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The Middle of Things

by J. S. Fletcher

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It may be--I'm not sure," replied Mr. Pawle. "As I say, I don't know how the succession runs in, this particular instance. There are, as you are aware, several peeresses in their own rights--twentyfour or five, at least. Some are very ancient peerages. I know that three--Furnivale and Fauconberg and Conyers--go right back to the thirteenth century; three others--Beaumont, Darcy da Knayth, and Zorch of Haryngworth--date from the fourteenth. I'm not sure of this Ellingham peerage--but I'll find out when I get back to my office. However, granting the premises, and if the peerage does continue in the female line, it will be as I say--this girl's the rightful holder of the title!

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On that particular November evening, Viner, a young gentleman of means and leisure, who lived in a comfortable old house in Markendale Square, Bayswater, in company with his maiden aunt Miss Bethia Penkridge, had spent his after-dinner hours in a fashion which had become a habit. Miss Penkridge, a model housekeeper and an essentially worthy woman, whose whole day was given to supervising somebody or something, had an insatiable appetite for fiction, and loved nothing so much as that her nephew should read a novel to her after the two glasses of port which she allowed herself every night had been thoughtfully consumed and he and she had adjourned from the dining-room to the hearthrug in the library.



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