THE James Germains paid a visit to Hill-street in June. It was most unfortunate that it was so wet, but the time was otherwise convenient, since Mary was away on a visit to her people. This was how Mrs. James put it -- she was never remarkable for tact. Nor did she care to be. Surely, she would say, openness is best. Mary once departed, then, Mrs. James was installed the very next day. The Rector followed her.
From the first he did not like his brother's looks, John, he thought, was ailing -- ailing and ageing. He showed an unwholesome white in the cheeks, a flabby quality in the flesh, poor appetite, low spirits. Vitality was low; he was feeble. He ate hardly anything, and betrayed a tendency to fall asleep in pauses of the conversation. Yet he talked, in flashes, during dinner of his projects, with something of the old hopefulness. He had lately been asking a series of questions, agricultural questions, "somewhat carefully framed"; he had pressed the Minister in charge of such matter. He was "not without hope" that some good might result. Then a deputation of