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299
OUR PROGRESS

Chislehurst memories. The Chislehurst mansion had "grounds" rather than a mere garden, and there was a gardener's cottage and a little lodge at the gate. The ascendant movement was always far more in evidence there than at Beckenham. The velocity was increasing.

One night picks itself out as typical, as in its way marking an epoch. I was there, I think, about some advertisement stuff, on some sort of business anyhow, and my uncle and aunt had come back in a fly from a dinner at the Runcorns. (Even then he was nibbling at Runcorn with the idea of our great Amalgamation budding in his mind.) I got down there, I suppose, about eleven. I found the two of them sitting in the study, my aunt on a chair-arm with a whimsical pensiveness on her face, regarding my uncle, and he, much extended and very rotund, in the low armchair drawn up to the fender.

"Look here, George," said my uncle after my first greetings, "I just been saying; We aren't Oh Fay!"

"Eh?"

"Not Oh Fay! Socially!"

"Old Fly, he means, George—French!"

"Oh! Didn't think of French. One never knows where to have him. What's gone wrong to-night?"

"I been thinking. It isn't any particular thing. I ate too much of that fishy stuff at first, like salt frog spawn, and was a bit confused by olives; and—well, I didn't know which wine was which. Had to say that each time. It puts your talk all wrong. And she wasn't in evening dress, not like the others. We can't go on in that style, George—not a proper ad'."

"I'm not sure you were right," I said, "in having a fly."