peace. As it is, we must turn, we must cross the Strand 
again, we must find a shop where, even at this hour, they 
will be ready to sell us a pencil.

It is always an adventure to enter a new room; for the 
lives and characters of its owners have distilled their at-
mosphere into it, and directly we enter it we breast some 
new wave of emotion. Here, without a doubt, in the sta-
tioner's shop, people had been quarreling. Their anger shot 
through the air. They both stopped; the old woman—they 
were husband and wife evidently—retired to a back room; 
the old man whose rounded forehead and globular eyes 
would have looked well on the frontispiece of some Eliza-
bethan folio, stayed to serve us. ‘A pencil, a pencil,' he 
repeated, ‘certainly, certainly.' He spoke with the dis-
traction yet effusiveness of one whose emotions have been 
roused and checked in full flood. He began opening box 
after box and shutting them again. He said that it was 
very difficult to find things when they kept so many dif-
ferent articles. He launched into a story about some legal 
gentleman who had got into deep waters owing to the 
conduct of his wife. He had known him for years; he had 
been connected with the Temple for half a century, he 
said, as if he wished his wife in the back room to overhear 
him. He upset a box of rubber bands. At last, exasperated 
by his incompetence, he pushed the swing door open and 
called out roughly: ‘Where d'you keep the pencils?' as if 
his wife had hidden them. The old lady came in. Looking 
at nobody, she put her hand with a fine air of righteous 
severity upon the right box. There were pencils. How 
then could he do without her? Was she not indispensable 
to him? In order to keep them there, standing side by side 
in forced neutrality, one had to be particular in one's choice 
of pencils; this was too soft, that too hard. They stood 
silently looking on. The longer they stood there, the calmer 
they grew; their heat was going down, their anger dis-
appearing. Now, without a word said on either side, the