"Personally I should have considered it a matter for congratulation rather than regret," he had suggested.
There had been the fraction of a pause. Then the man's voice had broken the silence.
"I do. What has my life been for fifteen years?" Nicholas had demanded.
"What you have made of it," had been the answer.
"What God or the devil has made of it, aided by Baccarat--poor beast," Nicholas had retorted savagely.
"The devil, possibly," the man had replied, "but aided and abetted by yourself."
"Confound you, what are you talking about?" Nicholas had cried.
The man had still looked towards the book-cases.
"Listen," he had said. "For fifteen years you have lived the life of a recluse--a useless recluse, mind you. And why? Because of pride,--sheer pride. Those who had known you in the strength of your manhood, those who had known you as Nick the dare-devil, should never see the broken cripple. Pride forbade it. You preferred to run to
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