The General was an intimate friend, who never waited to be announced. He would come up through the garden, examining its condition critically, with a view to a report for Mrs. Gregory's benefit, and, frequently, her gardener's confusion. Then he would poke about the verandah, where, on these fine evenings, his neighbour was often to be found, and, failing that, he would look into the drawing-room. If Mrs. Gregory was 밤알바 not there, he would make up his mind that she was either dressing, eating, or visiting; and, keeping a careful mental note of the particulars he had intended to report, would return to his family.

The General was a man of whose friendship anyone might have been proud. Simple as he was in his speech and manner, it was well known, even in Surbiton, that, in his own line, he was a brilliant and distinguished person. Though no longer young, he was a fine man—a soldier every inch of him—not tall, but spare and muscular. His hair was plentifully sprinkled with grey; his face was bronzed by years of exposure to weather; his light blue eyes looked at you keenly and steadily from beneath finely pencilled brows that gave an air of refinement to the face; and his mouth, for all that it was half hidden by a grey moustache, had, in its lines, an expression of firmness and self-dependence which would have won him respect anywhere. The most superficial observer saw at once that the General, debonair as he might be in his manners, was not a person to be trifled with. This evening he came up the garden, as he was accustomed to do, but rather more rapidly than usual, and neglecting to take notes.