Under the Big Dipper

him with its cheerful aspect. In the sunny back-room the brown-faced comely hostess served him a bountiful meal of which he ate heartily. When he had finished, he looked at his watch and found he had still plenty of time. He thought of the cables he had received and took them from his pocket. “Father rather unwell but not serious according Brooks. Delay permissible. All well and send love, Mother.” His father had cabled more laconically: “Go ahead. Christmas will do. Agency has orders.”

He rang the bell and asked for pen, ink and paper. The smiling landlady bowed and returned with a green and orange striped penholder and a tiny bottle partly filled with a pale bluish fluid. What should he write? He leaned over the table and played with the penholder idly, sipping occasionally the chianti from a many-colored glass goblet. The slanting rays of the October sun lighted up the plainly furnished room with its

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