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"Coffee for one, cook," I says, and she understood. Her cap and apron were hanging behind the door. I flung them across to her, and she caught them; and then I opened the front door.
They pushed past me without speaking, and went straight into the parlor. And they did n't waste many words on him, either.
"Where is she?" asked Miss Bulstrode. "Where's who?" says Mr. Parable. "Don't lie about it," said Miss Bulstrode, making no effort to control herself. "The hussy you 've been dining with?"
"Do you mean Mrs. Meadows?" says Mr. Parable.
I thought she was going to shake him. "Where have you hidden her?" she says. It was at that moment cook entered with the coffee.
If they had taken the trouble to look at her they might have had an idea. The tray was trembling in her hands, and in her haste and excitement she had put on her cap the wrong way round. But she kept control of her voice, and asked if she should bring some more coffee.
"Ah, yes, you'd all like some coffee, would n't you?" says Mr. Parable. Miss Bulstrode did not reply, but Mr. Quincey said he was cold and would like it. It was a nasty night, with a thin rain.
"Thank you, sir," says cook, and we went out together.
Cottages are only cottages, and if people in the parlor persist in talking loudly, people in the kitchen can't very well help overhearing.
There was a good deal of talk about "fourteen days," which Mr. Parable said he was going to do himself, and which
Miss Dorton said he must n't because, if he did, it would be a victory for the enemies of humanity. Mr. Parable said something about "humanity" which I did n't rightly hear; but, whatever it was, it started Miss Dorton crying, and Miss Bulstrode called Mr. Parable a "blind Samson" who had had his hair cut by a designing minx who had been hired to do it.
It was all French to me, but cook was drinking in every word, and when she returned from taking them in their coffee, she made no bones about it, but took up her place at the door, with her ear to the keyhole.
It was Mr. Quincey that got them all quiet, and then he began to explain things. It seemed that if they could only find a certain gentleman and persuade him to come forward and acknowledge that he began a row, that then all would be well. Mr. Quincey would be fined forty shillings, and Mr. Parable's name would never appear. Failing that, Mr. Parable, according to Mr. Quincey, could do his fourteen days himself.
"I've told you once," says Mr. Parable, "and I tell you again, that I don't know the man's name and can't give it
"We are not asking you to," says Mr. Quincey. "You give us the name of your tango partner, and we 'll do the rest.”
I could see cook's face; I had got a bit interested myself, and we were both close to the door. She hardly seemed to be breathing.
"I am sorry," says Mr. Parable, speaking very deliberate-like, "but I am not going to have her name dragged into this business."
"It would n't be," says Mr. Quincey. "All we want to get out of her is the name and address of the gentleman who was so anxious to see her home."
"Who was he?" says Miss Bulstrode. "Her husband?"
"No," says Mr. Parable, "he was n't." "Then who was he?" says Miss Bulstrode. "He must have been something to her. Fiancé?"
"I am going to do the fourteen days myself," says Mr. Parable. "I shall come out all the fresher after a fortnight's complete rest and change."
Cook leaves the door with a smile on her face that made her look quite beautiful, and, taking some paper from the dresser drawer, began to write a letter.
They went on talking in the other room for another ten minutes, and then Mr. Parable lets them out himself, and goes a little way with them. When he came back, we could hear him walking up and down the other room.
She had written and stamped the envelop; it was lying on the table.
"Joseph Onions, Esq.?" I says, reading the address. "Auctioneer and House Agent, Broadway, Hammersmith.' Is that the young man?"
"That is the young man," she says, folding her letter, and putting it in the envelop.
"And was he your fiancé?" I asked. "No," she says. "But he will be, if he does what I'm telling him to do."
"And what about Mr. Parable?"
"A little joke that will amuse him later on," she says, slipping a cloak on her shoulders. "How once he nearly married his cook."
"I sha'n't be a minute," she says; and with her letter in her hand, she slips out.
Mrs. Meadows, we understand, has expressed indignation at our publication of this interview, she being under the impression that she was simply having a friendly gossip with a neighbor. Our representative, however, is sure he explained to Mrs. Meadows that his visit was official; and in any case our duty to the public must be held to exonerate us from all blame in the matter.
MR. JOSEPH ONIONS, Broadway, Hammersmith, auctioneer and house agent, expressed himself to our representative as most surprised at the turn that events had subsequently taken. The letter that Mr. Onions received from Miss Comfort Price was explicit and definite. It was to the effect that if he would call upon a cer
tain Mr. Quincey of Harcourt Buildings, Temple, and acknowledge that it was he who began the row at the Earl's Court Exhibition on the evening of the twentyseventh, that then the engagement between himself and Miss Price, hitherto unacknowledged by the lady, might be regarded as a fact.
Mr. Onions, who describes himself as essentially a business man, decided before complying with Miss Price's request to take a few preliminary steps. As the result of judiciously conducted inquiries, first at the Vine Street Police Court and secondly at Twickenham, Mr. Onions arrived later in the day at Mr. Quincey's chambers with, to use his own expression, all the cards in his hand. It was Mr. Quincey who, professing himself unable to comply with Mr. Onions' suggestion, arranged the interview with Miss Bulstrode. And it was Miss Bulstrode herself who, on condition that Mr. Onions added to the undertaking the further condition that he would marry Miss Price before the end of the month, offered to make it two hundred. It was in their joint interest-Mr. Onions regarding himself and Miss Price as now one-that Mr. Onions suggested her making it three; using such arguments as, in the circumstances, naturally occurred to him; as, for example, the damage caused to the lady's reputation by the whole proceedings, culminating in a night spent by the lady, according to her own account, on Ham Common. That the price demanded was reasonable Mr. Onions considers as proved by Miss Bulstrode's eventual acceptance of his terms. That, having got out of him all that he wanted, Mr. Quincey should have "considered it his duty" to communicate the entire details of the transaction to Miss Price, through the medium of Mr. Andrews, thinking it "as well she should know the character of the man she proposed to marry," Mr. Onions considers a gross breach of etiquette as between gentlemen; and having regard to Miss Price's after behavior Mr. Onions can only say that she is not the girl he took her for.
MR. AARON ANDREWS, on whom our representative called, was desirous at first of not being drawn into the matter; but on our representative explaining to him. that our only desire was to contradict false rumors likely to be harmful to Mr. Parable's reputation, Mr. Andrews saw the necessity of putting our representative in possession of the truth.
She came back on Tuesday afternoon, explained Mr. Andrews, and he had a talk with her.
"It is all right, Mr. Andrews," she told me, "they 've been in communication with my young man, and Miss Bulstrode has seen the magistrate privately. case will be dismissed with a fine of forty shillings, and Mr. Quincey has arranged to keep it out of the papers."
"Well, all's well that ends well," I answered, "but it might have been better, my girl, if you had mentioned that young man of yours a bit earlier.”
"I did not know it was of any importance," she explained. "Mr. Parable told me nothing. If it had n't been for chance, I should never have known what was happening."
I had always liked the young woman. Mr. Quincey had suggested my waiting till after Wednesday. But there seemed to me no particular object in delay.
"Are you fond of him?" I asked her. "Yes," she answered, "I am fonder than-" and then she stopped herself suddenly, and flared scarlet. "Who are you talking about?" she demanded.
"This young man of yours," I said,"Mr.-what 's his name- Onions." "Oh, that!" she answered. "Oh, yes, he 's all right."
"And if he was n't?" I said, and she looked at me hard.
"I told him," she said, "that if he would do what I asked him to do, I 'd marry him. And he seems to have done it."
"There are ways of doing everything," I said; and seeing it was n't going to break her heart, I told her just the plain facts. She listened without a word, and when I had finished, she put her arms
round my neck and kissed me. I am old enough to be her grandfather, but twenty years ago it might have upset me.
"I think I shall be able to save Miss Bulstrode that three hundred pounds," she laughed; and ran up-stairs and changed her things. When later I looked into the kitchen she was humming.
Mr. John came up by the car, and I I could see he was in one of his moods.
"Pack me some things for a walkingtour," he said. "Don't forget the knapsack. I am going to Scotland by the eight thirty."
"Will you be away long?" I asked him. "It depends upon how long it takes me," he answered. "When I come back I am going to be married."
"Who is the lady?" I asked, though of course I knew.
"Miss Bulstrode," he said.
"That will do," he said, "I have had all that from the three of them for the last two days. She is a socialist and a suffragist, and all the rest of it, and my ideal helpmate. She is well off, and that will enable me to devote all my time to putting the world to rights without bothering about anything else. Our home will be the nursery of advanced ideas. We shall share together the joys and delights of the public platform. What more can any man want?"
"You will want your dinner early," I said, "if you are going by the eight thirty. I had better tell cook-"
He interrupted me again. "You can tell cook to go to the devil," he said. I naturally stared at him.
"She is going to marry a beastly little rotter of a rent-collector that she does n't care a damn for," he went on.
I could not understand why he seemed so mad about it. "I don't see in any case what it's got to do with you," I said; "but as a matter of fact, she is n't."
"Is n't what?" he said, stopping short and turning on me.
"Is n't going to marry him," I answered.
"Why not?" he demanded.
"Better ask her," I suggested.
I did n't know at the time that it was a silly thing to say, and I am not sure that I should not have said it, if I had. When he is in one of his moods, I always seem to get into one of mine. I have looked after Mr. John ever since he was a baby, so that we do not either of us treat the other quite as perhaps we ought
"Tell cook I want her," he said.
"She is just in the middle-" I began. "I don't care where she is," he said. He seemed determined never to let me finish a sentence. "Send her up here."
She was in the kitchen by herself. "He wants to see you at once," I said. "Who does?" she asked.
"Mr. John," I said.
"What's he want to see me for?” she asked.
"How do I know?" I answered.
"But you do," she said. She always had an obstinate twist in her, and feeling it would save time, I told her what had happened.
"Well," I said, "are n't you going?"
She was standing stock-still, staring at the pastry she was making. She turned
to me, and there was a curious smile about her lips.
"Do you know what you ought to be wearing?" she said. "Wings, and a little bow and arrow."
She did n't even think to wipe her hands, but went straight up-stairs. It was about half an hour later when the bell rang. Mr. John was standing by the window.
"Is that bag ready?" he said.
"It will be," I said. I went out into the hall and returned with the clothesbrush.
"What are you going to do?" he said. "Perhaps you don't know it," I said, "but you are all over flour."
"Cook 's going with me to Scotland," he said.
I have looked after Mr. John ever since he was a boy. He was forty-two last birthday, but when I shook hands with him through the cab window, I could have sworn he was twenty-five again.
In the Deep Midnight
By CALE YOUNG RICE
LANGING, ever clanging!
Clanging in the deep midnight, train-bells clanging!
Over the city sleeping;
Over the silent huddle of roofs and shadows;
Over the hearts of thousands, lying enchambered, breathing evenly,
Clanging over the streets, restless clanging
Over hushed streets, with blue electric lights lonesomely burning;
The shrines dark and empty save for the voiceless souls of Bibles;
Over the wan hospital, the wards where the sick lie waking a little,
And where they moan a little, not knowing why;
Over the jail, where the guilty, too, wake and stir in their ward,
And where they start, with waging blood, and moan and beat at their bars,
Because for them there is neither home nor highway;
Over that other prison, where the dead lie,
But wake not at all, nor struggle, nor beat at their bars
Ever, ever clanging!