Puslapio vaizdai

Mrs. Tupp remembers admitting a young lady to the house on the morning. of Friday, the twenty-eighth, when she opened the door to take in the milk. The lady, Mrs. Tupp remembers, spoke in a husky voice, the result, as the young lady explained with a pleasant laugh, of having passed the night wandering about Ham Common, she having been misdirected the previous evening by a fool of a railway porter, and not wishing to disturb the neighborhood by waking people up at two o'clock in the morning, which, in Mrs. Tupp's opinion, was sensible of her. Mrs. Tupp describes the young lady as of agreeable manners, but looking, naturally, a bit washed out. The lady asked for Mr. Tupp, explaining that a friend of his was in trouble, which did not in the least surprise Mrs. Tupp, she herself not holding with socialists and such like. Mr. Tupp, on being informed, dressed hastily and went down-stairs, and he and the young lady left the house together. Mr. Tupp, on being questioned as to the name of his friend, had called up that it was no one Mrs. Tupp would know-a Mr. Quince. It may have been Quincey.

Mrs. Tupp is aware that Mr. Parable is also a socialist, and is acquainted with the saying about thieves hanging together, but has worked for Mr. Parable for years and has always found him a most satisfactory client. Mr. Tupp appearing at this point, our representative thanked Mrs. Tupp for her information, and took his departure.

MR. HORATIUS CONDOR, JR., who consented to partake of luncheon in company with our representative at the Holborn Restaurant, was at first disinclined to be of much assistance, but eventually supplied our representative with the following information:

My relationship to Mr. Archibald Quincey, Harcourt Buildings, Temple, is perhaps a little difficult to define.

How he himself regards me I am never quite sure. There will be days together when we will be quite friendly like, and

at other times he will be that off-handed and peremptory you might think I was his blooming office boy.

On Friday morning, the twenty-eighth, I did n't get to Harcourt Buildings at the usual time, knowing that Mr. Quincey would not be there himself, he having arranged to interview Mr. Parable for a morning paper at ten o'clock. I allowed him half an hour, to be quite safe, and he came in at quarter-past eleven.

He took no notice of me. For about ten minutes-it may have been less-he walked up and down the room cursing and swearing, and kicking the furniture about. He landed an occasional walnut table in the middle of my shins, upon which I took the opportunity of wishing him "good morning," and he sort of woke up, as you might say.

"How did the interview go off?" I says. "Got anything interesting?"

"Yes," he says, "quite interesting. Oh, yes, decidedly interesting."

He was holding himself in, if you understand, speaking with horrible slowness and deliberation.

"D' you know where he was last night?" he asks me.

"Yes," I says; "Caxton Hall, was n't it-meeting to demand the release of Miss Clebb?"

He leans across the table till his face was within a few inches of mine.

"Guess again," he says.

I was n't doing any guessing. He had hurt me with the walnut table, and I was feeling a bit short-tempered.

"Oh, don't make a game of it," I says. "It's too early in the morning."

"At the Earl's Court Exhibition," he says, "dancing the tango with a lady that he picked up in St. James's Park."

"Well," I says, "why not? He don't often get much fun." I thought it best to treat it lightly.

He takes no notice of my observation. "A rival comes upon the scene," he continues, "a fat-headed ass, according to my information, and they have a stand-up fight. He gets run in, and spends the night in a Vine Street police cell."


"It was she who selected the table in the corner behind the door "

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

"I'll see the Fabian Society, and the women's vote, and the Home for Lost Cats at Battersea, and all the rest of the blessed bag of tricks-"

in just after you had left," she says. "He
wants to get away from every one and
have a few days' quiet. And then he is
coming back, and he is going to do it
"Do what?" says the guv'nor, irritable just worked it out.


"Fourteen days," she wails. "It 'll kill him."

"But the case does n't come on till Wednesday," says the guv'nor. "How do you know it's going to be fourteen days?"

"Miss Bulstrode," she says, "she's seen the magistrate. He says he always gives fourteen days in cases of unprovoked assault."

"But it was n't unprovoked," says the guv'nor. "The other man began it by knocking off his hat. It was self-defense."

"She put that to him," she says, "and he agreed that that would alter his view of the case. But, you see," she continues, "we can't find the other man. He is n't likely to come forward of his own accord."

"The girl must know," says the guv'nor-"this girl he picks up in St. James's Park and goes dancing with. The man must have been some friend of hers."

"But we can't find her, either," she says. "He does n't even know her name; he can't remember it. You will do it, won't you?" she says.

"Do what?" says the guv'nor again. "The fourteen days," she says.

I'd been thinking to myself, and had

"What's he want to take his cook down with him for?" I says.

"To cook for him," says the guv'nor. "What d' you generally want a cook for?"

"Rats!" I says. "Does he usually take his cook with him?"

"No," answered Miss Dorton. "Now I come to think of it, he has always hitherto put up with Mrs. Meadows."

"You will find the lady down at Fingest," I says, "sitting opposite to him and enjoying a recherché dinner for two."

The guv'nor slaps me on the back, and lifts Miss Dorton out of her chair.

"You get on back," he says, "and telephone to Miss Bulstrode. I'll be round at half-past twelve."

Miss Dorton went out in a dazed sort of condition, and the guv'nor gives me a sovereign, and tells me I can have the rest of the day to myself.

Mr. Condor, Jr., considers that what happened subsequently goes to prove that he was right more than it proves that he was wrong.

Mr. Condor, Jr., also promised to send us a photograph of himself for reproduction, but, unfortunately, up to the time

"But I thought you said he was going of going to press it had not arrived. to do it himself,” he says.

"But he must n't," she says. "Miss Bulstrode is coming round to see you. Think of it! Think of the head-lines in the papers!" she says. "Think of the Fabian Society! Think of the suffrage cause! We must n't let him."

"What about me?" says the guv'nor. "Does n't anybody care for me?"

[blocks in formation]

FROM Mrs. Meadows, widow of the late Corporal John Meadows, V.C., Turberville, Bucks, the following further particulars were obtained by our local representative:

I have done for Mr. Parable now for some years past, my cottage being only a mile off, which makes it easy for me to look after him.

Mr. Parable likes the place to be always ready so that he can drop in when he chooses, he sometimes giving me warning and sometimes not. It was about the end of last month-on a Friday, if I remember that he suddenly turned up.

As a rule he walks from Henley Station, but on this occasion he arrived in a fly, he having a young woman with him, and she having a bag-his cook, as he explained to me. As a rule, I do everything for Mr. Parable, sleeping in the cottage when he is there; but to tell the truth, I was glad to see her. I never was much of a cook myself, as my poor dead husband has remarked on more than one occasion, and I don't pretend to be. Mr. Parable added, apologetic like, that he had been. suffering lately from indigestion.


"I am only too pleased to see her," I says. "There are the two beds in my room, and we sha'n't quarrel." She was quite a sensible young woman, as I had judged from the first look at her, though suffering at the time from a cold. hires a bicycle from Emma Tidd, who uses it only on a Sunday, and, taking a market-basket, off she starts for Henley, Mr. Parable saying he would go with her to show her the way.

They were gone a goodish time, which, seeing it 's eight miles, did n't so much. surprise me; and when they got back we all three had dinner together, Mr. Parable arguing that it made for what he called "labor-saving." Afterward I cleared away, leaving them talking together; and later on they had a walk round the garden, it being a moonlight night, but a bit too cold for my fancy.

In the morning I had a chat with her before he was down. She seemed a bit worried.

"I hope people won't get talking," she says. "He would insist on my coming."

"Well," I says, "surely a gent can bring his cook along with him to cook for him. And as for people talking, what I always say is, one may just as well give them something to talk about and save them the trouble of making it up."

"If only I was a plain middle-aged woman," she says, "it would be all right."

"Perhaps you will be all in good time," I says, but of course I could see what she was driving at. A nice clean, pleasantfaced young woman she was, and not of the ordinary class. "Meanwhile," I says,

"if you don't mind taking a bit of motherly advice, you might remember that your place is the kitchen, and his the parlor. He's a dear good man, I know, but human nature is human nature, and it 's no good pretending it is n't."

She and I had our breakfast together before he was up, so that when he came down, he had to have his alone, but afterward she comes into the kitchen and closes the door.

"He wants to show me the way to High Wycombe," she says. "He will have it there are better shops at Wycombe. What ought I to do?"

My experience is that advising folks to do what they don't want to do is n't the way to do it.

"What d' you think yourself?" I asked


"I feel like going with him," she says, "and making the most of every mile." And then she began to cry. "What's the harm?" she says. "I have heard him from a dozen platforms ridiculing class distinctions. Besides," she says, "my people have been farmers for generations. What was Miss Bulstrode's father but a grocer? He ran a hundred shops instead of one. What difference does that make?"

"When did it all begin?" I says. "When did he first take notice of you?"

"The day before yesterday," she answers. "He had never seen me before," she says. "I was just cook-something in a cap and apron that he passed occasionally on the stairs. On Thursday he saw me in my best clothes, and fell in love with me. He does n't know it himself, poor dear, not yet; but that's what he's done."

Well, I could n't contradict her, not after the way I had seen him looking at her across the table.

[blocks in formation]

"He 'd be a bit difficult to live with,"

I says.

"Geniuses always are," she says; "it 's easy enough if you just think of them as children. He'd be a bit fractious at times, that 's all. Underneath, he 's just the kindest, dearest-"

"Oh, you take your basket and go to High Wycombe," I says. "He might do worse."

I was n't expecting them back soon, and they did n't come back soon. In the afternoon a motor stops at the gate, and out of it steps Miss Bulstrode, Miss Dorton, that's the young lady that writes. for him, and Mr. Quincey. I told them I could n't say when he 'd be back, and they said it did n't matter; they just happening to be passing.

[ocr errors]

"Did anybody call on him yesterday?" asks Miss Bulstrode, careless like "a lady?"

"No," I says, "you are the first as yet." "He's brought his cook down with him, has n't he?" says Mr. Quincey.

"Yes," I says, "and a very good cook, too," which was the truth.

"I'd like just to speak a few words with her," says Miss Bulstrode.

"Sorry, ma'am," I says, "but she 's out at present. She 's gone to Wycombe." "Gone to Wycombe!" they all says together.

"To market," I says. "It's a little farther, but, of course, it stands to reason the shops there are better."

They looked at one another.

"That settles it," says Mr. Quincey. "Delicacies worthy to be set before her not available nearer than Wycombe, but must be had. There 's going to be a pleasant little dinner here to-night."

"The hussy!" says Miss Bulstrode under her breath.

They whispered together for a moment, then they turns to me.

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Meadows," says Mr. Quincey. "You need n't say we called. He wanted to be alone, and it might vex him.”

I said I would n't, and I did n't. They climbed back into the motor and went off.

Before dinner I had call to go into the woodshed. I heard a scuttling as I opened the door. If I am not mistaken, Miss Dorton was hiding in the corner where we keep the coke. I did n't see any good in making a fuss, so I left her there. When I got back to the kitchen, cook asked me if we 'd got any parsley.

"You'll find a bit in the front," I says, "to the left of the gate," and she went out. She came back looking scared.

"Anybody keep goats round here?" she asked me.

"Not that I know of-nearer than Ibstone Common," I says.

"I could have sworn I saw a goat's face looking at me out of the gooseberrybushes while I was picking the parsley," she says. "It had a beard."

"It's the half-light," I says. "One can imagine anything."

"I do hope I 'm not getting nervy," she


I thought I'd have another look round, and made the excuse that I wanted a pail of water. I was stooping over the well, which is just under the mulberry-tree, when something fell close to me and lodged upon the bricks. It was a hairpin. I fixed the cover carefully upon the well in case of accident, and when I got in, I went round myself, and was careful to see that all the curtains were drawn.

Just before we three sat down to dinner again, I took cook aside.

"I should n't go for any stroll in the garden to-night," I says. "People from the village may be about, and we don't want them gossiping." And she thanked


Next night they were there again. I thought I would n't spoil the dinner, but mention it afterward. I saw to it again that the curtains were drawn, and slipped the catch of both the doors; and just as well that I did.

I had always heard that Mr. Parable was an amusing speaker, but on previous visits had not myself noticed it. But this time he seemed ten years younger than I had ever known him before; and during dinner, while we were talking and laugh

« AnkstesnisTęsti »