentence of death had been agreed on.  “The children will mind, but they need not know,” had been the last word on the matter.

The children in question were a standing puzzle to Octavian; in the course of a few months he considered that he should have known their names, ages, the dates of their birthdays, and have been introduced to their favourite toys.  They remained however, as non-committal as the long blank wall that shut them off from the meadow, a wall over which their three heads sometimes appeared at odd moments.  They had parents in India—­that much Octavian had learned in the neighbourhood; the children, beyond grouping themselves garment-wise into sexes, a girl and two boys, carried their life-story no further on his behoof.  And now it seemed he was engaged in something which touched them closely, but must be hidden from their knowledge.

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