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Bondo-san, this is a woman of some wit. She has made a joke. She says she is already respectably married to one bonsan and there is no room on her futon for another. Bonsan means a priest, a greybeard. Futon, as you know, is a bed. She has made a joke on your name.'

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But all writers of fiction who have desired to think well of their own work, will probably have had doubts on their minds before they have arrived at this conclusion. Thinking much of my own daily labour and of its nature, I felt myself at first to be much afflicted and then to be deeply grieved by the opinion expressed by wise and thinking men as to the work done by novelists. But when, by degrees, I dared to examine and sift the sayings of such men, I found them to be sometimes silly and often arrogant. I began to inquire what had been the nature of English novels since they first became common in our own language, and to be desirous of ascertaining whether they had done harm or good. I could well remember that, in my own young days, they had not taken that undisputed possession of drawing-rooms which they now hold. Fifty years ago, when George IV. was king, they were not indeed treated as Lydia had been forced to treat them in the preceding reign, when, on the approach of elders, Peregrine Pickle was hidden beneath the bolster, and Lord Ainsworth put away under the sofa. But the families in which an unrestricted permission was given for the reading of novels were very few, and from many they were altogether banished. The high poetic genius and correct morality of Walter Scott had not altogether succeeded in making men and women understand that lessons which were good in poetry could not be bad in prose. I remember that in those days an embargo was laid upon novel-reading as a pursuit, which was to the novelist a much heavier tax than that want of full appreciation of which I now complain.

Those, however, who best knew the Earl, could perceive, notwithstanding the efforts he made to entertain his company, that during this evening of unparalleled gaiety and splendour,[353] there was a slight shade of melancholy on his brow; and a tendency, while he sat at supper, to that, scarcely observable, movement of the head, before mentioned."We'll be all right," said Bond. "You keep her rolling. Maybe he'll blow up or something." This closed the proceedings of the evening. We were weary with sorrow and fatigue, and my aunt and I were to return to London on the morrow. It was arranged that the Micawbers should follow us, after effecting a sale of their goods to a broker; that Mr. Wickfield's affairs should be brought to a settlement, with all convenient speed, under the direction of Traddles; and that Agnes should also come to London, pending those arrangements. We passed the night at the old house, which, freed from the presence of the Heeps, seemed purged of a disease; and I lay in my old room, like a shipwrecked wanderer come home. Bond finished his drink and walked straight across the room to the nearest roulette table. There was only a sprinkling of gamblers at it, playing small.

Mr Spang was dressed in full Western costume down to the long, silver spurs on his polished back boots. The costume, and the broad, leather chaps that covered his legs, were in black, picked out and embellished with silver. The big, quiet hands rested on the ivory butts of two long-barrelled revolvers which protruded from a holster down each thigh, and the broad, black belt from which they hung was ribbed with ammunition.