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Unformatted text preview: broken some vessel in the lungs. I tended him as well as I knew how to do it. I sat beside him, giving him what comfort I might, and all the time my memory flew back to college days, and to our strange and most unhappy last meeting, and his subsequent inevitable disgrace. Far away from here--Loch Nan and the vacant moors--my memory wandered. It was at Blocksby's auction-room, in a street near the Strand, on the eve of a great book-sale three years before, that we had met, for almost the last time, as I believed, though it is true that we had not spoken on that occasion. It is necessary that I should explain what occurred, or what I and three other credible witnesses believed to have occurred; for, upon my word, the more I see and hear of human evidence of any event, the less do I regard it as establishing anything better than an excessively probable hypothesis. To make a long story as short as may be, I should say that Allen and I had been acquainted when we were undergraduates; that, when fellows of our respective colleges, our acquaintance had become intimate; that we had once shared a little bit of fishing on the Test; and that we were both book-collectors. I was a comparatively sane bibliomaniac, but to Allen the time came when he grudged every penny that he did not spend on rare
73 ANGLING SKETCHES books, and when he actually gave up his share of the water we used to take together, that his contribution to the rent might go for rare editions and bindings. After this deplorable change of character we naturally saw each other less, but we were still friendly. I went up to town to scribble; Allen stayed on at Oxford. One day I chanced to go into Blocksby's rooms; it was a Friday, I remember--there was to be a great sale on the Monday. There I met Allen in ecstasies over one of the books displayed in the little side room on the right hand of the sale-room. He had taken out of a glass case and was gloating over a book which, it seems, had long been the Blue Rose of his fancy as a collector. He was crazed about Longepierre, the old Frenc...
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