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436
TONO-BUNGAY

and I ought to be under the State, Sir, if you'll excuse me——"

"Nothing to excuse," I said. "I've always been a Socialist—of a sort—in theory. Let's go and have a look at him. How is he? Deflated?"

"Just about quarter full. That last oil glaze of yours holds the gas something beautiful. He's not lost a cubic metre a week. . . ."

Cothope returned to Socialism as we went towards the sheds.

"Glad to think you're a Socialist, Sir," he said, "it's the only civilized state. I been a Socialist some years—off the Clarion. It's a rotten scramble, this world. It takes the things we make and invent and it plays the silly fool with 'em. We scientific people, we'll have to take things over and stop all this financing and advertisement and that. It's too silly. It's a noosance. Look at us!"

Lord Roberts β even in his partially deflated condition in his shed was a fine thing to stare up at. I stood side by side with Cothope regarding him, and it was borne in upon me more acutely than ever that all this had to end. I had a feeling just like the feeling of a boy who wants to do wrong, that I would use up the stuff while I had it before the creditors descended. I had a queer fancy too, I remember, that if I could get into the air it would advertise my return to Beatrice.

"We'll fill her," I said concisely.

"It's all ready," said Cothope, and added as an afterthought, "unless they cut off the gas. . . ."

I worked and interested myself with Cothope all the morning and for a time forgot my other troubles. But the thought of Beatrice flooded me slowly and