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THE BLANK CHEQUE.

again. As I said to John at the time, "If this is High Art, give me a little more of the Art next time, and a little less of the High!" He's doing very well at Westminster, I hear, but his tutor writes that he's very asthmatic, poor fellow——'

'Æsthetic, my dear, æsthetic!' remonstrated John.

'Ah, well, my love,' said the good lady, 'all those long medical words are one and the same thing to me. And they come to the same thing in the Christmas bills, too: they both mean "Draught as before"! Well, well! They're a set of dear good boys on the whole: they've only one real Vice among them——but I shall tire you, talking about the boys so much. What do you think of that agreement of ours?'

I had been turning the paper over and over in my hands, quite at a loss to know what to say to so strange a scheme. 'Surely I've misunderstood you?' I said. 'You don't mean to say that you've left the whole thing to your maid to settle for you?'

'But that's exactly what I do mean, Mr. De Ciel,' the lady replied, a little testily. 'She's a very sensible young person, I can assure you.