He ate it slowly, savouring each mouthful; had never tasted a better. With cheese--port! He drank one glass, and said:
And settled there before the fire with decanter and glass and hand- bell on the little low table by his side, he murmured:
"Bring coffee, and my cigar, in twenty minutes."
To-night he would do justice to his wine, not smoking till he had finished. As old Horace said:
"Aequam memento rebus in arduis Servare mentem."
And, raising his glass, he sipped slowly, spilling a drop or two, shutting his eyes.
The faint silvery squealing of the holy woman in the room above, the scent of hyacinths, the drowse of the fire, on which a cedar log had just been laid, the feeling of the port soaking down into the crannies of his being, made up a momentary Paradise. Then the music stopped; and no sound rose but the tiny groans of the log trying to resist the fire. Dreamily he thought: 'Life wears you out--wears you out. Logs on a fire!' And he filled his glass again. That fellow had been careless; there were dregs at the bottom of the decanter and he had got down to them! Then, as the last drop from his tilted glass trickled into the white hairs on his chin, he heard the coffee tray put down, and taking his cigar he put it to his ear, rolling it in his thick fingers. In prime condition! And drawing a first whiff, he said:
"Open that bottle of the old brandy in the sideboard."