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Unformatted text preview: retired hairdresser. Look at that moustache of his.' Caroline dissented. She said that if the man was a
hairdresser, he would have wavy hair - not straight. All hairdressers did.
I cited several hairdressers personally known to me who had straight hair, but Caroline refused to'be
'I can't make him out at all,' she said in an aggrieved voice. 'I borrowed some garden tools the other day,
and he was most polite, but I couldn't get anything out of him. I asked him point blank at last whether he
was a Frenchman, and he said he wasn't - and, somehow, I didn't like to ask him any more.' I began to
be more interested in our mysterious neighbour. A man who is capable of shutting up Caroline and
sending her, like the Queen of Sheba, empty away, must be something of a personality.
'I believe,' said Caroline, 'that he's got one of those new vacuum cleaners ' I saw a meditated loan and
the opportunity of further questioning gleaming from her eye. I saw the chance to escape into the garden.
I am rather fond of gardening. I was busily exterminating dandelion roots when a shout of warning
sounded from close by and a heavy body whizzed by my ears and fell at my feet with a repellent squelch.
It was a vegetable marrow!
I looked up angrily. Over the wall, to my left, there appeared a face. An egg-shaped head, partially
covered with suspiciously black hair, two immense moustaches, and a pair of watchful eyes. It was our
mysterious neighbour, Mr Porrott.
Hi He broke at once into fluent apologies. ^ 'I demand of you a thousand pardons, monsieur. I am without defence. For some months now I cultivate the marrows. This morning suddenly I enrage myself
with these marrows. I send them to promenade themselves - alas! not only mentally but physically. I seize
the biggest. I hurl him over the wall. Monsieur, I am ashamed. I prostrate myself.' Before such profuse
apologies, my anger was forced to melt. After all, the wretched vegetable hadn't hit me. But I sincerely
hoped that throwing large vegetables over walls was not our new friend's hobby. Such a habit could
hardly endear him to us as a neighbour.
H The strange little man seemed to read my thoughts.
"^ 'Ah! no,' he exclaimed. 'Do not disquiet yourself. It is not with me a habit. But you can figure to
yourself, monsieur, that a man may work towards a certain object, fc- ' 21 may labour and toil to attain a
certain kind of leisure and occupation, and then find that, after all, he yearns for the old busy days, and
the old occupations that he thought himself so glad to leave?' 'Yes,' I said slowly. 'I fancy that that is a
common enough occurrence. I myself am perhaps an instance. A year ago I came into a legacy - enough
to enable me to realize a dream. I have always wanted to travel, to see the world. Well, that was a year
ago, as I said, and - I am still here.' My little neighbour nodded.
'The chains of habit. We work to attain an object, and the object gained, we find that what we miss is the
daily toil. An...
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