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Brown was so tall and thin, and his study was so low and square, that the one in the other seemed a misfit.
There was not much in the study. A few shelves of books--not all learned books by any means--three chairs, one of them a rocker cushioned in a cheerful red; a battered old desk; a broad and rather comfortable looking couch: this was nearly all the study's furniture. There was a fireplace with a crumbling old hearth-stone, and usually a roaring fire within; and a chimney-piece above, where stood a few photographs and some odd-looking articles of apparently small value. On the walls were two small portraits--of an elderly man and woman.
This was absolutely all there was in the room worth mentioning--except when Brown was in it. Then, of course, there was Brown. This is not a truism, it is a large, significant fact. When you had once seen Brown in his study you knew that the room would be empty when he was out of it, no matter who remained. Not that Brown was such a big, broad-shouldered, dominating figure of a man. He was so tall and thin of figure that he looked almost gaunt, and so spare and dark of face that he appeared almost austere. Yet when you observed him closely he did not seem really austere, for out of his eyes, of a clear, deep gray, looked not only power but sympathy, and not only patience but humour. His mouth was clean-cut and strong, and it could smile in a rather wonderful way. As to the years he had spent--they might have been thirty, or forty, or twenty, according to the hour in which one met him. As a matter of fact he was, at the beginning of this history, not very far along in the thirties, though when that rather wonderful smile of his was not in evidence one might have taken him for somewhat older.
I had forgotten. Besides Brown when he was in the study there was usually, also, Bim. Also long and lean, also brown, with a rough, shaggy coat and the suggestion of collie blood about him--though he was plainly a mixture of several breeds--Bim belonged to Brown, and to Brown's immediate environment, whenever Bim himself was able to accomplish it. When he was not able he was accustomed to wait patiently outside the door of Brown's small bachelor abode. This door opened directly from the street into the Brown Study.
The really curious thing about the study was that nobody in that quarter of the big city knew it was a study. They called the place simply "Brown's." Who Brown himself was they did not know, either. He had come to live in the little old house about a year ago. He was dressed so plainly, and everything about him, including his manner, was of such an unobtrusive simplicity, that he attracted little attention--at first. Soon his immediate neighbours were on terms of interested acquaintanceship with him, though how they got there they could not themselves have told--it had never occurred to them to wonder. The thing had come about naturally, somehow. Presently others besides his immediate neighbours knew Brown, had become friends of Brown. They never wondered how it had happened.
The Brown Study had many callers. It was by now thoroughly used to them, for it had all sorts, every day of the month, at any hour of the day, at almost any hour of the night.
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