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He retreated a little before he turned again to make the artistic repetition. "Garn, and fry yer ugly face! And eat it for yer dinner!"
Then he went on. Was it his thrashing or the thump on the ear that made his head so dizzy? He felt soft and strangely near tears, and the tears were not tears of pain, either. He wandered about for a while until he found himself once more at the gate of the girl's house. He sat on the railings and brooded.
Nash was in love!
THE following Sunday dawned wet and cold, and a dreary drizzle that set in in the early morning bade fair to continue for the rest of the day.
Archibald John Nash was in poor spirits. He rose late and busied himself about the house in order to have an excuse for not going to church.
At dinner-time he brightened somewhat; but the meal ended, and the old gloom settled upon him. At half-past two he washed himself with despairing thoroughness, brushed his hair, put on his best jacket, and presented himself before his father.
That gentleman was stretched at length on the parlor sofa, clay pipe in his mouth, reading the police news in the Sunday paper. He looked up as his son halted before him and surveyed him with a grunt. Nash answered with astute meekness the questions of his sire.
Yes, he had washed his neck. Yes, and under the collar, too, which was a lie. Yes, he had a handkerchief, and would use it if need be. No, he would n't tie it round his cap or lose it or use it to polish his boots. Yes, he quite understood what would happen if he did. No, he would n't put his hands in his pocket and look like a young slouch who had been brought up in a pigsty. No, he would n't fight or play marbles or walk in the puddles, and it was his strict intention to come straight home. he quite understood what would happen if he did n't.
"Well, get along with you," said his father, and relieved at having safely survived the ordeal of inquisition, Nash proffered a diffident request for a “ha'penny for the mission'ry," and immediately wished he had n't, for his father, as
he felt in his pocket for the coin, opened up a further course of questioning.
No, he did not really believe his parent to be made of money. Yes, he would actually put it in the bag. No, he would n't spend it; course not. (With a look like a martyred saint.) He always did put his mission'ry in the bag, which was another lie. Oh, yes (despairingly), he quite understood what would happen if he did n't.
"Anybody 'd fink," said Nash to himself as he bent his steps dejectedly toward the mission house he frequented sometimes on very wet Sundays-"anybody 'd fink a ha'penny 'd break 'im!"
Half-way down the street he met Arthur Wiltshire, whose jaws were tightly bound together with toffee. Wiltshire hailed him with a grin, but Nash gazed at him gloomily.
"I b'lieve you 've bin and spent yer mission'ry!" he said at last.
Wiltshire grinned again, and, taking a paper from his pocket, held it out to Nash, who sadly selected the largest piece. In another moment his jaws were as tightly bound as his companion's, and the two walked on in happy silence. Suddenly Nash gave evident signs of choking. Wiltshire stopped in alarm and patted him solicitously on the back. "What's up?" said Wiltshire.
Nash hooked his forefinger round the obstruction and cleared his throat for utterance.
"See that gel!" he asked, pointing.
Wiltshire looked across. A maiden of about twelve years, splendid in Sunday finery, her gloved hand holding a large gilt-edged Bible, passed by on the other side. She elevated her nose as she saw Nash and ostentatiously turned her head
Wiltshire gaped, mouth open.
"My gel!" said Nash, briefly. "Go on across with you and ask her to come for a walk with me."
He watched Wiltshire as he ran across, and then, as he saw the girl stop and look back doubtfully, affected the utmost unconcern, though his heart was full of a strange trepidation.
Wiltshire came running back, grinning from ear to ear.
"She says to tell you you 'll get a jolly good hiding when you get home for play
"Strange emotions were surging within him. 'If that boss-eyed Bill Porter comes 'anging round you any more,' he said, 'I 'll paralyze 'im!'"
ing the hop, and her mother says she ain't to 'sociate with ragamuffins, and she did n't know it was you when she see you, because you had such a clean face, and she says did it hurt to wash it, and how long did it take, and she can't come a walk with you, anyhow, because she 's going a walk with Bill Porter after school, and you'd better look out, because Bill Porter says he can fight you with one hand tied behind his back, and-"
Wiltshire ceased for lack of breath. Nash's face was a study. Amazement, wrath, and bitter contempt reflected themselves in turn on his visage. caught Wiltshire a cuff across the ear which nearly sent that youth into the gutter.
"That 'll learn yer to grin," he said. "An' when I see Bill Porter I 'll corpse him. Now sling yer hook!"
Wiltshire went, and after a pause Nash followed his divinity at a safe distance. He saw her enter the iron-roofed mission house, and he himself remained outside, dejectedly leaning against the wall.
He saw the boys and girls come trooping into Sunday-school, the good boys and girls with their little Bibles and hymn-books in their hands. Nash would have scorned to have been seen with a hymn-book; he would have died rather than be seen with a Bible. He felt that a youth who could, in the open street, carry both was utterly unregenerate, unworthy of the name of boy, an
outcast, an outlaw, against whom the hand of all honest persons should be turned.
He relieved his feelings by stopping an exceedingly virtuous-looking boy who wore a mortar-board, another thing to be scorned. He removed the offending head-gear, filled it with the muddiest stones he could find, and handed it back. "Take it home to yer mother," said Nash, "an' ask her to buy yer a 'at." When the procession of Sunday-schoolgoers ceased, Nash was at a loss for recreation. He picked up a stone and threw it on the roof of the mission with a sure aim, so calculated that the missile rebounded on the resounding metal, rolling down with a fearsome rumble and roar, ricochetting again and again before it finally fell, its good work done, to the pavement. A bald-headed little man in a long-tailed coat came out suddenly and seized at Nash, who artfully eluded him, dodging round him, prancing and dancing.
He made remarks upon the uncovered nature of his pursuer's head until the latter longed for she bears to come and devour him as they had devoured the tormentors of Elisha. The baldheaded little man, his coat-tails flying, returned crestfallen, and Nash took up his former position. Somehow the inclination for further amusement failed. Floating before his mind's eye was the vision of a face, a delicate face framed in brown hair, with ruddy lips and sparkling eyes. Nash groaned in spirit as he realized how far she was from him, a dirty little boy, as she had called him, with no particular advantages exceptand he was bound to own it with pridea talent for "scrapping." How to break down her reserve? Nash longed for her with a longing he could not quite understand. Already he felt strangely softened as he thought of her. He wished he had not touched the boy's mortarboard. He wished he had not thrown the stone on the roof! A half-idea of going boldly up-stairs, facing the baldheaded little man, begging his pardon frankly, and holding out a hand in symbol that all was forgotten, came to him. He had visions of the girl's look of awed surprise and half-unwilling admiration. Yes, that was it, the manly course. He would go and
Just then the children began to come out in chattering troops. Nash came to himself, felt in his pocket with a guilty start at the sudden remembrance of his ha'penny, made up his mind on the instant, darted across the road to a shop at the corner, purchased a halfpennyworth of chocolate-drops, "the best, mind yer, miss," and came back elate. He had found a way.
The girl came out without Bill Porter. Nash followed a yard or two behind until they reached a quieter street; then taking his courage, so to speak, in both hands, he hurried up to the girl, looking her boldly in the face.
Why, she was actually blushing!
"I say," said Nash, "'ere's some chocklits I bought yer. I 've got a plane at home I 'll give yer. out of a real carpenter's chest."
The girl hesitated, and finally, oh, fickle heart of woman! took the sweets.
"You must n't walk with me," she said. "Somebody might see you. Besides, I'm going to meet Bill Porter at the end of the road."
"If I see 'is boss-eyed mug," cried Nash, fiercely, "I'll smash it in! I'll pulverize 'im. I'll-"
The girl seemed touched; she smiled. "Oh, you must n't!" she said. "I don't like boys to fight. But would you reely, though?”
"I done it," said Nash, "many a time.”
The girl offered him a chocolate from the paper and giggled delightedly. Nash declined. He never ate sweets, he explained loftily; they spoilt a fellow's wind. He searched his pocket, produced the end of a cigarette and a wax match, struck the latter artistically on the seat of his trousers, lighted the former with a practised hand, and puffed the smoke in a volume through his nose. "You'll get it," said the girl. "Your mother will smell you."
"Pooh!" said Nash, indifferently. "I know a good thing for that. Chew grass."
The girl asked him if he smoked much. He explained that he liked his "fag" after meals. He said he meant to smoke in the house when he was fourteen and had left school and gone to work. "An' if the old man don't like it," he said, " 'e can jolly well lump it, so that's all about
it!" They were now very near the girl's home. The early evening dusk had fallen. The street was silent, echoing to the sound of their footfalls. The two. stopped as moved by one impulse.
"You must n't come any farther," said the girl, "or mother will see you."
Nash looked at her in silence. Something, he could not tell what, stirred within him. The girl's face shone in the half-light; the touch of her gloved hand as she laid it gently on his arm thrilled him.
"Well, so long!" said Nash.
Then they looked at each other in silence.
"Say," said Nash, suddenly, "lem me meet yer to-night as you go to church. And I'll tell yer what, I'll carry yer Bible for yer."
It must not be thought that the girl did not appreciate this evidence of devotion. She did not laugh or even smile. Her breath came sweet against Nash's cheek as she leaned across to him.
"Good-by," she said, and then added, not so softly but what Nash caught the whisper, "dear."
Nash caught her hand fiercely. Strange emotions were surging within him.
"If that boss-eyed Bill Porter comes 'anging round you any more," he said, "I'll paralyze 'im!" and then, turning with a last "So long" he ran to the end of the street.
Of the further course of Nash's calf love this chronicler may not in detail tell. How he survived the agonies of chaff from all his boon companions, who, when his superiority in other directions was too plainly manifest, brought against him the damaging fact that he "went out with a gel"; how he fought three of
them, one after the other, and beat them all, and then, taking his gory countenance with him as security for his valor, sought his divinity, only to find her turn from him in disgust; how he gained thereby his first experience of the subtleties of feminine nature, and summed up the philosophy of woman with a muttered, "You don't never know what 'll please 'em"; how he quarreled with Mary, and bought her a pearl-handled penknife, on penknife, on a card proudly labeled Paris nouveauté, as a peace-offering, with a sixpence given him for a birthday present, or, at least, with fourpence halfpenny of it, spending the other three halfpence on chocolates; how she refused the gifts, and how he dashed them scornfully to the ground, where she left them, and whence, as soon as she turned the corner, he retrieved them, meeting her come upon a like errand; how they "made it up," kissed, and were friends; how he wrote her letters on pink notepaper, and addressed them to "Duchess Mary"; how she retaliated in kind with a sweet little note addressed to "Sir Archibald," which note he long wore next his heart, or next the place where he imagined that organ to be situated; how she cut him off a lock of her hair, which, feeling that ordinary wrapping was too profane for such a sacred treasure, and, casting about for a suitable covering, he finally encased in an envelop made from a text; how he bore ridicule bravely for her sake, and by means of her influence his nature was sweetened and refinedall this may not be told in this place, yet it is worth the telling. For this calf love, which comes to most of us, this boy-and-girl devotion that comes before the heart is saddened with a fuller knowledge of the complexities of life, is it not beautiful and worthy of remembrance?
An Empress in Exile
II. Farnborough Hill and its Inmates
EET the Empress at Wil-
This telegram from Mme. de Arcos, an old friend of my aunt's, was the prelude to some of the pleasantest and most interesting months of my life. Needless to say, the message was speedily obeyed, and a few hours after its receipt I was already whirling away in an express-train toward London.
The following day, Wednesday, February 10, 1886, I started at 3:30 for Mme. de Arcos's house in Belgravia, where, after waiting a few moments in the drawing-room with Mrs. Edmund V—, I was taken up-stairs by her and her sister to see the empress, who had come to London expressly for this interview.
Mme. Arcos had already told me that I should find her imperial Majesty most gracious and I need not be in the least intimidated by her; but despite this reassuring assertion, my heart-beats quickened a little as I entered her presence and made my first low, court courtesy. The empress half rose from her seat, at the same time motioning me to one, and in the conversation which ensued praised my French unstintingly, put me so completely at my ease, and interested me so much, as she sat there in her widow's weeds, in the dim light of a foggy winter's afternoon, she, once the most beautiful woman of Europe, that I quite forgot to lose my self-possession.
In less than half an hour I had made another deep courtesy, and had taken leave of the empress under Mme. de Arcos's wing, was complimented by her down-stairs in the drawing-room on my tenue, and had a few friendly hints given me on court ways and the little difficulties I should be ready to encounter.
All was satisfactorily settled, and the details of my life at Farnborough were arranged, even to the hour of the train which was to carry me thither on the fifteenth.
It was quite dark when I reached Farnborough station about six P.M., February 15, and I was glad to find a carriage waiting for me. On the platform stood a smart, but most goodnatured-looking, French footman, cockaded hat in hand, and five minutes later I had driven through the lodge-gates and had arrived at Farnborough Hill, where through many circuitous passages, and passed along by various polite menservants, I was finally shown up to my
While I was waiting there, not knowing quite what to do next, there was a knock at my door. A maid came to offer her services, which I declined, and then Mme. Le Breton walked in, accompanied by the empress's two Spanish nieces, M and A de Vwhom she introduced, as well as herself, and welcomed me most warmly to my new home, apologizing for not having been at the entrance when I arrived. The coachman had brought me to a side entrance instead of the principal one, where Mme. Le Breton and the girls had long been vainly waiting for the carriage to drive up. At last they discovered the error, found that I was already in the house, and came up to me at once. Mme. Le Breton then rang for some tea, which was brought up by my amiable footman on a dainty little silver tray. We talked a good deal about Chislehurst, and Mme. Le Breton was much astonished when I told her I knew her and the other inmates of the ex-imperial household perfectly by sight, having seen them all constantly on Sundays, in the little church of St. Mary's, at Chislehurst, in 1879 and 1880. The