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The Longest Journey


trays upon their heads. Hot food for oneÑthat must be for the geograph-
ical don, who never came in for Hall; cold food for three, apparently at
half-a-crown a head, for some one he did not know; hot food, a la
carteÑobviously for the ladies haunting the next staircase; cold food for
two, at two shillingsÑgoing to Ansell's rooms for himself and Ansell,
and as it passed under the lamp he saw that it was meringues again.
Then the bedmakers began to arrive, chatting to each other pleasantly,
and he could hear Ansell's bedmaker say, "Oh dang!" when she found
she had to lay Ansell's tablecloth; for there was not a breath stirring. The
great elms were motionless, and seemed still in the glory of midsummer,
for the darkness hid the yellow blotches on their leaves, and their out-
lines were still rounded against the tender sky. Those elms were Dry-
adsÑso Rickie believed or pretended, and the line between the two is
subtler than we admit. At all events they were lady trees, and had for
generations fooled the college statutes by their residence in the haunts of
youth.
But what about the cow? He returned to her with a start, for this
would never do. He also would try to think the matter out. Was she
there or not? The cow. There or not. He strained his eyes into the night.
Either way it was attractive. If she was there, other cows were there
too. The darkness of Europe was dotted with them, and in the far East
their flanks were shining in the rising sun. Great herds of them stood
browsing in pastures where no man came nor need ever come, or
plashed knee-deep by the brink of impassable rivers. And this,
moreover, was the view of Ansell. Yet Tilliard's view had a good deal in
it. One might do worse than follow Tilliard, and suppose the cow not to
be there unless oneself was there to see her. A cowless world, then,
stretched round him on every side. Yet he had only to peep into a field,
and, click! it would at once become radiant with bovine life.
Suddenly he realized that this, again, would never do. As usual, he
had missed the whole point, and was overlaying philosophy with gross
and senseless details. For if the cow was not there, the world and the
fields were not there either. And what would Ansell care about sunlit
flanks or impassable streams? Rickie rebuked his own groveling soul,
and turned his eyes away from the night, which had led him to such ab-
surd conclusions.
The fire was dancing, and the shadow of Ansell, who stood close up to
it, seemed to dominate the little room. He was still talking, or rather
jerking, and he was still lighting matches and dropping their ends upon
the carpet. Now and then he would make a motion with his feet as if he
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