The hands of the clock on the front of the Strangers' Gallery were nearing six. The long-expected introductory speech of the Minister in charge of the new Land Bill was over, and the leader of the Opposition was on his feet. The House of Commons was full and excited. The side galleries were no less crowded than the benches below, and round the entrance-door stood a compact throng of members for whom no seats were available. With every sentence, almost, the speaker addressing the House struck from it assent or protest; cheers and counter-cheers ran through its ranks; while below the gangway a few passionate figures on either side, the freebooters of the two great parties, watched one another angrily, sitting on the very edge of their seats, like arrows drawn to the string. Within that privileged section of the Ladies' Gallery to which only the Speaker's order admits, there was no less agitation than on the floor below, though the signs of it were less evident.