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鈥業 envy you your munificence,鈥 said Lord Inverbroom.

鈥業 expect I see your point,鈥 she said. 鈥業 will go.鈥.
鈥楴ow who鈥檚 been talking about my not behaving properly to your mother except yourself?鈥 said Keeling..
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He let himself into his office, where his letters were already being opened by the girl he had sent for to take over Norah鈥檚 work. On the little table by the window there still stood Norah鈥檚 typewriting machine, which it appeared she had altogether forgotten: her brother must be asked to take it away. By it was the pile of letters which dealt with businesses not yet concluded: all were in order with dockets of the affairs contained in them. Probably, before she quitted the office for the last time on Friday afternoon, she had foreseen that she would not return, and had left everything so that her successor might take up the work without difficulty. Nothing was omitted or left vague; she had finished everything{329} with the most meticulous care. He searched through these papers to see if there was any private word for him. But there was nothing: this was office work, and such private words as she had for him had all been said in the bluebell wood.!
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Mr Keeling ceased to address the larch-trees that were the sponsors of his house鈥檚 name, and turned round..
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She could not improve on that either for silliness or pathetic sincerity, and unable to contemplate the delay which the post would entail, she gave it to the boy covered with buttons to carry it at once by hand to the Vicarage and wait for an answer. That would take half an hour: there were thirty delicious minutes of suspense, for though she did not doubt the purport of his answer, it was thrilling to have to wait for it.{217}.

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Alice had a faint smile for this.
鈥極h, Mr Silverdale,鈥 she said, 鈥榟ave I really been of any use to you?鈥
Thomas Keeling was seated before the circular desk in his office at the Stores, and since nine that morning, when as usual he had arrived on the stroke of the clock, had been finishing his study of the monthly balance sheets that had come in two days before. For many years now these reports had been very pleasant reading for the proprietor, and for the last eighteen months his accounts had shown a series of record-taking profits. This was no matter of surprise to him, for Bracebridge during the past decade had grown enormously since the new docks at Easton Haven, ten miles away, had converted that town from being a sleepy watering-place into one of the first ports of the kingdom. This had reacted on Bracebridge. Fresh avenues of villas had sprung up mushroom-like for the accommodation business men, who liked to get away in the evening from crowded streets and the crackle of cobble stones, while simultaneously the opening of the new railway-works at Bracebridge itself had implied the erection of miles upon miles of workmen鈥檚 dwellings. From a business point of view (to any who had business in the town) these were very satisfactory circumstances, provided{64} that he was sufficiently wide-awake to keep pace with the growing demand, and not, by letting the demand get ahead of his provision for it, cause or permit to spring up rival establishments. Keeling, it is hardly necessary to state, had fallen into no such drowsy error: the growth of Bracebridge, and in particular of those avenues of villas which housed so many excellent customers, had always been kept pace with, or indeed had been a little anticipated by him. He had never waited for a demand to arise, and then arranged about supplying it. With the imagination that is as much at the root of successful shop-keeping as it is (in slightly different form) at the root of successful poesy, he had always foreseen what customers would want. An instance had been the sudden and huge expansion of his furniture department made about the time the first spadefuls of earth were taken out of the hillside for the foundation of the earliest of the miles of villas which held the families of business men from Easton Haven. He had foreseen that profitable incursion, risking much on the strength of his pre-vision, with the result that now scarcely a new villa was built that was not furnished from the Stores. The expansion of the catering department had been a similar stroke, and the prosperous business man of Bracebridge ate the early asparagus from Keeling鈥檚 Stores, and drank Keeling鈥檚 sound wine, as he sat on Keeling鈥檚 chair of the No. 1 dining-room suite.{65}
21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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