Some philosopher, of extraordinary powers of intuition, once informed the world that the best of things come atlast to an end. The statement was tested, and is now universally accepted as correct. To apply the general to the particular, the play came to an end amidst uproarious applause, to which Babington contributed an unstintedquotum, about three hours after it had begun.'What do you say to going and grubbing somewhere?' asked Babington's cousin, as they made their way out.'Hullo, there's that man Richards,' he continued, before Babington could reply that of all possible actions heconsidered that of going and grubbing somewhere the most desirable. 'Fellow I know at Guy's, you know,' headded, in explanation. 'I'll get him to join us. You'll like him, I expect.'Richards professed himself delighted, and shook hands with Babington with a fervour which seemed to implythat until he had met him life had been a dreary blank, but that now he could begin to enjoy himself again. 'Ishould like to join you, if you don't mind including a friend of mine in the party,' said Richards. 'He was to meetme here. By the way, he's the author of that new piece--
The Way of the World.'
'Why, we've just been there.''Oh, then you will probably like to meet him. Here he is.'As he spoke a man came towards them, and, with a shock that sent all the blood in his body to the very summitof his head, and then to the very extremities of his boots, Babington recognized Mr Seymour. The assurance of the programme that the play was by Walter Walsh was a fraud. Nay worse, a downright and culpable lie. Hestarted with the vague idea of making a rush for safety, but before his paralysed limbs could be induced to work,Mr Seymour had arrived, and he was being introduced (oh, the tragic irony of it) to the man for whose benefithe was at that very moment supposed to be working out examples three hundred to three-twenty in 'Hall andKnight'.Mr Seymour shook hands, without appearing to recognize him. Babington's blood began to resume its normal position again, though he felt that this seeming ignorance of his identity might be a mere veneer, a wile of guile,as the bard puts it. He remembered, with a pang, a story in some magazine where a prisoner was subjected towhat the light-hearted inquisitors called the torture of hope. He was allowed to escape from prison, and passguards and sentries apparently without their noticing him. Then, just as he stepped into the open air, the chief inquisitor tapped him gently on the shoulder, and, more in sorrow than in anger, reminded him that it wascustomary for condemned men to remain
their cells. Surely this was a similar case. But then the thoughtcame to him that Mr Seymour had only seen him once, and so might possibly have failed to remember him, for there was nothing special about Babington's features that arrested the eye, and stamped them on the brain for alltime. He was rather ordinary than otherwise to look at. At tea, as bad luck would have it, the two sat oppositeone another, and Babington trembled. Then the worst happened. Mr Seymour, who had been looking attentivelyat him for some time, leaned forward and said in a tone evidently devoid of suspicion: 'Haven't we met beforesomewhere? I seem to remember your face.''Er--no, no,' replied Babington. 'That is, I think not. We may have.''I feel sure we have. What school are you at?'Babington's soul began to writhe convulsively.'What, what school? Oh, what
? Why, er--I'm at--er--Uppingham.'Mr Seymour's face assumed a pleased expression.