about nothing in particular, which is perhaps the most enjoyable of all forms of conversation. John (I beg his pardon, 'Mr. Nivers' I should say: but he was so constantly talked of and at, by his better half, as 'John,' that his friends were apt to forget he had a surname at all) sat in a distant corner with his feet tucked well under his chair, in an attitude rather too upright for comfort, and rather too suggestive of general collapse for anything like dignity, and sipped his tea in silence. From some distant region came a sound like the roar of the sea, rising and falling, suggesting the presence of many boys; and indeed I knew that the house was full to overflowing of noisy urchins, overflowing with high spirits and mischief, but on the whole a very creditable set of little folk.
'And where are you going for your sea-side trip this summer, Mrs. Nivers?'
My old friend pursed up her lips with a mysterious smile, and nodded. 'Can't understand you,' I said.
'You understand me, Mr. De Ciel, just as well as I understand myself, and that's not saying much. I don't know where we're going: John doesn't know where we're going—but we're