4、Then Tilly appeared: he saw her from the window, all furbelows and flounces, and wearing an air at once important and mysterious. She and Mary retired to the drawing-room; and there he could hear them jabbering, discussing HIM and his concerns, as he sat pretending to read. This went on and on — would they never end? Even when plainer tones, and the opening and shutting of doors seemed to herald Tilly’s departure, all that followed was a sheerly endless conversation on the step of the verandah. By the time Mary came in to him, he was nervily a-shake. And her news was as bad as it could be. Old Simmonds was doomed; was in the last stages of Bright’s disease; his place of business would know him no more. Most of his clients had already transferred to other agents; and Purdy’s advice to Richard was, to lose no time in following their example.