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Drawn by Reginald Birch
"WHEN I WAS GOING HOME, MISS SICHLIFFE CAME UP TO ME IN THE TWILIGHT, SWINGING HER BIG SHOES AT THE END OF HER TENNIS-RACKET"
"She went home at night, of course," he exploded, "but the rest of the time she simply infested the premises. Goodness knows, I'm not particular, but it was a scandal. Even the servants! Three and four times a day, and notes in between, to know how the beast was. Hang it all, don't laugh! And wanting to send me flowers and goldfish. Do I look as if I liked goldfish? Can't you two stop for a minute?" (Mrs. Godfrey and I were clinging to each other for support.) "And it is n't as if I was-was so alluring a personality, is it?"
Attley commands more trust, good will, and affection than most men, for he is that rare angel, an absolutely unselfish bachelor, content to be run by contending syndicates of zealous friends. His situation seemed desperate, and I told him so.
"Instant flight is your only remedy," was my verdict. "I'll take care of both your cars while you 're away, and you can send me over all the greenhouse fruit."
"But why should I be chased out of my house by a she dromedary?" he wailed.
"Oh, stop! stop!" Mrs. Godfrey sobbed, waving her handkerchief. "You 're both wrong. I admit you 're right, but I know you 're wrong."
"Three and four times a day," said Attley, with an awful countenance. "I'm not a vain man, but-look here, Ella, I'm not sensitive, I hope, but if you persist in making a joke of it-"
"Oh, be quiet!" she almost shrieked. "D' you imagine for one instant that your friends would ever let Mittleham pass out of their hands? I quite agree it is unseemly for a grown girl to come to Mittleham at all hours of the day and night-"
"I told you she went home o' nights," Attley growled.
"Specially if she goes home o' nights. Oh, but think of the life she must have led, Will!"
"I'm not interfering with it; only she must leave me alone."
"She may want to patch you up and insure you," I suggested.
"D' you know what you are?" Mrs. Godfrey turned on me with the smile I have feared for the last quarter of a century. "You are the nice, kind, wise doggy friend. You don't know how wise and nice you are supposed to be. Will has sent Harvey to you to complete the poor angel's convalescence. You know all about dogs, or Will would n't have done it. He's written her that. You 're too far off for her to make daily calls on you. P'r'aps she 'll drop in two or three times a week, and write on the other days. But it does n't matter what she does, because you don't own Mittleham, don't you see?" I told her that I saw most clearly. "Oh, you 'll get over that in a few days," Mrs. Godfrey countered. "You 're the sporting, responsible doggy friend who-"
out a whimper. Indeed, one would have said the situation interested him, for he would meet us returning from grim walks together, and look alternately at Harvey and at me with the same quivering interest that he showed at the mouth of a rathole. Outside these inspections, Malachi withdrew himself as only a dog or a wo
Miss Sichliffe came over after a few days (luckily, I was out) with some elaborate story of paying calls in the neighborhood. She sent me a note of thanks next day. I was reading it,when Harvey and Malachi entered and disposed themselves as usual, Harvey close up to stare at me, Malachi half under a sofa, watching us both. Out of curiosity I returned Harvey's stare, then pulled his lopsided head on to my knee, and took his eye for several minutes. Now, in Malachi's eye I can see at any hour all that there is of the average dog, flecked here and there with that strained half-soul which man's love and association have added to his nature. But with Harvey the eye was perplexed, as a tortured
"But, confound you! he 's a ghoul-" man's. Only by looking far into its deeps I began.
could one make out the spirit of the proper animal, beclouded and cowering beneath some unfair burden.
"And when he gets quite well, you send him back to her direct with your love, and she 'll give you some pretty fourtailed goldfish," said Mrs. Godfrey, rising. "That's all settled. Car, please. We 're going to Brighton to lunch together."
Leggatt, my chauffeur, came in for orders.
"How d' you think Harvey 's coming on?" I said as I rubbed the brute's gulping neck. The vet had warned me of the possibilities of spinal trouble following distemper.
They ran before I could get into my stride, so I told the dog Harvey what I thought of them and him and his mistress. He never shifted his position, but stared at me, an intense, lopsided stare, eye after eye. Malachi came along when he had seen his sister off, and from a distance counseled me to drown the brute and consort with gentlemen again. But the dog Harvey never even cocked his cockable ear.
"He ain't my fancy," was the reply. "But I don't question his comings and goings so long as I 'ave n't to sit alone in a room with him.”
And so it continued as long as he was with me. Where I sat, he sat and stared; where I walked, he walked beside, head stiffly slewed over one shoulder in singlebarreled contemplation of me. He never gave tongue, never closed in for a caress, seldom let me stir a step alone. And, to my amazement, Malachi, who suffered no stranger to live within our gates, saw this gaunt, growing, green-eyed devil wipe him out of my service and company with
'He used to look at me like that at first," said Attley, with a visible shudder, "but he gave it up after a bit. It's only because you 're new to him."
"Why, he's as meek as Moses," I said. "He fair gives me the creeps. P'r'aps he 'll go out in fits."
But Harvey, as I wrote his mistress from time to time, throve, and when he grew better, would play by himself grisly games of spying, walking up, hailing, and chasing another dog. From these he would break off of a sudden and return to his normal stiff gait, with the air of one who had forgotten some matter of life and death, which could be reached only by staring at me. I left him one evening posturing with the unseen on the lawn, and went inside to finish some letters for the post. I must have been at work nearly
an hour, for I was going to turn on the lights, when I felt there was somebody in the room whom the short hairs at the back of my neck warned me I was not in the least anxious to face. There was a mirror on the wall. As I lifted my eyes to it I saw the dog Harvey reflected near the shadow by the closed door. He had reared himself full-length on his hind legs, his head a little on one side to clear a sofa between us, and he was looking at me. The face,
Striped blinds, for it was a blazing autumn morning, covered most of the windows, and a voice sang to the piano an almost forgotten song of Jean Ingelow's, Methought that the stars were blinking bright
And the old brig's sails unfurledDown came the loud pedal, and the unrestrained cry swelled out across a bed of tritonias consuming in their own fires
with its knitted brows and drawn lips. was the face of a dog, but the look, for the fraction of time that I caught it, was human-intently and desperately human. When the blood in my body went forward again he had dropped to the floor, and was merely studying me in his usual one-eyed fashion. Next morning I returned him to Miss Sichliffe. I would not have kept him another day for the wealth of Asia, or even Ella Godfrey's approval.
Miss Sichliffe's house I discovered to be a mid-Victorian mansion of peculiar villainy even for its period, surrounded by gardens of conflicting colors, all dazzling with glass and fresh paint on ironwork.
When I said I will sail to my love to-night On the other side of the world.
I have no music, but the voice drew. I waited till it had conscientiously reached the end:
Oh, maid most dear, I am not here, I have no place apart
No dwelling more on sea or shore, But only in thy heart.
It seemed to me a poor life that had no more than that to do at eleven o'clock of a Tuesday forenoon. Then Miss Sichliffe suddenly lumbered through a French win
dow in clumsy haste, her brows contracted against the light.
"Well?" she said, delivering the word like a spear-thrust, with the full weight of the body behind it.
There were unaging pitch-pine doors of Gothic design in it; there were inlaid marble mantelpieces and cut-steel fen
"I've brought Harvey back at last," I ders; there were stupendous wall-papers, replied. "Here he is." and octagonal, medallioned Wedgwood what-nots, and black-and-gilt Austrian images holding candelabra, with every other refinement that art had achieved or wealth had bought between 1851 and 1878. And everything reeked of varnish.
But it was at me she looked, not at the dog who had cast himself at her feetlooked as though she would have fished my soul out of my breast on the instant.
"Wha'-what did you think of him? What did you make of him?" she panted. I was too taken aback for the moment to reply. Her voice broke as she stooped to the dog at her knees. “O Harvey, Harvey! you utterly worthless old devil!" she cried, and the dog fawned and cringed and abased himself in servility that one could scarcely bear to look upon. I made to go.
"Oh, but, please, you must n't!" She tugged at the car's side. "Would n't you like some flowers or some orchids? We 've really splendid orchids, and"-she clasped her hands-"there are Japanese goldfish-real Japanese goldfish, with four tails. If you don't care for 'em, perhaps your friends or somebody-oh, please!"
Harvey had recovered himself, and I realized that this woman beyond the decencies was fawning on me as the dog had fawned on her.
"Certainly," I said, ashamed to meet her eye. "I'm lunching at Mittleham, but-"
"There's plenty of time," she entreated. "What do you think of Harvey?"
"He's a queer beast," I said, getting out. "He does nothing but stare at me. "Does he stare at you all the time he 's with you?"
Always. He's doing it now. Look!" We had halted. Harvey had sat down, and was staring from one to the other with a weaving motion of the head.
“He 'll do that all day," I said. "What is it, Harvey?”
"Yes, what is it, Harvey?" she echoed. The dog's throat twitched, his body stiffened and shook as though he were going to have a fit. Then he came back with a visible wrench to his unwinking watch. "Always so?" she whispered.
'Always," I replied, and told her something of his life with me. She nodded
once or twice, and in the end led me into the house.
"Now!" She opened a baize door, and pointed down a long corridor flanked with more Gothic doors. "This was where we used to-to patch 'em up. You 've heard of us. 've heard of us. Mrs. Godfrey told you in the garden the day I got Harvey given me. I"--she drew in her breath-"I live here, and I have five thousand seven hundred pounds a year. Come back, Harvey."
He had tiptoed down the corridor, as rigid as ever, and was sitting outside one of the shut doors. "Look here!" she said, and planted herself squarely in front of me. "I tell you this because of what you know about Harvey. Now, I want you to remember that my name is Moira. Mother calls me Marjorie because it 's more refined; but my real name is Moira, and I am in my thirty-fourth year."
"Very good," I said. "I'll remember all that."
"Thank you."- Then with a sudden swoop into the humility of an abashed boy-"Sorry if I haven't said the proper things. You see-there 's Harvey looking at us again. Oh, I want to sayif ever you want anything in the way of orchids or goldfish or-or anything else that would be useful to you, you 've only to come to me for it. Under the will I'm perfectly independent, and we 're a longlived family, worse luck!" She looked at me, and her face worked like glass behind driven flame. "I may reasonably expect to live another fifty years," she said.
"Thank you, Miss Sichliffe," I replied. "If I want anything, you may be sure I'll come to you for it." She nodded. "Now I must get over to Mittleham," I said.
"Mr. Attley will ask you all about this." For the first time she laughed aloud. "I'm afraid I frightened him nearly out of the county. I did n't think, of course. But I dare say he knows by this time he was wrong. Say good-by to Harvey."