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Full text of "Alice-for-short; a dichronism"

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Bt WILLIAM DE MORGAN 

AaUtUTOt "Alice-fot-Sbon" 

JOSEPH VANCE 

An [ntCDMlr hntnan nod humoron* niyval »t 
life DCM Loudon In ibe '&Uk. |1.T5. 

"K lb* mdat lllmbolb ■ I>iTld Conpcrtfid ' u>d 
* Pvtrt Ihtelun ' t»t <ui Bod Uw t*o bouka Id Ihit 

" Tbi am gnat BiucUib noni Itul tiA* appMted Id 
Uw lOUi Otouiij ■"->« rer* 7\mti Bnita. 

SOMEHOW GOOD 

A luTsblf. humorous romaDcc of modern 
Koglaad. tl.75, 

"A hlfiber qudllr ot tniajmrtx Urn \t dnlTtble 
fmm the wnfli of tnjr olber rn>i«liM uow LIvIlk hqU 
Acllvo in 4ilUiPr Riia^i(1 ™ Amirtca- AlmoldU-ly amM- 
Irrij Th« ulot l« uiieDiel]' IneenlOD* and cnmnll. 
e»t<»I,'-i*i;. 

"A bouku winud. SB tweeku whnlefaiiur, u wlMi 
U4iir ID Ihii rantm ef dcUuu/'—A'anon. 

" ff i*r)r [uij^ ij u tntcj-diiitj^ Aft the tftnt, uiil would 

bf rnvl IrlLh plniture «eit IT 1rfr» OUL nf Iht- tKlok 4tld 

canglii ItuUonDs dwo tbn itcnl,"— indiiirndtTtf 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

PUBLteBERS ' TSSV YORK 


1 


1 


I 


* 



LICE-FOR-SHORT 



A Dichronism 



BY 

WILLIAM UE MORGAN 

AUTHOR OF "JOSEPH VA\CE" 




NEW YORK ::"'. 

HENKY HOLT AND COMPANY 
1907 



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DEDICATED 

TO 
£. B. J. AND W. M. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

'«r~1IBAB nm TBABS ago. AXD otr ALICB IITD HER BEER-JVO; 

AKD BOW THK LATTEK WAS KEKDBD 1 

CHAPTER n 
OF AUCS'a BBLO?ion«r>« axd naw thht pvu. out. auO bow tbs 

KBH^PtOOB CAMB DOnxn'AlltS 11 

CHAPTER in 

TBB AJtT E C gllEU ^ OF AUCK'S nBLOKOQiaB £7 

CHAPTER rv 

Al.ICX'f RIDK n A CAB VTTH TRE PIRST-rLOOR. OF Tine FTBHT- 
floor's BKAtrrtFUL EtSTRII, AXD ItKR PAMIIOT . . . . 8fi 

CHAPTER V 

Tits FtK9r-PtX>0R'e FAHII.T, AKI> OF flOW Blft MOTRER morLD 

Hats been iold 41 

CHAPTER VI 

OF HOW ALICe CODLD NOT OO BAGS TO FATIIER. aKS IriTT. OF 
HOW THE DOCTOR CAME TO ALICR. AKD A1.ICE DIWX'T OO TO 
AM I.1<{L'K1IT. AM> OF IIUW IT CAUE TO FAfiS THAT AUCK WAN 
SOT TO VO lUCX TO MOniXK 50 

CHAPTER TH 

OF FDBCT'a HILS. UtD OF TBE LAOT WITB TBE BLACK BPOTa 67 

CHAPTER Vni 

OF THE PSTCR1CAL REBEARCn INTO TBE LADT WITH THE BPOTS. OF 
A CERTAIN TABl.K. ASO OF now AUCB CKUtU IS TBE DAKK. 
BOW MR. HKATII CAI.I.BD RIS BISTER TO HXK MH. JOHKSO:). IIOW 
ALICE WAFl TOI.D THAT THAT WAS WOTItKR. B<1W MR. HKATH'S 
ntTKK KEMED MOTHER. AND WUT. OF A PAWN-TtCEET, UXO 
BOW DB. JOHNSOH WBOTE A rREBCHlTTlON WHOlia ... 1% 





^^^^^^^^^^^^■i^^^^^^^l^l^^B^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^H 


[ Ti CONTENTS 


n 


^f CHAPTER IX 


pAun 


f UK TtIK ICKW TKKAXTH AT HO. 40 AJII) HOW UIL HKATII KADB THKIS 

^^ AcqUAi^TAACB. or tux cat* notsu asd or db. jooshosa 


88 ■ 


f^ CHAPTER X 


1 


1 or ruK iiutrii:t xurvktou. or t»k mrw xiLN-rocKPATiON and 
1 WHAT WAS FOUND IN IT. or aucb> fatsek's dkkam, iiuw 

^^^ ABOUT THB LADX WITH THE SFOTSf OF UiaS 1-EOUY'A AIMUKItN 


100 


^P CHAPTER XI 




1 or TitK uTOnv or Ttre rokks a i>oseiBt.K cldk. mr. tkbrixokk. 

^^B MR. HKATa aOE» TO DBS HIM. CONCBltNISO BEDLAM , 


115 


^V CHAPTER Xtr 




L or A VISIT or AucR TO 1(0. 40, akd of tub red max wttr tuk 


ii» 


^^ CHAPTER XIll 




I or SHBLI.ACOHBX BAKM, AND WHAT PBOOT THODaHT TBKKB. AXD 


188 


^^ CHAPTER XTV 




1 or UOBBMtA, AND ROW TIIK MIIU I'UTK.KKS AFPKABICO TDKKK, Of 
1 TBR FtXK ARTS ASI> TBIt monTKKNTn CKNTUWr. or TRIU'- 
^^ SICHOttB, AND A GBOST THAT MB, HEATH SAW .... 


1& 


^P CHAPTER XV 




1 OF AtJCK'S WALK TO TOROB POINT AKH DOW SHU WXKT OTKK TIIS 


161 


^^ CHAPTER XVI 




L OF BOW BROmKIIK AKR r00IJ>, KKIi BOW PXOOT wabm't ej^ctlk 
^K KjrOAOBD. OP ALtCB'S FAMtLT, BCT XOT MUCH 


m 


^^ CHAPTER XVII 




1 IIOTItRK ^AVI)CIA BrflAKKR! Or MIS« TBIBRLTOK'S rROMLIt. HOW 
1 CHAIIU^H nAO IIKTTKIt no 1-1) S[IBI.LACOUtIi:, Or ItlUlKN'ni fAlLK 


IBS 


^V CHAPTER XVin 




f OF MISS STIUKKH'a AKTRCEDBNT*. ANI> IIBB VOICB, WUT DIDK'T 
^^B CHAIII.Kft no TO !IIIK1.I.A00HBBT HOW MIX* PRTXNR KAW A 

^^k iiiiosT. now i>n. joiiMioN aAw tiaa miABEn. cbaulbs isx'V 


IB7 



CONTENTS 
CHAPTER XIX 

or MM. TWRRIKDnL AT TTIK lUn.WAT STATIOR. Of AL[CK-F0R-8HaRT 
AKD lltK SKVCIAS.. WBO WU TBB KICB tAOTUKS OIKLT nt- 
CniCJLL KGSKABiCH ■ . 



Vtl 



MM 



aoo 



CHAPTEK XX 

(W UDH anuKBK'ii OOLO. AXD ROW cHARuia wiutr to skk hxb 
jlptkr. or HKS GOBUH MgroKB. AKu now cuAitua ktokk 
nwKca. or a ohat attsk muuc. i» thk ucsk .SIS 

CHAPTER XXI 

EtW CIUBLBI WniT TO BBUinm. AKI> CAKX IIACX. now MIM 
snUKKR UNO TILL 8LKVKIC O'CLOCK. AMCK'K n-KriMI-K. 

ntopuKTic F<OLLT. now 4:nAitLR« coirLi> LOOK Hn asTEK 
^TUAiuuT IX nix rACX avoct mim stbakeb .... 2Si 

CHAPTER XXII 
DOW rnxiT CALLxn o!c wiiu kthakkr, amu mim smAkKii wk.st 

TO TRK OARDESS. HOW ALICE AGRBKD WTTtl roi.LT AtMUT 

BKX. ciiAMi.Ka'a rATticit TiituKfl iiim a root, how mim 

VTIIAKKII WIIOT*: A LKTTKlt, A»D LJlNDKD A riMI. BUT «'UAT 

ADOtrr RXOKHT8 PABKT 233 



CHAPTER XXIir 

DV rxOOT CALLXD AQAIA OM WIM STHARBR. ASV OOT LtTTlB OHI* 

ruKT roit cuAttLns. uia^ htkakeu'b t'HCKttTAix wund . . 



MS 



CHAPTER XXIV 

Cf low nrsjtn'tixtxtTfDoarmT. ako kkrcat, vmini. mir m x»t 
00 aCRAflOT. Amut all. p4vcbical RRaRAncR, now ciiaiim;* 

BROXK K1W STKARKH (tT^ITK Off. Mias flEOROIK ARROWsaUTa. 
nuax WILL WR HIM HTRAXKK A4»A»( MB 



CHAPTER XXT 
■ Ain> JRRT oo TO *r.e vrrkikuul 

OLD PAOTTS AST MORE 



HI WILL KOT U3S HtB 



SfiS 



CHAPTER XXVT 

~BOW ALICE KKRW ALL ABOUT IT. ALtCB'a RIKO AMD THR JRWKUI 
TtUtUKOK. HIM STRAKRR'B LOHO LETTRR. waiCB CHARLES pa> 

SOT nr.Ai> TO ni* katiikr. m-r now about kkistrr ball? 
or oCRrNrnT n^rn and »qrAiiiv data, iiow pkopls talr. 

WAS CBABLBB FSBOAFS OXFAIB, ArTEB ALLT . . . . 3G3 



vut 



COXTENTS 
CHAPTER XXVn 



PMB " 



BOW IIIM PXTKXX nnXTKU POIt MOMItll. IK>W CBAKLBS WIIX WUT 

rnrLLH CASTWRinnr. joxah inn vr. UAKfiAHBT. bowcuabi^bb 
wkut for a WiUi n< muiR.iTe p&kk. and oreRo^AUii a 

OOirVBRUTIOII. HOW BE FOUHD MnS aTHAKEK AT UMHK . 2~8 



CHAPTEK XXVUl 



ET XOe UUTAMCIt IS ILUB 



. 887 



CHAPTER XXIX 

BOW PCOOV BAD SBCOMB A GREAT MAD-IXICTOR'B Wire. BOW 
ALICE-FOR-eilORT HAD BKRH AI,K'R FOR LONG ENOL'OU TO BK- 
COlOl A WOMAIt. now TUB fAKUOT BAD FOHOOTTIUI KOTIIIJiO 299 

CHAPTER XXX 



BOW DEATH Ht:!IT XEEIia SB BAU. EVEN Or A IIIOHAKCK. BOW A 
BOT XAMED PIERRIi BAD SMALt.POX, AKI> ALICB WBST TO 
HVR8B BIM 



800 



CHAPTER XXXI 



' CnAIlLKtl AHD MBS. CAMP HAD A CI-AftSICAL rAKUAK. ANH HOW 
TIIKY KN.IOVKIJ TlIK BAtXm.VT IS Tilt IKKlMJlillT. HOW CilABLEe 
WAfl A UAU ARTIST, AND AI.Ui: EIlOWkD HKR IXtVB-LETTBKS . 



809 



CHAPTER XXXII 



HOW tUCX SOT LBT IN rOR PAIIKAMDH. BOW HltlC WISBEn <:HAItLeS 

A amtntsmtsT wmt. or two rooLe. asd what thbi »aio. 
or A MB. tbat cams to UOBT 



328 



CHAPTER XXXUI 



BOW LATABIA BBTT OPr IWPBCTIOS, ASI) HOW AlilCB WEST TO 
PRIRKM IS TIIB OOCXTBT. BOW PHTI.LIS PARTBIOHT CAME 

OCT OB A habk roou. and jepf 6Aw an oitical unLDScoit . 



B3d 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

DOW CBABt.BS WBHT TO TUB AIJ^ AKD POCRO THEM TI1KRB still. 
BACH Da KKOCAKO AND OPP TO BRKJ.LACOMBX. BUT VO ALICB. 
now 8T. POB HAD A GAP. X^D MB. WILKUISOK WAB CtTRKD WITH 

hat's bixiod abd tbb.\cle. op a ixtteb vxdkr a caiipkt, 

ADD ITS I.tlitIT on Alt KBCAPADE OP AUCX'M. BOW TBB TICMC 

Camb uomk 3U 




CONTENTS 
CHAPTER XXXV 

aOVr AUCB LOOKKD ODT WWi A •J'AIIMOW* BUADOW, Ain> CAT mX 

noBtt ajbu> cnuEU»> umn *Lotn>. how cHARt.Ba xadb & 

UOBTAL snOKT-ODT AOBDM A CBUHCBTABD. A»D TOOK ALKK 
TO WIMBLBDOM. KOW OfUKDMAUMA WOVLD TALK AUOCT MIM 
flTKAUfK 



3» 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

A BVt>DKS CAM or CATAl-Kllir. TJIK NAMX WA8 rKRBIHDKR. HOW 
UR BUTRBT ADTOCATKD TBBrBQIlXa OLD JAKE. WAS TBB OLD 
DAK-CaRar WOItasT why VBBRUnWB WATruitU HiciiiukH. tlOW 
CBAMUn BKlOVaitD TO TBE OSNXKATIOK uy 1-KK-VU-KJU . 3TT 

CHAPTER XXXVn 

BOW am KUPKKT OOT ni» WAY. ABO PBOOV ASO AUCK WBST TO 

BgPI,^M WHKRK WKIW TitK l-ATtUmf A (TUtlfia VlOn. . 39S 



CHAPTER XXXVni 

■OW OLD JA»B WAIKD mOM VOOKG JAKE'S BLBBP. 
wmiT HACK TO BKDI.AM 



now Au» 



403 



CHAPTER XXXIX 

now ALIOt tTAVKD tX OKai^H, A\U nAD TO WK CTirTHtA LOTTSELL. 
HOW lUM, OAtSrORS WA« A UKKTAL CAHB .... 



419 



CHAPTER XL 

OOW AUCB MAX AWAT. AXD OLD JAXB OCKHSED. HOW OUAIU.M 

AKD AUCB eOX FHOTOOHAPKBD IX TKBUINDEr'B LODOmOS . 120 



CHAPTER XLI 

BOW 0U> JACTR PUT ON HBB WIDOW'H WEBna. AND BAW HEMICLr 
IR TWX KL.AH9I. IIUW At.IL'K AJtD OLD JAMK RKBIDED TKH70- 

tumn,r at ciiari.m'9 houkk 



4S» 



CHAPTER SLII 



0* TBS Kvix or aiARi.Es'a akt. 
' TASK mw TO xo. 40 



BOW Aiiotrr 0U> jake'b KEnaKira. 



48S 



CHAPTER XI,!n 

out jamb's TISIT TO nXS BOVS OP SICVKNTT TSARA AOO. A FKIT 

nn niK uonTEKm-a cKisTtfiir. who tre ohost was. uhdkr 
TBI umB DABCtKo neCKB. BOW i^viMA SAT IK TUK caAin 

AOAtX 



I 



w& 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER XUT 

PBTCHICiU. BBaBAKCH. HOW ItK1u:VI.Ka OVCBTOOX XEHtJB. BIXTT- 
BIX KM TBBBB mCKETS. eSE ttVUT HAVE BEEN PKSTTt ONl-E 



rMK 



CHAPTER XLV 

BOW MB. SCOTT HAD WRITTEN A KOTEL, MORE IdEUORT OP 0U> 

jamu'k. cnKtflitA wAi'EKWoRBa m inv& i-auki more inbiu:- 
mnamt roH a •urKUMATURAt. ris ...... 




CHAPTER XLVI 
TBX TIE cwura Oil. HOW auck saw mkh. kaixk« auaim at ko. 40. 

now CEAKUB AND AUf-IC WCKT TO KKK Tinc TOVKR, HO DID OLD 
JAXE AXD HKR nVNHANn ONCB. Of K\rERItlKKT8 WITH A 
WBODINO-KEHa. AH EMBARK ASMIEHT. ADD A DEGKTTIOK. aTOJ. 
OLD JAHK ODBtt TO SLRBi- UAfl'T ITT 



CHAPTER XLVn 

BUT «BK DOES SOT WARE. THIB TIME. AND BITE DIED CHDEn A DK- 

LroiDN. »uw svrettBK it had hekh Tiirs! tiow citAiii-Ke uet 

HI* REAIT.P&RE IK TDK RBDESTD FARE. THE WITCSBB IK NAC- 
SICCU. A LKT1£B OF Uias flTRAERRS. BOW IF AUCB BBBSELF— I 



497 



CHAPTER XLVIIl 
HOUR to BLIXD A» thom: WHO can't stii, rKfinv oivEs ai.ice vt. 

NOT WAHT to lURBT AUCIt— BrBSUH! A OKBAT BBVELATIOIT, 
wntcn tH rKBMATBBE 

CHAPTER XLIX 

THE UTTI.K ABCADIAM*. AKD tlOW <:nAI<UE>l IIOPOITT TKICM, A 
PDMERAL IS A rOO. AK1> now Al.irr- ri.KASEH THK HKF.rnBRD. 
ADD WHAT SBE POUND. ROW rOAKLEg COVLD STAND IT HO 
LOXOBR, A9ID COOK WASH'T CANDB) 

CHAPTER L 

HOW ClfAKLB* CI.BAKCD OCT inn OLD VDPIIOARDS. OF LAVlKtA 

eTRARER's rpitapti. of a weddino asd one of ire eBQUBLS. 

OF A EKMOYAL. AND A DOCUMENT THAT CAMK TO LIlfK. BOW 
TIIIC FATHKR OF ALICE'S Kia> MAN HAD tIRKN tK FEAR OF HUD, 
AND ACKKOWLEIMISD ANOTIIKH OF irtB VOXH. ROW AUCE WAS 
DKKRNDRD FROM TIIIC VICTIM OF A DETIL. HEBREWS THIR- 
TBKK 

CHAPTER LI 
OF SIR niAMKX irntimiiALL i.irrTRRLL's wtu., A5n now auce'b 

PRWERTTWA* TOO I^ROB TO Cl.AtU. BOW dHE LET IT AI.ONE 
AXD WAS HAFFT. OF A CAT BBB OOCLD RKXBUIIRa IN TUB 
ARKA, AMD THE STRANaBnBM OF TOlSUii 



019 M 

518 

1 
I 



548 



i 



y 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 

CHAPTER I 

W NKAB nrrr XtUtS AUO, and of AUCE and IICB BEKR-JIKI ; AND HOW 

THE Latter was UE^1>eD 

In ifae January in wlildi Ifaia alary befrina thcin was a druiw fog 
in Lon^ion, and a hard frost. And thnr was nI«o a little girl of six 
in a stmti iu Solio. wiiere \be ton was us tbidc and tlu.' fro«l as 
bard as an^hfn els? in iho nH'tr()t>oIii'. The littln girl wan bring- 
ing hotoi! the beer from thu Duku of Clarence's Head at ihe corner 
to an old hou»c thnt had bncn built in the day» of bpr gnwt-sreni- 
graDdfaUx-TS. Slic did uol like bringing it; and lliouglt lier eyes 
wcro blu« and ebe wfis a nice little idrl, she could almost hare 
found it in ber lieart to sttfji aiul drink womo of it on the way. 
But abe wa« afraid of her mother. So she staggered on with ber 
large jug. and nobody olT(.Tts) to lu-lp luir. 

Her great •great-grandf a then bad been better o9 than she was. 
At any rate iu Ibeir diiys, liowi-vi-r ontd it was. tbi^re was no fog 
to Bpoak of; certainly not one like this. In those days ahe might 
not haiv been cboked with coughing- in addition to frozen finger 
tip*. She might have bed chilblains, but her eyca would not have 
smarted aa tbey did now. Shti might buve been able to sec more 
than ber own small lenslh in front of her; and then pcrhnpn tiw 
would have lii'tected in good tiiue a boy with a red nose and a red 
oorafortcr to ronnole it who wan making a slide on thi- puvcmeut, 
and would not have been rim into by that boy end his circle of 
fri<'ndi' who were assisting him in making that slidit. 

Would these bnj-»' prtrai-griTut-grandftithePs have behaved as ill »« 
tJieir great -great-grand sons did when llwy hnd ov<Twhelme<I a de- 
fenoelcsd liitic girl aix years old. and knocked her over nnd Toll<'d 
upon iher, and smashed her glorious jug in thrHi piM-ea, and spill 
her pjreciou* n«!tor in the gutter) 1 hope not, I trust they would 
baTe helped ber tenderly to her feet, and subscribod among them- 
se]*,,« to make good ihe damage. 

jtbeite boys did no sueh thing. On the contrary they appeared 



4 



S AU0E-F0R-8H0RT 

tn rttjoicv at ibe mishnp, nnd to look fonrard with nBtisfaction to 
further misfortune for itfl victim. "You tike tJie 'andle and tlie 
piwrA borae," tbej' said; "won't you <!Otdi it 'ot neitberE" Ani 
then oni> or two of Ihcm 6fsi«ted from a danco of joy nt the pros* 
pect, to iwlWt ttio frngm(-nUi of ihi? jug aud iiii reason mgl.v odvo* 
cate their careful preservation. "You kitch (ight holt, and dont 
lot go." But no Booiitrr hod ihey by vigorous aiid eoulidt-nt r<Tpi;ti« 
tioRB produced conviction, and the little maiden was really satis- 
fied ttiat the pro[irr course id such a case would U- to carry home 
the pieces of the ]ug, for reasons Bnexplnined, than one if them 
detected n sound tlirough the fog as of Law and Order approaching 
and slipping their representative's hands acro^ his chest to keep 
out the cold. On which account, he. being PoUoeman P SI. found 
no boys on the 8cciii>— <inly the little maiden. To whom his first 
words were not encouraging. For they were idculieally ibe very 
words thp bnyn hnd twicd. "You'll cntch it hot, little missy," said 
he. as though a universal understanding existed among persons 
out in the utrtvt, from which little girls were ext-hided. No won- 
der this little girl aobbisl ibu more. And the PoHcenmn made 
matters no better by adding: "Sooner you're 'ome, sooner itll bo 
done with!" — n ghastly speech, with its reference to an undefined 
HOMKTiiiNO— the same that was going to be caught hot. 

*'Wb«t'fi all that you've got in there— pudd'n'^' said the PoUw 
man. This was an absurd question, and only aakt^d to show tbo 
speokcr'H contempt for his subject. It didn't matter whether ho 
was right or wrong; he was so great, and the little girl w aa ao 
inaignificaiit ! 

"PieccB, please I The boys said I was to." 

"The boya said you was lol Next time, you tell 'cm to mind 
their own consams, or I'll let 'em know I" 

"Please, Sir. you won't bo there." This is what the little girl 
wanted to say, but speech failed half-way; sobs had the best of it. 
It waa an additional horror that there was going to Ixt a next 
ttm& Would things never cease getting worse and worse] 

"Yon may chuck *cm down beri' — / give liwve, Ijein" on duty. 
Some of our division wouldn't. Chuck 'cm down! I'll take my 
chance of being reported." And the little girl was reflecting 
wliclher she ought to chwck them down, with fiirthi-r brr-nknge. or 
lay them carefully in the gutter without, when another passar-bjr 
cnmc out of the fog. He was ncijuaintcd with the Policeman. ' 

"What's this young culprit after, Mr. Officerl Bad case*" oaid 
he. The reply was Hubstantially Ihst it wns a very bad "iw. al 
that that quart would never be drunk by them as paid for 



I 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



3 



'^nlees U>e child's iMirents comes ofnrc it frcMea. Slw'd bettor 
nm and t«ll thorn to eome quick," edid the Policeman. And tlie 
jottni; inau iu apet'iut'li's, w)i<>m Iw nddmui-d, coiitirtnod him with 
Rach grarit;, and hia bron-o beard looked so coiirincinK. that iIm 
IjttJe thing naUy sm-dim] tu ac(-i^i( Ifan suegi'Htiuii. It may he 
Ilopp had mH^-ixil. with a TJeion of her parents on their knees by 
th« beer puddte, drinkiue dM>p. Bui she did not start. bixauM 
llw upcclacl^s hwkH rntiuiriiiglj at her. iind their owner's mouth 
ask«d her name. This put ntatters oa a human footing, aud th« 
aoba aubiidcd. But tht-y only gtire place to iuL-onaccutirctKiBS, 
•ppsrenllv. 

"Blow your nose and speak np, little mis^y," said thf Policeman. 
"Don't yon hear the nentlcman's asking your namef And tlie 
i&IM repeated h*r haU-hcuni vonin inun- auciilily. aud less timidly. 

"fhuM, you're the Kentleman on the first rtnor " 

"Oh. am U Then j-ou're the little girl in the extensive base- 
Diait with cellarage. Come along! Don't cry." And *ft«!r a word 
with the Polioeman about new-bom babies being sent to fetch beer, 
tbt nnal! dclinqui^nl ac^-pti'd tint protucliun of tlie youns ntau 
without question, and walked o9 clinging to bis hand. 

But tbey bad not sntiv many Htopd when ^le asknd. "Pleasu was 
the to keep the pieces or notf This required conHdcratioo. 

'^hat depends. Mias ExtcnHivu Bu.Henittiil, with Cellarage, on the 
quality- and number of the pieces. Let's bar* a look." 

Tbo child detached her hand from ber protector's, and cxteiultn) 
her pinafore and ita contents. He picked up the handle bit. and 
con temp lam) it 

"Aa an example of the Ceramic Art, Miss Basement, or Mita CeU 
hrage — which do you prefer!*' — 

"I'lease. Sir, I'm Alicia, or Alice, for short" 

"Well. Alicia, or AHci^-for-sliort. proridnd that the whole of th« 
frajrmcnts of lhi» jug can he recovered from the pavement, 1 will 
g^ BO fur as to oSer to acquire it for thi- sum of two MbtllingH nett. 
r*i us return lo the scene of the accident, and endeavour to re- 
coriT the misiiiiiK fragments. It may be an example without inter- 
est for ibe collector, or it may be otherwise. Here we are on the 
leene of the trajj^-dy, and them ar« two pieces!" Tbero were, and 
apparently there were no others. The«o were Tvcorcrvd, and 
carried away with tbe rest in the pinafore. 

Thft young geJitleman in tbe spectacles did not offiT to carry any 
of tbe pieces. He appeared to draw tlio line at that, on the score 
of dignity. SomtilhiiiR of this Bpp<-iircd alxo, in a «;rtain wnleu- 
tioBBoeM and pompo»ity of epeech. as a protest to empty epaco 






4 ALICE-FOR-SnORT 

B^inst lis poH-iiblo ini«intcn>T0Ution of » Kood-natured netion. 
lie felt pIi»i8iiTv in bein^r kind to the etna)) six-year-old in hsr 
dmoUtion ; but wiui not ubovn being g)nd it was n thick fog. And 
that the house wag not far off. lie hoped he would not meet a 
fricnti, <wp«:ciull,v a waiifiWh friend. And lii> evil star saw il3 oppor- 
tunity, and dinappointed him on both beads by contriving that ttie 
ertiHt on ibi* tup floor ithould cut. liini oS on the doorstep. 

Thie younjc Rentlemau hud lx«n endowed (or viaited) by Provi- 
deiioi! with oni? of the most eingtilar nunnmu-ii ibat ever fell (o the 
lot of man. It waa JenTthoufchl. ilia full name was actually 
JdTcry Snundrrs Jerrirtboiight. But thi-n all his frit:iid9 calW 
him "Jeff." So it didn't much matter! Ur. Jenythought was, 
or prrtf^nded to be, very vulgar, and waa iicmr without a pipe in bin 
moutb. 

"At it agin, 'Eath V anid he, ohaking n reproachful bend and 
cloeing an Bstiite e,w. *TJo use denyin' of it ! Oood job I noticed 
j^ul" And Mr. J<in7thoiight continued nbaking bis head and 
grinnintc offensirelj, and Alice couldn't for l)ie )ife of her see why. 
Hr. Heath replied with an intensification of bis dignified mnnner. 

"If I iiiidcratand your inainiialiona right!)-. Mr. Ji-ftttry Saunders 
JerrytbouKfal, I may say your most offensive and unfounded 
in)i n untions " 

"Member of the Corps de Bally. 'Eathf But Mr. ncath ig- 
nored Ihe inti-miption. 

"I presume you allude to this younfc lady, whose cliaracter, I beg 
to inform you. and whose re[)utittion (I may udd) are abovo 
aspersion. Her residence is in the spacious basement of this 
munaion. an<l I believe she conatitut«s the sole incumbrance of 
the worthy con pie " 

"I know — Mother Gingham — looks blotchy — aroeUs of three 
pennyworth of rum shrub. ^Vhnt's tJir kid been nt V 

"Your description of the mother," said Mr. Heath, "appears to 
me to convey a correct impreasion." And then dropping bis arli- 
ficial ni«uner ho went on; "The poor little party had smashed the 
beer-jug and I n-wued her. T suppose I shall hnvp to sec bi-r 
through it. You know about BriBtol and Crown Derby and that 
Kort of thing! Look at the bits of the beer-jug." 

Mr. Jerrylhougbt did ao. and became suddenly serious — bo waa 
never known to be really serious except about Ccmmics or Chip- 
pendale furniture. He almost gave m cry of pain. "My heart 
alivel" said he, "I wish Td seen tlye before it was smashed.'* 

"ThoujEbl you'd suy so. J«-fl! But it's xpilled milk now. as 
well as spilled beer. Fancy the female mother of this small kid 



AUCE-FOR-SnORT 



•mdinjT her out willi il! Vaacj htrr ivn<Hng bcr oat to ibe Pub 
at all, for that matter!" 

"She ni-viT knt-w ilsi valiio. Stole it probolil.v, and con*id<T(Hi it 
caretakiitRt Why. it'g a Robert Sproddlc! Lonlc her* — I tell .vou 
wbatt Tou let me havL- Oicne: pit>c«a — 11] elick them together. 
Keeda't say anythimr abont ii to Ooody Pn>P<^nnint'' And Alice, 
the littli! irirl, tbmigbt Ooody Peppermint cerUinl.v ne<^ know 
tiothiii)[ about it. as the tnis a etraD|c«r quite out«i«i« her circle 
But Ur. Heath perceived that this uaa Duly anothor lume for 
Alice's mother, lie saw this bccstise he was crown up. and be 
■nd Hr. Jeff hat) «<cret reeiproeal understandinifB to the t>xcluaioa 
of a «pry little bliie-*yrd nirl of <»x. 8ho, bowcviT. wns not too stnnll 
to diacerii protn^tiun for luTM^lf iu the tone of the conversation, 
although she eo\i\<i not nnnt^rio its cnmpnnents. She yieMrd tbo 
preciotM frajcmente of the be«r-jue to Mr. Jeff, who had not im- 
proved hiK appvArnncr by gripins an ey<^lni« in oni^ cyi-, wtiieh 
seemed to hold it so tight. Aliee tfaovjeht, that ahe could not bare 
{Kilted it mit if hIu- had tried <'vcr so. Also, she eoiild nnt under- 
nond why he didn't shut his other eye. One of the M-nebont nC 
the Board School had an eyeglass, and always did. She thouftht 
of this as Ur. Jerrythoug^it n-i-:it awa7 up«t>iir» with the prcoiouN 
frsKioentx. They bad been promoted to a Ceramic posiliou in life, 
am) wenr no loii^-r a eoninion jug. 

"Now. where," said ilr. Heath, addressing AlioG, "wheM is your 
eaceellent inotlw:r! Be good enough, Alicia, or Alice-for-shorl, 
to conduct me to Tour respected mother." 

It was iMt tteoesaary for Alice to understand, and probably »1ki 
didn't. Mr. Heath knew his way down into the bascnnent, becnus« 
be wsa grown up, and knew thiiijca. Alice look hia band iind held 
it tifiht like a little sirl who didn't wnnt to let go. Neither did 
ahe at any rate till her respected mother had had time fur an 
oiilbrrak of dmnken ang»-r and it» nhiiliTni-nt, Then «he would 
Bubstituie maudlin admonition for castijfalion or threats thereof. 
Aliee thought that if her protector could sheltir her tlinnigh the 
storm, she oould deal with the admonition stage by herwlf. 

"Thia i« a mm place. Atice-for-sborl," said Mr. Heuth, who 
seemed to talk to himself for the pleasure of doinfc so. without 
waiting for piropli! to anirarcr. Alive conaidere<l ahe was people. 
Sie was framing a question in reply to this last remark of Mr.J 
nenth, to find out how he came to know it was rum, and not gintlj 
For she at once connected his adjective with a perviuUne bottle. 
But he went on loo qtiiekiy fi>r her to organiae speech. 

"BUckbeetles probably abound. Uicc are no doubt oi tTi^u«&.\ 



4 





ALICE-F0R-8H0KT 



occTirrcnoc, 1 hear a c»t, with whicli noincthing nppcor* to have 
dUaj(ri-->:-d- If I might auf;ii4«t, Alice-for-short, you had better 
rcvomrocinJ your cat lo cwhcw bUckboutW nnd uddict hcrvelf 
eolely to moiue. I should like to lire down here if I was a 
rnouac." 

Alice wished to poiot out that he wasn't one. But ahc also 
wonted to sny whnt for? So she missed sajring cither, nnd only 
etannl. while th^ eiieaker couliaued: 

"T should fri-<]iu-nt tlint Bafc. which apprars to concist almost 
enlireJ.v of means '.-i initrcss for porsoDa auxious for the teuiaius 
of a OoM (luinjitiii^, iiDd n most discoiirnKing: rib of beef. That 
safe's mission n'ould soem lo be to supply a stimulus to larceny bf 
auggeationit of insecurilT, I trust I make myself fully under* 
Stood." 

Not fully, appun^itly. But it didn't seem important to either. 
Alice's next remark was to the effect that she could hear mother, 
in there. Mother uaan't u <^omplieat<!d noimt of wntfrr bc^inuiug 
to come in and losing its temper — that was clear I So she was 
■omc loKcr tioi.ic. vi'^ilcd nnd hiildfii, but audible by members of 
bet family. 

"Mother's in there. n*lecp. Pleaw ojin't you hear her?" 

"Perhaps she had better be waked?" 

"Pkmxt I'm frishti-iii.il." But there was no nood; for the aloeper, 
whose snores had been the subject of this conversation, woke with 
u jerk Hud <mm<! out in rciiponM-' to a tap at the door, which 
Mr. llealb bad thought his best way to announce himself. The 
aniall liiind that held his lif;hteDed with iippri'hension and the 
little tbinK clung to him for safety, as her unsavoury parent atood 
rewaltx]. She suggysti-d, but cume abort of. tlie Seven Diala, old 
St Giles' type— the sort that used lo wear a red baudkerohlef 
round its neck and no head covering. She adi!rtr»Ml hiT liuughtcr 
as a lilllc Derit, and wanted to know where she had been idling 
and praneine round;' 

It certainly wna singular, thou^t Mr. Heath to himself, that 
any premises whatever should have i^t entrusted to such a care- 
taker. Was thiH tlie person who had K^en nienlionetl to hiro when 
the last downstairs tenants cleared out and carried with them a 
houseke<Tp<^r whom h<: )uid nlluwcil to undertake bin nttendaiico 
(outside her normal sphere), »^ n worthy successor who it was 
desintble on all actHinnts Uial Ht. 'Eatb should be propitrly mo-u 
to? This is literal reporting. And this bousckoeper, by whom 
this mother of the blue-eyed little girl hud been recommended, had 
dcectibed her as decent and eober, and had dwelt upon the 



flood^ 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 7 

oMa of her 'art. SIkt had Mood at tlio fount with fix of hrr 
ihirtecQ dtildreo, and had belpe<) burj three. *^l Miinded," said 
Mr, II«nth to hi* sirtpr Ppfisy, when he told hmr ^f the interview, 
"exactly as if she vras making a merit of buying three of the diil- 
dwn alive, in order to rediic tlirir nnmWr." Anyhiiw, »lw murt 
htTC seen a eaod deal of tlif fumlly. nud may hare had somfl 
nwaiw of knowin^t of a dcctncy and iu>brict]r which certainly did 
not spesk for itaSU to the iiasser-by. as the mother paused in u 
pouDCC of vi-ngcaocf nn her wnnll daiigbttr. "It wii» tlw gliiro 
of mj" spectacles brought her ujj short." said Heath to Mr. 
JcrTTthousht eftcrwardi). "Spcctnclcj* han n "irong mornl influ- 
ence. That lens you pretend to use and can't really see throuRb, 
in a fund of Immorality in it»df. Your appearance, Mr. Jcrry- 
tfaougfat, is dissolute." 

"And what did the has do thnn t^ Mii<I Mr. Jerni-thotight, wbo 
didn't seem dt^satiBfied vith his friend's account of him. 

"Sb*" climbed (iown nnd <TitiEril iind »nivt-lkfl iind abased herself. 
But I saw Alice vould catch it after 1 was Konc if 1 didn't wifU'^i 
mattcn down with cjixli. So I brou|i:Iit remuucrultun in vleverly, 
by a side-wind." This was tlie case, for the alleiKed hag having 
taken up the position tbat ilatlioe never was svut for the beer 
(txetfpt this onoe) and only now because she was that anxiouB to 
be allowed to it, that her mother'* tvnder heart bad softened, and 
thie bad bIIowmI its weakness to overcome her better jud^nncnt. 

"And nomethin' within me." Hiiid tbo good woman, "aeemed to 
murmur in my ear Uiut tliat child was too youn^ to be Crusted. 
But 1 give way, bein* that casy-goin' and indulgent." And Alice 
dtiecled another something in her mother's ej-e which she inter- 
prtted n», "Confirm me nnd I will nuike concwaiona. Suggrat 
doubts and you shall be maltreated." So she stltick in, in a Hmall 
ticmntoua voice, "Pbraxe It waa me acted." 

"In course you asted. Likewise the eipreasion you says wa« 
'Marmy d«r.' you **y». quito out nnd courngeou" likt-, 'Manny 
dear, you tei your little HalHce go and fetch father's beer, and save 
you trapcirinV And Mr. ICnvnnagh in that particular about tlio 
rhild that I will tell you. Sir, and concealing uothing give my hon- 
est word, I had my <lnubtH nt the time, «nd Kuid w) to tli<! milk, 
where we bare an account and settle weekly. Ilut Ur. Kavanagh 
1 kept in ignorance, which he remain!!," 

"1 tuppose you're Mrs. Kavanagh iben," said Mr. Jleaih. with 
incredulity in bia thoughtful countcnnncr, lln «pokc in the tono 
of one wbo selecta a truth from a heap of falsehoods, but isn't con* 
cemed with the quality of the reaiduutii. 



a AUCE-FOB-SHORT ^ 

"Ilaiinaii Kavanaeh, Sir. by your leave, and diriittened accord 
ins^v. And I wiw jiiirt tiding rotind to got a little order lik«. when 
ou the sudden it eame upon me, what au ea^ two niinut«a it wb3 
to the (.'Inwncc'n Ilnnd. «nd Jrnlliw) gonii n qimrlrr of an hour. 
And I di> assure you, Sir, my 'art eauk within mi< to tliitik what 
might hnpp<!n to (hut child and rcmnin unknown. And I had 
jUBt took bold of my honnet and ahowl, whi^u I caught Uil- Bouud 
of aotae odu knocking ut Um; door. And it tma yCwrsrlf, Sir." Mrs. 
Karaaacb ended up with aii implication of mccosaful dramatic 
olimax. 

"Well, Mn. Eavansitb, Alioo has had a mishav and broken tha 
beer-jug. It wasn't her fault, hut mint!. And I tM>niiidcr com- 
pensiitioD due, and shall be inclined to be liberal on two oou- 
ditions." 

"Which were, Sirf" And Mrs. Ksvann(th induljccd in an intcn- 
tionnl cough belnw) her hand, wliidi t-onvpytid nn idt-u uf proa- 
poctife bargaining — of iKcing hi>w the tond Uy. at any rat*;. 

H.'w," 6iiid Mr. ntuth, tukiuK his baud from Alice to use ita 
forefinger aa an indicator of nunibvrs on the fon^tinircr of his other 
hand. Alice trans ferrod.lwr grasp to bis coat-|Mckt.-t flap. "Onq 
that Aiii* shall remain unspnnked — ^if I may use an cspreesion 
familiar lo my infancy." Mrs. Kavana^h esplod<s}. 

"Well, of bU ilio artful little bussjes, 1 never! To say such a 
thing of her own mother!" — 

"And," »aid Mr. Heath afterwards to Kr. Jerrythought, "I had 
my banda full tu <iuii^t down the old cat. Ilowrvrr, wc did gvt on t» 
th« Ktoond conditiou, which waa that tliia jug or its remnants 
should become my property on paymont of the turn of three and 
ttwipcntv hal fpcnny ." 

"How did you arrire at it. 'Eatlif 

"Thn.T and iiixpcnco for the jua, and fourpenco-halfpcnny for 
the epillinjea. It appeared that a jwraon of condition — who waa 
held up a* a real gimtlrmnn in contr««t to myself— had oflcrod 
three ebillinjcs. So I went sixpence better, and overlooked ita 
preWTit condition." 

"It's worth all of a guinea, Bmashed aa it is." And Mr. Jeff 
Kbntifl ovrr iho diuncinbciTuI pirccH a» tln-y lay on bia studio 
table. "Why. it's a Sproddle— a Robert Sproddlo too. Don't 
think much of Ebnnuzier Sproddlo. You'll find him — ah! and 
i>if(ned examples, tool — in any bric-a-brac shop. But Kobcrtl" — 
And a]>M«hlr!KinciM alone cojied with thn value of a Robert Sprod- 
dle- Mr. Heath etrctched out his hand. "Wbcro's the guinea. 
JeSr said be 



4 



ALICEFOR SHOBT 



» 



"•111 put it down to the accomit, Charley." r«pli«d Mr, Jeff, 
indolently. "It'll go to your credit. An itrm of ono p(>un<I will 
app«ur Bunultaneoiislj' to ntfi credit — for jininK up- Notbinic but 
tho bent Diamond Cvmrnt will he employed. Wbicb of couroc U 
dear, owinn to tbe price of diamonds." 

"Yoo'rw a irwindlrr, Mr. Jiirythought, Tliat'a like rou «n<l ihe 
Lalakia. To Latakia one and fourponce' on one side; and on tht 
(illiL-r. 'To purchaMSK and pii}*itig for Latakia unc and (ourpeiive. 
Total, two and ei^Alpenoe.' " 

"Thut'K all fair. It'a doullo onlry. Yon niako your account* 
balanoe, and then you add '«ni all together, and charfce up the 
total." 

"But I don't see why I afaonldn't pay vou half and you pay me 
half." 

"Bccance I cot it on tick from the scnunptioua eiil at the liBccy 

"Vot, becaune she knew I should pay for it." 

"No, CbarlMl B^H-arisc sho in in lorn with your humble but 
dmerving servant, whose attractions for the only sex wliicli difiera 
am a byn-word witli tfan anKtocnKgr," , , . 

And with conversation of this sort, ad infinUitm, these young 
men be^ilrd tKe timel For tho fo(t. which of oourw; continued — 
fogs do — loaile work qjiitv im possible, ami ibera was nothingr for it 
bnt to chattrr, n« aborc. and enioko the Latakia. 

If you <Jiou1d hurt; an tinpreasiim that ibe fintt-floor Studio u-ith 
a high north lifcht. arbitrarily forced up as an addition to the 
middle window, and the ttky-Ii^hti-d room in the attiex, whiTc Mr. 
Jeff was mendinfc his juj;, and the above conversation took place^ 
if. I aay, you have an iropmMiou ibat tbL' npartnient* were not 
bc«-biTC)i, in re^irct of the work done iherciin, you will ool be far 
wronir. In fact, a sense of impalii-ncn at tin; impotdbilily of work 
waa one of (he few tributes to the tJodddw of Industry our young 
friends ever paid her. DurinR a ibiek fiift, tbcy were quite ctni- 
vinced of the work (luT would have done bad there been no fog. 
And the work they hadn't done when there waa none a»umed an 
inipreiwive aetnnlily to tlu'ir imnfniioIiniiH whieh iDcrenM<d with 
its density. liv tlie time there was a halo round the jtas-jeta, and 
the eonfirmetl Londoner, with a voice like a mad dog'^ choking 
hark, was beffinninc to think it lime to justify fog on the soore 
of ila nnti>H.-|itic quulitics, eaeh of thrsn ytiuthx was picturing 
htmsetf in his own mind as a monumental example of ibn'nrted 
mthuciiuim, a potential Van Eyck or Memling atraining at the 
leash in the pursuit of elaborations, cruelly hindered from uMidu- 



10 



ALIOE-FOE-SHOET 



ous ■nd <tetonnincd effort by s foree-mojeun trying ta iha temper 
but beroiMl))- tmdunHl. Tii'm buIluciDation dUnppcnrcil vith tha 
Tetum of daylight : and the only consolation was thai tl woa too 
late now, and you L-ouldn't cli> niiy «■«! work in a couple of houn. 
and for your part you might juat as well shut upl And you did 
BO accordingly. 

But it was a joUy life for two younR men in the early twenties, 
and (hey eujoyud it tlioiouglily und c-jtllrd it Bohemian. Very 
likoly it was, but of course if one haan't livvd in Bohemia, oiio 
doesn't know what umounl of sultHfiKftion tlit^ inhahitsnts of that 
country get from buyiim rolls and butter and herriujicB and chest- 
nuts and Nirdini>s and other small euuUubilitii^s, und c:irrying tbcm 
boine oneself to irrc-Kut.ir meals, and Kiviim mo«t of them away in 
tlie irnd li> Italian modt^la. Or from sleeping at tliitir Stiiilio when 
(oa iji Mr. Ueath's cose) a home awatta them whidi they spend 
CTWy alterimto cTCning or more nt. One has to accept the char- 
acter (riven of that procince by those who profess to know, and 
bopc that all ita inhabitnnts ar« under fivc-and -twenty and full 
of hope and buoyancy like thn two young men of this narratire; 
and not like ourselves, who take this opportunity of recording, as 
tlin ricw of an old fi'gy. ihot wr ptrrnonnlly much prefer the com- 
forta of a liome, and that nothing would induce us now to be a 
Boliemiiin on any human <ron nidi; ration. 

Anyhow, there they are in the story, for better or worse as may 
be. And one in the occupant of the old stale drawiug-roum of Uita 
old Soho house in a thick fog, and the other in a thick fog and 
the garrets. And so for as the outsider can see. neither dow any- 
thing exc^t kugh and sing and smoke, and sometimes, when there 
is DO fog, pretend to do a little work. Perhaps Uiey will improTO 
as time goes on. If so, the atory will show it. 



CHAPTER n 

or Alice's bslonginus axd iion tiiet pell out. 
nwrr-rLooH came dowkstaiks 



ALSO BOW TRE 






Alicia KAVAKAnil, who was Alice or Halliee for ehorl. was wbat 
ICr. JeS calleil bi-r. n few di}:! ufti-r tlie iuciili^t uf tbi- brokirn 
log. lie mid kHc w»s a new 'un, and was moiv your twrt, Cbarle^i 
tluut hitt. This waa true, as bis sort wiu cuusiderubl)' older, u«u- 
ally, than himitclf — gviwrnlly In Her— •! way* of a particular lypo 
of wbtch the .vouRK t«bacco ladj' ht.- had mentioned was u sample. 
It may ha remnrkwl Wn that hr urtinKTiI to tnkr- ii sort of pride in, 
sa it were, luniii^ <lowu his pronunciatiou aiid phraseolofcy to ibo 
fc«y of a Socii'ty h*^ himself hml n'.KmtTmI. It wan BOtiK'tiDieit a 
little difficult to make out whether he was playiiis with bie h's in 
order to offend the faitidioun, or whether he couldn't aspirate them 
if be ehoae. His comcoeiit on UaUice, with an otttentaltous mreaa 
on the initial, wax in n^ly to hi* friend's remark that we mufin't 
6i)thi of Mi^ Kavanagh. 
JJiM Knvanngb waa new enough a" to years, but her expericnco 
'as old «DOU|d) and ead enough to make her feel, when she let 
fO Hr. Hcath'a hand, tliat she von Hlippiiig buck into u ]iit tliat a 
bcateficent being in epoetacles bad kept her out of, or out of the 
worst of. for a few miimteii. It vrnx n short interlude, but long 
enough to make her think how nice it would be if tliere waa always 
tlte B^riitleraan on tbe first floor, and not <iuite m much of mother. 
But time passed, and ilailicc sat eojell and forlorn, and wept when 
not at school, or sent on iin errnnd, in ibit gnieHotne basement with 
extensive cellarage. It was difficult to define where the cellarage 
ended and the baaetneut tliut won otlicr ibun cenamgu U'ean; buth 
were so dark and damp and smelt so of varieties of decay. There 
was more fungus, no doubt, in the coal-eellar and the dust-'ole liiau 
in the pantry or the 'ousekccpcr's room, but even that was rather 
a matter of guesswork, and you couldn't really tirll without a light. 
And there was notw— at least, it was only wben mother lighted the 
Paraffin lamp you coold see anything at all. For Hallioc had so 
I far had no experience of what sunshine could reveal in the bose- 
I nient of number forty, as she and her father and mother had only 
I took the plact in November; the late tenants who wcie a. Daw^- 

k- IT 



11 




ALICK-FORSHORT 



iug-ScbixiI baviDg cleared out in this middle of the quarter, on 
cliance of new parties wantinjr to cooM in before qtuHcr-dav, 
uu(t its bi-ing ponslblp ti> cxuvt a fraction of mnt from tbcn. On 
which accoimt« the Dancinfc-School had sanctioned hills in the 
window, tltoiigfa six wovkii umuEiiirvd; and Mr. Knvanngh, a most 
7V»poctablo journeTman tailor, but workinjr at home at preeeut, with 
kia wife Rnd one iltiughtLT, werp l<!ndiii(; platinibility to tho ttatc- 
incnt ihat particulars could be had of Messrs. Lelteom & Tcn- 
nont, the A^nta, and oliio of the Caretaker on the priimisee. >So 
poor yiifn Kavanash passed her small new life, mostly weeping, 
ill ihe darknMa and tlie fun({iia growtliA, cut off frotn iiiMlnini by a 
awing-door at the top of the kitcheu iUght, and unsuspected by 
the worJd uhore. 

Thi^ wa« a cruel door and made a frreat di0erenoe to Hallioe. 
For it was rery heavy, and sbe couldn't push it open to come back 
if she went out without leave, at least without irreat danKer of 
tumbling auddenl; downstairs. So she dared not go out wlicn itbe 
did not ECO Hccurity of official recognition on her return. Few 
of us. il is to be hoped, know exactly what it feeU like lo call 
timidiv for admission to a mother who will slap us when admitted, 
fur bein^j out of liuund« without a {lassporl. If Hnllice could hare 
made her father hear, he would have come to Let her in with no worse 
Nemesis for her than a bnlf-hcnrd whimin-j as he HhuSlcii buck to 
the only light room in the baaeoient — where, however, there wasn't 
light enough to fine-draw, even at its bc.3l, nt this time of year. 
But this room was far away, at the end of Heaven knows what 
Btone-parcd passages, and mysterious rccpssea and strange bulk- 
heads willi no assignable purpose, and at least one black entry 
unexplored hy man from which Rprctn-K might be Hntt<ripu1c(i. 
Besides there was always water coming in and making noise enough 
to drown your voic^,— ai (Joody I'r|i|)i?rniinl said. — and if it wasn't 
coming in the Company suffered frightfully from moist rales and 
wheezing in its piprs, which van m-urly a» bud. So that, what with 
one thing and what with another. UalHcc passed most of her lioio 
underground. There was the Infant School of course, but Schools 
don't count. What one would like, at six, when one is gettiug 
quite a great girl, would bt) to gel out and see the world. Eiipe- 
cially. in Halliee'a case, the great big upstair* room where the 
Dancing- School bad biH-n. She had juat peeped in there, and wen 
that there were the remains of pnintingH <>n tlu- walls, and it seemed 
to ber a palnoc of delights. So. tltounb she was new, she full "Id. 
And «he felt older still after tlic beer-jug adventure, ond at the 
etid of throe dajrs had quite made up bet mind the gcDtletnan oi 






ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



13 



die first floor would go, had liw. would nnror mw bim again. Sha 
lilt that she and th« old bouse wor« about tbc sam« n^, and that 
ane iraS U fergottui aiul dedert(.-d uh tbi' otbur. 

But H>nici7 was. as I ban* said, six, and tbe house was two 
lundred. or ilwrcabouti Kow, Hallice'a ktlten was really yomigi 
Mf fiw wedn. It was vary intollifrcut for nil that, and could 
iytnpathiae with all ber troubl«8; at least, with a little iuterpre- 
talion. Its owner was Tcry liberal on this point. 

"^o bnnr tiuit fhild a-tclling to that cat," Mid htrr motlier. "Aa 
if die was a 'Eathen, / sa.v." 

Thin remark nboiit IInlli<.i(a profnnc oommunicattono wna made 
hf die motiter to the father of the latter while waiting for the com- 
^tion of the cooking of a Finnan bii<]<)i>c-k for »upp<^r. For rvi^n 
Ur. Kavanasb Biop|>ed waxiiue thread, anil stickinic on trouaer-hut-^ 
biD*. «i(l putting on n pulcb very ncnrly of oni; colour, so 
Tou eould really hardly tell, when there was any dinner or supper 
going. Somciiroiii tlu'rc was none, for alt Ix' hnd givnn his wifo 
the money for it. This time there was some, and Uallioe was 
(TMiig to he gir' soinr if six; wa* gno<L 

"Don't see vrUut harm it doea you," said Ur. Kuvauagh in repljr^ 
to bis wifff. And then, having found an idea to harp upon, 
was able lo do so. and <lid it in u peevinh, <s>mplaining minor kcy'.-J 
Tou ain't bound lo lisxtm. You've got yonr own businoss to mind. 
1 suppose. Ain't there nothing cW- wuntx utti-nding tot 8uppo»- 
iog I was to out in and listen to what folks was saying, who'd. 
4) my work for nici My luiiidn unr full f-noiigh without that."' 
And so on. until hi" wife pulled him up abruptly. 

"Now 1 I don't want a iawlmtiim." suid the plcuitinnt lady. "Take 
tad cat your supper, nii'l be thankful." But ttr. Kavunogb. to 
Us credit, before flying ul liia food, made a double motion of hia 
bad and thumb towards ]Iallic« and .said. "The child " 

"The diild's plenty greedy enough, witliout yaitF" This rejoinder 
amie very tartly. But her father's appeal led to UalUce gettinfc 
ber allowance of the kippered hu(ldo<'k whilu it win hot. AW to 
a fair aharc of n new ha If -quartern loaf, very black on the under- 
cruat: thoutifa her niother acraped the Bolt butti-r uvi-r il much too 
thin for Aliw'a cxixvtnl ions. If her father hadn't given her soma 
oS of his own slice, it wouldn't have Iwrn no buUtu- at all in tlwj 
manner of Hpcakiiig. Goody Peppermint did nr>t contest the point. 
She was lumtng her attention to a means at her dispoaal, aSordcd 
by anppCT, of affirming indinvtly her habitual Abstention from 
spirita, and at the same time reaortiug to them under public 
sanction. . 



14 



ALICE-FOR-SHOKT 



m 



Tou knov the illusiou habitual tipplers are subject to, that each 
appeal to th« bottle is an rxixi>tiotial oocurnmcr, and n dcparturo 
from sobriety! They admit the departure, but aiErm the sobriety. 
'Htb. Knvanngli'ii Iif<< wnH nuiitc up of such dcpniiiirc*, and by 
for^ttiiijt all the ])reTiou§ once and iirnorine all those to oome, 
ohr hoDiMtl.v achitrvi'd a Wtcf in Iier own praclicnl aliHtontion from 
liquor. She really hardly left herself interims to abstflin ia. 
Tlifr«' wcru, howpvor, HiiMnnl opportunititM that »]»(■ tlierished of 
afflrminji her normal self-rcptraint by a parade of their cxcfp- 
tioiiul i-haraolKT. Brcakfuj^L dinuer, and supper yielded ihe luxury 
of a clear conscience, coupled with ihc public oxliibition of the 
nim-butt]i>: and as she tial watdiiui; h<?r huabaud cuTrvcliug tho 
FhortcominKB of .Alice's ptocc of brond-iind- butter, her miud was 
gradually approaching a bottle of rum in tlie coruer cupboard, 
whose door stood sugg^irvly on the jar, almost within reach 
of Iter band. 

To broach a topic of this sort, you sBcct faintncss. smile in a 
aieklj way, and aigb as one aceuatomed to conceal euScrinK. By 
doinx 60 you provoke enquiry, and proiHire n fulcritni. In re- 
q>oiuw to her husbiinri'a "Why don't you take your supper T' Goody 
FVippemtint, who had done all these things with a view to thia 
question, n'plicd, "No airpctitc!" She emphaaisod llii* by laying 
bcr band svrose tliu outaido of her iutrrior, on vhich bcr liuHband 
bcftan a uroan, and cut it off short in Ihft middle. 

"Get your inoth«T out the bottio out o' the cupboard, and Icfs V 
done with it," said he. He was familiar with her treatment of this 
subject, and rwrnl'^J it* hjpocrisy. He knew the rom-bottlo 
wotdd come out of Ihat cupboard sooner or later. Tliis timr it 
cani« out sooner, and there was no humbugging round over it. 
Then Goody Peppermint felt belter, and co;dd toudi o little supper. 
Hallicc felt no objection to nnytbing that produced family Rood- 
bumoor. Preeeutly her mother went hack to the pre-prandial 
topic 

"Yon don't need to be that tempersome about it, Eairr'nagh, and 
me to be took up slmrp licforc the child. Cats i» cats. And when 
cats is talked to about Priucea and sitn'kr. a cliild'* mother bas 
a right to Bsk, nnil iisk T do, nceordin". Who was it I iieard yotl 
tellin' about, child! Prince Sumuiun. Tou wpeak up and tell 
your folbcr, nfore I get np ond Rhnke you." 

'Triuee Spectacles." said Halliee, timidly- *T*oothy know*." 
Her father, who at hi« bcxt had nerer had a romantic turn, and 
had now no mind for any tiling ouUdde piece-work, and hia 
natural dcairr to murder the persons who employed him on it, did 




ALICE-FOB-SHORT 



IS 



twt liac. to enquirins what Pussy knew, but onlf looked at his 
ilaUAht«r in a weak-«)«<l inonner, and MtiiJ. "Ho— ha I" ETc SL-cmnl 
■ good dcnl more interested in the haddock than in FriacQ 
SpMtocIes, whoever be vra-t. niul ilid tiot punitu' the nulijiict of his 
mittf* supper, or sbccncc of it. It had token the form of rum. and 
idbered to it. ConrerBalion reiiiaiuod dormant until HupiM^r wns 
finiahod— which nKanl in this case until ercrythinB ou the table 
vu eaten, a rerj^ diSerenl thing ftoutetinurH fruin ibn dinuppcur- 
maoe ot inclinniion for more. AUoo'e father then turned down the 
Itas, which was flaring, and pulled out a cberi^-wood pipe, which 
h^ clc-ntird into hii plate, nnd subjodcd to perforation with a wire, 
tn make it draw. Bui long as was the puuBi.-, and much a« was 
thft mni bi-r motbn- consumed in it. Aliee knew the talk would iro 
DO from where it had slopped. Aiid in fact it was resumed exactly 
as if na\y a fi'w iHWun<bi bail pnxsrd. 

"Ton dfin't jino in, eeeniin'ly," eaid her mother. "Then HalUce 
can hardly be expected." Thi- liotllc was by now iK^inning to tell 
on Ooodf Pepperaiint, &s ilallice <tnw by a moist ^leaui in the 
tjv that rolled rutiud (ownrdH hcT n* itx owner dranlc her too and 
rum, or rather mm and tea; and she anticipated an affectionatfr' 
ttagv. which would bare been welcome in itself but for an anticipa 
tion of other stajtee that would probablj- follow. Indeeil hui 
Ballica Ixx-n nslicd wfinn *hc was fondest of her mother, she 
would probably have said when slie was snoring. There waa 
Bpcority in ber snore. 

"She'll tell her own moUior. Won't die. duckyt" This was 
soeompanied with an alluring smile, which Hallici' scrmcd sby 
(kf riainji lo. "Come and tell lllainniy about Prince — Prince " 

"Shu sard Spectacleii," said her father briefly. "It ain't a nnnic'*] 
Alice had been resolTtnx to take her parents into her confidence, 
bat this was so unsympatlietic a way of trisaling tlui subject that 
ibe changed her mind and retired into her own soul. Never mindl 
Kbc would tc^U Pusay all lliia loo; only let ber wait till motl 
was aslc^, and father at work- 

"Which leads to auppoAe," said the former to the laltt^r, in tep\ 
to his eotnment, "that the fimt-door front is the cliild's illusion." 
This was a vairuely selected word; of serviceable ambiguity, it 
scenwd, ,or the speaker explained. "It illudes to llr. 'Eath, on 
the first loor; I'll tliank htm not to put sucli ideas in the ehild'a 
'eod. A->iuffln' of her young mind with a lot of noospapcr non- 

A sudlen aggressive tone, not warranted by what had gone 
lief ore, U longed to tlie growing influence of rum. 



16 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



"IHiere's worse nonsense tbsn Princes." said Mr. Earanaeh. 
And Alice thoug-ht no too. Rut her mothcT, after ber very short 
stage of Kood-bumour, was feeling round toironU a quurrebomo 
one. "She'll my child, anyhow. Ur. K." said Fhe, with abrupt 
hostility in her voice. It was thickoninp, for in order to put on 
exact quantity of rum in. her t«i (in accordance with iho advice 
of a doctor, whom Alice bad uev«r aeen), ahe had pourod too much 
into R tumbler, to bo above the cuts and Me the quantity plain, 
and had then, after supplying the t«a, forgotten heraulf and 
Kwallowed the remainder raw. 

"Never mind !" she had said, "a drop in aeaaon is worth a I>ook'e 
mntioni.'' 

Alice's father, who, it may be, was getting more talkative after 
B corrcapondioft allowance of boer, appeared irritnled nt liis wife'n 
claim to properly in Aliee. "I don't see bow you brinjt thst in." 
sdid Iw. "Who Kaid ahe wasn't?" And Alice tlicrcon interpreted 
her mother's statement as meaning that -ehe was her mother's 
child but not her fntlirT'» — n-gnnlcd an pi-rsonal pro|)i!rty of eoune; 
for no other relation of child to parent came into her fonall calcu- 
lations. She ascribed her father's irritation, and all that followed, 
to his rcM!nljn<!nt at being ho excluded from rights in herself; also 
she was entirely in sympathy with him— in fact, convlderod Hhe was 
mueb more his chili) than her mother's. But she foresaw there 
would be a bad evening about it; for she divided her evenings into 
bad and good, and always knew which was coming. 

"Willi wiid she wasn't C Mr. Kavaoagh repeated, with ffrowins 

iixrrity in bis roice. Ami as no one Imd sniil that Alice was not 
child, Goody Peppermint, who was perfectly ready for war, 
and did not care what coaua belli was agreed upon, sought for It 
in another quarter. 

"It dicy had 'a' said so. youM 'a* eat still and listened to 'em!" 
No response came; the pipe had to be carefully filled with some 
strong tobacco— Negro-bead «r Cavendish — and this absorbed 
atTention. The uomnn kept aitenoe till it was being puffed at, 
and then resumed llie attack. She seemed tu have bt<i-n laying in 
ammunition. 

"Sitlin' btinkin' at the fire, like a howl! And as Ui raisin' a 
finger to protect your own wife, not you I If I'd 'a' married else- 
where, he'd 'ii' stood betwfrn mc and inault," Her bu>ban<l 
was sticking in satisfaction with his first whiffs, and it produced 
good-humour. 

"Who's he r said be with so much of joctilarity in his .voice that 
Alice fdt ho^H: dawn. But alas I It only made Oooci^ Pcf)|wr^ 




at wone. Aliee couldu't for tl*t> life of ber Btf« vli,v the next 
should be so muob mora vigoTous. Aftor all. her father 
only saktd a reaaonable quwtinti. She hetadf wanted to 
who "fieevrhen^ wax. Het mother'g replr came lik« t sud- 
dotlr iinmmdci.'il linttwy. 

'.Vof a cowardly Rrinnia' hspc, sitting snigKorin' lit the fire. 
r«! / knunr you. Samuel Kuirr'iui^b. I ltiii?w you wlioii I mar- 
ritd you, the trorwr the luck. And it'o benn kop' up to, all along. 
And thirtnm cliililreu I're brought you. and any one of di«o) 
(barrins 6^v dead) you might Hit by ttnd hrar your own wifo and 
ibtir inoth«.T i>ut upou. bihI you not have the courage to so muih 
U exporstnlatel" This was a lucky word, and unwd nn aj»i«>nr- . 
taee of wealcneas from defective eyiilax. But the q>eaker loatj 
fnand through it« discorory gratifying hi-r vanity. She jwuirdf 
to enjoy the rhetorical triumph, and the pause called attention to' 
thr fact that it nwiviid no rvply. For Alictf's father wan pretty 
Mil uaed lo this aort of thiug at this particular stage of hia wife's - 
iBtoxicMtion. Ue had now wttlcd down to mnoki-. and intends 
lu mtoke. Hia wife for her part bad determined to irritate him. 
and the more he said Dothiug, the more she persisted in bcr efforts 
It wu a trial of ntn'ngth btrlwecD bJa patience, and bcr power of 
poatpODing the maudlin stage wbteh was aure to come nost. Ho 
knew the. would rr«ch it and subside into stupefaclioD if only fafr| 
eouM hold out long enough. Biil tli<- t^nemy bad got mme terrible' 
K|Knting guna; particularly the raiteration of his full name. 
ad the allusion to his nerrous afleetion of the eyes, uo doubt 
(kt result of too much small stitching in a bad light. 

"Uo yc»— Samuel Kairv'nagh! You can smoke and sit a-bUnk- 
ia' at the fire, Tbcru's no amount of proarvocation touches you. 
Hr. K. Nothin' won't never spirit you up ! A poor. mean, spirited 
mcu from the bcgiunin' 1" — 

Alice bad a sort of bope at this point that if it waa carried npm.> 
ton. her mother would begin to die down. Her father kept obiUi- 
rtliily silent, and the hope iucfessed. But there is uu steadiness-i 
ta drink, aiMl afti'r a moment's coDocasion to the coming druwsi- 
ana, the fininc broke out afresh; to die altogether next time, said 
Hope. Besides, no doubt Kavanugh. tliough «ilvnt, grinned per- 
nptibly. Absolute torpidity gives no vantage ground, but a grin 
waa tiot aofe:. Tbu weak point wns sniped in • moment. 

"Yet — Mr. K.! That was what I said, A cowardly grinnin' 
bpr, not a mnnl Thankful I'd hare been nevrr to come acrost 
fDU. I'd have been another woman. I aay noliuu' about who! But 
rour brother Joaathan, though one leg diorter than th« o^Joei. WA 



ALIOE-FOB-SHOKt 



been ^^ 



nut 



n good 'art— and if Td V married bin), I aa; it would bare been 
loiiK time before he'd Ect on one sidr of the fire and snigger at hig 
own luw-ful wif<! afore their child, Uke a babooii would in a mcn- 
arirerie," 

"You (to ti> }mi. Alieo, Hook itl" said hor father. But 
Aliee heeital«d before her mother'fl threateninK e^e and raii 
finscr. 

*'You dan? to (to to bed afore I tell you! You go obe^■ing ya 
fulht-r and dinx'gardiD' your mother, and a nice boiilins you'll gat 
to-morrow when you eome back from eehool " 

"No, you won't; 111 8m> aqtiare. You hook itl" And Alice 
hooked it, her hopes for the morrow restiug on the probability of 
getting away to Ix-r fatbi:r'A workroom when aba camo back from 
school nt midday. 

The gas-tamp at the street corner wnx bright enough to xhinc into 
Alice's eleepinK-deii against the front baircy. It was a paniry 
undefiued, that looked as if it would huvr likrd to be a cellar, but 
couldn't quite recollect bow. It wae clow to a rich preserve of 
cnta; a cul-de-sat whidi must have been contriTCd for their epecial 
use by the Architect, as no one elae'a InU-rest liad Uta studied, 
and indeed acccm wm forbidden by s stronx gateway placed arbi- 
trarily ttcroHa the hairey, aud crowned witli a clieval-ile-friac that 
a sparrow could not have pcrcJicd on with comfort. There was on 
the othi-r flid« a cellar-door Tiaible from Alice's window when 
you spitted on the bottom pane and rubbed the grime "IT with your 
frock. And this cellar was not the coal-eillar nor the duit-hole, nor 
yot the winc-cclIar because that was in the houtic, to be dry; nor 
was it in any way reconcilable with human purpose. It waa a aub- 
tcrrancan nameless horror; a place your imnginntioo shrank from 
doing justice to in respect of cobwebs and fungi. It was an object 
of intcrej-t to Alice nevertbelcsp, because wandering what there 
was in it aupplial food to fuiit-y, and was an inexliaustible re- 
aource. Just think! It must have been almost for over since it 
va» closed, and what might not come to liphl in the way of buried 
trcaauro, if it was opened now. But then, of course, there was 
the other side to the pietwre. Who could say how many goblioa 
or hideout! vampires might not be kept under restraint by that 
thick-rusled chain and padlock, which no key could open; even 
if one could be found — and this was impoaaible in the nature of 
thinfcs. On the whole it was safer it should remain shut, and no 
Tii-ks should be run in sejireh of diamond earcaneta that had got 
overlooked by their owners, or secret passajies oonuDanicaling with 
the Qt'llura of the Bank of England. Alice was not altogether » 



ALICE-FOK-SnORT, 



IS 



Mranger to Romiuue and ita poesibUilies in this direction; for, 
tiiimsh she had not n»A xhe Arabian NiglitM, nhr lunl liiid nuiii to 
W. at the Sunday School, a beautiful Tract called the 'BoriedJ 
Treasure,' vhich wm fa»dnating in Ki>itc of llu! mciiti way ia , 
wbich ltd Marul was .ipruug on llw uDHuai>eotinK reader, and uti- 
lised for his confusion. Tben miitht be, so Alice thouxht this 
ctvning att ithe huag over the window-aill to g«l a look at tlie sras- 
hmp before soinA to bed, some such Buried Treasure in that vault. 
which would turn out n subtttantial reality; and not a corR>ctiva 
medicine for one's natural profanity, the incurability of which may 
Ic Mid to ban.' bei-n announoed by the label on llio bottle. 

Poor little Miss Kavanafrhl She needed something to dry hor 
rrtM thi-H evening. Shv couldn't even dwell upon the gan-bmp 
and the sunny side of th« mysterious door's possibilities, because 
of thtf cold. So ebc itiot to bed as quick as ever she could — and 
it really was very quiek^to got the advaiitaso of nil the heat 
had brought away from that beautiful tire that her parents wera 
still in full cnjoynkrnt of. If it was pontiblo to enjoy anything 
durittg a beavT mitraille of augry recrimination and reproadiL 
For Alice could hear, all throUKb the time it took to Ret the bedJ 
lnk«wnrm enough to go to nalucp, a» almoHt continuous current 
of abuse from hor mother, and an occauonal interjection from btrr 
fstiier, readned lees articulate each time by the ftr<'wi:ig int1\i' 
owe of n whole qnart. The storm rose and fell, and rose and fell, 
itn what eeetoed hours, and Alice lay and lixtt ncd for a luIlT' Tbiik 
ate csimc. and tlw hiss and surslo of a watcrpipe burst in the frost 
lot the upper hand, and Alice tliuught a calm waH inipt-iidiug. . . . 
AlaK! — not this time. 

But the bed was beginning to get warmer, and as it warmed 
Alicn'a wiba slowi^l down and she wont into an uneasy half-slc<T>, 
penetrated by a sense of her mother'a volubility afar, and nii in- 
acBHing cou«ci()usncss of cmphasiii in her father's thickmodj 
speech. She could not dislinguifJi irords, but was aware of a oer^| 
taio pbtaai! by its aocL-nta in coDatant rcpctitinn. It via* oan shg 
had before heard her mother nee to her father. Nine of him went* 
to a man It scemwl; and alio did not undi^rstnnd it. But ho 
seemed lo accept it as having a meaning, and an irritating one. 
Miix waa in ti-rrur k-st she ^uld hear ■ blow. For she rcmeu"! 
bered how once he had struck her mother when stung to ferocity ' 
by thift very same uiit-.xpluitK-d exprcftaion. To be sure on that 
occasion h^r mother had snnpp^d her fingers close in his face; and 
also l)cing very druuk bud cullw! him a snifiinjt; tiJi, with n« (idj(«- 
tive pieflxed which did not scom to go well with. 'oAna. V'^tW'^ 



20 



ALICE-FOB-SHORT 



in 

I 

Tim 

n ~ 



xho wouldn't this time. Perluipc ihcy would make it up and 
to bed. 

SliTp OTrrcninc Alice, *n<\ the voice* ccnwil or wiir mprged in 
dreaiu — a dream in which there was gomething tliat had to 
grappled with. aikI AIUv. had to do it. Bat thn diiHinilt<i' n-as thnt 
no one knew whether it had to be stopped, or turned iu another 
4)irvctiOD, ur dmni-d )ip. or look off of thn hob, or rtraii eloud to 
the Te«rher at Sunday Sehoo] without being sil!? and giggling' — 
for uo out- kiUTW in thi^ drcjim what it vua. AU thst waa certain 
was that it went on and on. and was bad. And it went on for^ 
hour^ und bount. until quite euddcnlj (without etiaii^ing iti 
nature in the least) it became a roieo fpesktnfr down the area^ 
It vu» Alicia (hut had cbangt^d. and beoonit? a frightened little gtr] 
sittinir lip in bed in the dark, waked nbniplly by tho airwy-bcll, 
which had been jiulled hunk-r aud rung louder iban any boll irilliia_ 
humnn rxjii'rienec. 

"What's all this her* row at this time o' niphtl" said the voic 
without. And Alicu jumped out of the bed^t was m nice and 
warm, and snob a pity to! — and pulk-d n rag-stopptu- out of 
broken pane of ([lase to answer through. And wliat she said wai 
that plcasR it wait f-futlurr and m-mothcr. She almost always mii 
please, lint she could not hear any row. 

"Well — pkam: you come up and open this here strec-l doorl" 

Alice WHS too frightened to obey, not because she henrd he 
parents (|uurn.-lHiig. btii b<«aii»e islic t^uli) liear no ooi«e at al} 
only a cat! Was it a cati No — it wasn't. What was it I Wav* 
it mothert A aort uf moaning — nhc was afraid it was mother. 
61mi was so terrified sbc jumped back into bed again, and drove htir^ 
fingers tight into her cars. Tbm she wanletl to hear if the ntoaiffl 
ing wa" mill therr — or pcrhnpK, after nil, it mnm a cat Slv- un- 
corked her ears, keepiug her fingers just outside, to put back at a 
jDMment'ii notirr. But a new Toicc came in th<t irtmnt from owtr- 
head, aud she settled not to put them bacjc 

"Oooii'^TVcninB, Offiivr," wiid Mr. Heath. ITc had opi-iwsl his 
front window and looked out. It was only the kitelien windows 
that w(-ro stuck Uk or had no Bashes. "Do I uiuk-rsland." 
continued, "that that was a client of yours shouting hnu 
jtial ui>w ?" 

"Can't say yrt awhile. Sir. It's in the house. It 'ad be 
well seal to, P'r'aps youll step down and open tht- doorV" 

Alice heard the first-Boor shut his window down, while the 
potic«nuui slappird hi« gloron to knrp warm. She wa* con*eioua thnt 
Ane or more iraseera-hy stopped from coriouly, aud that the polioft- 



j ttia 

dows 



AUCE-FOB-SnOBT 



M 



m 
F 



nun told at Wtt on« rnipiircr tluit it mmH nnj' concern of his. 
One Beemed ofTenBirelr inquiaiUve, for the poUceinan said to liim, 
"Fd morn ymj on, jroung frlW, if thiwc wnm't nny olbcT job on 
band." TVi) she beard the street-door open, and the ])o)tcemaa 
ttHoe in, and tbi-n only oompiiriton of nott-x by outKidcnt. Tbcjr \ 
accepted the account of ibe first man up, who knew no more ibao^ 
toy tide «h)(T iibnut ibf nuilirr, ibnt it wftN a burg'lnr in hidin', 
boyont the cbim ley -stack on the roof, and all croMcd tbe iray 1o 
itx aa mudi uf tbi' rnpttirr nit jxiNHiMr. 

Alice slipped out of ber deii wilh ibe nlence of bare feet. Sba 
Klippfd paHt tlw! room whrrr Hbr had h'ft her pnrmt* qiiamrllinBiJ 
jiist tbe moaninfc unexplained, past its eause she dared not gue 
■1, MoA lip the kitchen irlairM. She; pamrd the policeman, irh 
Stalled his searchliiiht on her nilhout comment, and went straight, 
u to a haven of protection, to the bund of iht: young nrtiat who 
lowed him. 

"My word!" aaid he; "it'a poor little Mijn* Kavanagh. Come pp 
iff the cold stone.^ And Alice felt ber small self picked up by 
* strong ann and carried down bi-lniid tht^ politvman, vbotie myo- 
terious bull's-eye Usibt sent a long ruy ahcui) in search of tricks of 
ground and human ambuKbce, if such minted. They were npproai-h- 
ing the moaning. It was not a cat. Alice coiUd not speak. ShfrJ 
eoald only hold ti^t to her protector. She and PuKny knew how 
^ood he was. 

"Too can look in and report. Officer," aaid be; "til keep the kid 
hack a minute." 

"Qiiitt rijjbt jou ari-. Sir," said the policeman, and walkrd 
nraight alonfc the patc^age, flaeliing his light as be went- Alice 
turned quite nick with terror. Hr. Ilr.itfa put lii^r down on tbo 
groand. and then, taking off his loose smoking-eoat. wrapped ber 
in it, and picked ber up again aa before!. Aliw's father was not 
bad to ber, like her wiither. but be did not know how to do thia : 
lort of thing. Eridmily it was an attribute of timt-floon and 
ipeetaclCE. Ob dearl How long the policeman wasi 

"Sh — ah — ftb — sh — sli! Mi™ Kavanugh <k-nr. Don't you make a 
Doiae. I want to bear." — And Alice made the bravest of efforts, and 
eboknl back ber eobii. )Ir. Ilcalli listened. Whim would the 
policeman come back? At last he came, — "Drink!'' said he, brioflv.i 
—"I don'l n-<^onunend taking tbe child into the room, but do as< 
you think." Mr. Heath asked a question under his breath. The 
rq>ly waa: "Can't stay. I'm siure, Str. Yea can't tell which ia 
drink, and which is the effect of the injury — bad scalp wound on 
tbe bead. Surycoo muM hafc; the caxr. at once. Perhaps you'll be 



L^ 



AJUCE-FOR-SHORT 

MO good ttii to r«tniiin Iiere and see tbe man donsn'l go off. Tl' 
a pity onr surflxon'* no nwiTrr." 

"Thcrc'ti a aurgeoa two dovra off." 

"1 beli*Te 80, Sir. But I might bo exce»linfr my iastruotions. 
My Divifional will be rouud in Uaa than a quarter n{ an lioiir '" 

"I'll be responsible. Cut along to Dr. Tajlor at No. 37. and say 
it"B from tiw' — Mr. Char!™ Hcetb " 

''(Juiic ritcfat you arc nffnin, Sir." And ofi went tbe officer, 
much nrliL-ved. 

"Oh, you poor Httlo kid, how you do sluJcel" said Ht, Heath, 
(ind Alictr n-plii'd, as he [iuUliI the coat closer round her. *'Vtn not 
c-cold." and then followed on with explanation — ^"ii's because 
of m-mothcr. ifuy I pleasi' gu ?" — 

There was a footstep behind them on the atone stjiir. It was the 
top utticH; tlial is to say. Mr. Jt-fl. tie had on a Turkish fex, with 
a tassel ; and Alice, in nil her acute misery, was Ktill able in wonder 
why ihiii ira« right and n-anonablc. Fur, as hi; wiia a grown-up 
gentleman, and a friend of Mr. Heath, it never oocuired to her 
to doubt it. He bad come down, bearing an imbroglio aeelbiug 
below ataira. to see what the matter wa». Jfr. Heath managed to 
toll him over no quick, without Alice bearing exactly what wag 
said, and fmisbed up with. "What alioiild you say I" 

Mr. Jeff decided that a minute had better be waited, while he 
went in and had a look, hintix-lf. This showed .Mice that it was 
under consideration whether she should be token into the room, 
where the moaning wimt on juiit the same. And Alice ascribed 10 
him mere eurioBily on his own aecomit, and tliought him wlfiali. 
In a mfuient or two hi? eamo hnck, looking pate in the light of a 
gas-jet. at the stair-foot, the policeman had lighted just before he 
left. He came back shaking his bead, all the louglh of the postage. 
He didn't speak. Mr. Heath spoke first. 

"What's the man uboiit i" naid be. 

"Kneeling down Itc^ide her. Seems in a greet taking. Says 
Cod foTKive him. uiid all that eort of thing." 

"Did you xpoak to him ¥' 

"I wiid he should have thought of nil that licfore. Do you think 
the child unilerntands C And Alice heard a reply in a half-whisper 
which nhe thought was, "Don't M'» frighten lu-r." Suddenly ake 
broke out and began to struggle to Ret away into the room. 

"OU, poor father— oh. poor father!" It came out mixed with 
dospairing *ob«. "Oh. please. Sir, let me down to go to father.'* 
"•or little AUce-for-iihort !" wiid Mr. Ilcath. "You promue 
'»e ftighteoed, chick, and we'll go to father." 






^ 



ALICE-FOK-SnOKT 



S3 



"I*1efle«. I'm not frifthlcned," said Alice. And Mr. JeS aaid. 
"PVupH you're right, 'Eatli. Cut on!" and foltowrd tlicm into 
ibe kitchen. 

Heath MW what be bxd be«u led to unticipale. On Hm ground 
knc^tioff was the man ; in front of him on her back with bor head 
in a pool at blood, the woman, bnon-n to ihe two young tnrn ii» 
Goody Peppmnint. Once — twice — thr man utrvtchcd out his band 
and touched the prostrate mass before him. Thero was no rvsponfte 
or movement. Wnx the. iitill moiiningt Ett-:! tbiit wii» doubtful. 
Theu preewilly the man turned round to the two Bpectatore. and 
•aid in » coWccUA voice, appiin-iitly under the imprcstiion that aomu 
queetiou had been aekcd: •'Yeg — Keutlemen — my wife," Neither 
Mid » word. Then he said, in exneily the tmme tone: "Is my little 
pri tberei" and Mr. Heath said, "Tea, Ahee ia hew." and let 
.Mice go down and run to her fullirr. "Ought she to kiss meT 
said be. 

The two young men slnnced at each other. Heath eanght the 
drift of hie question. "Why, God blesa me. my good fellow." said 
be, "yoH haven't killed your wife." 

"You think not. Sir)" aaid Kavanngh — not att an enquiry, but 
u a statement of faet. "May 1 ko to the bell P For at this mo- 
ment the wire of the street-door beil wna besrd trying to rouse it 
to action, and after a pauae sueeeL-di-d so eSeelualiy that it seemed 
t* if it would never leave off, hnving been started contrary to ita 
wishes. 

"It's the oScpr faaek, with the surgeon," eaid Mr. Heath. "Ju*t 
vou trickle upstfiir^. ,TelT. and open thi- door to 'em."* 

And Mr. Jeff tkpnrted to do so. Mr. Heath's conmgcona voice 
and odd phiaaea were a iireat comfort to Alice. 

"Your wife's all right, man alive!" said he. •TPait till tlio 
doctor's put on a plaeier. and she's had time to get sober, and 
nbe'U !« as right as a trivet." 

"Tliat is bow it is. Sir." said Alice's father in the same mechan- 
ical way. H<' left hi* hand in Aliei''* and slic fell liow culd it was 
as she kif«ed it. "Time for ber to get sober. That's how it is." 
Thin be Mill, (]n>]i])itig hia v<iice, "They'll take me. May I get 
1o my room a minute — only just down the pnssiigi' — afore they 
«im<'f" ll WK-med sueh a reasonable rec]ueBt, and after all it 
was addressed to a very younjt man. One with more experiencw 
would have accompanied him. Heath refleded that the applicant 
could not get oul without repaasiui; the door, and deaded that 
lie would be safe enough. No other contiiigvueiea croMed faia 
mind. 



14 ALICEFOR-SHORT 

.Tou coma here to the fire, Iftm Kftriinash," said be> and laked 
togellier iU Kmaioa for Alice to sit by. 

Then n grisly dream, to bo mmcmlKircd for life, passed before 
the ejea of the frightened child. There seemed to be « great 
di^nl of iHtliccinan in ttir rooni; more than wxs nt all Dei^ssury, 
Alie« tfaouitht. Ooe of ihem came and drew water from the boiler 
cIo*n to her, and »iu: nimcmbirnyl bow iih« hud stooil there to turn 
off the tap the minute the kettio was full up, and how that kettle 
rom>li(^d ttm tea Ikt mothiTT put )u.-r ruin in, or put into hnr rum. 
Sleanwhile the other policemen and the doctor jiKUTlemaii who 
came back with them, owrryinK « leather cnse, not her mother up oti 
a chair; and then the Utter got a pair of eciii^ors out of the; cnac 
and began cutting h<-r inothcr'i* hair. She did not groan at any 
rate— oiily breatlied heavily; that wiia good. ik> far! Then llio 
doctor begnii washing her head, and ihen cut her hair again. Ur. 
Heath was holding her head up. 

"A little mon- over this way," said the doctor. "Thank you 
very much." And went on cutting the hair. Alice looked away, 
feeling sick. When iihe mii"tered courage to look ronnd again, 
sIm! wondered what on eartli t)u) doctor could be about. It looki-d 
aa if he was sewing up her mDthcr'a heed, like father did coata 
and trouwni. Could nhe bear what he waa aaying to Hr. Hcathi 

"Probably saved her life; that is, if her lifo w saved." said ho: 
"I can't wiy about (Imt jutit yut. But thi; lutmmer struck aalaut and 
the scalp gave, and took off the force of the blow. If it had come 
Mraigbt it would have killed on the spal. A little more this way. 
Thftnk yo* very much. That's how 5ueh a great piece of sculp vrnn 
lying free," Of cour»c Alien did not uiider9tau3 mosl of this; but 

I she understood some. 
The fir*t policeman camo back into the kitchen from somewhere. 
U« Spoko to Mr. Heath. 
"Hc'a quiet enough in tlwtre," iiaiil he. "He atii't going to make 
a boll. Besides, there's nowhere to get out at. And if there was, 
then-'a one of our niwi outnide." 
But he wasn't gving to make a bolt. 
Mr. Heath looki-d very jiele, and rery sorry, thought Alice. Mr. 
Jcfi 8t<>od by. and was of no use. But he showed hia good will 
by jerks of incipient action, indicating readiuees to help, and hav- 
ing his good intention* always disappointed by somr one <^lM^ antic!- 
paling him and doiug what waa wanted instead. However, he got 
an opportunity in time, as the doctor prvaontJy aaid, "I wonder 
if it's come. This is just finished." And he ran upstairs to see. 



I 



1 
i 




ALIOE-FOR-SHORT 



S« 



' on bn motlKT's pnW. "Itiit of ooune shell be better in the 
IttSrtaarj tluui berc" And then Mr. Jeff came back, tiAvin^ nained 
rtatUM, Alice thought, hy hu <)i'H«ivc nclion in mnnitig upxtnin to 
•ee. h. whaierer it was, had come; and her mother was to be 
carried up to it. She whk in the chnir with armw, that »lie uu>(l 
to qwnd so mueh of her time in a faalf-drunkeD deep in when at 
home, and vi»» half hcl<I np in it, )mU slipping down in a bundle 
whc^ti the doctor fini&hcd his mysterious tailor's work. "We conld 
pn-tty well curry hi-r up in the duiir aa shi' eita," tiai<I Mr. Heath. 
But it was the suKKestioD of inezperi«Dee, and the mntiirer view 
of the In»peetar fif PoHoe was that ve could go one better than 
that. "There's a morable streteber in the ambulann^" i>aid the 
doctor. And ii moment after aometbisfc thnt bumped was being 
brouirhl down the kitchen stairs. Alice wan getting very incapable 
of distingutHhiug things, and eould not quite make out how it was 
manased, but she saw ultioiatcty that motluir wan «truppvd on a 
flat thing with handles like she was took to the station once oa, 
and carried away upstairs. Ob, how awfully while tJie looketll 

"We mtist gfl down now aod .tec to that poor kiddy," eaid Mr. 
Heatb to his friend when the eonsiirumeiit to the interior of the 
ambulance had bt^rn safety i-ITecled, nn<l the inexiilicabU- units 
that always cosgulate round a centre of excitement in London — 
whalevitr the lime of ntgbl may bt — were left to diseuHs wlwlher 
the chief item of the entertainment was alive or dead. It was 
a Tvry nncertatn jtoint, and the doctor, when aski-d, wan e\'a< 
sive. — "She'll be alire when she gets to the Infirmary." said 
he. Tou bad better see to the child. I ilon't know that I'm 
iranted any more. Good-night t"—nnd departed with his ea*e of 
{natrunKDls, which he had put up while tht; aln-tt^bi-r wmi travelling 
npetains. "Vou'll find the child asleep," ho added, as be walked 
away. 

He paunod a momt-nt with his latch-key in the lock, then with- 
drew ll. and turned as if (o (to back, then stood iuilecisire. — ^"Per- 
hapa it inn't ncceesar}-," said he. — "No, I suppose it's all right." — 
And this time he let himself in and was lighting a eaudle lamp 
to go Dpstairs with when be buard feet running en the pavL>ment 
outside, and a man shouting. . . . 

That was Mr. Heath's voice. What was it be said — "Stomach- 
pump, doctor! Stomach-pump 1" — He shouted it before be reached 
tbe door. 

The doctor did not wait to let him in. Upstairs ho went, two 
steps at a time, and disregarding the "What is it, Jamea{" of his 
wiffi in a drcMing gown on the landing above, ma^ lot ft ^M Vc^ 



s« 



AUCE-FOR-SHOKT 



lO*^^ 



hi» oonsulting room, and fled with a socood leather case. Aff 
wlule Ur. Ueath was knocking nt tW dnor hikI pulling louill;' at 
thr nigbt-bcll. — "Stomach- jiump/" he shouted aettin from tlio out- 
side as he heard the doctor cnminR, and ngnin as hn ti|>eiicd tlw 
door, "Slomaeh-pump." The doctor showed the leather eiiw. and 
both ran. Mr. J«9 bad came half-wn.v, art a wort of coimocliitK liiik.^ 
to luhricate eveBM — ecarceJy with aiiy idea of showing tho wujr^ 
hack. ^ 

But the Btomaeh-punip waa too late for use. ncept as a rctro- 
Bpeclive pump. For tlic joiirncymnn tailor whom tlin two polioe- 
meii. left behiud, were eiideaTouring to rouse — ansiousl.v eooush, 
for in fnct thi-y never ought to lian.- lost eight of him — waa put 
rousinir. "'It's really ouly a matter of form," said the doctor, **to 
uw tlic pump in »ii(-h a case. However, we may as well know for 
certatu uhut poisoned him." ^ 

"Ik it i>CTrf<«tly certain he's dead!" sutd Heath. fl 

"Stone-dead. Cyanide. Here's the bottle, ilcrc's the ictass he 

drank from. Dead an hour. I should aaj-. However " And 

the pump was called into council, and supplied some particulars foi^ 
the Coronvr. ^| 

''Thai poor Hltlo kid. Jefl!" said Heath. "We must do wiiat we 
can for her." And tlicy walked nway to the kitchen, one as pal«,_ 
as the Ather. 

Poor Alice! Xature had asserted herself, and she was lu a ' 
sleep with her head on a fltooL 

"Wc cnn't leave her here," said Heath. "Is there no woman 
the house?" 

"Nobody at all, l>nrr!nB; ounwlvc". Oround-fliior's vacant. Sc 
ond-floor's vacant. Oul;- me in the attii;s. Tbird-flotir goi-n wit 
»ccon dd oor " 

"\Vr'd better put her bade in her own bed, and then talk abovi 
it," Which was done, and a polico officer being officially in ebargw 
of tlie i>remi»es under tlic t'irc«m«tnnees, Mr. Heath left hJa^ 
VTotigie with an easy conscience and went to bed. ■ 

And Alice slept, without a drtuun, tlic intcuiie sleep of overstrunff^ 
nature. Tho noi«M of burst water-pipes, the discord of eats, ihti 
clamour of a pasiiing row outside dialurbi'd her no mure than they 
disturbed the other sleeper in father's work-room at the end of 
llie long stone passage. And when Cliaric* Hii'Sth wnUcd up "ud- 
denly at half-past eight, and hurried on bis elolhes to run dowu- 
stuirs aud see to the child, she wu a» sound anlvep an evvi, aud it 
stvmed a pity to disturb iiei. 



A 



CHAPTER m 



op me AKTBCCDEXn OP aucg's uglokodcos 

TwKSTT yc*r« bcfon* hi« morUl rcmnins were left in charg« 
of tbai impassive police officer in that extensive basumi-nt witlj 
ceU«rii^. Samu«l Kuvunagh liaci been na prosperous and bopeful 
I fonnji tailor as ever rejoiced in a new wife and a new shop iu 
*li«t wan then die suburban diilrint of CVmdcn Town. Snch a 
band^orav founft couple as he and tiie former, when tbc.v were 
nmried at Trinity Church oppusite ihc! biir>-ing gmtind. in Upper 
Camden Strept, wctv enough to make that dull struciure inter- 
tstiafr for the momoiil, and tfven to aoflen thi- heart of it* pvw* 
opener into (:ono<'™ion of their right to compote with b.vfrone Tec- 
ordn. ^Vhilr, n» for the lattw, it went without M.vinjt that there 
uex-pr was such a shop. In after .vejtrfl, wlieu Saimit-'I bad bi^-n 
obliE^ to (tive up thin «hop and hadn't taken nnothnr yet-a-while, 
ai») vthvo lie was workine for h^rd taskmasters to kt.<op his much 
too large fnmily nlivi:, hix mind wnn xtill able to dwi:ll with tiatis- 
faetion on llie beauty of the ontaracts of superb tronseriniTs that 
flow>>d in the window to fnH-inatc' llie panMrr-hy ; of the (■onvinoing 
twills that only needed inspection of a corner for you to see at 
uncr that they would wear, and woiililn't whow diisrt ; of the numer- 
ous portraits of the same younK Rentlcinan of property, as he 
BppmrtYl in ibt! wludc of his wardrobe, including aeveral tiniforma 
and huDlins and ahootinR costumes: and the masterly inscriptioa 
orrr all that declared thut Kuvanagli. in Roman lypc. wa* n tailor 
and profe»«x3 tronwr* maker, in liatinn Icltcring, though whether 
the Wl was effrontery or modesty was a mystery. All theae ihin^ 
wtare m beautifid and no new, and thi; paint smell ao freah, and 
Samuel was so wi'H able to say to himself that he had got value 
for bis money, that hiH n>-grel for what he Imd lost nerer quite 
dealroyed Ibe pleasure be derived from contemplation of its details. 
This waa not i<qnnlly tnic- of hin m<;mury of hia younfc wife as he 
looked back on tbow days. That vrould not bear thinluDK of now. 
Btit nt thai happy time she was aa beautiful and new aa the ahop, 
or more eo. 

The ahop waa eboBcn from ita proximity to the publlc-houae 

S7 




i 



ALIOE-FOB-SHOBT 

kept by her fattinr in King Street, Camden Town, from bohmd^ 
the bar of which her faBcinations had eotan^cled lhi> afiections of 
the yovug tailor. It would Ix- uuftiir to Sitmud to «ny tltnt tli«J 
yoiiTig lady's li/)! htid inllut'nced him; but, as be was no capitalist! 
bi:n>4>lf, it ceriainly canie m very cunveniently. bi'I mnilo it poui-] 
bio to «t«rt in businesii on a much better footinR than any hi- eouldl 
have achieved out of his own n^sourcea. In othirr rr-tpMa*. th»l 
match wms consirfeix-d by goasipa to be ruthor a riuc in life for thej 
(tirl, and likely to withdraw bar from her low aMociatioiia. Fori 
whcri'ii-i Samtii'l w«ii tlic Brcjit-srnndKou of a baronet (illcgitimat^l 
certainl.v — but a baronet i§ a baronet) bis wife had t«g''lar rose up( 
from the drcg» of you might nay. And it wn» ffvely remarked that 
the reason Hiiuiiali would uot touch a drop herself, atid wanted to 
be Band of 'Ope only her fnthcr wouldn't let her, was that nhu 
knew her mother died of drinking, and she was afraid she would 
do iJw name if *hi: H<)mitli-d the ibin pnd of the wedge. No doubt 
also her father was not sorry she should rise above a banuuid. , 
So long AM thi' rvat of EuroiM! drank itself to death, nnd paid ftharp,! 
be bad no wish thai she ahould follow her mother's example.! 
Bc«dw. young women were not iTnrci-, nnd-njnly mind youl he) 
did not say thia to Samuel — Haunab had a short temper. And 
as for hia future son-in-law, he seemetl a likely sort of young 
fellow, "and if hje did fancy a glarst of beer now and iben, wl>jr| 
shouldn't hnl lie, John Shiirnnin of the Cock and Bottle, <ra» mil 
the man to find fault with him for that. He wasn't, eertainlyl 
In fact, all that eould br said of Hannah's extraction on both eidcM, 
wBis that the more thoroughly she had been «xtracted the better. 
WberesK on Samuel's side tbn revYmio wax the case, and it was felt^^ 
that, in spite of an education and early asBoctalions little betteF^| 
than bi« wife's, an outcrop of Baronetcy might reach the aurface i 
if not in biin. at least in one of bis children. 

But no drawback of inheritiinec showed itself in those days, in 
Mrs. Kavanagh at any rate. Tier husband was what her father 
dewrihcd him, ntid their acquaintance had begun in tliu couroa 
of a succession of transactions across a metal counter, at intervals 
which were now and then at firat. and soon became very fre- 
quently. He explained to the Iad.y that he came for her only, and 
not for half-and-luilf : tliough a construction of that i>xpKaaton was 
possible which misht have an application to thcmsolres. And when 
tHcy ronrriisJ. the liquor-clouds whii-h niiiy Ix' aaid to have enveloped 
their courtship vanished, and left a clear sky of voluntary renun- 
ciation and reNpeclability. And if you hud ser-n them at thia 
"'■W, you w:vcr could have anticipated the chaogt' that waa t4 



A 



ALICE-FOB-SHOHT 



» 






mne OT«r tbem when the clouds rv-g«tlivred. Eren a knowL 
of the pomibiJities of drinlc could hardly have foreseen a reviv* 
of ncinl chnnctrriKtio* K> marked tt» Goody Pcnterminl'N ; tltousb 
■ ceriitm Minounl of degenerate speech and manner, auch as 
huKband xbowrxl, tniftlit hnrc Hi-cmcd poesiUo and rcammnhlr. 

If in ila firet years of proaperily you had been attracted by thia 
node*t and Uighly-rratppctaWc tnilur's ahop (for Snmu<-I lind rc- 
ligted (he importunity of hta scribe, who wished to write Emporium 
■im] other Mtiick-up cxpmwionti over the door), and if you had ))i!ou 
tempted bj it to entrust your lege to its proprietor that he nilRht 
4iow tilt Tuluc of biii profnuiouii; iind furtlx-r, if, whiln you w<ire 
letns measured, the younx wife of that Kood-tookinK yo\iTiti tailor 
iad appeared livoriug iu bt-r arms a virry &i(: baby, proliubly you 
nmtd bavti come away with a pleasant impression, and would ha« 
■old that tbut youiis man and his young wife were having a good^ 
lintc. So they were, but that was twenty yrars oko. 

If at some linK later on, having eniployL-d Karanagh ever ainecr 
and recommeiKlcd bim to several friends, you had kodo to his sho|i 
lo try on. becauw (for inatative) oa you passed the aboi> evcrf' 
«lay and Mr. Kavauafch waa so busy there reaUy was no reason for 
kia coming all tlw way (suy) to Higbgntc, you might have uutiee 
•■ you tried on. that the earth was getting rapidly roplonished witl 
littlv KavanagliB. uiid that none of tlic^- littk parlies wst 
thou one year older tiiau its sucei-ssor. while some \were less. And 
jno would hare canw nwny ahsking your head, and saying that 
poor tin. Kavonafch must have her bands full, but that she must 
br A good sort, to kiH>p all thouc children looking w nice. Bnt if 
jou saw ber on that visit, you would probably have remarked that 
■he was looking worried. Still, you would hnvf. n-Srvtcd that all 
&unili<^ were cares and burdens, and that at any rate Kavannith 
and bis wife seemed happy imd contimti^l. So tlu-y werr, but tbiiC 
was (maybe) fiftrvn years ago. 

At the end of another few years you would have atsen a very 
decide*! chanfti^. Urs. Kavanagh would have begun — more than 
b(«un — to look like a woman who niuai hurt- been good-lo<^in 
OBoe. Before she bad all that swarm of children, your penetrntioi 
would probably add. One thiiij; would have been clear — that 
tuhir'M wifn bad lo*t all her looks, but that she wns a ntc<^ rcwpect 
ble person for all (hat : and if ^e did say a sharp word to 
tiresome c)iildr«-n. wltat coutd you rap<>ct. with eight already and 
another very soon ! And if ashed why you thought it necessary to 
feel quite certain itlie did not nmell of spirits, you would have re- 
ferred this certainty to the fact that she didn't. And you "iro4\4 




L 



30 ALlCE-FOR-SnORT 

hare bcm uncnndii] in doing »o, because yoar reasouB for 
eu&ftinir the point canuot hare been entirely inaide your inner > 
KeiouKiK-jif, wilhoiU Etiggrstion from witJiout. 

But it was dozen years ago, anyhow. And perliaps it wna not 
more than tt^n y^ar^ ngo that yon huw Mm. Knvsniigli agniu, and 
were impelled to think and =a.v that it was ahoctdug ti> »ec bow tlint 
ilri'ndful hjtbit was growing on KnTannfrh'a wife, anil that. you hnd 
alivayg ff:t!B what would h&ppen. And this was uucaudid too, for 
you woiiidn'l li««', or didn't, ^ 

Neither did you predict then or at any time that in a year or two^i 
Kavntiftjirh would b<- auld up nt thn xuit of n ctoih nierobiuit. But 
be was, and then you and many others were found to have eoneealed 
with difficulty your f[l<x>niy antiuipntiouM of iho tailor'^ future. 
And when ho called upon you to explain the temporary nature of 
his vmbarraaamenta. you felt it your duty to dwell upon the evila 
of driiiW. (ind their inrariable consequtmec*. For by that time you 
were in a position to fit>l convinced, not only that hie wife was loven 
to Fpirit*. hit tliat he himwlf wb» too fond of bwr. In fa<rt. there 
wftB loo much liquor guiay in ibal bouse, and you were not sur- 
prised. 

Not havinf; Iwen tFurpriftcil tlien. nothing that followed in the 
next seven or eiulit years can have astonished yoo wry much. An 
intenni!<liato Htnge. in a down-bill course, a foreman's situation at 
a first-class shop, did not Inst a year, and would not have lasted 
Bo long if a fnmily of Uiirteen children had not been regarded 
by hie employers as an arbitmry whim of Proridence; a very 
unfair load, which it was the obvious duty of all kind-heart»xl folic 
to liKhten. And how could you wondi-r nt any inuu for drinkiuK. 
with a wife like that I Wliat can you expect when the woman w-t* 
the cxamplct But wc (the first-class shop in question) couldn't 
stand this gort of thinir, and we had to look out for a n<^w fureniiiu. 
Of course wc could give poor Sam KnTanagh plenty to do, and we 
did. For we were a very irood-natured firm. And wc got plact'S 
for his elder mnn and ihiughlcrs — removing them from their 
parents as far as possible — and five of the younger oiie* were so 
kind as to die. So that, by the time Mrs. Kavauaeh had taken 
to coming drunk to our WcM End c^tablinhmcnl and thnaiti-jiing 
the cflidiiiT. and making poliee- removal necessary, there was only 
the little girl Alice left. She was then a boby of two. And the 
finn would not have lost sight of her at all. only our own aSairs 
St ibst time were giving a great deal of anxii-ty, and the partner 
diwl who bad known most of the family. And also we were influ- 
enced by the fact that Karanagh obntinuti^ly rcfuwd to get rid 



\ 



AXICE-FOR-SHORT 



31 



of his wifr, allbouffli w« vct« legally sdrtBed ttuit he miglit Have 
done 8o if be luid t^faosen. So wluit could we dot Not very much, 
cnruinlrl And tho Coroner at the inquest adiuilled tliU to tm 
Itu case, wben wv gav« our a«cuiint of Kavtmngh from irliich tho 
aboTO facte are dtcxl. 

The last few j-eare of miserable digringolade aro eonilr imagined. 
Alioe had fcwrvvlf kDovru her parents in any charaeler other than 
the otw ihey have uppeared in. i:i ihia aIor>-. Xuthiiig hut drink- 
unqualified drink—oould have brought about the chanitc in so short 
1 time. Then were etagi» la the duwnwani eotu-M^ nl tlic md, 
U there were ai the banning; but their followed each other more 
qnidcljr. The hiat had K-^n when (lie acraps of funiitun; and be- 
loajpoite bought hj friends at the auction when the aliop was sold 
Pf, aniil gireii to (he then homeleaa couple, were iiacked »tt from 
the lodfciniT that wn? the bat fixed residence they had of their own, 
(o SO lo plaj^ itti part in the inauguration of tlu-ir curei-r n* can** 
takers. This tr«k wa» Alice's earliest recollection. It waa re- 
tponaihlc for an idcM in her nduiII mind tliat her pnri-ntu had once 
lived in a palace — * borne of privilege and delights now unknown. 
"Our shop" wa» known to her only as a tradition of former great- 
aeaa ihaX she was too young, recent, and inex)>erieueed even to 
pnmnne to think about. But she could rem<-mbcr, or rotild 
mnember remeinbering. when her father and mollier dwell at>ov« 
Itround; if not exactly tn a 'ousc of thoir own, at any rate in a 
portion of one. And it had n real front pitrlour too, what tb 
(offin was stood in when Alice's niKter 'Arriel ¥r«8 buried that^ 
died with tlie fever. Of courat; it had; and what's more she was 
buried in a carriage that came up to the front door and knocked.. 
All wliieh Altoe must have recollected quite plain, or idie neven 
<ould hare said m to Polly Uawkina at Sunday School. For ahs 
wna a rer>- Ini(bfui little girl. 

But the (tepartiin- of these Israelites into the wilderness of care- 
taking oeeurred wlien she wHs »o small thai she now seareely knew 
henelf in any other eharneter than a dweller in basements — a kind 
of human rabbit. trHvelling from burrow (o burrow. When a mor«' 
was in contemplation the question uppermost in Alice'.i mind wn«, 
was there a front airey, and what were its <iualitie8 ! Just as tho 
SODS of Opuleitce that hire a property for the season are anxious 
to know what tlw? extent of the shooting is, and if there is a jioek 
of bounds in the neighbourliood— so Alice would timidly unk her 
fathirr (never h«r motlier) ubout ihu extent of ibis airey, and even 
if there was a pack of eat>^ In the lai<t of their encampments, 
the Soha houM of our story, the airey was of the gwate^t m^otV 



L 



SS ALICE-FOR-SHOBT 

an<« l)ecau»e of the door at tie top of tbe kitchiux stain ao 
couldn't nisy get in and out. WbiMi you could get nut on the. staii 
it didn't H> much matter if the rooms were locked up. Thou) 
Alice would hnvc frit fnr morr (fratcful to the projiriftorB if ihcy 
had left one door unlocked, and the shutters Blood open. Still, 
thvn vn* iilwnyH llu! gn-ut irvnnl vlicn people «Bin« to »e« over 
the pn>iniaeB, and Alice was able to follow unobacrvcd. On mch 
occadioiiB Hh« would be aghuM. ut Uw low opinion the invesiifca- 
lorB would harp of the 8pac« availablp, the number of rooms, their 
stale of repair, their veulilattOD and eanitation; and would marvel 
why they didn't go awny at oooc, wppcially as they always tri-ntinl 
the Milt with iudi^naiit derision. Also why her mother should 
join chorus, vhm *hir ought to havD argued gtfntly but firmly 
aKniaat each censure, and pointed out its fallacy. Instead of thia 
Khn denounced the boum.' an » plague-ceiitre in a rvtcion of epi- 
demics; a structure ao ruinous as to defy repair and call for 
rcconKtructSon on different Ittica. and preferably Kitiicwhi'rc t-W; 
and a blot on the character of the metropoliE that '^he Authori- 
ties" ouffht to condemn in ibc interi-st of the public asfvty. It 
never <x*»rr«si to Alice ihal these views were other than pbtlo- 
Eophical opinion. She did not analyse hrr mother's veracity, or any 
of her <iualitic«. She accepted li(-r blindly am! without queadon as 
an example of a llother, and perceived in every quality that was 
re|>uKnant lo her an essential feature in that relationship, So 
far as she noted that other little girlN' moihcm took Icm rum, were 
IcMi incoberrat, less somnolent, more peaceable than hers, she 
decided that they came short of the correct atjindard of Motlierbood. 
They i«?n; pleH)<nnt''r certainly, but were they not poachinR on the 
donuins of Fathers? Were they not non-con forroiaU, dissenters, 
inaovatoni on a grand old tradition t 

She had once been greatly puuled by a conversation she over- 
heard bi*Iween her eldest brother, a young fellow of nineteen, who 
bad been got a very good place over PecJdiam way. in a 'olesale 
Clolhier'a, and her fnlher. Thcr latter liad miid to bio »on : "U 
wasn't always like lliis. Fred — not when you was a little chap — 

why, you <uin rf^ollect !" Aii<l the non repliw! that he could 

recollect, fast enough. And added: "It's your own fault, father, 
for letting her have the li(|uor.'' And liiit father bad not resented 
thia, as Alice thouxhl he would, but had dropped his bend in his 
hands, and she thought br' wua crying, and went to him. And on 
that he took her up on his knee, and said: "Good girl— gwid girl — 
good little Aiioe-" And then, turning to her brotlier, said: 'Tvo 
no fault to find with you for epeaking, my boy, but it's not eoay. 



i 



ALICE-FOR-SHOBT 



SS 



liko jou tbiDk." But this had u«t sof(eii«d hit Mn, nlio i«pc«ti 
that It ma the liquor, Hml nothing but Iho liquor, and all titai 
WW wanted was c little decision and a better example. And Alical 
£dn't IcDow what a <leci9iou nu^, little or big, and wondered^ 
«teluT i( wna an in^trumcot, or a druft. or an animal; but iiicltn«l 
lo tbe first, om a<^MlUllt of aeiaaors. Hvr father'* reply threw no 
li^l on ihia point. *'Tou settle it off niifdity easy." said be. *%ut 
niu're not tbe Sral .roun^ jackanapee that ever waa born." And 
AUce vrondero) who waa. And tht-n Fn?d wid there waa mother 
Mtnioit and he should cut it. With whom iDotber liad worda in 
the passage, and tbi'ii quarn-lliK) with her father for setting li«r 
own wm againat her. So Alice's niiitd was left hazy about wtiat 
it V*a ber brother cuuhl recollect fast enough; ithe puzzlitd orer it 
iat all that, and wnuld have liked him to tell her. Out she knew it 
# wu no use to ask biia Hi- would uiily any Hhe was a girl, and had , 
better «Jiut up. Hi« (h-nM-annur wan alwa.vs haUKbl;, as it was] 
such a very large 'olesale Clothier's he had a plaee at. Alice eon-* 
orired of that Clothier a* a aort of Pope of Pevkharo. and her 
brother Fied as a otnfldential Cardiuel. 

It may be imoRitiod tliat this son and her other brother "held oET 
from tbetr reprobate pareuta duriuK the latter day*— the dajra 
when caretaking had been accepted nx a permanent condition, and 
the notion of a domicile of any aort had goav the way of all drea 
Hot that tile new uliop tliat wan to nrplnce the kiHt one could 
■aid to have ever been definitely given up by Samuel Knvanagh. On 
contrary it always presented itself Ui him us a coming event, 
certainty of wboee ultimate existence justified a nomadic life, 
eraphaMiiM^d ita temporary eharaoter. During the daya lluit 
fallowed on the disappearance of the old shop, he would apolotrise 
(or erery itoinMtic slxntcoming. erery chaotic lifreaUmenl, by 
referring it to the almoat momentary nature of his encampment. — 
"npc^ faa' done with aU thia mcaa, and get some real order." ha 
would aoy, "so aoon a* I ever get my nxiw ahop." — And he held on 
to n yague belief in it. even when Alice was (towing quite big, 
and old nmugh to talk to. 

It ntu?t be admitted that the change in twenty years,— from thai 
pfocperoua and good-looking young couple, in tlieir well-filled and 
otderly shop, to tbe very doubtful journeyman tailor and his 
drunken wife, in the basement of No. 40, — aeems almost incredtbla. 
But ask any physician of the riglit eitperience— I don't meaiL'l 
aslc him if he ei-er knrw of a woman in Hannnli ICavanagh's 
ctimatances taking to drink and going to the Dcvil—thal would ' 
a coarse and unfeeling irty of putting it — but just gire him fall 



34 



AUCE-FOR-SnORT 




parti(>u1ara nnci n!ik bim if lui t-vtr kmiir of n cum of Alcoholism in 
the like ptifclit. and we what he save. Afw! as for beerioesa — well, 
if poor Knriinftgh hn<l eonir tendency that way, it wat no sx^et 
wonder. It was a yery modeet and unpretentious achievement 
comiiurrd with AloohotisTo, but it bus its efficiencies as an agent of 
the Devit. And the Coroner I have mentioned before, with the 
wholo of whost- iiiijiiceil tluT reader need not Iw troubled, ascribed 
the blow that killed hiit wife to the insobriety of Karana^h, not to 
tiny bud disjKmilioii on hiw purt. Hp addi-t!, aa bta own private 
opinion, thnt the more beer n mnn cniild Inlte withotil nhuwing it, 
liw more liable he would be to sudden outbreaks of unoontrollable 
itl-temprr, amounting to fury under provneation. And of 
provocation in this case there could be no doubt. 



CHAPTER rV 



or lUCX's BIDE a a cab with the nnST-PLOOK. or TSE riRST-FLOOK's 
HIUCTIFltl. SIMTKK, ASD WKR fAKKOT 

Us. Cbablbs Hkatu's family resided in Uydc Park Gdrdm" and 
•ere Tcrj late tnr brrnkfasl. Thin in a\] <hv want to kuow about 
ihem for the moment; which t». or was. siren accurately, a qunrtor 
put nine tm tl>v momiiig fnllowitig the bVL-itts of tlie last cjiaptw 
but one. There was uothtiuc singular in eilhir fact, for Mr. 
Andrew Hmtfa. Charles's father, wm a purtiier in Heath & Pol- 
Itlfen. of Londou and llong li-ona, nilk merchants: and, bcidcs, 
it wii» ft wwy rich comiectton. If you know uliout *ilk merehaiita 
anii Tcry rich connections, you will soo that not only do ihpy 
account for pcoplo living in Hjdn Park OnrJtiiiH, hut for tltcir 
i^nting down Ute for breakfast, even when breakfast is at nine. 
Tbey ftilly account fur Charlr-i Ilcjith finding tioliivly down when 
be arrind at oine-thirteen by the hall clock. But not for the 
eqtraasion of diirnhfoundcd nmuKcinrnt on tlic fncf of tlie young 
iroman who opened the door. Neither was this due to Mr. Charles 
oomin? from hi^ Studiii at lluit limo in thi- morning: that wait coni> 
iBMi enoujcb. In fact, Mr. Charles very often went home to break- 
fast. An be leldon) got to what hi- calkrd work U-furc hiilf-pitHt ten 
or eleTen, and il waa only a twenty -minutes 'bus journey fruiti duot -, 
to door, thi-n' did not aecro any rMiHon (u* has htrcii iK'forc hinted) i 
wh.v ho should not haro always slept and breakfasted at home. 
But tlwru h«; would not have felt liko an Artial. Art is n vocation 
that innst bo prnwwuted in earnest. It doesn't do to play fast and 
LxMn with it. Tli<^ Arti^it hnn to livf witli his work, and throw hia 
whole soul into it. So Charles Heath had deeided when he adopted] 
the pruff-isioit; and hoing supported by hiH motlu.-r as to UiaJ 
necessity for four hundred feet super of studio and a top lijtht, 
had auec«eded in getting itubsidiM'd. For. the moment ahe found 
his father inclined to dispute it. on the ground that the artint had 
nut iMiintcd a single piotnn?. mu(-h le»a exliibitett one, she threw 
her whole weiiiht into her son's side of the soalo, and other mem- 
bers of tlw fiiniily followed her. Hit htubund gave way. but then 
he didn't pretend to understand this kind of thing, don't you 



ae 



ALICE-FOK-SHORT 



1 

: of hifl 




wcct And of couTW- hi* wife and bi« mn, and all tV rest 
faintly for that matler. naturally uiidtretood iiH alxiut it. Pi-nplo 
iioderatand llm Fine Artu when thry have a firm convictiou thai 
tbejr do. If this were not true what would become of Art-Criti- 
cism) However, it will nc^rr do to bo ted off into diEcuasiou of 
HO tuiotiy a point while the second houaenuid at vigjity-nino Ilj^do 
Park Gflrdcns is waiting (sm nhc is in this hiatoi?) to hare a fixed 
and stupefied filare of astonishment accounted for. She remained 
IK-tritiid until Mr. Charles, having dUmixsed his cabmon. turned 
to her and asked if Miss I'eggy was up. To wliitli nhe was nhle 
tcj gnnp that sh<! belieretl iliss Pegiry was up, but not down. 
Further, she just found voice to ask — should she riiii up und icU 
hcrf And Mr. Charles he had thi> face to say to her — «o shi 
reported afterwards — "Tell her what I" 

"Anil then.' wus thfll child hold of hi.i hand all the while! An, 
thins to conic nnigh Mr. Charles, 1 ne%'er. Cook I Nor yet you. 
lay. And ihen he eaya to her. 'You coine along, Minn Kavaiiagb, 
and don't you be frightened 1' " 

For Mr. Charles, aorely perplexed at the aituatiou, and longing: 
to RPt his poor little ^TDligh out of the Kha^tly basement, with its 
cloiH.'d room under piilice guurdiannhip. thtr cunlenl* of which be 
would have to explain lr> Alice, and which would cither be tho ec«ne 
of un itiqucHt. or give up ita tenant to one elsewhere— wbidi, be 
did not know — and sliw longing to set a« ooon as posaiblc to his 
iuvarinble confidante and eounsellor, his sister Peggy — Mr. Charles 
bad decided on giring Alice as few opportiinilic» of asking ques- 
tions as possible, and had simply told her when she wokod Out she 
was to get up and «nmc. AH(^e*s faith in bin bad been ao great 
tliat even Ms "Never mind father, now." when she put somo qnos- 
tiiin about father, had bci-n accepted as contaiuiug a sufficient 
assurance ; and as for ber molhcT, she wns being taken good care of, 
and ihdt was plenty, no doubt, for a Ultle girl to know. Little 
girls' positions had been too frequently defined for .Alici- to push 
enquiry- on any subject in the ease of a reluctant informant. So, 
when told to do m she got up and ojinie. Mr. Hejith waii on UintiT* 
bot>kH all llie while leHt she should demand explanations, and even 
speculated whether it would not be w<-ll to suggest that ^le ab^utd 
bring Putufy. aa beinir likely to divert conversation and help through 
the cab-ride. But then it cromted bin mind that removal of Pussy 
might suggest nut coming back and her inclusion in the parly 
might defeat its own object. So hn liad limited his precautions to 
asking tlie polieeinan on guard to keep out of the wn.v, nnd biii 
request was, to to q>eak, greedily complied with as savouring of 



1 



d 



ALICE-FOK-SnORT 



3? 



u.'bcm«8 and tecncj, and beitis profeetiionaL It may be aaid to 
have gjven Zed-one- ibouauul poAaive empbjrinciit^-Monirthiiis to 
lum his mind lo. 

Alinc Imviuij been onee told to "never mind fntlM-r, now," was 
tonlent to wait for tbo then wlwn t-hc would be at liberty to mind 
Mm ; and this all the more teudil>' because of the glorious uovclly 
of ridinfT up in a cab, on tbe scat, beside a centkoian who H>einc>d 
to have a niyalcrioua power of making nansoma gallop. It woa 
my funiij' this one ^ould go Co fact, for Mr. Ele-atii had only 
Btintioned to tbe driver that he wJslied to get lo H.vde Park 
QardeDa before midnight, and he hoped the horvc was freiOi. An^ 
the cabman bad wiiil llydti Park Oardcus vos a long n-a.r. and! 
the road was bad, but be wotitd try what he could do, to obliKr. So| 
Aliiv waa aKtonisbiM] wlu-n th(^' iitopi)cd iu about twelve minut 
ind waa told b.v Mr. Heath that there ihey were. But then 
didn't underwfand the ejnical tone of inversiou in which the con- 
versation had been conducted. 

Sbc had misgivings that ahe did understand tbe expression of 
Caroline the second houMmaid's face. She had wen it on other 
faces clsowhrr<-. and it Had led up to moni»<>-])abl'-K, xitcb lu bra^i 
or chit ; and nhi-n it appeared on her mother's liail preL-eded slaps,* 
■pattlu. or boxes on tbe ear. It could not lead to them hi-rv, because 
had she not a proleetur; who wotdd be as good as fatlier, quite, on 
that point f Rut she quailed a little before the second housi> 
maid, and held ou lighter than before to Mr. Charlea'a hand. 

"You oome olong. Miss Kavfintigh, and don't you be frightened." 
«aid he. And the; went into the house. Ob, il wot big! It wo* 
clearly ihe largest hotiao in the world. 

Mr. Charles wasn't the Uuut frightened Inmnclf. On tlin con- 
trary, AJico hod ihe iraprtcsion ihal so far from being afraid of 
the gentleman with a tray whom tbcy nii't on the way, that gentle- 
man was afraid of him : as he called him Sir whenever lie spoke, 
and she knew from Teacher at Sunday School that you ot^glit al-f 
way* to Bay Sir, Not to every one of course, but when tddreseing ' 
Olympua. Thia must he a com of Olympus. 

"Nobody down now of course. Phillimore," said Mr. Charles. 

"Weii, uo. Sirl At least not at present " And Pbillimorc 

reapectfnll.v, to aitologise for preaumplioii in seeming to 
ad the Family. His difi'nei^ Kc-med to bo that though nobody 
mt down now, at present, muty would l>e down now. very aoon. if 
you would oidy give them time. "I think that's Miss Uargarefs 
door." he continued, and his words received a meaning they would 
bIbc bare hiukod, from implication of sound noted t^at. 








38 ALICE-FOR-SHORT 

Tou tMldle in tfaere, Misa Eavanegb. Kobodr 1) bite you." 
And Alice toddled into a front parlour with a pane of glnse id d 
frtinie on tlu! rug before a beautiful 6re. auil a parrot walking about 
on the c«iling of bi» cskc, iip»idc down. Alice f«1t glad that 
nobodjr would bite> but for all that abe wouldn't have trusted 
parrot, 

"Minute aiij'body corner" said be. vith perfect di&tIn«tUMa. 
etopn talking." And tlifrn Iio nhric-knl worn- thitti ihir railway, and 
afturwardd said it eeaiu. Alice suQ>ected bini of not being in 
ciimcst. from something in his mannl^^. Tbini, she knew nothing 
of parrot*. 

A dress that came down the stoint. and tliut wotihl Iiarc rustled if 
it had been ailk, made u warm, soft sound instead, owing to its 
nialrrial. It stoppc^d, and wIioctbt was in it appeared to kiss Mr. 
Charles; 

"U'hat'ii the rowf" said he. This «ouldu't he because he was 
kissed, and it wasn't. 

"Why, just look at you 1" said a warm soft roii-e, like Uie dn-ss — 
only, for all that, it filled the whole place so that you could liear it 
quite plain when the parrot was quiet. He wasn't though, this 
time-, and Mid twice oTcr: ''The minute auyhod)' comca, ha slops 
talking," and shrieked each time. 8o Alioe didn't cateh the ntt 
of the speech, but ehe began loving Mr. Charles's sister (which of 
course it was) from tlie sound, beforw crer she set eyes on hor. 

"Vou Khut «p and I'll tell about it. Peg." said he. And then ho 
(iriipj)cd Ills voice down low, and went on talking ever w long. 
But when his sister'a exclamations came in, AHee could hear them 
quite pkin — "Oh. Charley how terriblel" — "Oh, you good boy!" — 
"But is tho mother killed ?— Tell me all the ends ^rst. that's a 
deor!" Then Mr. ChnrW »aid something she would hnvn iMiard 
only for the parrot. Then came more exclamations at iatcrrals. 
"In the Infinnary?"— "Wlmt was it— u hammttr r'— and then aftw 
a good d«il of very earnest underspcech from her brother— "Oh, 

Charley, how awful! And bv was mutually poi " And llien 

Mr. Charles said hush, "because of her" — and they were quiet a few 
seconds. And then the sister said suddenly. "Poor little thingi — 
Whflrc is she!" 

"In here," said Mr. Charles, ooroiug in. And ob how beautiful 
his MKter WAS, and how Alice did love hcrl 

"Why, you poor little white, deaolate baby," said she. atoaf>ing 

to biT and kiwting her cheelc, and thnn put her hair baek off her 

forehead, becauae it was so rough and untidy. And AUw waa 

'd it might bn a mistake, and when «ho saw quita plain she 



ALICE-FOR-SUORT 



iiilKht Sni out, and be eorr? she bad kissed her. But it vbs all 
Tight; nnd nciunlly. Nbc kinMxl bcr Mgain. "AftrnrnnU will do," 
Mid fihie, inexplicably. And the parrot said nfniu as before, 
"Minute nnybodjr oomn*. hn KtopM tnlking,'' but tbitt tiiuL- laughed 
"Ho. bo, bo— bo." and ended witb a %hriek. 

"Ti-u't he. a fiimiy Polly, Ali<4- !" siiid Mr. Churlw. But brfo 
fhe couM answer, Polly said with xreat force and distinc 
"Better i-oT«T Ittm up or <m- tthall girt no pctice." On wbicb bol! 
the brotber and M^er said in the i-anw breath that that wait Mamma 
»I1 ovTT. But ilr. Clinrlfti, keiug told pcThiips bir hnil U-llcr eover 
Um up, did BO. And Alice could hr-nr Polly taUcing (o himself id 
tn nndortone — a aolilMjuy which ttw-met) to oontuin pntbo^ humour, 
and expression, but no words. Ue was a ftmny parrot, there was na 
^nhl uf Ifant I 

"Well— what's to be done, PegT said Mr. Charles wbra Polly 
wan mmiImI. — Alice was getting very uneasy about she could not 
exactly say what, and was beginiiintc to fwl for »peecb with bor 
lipn, wIm-ji llw y»iiii4; lady, who of course kucw what was rixht, 
ttruck in with "Suppose we irere To have some nice brcaJcfaat 
first, and talk about it afti-m-nnls." This M-cmtHl lo li-nri; m> maof 
openings, to deny mt few autici pat ions, to be so replete with lati- 
tude* and golden bridgm of all itortN, that AliccV juclgnuTnl ap- 
plaaded the Terdict. which came naturally to an ill-fed infant 
StippoDc wo wcrct 

Practical (lolttica of tbe houaehold dictated that on IIm whole 
th" naffest couriw would be to t^ll in afwinlanw- from another Mphcre. 
"We'd belter get Partridge, and explain." said Miss Pegfcv Heath. 
And Pnrlridgi^ wan got, was expliiinrd to nut of AlicrV hrnring. 
and was first revealed to Alice as ber young mistress had been, aa 
a sort of Om-k choru* to n iiiirrativc she winhed ahe could hear 
herself. There was something in it unknown to her that came in 
at the vnd. and inlcnnfied — ''My goodticm mcr!" — "Wvll. now, I 
decUler— 'TPell. I neverl"— "Only think I"— into— "Lord, have 
mercy on ut!" — and "flracioua HcaTen!" — And thin HOmething 
unknown was always told in a dropped voice that she could not 
Imv« heard iu a colloquy outside the door even if Mr. Charles, 
who remained in tli« room with .\lice, had not snid, "Let's talk 
lo Polly." and taken Polly's covering off, Polly wa* a great 
effotist, nnd when he brgaehed himfclf as a topic, there was but 
little clmuce for anything ela«. He ahuwcd. howtTver, a kind of 
modesty in a new rnnark bfl made very frequently, "Such a 
noiae you can't bear yourself speak." said he, and then laughed 
cbwrfully. 



■10 



ALICE-FOK-SHORT 



■tnblvH 



Mn. Fartri^e was the bou9«kcep«r, and was a cotnfortnbl' 
body— (1 grrat coinaolation and resource in all kinds of difficul- 
tiea. Alice didn't !*o lier way to dwliniug to krcukfoM wit.li Iwr, 
perceiving in the orranKcnient a rccouniiion of the distinction be- 
tween bri-akfasts «ni! break fttstii. She (lidn't ft?^^l (iittli- siir<? how 
the could breakfast with OlympTi*, whether lOic would know how 
to ml about it. She tbuugbt (UfficuIUca miglit bo overcomi; if it 
vraa only Mrs, PartridRe. 

And thus it comcn nl>ont that at ihc end of thj* ehapti-r Alice i» 
enjoying tmheard-of luxuries iu the way of breakfast in the hou!4e> 
kcopor'a room at fifl llydo Park Gardcnit, hut \* wondpriiig all the 
while what alie 'u ^in^ to know about after. And she does not 
know il is Dejith, which hr^ cxpiiriracc, ao far. has never intro- 
duced her to Id the case of Rrown-up people. Her eistcr that wn-i 
buried bad diod, ccrt.ninly; but then nbe wua a child, ami didn't 
know liow to take care of herself, like father and mother. AlaOt 
it was u very long time ii£Ol 



CHAPTER V 



or TS£ PiasT-PLOofi a fimilt, amd of how Hia mother should hatb 

BUX TOLD 

The sudden sprinsinft of Alice in prrson on members of tho 
fnmilj'' lest to ho relied on ifacii his atster would have been an 
embarrasemeiit to Charlc« Ilcatli. So her pKivinionul <li»uppear- 
taee into the boudcikeeper's room wss welcome. Altogether Uiiii^ 
bad eon« u'ell with bim, to far. But h<' begun Ut aa: into ilie 
'liffi(-iilt»-H of ihe position. However, so loiiK a» Vcggy biicked him 
up — thai «BH iho chief point. If ii doubt had croeac-d bis nutid in 
the cab about tbiii, bin aiaier's attitude about tbo child had dia- 
npat«d it 

"Oh, dmr, Chnrleyl" said &he, aa they began waitinjc for ibo 
re&t of tbe family lo oumct to bri'nWfiist, ''what a [icrfwitly awfu! 
bunnov! We're never had a Murder before. And do you know, 
now I come to think of il, I don't know anybody that han." 

"Wc mustn't let it make us vain. But, Peggy dear, what'a to 
be done with the poor ki<i !" 

"SheV thr »ame ynu told us about (hat broke the beer-jujt. and 
had tbe awful inoiherf" — Th<' iiucdlion aetrmed to imply that lliere 
mtiibt be otbeT luixoliJimB iifoot on ilr, (Jbarlea's part, elsewhere, 

"Goody Peppermint. Thai'e what we called ber. Jefl und I " 

"Oh yes— ilr. Jerrythought." Pce£F seemed inclined to laugh 
at her brolber's friend. 

" and as for the father (poor begpsr) ho wasn't vciy muob 

better." This was nearly aaid without tbe parentheaiB; but tbo 
recollection of th* dead body in the (iriniy basement room, with, 
on the* bi-ii(-h u«rar it. tin- latit iintinisheil job of the tailor il bud 
been— the poiHin-hoille and the whole horror — shot acroM tbe 
»peaker'ii mind, iitid procunil u ptiAaiiig acknowledgment. 

"What can one expect with a woman like that i At least, that's 
what peoplo always aay." Peggy made tlie meckeal of proK^ts 
onainst vernacular currencies of apecch. "Did you tind out any 
more almut thwn after the beer-jug business t" 

"Very little. I bad a talk with tbe man one day. As for the 
woman, I let her do Ibe Studio out because there was no ou« eUii — 

41 



J 



49 



AUCE-FOR-SUORT 



i 



but she was awful! Quite unsteady. And the Entell of spirit 
eoough to mnki^ one sick! Rhc told me n great nuiny times 
ehe had had thirteen children " 

"Ob." wiid Pegg>-. "Thirteen!" 

" — -and that she niid bcr husband had been unfortunate, an 
oDRic down in life. I thougbt alie waa b'>iiie> ftud <hat neither all 
nor he could ever have been respectable tradespeople. But I aup- 
po!M! lame of it wan true bcenitsc the nuin told tlie snine storv." J 

"What did Afl Bar?" 1 

"Sai'i ihi-y hud huti n very good shop — a good long while back — 
in Camden Town, and that her father had beeu very well oS — a 
lioi'iiaed victualler, which I supposr is ii public-house kt-epei^ 

"1 suppose so. Perhaps that would account for it." 

"For what r 

"For the woman being such an awful drunken wretch as yoif 
describe. Because it seems so odd that any woman who had been 
the least respi^tablc, or able to read and write, should slip down 
to llio level of a St. Giles's druukard. However, I nuppiiite drink 
is enough to account for anything." Mr. Oharlea seemed to aceeptJfll 
this witJi reseiration. ^S 

"There was a good deal wanted accounting for in this case," he 
said after a pause "Because her language didn't suggest a n>- 
speolsble tradesman's wife, drunk or sober. However, they told 
me the same talo at the big Clothier's shop where they kni-w him — 
be told mo and I asked. Their Mr. Abraham would have done 
unythiitg to help the man, and in faet liad got places for his sons — 
only it wasn't any u»e — really they were best off, when tliey were 
out of c«»h. and couldn't spond it on drink. Here's the Oovemor, 
coming at last I I can bear him humming on the landing." 

Mr, Cbfirltr* wus reclining in an Austrian bent-wood chair on 
one fide of the fire, with his sister's arms fitted round his nock from 
behiud as she It^aiied on the chnir-baek. "The little thing scenu 
rather a poppet," said she. "Only to silent!" 

"you'd be uleut. Peg, if the Governor hud Bmaahed your 
mother's bead and piioncd himself, overnight." 

"1 don't know! It might make, me loquacious. But you'ro a 
di-ar lioy- — only always doing mad things. Tbeni'n the rarthquak*." 

The earthquake was the Governor ooming downstairs. His six- 
teen stone, or thereaboutjt, didn't prvveiit an almost brisk descent; 
ttod, though slippers only were involved, it shook the house, and 
seemed to lead up naturally to acres of broadcloth, pounds of fcold 
vrnlch-tackle, old-fashioned seals thereon that seemed tA murmur 
responsibility, and a powerful nosL-bndge made for a powerful 




ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



43 



jtoIiJ-rimrDet] iloaMe cyegluiui tbal catlt-i) uloud for a sulMtaatial 
liAir-cluiin «» » birthriKhl, aii<l would have foomcd nnj-thioir thxty. 
Il made you think, as you looknl at it, of itii uwiwt'h belauoe at tha 
Bank— with it]> oslra bit on tbc li>ft. the 8aiuo iii both I This 
weupoti, a formidablo u»<! fur uM> on fioanlii of Din^tors and 
Conusittcce. was in its scabbard as tho earthquake oiitered tba , 
nam and caught up the l&tt word of the vunveraaliou with 
GXprcse view of taking no notice of it. He alwaye did this, VctatT^ 
taid. and itrefixwt it with tht? word Hvy! — from thn-v to fivi- timc«, 
Tbi* time it war tho latter. 

"Hey — liey! Ht-y — liey — hoyf!— Atwnya doing mad thingat-^ 
Ilejl — Who's been doinjr mad thinits? Whfil'H this under herel 

Kidn«T«, hm! hm! And poadu-d ifig^. Anil Dou'i care fo 

iny of 'emi Pbillimore !'' (this was tbc respectable mau Alice 8M 
in the (MBsaicv), "gvt an: a mvouo- onurlfrtlo, and tell cciuk to look' 
■htrp. I can't wait. Got to be in Lotbbury by fire minutes to 
cteren." And Hr. Ileatli Svniiir biiring gouc through nn <i>itmdo 
lif salutation from his sou and daughter (not without dctwrtion 
of ■ flaw bj the latter. "Sbaving-sosp, as usual. Pappy dear^), be- 
gan faia breakfast on a targt? Htack of letters that awaited him. HoxX 
of tfaesp he pU)ibcd unread into pockets that liad a mynteriuus 
tbsurboiit power, some Iwr nicrrly flung towards tho fiirplace, and 
took na further interest in. I'billimore picked ibvm up and plaued 
Ihum recpectfully on the Kiil^buard. ilis» Elli-n winhcd nil circu- 
lars kept, was his explanation. But after elimination of super- 
fluities, there still remainu] letters raough to laot through brrak- 
fast, and Hr. Heath's thumb paused iu the envelope of tlie first 
of tfacae, as aoon aa it felt <-onfidcnl of its rip, in order that its 
owner mW>t make a remark. 

"Shouldn't kiss upside down. Peg! It'a unlucky. Hey. what! — 
Pour me out my coffee, my child — not too much milk— j'ca. larm 
himpa. Wb'-n-'ai ell ilut rc*t <if them?" But ho rippcil up hi* 
letter, and didn't wail for an ancwer to the <iuestion. The first part 
at hia «pccch will be rx]>lainol to a ahrrwd n-nd<'r by n refcri-ncc to 
particnlarv in the narrative at the moment Mr. Charles heard hia 
father on the lauding, 'ii'ms Peggy didn't know it was uolucky; 
so she said. 

"Tley to bp airn;! Of eourac it'* unlucky, Evcryhody kDow«| 
that. — Well. Charley boy. how's the Fine Arts!" And then with- 
out waiting for an answer, "flow'n the Bnynl Acndomy !— how's the 
moiiit water-colours in lub«1 — how'a the lay-figures! — liow's the 
easels? — how's the landscapes with Cattle) — hovr's the Portraits 
of Uer Uajealy walkin' on the sJopes)" But thew QBi^ftu'wft ^«va 



44 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



not lUMtionit in the ontinarr Aonsu, bcins only intmiled to «Unv 
the (UBparafrini; attitude of a superficial observer who accpptrd hit 
own oxnltiaioii from Ui« Comniunton of Puints willingly, on 
Bu»n.> of mor« important cnjiaffvmpQts in otb^ frocmasntirioi 
Tlipy appi-ariMl to lay strma on un impliv»tio[i thut iiliullow infor 
niiiliui) naa its owner's clioioe; prct-omniecieucc faavitiK decided that 
cnlighlcnnifnt woiili) not h<^ wortli hiring. 

"Weill" said Charles. "The Landacapra with Cattle havcQ't soti 
on much tliis last <ln.v or twu, and tlie Portrait of Her Majcsty'fl:[ 
btbindhand," But if he meant by this to auggeet further enquiry 
to his fathfir, and to proroko his interest in thi> Recent orviita, liu 
was iDiHtakeR. For the lalier only said three times: "Her — 
Majcstyl Her— Majfuty! Ilct^-¥«JMty !" And then mldwl 
refleetirely; "Ah — well! We're all very fine people. Aren't we, 
Pussy-Cat t" So Charluit got no chuuoc that tinio of diitburtk-ning 
liinisplf of his secret. 

Then followed au irruption of the remaiuder of the family, every 
onn (if whom inKolcnil; included hiit prrdfcejMoni in a reroaik 
which each made on coming In — "I soy, how awfully late we orof 
The oub' exoeptiou was Mi^ Kllen. the youngest, who said instonil, 
"An" tlie ndvrrti semen ts kni>tl Am you quito mire theac ore all. 
Phillimoiet Vee — Mamma's coming down. I'll have tea and put 
fho susar in myself." — If ynu think a minute you will probably 
recollect haviint liPiinl equully frugraenlury conversation from 
younn Indies even more than thirteen years old. 

A ofriiitn enthusiasm about breakfoiit, and on indiipoaition of 
the breakers to be in too Rreat a hurry to decide what form it was 
to take, combinitl with reviews on tho part of eseli of all the 
courses open to them, made the introduction of Charles and 
Peggy's* denouemfiit dtfficull, Beudes. the youngt-r membew of 
the family and the Governess, Mis* IVthcrinRton, had been at the 
play last night, and a fierce di^ussion ensued almui the heroiiie. 
However, there was Mamma enmins down. An opening was sure 
to occur now for the natural iwlroijuction of Alice, 

Woto you evipr in a situation in which, while you wished par- 
ticularly to apeak of something that inlereated you grcMtly, you 
were made to feel the full force of other people'* preoccupation f 
Charles Heath almost wished he had come aeldomer to faraakfaHt 
with hiii family. If he hail )>ern a rarer occurrenco some ono would 
bare been sure Co say, "What brlnfcs you here this time?" It had 
been ao «'Ji»y to give th« wholi- story to Peggy on the stairs, and 
to aecure her Immediate sympathy, but how on earth to oet about 
) Wlint could be done, with his father well behind tli6 




ALICE-FOR-SUORT 



45 



Tiinta newapaper. hurtcii in the Money Column, unci only making i 
iDrK^rwionif to slight riTriiili>s"inciiy| at bn-idkfHiit. *ucfa lU. "Only 
half a «up, miu^! Aitd not too much sutrar"; and all this while 
the fa«t and fiiriotis dincuiuiion oi Caniiibulism, on whicli tlio 
int«t«9it of ihe Prohleio Play of the evening before had turned. 

IfowcTpr, tho initjftitic ruHtli^ of an approuvbitig J^Iamma rli- 
rnaxed, and Chart** felt, as he kissed her. and rfie said, "Why, 
Cbarlmf Whm did yoti oomer' that flopc wajt on thi; horixon. 

"But I do not see" — this with denunciatory emphu^iit {roni Ellen 
tfa« youngcid— "I do not kt, and I never shall src, why a Cannit 
aboiiM not aumy hU l}i>u(.-aM^ Wife's SxaUt proviilail hi! hn 
eat«H his lir^t vntv." For no 1cm difficult and intricate a questioii 
than IliLi bad artM-n from the discuiuiou of tliL- pruvtoiui liruiiiift's 
•alert ainnwnt. 

"Hj- di«r Ellen," aaya her mother, in tonea of digniScd reproach, 
"vAat is all this noiml" 

"TPell, Mamma. it"« all teiy wi-11. but " 

But her moih«r threw so decided a tone of moral influence into 
W next "Uy doart" that Ellen stibsidcd. She left an iuipreasioa 
on her brotlier'e mtnd that ttlu; reoardvd somehow tluit them was ■ 
low ii she H> much as epoko. It may have been said mtto-viKe. 
A lall «n«icd, untl Cliarlo Ix'^un to nee hi* way to possibilities. 

"There's been a very b«d job down at the Studio^-^" he bc^n. 
But lie sot no ftirtlivr. 

"One nwment. my dear." said his mother. "I'll hear you di- 
rectly. I am obligi'd to Kpr«k to Phillinwirr." 

But before Phtllimore cuuld be aaaiiaited. Me. Ileatfa Senior sud- 
denly drcidnl that ho had now Mym t)ic Timtf lliin mi>niing. ntid 
wxd see ibem no more. So be folded his newspaper with a niiichty 
mstlins on to iho top of a cold (ongui;, and looked reitolua-ly at 
hid walcb. But even aa he kept his eye firmly ilxed on it, aa 
though he sunpectfid it <if meaning to go wrong at that parliciilar 
monwnt, be ejiuwed tliat he had been keeping his eye also on the 
oouvetsation, with a view to ignoring it in diitail latt;r on. 

"Hey!" said he. "\Yhafg it-allabout* Why-y-y-y shouldn't a 
Cannibal marry hi* DwxmsKsd Wife'* SiniiTJ" 

"Provided be liasu't eaten bis first wife," outa in Ellen.— "TJow 
do say I'm riKht. I'apnl" 

"ftliy-y-y shouldn't a Cannibal marry his Decensed Wife's Sis- 
ter I Provided Iw hasn't eatfn hi" first wifa. llej-) That'n it, i* 
itt Wby-y aliouldn't ..." And &o on da rapo. with an air of 
judicial weight, .^nd Ellen made hnlpI)-«< uppcal to the Publie. 
"Oh dear! I^n't Papu ajtgrarating !" Wbidi be oeTl&\\i!^ ■«%%. 







« ALICE-FOB-SnORT 

And none thtr ln>9 so becaiiE« he contintiH to )Kicp hi* o^e 
hix ivatch. as the tton-lamer on a poesibljr rebelltoua lion. It 
grild Iiuntiii^-wntrli n-ilh a H(), nml ax «oon «,» H* ownnr conn' 
^rcyl it voiil<I fco aloiiK safi^Iy, bo lihut tliis <)omi u'illi a anap. 
miiHt he off." Hiiid lie, with tJii; lri;ti<rhnnt (WiHion of one wbo hn« 
made up bU mind. But be waa intercepted and outflanked at 
door. 

"1 only want jurt one word with you before you ko. my dear, 
unid-his wifi-, mi-ckly. Mrs. llcjilh'w dcadlin't wwiponK worp ntrc'-k' 
jit'SB and pnlicnce. She wielded them with diabolical dexterity; 
and Khnwcd. in ndriiDCP and nrtn'sit, tbi; nctirity of » Ooxsnok. 
Her husband tnude a weak protest on this oocasioo: but the fact 
that Mrs. llcfilh should hnvi- spiikcn iHrfore aenncd a men' mnrul 
lua.iim wlifu eonfroiited wiih the praelieal truth that she eould 
not niaJ:c herself hoard, backed by a certain Bsitiiinpticin of fniliiro 
of voice after stentorian efTorts. **l cannot get Quiel," said tiie 

([ood lady. "And I KPt no heljj '' Mr. TTcnth kntiw perfectly 

wcl! when his wife's iiuinner portended heart-failure;" so he sur- 
rendered at discretion. Especially (is an nitcmpi on his pnrt to 
t'el till! comraunitation mndi- iiudi-r pn-saure, by hinliii«; that fibe 
must look alive, aa the City was yawning for him, ended in hor^ 
tjikins n chair to draw brt-iith on. ^| 

"Very well now, that's enough 1" was Mr. Heath Senior's final con- 
clnsion aa he i^icapiNl aftiT Iho just one word tisd spun out to M.—^. 
hundred, or even a thousand. Charles Heath and his sieter es>fli 
chanjznd lookti, to the. offtict that communications to tliat quarter niuiiC^'' 
stand over. However, the more important parent, tbe really influ- 
entiiil executive, rcmninrd. .She rpH-nlcrrd the breakfast scene with 
the comuieul. "I ulwayH know it's that, when your father's atten- 
tion goe* wandering and I enn't get him 1" listen for oiio momcnl." 

"Alwaya know it's what. Mammy dear!" asked iier son. And 
the replied, briefly, "Liver." Cbarica thoufdtt be had got his 
opportunity. 

"I've boon wanting to tell you about this awful business I*: 
night at the Studio^^" 

".\nothcr time, my dear Chnrlos. 6ecau»e that can wait. 
mu*t write now to Lady Wycherly Watkins to say your fatlier can't" 
oak* it the twenty-fourth. And it's the second time we've put 
them o9. And you can see what difficidtiea T have with your 
filtber." A mnraiur that followed gave Charles the inipreswion that 
his mother had said, "Four grains nf Blue Pill," in apposition to 
nothing whateviT. Re etiggesited that I'cgKy could write to Lady 
w-»hcTly Watkins, and Peggy said, "Of coune 1 eau. It's only 



I 




ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



<7 



\o say you can't go on the twenty-fourth—/ knoir " Bi 

mother dropped her banda ou h<-r lay with patient dnipair. 
deftrl" she said, in n voiw that Imrmonisptl with the acition. "oh, if 
jOQ vrould oa]y b* quiet one iiiunu.-nl and let aic uriuagd. — Il'a 
alwajra harry, hurry, hurry I'" Aflrr nug^stitms of amonded styl 
P«SST ndjourncd to write tli« letter, followed hy her m»thL'r*a 
meekly triumphant "You eco 1 can ixvfcctly well arraoAv, if ynu'll 
only Irt HM-." Then Cliarle*. Wiup also encouratti^ '>y " lull lo 
breakfast, nhich thoiifcli rcinfor»?d by very Late stragglers was now 
drawing ti> u e!<i!M>, thought hi' would try again: 

"1 really should like. Mother dear, to tell you about this dreadful 
affair nt i)k! SiikUo. Tou know thooe two piK)]ilt! who wtTm caro-i 
tokiofr at ihe bottom of the house— who had the little girl that* 
hrokf the jiig !" 

"Vea — my dear Charles, Go on— I'm listening, I can do thUj. 

too, whilo I listen. Littlu girl that broke the jug ^ And Urcl 

Heath marks off items in a lif^t. and now nnil then murmurs to 
bcrtclf, "Y«— that's right." "No— tlial oufrht to bo s six." "I 
must. aiJc Partridjte about the pillow-eases'' — and bo on. 

"They seem to bavi- luid a drunken qiinrri'l. mid tho man Atruek 
hia wif« ou tuT bead with a bic bflimner that had beeu used to 
break tltc coal with — 



' But t'harfeE's method was not dcxteroufl, , 
n<! ahould hare said, "I want to tell you about the murder ond 
suicide last night," and then he might have procured a heuriug.' 
As it wax, his mother creased the current of his story with a demand 
for Phillimore, whose '*Yes, Madam," in resjwiise, was nwt with. 
"No, it'll nothing! I euii do," followed by. "Yes. my dear. I heard 
you: — Big hammer that waa used to break (he eoal with. — Wtiat is 
it. Partridge t" For Partriiigo was tagiiieeriiig Dp[iroiiohi-s in a 
titntatiTe way. 

"All ri«ht. Mother!" said Charles, hauling down his flag. "Itll 
do another lime just as well!" And hia mother replied with resijr- 
nation, "Well — pcrhap* it vould be Uaier, my dear. Preaently., 
Tea. Partridge f'~ And Charles departed to capture his sist«r, th 
they might go together to have a look at Alice, whom lhi» hintory ' 
auppodes at this moment to liarc been coiiliniially eating breakfast 
in Mrs. Partridge's room. 

Porlridge. the gag being removed, says she "wished to speak 
about the little girl." And then rejieats, "The little girl, ila'am." 
"What little girl. Partridgi-*" aaked her mistress. 

"Mr, CliarWs little girl. Ma'am." — This is in an of-counw-you- 
know kind of voice— and Partridge went on — "I thought. Ma'am. I 
o'jght to mention to you iJiat the child seems fftt itom '«dA, »n.\\ 



4S 



ALICE-FOR-SHORr 




bos e*.Urn almfl.tt nothing. Not tbnt I suppOM it to be nn^ihii 

iiifoclioHS — but even measles " Partridge interrupted herself ' 

•ny, "HowpviT, I have not nllowcil any one else in thr rrtom. 
thoueht you would wi«b it.'* And Oien hesitates, in growing iluubt, 
nt nn rxpn-jtiion in Mrs. IIi'uth*it fare, which increosca as its pro* 
prielcir mIs more and more umjeBttcall.v upriKht. 

"Pmy rxplHtn, Partridge! Mr. — Charles's — little — girl " 

The last four words come in instalments, with an accent on the 
firrt KyltablcJt of the first three, 

"I heg your pardon. Ma'ant, I thought you knew." And then 
Mr«. I'artridttv. beinR a shrewd woman, perceives that th« first 
caaential of her own puHition is llint thf little girl Hball be talked 
about between her mistr«is and herself, with a view to a »oiind foot- 
ing of coufidpniH? ill which t^ven a l(rtn|n>rary ostracism of Mr. 
Charles or Miss TIeath might be warrantable, for purposes of irta- 
hility. So shi- fortliwith gives all parlieulars of the eu^e as known 
to herself; and they arc listened to with an expression of mut« 
sdf-<K>mniand. rigbteonaly dumbfounded, but reserving sevtre 
comment for judicial maturity. WTicn Partridge bos waded 
through her prose ri>i(^ — which kIic prolong" as much as possible 
from the feeling (^ared by almost all of us, perhaps) that any 
circumstantial narnitive of cvcntK apolugim.'^ for the share we 
have bad in th«n — alio is still conscious of not having qui;* suc- 
ceeded in rraehing a sound footing, and adds after a moment's 
silence — "I slioiild have eomc at onoe to yoa, Ma'am, only 1 sup- 
po«ed — -" and ftops. 

"I flin no( stirpristsl that you should not have told me. Part- 
ridge. But I am surprised that I was not told — I ought to hare 
beeu told." 

And Mrs. Heath entrenches herself in a dignified rescnrc, whiefa 

elicits a hesitatinj; '"I'm sure, Ua'am '' from Partridge; who, 

however, tiot having quite made up her mind what she was sure of, 
was not very sorry to have her speech amputated. 

"1 am not alinching nny lilnmc to you. Partridge, in any scnoe — 
but I feel that I ought to have been told." 

Wheieiipon Partridg)- coughs expressively and sympathetically 
behind her hand. She endeavours to make this cough say, "1 feel 
that your Mm and dau^tcr do not recognise to tlie full your posi- 
tion in the house, nor the weight of cares and responoibilitit* that 
beaet you, nor the udmini strati vc skill of your domestic economy; 
but I perceive tliat tlioy are Kuilelei^s, owing to the purity of tlicir 
cxlrairliim; and while willingly admitting that you ought to have 
old, venture to hope that a nio<fu« vivendi may be discover- 




M 



ALICE-FOE-SHOET 



49 



able, and above all that I maj be recognised as blamelesa, and 
remain always your obedient humble serrant." Perhaps she 
hardly succeeds in making the cough say all that, but ahe feels it 
ires a good and useful cough, as far as it went. 

And her mistress gathers up some debris connected with respon- 
sibilities, and goes majestically upstairs. 




CHAPTER VI 



or now ALICE COnLD NOT 00 MAfK TO TATHEB. hSD WIIT. Of HOW THl 
DOCTOK CA«K TO ALICE, ASD AUCE DHJN't liO TO AX ISqUEST. A.NO 
OF HOW IT CAilB 10 PASS THAT AUCB WAS KOT TO CO HACK TO 
UOTUEB 

"Wkh., Charley," kiihI his eisler when he arriTed in the b«A 
dr«wing-n)(«D lo look for hrr. "I hope you've got Msmnia toWT — 
But Chsrley shook bi» head ruffiilly. And Pi-ggy continued: 
"Then, as wxin us 1 have linisljed Lady Wycherly Watkins, wo 
hnd K'll*r go down ami aee after Miss Alice — she'll be getting 
alamipd, nnil iJaiiik we've dcwrted her." 

Ladv Wjohfrl,v Watkins's k-tter will go Sy post of iis own accord, 
BS propitinlory offrriniw to brownies vanish in the nisht wh<-n no 
r>nc is lookii^g. So it u left to itself, and Charlee follows F^ggj 
downs la Ik. 

When the brother and "istcr arrived in Mrs, Partridge's room, U»^ 
foiind Altw elofle to the door bs they enK-n-d. prohuhly because Mrs. 
I'«rlridRv had gone out at it, rather than with any idea of going 
ojit beraelf. She wan very iinw-tllwl and (?outd not be oomfortable 
anywher*. so the exit of her last protwtor si^ptnpd «s (rood as ihe 
)H>arth-rug, in spite of thif wamilh of the fire. When slic sow who 
it wa?, she made for Charles's hand lirst, and llieii (or Pf^gy's. 
But slif didn't find her timjnie, 

"What a funny little old-fatJiioncrl thing rfie is, Charley," Mid 
hiti »istiT. "She ni'TiT Kpetik^ but she looks intelligent. Kiss me. 
Alice dear; that's right. She's a soft little puss, but sbo might 
he thicker." 

"You can talk fast enoiijErh, Alice-for-short, i-nn't youl" sufigoated 
Chnrlfn. flc wn« conHcioiis that ho shonid like hi« protcffiif to 
iustify him. The only ajiolo^es be could find for hiiDBelf all 
turned on the fact (or the assumption) that no other cnune whs 
open to him. So vivacity on Alice's part would not have been 
unwelcome. 

"What's that the little chick soya? Say it afaio. Alice-for* 
short r' — And both brother and sister ^looped down to bear. 
Pf'ggj's arm had gone hack round Charles's neck after being uaed to 
kles Alicc—"Say it ogaiiii dear," sntd sha. 

SO 




ALICE-rORSUOKT 



n 



"Mustn't I go h*t*L to fatborl" 

CbarlCT was WdinniiiR to embark on Home niruc course of > 
»ioii, with — "Sot juitt yet, Alice iJeiir'' — wlu-ii his sisti-r, inM-ing wit 
elL>u«r visiou the nian.v rocks abcad, stopped him. — "You'l! only] 
mako mattcni wowc, Churlry tlMrling." nhc xaid. And ihim added,] 
"I can do it best alone if you (to. Bui he'll come back a^ain,'] 
Alice dear. Don't l* f rightcnpfl 1" — For Aliw hud shuddered 
li^htur on to the baud she held. She wasn't — couUn't bi — frijtbt- 
pn«l of being left nion*' with thr btuiutifnl sister with the soft, 
goldcu bair and alt ber wuruith aud lifrht; but then tlu- gi^ntlc 
man in speetneleo wn" her originnl protector, and her connecting 
link with father. But if he was coming back, that was all right, 
sail of course the Udy knew. — "You'll come and sit on ray knee by 
Ihe fire till he cornea back, won't you. Aliect What's tliat. denrf 
And then ibo locty stooped down a^ain to ii^et at Alice's remark. — 
Tou'ru loo higt No, d«rl You're not a bit too big. Cut nl 
Charlej'. Conio back aa aoou as you think." — ^Which appear 
to be intellisible, as Charley neeepted it and cut alonir. 

Alice wasn't lou big bj- any mentia— in fact when her mother 
had once called her a ^eat hulking nir) of six, she waa onlj cor- 
leet abinit iIm- numeral. Tlie Inily didn't Mf-m to find any difti* 
rulty about lakinj; her ou her knee — in fact her action seemed to 
Alice to sufiscst her kinship with the strong arm that liad picked 
her up oS the cold alonea— only last uitcht. and it did seem eucb a 
long timel When she had Alice on her kneti she felt ber forehead 
and her hands, and tlien said: "My child — I'm afraid you're fever- 
tab." — As Alice didn't know what this meant, aho didn't fee) 
rcApDnaibtc. 

"When must I ro bock to father?" said she. 

"Ton can'l go bock to father. Alice dear," said the lady, with a 
chanfte of manner. Alice knew it was something new and stran^e^l 
bitt (he worda did not carry their nieauiiig. The only plaiuibl«n 
explanations were that the road was stopped, or that the way would 
bv iJio difficult lo find by facraelf un<l no one could come witli ber. 
Her litUe hot hands pulled uneasily at the hand they held, and sh« 
tried to proMVutu enquiry, wondering all the while wliy the lady'* 
eye* were fixed on her so pityingly, and surely — yes 1 she waa ante of 
it — ihf hilly was (frying. 

"Alustn'i the gentleman with spectacles take me back to father )" 

"Mustn't tbii geittleinau tute you Lack!" said Poggy, imitating^ 
her childi^ accent.— "No — dear child! The gentleman can't tak4^ 
yoB hack. Listen, dear Alice, and I'll t«ll you. If the gcntlenia 
took you back, you wouldn't find father," 



52 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 






*^ave ibtj took fatbi^ away to the station I" 

*Ti(o — dear — no I Father's not none to the stytion," — erhotne 
•eoont ngnin. And n Tiirictjr of dilBoiiltim pn^nciitcd tlienisel' 
to Peggy. (loing to Heaven was obviouBl.v the standard rewuros. 
But it was iierhajis prcsiimpttiDtiK to vouch for it. Tlicu, a WAak- 
kne«(l testimony would iiitrodin-'e dieouswon of another place that 
he might hove gone to. Without Purgotory to mnkv matter* eaay, 
it trould be much aafer to aliut the door on the lion of ilell-fire than 
to \ft liim in to fee if we could t\im him out tigain. It was no 
u§e; PcKKy ^a™ that lu the end ahe would have either to give her 
pcnonnl vonchcr for Mr. Knvnnngh'n Knlvation, or to fall buck 
on plain death, with extinction. She eontd not look a live child in 
the iafi- and afiinti the latter, which even a person who knows 
absolutely nolhiriK about the matter besilatee lo sirear to. 

Tlier<' wax nothing for it but a frontal nttacJc. Shi- had time to 
organise her forces — for Alice eat gazing at her, still pulling rest- 
It'.isly at her hand. She woa trying hard to think where it was 
they said mother was to be took to. And slie was getting t-ery 
near the Infirmary by mnvmlMTring how like she had thought it 
to a woni sh(? had heard Mr. J trry thought use on the beer-Jug occa- 
aion. It was, he said, infernally cold. If Alice could have thought 
of ihia word sh*^ woii]<l have aaketl if father Intd gone to the 
Infirmary as well as mother. But the lady took her attention off. 

"Dear Alice, I am going to tell you when- fKlher has gone aa 
well as 1 can. Try and think what I mean, i-'alher has gone to 
Heaven." — Alice only looked at her with large puulcd blue eyes, 
nnd kept pulling uneasily at her hand. She was thinking 
to bvritelf, Alien was, what u Htmng1^ thing fathrr should be able 
to go to Jieavcn before he was dead. Teacher at Sunday School 
had distinctly told her Ihat wan impossible. And even if you were 
dead, you didn't go there in any hurry. Father wasn't ik-ad, of 
courael The lady would have told her, or Mr. Iteatii with tho 
spectacles, 

Alice, you »e«, waa perfectly familiar with the fact of Death, 
only she did not grasp its application to particular cnaoa. She 
knew that an elder sister of hem had died and had a funeral; but 
she regarded her parents as entrenched in raaturily. and certainly 
safe for extreme old age. Owing to her early experience, her mind 
coukl accommodate a huge infant wortalily, but would bav<! d<.- 
ntanded atrung proof of the death of a real iirown-up person. Coo- 
Beqncntiy, it never occurred to lu-r that if such an improbablo 
event as her fatbiVB drnth were (o take place, there would be 
litatioD about teUIog her. She could not presume to Mt up 



1 



ALICE-FOK-SUORT o3 

Teacher** testimony a^ainat thie I)eflutifu] U^s autWitr, but she 
Mtild rftiee collateral iysucs, nnd prrhapM got a Hidolight on b«r 

"Hurt mother bo thoie toot" ithc «»kpd. Am) Peggy, having 
cMnmitted Herw-lf Id the salvaliuii of one perfect straiigi-r, not 
farourably known by report, thoiiicht nh<? might iixlutgi? in anothw. 
Aftrr all. it win. no falsur to (ay fifty plwpl(^ luiiln'l goni' to Udl 
than to Esy it of one. No number of empty purses n-iil make vp 
* won-rfign. 

"Not yet, Alice dear. Mother isn't dead. We hope to hear that 
na<tfaer in g<!tling quitr wi'U ut thu Infirmary." — Did wc* Wt-li! — 
we vere not enthusiastic-, but we would hope a litlle, grudgingly. 

"ThcD father i* Acad" Maid Alic<?, with n miiidity of nyllogism 
that took Pegie^ aback. As she folded the child iu her arms, and 
kif»od iK^r, Mbr f«lt how the litili? thing trembled and shook. — 
"Yes " ehe said. "Poor little Alice 1 Father ia dead,"— But she 
could not iK« her way to vcrbnl unlace. 8h<'. Miid to her brother 
after: "At any rate 1 didn't talk oonsolalorj- to her. I equeeicd 
the poor baby up close and let her cry quietly." — 

A hunuin poitlticv ia the he^ curw for a bn>ken heart. Alice 
clang tightly to hers, and felt that it was good. But poor father I 

As Peggy sat counting Alice's sobs, which cAme at regular inter- 
rals, ami wotidiTring whpii t'horlcy would rc-jippc-nr, she noticed 
ihat breakfast-samples, at choice, aeemed 1o haTo been eubmitted 
to .Alici,-, and not appreciated. She reflected that six years old, 
however much it may be harassed. greiMrrally bun nn appetite, and 
fch al«o tliat her Upfiil was very hot and had a high pulse. She 
waa not sorry when she heard from afar a Miiiid like Oonvw-ation 
coming downKtBiR<. nnd waa conscious that it was accompanied by 
an ArchbitJiop, in the person of her mother. Thin might lie trouble* 
some, but after ull tbc! ]i(K>it.ion reiiiiircd clearing up. 

*Ti'e«. my dear Charles." thus Uie voice of the Archbishtip. "I 
mtirely understand sll that. But what 1 say i«. and I say it again, 
— is. that I ought to have been told. Had I been told, I coiJd have 
arranged. A* it is, I am sorry. But you must yourself see, it has 
luien impoMitf* for me to arrange. If you doubt whut / say, auk 
Partridge. Partridge knows what n boune like this is, and the 
difficiilty of arranging " 

i'eggf rannnt hear Partridge's tolto^voce, but appreciates its 
value aa a reinforewiieut to her Principal. She guessra that it 
turns on the incompetence of youth, especially when male, to form 
any opinion whalevef about the burduna and ieHpOQBl.\>l^iX\iA ''^)».^. 



J 



64 



ALICE-FOR-SnOET 






fnll to the lot of Archbifihopd; and that it filanc« slii|i4)tl,T at 
rfiutiiiiMs with which Master Ch»lc* aind hiw liltp would acknowl 
edffo thcimM.']vi!a uiiataken about «*«mhiufc if th«r euddenl^ 
chiingied idrntitj with thrir mother, or her hoawk«c]>cr, and bad 
to form Miuare to receive Ui« Wash, and the TradsBpeopIe, and 
Cook. Pteay'9 imaginntion filled thin in spcculstiTety, but h«r 
cnm lipflrd only a trtiiicated peroration, of which the muturitj 
miiihi liiivc tnkpn thn form of n tntimonial to tho soodncss of 
MitfltiT Charles's heart. It related to eometbiuji: iinpredaive that 
I'artridffc always did mi,v, and always would Miy, but which on 
(hilt p«rti<mlar occasion she failed to saj, its relevance not sus* 
tniiiins itwlf after thi' mtry »f tho conclaro into the room wbcra^ 
Mias Ptggy sat with Alice on her lap. ^ 

"I'm mirc this poor liilli- thing in vrry ill. Mamma," Prggy wid, 
with perfect confidence in Iter mother's kindness of heart, even 
when her inclividiinliticH witt mont <x>nt<piciiouii. That Indy. how- 
ever, was not inclined to give up her strong jwiat. and placed it 
on rpourd o^in m aho stooped omr th« child and felt her hands 
and forehead. _ 

"Tluit, mf d«ar, is only the more reason why I should have beeoH 
told. I could have arruuKuL Aa it In now, vm munt lisvn Dr. 
Peyne to sec her — or if he isn't there we must hare Dr. Hera." — 
And Charley imyH he'll go and oec about it at ouoe, and leaves 
the room. 

When he had gotiu. iho UAiieritiea of tlu^ trituation acknowledged 
tho force of a living patient, and allowed tbenisetves to be smoothed 
over. Alit'e w«» evidently on the (>(lg<; of u high fever, or eonie- 
Ihiiig vTry like it. With her antecedents, it might be anything 
iiifectioua ond brrrifying. Mrs. Purtridgi^ and her miatnKW thought 
of all the worst things they could think of. Lung and tbro4it com- 
pluinta were ineligibli! for want of symptoms; but sickening for 
ntnallpox and scarlet-fever were very popular— niid bmin-fnvpr. 
oome in a guud thinl. It wtui rutlii-r diHuppointing aftt-r piUug up) 
tbs agony to this point to have i)r, Payne come in and say, 
"Smallpox and M?urlet- fever — MtuR and nonsense I Child's a bit] 
favcrish — been ovcr-excited. Brain-fovcrt Children never hnv«] 
brain-fever — not when the bnun'« lu-althy. No such tiling as brain-J 
(ererl All Imngination of scribblers. No— no!— give her some-] 
thing quiet and moling, and make her sleei>. She'll be all right 
twentyfimr hours." 

"How about llie inquest, doctor?" says Charles. For it iipiieare< 
not only hiniMtf and Jeff, but even Alice, was wanted to J 
-"Surely she oughtn't to go out." 




ALICE-FOK-SHORT 



Si 



"Oh 00 ! — c^ not — of ootirw not. Child like ihat! There's no 
doubt about the facU>, I suppoxer' 
"Not the alijrfiteat" 

"Thrrn 1 don't vet-- vhat thry want with witnraxnk" Au<I then 
ibe doctor, who had been taltciiiic exaclly like a human creature, 
Kuddcniy bccjimf! pro fi-wti oral nffoin — "Xo! Quite iinpoiaihlc to 
proDouDce— caM of this sort — eynipioms haven't declared thcin- 
•rhfw* — cnur for cnutinn — I for ono wouldn't tako tl«' rcapouaibiUty 
of sajicliouing eteetera." — And what Dr. Payne would not Minction 
vmmcd to be anything and everything tliat win* not welcome to 
Bfde Park Oardens. Anyhow, the result was that Aliee was put 
into s bed a* beautiful as anydiiog you can »**•■ through plate 
glosa in Tottenham Court Road, and a feather mattrcM you 
Mtnaahed down into m th»t thf phrase to lie on it sc^mcfl inap- 
plicable altogether. But tlui child wua too bewildered and unhappy, 
apart from the number of rfcgrw* of fewr, whatever thry wen-, to 
bo able to enjoy it properly. Shi^ acqiiit-Bced in everythiiiR and 
held tight on to Slitm Pvftcy whenever posfiibl)-. KiK-ognition of 
I what bad happened to father waa fitting less and Ictts, m her 
I power of makiuA head or tail of anything diminished. 
^^m Shp wax. hovrcvcr, equal to obiwrving oni; or two tliingit of Inter- 
^^BI before a disaitreeable period came on in which it would bnvo 
^(been difficult to nay wliich w«» Teacher and which van i!i*« P<!ggy, 
which was Pussy and which waa that fuitiiy Parrot tn the par^ 
lour. She w«» alive to the fact tlmt Mr. Chnrlcii Ilcnih ritJier had 
gone, or was to go. to a thing rulled Tin- Inqufst, and that his sister 
was eony for him. That some news of on unfavourable sort camo 
about her mother, and that tlio doctor, who eami^ again in the 
evening, refcrrtd to this when he paused in some writing to reply 
to a remark of Mr. Charleii — "Very doubtful, I Hhould say — eon- 
etitution undermined by drink — blood in a bad state"; — but that 
what lie adiled — "flire her this Inst thing, and Khr'll sleep. Sbe'U 
be all right," — luid reference to herself. Thi< last event she was 
,ely conaciouii of wbh ihnt n vi-ry important nmad of *orapthing 
an stood by her bedi^ide anil said m a prodigious voice, "lley 
,en I That'll where we are. A ad we're going on well — that's 
htl" — and then Meeroed embarrassed by its position, and glad to 
It might be absurd to say thnt Alico was aware of a certain 
r of forgiveueaa towards Mr. Charts for importing her. which 
«n« almost as oSoetual as condemnation where no penalty nttochecl, 
' ki^'-ping him as it were coiisluutiy at the bar of pubhc opinion. She 
L Qjay not have defined this ; but nevertheltriw have taken note 



I 



I 

M 



5« 



ALICE-FOE-SHORT 



Ur. Charlea and all the family except bis sister, who refused 
to bo sucked into it, and excused Obarlc; through thick and 
thin. _ 

She and bcr brother made up their minds, irith tlw imreasoninic I 
alftcrity of yoiilli, tlint Alicv vrn» to bt? n-tiiinod. By the time it 
came to the filial benediction of the little patient, who was enjoined 
to bt! a good ^irl and ^> to lilixi). it hnd hitcn privately aettled by 
both that Alice had conie to i§lav — in some capacity to be fixed 
afti^rwunb pcirhups, but orrtaliily to titay. Nvithi-r would hare 
assented to the departure of a stray puppy or kitten. As for possi- 
bic <!xptni!>(-j( or ruspoiisibilittes involvMl — dear mcl — aiin-ly Heath 
Si Potlesfen's shoulders were broad enoufcb for anytliinic. Their 
Teq>ectivo ricwK bccnmo n cnn=ipiracy. by muttud cotifmiii(>:i, in aa 
interriew, by the back drawing-room fire before dinner, both bar- 
inft come down btrforc cvcrybiMiy else. 

"She's such a dear little ihinit." said PeKKy. with her foot on 
the fcudi^r, and an animated fiicc in the tin-light. For caudles in 
lien> had been averted by sjiecial appeal, as nobody wanted lights 
to wuit for dinner by, and wc hnlcd theni, and the wcond gong 
was direel!)'. and if peopli- wuntitl light tliuy could go in tlwt front | 
drawing-room. So Pcfoty and her brother were roasting themsclvctl 
before a steel fendnr and urate, wit]k a monntrous piece of best) 
Wallscnd in it, which would laai all the eveniDg if you would otilj'J 
put Ibut poker down and let it alone. 

"Vcs — she's an enKaRiue sort of Utile— «U98." said Charlee. con- 
ceding tb(^ point about the poker, and puttin^t it down. Because he 
didn't really want to break the coal at all. Neither did he mean to 
say "cuss" — wlien be bofran to epe-ak. But some mysterious influ- 
ence unexplained made him put it in that form. It detucbed him 
from buniHD weaknesses and motiTcs, and harmonised with a ten- 
guinea dress-suit, whicb he had succeeded in getting into with- 
out loHJug B t>hirt-stud, or splashinfr soap in his eye. or soiling hia 
sfairt-front, or dropping !iis watcb and he couldn't bear it going. 
Any of these events would have taken his edge off. Uut nothing of 
the sort having hai>|K'tUK). Charley felt serene and lofty, ordered 
Pbillimor*; about, and called Alice a little euas. 

".She's a dear Utile thing," rtrsumi-d Peggy, not noticing the 9ub- 
Btituled expn-ssion. "I do hope it's nothing serious. Braiu-ferer J 
or lioniething o( that sort " " 

*'i>octor «ttya not, anyhow. She'll be all right. Peg I" — CharW 
frit it hi* duty, as a Han. to rMisaure his weaker suter, andi 
accordingly Touched for everything, whether or no. 

Let's be hopeful then t I wish I could fuel coiaf ortabl 



1 



1 



ALICE-FOR-SUORT 67 

It what's to brooms of her irhcn she kom home again. The 
ka of her hinng Mt iiloiu- wiiii tiiat mother " 

■Hlh Lord!" says Charles, And he looked very unoomfortahle. 

"It'll very <'ii3y to Kay, 'Oil Lord,' Charley dear, but what'a to 
b^ done to a^'oid it V 

"Tbo Go^-emor wi)uldn't Mnnd it. Perfectly ridiculouB," 

"But you heard what l*flpa said — proper CDquiry must be made— 
child'M rc^ativRi mtiKt bo foiiiul — and all itiat kind of thing." 

"Well — that was the GoTCmor, all over I" 

"Yovi mean you think bell come rouiul, aiul let her stop 
here." 

"Of cotmo he will, if it cxiinca to her going bnek to that old 
cat. Bui the (pood woman won't recover. Look what they say at 
the Uospital^l saw the IIouw PhTsicinn myself— said aho might 
poaaible get through, if Pyaimia didn't set in. I ho]>e Fyoimia 
jBeaiM to look alivt- " 

"Ob, Cfaarlej-I What a horrible ihinfc to say I Vou know jvu 
don't mean it " 

"Don't If — Charley nodfl truculently, as one who known him- 
»elf an Iroqnois or Cherokee. — "Besides. l*ogKy, you know pcr- 
frctty wttll you'd hi- n* glad lui ai': if Pyicmia <!id »ct iii." — Peggy, 
or Pogjey, as Charles suiuGtimcs called her, said nothing in rei>ly; 
it is just powibtf *hf had m!iigivin(;!< hcrsi-If. When nbr! ^oke 
again, after a liltle more animated coulemplatioa of the fire-flidtcr. 
ebo went off to anotlu^r point. 

"What otiter relatives has sheF' 

"NolhinK but brothers,'* mid Charles, witli a auggestion that 
that in t!ie same as nothing at all. Only his sister wa;>i inclined to 
allow exccpl ions. —"What sort of hrolhers?" she asked. 

"Oh — regular brothers. One's in a fimtctiise Clothing Estnb* 
lishment. another in a first-clasn iTonnioiigfry; atmt.her mongiM* or 
mungH ehcrtB, and auotlu-r ilryaalts. Goody Peppermint told me 
about them when she was doing out the 8lii<lici. Some mont aro 
at *ca or in tlie colonies — there's such a lot of 'cm I can't recollect. 
The oldest in the Ciothicr's shop in only twenty. Then tlicro waa 
a brood of daugliters ntuci to the younK«st, who is twelve, and dry* 
salts. This poor little devil — as 1 remember her cxcdlcDt mother 
called licr when fint I made her KCijuuiiitunCL — came iii last." 

'^t'^ a queer story! Such a huRe family, and this poor child 
seeming to be left stranded in thi.-> way. What's become of oil tlin 
I daii^rhit-rsr' 

I "All dead— five of tbcm, I nnd^mtund. But ibcrc muxt be other 

I rchitiona, because the dr^saller, she said, lived at an wai,<%, «x 



4 



M 



6B 



ALICEFOR-SHORT 



at sfl 



L 



BodierliEthe, and the cbeeeeroonger has been boarded out 
couu&'s, nl Sloko-Ncwington." 

"Whut a lot you have managed to reeoUectl" 

Tvc had it all twice ovpt, and aiiould havp hod it thnc 
H the woman bad cleaned me out auaiii. My own theory is that 
every effort haa been made to get tlic children nway from tht-ir 
parents, owiiifi to iheir Jnmkep habits, and that this out- Rot over- 
looked, being a small faft-cnd. Therp'a dinner !" — And tbfy jiiiuijd 
the party in tbu front drawinjt-room, everybody else bavin? been 
slowly accumulatinK durinji this conrcrsation. But not before 
Peggy bad rranovMl any veil ihen.* may havi- been over her actual 
vUhea about Alice, by snyinjt to her brother, "Well — Charley dear — 
I. (or one \iaiM- she won't lie. lillovnuX out of thia house until »■« 
know she'll be properly seen to and not neglected." — And be 
bad nulled. "Exactly my idea!" Eucli npokc with very Itttle 
confidence in any haven awaitinK Alice at any of her relations, 
01 olacwhcre. 

It requires frreat experience of tlie world, and a profound insight fl 
into iu manners and customs, to know what i», and what is iMt, ^ 
■ dinner party. For the aaaembly of fourteen persons of both 
sexes that were gathered on this occasion in Mr. Heath's front h 
drawing-room could not have been a party, as the six ix;rsaiis out-S 
side the family wbo had been invited that evcninie had beeafl 
askod to eomc and dine quite quietly, and tlie invitation Iiad httd^l 
"No party" written carelessly in after the writer had begun to 
remain the render's eincrirety. and was suppnsed t" be pouting for 
a reply. One lady, an invited one, was even accused of "dressing" 
contrary to instructions; and to the mole mind nhc appe-arod t4^ j 
differ from her friends in no respect whatever. She hadn't eveni 
got less clotbea on, which wc lielieve to be a recognitcd form oC\ 
dressing more. 

Aa Charles and b!^ sister entered the front room the laHiil 
obstacle to pairing off was removed by the announcement of theJ 
invuriuhle lute guest, whom you won't wait for any longer; buti 
you do. In this ease be was a friend of Charles's, whom we bav» 
ban bi'fore, and who cauned him to remark w he eiitcwd tlio 
^H>m. tiankcd by the reproachful eoiuitimances of Philiimor*! and 
an Bceompliec, that there was Jeff in white kids, which was 
ahaurdi Poor JeffI He was destined to a ditiapiHtintmifnt. For 
lira. Heath sddre^xcl him thu": "Will you take Misa Pcthering- 
ton, Mr. Jerrythought J" And what ahe got to t!ie first two letters of 
the lady's name he thought xhe was going to say the rest of Peggyi 
and she aaid "-tlieriugtoa** instead, and it was the governess! For, 



I 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



50 



tbf 



you see, Mr. Jeff didn'l know enough of Society lo know for cer- 
tain («M wn do) that no la<I; would crcr xpcnk of her dauffbtcr m 
iaa Peggy. 

But nn exaltation wns awnitins him. The ffrcAt tlif^mc of the 
enint^ w«a of coiirae the iuvideut «f the previous day. and it had 
to be told over and oror asnio, noiw of the nix new-comers arriving 
pxactly on xho beginning of a repeat. So a partial asaimiluliou of 
the la-»t half was always followed by a new recital, subjoct to a 
■li di-ii] of iDterruption from Its oiidience, tvbich look exeep- 
iou to the accuracy of the second narrative, and oven laid claim to 
Bort of inili-tK^ndent knowlmlge of the faotd. Mr. Kerr-Kerr, th<i 
tieman who wae Koinic to he responsible for Fetrxy's safe arrival 
in her fttmily'ia dining-room, wu-s ao eonviuced of hia powers as an 
interpreter, thnt he Kot on an explanatory platform, »nd con- 
Ktitutfd him»clf an official newit-purvcyor. Aa tbiia: "What an 
extraordinary and shockinfc affair this was yesterday at Hr. 
Cbarlro Ileiith'n studio, <-lc.. etc.," and wait then plunging Kienilily 
on into narrative, when Pejoty interrupted hiui with "This is 

Mr. J<Trytho»ght, who wu* tbpr<' nil the whili' "' iitid then, fti-l- 

itig that no emel a eommiinication re<|uired softening, addod, "lik« 
man who waa at the Battle of the Nile," Mr. Kerr-Ktrr meanly 
.deavonrod to make the laujth that was due on this account into 
end of a chapter of tlu: eonvunMtion; and began the next 
pter with an unfounded statement that he had met ilr. Jerry- 
at the Rumford Pinichn*. But he hadn't! Peggy wu» 
t oorry when dinner was really ready, this time, and we could 
Ko down at laat. And Miii!i Petlutrington, who had remained in 
■beynnce, got taken a little notice of. 

Papa was in hie beat form, genially pittroiiiaing to the linlf-doieii 
li'id<-rn, for evni Sir Walker Kerr- Kerr, Mr. Kerr- Kerr's father, 
ho was to take Mamma, of course, because of his Sir. wa* open 
io patnmagn; it nppenred in fact that bo wn» nothing particular. 
I'apa pursued his usual method of social intercourse, picking up 
ugmenlii of <ilher folk'n Inlk, rep<-nting them once or twice wcight- 
aud then neglecting ibeiu. always with a curtain implication 
that he wa« cnnferring n boon on Society by conaidering them at 
all. lie was not even to he truBttrd not to reproduce fragmentH 
long pa*t con vernation in this way, giving an impression that 
must have been thinking profoundl.v. But bo nfiver diecluHctl 
fniita of bin reflections, and his hidden treasure of thought 
icd all the more valuable on that account. 
The banquet wax far advanced, and Pemy '"^^ quite unaware 
that her father bad taken any notice of her words, when he «ud- 



90 



ALICE-FOBSnORT 



donly rososcitated Iirr illustmtion sbout the Battle of the Nile; 
whiHi caiac trom a rhyme she had heard, but of wliich tihc knew 
naithrr the niithor^hip nor the mcantnR. if it had any. 

"il(!y! Wluitwaathali <4 (the Bailie. 0^ the Nile. WAo was 
ai the Battle, of the Nilp? HoyT 

"Pnpu! Dou't you know!" said Peggy — "Oh yea — of courM you 
know that! At the Battle of the Nile I was there all the while, 
Kt th(! Siege of Quebee I had Kke broke my neck." . . . 

"Uey, what a rale! Now let's have it again, casyl At the Bat- 
tle. Of tilt; Nil<'. Heyt" And Peggy is under the neoc^ily of 
repeating it again all through, much slower, with repetilioaa and 
correctionK. After which Mr. Detilh repeats it all oner more in a 
oonfirmatory tone, and euda up with — "That's it, is ii( Well — 
we're all, very, fine, people !"^Prggy knows perfectly well that her 
fatlier may go on repeating it iudeSnitelj; and what docs happea 
is nearly a« had. For the old boy has a desire to say something, 
when he rcallj' baa nothing to auy. and propounds in his uiu:<t 
extensive way the enquiry; 

"Bill what I want to know is — who wojt it who was tliere all tha 
while *'' 

And then Charles, who was more than half-way down the tablo 
on the (iLher sii]i% ihinking thai hh enquiry referred tu the prei'ioua 
conversation in the drawing-room, whieh he had ovtrheurd, said 
"Jeff." moaning thai ilr. Jerrylhought had been a wittiesri* of ail the 
tragedies of yesterday. That gentleman, thinking himself spoken 
to by name, replied, "Tea, 'Eath.* And Charles replied, "Shut 
u]>, JefFI I didn't mean you. At least, I did mean you. I meant 
yuu wen- in the liouiH' all along, and saw the doctor pateh her 
head up." 

What an amazing capacity for confuuon there is in a large 
party of i}ersons, all talking at onoc. down each side of a long 
table! On (his ii(s:niiion. und at thi.i moment, it irhnneed that Mr. 
Jerrythought, after a triumphant time at the hegimiing of dinner, 
owing to Ilia conneclion witli the curn-ut tragedy, hud beeit tem- 
porarily thrown into abeyance by Materialisations, which were 
being expwied by Sir Wulki-r, eatablialusl biTyonil question by a 
gentle-man nl a great ilintanee off. and investigated by scattered 
units in the spaces betw(s.'n ihi-in; all of wluwe altoutingH from 
ofur intersected reasonable conversation at reasonable dislanees, 
and qualified valuabltt reuiurkB by the intro<luetion of foreign nmt- 
ler. Iiefom ihey could reach their hearers. A political sub-section 
also was. in serious undertones, hinting at the triviality of all elae, 
*■•■■ occasionally getting overheard and misinterpreted ia tlie nest 



J 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



ei 



0(Hap«rtmiUiit. Sir. Jcnrthoughl, hownvcr, when CharleM mads 
Hia laat remark, as above, disceroed in it o))portunitiea for rt^urrec- 
lioD. A [rnxk-st dittcUimer, in a ntisoil vijict^ of hin sOLurc- in iha 
aiattCF !ievmed the sureBl road to a permaceiicy iw public opinion. 

"Stood loukin* on! Cotdtlxi'l he nii^ uv-. You mndc younwlf 
useful, 'Eath." — This has tvo HTect^ The spcaher's fi^uoroiis 
■Itruiaiii pnxiiiTtis popularity, but brings donm n aliowr of testi* 
noniols on his friend; this is a sort of Nemesis of establishing . 
claim on Europi.-, and it tnaki^ him very uncomfortohli;. 

"Charley ain't bad at that sort of thing," saya a younger brolbit 
whom w bnvp bnd no oocnston to notice. His nntnc vra* Robcrtf j 
and he was nulled Rubin or B-jU. at choice. He was not u brillinnt' 
gcnitM. and setierallj clothed his thoughts, when he had aoj, with 
aotne one e]»e*« n-jidy-ninde tvniarlcs. Tn this caeu lie waH quid: 
va.euo about wbnt his brother had or had not done. But he sus- 
pected UU comrount might bv p!>iu>ib!<-. and riiikisj it. It had tbu 
TCFf painful effect of causinn a chubby K«nial little Mr. Batlcy. ono 
of ifae six oulnideni. who imd conio to dinner to tnuki: bimaelf 
plwmuit, to f[0 so far as to drum applause on the table with hia 
knudilm, and say. "Bravo, very pood. Mr. CIinHes!" — And his 
example was followed by ollu-r out«idcn, wfao bad no idta 
wbateror what they were applauding. This was afrreeable for 
Charles. 

But perhaps he would Ije aHon-ed to lapse! — Test — The dis 
aion of UatitrialiNatioms which had flag:ged for two seconds whik 
its Pros and Colts contributed plauditii in alnmluti' ignorance 

ir object, revived with savage energy, as thoufh Time had been 
led. 

"t ti'Il you, I had H-jM IioM of both her hands, and the JudireJ 
had tight l>uld of both her aukk-s. and I.aiiy Pcntheoilm had botltl 
her arms tiffkt round licr waist.'"— This was very loud, from the 
representative of Belief. Impartiality followwi. with — ".\nd, if [ 
underatand you rightly, Mr. Kcttlewoll, the Materialisation was 

all this while scattering fiowew out of M-nson about th« room " 

But was interrupt*^ by Incredulity in the person of the brother, 
Rubin or Bob. who suid that waa nothing to JtfoHkdyne and 
Coofcc. 

Then llie oonvi-rsation gol vt-ry broken, and it wan diffipiiU to 
make out who said what. It will, therefore, be uo more than u 
hcultliy mliam to omit llic Hin-ukem* nuinc^ in tlic tcxl. 

"Uty. vhai't it all about j Hey — PeRgj' ( You make 'em tell ua 
nl tlii« crtt" . . . 'Trty d<'ar Hndntn. Mr. Heath's a practical man, 
and I'lD BUre hell agree with me that when a Judge Ita^ boI<l of a 




69 ALICE-FOB-SHOBT 



plen»^^ 



* 



little bUi^ waBUm bgr the trnkiea ..." "Ob doar, Pnpn. pi. 
don't; it dot* bfftber poor Charlej- so," . . . "Don't think unything 
of her puttins the red-hot pnkrr down hcT \mck. Uiukcljne and 
Ox^ 'U ait ou a blazin' coal fire ..." "I{«action, of course, ia 
what wo have to fear. T-nok nt that inirraiiM.<d mnjoritj' at Qmn- 
wich." . , . "But / want to hear what the rumpus is o/i abouK" . . . 
"1 am sure your fothrr would agree with mc (you auk him, Peggy) 
that where we have to &nl fault with (^Iiarley is uot ..." "We 
must roly on tJIadstono." . . . "Poor Charky! Do let him nloiu*. 
Munimal" . . . "As for Lody Pi:iilht»iUui'a — Weill Ihinga tlien — 
botiiK found on ihi> medium, that's iiothiiiic at all! Mai^kelyne and 
Cooke will ..." "^ly <]ear, I wixk to speak, but I eauuot he 
heard. All I was sa.viuK was that it is Charley's }udgm-<nl that 
is in fault." . . . "And then we hnvr Tutnmiiny at once." . ■ . "But 
his fteliun is alwa.v's die ripht one — 1 am eure your father , . . " 
"How do / think they do it 8 — why, by 'ocussing the sittw*, of 
course. I know a gurl," etc., etc., etc. 

Our reatwD for putting the forf^ing on record is that it vnx m 
matrix from whieh eniergwl a conversation of grp-al momi.iit to our 
little Alice, who remained uneousciouri in Sirs. Pariridge'ft room. 
Hin-ping off tho frvitinU attack, which was at any rate to have one 
Kood result, in preventing' lu-r rroitig na a wituisia to the inquest 
next day to lc«t!fy about her father's death. 

For as soon as the talk turueil on AHce'a nffairtt and Charlen's 
iudgminit, the excellence of his heart and so forth, it became a 
bat tiodore-aud- shuttlecock buBtnees belwccn the boat and boaleaa. 
and grsdiially abated, by its strons moral force, the Materialisa- 
tions and the Politics. The last went on in a steady uudertutie. aa a 
theme of moment that could make no conce^i^ion, but the former 
was weakaied hy the deff^rtion of Sir Walker, who pliuigiil, ao to 
siwak, at the paxKinK nhuttlecoek, and stopped it flyinn, with the 
qutution: "What do you [iropoisr to ilu with tlic cliild. Heath t" and 
without waiting for ao au>iwer, fixed that gentleman with his eye, 
and proceeded to nketeh out the principal courses that were tiot open 
to him, while his hostess on his left made tho responses, totto' 

"You can't tuni her out in the street." 

"That is what / say. Sir Walker " 

"You can't let her f.-o hack to her drunken mother,** 
"And you are most unreasonable to propcee to do so." 
"You can't hand her over ti> thi- Autlmrities," 
"And however you can entertain such an idctt for a moiDoat 
I cannot imagine." 



I 





AUCE-FOE^HORT 



63 



"And rou cannot be «xp«cted to provi<Ie for tbe child peniu- 
nently. Wlial conne duill yiiu adopt ifamif" 

Whctroitpon llr. Ilenih. foelinjc diat his position as Jupiter wsa 
Bt Htukt-, biiloiirMl his Bunker's uL-vuuiit over bin iiutu;, und leaned 
bark in hii^ chair witb bi^ thumbs in his waistcoat. IIo closed Iiia 
li[M tifjlil first, und frowDL-d, to foreAluU the. gmt duuinion «f his 
f^K^ch, and then publisbod on edict: 

"Proper enquirj- must be made into the chnnioler and circum- 
it«ncr« of the famit)-. But (Hpcsking as ono of hot MnJMtj-'s 
lunllced of di« Peace) I oiay say thm nulhiug would warrant the 
detention of the child against it« parent's consent— unlotw, tiidocd. 
that par«ul stood couricted of a criininol vffenci^. I may Ik- niia- 
takcn. Sir Wslkcr. and no doubt you will correct mc if 1 am wrong" 
— tliia with pon<kroua deference — ^"but I am not awure, at present, 
lliat dninkcnnoM is in iteeU a atatutorj- offcTico. How ie that t" 

Sir Walker does not girt the i>piK>rliiiiity to show his knowl- 
edfrc, if he bos it. For the lady of the bouse becomes clothed with 
■ hold of Huiwrior Mini'tity. without pn)VTO-ation, 

"I am a mere weak womsn. my dear, and far from a Justice of 
tlir Pc-nce. But I am »uri; Sir Walker will aprei- with me. that even 
a Justice of tbe Peace may always remember that he is a Chris- 
tian." . . . 

Poor Hr. Heatli was too dumbfounded with the suddcnncm of 
thia attack — tlic mon- b(M:nu.-V! In; hnd nitlicr (bun ollicrwiM aup* 
posed that bin wife would be no readier than himself to incur 
new rcsponsibtlitif*— that lie was not able to ripotU willi alacrity. 
The connoqiitmct; of tltiii was that h\i defence was taken up all 
aloDK tbe uble witb such rigour tliat he was hardly able to coa- 
trihiilc tA it. 

"Come, I say. Mother, draw it mild I Fancr myitig the Gor- 
rm(>r'« not a Chriatiiin." 

"No — Tllamma — ^you shouldn'tl If PaiMl isn't a Christian. I 
tboubl like to know who ia." 

"Dear mcl What's that— what's ihotl Who is sayinR Mr. Heath 
iMi't a Cliristiaiif" — This last cutnnt from one of llu- politic in lu, 
suddenly roused from a plca:wnt drcnm of hcxatronsl electoral dis- 
tricta. and Saturday plebiscites, or somelhiug of tJie itort. The 
rest of ibe table joina chorus on the same lino. 

"T truat." icays Mra. Heath, whoae meekness at this juncture 
pasaee description, "that nothing 1 have said, or could say, would 
ever bear iiih'Ii an intiTiimlntiou. Sir Walker will tell you 1 am 
rare, ■Itbeugrh my children attack me all at once, what it was I 
really did say."— And Sir Walker le«litiua tliat bur remark vvt ^a 



84 



ALIOE-FOR-SHORI 



the effiwt thai Christiimity wn« <M>inp(ititilp with hcinn on 
CoDuniseioD of the IVaq^ Kobody aotee the fact tltat there w: 
no ubviouN ponnc-cltun between Hus truth and anything else in tho 
oocTcreatioa. 

Ml*. TTrath probabI:F fwln thnt in apite of Sir Wnlker being noth- 
ing particular, she has Bcortii; and begins pulling on her gloTca, 
and ripening for an cxo(Iu«. Prrhnps, nlsn, sbp is con»fi<in3 (hnt i{ 
this dirersion is effected before her husband has time lo recover 
nnd prott^t, he will be at a diuidvantage Inter on. So she gi^ls 
away with her flock, and leaves JJan at liberty to throw away his 
wnielio, iind cit sideways on hi» ehiiir, or clinutn^ across to 
eome one else'a, or anyhow. 

As »(K>n RH Iklan is left slone, Muddcn refi«on danrna on the convn<- 
Bation. and does much to explain its precursor. 

"Sorry your mother's so hard on mc, Charley boy," any* tho old 
frentleman. who is a kind-hearted being, if be m a bit pompous. 
"I'm »ure / should bo glad enough for the poor ebild not to go 
back to that uwful uiuther of hera. But I really thoufrlit it would 
be a Rteat trouble to yoiir mother to know how to dispose of 
[ihr'* got her hands pretty full a* it i*."' 

''I hope, father," sa,vs Charles, seriously, *'you don't blame 
Tery much — think me a great fool, I mean — for bringing the 
littli- party home here. She hooked on to lue and bi-Id on like a 
limpet, and I really didn't see what else I could do. I di<ln't feel 
like leaving her to the Police " 

"No, my boy, / don't sec what else you conld have done. What 
are you drinking. Sir Walker* That's Port— that's Chiret. What 
are you drinking, Mr. Batleyi ... If you want a mild one, try 
one of the short ones, Thej-'re the mildest. . . . When'a that 
coffee comingt" And so on; tintil, lieing &nlisf!ed tliat erer? one 
is being properly pampered, he f(*ls he may talk lo his son. yet 
not be rude to his puestn. In fact, they are igiioring and neglcet* 
ing him. Sir Walker, aftitr throwing eonfidt-ntial mo m^y- market 
nnirmura across the table to Hr. Batley, has walked round to him, 
am! snid lie wouldn't mind mying eleven and three-quarters ex iJic, 
and Mr. Uatley has said that we might be able to get you that. Ur. 
Ketllewell. having lost hi:< politician, who waa n lady, in morose 
and reserved. Mr. Kerr-Kerr has been forgiven by ilr. Jerry* 
thought for III* misitnke in the draning'room, and thi:y arc talk- 
ing about early Itristol in what may he c^led a eeramicable man- 
ner. Robin and aomcbudy elnc arc talking about the Ihmma, and 
making a great noise. 

'^^'o — I don't M)c what ebe you oouH ba^-e done, Charley, If you 



would 
le m^H 




AUCE-FOE-SHORT 



ts 



come borne here and told us nil about it. vUliotit hrr, yoitr 

woul<) bavo brcn sbock«d at 701k / »houldu't hare heen 

fillawed a tii)wL Hey? " Bui ChuRd wiiaii't tailing lo tuk* 

anf pxoeption to what hU futlicr naid. lie was coiit«in]>UitInjc 
a mean and cowardly ase of Pcggi,-'^ nunif> t» advunco tlui wcfaema 
for tfaff rvUntioD of Alice, in tonte capacity. The fact is. a ^a- 
crui disposition to diis end exiatud in uU quartern, but «WTy one 
of tliTM! qiinrtcr* irantcd fomeliow to midco a >ca|>cgoat of some 
otlier quarter. Mk. Ilealli wouldn't fMf hoDeatly wliat sW really 
favoured. I>ut was rcody to bring it about, if »lw< could utilieo 
■ latitat invlifiton Bbe u^tcribed to her buabeiid, ami hold him up to 
public reproof. He for his part wished to capture the position of 
baring giveu way to a whim of hi^ wife—* beiievoteut one. but still 
a whim. CharW felt sore, on reflection, at his own Qiiixotiam — 
and tried to put it on hia lister. After all. ^le was a womsu. and 
need not feel awkward and gauche about doioR a kind-lieartod 
action. He bad !<> remember bis dij^uil.v as a miin. Young men 
approve and di^approre of tbeiDselves for the oddest reaeouii. and 
tbpy ore all l»nT<i with thi» mme fcntlier. 

"Oh no ! Tliat's just what I thoiiKbt myf>e!f. She never would 
have stood my learinK the child to the I'oticc. And now neither 
ab« nor Pe^gy will at all liiie her to gt> hack to tliat wretched aot 
of a moibcr of here." — Observe ihc meanness of both thcac gcntlo-d 
men. ailttng there smoking cigars, and lr>-iug to shift off responsi-^ 
bilities on their wcmiankind. The; smoke through a short spell 
of silence. 

"Try n Klas« of BcncdoHino, Jeff. Didn't you ercr have any?" 
For Mr. JeS had loat bis presence of mind at si> lonit a word, nnd 
refused tn partake, nod was sorry. "Take the liqueur bock lo Mr. 
JerrythouKht. Fbillinn>re," 

"Siippow! this terrible olij raolhcr goes lo a better — Iiey, Charley I 
What then I However, h'c shall have to thitdc tt over and talk 
about it." WlMTcupim Charles in the most ensiial wa;' makes hi« 
insinuation about bis sister: — "Peggy's quite taken a fancy to the 
child!" lu- sayn. And hi^ futlicr replies (slightly varying bts pnv 
vioua remark) that they will have lo talk it over and think 
about it. 

It's pretty clear the ehanees arc against Alice being banded back 
to Goody Peppermint, even if Pywniia doesn't set in. 



Tbo se<|uiO of till- fnregning, to far as it concerns thia story, nuiy 
be summed up as follows: 
Charh;*, acoonpanied by his friend Jeff, attended tlw uw^ivke^. on. 



w 



AUCE-FOB-SHORT 



Utnrifl^ 



!?nmuol Kafanagh, and voa oenaurcd by tbe CoKHMf for sUi 
tlu- il('<-<-iuMx} to ga nut of lii« Right. ".\» if," Hid b» sfl*rw«rd» 
to I*eKKy> iDdigDaiitlf . "eTerjrbody ourht lo be able to $:nesa tbat 
n mnn who brvak* hi* wifi^« bead ban a bottle of Cyanide of 
Potassium in the next roomT* His laxity would erideDllT have 
been prcvwitrd if Mr. Jerry thought, who contrived to fiffure aa faia 
gitaniian fceuius, bad cot goite upstairs (though meal proiaeworlb- 
ily) to oi>mi the rtrwt-door to the doctor. Tbe Coroner spoke 
highly of Hr. Jerry thought's presence of mind throiifihout. But 
bo WAS mther indifmant at the absonoo of Altec, under the shield 
uf ft medical vertificate to tbe eSi-et tliut aht! was <)uit(- unfit to gi?e 
cvidencei even if he himself eame to the hoiiee to lake it. Uowcver, 
innflnuch U it wujt not elcjir tlmt ii litll<- girl of *ix, who ^nw no 
more than she was known to have seen, could add any force to 
tiK- infiTrnpT that her father diod of the Cyauidt! tlmt wn* found 
in his stomach, Alice was left in peace. — "The Jury wanted to KCt 
home, and found nceonlingly," was Charles's report of the verdict. 
And with that verdict Alice's father raniahea. leaving to b: 
child the only memory of her babyhood she can look back to wi 
hnppinr.-i.'i: but a mi^mory dviilined very soon to become dim in tha 
dazxlinir surroundings she has been translated lo by the merest 
accident. For had Chark-H TIcath fiiili^l to hi-ar On- ilinturbunco 
that niicht; or, hearinji: it, concluded (hat it was some family mat- 
tcr outside his pcrttonal range, Alice would probiibly htivp been 
transferred to some relation after a teniporary sojourn with iho 
police As it, was, he — luckily for her as it turned out — came to the 
conclusion that the person who was callinfc "Afurdcrl" might not 
bo doing so for fun; and then, hearing tht! policeman's knock and 
voice down the area, decided on enquiry. Now, suppose ho had 
been couud a*lc(-pl 



.tin 



CHAPTER Vn 



op pcsst's uilk, am> of the LAor wrrn trc buck sroTsi 



k 



Tbus it caaK mliDiit tliat Alice KaTanagh. who mu^ tier ap- 
pearance in Uiis st<iT>- )c^ than a month since as a small wsif 
carrying hone a bc<T-jup tbroug:h a London fog, beoaiae an object 
of concern and H/mpathy to vory opulont friends. You will be 
qnitc right if yow infer ilmt all*? miiat Imve been n pretty and at- 
traotive Uuie girl. She certainly wns that, with hor clcnr blue ejva 
and palo brown hnir. and Iier aprMrarance of observation nuil re- 
aerm — of keeping silence about sonu-tliiiig &h<; wns all the while 
Dialling mrntal notcn on. For you tnuy huvi- iiolice*! tluit Alice 
bnR no far aaid very little to any one. If you are an imaginativo 
peMoa you may have heard, at the suggestion of this nnmttire, a 
■null voice by itself, in tho dreary basement of No. 40, communing 
vith a small kitten, wbtcb ia held out nt nnn'« length — two anna' 
lengths — by the stomach, to be talked to. and now and then thrown 
in a woe-begone oqtM-ak, whiith Miaa Alice iiitirrprets in niiy senai* 
that suits ber best. Itut slie has said very little siuco she last spoke 
1o Pussy — did in fact My ulmofit nothin)? nt the! Ileiitli mansion; 
until, A day or two after her arrival there, during which her silcnci^ 
waa accc]>t4^ aa natural in a timid child under her circumiiianoM. 
ebe Buddenly jietitioned to be allowed to go home to Pussy, and 
likewiao to take aomi- milk in a bottlu to give to Pussy and her 
faiuily. 

"I dechirr I nt-ver tliought of Pusay, Partridge f aaid Peggy, to 
whom this application was made. "I hope she won't starve." 
Partridge didn't »ceni ihi- U-iuit conconifd. Perhaps she knew 
more tlian her young mistrtM about the resources of a I-ondon eat. 
And pcrbnps didn't cnri-. 

"Poothy had a thawther of milk quite full up." said Alice. Sho 
li*liiil a good deal, and P<«gy ret>eat«! "saucer" after lier and 
lau^^ied. — "Doea she mean to hav« a full saucer every dayt" — 
Partridgtt really had no ttpeciel inaigbt into AUoe'a meaning, but 
she had arrogated to herself powers of interpretation, partly bc^- 
cause llnr child wn.* Khi-piug in her room; partly because of the 
pOHition ahe occupied, half-way in the sociiil gnp bi-twix-n Alice and 
Peggy, which caabhd her to understand botli. &W va\i.(^& ^cif 

«7 



68 ALICE-FOB-SHOBT 



I Alioff 



Alice's mettning. this lini«', a MU«cr of milk ever; itny. But Alien 
shook her head irith continuous empbasie^ and appeared to be 
forniulatiDg a report iu eilcuee. 

"Wasn't it that, Alice!" said Peggy. "Wliat was it then T And 
wlit-n Aliet- Htoppid rih;ikinp her liead (which wasn't immediat«i!y) 
she drew the loDRost powible farealh, and started the following 
eputivb on the top of it: 

"I'oothy hud a thawtber of mitk quite full up becawth father 
tbuid Pootb,v fboutd bnvo anotlier Uiawther of milk vetltv tboon 

becawth I froed it over and mother thnid no " And by thie 

tiini'' Alice hnil got to the end of the breutli eiuppty, end paused lo 
take in 8 new one. Partridge stepped in to assist the communiea- 
tioii : 

"And mother punished you for spilliiiK the milkl" But Alieo 
evidently bad HDnut otbtr IhIc to ti-!l, for *Iip entrt-u<'hcd heraelf 
behind a lonjc head-shnke of denial to prepare and concentrate it. 

"Didn't molbi'r piiniiih you, Alice dear?" said Peggy. And 
Alice, in whom tliere was a trace of reserve towards Partridge, as 
coinpun-d with her bearing towards Peggy, immediately paused in 
the hi-ud-shake. iind .inid without stopping to draw in iht^ requisite 
air-t?upply — "Mother uever Ijealed me only when I was naughty.'' 

"Ttipn didn't mother think yini nnijghty for Hpilling the milkC* 
asked Peg»r>'. Aiiee shook her head. 

"Motlur didn't beiitfd me," wild chc. And that was clear proof 
that she couldn't have been uau^fhly. For a motlier has to work 
hard indeed to d(!!(tn>y n young ehil<i*K Ivlief in her infallibility 
and trutbfulnees. Goody Peppermint had assured her daughter 
that sbe nei'er Ix'at her unless she was nauglily; item, that ahe- 
fJiould always beat her if she were; ergo, not having been beaten, 
sJw! couldn't bjtve been naughty. Tbe logic was iirwiwlible. but on 
the other hand the prima-facie naughtiness of spilling milk was 
nbviouB. Ppggy suspected aomc otlier reason for Alict-'!" immunity. 
"Uow did you (ipill the milk, Alice f she asked. Alice's answer 
provoked sitill further eimniry: "Becoth of the Hdy." said she. 

"But why did you spill the milk because of tbe lidy t" Alice be- 
came communicative. 

"Becoth the lidy had black spot*. I could thee oiom. .\nd the 
whilst 1 was iheeing them. I putted my foot down on Pooihy — and 
Poothy wml in tbe mitk. But Poothy got the milk — motht of it, 
off of the pivement. Only the thawther was broken in pieccfr^ 
fr«' pi<^c^■ll. And mother vtimc out of the kiteheti " 

"But. Aiiee dear, who was the Udy who had black spotst Lidiea 
' " ■ 'ive black spota " 



A 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



69 



■ "On her veil. MJm PeKKy. no doubt," eays Psrtridge, the ister- 
^Kter. But Al'iif- in lt>a >hiir|> for her. 

"She hadn't irol no vile. Teaehcr haa a vil o " 

But AliofT ntofiti in hex narrittivc and bL'Coini,<a R'.s<!rv<<r1. Perhaps 
the is feetiofi exhausted after such a prolonged effort. P««gy 
nMumcs hur eiMpiirj'. 

"Toll ue, Alice, who th« lidy was — won't youP' But Alice only 
ftliuki^ u «i>r(-c)ilnts head, niid looks piuzl<-d. 

"Law, Miss Pcggyl" saye Partridp?. "The child's lomaDcii)'. 
Don't you Ibiai (o her «tori«!9!" 

"No. I'aitride*, be quiet ! 1 want to know about the lidy with 
Iht btuvk B]iot». Come and sit iin my knnc and tell me— that's 
riicht !" Alice complies with a readinees that su^gmts that mis- 
givinga about Partrid^i'a power:* of birlicf, or pronnnrju to dis< 
belief, may have had som«tfainii to do with her reticence. Once 
MtMbliHhi-d on Alice's knee, ahe bvcumea lo<iuaciou« again, but 
with a isliitbt tendency to eaw baokwarda and forwards in harmony 
with tht rhythm of her narrulivo. 

"The lidy hadn't Kot no vile. She oome down the stairs, but 
not froo the door. Bwoth the door Ihqueaklh" 

ThU Ja a diiGeult word, calliufc for emphasis and a apf«ice of 
pounce, aa well as the incorporation of the sound of a door« hingea. 
Peggy fx^Rquiahes the door for the present, as too difficult, and 
reeurs to the rjxit*. 

"But it-ll me more about the lidyfs apota. Alice. What were they 
made off" All ill-framt^ qiM-titioti; that makes Alien; speechless 
again. She puuies al)o\il in her mind for an answer, and none 
conies. Then alic ficw her way plainer, and introduces a new ele- 
ment. 

"One of 'cm waa here — auil one was Atrre— and one was 
here" 

"Take caro of my eye*," says Peggy, laughing. "Ridiculous 
little finger!" — For Alice has bc-en indicating the. exact where- 
abotits of each »ipot on Peggy's face, with gre^t decision. 

*TIow nuiuy \rett^ there altogeUier. Alice! Three}" 

"There wnth this— fme on one side, two on the other " 

"That uiake^ fivi-." Fn.m Partridge, with didactic severity. 
But Alie«' trpulnes hrr, wilh Ions. 

"And ojie in the middle of ihc thin." She places tlie ridiculous 
little finger accurately under Peggy's dimple. Wlio says— "Oh. you 
funny litlJe thing, bow you tickle! Now do sit still, dear, and tell 
US more about the lidy." — For Alice's successful arithmetic has 
produced a oort of discbarge of fireworks on hei pul. 




70 ALICE-FOR-SHOBT 

"^Vlicrc did the lidy goY' ooatiuued Peggy. "Into the kitch^al 
Alice's reply i* uluiont n-proaohfiil. 

"Mdthfr WBB in the kitc^bi^ii I" 

"But didn't mother wc llic lidyl" — Apparfrntly no I Alice wiia^ 
ajmin dixtiiifruishintr herself sb a lotpcian. If tJio lidy hud gnnn 
into the kilchun, molhiu' would have ecen her, Uut mother had 
never «icn her. Therefore she wejit eomnwherc cIm«. 

"WTifre did slut jfci thm. Aliw) dear t Do try and tell us 1 Don't 
yon know where sJie wentf l-or AIiol- merely shnkuK her head and 
du«w8 her lips. 

"Where did you sec her lastl" Peggy varies the queetion and 
elicits n dlnlemrnit. 

"I thee her go froo tho airey door — out la the airey — pa»t the 
coallh — pail ilw dulbt " 

"Yes. dear, and then?" says Tcggy, who i« fwliiiir rer>' eiirious. 
But Alice eutri-nehea herself in mystery, or can tt-U notliinK more. 

'^Ave, Minn Vcegy." days Portridffc- "What did 1 toll you t The 
child's only romaucin't" And adds to h<-r«--lf ihat Alice may only 
turn out a Btory-tolling little huwty. after all! Itowever. thert- i» 
no publie npi-culation on this point, for tlu; door npmii, and Chnrles 
appears. He haa been to the Hospital to see about tioody Pepper- 
mint. And reports, rather rucfiill.v, that ttho is going on well. In 
fact if Pyemia doesn't set in, there doesn't seem mucli chance of 
our being delirered from her — eo, we will dissimulate, and appear 
to rejoice. 

"Thnt'n nice," says Peggy, courageously. "Mother's going to bo 
quiie guile well again. Alice." But Alice looks doubtful- Charlea 
meanly lr«vcn the rurJnicinR to Pcgpy — is eren nut ashamed to mur- 
mur something to himself about where hie sister eitpects to go to. 
But bo reaps the advantage of a relief from embarrafiamcnt, and 
ahelvra the topic. 

"Well, that is a smart new frock, and no mistake, Alice-for- 
ahort!" aaya he. Alice d^erts her patroness's knee and makes for 
Charles's hand ; his claim of priority is growing fainter, but haa 
not died out yet; perhaps it won't. She recites the deed of trans- 
fer of the new frock, that lOie may not seem oblivious. "T wasn't to 
spin anyfing <iver it," fthe «ays. Au<i Peggy explains it still 
further— "One of poor little Trix's — tlinl hadn't bewi girt^n awny." 
— Trix was a sister neat above Ellen, who hod died eight yean 
since. Charlee'a face pays a tribute to her memory — he has a floxi- 
blo and expressive face — and needn't say everything. "Then, wlica 
we want something to spill anything over, what's to be donel Eh. 
Uiss Kavana^t" itaya be. Partridge aces her way to a moral lesson. 



X 




ALICE-F0R-8H0KT 



n 



OU1 



"Thnt's what Vm Wn snying to hor. haven't 1, Alicel If she 
vrttaa to make a raees. she'll liaTe to have her old frock on aniu." 
Panride<) rvqiiin-it small (.-crtificatca to bar poaiUon at iottinals, 
ffliiii writes them for herself. 

"I mnM. have pyr old flock on when I'm took buck to *' and 

Alice comes to a ctandstill. She tjotcan her gpe«cli buedleaaly — 
forgot tluit thf <^)ti]<!ii't 01x1 ii|i with "fatliiT" now, and had only 
a qualified eDlbiisia^iii alx>ut muther. Pejcg}' faeada the aubj«ot 
off. and auiMj^nwdfTH it with a Muggmtion atu; might not have mado 
at all if it had not eeemed to her likely to act a% a lubricant. 

"Alice iit to go bonui fir^t bcforu mother cometi. Charley. Putwj 
ham't had any milk, eo Alice and I ale goinc to take her some lu 
a bottle, Arvn't wc Alice !" 

"If you pleatho. Mith." safs Alice, and turns her head to the 
commiMiariat. — ^"Poothy never baa more than a farvingaworf at a 
time." 

"I may com« too, I suppoee. Miss KnvannfthI" unys Charles". To 
thia there appears to be uo objection. So an expeditiou t)) ar* 
ranged for next day to No. 40, as all mxm to agnx to cidl tha 
iiou**. 

The remainder of thia conversntioii waa n rrsumi of tlie tAorj 
the lady with the spots, for Mr. Charley's benefit. Alioe stuck 
to hrr inlc, including the sudden Bitpcarnnec and my^ti^rioiia 
of the lad.y. She added to it that after the lady 
waa Kone rfie folt frightened, and niolhrr came not, nnd then 
father, and both said there hadn't htxa no lidy. And then all went 
out in tlu' airry, and Altec showed her fflth<T where she miw tlw 

ly last "by the Krite big iron (rife in the airey." Mr. Charles 

id that »>iM A funny Ktory. but eTidcntly only half bttlirrcd in it, 

id Alice felt mortified; however, she resolved to prove it all trno 
hy xhowing the gate in the area. k> that ihen^ Hbould b<^ no doubt 
on the matter. Then the brother and sister had to (to. but Alice 
would KTO tliem H.gain to-morrow, quite for cttrlaiii. And when 
they had left the room Mrs. Partridge said Atieo was a fiutny littlo 
pilehitr for Murv, if ever tliere wns oul-, uiid took ht-r down into the 
kitchen, where she found many ihinffv of surpnsKinK inlen-st. 

"Only oni- thing I do ^liimlalL- for." Kuid Pegjry to her brother 
as they went upstairs togethor. "No Mr. Jerrythought." 

"Poor Jefl! Why miiatn't he eoroe) Hell be awfully eul up 
if he bean we explored the basement and him upatnir* all tho 
timi' " 

"Then he'll hav« to be cut up," aaid the youn^; lady, unfeelingly. 
"Bacauae I draw the Hue at Mr. Jerrythougbt." 



CHAPTER Vin 



THE PSTCHIC.II. BCSURCH INTO THE LADT WITH THE SPOTS. 
L-BRTAIX TAHLE. AND Or HOW ALICE OKIKUIK TtlK IMHK. HOW 
HEATB CALLED HtS SIBTEU TO SEE UB. JOtlKSOK. HOW ALICE WAS 
TOI.D THAT THAT WAR MOTHRH. HOW UIL HKaTM'S SIMTKIt KMKKD 
UUniEK, AND VfUY. Of A PAWN ■TICKET, AND HOW DR. JOHS90S 
WROTF. A PUKSCIUPTION WItON'a 



A KEW carctakrr liitti becu discovered to ltv« in the basement of 
No. 40 and show the extLiuivi^ prVDiiiM'a. She wan Mm. Twilla, uid 
garc the Hpcctntor an impr^siiioii tJtnt she was atl on odg side. A 
ver>- loiig tooth seemed to start sonu^how from thi- niot of tu-r nose 
and HUpport her upper lip. It iniido Attempts at speeeh inef- 
fectual, i)i>d nppeuroii lu faet to trunsfiT the seat of urticula'iuit 
to the TiKht-haiKl upper molar, if any. She waa also so deaf as to 
be »nabl<- t(> recuvL' cutuiuiinicu lions iixu-pt tty crini«ctur^; and so 
iU-informed or reticent as to be unable to impart them iioder anj 
circiiniMunct^ Tier rLiW-nitiif; featun-s wct« ber teinporuriness, 
and an alaerily in the distribution of catnractA, while insulated on 
patlo:iis, that wtis inconsiderate to bjr»tanders perhaps, but serrice- 
able to cleanliness. It would have been bvncficinl in cntrjr vay 
if it bad not L-nvenoined the tiature of lis promutor. and made her 
look upon her follow-crcatures as iDcarontv fiends for dtrljing 
bet steps. 

Ifrs. I'wilts, having been inatsllod as a eubiititutc for Goody 
Pct>]>c:riiiint, had iustinctirely proceeded to do out the first door. 
UDoppofed. Whether any intelligible inirtruction liod rvaehud her 
mind, Charles certainly rfid not kuow; but he had accepted Mr^ 
Twills as his lot, considered as a fimt-fioor. It was part of her 
nature to pay no attention to huumnit.v as such, and to ignore ita 
wanta. But considered as first-floorn, wmond-floors. or oKees, she 
did it out. And this otBeial position of Aire. Twills mndc it easy 
and natural for Pcgg;- and Alie<% accuuipaiiii--d by Charles, to 
penetrate the subterranean rejcions. without explaining to her that 
the nicely dressed Uttli- girl lliat eaine witli tlie first-floor's sister 
in a carrisRe was the child of the previous cnn!tuki-*r. now in the 
Hospital, and a father who bad poi^ned himself on the pTvmiees. 
In fact nothing that occurred during the visit threw any light oi 

78 



■OlMI 



ALICE.JFOR-SH0RT 



78 



what MrB. Tirilig knew either oi the traetc rtoi7 of her prejeces- 
toT^ nr of imythiiig cl«'. 

P«KfT '«'* *8 ihey drove up to the door how ebastly wfrv. the 
whole of the <-iriMimxtnn<'<-M, hut was glut! of one iMn? at an; 
nie — that the child could only have the vagiirJit notion* of tiie 
cause of her fiithnr'« dtuilli. She rould not quite make out how 
much, and was afraid to talk ahout it to hrr. SIic had tiiuim'd lor 
that hcT niothrr wu« goittg on well in the Hoepital, and that she 
abould 90OI) go and fee her. The nNiiuriinci^ wbh ni>l welcomed irith 
wptnre. and thr subject had dropped naturally. She was relieved, 
on ^ttiuff lo the house, where her bmthrr cama down to meet 
them, at Alice ranking no Rrfrrenee to her parents, but going 
straight to the conetderation of Puiwy and the milk. This was of 
course the oatcnsiblc cause of the exeiimiun — the renl oiio, ns far 
as Peggy was concerned, being to get a repetition on the Spot of 
the story of the mysterious ladj'. 

So. as soon us Pussy, who cerlainlj- was the most uncomely, vae- 
besone, and gr«;n-ey«^ little black thing ever seen by roan, had 
been intpdducwl and prorided with the farthing's worth of milk 
Elipulatcd for, Peggy rcvivetl the subject of the lady. But in- 
dirrctly, baring had some experience of the upsetting effects of 
direct examination on Alice. 

"We shan't break llie saucer Hits time, Alice, shall wet Becanee 
this time there's no lady with spots enraing downstairs." 

"There was. h«fore" said Alice, with emphasis. She was rather 
ap in arms to protect her story from doubts that might be cast 
«i it; perbapA se^g through a ccrtnin amount of pretence in the 
general aeceptance it had received, and suspecting, without putting 
the aiiiipicion into wdrds. that hIic was being treated like a child. 
Of course she reallt' raas a great, grown-up tfitX of six. 

"And >Im' camn ripht through tliat door at the top of the stairs, 
that swings both ways?" — Pttwy remembered perfectly that the 
contrary wa« irtute<l. but thnughl this a good way of getting a re- 
peat. She was right. Alice shook her head a long time, and then 
dischargifl a denial, like n gun. 

«I — thed — sol Becoth the dooi^becoth the door — becotb the 
door » 

"Yes. dear, because the door whati" 

"Becoth the door Ihgueaktk!" 

"I seel Of course it always squeaks when it's opened. And this 
time it didn't squeak, so it wasn't opcm^li" Alice nodded a gTc«t 
many tiroes to this, rather as approving its clcamcM of statement, 
as well as confirming its truth. 



I 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



n 



And Charley burst 
U!" he crii-d. "A« 



"Poolhy ilidn't bear it, iiecrer." »ttid slie. 
out laughing. — "ftTiat a funny little tot it 
griivf IIS a judgt;!" 

"Hush, Charley, don't!" enid bis siatvr. "Do be discreet, or wc 
•han't geX any more " 

"She doesn't iimliTatJincI ** 

"Oh — doifan'l she* — she's as sliarp as a rator— "' And thru 
addreEsins Alioc — ^"Never mind hiro imd hia nooseuae, popiiet — 
he's oiily laughing at us. You'll tell inc tinol.l)i*r lime hovr tlu! 
l«dy ramo downatiirs, w-on't you?" Alice uodded. "And how 

ahic fttni out into the area f Morv m(kI». "And how vbe went 

right up the am Btupa and out into the siroett" 

The Tigour with which Alice Kliook hrr hcjid Ihrculvned diitloca* 
tioD. She drow a trciueudous breath to supply hor denial with 
force. 

"I tb^d — the litty went past the coal-thellsr, and I thed — ibe lidy 

wcni to the grite iron gite acrost tlic niroy and I thcd " hore 

wtnc confusion came in — "No! I didn't tJjed — there wathn't no 

litiy And Poothy theed lliere wathn't no lidy— And 

fstber came out " 

Thn iilight iniltxition of the child's voice as she Bai<! "father" 
contained its tribute to hts memory — and wns more cxpreasiivc tJian 
An «pitnph. llnd her brother not been there probably Peggy 
would have made her talk about father, and she could have liod a 
good cry. But in nuch n connection the old "T«."o la company and 
three is none" is more than ever true. So it was best to turn th« 
convrrsation. 

"Why, Ali<«. I thought you said the lady went op the uea- 
steps !" 

"There watK no lidy" — this vwy emphatically. "Poothy theod 
th«re wjith no lidy " 

"You mean she disappeared?" Alice vmuldn't commit bcrwlf 
to biird word*, btit vnn inclined to invest in this one on speoula- 
Uou. She sanotionet) it with a abort nod, and her two hoaron 
glanced ut each other. 

"At^ there any area steps (" aaid Peggy. "T didn't ar* any " 

And this waa true, only Peggy hadn't looked. Alice's blue eyea 
opened wide and indignant at the suggcjition tJiat there were no 
area *tcps. "Come out and thee thorn." said she, 

"It's horribly dirty out there." said Ciiarles. 

"ThiH old nig of B thing won't hurt," said I'eggy. "I put it on 
purpose." And Alice wondereal alioiil lb? "old rag." She bad 
thinking how beautiful it was. all the way in tlie carriage. 



J 




AUCEFOB-SHORT 

But the Br«<a outside wns a tttizzls and a Ulthy placoi and we 
aLudd^.red at lU <luittp and driii utul rkiuIiI^ alinur. Th*: u«tori« 
of TAtB ibnt exploded nod fled aa we «m«rgcd into their disagTceablo 
[Mirfuniu u-c-rv mivimii.v and monstroua cats, luifit to Utv and «)• 
most incapable of death. Surely «-ilcbc« — the norst witcbw— bad 
be«n «haii£«d iutu tlit-m a liuiidrt<l yeara ajto; und now. when 
J'l^KT in all her yivulh and bcawty, and tho old ran that wouldn't 
hurl. Btcpped out into their preeerve aiid sent tht-m fl,ving. miij- not 
one of thcni haw; Mtil. oa she flung a cur«c back at her — ^"I loo 
»aa yoDDx and beautiful onoe, like you 1 But I gare m.vself to the 
DcTiI. und ihtM ia bia graliliidel" — You majr fnci inclined to 
exclaim: "This is an entirely unwarrantable B|jeeul at ion. based upon 
no data; a ncothco»i>i>hic«l nrincumnli"ni«in without ao much aa 
a fingle Himalayan Brother to baok you upl Justify your absurd 
imagination by the jimductinn of additiati' and suhiitnntifll evi- 
deoce, or proceed with your story without raising irrelefanl i^ues, 
and giving ynur rrsdcr the trouble of finding out how much ho 
may akip will) safety" — that la to say, if you ore in the habit cf 
indulgiiifc Id Ions exclamations. Should you do ao our rvply i«: — 
if yoti think our oumiiMi about IiAndon cat* so Wry absurd, atudy 
ibem more, and note the effect on your opinion. 

However, it won't do to Imve Prgg}' standing in that grimy door- 
wuy, in tluit flllhy uroa. while we sift this question i<~i the 
N:illoni. Sh<' didn't vtatiil tbcre ni'>rr than just long enougli for 
the cats to ilisperse; and then emerged nuiilcd by Alice, who kept 
liiibt hold of her hand. "The roaltli ilh in llicrc," »ai<i ulie, 
"'and ihu dulhl in tliere" — and pointed to two vaults in which only 
permna of iron oonstitution eould have enjoyed a long imi)ri!ion- 
mcnt for life "Thwlhr itb the area steps," Alice esphiined, 
touchiuR one to make quite sure. 

"Thi-n." said Pt^igjv "wiittre is the great gate, or grilo 
gite!" 

"That's round the corner," wiid Charley, who was following in the 
rear. "Miss Kavanagh must have seen the lidy through the win- 
dow—" 

"Froo my bedroom window," says Miss Kavanagh. "And mother 

come out— and father como out. And there wnthn't no lidy " 

and Alice goes on shaking her bead with a wistful expreeaioii. 
dramatically indicative of fruitless tieareh. They went round the 
comer In ilw- gn-at gatn. Peggy and CharU-y looked at one anotber. 
"Tou go inside, Charley." said she. "See if you can we me hero 

from the pnaxiiRr — I'll iitop outnidi; thr wiiid<iw " He went in- 

Btdu and presently returned. "Kiss Kavanagb'a all lis^^" ^ 




AUCE-FOR-SHOKT 

SBid. "Tou cnn see quite pluiii from wheta Puas^ was drtok- 
ing the tuilk." "And Poothy could tbee too," said Alice, who 
!«n>mp(I tp apprM'iatc the Icstimonial to her accuracy' 

"Well — it's a f uniii' story 1" said Peggy, and both gave it up as a 
liiirl job, and turned to go iii<Ioors. 

"But 1 4id thee the lidyl" erics Alice, apposltngly. 

"Of ROurK you did, denr! By tJie liyp. you'vi; never told ufl 
what father and mother SBid. What did father say?" 

"Thjiid I was dt'nniiu'. But I waso't deainin'. 1 was awik c " 

"And what did molht.'r say V 

"Thuid I wath n lilth- liar! " And Peggy fdl thai her 

wiihes for tliat good woman's recovery became more difficult. Sbo 
changed the subject. "T wish," she said, "Mrs. Twills — is ahet — 
would leave the boys alone. They weren't doing us any harm." 
For the party bnd not been twi-tity HCcoiids Ju the area before 
lebiuacliles becfln agglomeratinR axninst the airey-pnlins above 
them, offiTJng thpir serviues witli cimfidt-nci?. au<l roiunleering 
uaeless information. They also threw each other's ■ hats doira 
through tiir pnliiis, ntiii then dmi<'<] liuviug iJoiic so. Mrs. Twills'* 
attempts to disperse tlieoi were well-intentioned, but inefFoctual. 
It WBJ! time wc went in. clearly. 8o wc did w. and perhaps the boys 
went away. And probably the cats eauie back. 

"It wouldn't be such a dreaiJfnl plnw if it were clean," aald 
Peggy. And Charles mentioned that iklrs. Twills meant to do it 
out an soon a* there was Time. But ihRn- wus a nolc of uneer- 
tflinty in his voit-e. and l>oth appeared cautious about going int« 
details. After all. it w.as the landlord's business. Whi-m was if. 
"it" happened? — This was Peggy's question to her brother, at n 
moment when Alice appeared absorbed in Pussy. They passed 
through into the kitchen. 

Mrs. Twills was always a phase, and never a permanency: and 
.she had left behind, at her own 'ousc, n superior class of furniture 
to that »hc found on the premises. So the Kavanaghs* goods re 
matned for tlie lime being undisturbed. Until it was certain 
that the woman was not going to recover, action was paralysed — or 
rather action didn't want to be bothered, huring phtnty to see to 
clucwhcrc. So the TIouBe Agents who had charRc, and who 
repreaeolt-il nelton in this case, availed tliemsidvai of tlit; ik-oting 
nature of Hrs. Twills a% a stop-gap. and stood it over for a wook or 
eo, till we could see our way. Mr«. TwilU's attitude, eo far aa it 
could be understood, seemed to be that of premature rcacotmcnt 
against a.isumcd allegations of interference on her part. It 
was surmised that she said that everything was left just as it was— 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



n 



JOO! 



she vMU't fX>ioe b> medilic uritb unytbiitg. Sbi; kft nn imprciMion 
of havinjr ccncured tho humnn raoo for a vice of interpoeition in 
«adi other's affairs tbat she naa nobly exempt from. Sim can 
tutrdljr bv stiid to hjivp upokrn on the eiibjccl. She wiliidrvw nftcr 
producing an eSect of having done so, and irant upaUits with a 
pail. 

"It w«B iu here," said Charles. "Nol — not the poisoninit— the 
m«r. Ilprc*': thp hammer." Vtesj iihu<lil<!n,'d. It wan an awful, 
larKo c&st-irou hammer, with m sharp oomer on the square front. 
It liiu] cnmi' out nomeltnw on tlx! loqutTfll that it hud been uaed 
bi* eooie previous leuants to break oonl, and had 1>ccn forsnttrn 
and found in the ct'llar. — "No wonder it took the scalp nearly 
off." said Charles, "i'oor fellow r" 

"Poor woman. / Hhi>u)d «>' !" said V^ggy. 

Toor woman of eaurso, but poor fellow too!" But both were 
really most »orry for him — there was no doubt of it I 

"1 wonder what's in here," said Pemcy. prying into the drowent of 
a tnbli! that tuid a titrung upi>eurau<M! of having seen better days. 
It had been a wedding prewnl. twenty-odd year.* ago, and was onrt 
of the two or three things the couple had \uM on to. Charles 
rema^(«l on hia nistiT's invniiinn of wic-rud privacy; and she said 
she didn't care, sikI it eouUlu't do any harm. She pulled out 
■ portfolio, or what soomcd like one. But it wasn't a port- 
folio. It was a series of pictnneB on miUboard flaps, folding like 
* ocnx^— it was the young gentloiaan of property who had adorned 
the glorious fibop-window in the years of hope and youth long 
gonn. He had liocn cnn-futly prr^snrvnd, and waa «ti]l Kmiling 
cheerfully and immovably iu all bis costumes. But could ha 
bnvi- apppart^ now in iht- 3i'!ih. it ni'vi-r wout<! I>avL> <li>nc to elothe 
it iu coat^ and trousers of that cut. I'all-Mall would have 
disowned him, and PicciudiUy would have cast liiin forth. But 
his portraits had been treasured by tlieir owner, in whose heart hope 
had never quit« died out tluit they should one day reappear iu 
tlieir Eptendour. before it was quite loo late for them to bo tbo 
fnxhion. Of cotirac poor Kavauagh kuew latterly they were 
as eKlinet a« the Pharaohs, bathe clung to them mechsnicaliy, and 
ki^it them cWn. To throw them away or burn them would 
have been to fldmit that there never — no! nvTcr— would be n now 
Kbop again ! 

Of course Pejcgy and Charles did not grftsp tlus rvlalion of the 
colourml printH to tlic ruined lif<! of their kte possessor. Tbi^ 
only said "Some of his tailors' costumes," and how funny they 
looked nowadays! — '*Only look at hi* tight trouRira and his absurd 



I 



I 



19 



ALICE-FOR-SUORT 



rftwer" 



-np coVja*," ■aid Peggy, nnd (ludKd them bsck in die drawer 
ftod ehut it. 

"And fhm," Mid »!i«, "he w<'nt nway nnd swallowed the pmson 
In the otlwr room C 

"Qiiit^r nway nt tlic end nf the passjtec," «tid Charles. "Wo 
can Ko thcrv. but it's very dark." — For the afternoon waa becoming 
the t-'vouinf;, niid Fehruery cHn bn very dark nt hulf-pa^t four in a 
London baactncnt. Mrs. Twille had lighted the gas in the khchen. 
Charlea seuure'd the \nix who«* mutclu^, when they decided to ignite, 
didn't care whnt they did it on, and led the way out. Veggy 
calW Alioe. hul got uo uuBurer. 

'*\\'hcTC it that yoiiiiB person 1" said ehe. 

"Moat likoly along tlu-rt — ihe room iihc lOept in," Mid her brother. 
So they paiutcd alnntt the dnric pag8a«e, past the inexplicable bulk- 
heads and ciateniH and pipK-a^gloiurruliiiiiK. k-aving Alice, as tbi-y 
thought. U-hind. Charles tighted a notch or two on the way to 
help them forward, "tit-re's ilie room." said he. 

"Whnt'!« thatr wiid Peggy. And what was whnt? — asked 
Charles io return. "It'a the child eryinjt," she continued. "I'm 
sure it isf And so it was, for when they went into the room, there 
wait poor AIiei% who had found hi^r way thure in the dark, to cry 
by herself in the room whore father died. "Ob. you poor little for- 
tmki'D aerap!" aaid P<«gy. picking her up and giving her a good 
lon^ kiss. Alice indeed needed consolation. "Was — father— 
really — died — hi-ri'?" slw? aatd between her eobs. She hadn't been 
frijcbtened of the darkness i in fact she seemed lo have thought it 
waH ittill light. I:i it true Londoner this singular belief iu dayliiibt 
after the fact is not nncommon; and leads to rnfuwils to light the 
gas, in deference to ipai-.dixits to tlie effect that we can see to 
read. And we can't, and wc know we arc putting our cyiai out. 
If such thinfca be iu upper stories, what can wo expect in base- 
ments! Perhaps too Alice had lived ko ninr^ in tlu! dark that it 
<lidu't terrify her as it did us in our childhood. 

"May I have Poothy (o tik(> Ut 1h<^ big houw-r' said Alice 
Children of six don't cry for ever, and the reeurrence of Pnwy, a 
good deal too full of milk, and quite hard like a bulli-t. supplied th« 
context for a new parngrnph in Alice's life. Yce! $h« minht 
bring Pir«tiy, but Puaay was not to be allowed on the oushJona of 
the carriage. 




Wbon Ur. Charles and Miss Peffity and Puasy and Alice reached 

Hydft Park Gardens (about which journey w« roay remark, in the 

pi a conundrum, that onr first and our scoomi execrated ouy 



J 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 79 

tilted, wbo ma not allnwMl on the liip »f our fourth), thej found 
» vuiuff awailinf; them, who vae ]>r. JohnsoD, Sir. — "It's not tl;e 
Lcxicogrnphnr, Pi<g," Mid CburlcH. "So :>-i>u iiiceda't look ao 
f ruchlened !" — It vas, in fact, a younn doctor from tbo Hoo- 
pitnl. whom Clitirlt-s linii idjuIo wmu- iifquaiiiiaiioe witJi on his 
ret.'eut visits, lit* was passinx quite cloov, he raid, and bud 
called to leli Mr. TTcath ttut ibu patieut he was interested in was a 
good d«ai better, and if Pytemia didn't »ct in, etc. But tbo 
said patient was fidgeting about tlic little jcirl. 8fae bad beeu 
told atiout ber basband— »*li ! it couldn't be helped — of course her 
d^Kwition bad been taken as soon a» fhe wa* fit to make one^ 
you aee she mi^bt havi- gone delirious, and died, any lim»~fir»t 
interval was lokeD. Dr. Jolinson iboiight it might bu well for bet 
to *i-L> the link girL 

Mr. ilealh tboDS^t not. He did not like to set up his judffntent 
in opposition to that of »tbL>ra bntto- qualified to judge. "But 
really, my dear Sir. the woman was such an nwful womitn " 

"A — what sort of an awful woman ? What did sbe seem like to 
you? How should you describe heri" 

"A r<-giilnr Jeu'bcl — a dniiikcii rirago jusi on the edge of 
delirium tremens. A horrible hagl" 

"OnrirtU" 1 Still, one doiw niei-t witb tlieae casea," 

"But why curiouat Doesn't abo acem like that to you 
now *" 

*Tfot the least. I believe she was different when she first cann! 
in. / didn't me her. The 11ousc»Surgeon and the Nurse had 
your imprmion of bor ihougb " 

"Do you mind my calling vay sister T I should lEke her to beat 
your aetmiut herself ." 

"Not at all." And rrnlly whr-n we cniiH' to tliink of it. thers 
wan no reason whatever whj" Dr. Johnson should object to Mr. 
Uealh ealliiiB hi« sistvr. "Especially as he tben-on beard her «y 
in ttic di-tianee. "Yes plMse. I should like to if I may." If lie bad 
made any objections perhaps he would Iihto withdrawn them ou 
benriniu; Mr. Heath's sister's voice. Il was one that caused imm^ 
diate curiowty to are ita owner. 

"Very well, then ! I shall expect to m* you to-morrow at half- 
pa«t ten at the Hospiul." It is Dr. Johnson who Ppcaka. and wo 
have skipped a Rrcat deal of unneecii«inry interview. "I auttcipaie 
from wliat Mr. Heath has been telling me that you will be rather 
surprised. Dear im-. i« that HeT<:ii o'oluek? I must hurry. But 
really you an so awfully jolly, and youi hair itk so lwaul\i>^V fttA 



I 



M 




n 



ALICE-FOK-SHOBT 

Boft, am! your now is such a perfectly snlisfaclory wose. nnil your 
mouth ie sti slienliiti-I.v right in nil n-jqioctx whether it speaks or is 

rileat, while as for your voic* ! It«aUy I mufit run 1 

Gooil'tiight, Miss Ilrntht G<>o<1-nigbt, Mr. Ilcathl To-morrow 
at the Hospital at half-past ten " 

Aad thiit young cloH<>r riinn nnd ■■ntches a cab, and t^lla it to 
fiet along sharp. He does not know — yet — that hta life has just 
boon sliced into tvo diittinet IibIvl'S. liku B C and A D, by bis 
chance visit at the great big house where be left the tirHt gong 
ringing for dinner; and where the girl hp hnd bocn talking with 
said to her brother an she went away to dress — *'Wbal vi-ry nico- 
looking young doctors tJn-y have nt that Hospital! Can't you 
fetch me a few more, (^harlej- 1" And CUurky rppliwl that one 
WHS enough. 

PerliBpa I ought to mcintion tlint the portion of what thn nice- 
looking young doctor said between the words hurry and rvaily / 
must run was not said uuiUbly, nor in fact said at all. But ha 
thought it just the tame for all that. 

At half-past ten next morning Alice found borsclf standing by fl 
Romcthing on a bod in jin cnormou" momfnl of bed", with Mi«» i 
Teggy beside her. telling her that that was mother. For Alice 
found it hard to mnlw out whnt wn" that cnlonrlniwi figuri- with lh« 
head bound up in bnodages. like a sort of muRuuy, that lay so still 
nnd fqjokc sm low. And then preiu^tly whe inw ihnl it wa* motbitr 
Bure- enough, though she spoke unlike her, and very slowly. aiiii_^J 
never moved her hfiad, only her cyea, '^H 

"Is that Alict-r ^ 

"Please, Mother, yes," Mid Alicei and was frightened at tho 
sound of her own voii-e. 

"It was drink " The woman got th\iB far — then sremed to 

atop less for want of something to say than from not knowing 
exactly to whom shn was t-peaking. Peggy detected this. an<l 
sitting down by the bed placed her hand on the colourless hand that 
lay outside tJie coverlid. It moved slightly townrd.i bi-r in iv- 
sponiie — and her eyes followed the movement, 

"1 don't know. Ma'am, who " elie l>egnn. and Peggy aupplied 

the information she was framing her speech to ask. 

"Mr. Heath's aiiiter, <in the first lloor " Peggy wa* colloqaial, 

hut people arc, in real speech. It is only in books thoy talk like 
bookK. 

"Mr. Tleath in the spectacles — kind to Alice — 1 was not." 

,iice hasn't said so, Mrs. Kavanngh. Alive Bays you irer9 



I 



ALICE-FOB-SHOBT 



81 



often rei; kind." This was quite uumuruited, but Alice coa- 
firaiod it wicji nixlH. 

"Mr, Heaib waa kind," aays her motlior, avoiding Ibe point. 
"Ilo wa* kind when Alicr broke the jug — Um jug *« found in the 
little cellar— is that hiJn I" 

"No. ThiB is* Dr. Johiiaon." For it liad b«n docidcd Pegsy 
and Alioe should no alone. Too many would do no good. Peggy 
tbinkit it vratikl hi: \]fM to !(-t her talk of rosy thitiga, and rallM^ir 
wetcoDMA this jux. She vants to avoid ihc hualiand and lh« poison. 
"Whens did you find the jug, Un>. Kavunngh f 

"There was a kind of [ilaco in the wall, u sort of hole going low 
down. Samut] — that was toy husband, iUisa — cleared it out. It 
<raa clay and sand like, and the jug buricil In it, stood right in 
omler llw pavi-mrnt anil covered over." 

"Wasn't it broken 1" 

"Not brokv — oh nul We th<>ught to keep it for thft beer. 
It was wrote over witb verses — coorais and picturea," 

•TVa* thvrt! nothing there but the iugT' 

"Just the j'u^." Uul a moment after ehe continued: "No^ 
Utaa. I woQ*t t«ll any untruth. When wc come to look, there 
was a ring. In the iug." 

"Rid you keep the rJngr 

'•Took ii to the pawashop." Peg|!>, Rlanctug round for grown-' 
up eyni|>athy, meets the eyna of the young doctor, who elevates bia 
erebrowa with a alight "Of coune" nod. *^ou don't know about 
pawnshop*, Alias f 

«Oh dear, yea, I dor 

"I'm fearing the ticket may be toet Out of my dress-pocket. 
This gentleman " 

"1 sno. Mra. Kavanagh. Yon mean it was in the dress you had. 
on. Will you eni]uire. Dr. .loUiison!" — No doubt about that, any- 
how ! Dr. Johnson goes awny to cnquiro. The voice of the woman 
dropa. and Fefcer stoops to catvh what she is sayiij^. Sbt- speuks 
with much effort, but elenrly and eonseeutivoly ; 

"You will wonder. Jliss. but I would like to tell you." — Peggy' 
nods go on.— *'lt was the drink — it was all the drink. "My mother 
was good, but she died of it. It was one story alike — for her and , 
for mft" She paused n weond. Best not to hurry her. thought 
Peggy, "She'd had six." she went on, "And she waau't the atroiig'^ 
woman 1 was, at the first go off." 

Peggy felt the whole tale was told, for both, hut she lot bor finii 
it her own woy- 

"1 had been a total abalaincr, Uias, from fear of it. And 



«s 



ALIOE-FOB-SHORT 



RiiRiucl, I mndp of him n total too, or near upon it. It nude bim 
some hsjipy ilfliB, and made me." 

"But whnt vt»* it madir yoii givfl it upl"' 

"WbDl eau a womaii do. Miss, when her etrength is not eoough? 
And when the Hwrtor «)Tnpa and iinj'it, 'You must dritik stout'— 

"You niilit take |>ort' ( It beKan ao with her — it be^n so with 

line I And what pnuld you hope from » man, but follow on i" 

"Oh. Mr8, Kavauaiurh! 1 am so aoiry for you. I eec^ it all — so 
plain!" The woman dropped her voice to a whisper. "Does (h« 
child know ? Dooa Alimt know I" mt 

"About her father! I don't know. 8h« knows he is dead." H 

"Whwi Hhif ia old enough to nmh-rstiitid, will ,toii ic II her all {" 

"You mustn't talk like that. Mrs. Kavanagh. The doctors soy 
you wit! ifet up, and he yourwlf again-" 

"Not to truaf to. Miss- Muoh best the oilier way. Iiltich best." 
TJr. Johnson rptiinm. lie him found the i«wn-tieki-t. The patieiU 
iinderstauds and says: "Give it to the lady to ke^ for Alice." 
Peggy hcsitjites n minute, then put* it in her pura& The doctor 
goes away to another bed. 

A nursing sister comes up, and think* lh« patimt ha» tallu'd 
enough. Her tenipiTut)in> n-ill go up if she talks any more. 
PeRKF says "Kiss your mother, Aliw." and facilitatfn her doint; 
BO. And mother f«'!» like ii hit of eold wotid to Aliee. Aiid tliea 
Alice thinks slie must be dreaming. For the beautiful young lad.v. 
tJie ineredilili' being who hitu rome like ii atrnngi- rcvi-Iuliou into 
Alice's life, herself stoops and kisses the cold wooden imaire. and 
says, "flood-bye, Mrs. Earanngh. God blesnt you!" And the 
imag? repeats, "God blesa you. Miss, Tell AliG&" And then 
they go It way. 

They are met by the young dootor, and Alitw'a dr^ain con- 
tinu<!N. In it she and he and Miss Pcffgy arc driven to a 
strange street, not very far off. and there lie pels down and is a 
long time in a rnriouK i-hop. lie brings with him when he comes 
out a little packet which he hands to Miss Peggy. "I'm not at 
all Htir<!," he tmyN, "that you have any Icgul right to it,'' and fth« 
replies. "It was given to me, anyhow, and I shall keep it for 
Alie« until it* rightful owner claims it." 

That sums up all Alice saw. But we, who know all things, can 
assure you tbot that young doctor went awny in a tiirmoil of 
conflicting emotions, and bad a narrow escape of killing a patient 
thai aft«rnoon by writing a prescription wrong! 






CHAPTEH IX 



or THE NEW TESASITn AT NO. 40, AKD BOW KB. HEiTH HADE TRm 
AtValNTANCK. Of TUB CATS* BOXES, ASO Of OB. JOllNnUN's INPATU- 

tnaa. 

Tni: groiin<l floor and basenunt At No. 40 did not find occupatlt 
rery quickly. The Undlorii wm Me to wait for hxa moniiy, 
nnturnllr prrfpnwi wailiii^ for a larK* sum to waitiiic for a Ginall 
ooe. A trait of thi» sort makes ti* f<«1 tlwt 1aii<llunls am liuinua' 
too, ** wtill at (oriBiiia. For no doubt the latter, if titej could 
deep with comfort in the ^tter, would wait for 9ma.\\ rents, hy 
choice. 

Pope & Chippeil, the fltfiiiied-sUiw witid<iw makcnt in the nest 
■tteet were able to wait until midsummer, when they hnil rm-tivi-d 
notice to quit, m$ the liousn wnc cDiiiing down. But they were not 
prepared to go to a hundred aud twenty for the prt'iiiisi-ft at No. 40,1 
(ntai>p«dl wsK of s weak and timoroun nntiirc, mu! in v\ev/ of the 
exaot sniTabilit)' of those premises, would fain have hurriod mat- 
t«ni and at once wcnred Ihem. But Pope, who wan »»tiit« und fur- 
eifcfated and wiry, aud batl a wnll-f7,'p. rrfuw-d to listen tvt tho 
whiiqHrTinKH of pusillanimity, nnd pointed out his reasons tol 
Cbappi'!!. vfhotn hi- rnllwl loo cautious a bird by Kiilf. 

"I took stock of 'im." said he. referrinc to the landlord of ?fo. 
40, affi-r an intiTi-iorw in which he had offorrd £fiD a year, on con- 
dition that he, the landlord, ahould put evi^rylhinK into startling 
order, n^conatnict mo*t things, and paint all Burfflcc* oxcrpt tho 
window-panes with four coata of good oil paint, two fUt aud two 
round. 

"I took stock of 'im, Mr. Clinppnll. and you mark my wordsl 
Wo shall itet those premises for three, five, or seven at ninety-five, 
lawful wear and tear dooly permitted, and knock 'em about just as ] 
wc like* 

And Mr. Pope w^nt on touching up a head willi tnr-oil and a 
ctippIinK bmi>}i, while his partner (who couldn't paint) busied 
hliiiaftlf on a wDrking drawing of l^od-lim^. The advaiitago of 
having something to do while you talk is that you take time to 
Ifaink of what you are goin^ to any, and pretend il U VyirciMaa ^um 

88 



M 



nre grnppling vilih n criHiH. Mr. Oliappirll took 9o much time that 
Mr. Pope, who was able to paint the rijifat-haiid thief in a three- 
light onicifixion niid talk at the saute moment, spoke again l>efore 
he found an.vtbins to eaj: 

"Thi.s Itiniilor>l ohnp lu- wasn't born yeateniaj-- I as good aft 
heard him say to 'imeelf, 'These two Johnnies 'II come back a wcele 
birfon- I.aily-Day and make nie a 'undaoitie offer.' Do yon Hitppo«c 
be don't see we want the plaeel Of eonrsc be does! / Took atock 
of "im." — Mr. Pope, like Mr. .TetrylhooBht, droppr'd hi'' (i.ipirntrs. 
iitit never ax if be did it in fun. It was altrays plain that he 
couldn't li(-lp it. Jirff, on the contrary, seimicd to think it humoroiiB. 

Mr. Chappell pretended the leads were ea^, juBt this minute, and 
nskcd hi.H purtni^r what he. mnde of tbstt 

"Only tbii=: — be thinks bo can rely on ub for one-twenty. So 
the next Johnny who t-omes for the crib he'll sny one-thirty to. 
Twigi Safe for one-twenty; try for one-lhirl.v. sa.vs he!" .^^ 

"But suppose his new man takes ih^n nt one-thirty f ^fl 

"Naw feeaht" — Mr. PopG gained foree for this expression of 
fnith in tile ntrxt Johnny's worldly prudence hy speaking through 
hin DOt«, which ho placed slightly on one side for tlie purpose. 

"But why let tliis landlord chap see we want the place! Wberc^i 
the sense of being so tr^iisiiarent V 

"To advuntage it, Ur. Chappeil. Have you got the idearl" 

"No, I haven't." 

"Well, but it's like so much daylight. Just you go on (in your 
innocence and simplicity) meaning to gire one-twuity, and Inst 
minute change your miu<t Just the end of the quarter — you seel 
Only mind you — you must play fair, «nd really mean it — becauM 
folk arc that cunning and euspioious, you can't foxy 'em without 
Tcsortin' to honesty." 

'"Weil. Mr. Poiw, we must hope you're right. But you're bead- 
Blrong—you're headstrong I I nhould hove snid — close with oni>- 
iweuly. with immwiialc posscMion, and get out of this as fast as 
we can. We shall have it down' on onr hpads " 

"Not we," said the astute one. "Spring Gardens nin't con- 
d<;mning these premises becauee they're ruinous, but becauM? tbi-y 
can compel to set back, and get the line of the street, on rebuilding. 
Spring Gardens ain't so green as you'd think—judging from tba 
name!" 

Whether Mr. Pope was right or wrong in hia views about MuniiN 
ipa] OovemmtDt at that date is no concern of ours. We merely 
record what he said. Our reasons for giving the conventation at 
all ar« not quite clear to oureelvee, because all we want is to know 



I 





AllCE-FOR-SnOBT 



68 



tfast Pope & Chappcl) took the basomcnt nod ground door of No. 
40 on a lease al a realal o{ £110 aniiuoily. and (but tfai^ workinm 
ctmc in at Linly-Day to <lo it trp, Ucsxrs. !', & C hnvinjt uD<ier- 
taken In put thc^ place in tliorougli repair, and kt.i-p it no, in n.-tuni 
for n year «-nt-fri-c. 

But baviu^ written out Oiia conrenuilton, it mnj "tand. For 
you mar be interested in obserrinR that liad it not hwa for Mr. 
Pope's far->ij;ble(i jiolicy juat uftur Ctmstnm*. wht-n d\ic notice 
came to clear out at Midit^mtner, the stained-iilase firm mitckt have 
tak<-n possession forlbwitli, and Aliee nii(;ht never Uav<- ^'unc for 
the beer — from that houso at least — and then Hyde Park Uardena 
would hare known iiothiii); about hijT. Set- how thin thiii^ luingA 
on that, and that ou t'other; and then niomlim? if you think you 
will b<- any the wisiT for doing so. Wl- don't I 

Pope & Chappell stipulated to bo allowed to place a furnace for 
dlniii-finng in Uur viiiiltii. wWrerer convenient, luid to vitilise an 
exTerual Que on the side of the house. This was not done without 
the aanction of the Inmirnnwr Office, who sent a sToili'lcss and in- 
experienced youth, who evidently knew nothing about fire, and 
little about other subjects, to inspect and report. They departed 
from the wbolcaomi' prnHice of dfi-lining to insiin^ uiJi-as there waa 
no risk of 6re — but then the landlord of the premises was a Dlrec- 
lor. So in the ciirly day" of April after the January in which wo 
becan. Charles Ueath and his friend Jeff found intfresa and egrcsa 
difficnlt owing to Bfcslomeration* of plnnks and pails and trestles 
in the entranoe-hall of the house;. Positive assuraacea that thi-y 
wouldn't bo in j/our way didn't carry conviction to a mind in- 
Tohed in a forest of trestlc-li-ffii. s()lieitou!i for t.hp pre»pr\-alion of 
ita owner's clothe* from a cataract of whitewash, and apprebenfiive 
of the worst eonsequcneea to his Imt from Ihu wlfish pn-orcupation 
of pcrsous overhead, it was small consolation to know that strip- 
ping and ciear-<WHtiiig would bi? done by Thur««lny, when our 
natural mtisfaction at eeeinjc the last of such cheerier? operations 
wn.1 to be blighted by n rtrvelation of the time the painting itself 
was KoiitR to take afterwards, 

"It's all very fine. Jeff." said Charles, after eliciting figures 
from the builders' foreman — "but you look in Yasari. I'm sure 
Michael Angrlo didn't take- ea long as that over the Sistiiie 
ChapeL" 

"Yon ain't nounlin* for the difference between oil-paint and 
fresco, 'Eaih. Only one co<it in fretco." But this was only Mr. 
Jeir« plcJiswitTT. 

When Pope & Chappell came, in earnest, tbey buret out <nv ^^ 




i - 



8« ALICE-FOB-SnOBT 



■» ™.." 



front door lut an oruption of blade Icttcn on a braxx plate. It vM 
splend)<I. nod j-ou couiO Had out what it spelled by asking th« name 
of the Firm at the Offico od the Eround Hoor. But it was as dif- 
ficult to read as Oacan. 

A niiiric in (hi- Vtilgntir vtm legibli% and said Offi»?<?'B('ll. in n 
t-oruor ut the bolloni. For a fiction existed that trade was not 
tolcrntrd in that houiw, based on some cinnso in (hi: li-iisr!. Tills 
<>ou!t] only be luiowu to people great enough to communicate with 
the Estate — an I«is lirJiiud a veil, to whom tint i>f Snia wub puklieity 
itself. Even the Laiidlord'e eye had not wen her. nor hie car 
lioard, and he could only commiinioatc with bur through her oolici- 
tor, who would give you a receipt for money, but would leroal 

Ur. .Ti-iT, bein/ur a free and easy sort of fellow, soon pidcod up 
acquainlancp with the Firm. Charlis* Heath showed rf«erve. ami 
was toiuhrmned by Mr. Pope as stand-oifish. Perhiipa br was. But 
then when you have nn imprtwaion that a person is a howling cad — 
whaltrer the esact meaning of tbnt fxprcasion may be — and 
sa; so. no ono will be sun>riMd that you do not court hi« 
society. 

"Ho ain't exactly that, 'Eath," said Jeff, the tolerant— "IHs 
game isn't your ponw? — but he ain't a bad irhn[i." — Jnff IcvclUsi 
«v«rrbod,v up and down, and was secretly of opinion that his friend 
Heath waa given to ri<liii(t the 'igh 'orse. Possibly be waa. He 
didn't dismount on this occasion thoutcb. 

"What M his little game. J<-fff Unvtr you nmdp that out?" 
luiid hr. WbcroupoD JefE took time to consider, and didn't eeem to 
eoDsider (juipkly. And Charles repeated — "What is hia garnet 
ThatV what 1 want lo know." 

,I(-ff tvndi-d the pninl— "Of course he's not n Boya! Ac-ndemy 
Artist. Moddles au<l 'og's-hnir bnieiheA and screw-up easels and 
things. It's a Kirl of trade— kind of T>raperj- business. T Ray, 
'Eath. such a mmmj- BiartI" — Ajid ChurU-s relinquisJiwl his en- 
iguiring about ^Ir. Papc*s game, to hear about the rummy start.— 
*'What is. JeffC'saidhe. 

"Vcyptr'* a Protestant and ChappcH's a Calholict" 

"Well, of eourae it ought lo bi- the other way round — Pope ought 

to l»c a Catholic and Chappcll ought to be a Protestant " But 

Jeff didn't understand poiuta of this si>rt. 

"I found out why and all about it." aaid he. "It's becauM' of 
the trade. According to the shop ilie order eomi-s from. Whi-n 
it's a Catlidlic, Popo turns Chappcll on. When it's a i'lotestaut. 
rersy vlcerl" ^1 



AUOE-FOR-SHORT 



B7 
But Jeff 




"I »Bc! li'» M iDHcli moro conMdenliou* tor both." 
cmildo't understand it on those lines. 

"It'* lilw the 'Appy Fnmily in a cngp in Endcll Slrrot," ho 
Mid. "I fhould have thought they would burn each olbftr alive, 
lik.-G».v Foxv^r 

"Why don'l you write a siort «>nij>rehensivtr Hiatory of Engliind, 
Jcffr 

"Well — you know they uacd to cook t-ach otlier, likt- Ktonks, 
once." — And Churl** thought he could wc in this a memory of 
Ur. JefTs childhood, with a <lGtail misundentoud. Thi^ luit^r 
continufNl: "Chnppcll roccivc* the Catholic customrrs. I'ope dof?a 
all tl]c other sorts," 

"Ilnvo tht^- got plenty of work on bandl" 

"Heaps and Iwapa! Don't know whicJi way to turn! Didn't 
you »cc that window-light stuck up outside Ust weekP' 

"Tea, I thoufiht it lookwl wt if it didn't know which way to tiiml 
Starins KtraiBht nt you, like Electro-biology. What about itf 

"Weill That was for bi-r Muje*ty." 

"I wiab her joy of it. I'm sure." But for all Charles was so 
bish nnd mighty nnil itcomful, he felt a fort of curio«ity about tim 
stainnl-glsasinongera. 

3vfP» account of them wa« correct a» far as it related to their 
division of taliour. The fact is that the I)i«M>iiaiun§ of iho 
Churches among thcmwlves, and the fwrtticr <li««en8ions of I)i«- 
sntMH, an- an (■nibarraasnieiit to ilie Eeekaiaatii-al iIt«orative 
artist, who is rcluctantW forced to take the numerooii creeds of his 
clicntu into ecmsitdL-rution. If it were jiot for the Variety of 
Treatment for which tbpy afford openings ho would wish them all 
nt .TtTtcho — tliB crwKls, not the oliciilft. 

Mr, Jeff's having mnde aequo intn nee with the ground-fl'ior and 

laemcnt ti-jidcd to bring the fimt floor also in contact wIlli tlii-ni. 
But as lime went on another attractive force presented itwlf, in 
Alice's OMtociationo with thiH scene of her early cbiMiiood, At 
Hyde Park Gardens the child became more and more a favourite 
with the houirhold; which, without definitely unnouniiing ita in- 
tentionH, muile up ita mind not to part ivitli her, A vague purpose 
of sending her to some sort of school, not yet discovered, hnnji 
■bout the mpeuaible HCniora, but at.'cmed cji])uble of indeSnito 
jirocrseii nation. Peggy took her education in hand, and the 

nscholi) genornlly <!on»i<I<-red it bad a mission to make her make 
herself useful. She was very apt and eJevcr, and wc may assure 
rcad«n that in ihiii story there is no fear of Alice suffering from 
uental or moral neglect. It may even bo quceUoned vVvexVcr Vrt 



I 

I 

1 



88 ALTCE-FOR-SHORT 

nxyral eultuie might not bftTc boen allowed to InpAc at intoirals — ' 
the whole boufcliotd bavinft combiiiod (m it scpmed to Alioe) in 
brlugiuK to bear on her a heavy fire of maxims — a gthraae whicb 
striken one somehow as fajniliiir. But these wer« the old*£ashioiied 
sort, sucb as — "Little pirls sJiould be seen, not heard." — "Speak 
when you're spoken to— ilo ns you're bid." — " 'Waste not, wont not,' 
was the title of ibe book." — And so forth. Peir^cj' ^"id no (tun. or 
ncTor fired it. Therefore she was the n.itHrnI rvcipient of con- 
fidences wbicb of course never would have beeu given to Parlridflw. 
who was very good and kind, but for all that never to be relied on 
not to improve you. Now Alice could always talk to Pegjry with- 
out fcnr of ampliorstion. Conmrqiiently she told a great deal of 
her old life a( No. 40. and at previous domiciles. Ajid however 
□onacmsiea) or fictitious licr nairatives wjcmed, Peggy always 
Ustened lo them patiently, rather hoping she woidd hear something 
further abniit the lidy with the spots. But this story stemed to 
have been told complete, the firsl time she heard it, and no new 
light eame. 

There was, however, a frequent reference to the cellar-door be- 
yond the (trite iron rrite. It was Alice's first experience of the grisly 
mystery of the sulitt-rrimwin — of thcr sort of romance that iKrtonjta 
to the Caiacouibs of Paris and the dark arches of the Adelphi, and 
(with' leas of soil and horror) to the crypt of St. Paul's or any. ^H 
greut Cathedral; to rock sepulchres or the heart of the Pyramids. ^| 
even to the endless cavern that swallows Alph the sacred river and ' 
Ic^ds ti> a sunless sen. AU of us liuve felt Uie. fascination of thn 
underground, and Alice's imagination went back and back to tiiis fl 
dirty door in the back area. — "But I never theed nnytbins come " 
out," ehe said, iu reply to a question asked — "they all thtopped 
inthide. Yelh!*'^And Aliw nodded imprewively to her (iue«- 
lioners. who were Clmrlea and Pi-ggy. — "Wrll. Miss Kavanaeh." 
said the former — "one of these days we'll have 'em all out, and 
gel a good look at 'am." — Alice thoiiglit hirn rasb. but courageous. 

This was before Pope i Chappell came on the scene. When 
tliey first took possession it looked ai if tlie idea of exploring this 
repulsive cavern mii^t be given up. But when Charles. Klancing 
one summer morning down into the arm, Mw workmen actually 
^ing in and out of this very vault, of which they had daringly 
broken through the barriers, he rtsolred in iipitc of hi* dislike for 
the howling cad. and his not too favourable impression of the new 
tenants, to court their acquaintance to the extent of obtaining an 
ingress into the baiteroeiit. and to remount the high horse after- 
wards if it seemed necessary to do so. 



■ 



d 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 89 

'Ooin' in for beiu' forgivin*, are we, 'E»th i" Hnii] Mr. Jpff, when 
Any Cbarks cxprnwd an interest in statRed-e:)ass wtndowH, 
and said be shouldn't miiul seeing what tliasc chaps dovnetairs 
verv doinir- 

"Tou'Ii have to explain. Jeff, that I don't wont to put up a 
sa^morinl window, and lliiit 1 know no ono that does. Make 'em 
underetand tlutt I and nil my family oin-lf wish to hf forffotten, 
if ponible." — Mr. Jerrylhoiight gavo a knowing introspective 
nod.— Til attend to it," said he. 

"And I Bay. Jeff. Imk here. I think yon miffht gire them a hint 
that whnt interests mc is the firing — and the Atieking togetlicr, and 
all that. Because I don't want to have to admire their blemed 
designs!" 

Ton let mc alone— I'll fix you up. 'Eath."— And Charles had 
to bo contented with thiit much siifi-ifuaril. 

When Mr. Jeff introduced his friend to the partnership below, 
be di<l it with per?<i)iciioii* <rimdour, and no small amount of what 
may have been tact, as it seemed to work nry wcIL Whatever it 
was, there wn» plenty of it, 

"•Here's my friend 'Eaih—firBi floor 1 lie don't want to put up a 

lemorial window, An don't! He's a rfg"!nr artist, co]or-t»hc«, 
middle- distance?, Hglil and sJindc! — that's his gag! Royal 
idem; Artist Now you two euslnmcrs. I take it, are quite 
pair of shoes. Dim reiigioue light — dignity — simplicily — 
aroidanee of vulgarity — devotional fei-ling — that's your gsgl All 
right, o)d cockl I know. I got it tuil of the noospaper you lent 
me. It's all riglit, T know.'*— And Mr. Jeff felt that he was doing 
in*tic« alike to pictorial and monumeulal Art. 

"'Appy to ronkc your acnunintancp, Mr. Heath t" said Mr. 
Pope. "Our friend is pokin' his fun I I don't mind him. if you 
don't." — And Mr. Chnppell obsmrrd that everybody knew Mr. 
Jeff—! But there was a trace of dignity in his tone. 

"ituBtu't let me disturb you, Mr. GhappplI," said Charles — ad- 
dressing Pope by his partner's name; Jeff's correetion — "Tki* is 
IJr. ("happell"— cutting ncrofs his error. We dnresiiy this seems 
to jrpu almost loo trivial a thing to notice in a narrative. But you 
are miiitaken if you think so — for it made a considerable differ- 
ence in Charlec's attitude to Mr. Pope. His chivalrous nature 
felt thai compensation was due to that gentleman for calling him 
out of his name, and he became proportionately civil to him. Wo 
believe thi-n> are stolid philn«ophicnl lives that are quite umnflu- 
cnced by minutise of this sort — but we have not had the luck to 
lead ooe of them ourselves. Charles was really iotenwjlj **j»cK5Si- 







I 



M 




ALIOE-POB-SHORT 

biff on mich pointx, although for working puiposes be always 
sffectoi] a Spartau fortitude. lu this cose tlie result wns the <liit 
nplii'urnnci- from hia nest sprrch of a faint trace of loftiness anil 
ccii(l«8(«u»ion ahowu in bis Erst. 

"It's rntlifr a iJianio of mc and Jeff to come snd brp«k into your 
dayiight. Bui then I ihoviKlit wl« shouldw't s* wiOl lutfir, nnil 
Joff «nid yoti had a big bir i>f work completing, bo wo came down." 
— ^The oonceHBiou made hvrv wua ibat Cbarled hod oontitniplalwl 
bald indifTorcncc to thn hiprarchj*, and had schemed to get to the 
cellar as soon as possible under pretext of y*amiiig for t«dintcul 
infonontion. Now that he had put bimBclf in Mr, Popc'a debt, he 
would liquidate it by defereuee to the Esthetic aide of deooration. 
Pope and Oliappi^ll tnuM-d n moment boforo either replied — reflect- 
ing as a Finu reflects when its counsels are harmonious. "Canon 
Rhutcr'n window, I suppose," — "Mon> likely Dr. <,'ri'cd"3."^"\Vhich 
is J>r. Creed's t" — "That three-light lancet, for Bisliupskerswell." 

"One I saw waa for her Mojeslj," struck in itr. Jeff. — Mr. Pofie 
mtiled beniguty. 

"Wf don't aspire to ihnt heikth." sold he.— "What you gentliv 
ineii saw on the atairease was what we professionully term a 
MaJMlj' — not her Majesty, you sec, like Mr. Jcrryibought misun* 
dtsratuud it. W« were referria' to tin? figure itself — not the tlienL 
Ob, I assure you. Mr. 'Esrh, the ditficuhiea of dealiii' with thia 

cIhss of subject, especially in telegrams " Ohappcll iulLTrupt«<l 

Pope at this point. 

"I'll- got to g« downstairs," oaid ho — "IH lell Joe to bring all 
three lights up. Oh yes, they're readyl He was just nawdustJng 
otT the foee of tlic niiddin one vrhen I was down an hour ago." 
and Chappell departed, and in due cnurse Joe's footsteps cams 
outside, oud ae^nuenta of window were introduced and deposited 
to wail for more. 

"My partner he's partiewlar.'* aaid Pope, to explain Chappell, as 
he aeemed to tbink he needed it — ^"And yet he ain't a family man 
like me."— And went on to narrate how difCcult he found it to 
explain aacred aymbolic imagery to bis little Ijny Kit, four yeara 
old, who asked questions. Ami presently when the great work was 
being held up, Charles perceived the drift of this conversation, as 
no doubt you liat-e done. But he wondered at the humility of Ur. 
Pope's tone, about his rangv of patronage, na contrasted with his 
range of portraiturel 

A certain amount of inspection of n^ults was unavoidable, to 
pave tbe way fur an approach to the interesting means by whiclt 
they wcr« attained. In all the technical or applied Arts it is dcoo»- 



4 
I 



I 



• 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



91 



lui 



far; (or at anjr rate politic) to aSect a eatisfaction we do oot f««I, 
and don't beliew (bu Aiii«t ftrU i-ithcr, iit ilu- final utit(«me o( «> 
much patience trnd effort. If some pr^eocc of tbis «ort wcrp not 
k(-pi uii where wotild be tho rvUon d'Hre uf nU our cotta^ indus- 
tries: all our art need lew orks, «nd ccrratnic*; all our unmitifialcd 
train injcmJiooU. and di*(;r»<^(-ful i-xfaihilions I UnlMa aomebod; 
BOmelinies did the enjoyment, how could the rapid conversion of 
ll»e whole population into Art-Studi-nta. Art-T<yichi»r«, Art- 
Artistfi Rvnorally be juetifiedl If it vi«k to be candidly ndmittrd 
lliut nobody carta twopcnt^i! about Art-Arteries wheu tboy arc 

mpleted. yet boldly affirmed that ercrybody want» to haTe a hand 
ill making: sonie more, how would It be itossibli" to couviuue ai>are 

sb that it ounbl to purchase Art-ObjcctJ" t Wonid it not snap ila 
Innrers at Art-Apolog^i^ta. and turn ita attention to the prosata 
tilie* of lifo — molor-car« or bccf-extmrt. tcnemcm-dwdlinBB or 

lonical food, dynamite or Iwo-huudred-ton gunat Something 
lly UBcfuU 

Wbciber Charles dissected his oira mind when he aSected rap- 
tures at Pope k CbsppcU')) windows, who »hall »ay{ Uc may 
hav<- said to hiniM-lf that it wouhl In- illothcBl to winh to examine 

kiln in the contents of which he felt no interest whatever, unlexs 
&r*t cvntrired on stmoKphere of juntificuti<in for ibmn, a aanc- 
lion of factitious cnthutfissm. Or it may hare been simply the grn- 
vruus impube of youth to admire, that i» bo apt lo durelop wheii 
the producer of an achievement is actually in the room with it. 
And can be talked to. We ratber think it vniM fbis, ourselves, and 
that CbflHoi was (not to be too pbilosopbtcal) a ti:ood-natured 
chap who saw it gave pleajiiire to tlie pin-ixHrufors thrrcof when h« 
admired the benstly rot of Messrs. Pope & Chappell. Por that 
was what lie called it uj confidenci! afterwards td Mr. Jeff. 

However, be no doubt succeeded in giving full satisfaction, for 
lu' and hiH friend went downstairs into the old basemitnt to investi- 
jiate the mysteries. Limpwssh, paint, and window-cleaning had 
lidiif wonders; su had new sashes wb^Te n<'<!eitMary ; so had new 
woodwork where not necessary, but only eostin' a few sbilliiis more, 
an the Hayin' (unknown) was, than brenkin' np and pultin' to- 
gether: — sim'lar, you had to take account of carriage. Simlar, 
you take an old bench with nails drnvo in. and qiile a plane, and 
there you are I You don't save nolhin' In the end. So, as in thia 
caae, you decide on many stiuares of y<'llow deal, and unlimited 
carpenter: and whatever your bill is, you smell delightful, and 
'jod antiitepttc. 

The iroat gate, or grite gite, had been mthlesaly o^a«>l. v()& 



99 ALICE-FOR^UORT 



l>6en done Brunswick black, chcv«!-de-friBe and a!I. The rugate. 
riuuK door via* oS iu hingcjt, which wcrvi runU^d through, I 
ages Oito; »a n-ere the bolts and chjim thai hiid curbed the liberty 
nod bnlBcd tlic i-ril dciiinMi »f so maii.v finids and gobtinK. and 
kept them for so many years from Ketltne at iDoSensive peraoiia' 
toi!!i in ill-tuokrd'Up bcdH. Who could be safe, now they were gimc ( 
The vatill inside was spaeioua; bad been some sort of wasb-house 
or laundry, and had for imtap reason had tt^ window built up. 
The windows had beeu replaced, but it was a glorious greenish 
witiduw now, filled with what nomv cnlk^ bottle-ends, and otlierii 
German rounds, in those days; so that you expected a profile of 
Eluim- iir Enid, und didn't girt it. TIuti^ had been a stove or fur- 
nace of some kind in former years, as a flue crossed tlie area to 
tht: houHc. TluH wan lunng nliliMid fur tin? temporary small kiln 
that had come from the old shop. But a much larger one was 
coming, and th(! floor wim tidc»n up in one comer to moke a foun- 
dation and get a clear start. 

"I Buppom- you found plenty of cats in here," said CharleM to 
Pope and ChappelL The latter had come with them into the 
vault, nnd then had to attend to 6omcthing. Pope, though he bud 
been ao hard at work as to be tinable to relinquish his mahl-stick, 
and had como away with a brush in bis mouth, scorned to have 
indefinite leisure at his diHiiosaL H« took tbe bruab out to answer 
Charles's cat -remark. 

"Rather!" .said he. sardonically. — "Bui you should ask 'Ayeroft 
Eh! — 'Aycroft! This gentleman waa asking if you'd 'appcncd 
to see any cats I"— 

Ilaycroft was the bricklayer, who was busy with bis footinga- 
He cast about for •oinc form of Hptwch which would allow of tlia 
development of a grievance, aa is the manner of his kind. Ue 
considered and spoke: 

"I don't know what you call cats. I should have called 'em 
cats, myself; bni there's no tellin*, nowadayal" 

"How many were there, Mr. Ilaycroft!" 

"Wot— the nuraIxT of them? Well. Sir, aa to eountin' of 'cnj, I 
left that to them as can find time for eountin'. I've not my 'snds 
priHty full berr, 1 can t«tl you. It woiiI<ln't do for mo to atand 
ettiL to be eountin' crfts. All 1 sec of 'cm 1 tell you. And / should 
have called 'cm cot* myself. But as I say. there's no knowin'!" — 
Cbarlea'a innocent attempt to make conversation had been niis- 
tnterprrtrd, and hn fell hurt. His friend Jeff, with more insight 
into bricklayers, pursued the subject: 

"Two 'undrud, 'Aycroftl Will you let 'em go at that T— He 



rata- H 
long ^ 



i 

4 



4 



J 



ALtCE-FOR-SHOBT 



93 



L 



dropped ItU Ii's oatontatiouslj to get oo a sympathedo lavel with 
l!r. Ilaycroft. 

"Couldn't say. Sir. Noar about. I should think. Haw manj 
»bi>u)d you reckon run out. Greasy, wbcu we broke open the door!" 
— As the luboun-r addrf^ciccl did not look liku un Italian, the 
natural conclunou wae tbat his iiante was as wc h&ve spollod it. 
He gave biit miiul to n mnnctcntiouii n-c^kouiuK- 

"Rstber better than tulf-a-doxen, Mr. Uaycroft. I should Mtf 
seven, but I might luivu Mid eighL Likewise there waa a tabby 
hid in the copper 'ole, aiid a black torn wont away up tbo flue and 
never come down " 

"Wot did 1 tell you?" said Mr. lUycroft. triumphantly. "Ann 
number of 'em ! Aiul the whole place aa full of dead 'vus as ever 
itll hold." 

"I don't see any dead cata." — But Mr. Heyeroft acomed to reply 
directly to thin remark of Mr. I'opc. Ho turned to Greasy.— 
**Wiiere have you put all thetn cats' tiones?" snid he. 

"On that Indftr behind your elbcr." said'Orcnsy, — "No! Higher 
up! Right you are." — And Mr. Haj-croft, with a passing com- 
ment on tbo lediio, as a specially ill'cbosen place to put away cats' 
boni'M on — '■Wh«!rfl any one might chance to knock 'era ilowii. any 
minute'' — held them out in the palm of his hand as a conclusive 
pnmf of acpurai-y wrongly impeached. "Cats' bonus — like what I 
said !" — And turned again to measurement as one who bad t««ti- 
li<r<] truly, ntiil wiis niiw culUid away to other duties. 

The posttiTcn£«s of Mr. Haycroft's tone, and his contradictious 
attitude, east a glamour of controversy over Ihi- couvi-rsalion which 
Charles had not had any intention of provoking. Ho now felt him- 
■rlf Ml entangled i» eats as to be Homebow bound to examine the 
bonee held out to him by the bricklnyer. He held thorn in bis hand 
looking at tliem longer llwn Mr. Jeff tliought the uccusiou re- 
quired. Possibly it was the doubt wbetber he ebPuld hand tho 
bonss back, which M^-m<:d ridieulouK; or throw tbirm away, which 
Memed oontemptuoua. llr. Jeff did not gveae at any other 
leason. 

But. Mr. Obftppoll returning nt tltis point, the talk turned avay 
to other matters, such as the structure of kilns, the relative adran* 
iage» of cake and gas, and so forth. Presently Charles recurred 
qult« suddenly to the cats' bones, as if ho had been thinking of 
them.— "lFAfr«r did you say you found the bones. Mr. Hayeroft!" he 
uked. And so muob did he seem to ask as though be really bad 
some motive, that bis quesiion alisolutely recei\'ed a direct answer. 
The bones had com« out of the ground when it was opened. — " jUi«it. 



I 



94 AUCE-FOK-SnORT 



if tifl 



L 



under where I'm standing." said (irossy. the labourer — "as 
cntx hiid biicn n-buryiiig of Vm," lie aildpiL 

"This brick floor's been took up. one time." said Haj-croft. — ' 
"An^l it ain't maiden Bxonnil iiiidcmB»tli. It'w mndc (rround. It'a 
been look up and filled in. Whoever filled il in taiKbt have thrown 
in a dcjiil »;nt, u# easy as not."'— Having ('(immittrd himM<tf to the 
view thai the hones were cats', it was necessary to fit all other 
iacU to iho ihoory: and, although cats, if liu-j did inter their rrla- 
tivea. mifrht not remove a brick floor to do it. that could nerer be 
allowed ia Htand in the way. Mr. TIayeroft, having inferre^l the 
dead cat from the live cats, had to iuaKine ^ojno meaii^ of Ketting it 
tlirougli tlir parctncnt, and did it accordinKly. Mr. P<ii»c pur- 
ccived a difficulty, and advanced a new theory to meet it. 

"Dogs' boQC*. Mr. 'Ayproft 1 Thftt'« what they ore, clear enough ! 
Laiiy's pet dojr. Wanted it buried in the 'onset No .vard nor 
Rnrdirn. Onvn it t» the butler to bury, and he put in hiTc, Little 
Kiiifi: Charles span'l. with long flop ears. Nolhin' more likely." — 
And the <I(rtails of this gTounHli'NM romance nrciini mended it 
strongl.v. But expert testimony from the bricklayer came to shake 
public opinion. 

"If you was to ask me," he said, "I could tell you — and miud 
youl I ain't latking about whtit I don't iindrrstand. Weill If 
you was to ask me, I sJiould say no man in his senses — I don't caro 
if he was a butler or the mnntcr of the 'oiisci — would go to take 
up a 'erring-honed brick floor when he eoidd raise n stone in iha 
niroy with a 'arf the labour; and it would just put itself hack 
aicain, as yon miiiht say. Instead of wliicli, you'rt- askin" him to 
'amper himself with packin' a email barrcr of brick, 'arf of 'cm 
broke getlin' of 'em out. and makin' good breakuyc. and getlin' 
w^ll shot o' bats and closures — all what's como out this time's 'olo 

bricks, and so I tell you " And so forth, nntil Mr. Chiippell, 

who at first had welcomed (lie lap-dog theory, rounded on Mr. 
Pope, and relieved the butler from the troublcBomc job lie had 
a»:igncd him. His inventor wouldn't give him up. though! 

"1 stick to dojfs' bones." siiid lie; thni fti-ling that a cnmpromi«w 
might be possible — "Perhaps it wana't the butler. They couM 
have had somebod.v in. Odd-job man! Stnbklioyt Anytliin'I" — 
Mr. Pope's imagination faltered at the coachman, lie was too 
majestic, 

Mr. ChappctI had a theory, but it was a vteok one and soon 
rejected. He sufr^stod as su6i<riujit that the bones were accidental 
bone*, out of the kitchen or anywhcrr, that liad got dug in acci- 
diriitally. He went back (o the workshop — tb« kitchen where 



AUCE-FOR-SUORT 



»fi 



^ransgh had struck his wifp — and Charles went wiih him. It was 
UMNJ Don' for cutting; gIn.iA iimi li-jiiiing up lifflitx. A miKhiip had 
occurred that took attention from the bonee. which Charles hadi 
Hlipptil iiitu hisi [iiyJci-l. A diiiniond had hirt^i lout, haring flowal 
from its settintr. and a search was on foot for it. When thia 
oectira in a slaxiiig sliop itrurj^tltinK ia twvpt up and Hifl<N] ihrounh, 
a ine^ larR* enoutih to let the diamond throujih. The product 
tkgnin aiftcd (limit^th n nmli lurgi; (-iiotigh to n-tnin tho dinmond, 
and then eridcntly what comes off the last sieTe must coutaiu it, 
and NOOiGtimca it in ho nnutl n <ii]imlity thnt nn hour or xn with a 
microscope wilt recover the lost sbccp. This amused Charles and 
took hi» attiTntitiii ofl tbt* bouua for the limi; Ijping. But when ho 
went back to his room to chanKO his coat to fto home to diuiier (for 
it hiid gut vt^ry lnt«) he remembered to wrap them in paE>cr and 
put them in hia other pocket to take with him. 

When Charles, six months boforc, decided on what seems to ua 
tbo vorjr nredlcM ami premature alei> of taking a lurgu nxpeninTie 
Studio that would have suited a fashionable portrait-painter in fullj 
proetioe, he «m not nn abonhite boginiivf in the literal sense 
the words. Hi> hud been an Academy student for a emiplc of 
yarn, an<l had rery nenrly got n mcdnl. TTc had Blleuded the 
painting schoi)lH and loomed a new system of painting flculi eirry 
month, a« each new visitor came, Wliali-ii-r innule ideas on the 
subject of oil-painting he possessed, had brcn dixorgnniiwd and 
carefully thrown out of Kear bj the want of unanimity, or prosciico 
of pluraiiimity, in hiN iniilnictors. Rut he had been an ntti-ntivn 
student according to his lights, and one department of his edu- 
cation Uai) "'catight an.'* (Ic had prodW by his ana torn icul 
lectures and demonsl rat ions on dead and live corpses — perhaps 
because he really had more turn for nich tttudita tliaD for the 
Arts, for which his capacity was doubtful, and his bias prohably| 
itnaginarr. 

Therefore, when Mr. Ilayeroft produced the alleged hone* of 
eats, he at ouee detected the miatuke. He was perfectly familiar 
with thp human skeleton, and at once saw that if these w«re not 
man's bones, they were monkeys'. Probably the latter, thought 
CharW B<rc«»»e people don't bury dewascd pnwons iindirr floor* 
in laundries. Ferliaps the recent occurrence at No. 40 made it 
Man unlikf'ly tlial a munler nhoidil have tnken place then: and 
been concealed. Didn't seem likely, did it, that anything of that 
sort iihonid occur twiee in fha »omp hoiis<.'! So Ouirlee di!('idi-<l 
on the monkey. Howevei, he would ba accing Joho&gu, ^ni'KQiM 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 

&ak him. Hit ftJt prvlly certain Im irauld aoon mc Johnson, 
he was right. 

When he ^t hunu- he found (but his mother had tickets for an 
intcivfting Lecture. 'ITio subject was (as reported by himself to 
PffCT*) '"Aiitieipution in ita Ri:Intion ti> Rc-alisnlion." But ihwi 
he WAS not olwn.T? to be trusted. Peefty hnti a slight fjtcp-ncho nnil 
tbe ntgbt-air mi^bt do harm, bo shi^ lliougbt she wouldn't come. 
Charles remarked that she didn't lock very bad. but perhaps it waa 
OS well to be on the safe side. lie would take his mother to ihtr 
Lecture. For he was always a {lood son, was Charles. Now on tins 
*urni; evening his father (acconiing to him) had to dine with the 
Oasbmonfters' Company, and Robin and Ellen were ^ing to help 
nt a big children's party witJt Alius Pt-tberington tlic gnvernvss. 
"Y'oull be very dull all by yourself." said Cbarles to bis sister, as 
he and his niuther departed. — "No — I shan't," said she, "I'ro got to 
finish 'The Mill on the Floss.'"— 

Wlii.>n ChurloM ond his mother got home again, nt about derm 
o'clock, none of the absentees bad returned, and there was a jtentle- 
mnn in the drawing-room with Miss Heath. Thu* Phillimore bo- 
lifvwl; he was reluelHiil to admit knowledgi:- of the gentleman's 
identity — Thomas had shown him up. Hut the drawinit-room was 
«mpty. Philliraore iben <!on6ded to his mistress tliiH he lliouKht 
it possible that Uiss Heath and the genttemsin had stepped out 
into the gnrdrn. — "It must be your i-ousin Frank. Charley," said 
Mrs. ileath. and opened a letter and read it. and then went on, 
aomc time after — "Hadn't you bt-tter get them in J She'll make her 
face worse" — and then opened another letter and said— oh dear! 
the Sftlridges couldn't come. Phillimore's back, as be manipulated 
blinds and shutters, was fraught with reticence and discretion. 
But, for oil that, he hnd just snid tu himself, a.i »o old a retainer 
could speak freely and confidingly to so respectable n bntler: 
"Cousin Frank, indeed!" — 

Cbarles walked out into the bitr garden that is neither at th« 
back nor the front of the big house-s, but is a typical nondescript, 
common to all of them. It was a glorious July nia^hl with n nearly 
full moon, conscious of a flaw from London smoke, for whic^ one 
might. If one chose, bare imagined the murmur of the traffic to be 
n long-sustained apology. An insufficient apology — but any con- 
trition is better than none. So thought Charles ns be lighted a 
cigar nnd laninterrd along in what he tbouubt the best direction 
to take. He came upon Dr. Johnson and Peggy in u quiet part 
of the garden, and was no more surprised at finding who the gen- 
tlemau was than you will be at his sudden appearance in tie narra- 



AUCE-FOK-SHOET 



»r 



live. If you hare h»n kecpin); an obM^rrant eye upon tt. ITc, 
faowcrer, wa« curprwpd — but it was a very flaccid form of surprise 
— Uut PeKiO' and liec compauiuu were wHlkiiijc tuw-nnln him nppa- 
rSDtly wiying notbing. Abo that the younii doclor swmwl grave— 
don-ncfii^i ptrhxpal Peggr aeetoed to think her broUier wanted an 
explanation of comething, wbich was not the caw. ^Hiat she said 
was, "1 had iomothiog I wanted to say to Dr. Johoaou. so we camM 
out hpTC." — But her manner distinctly oddi-d, "I don't want to be^ 
asked questions now — 1 will tell you some time." Charles did not 
mo what the luiyins eoiiltl hnv<; b<vn that rouhl ninko tlu! coming 
out neoeaaary. but he held his peace, aud behaved discreetly. 

Tboy rejoined Mi*. TIcoth in the drawing- room. That huly'ii 
demeanour, on seeioji that it wasn't Cousin Frank, was one of fore- 
bcnrancv under suppri-micd nKtontslnneiit. Shtt oould wait. MeAU- J 
while, courtesy ! But of course without a suggestion that tlwrrp wmS 
any rejiHin why PfSSJ' fhoiiJd not tuku Dr. .fohnson for a walk in 
the garden. Jieverlheless, her dautcbter understood somothing from 
her way of not Hu^^'sting it that made her say, at a moment when 
(Juries was taking the doctor's attculioa oS— "1 know. Mamma; 
I wanted to talk to Dr. Johnxon. ho I took him iu the garden. . . , 
Oh, my faee-acbel Thai's gone." 

"ttTiat do you make of 'em, Johnson f tiaid Charles, "What's 
tbt vi'rdtct !" He was ahowing the bones from No. 40. 

"Are they off your skeleton?" — for Charlen had on articulated 
oni% at the studio. 

"Never you mind what they're offl What do you make of 
them!" 

"I want to know where you got them." ■ 

"Shan't tell! I want to know what they arc." m 

"The hones of a woman's or a hoy's instep — hardly largn enougb 
for a fuU-Krown man's. 1 should say a woman'*." 

"Metatarsals — that's right, im't itf Charles trola out his little 
bit of scientific nomenclature — is even inclined to cavil a little at 
bin frion<l for falling thera looi^rly hones of the insteii. What W 
an instep, exactly ( However, Charles tella the wliole story. 

**Thnt in a moat Dxtraordinary and ill-fated house." says the doc- 
tor. "What o'clock sliall you be there — to-morrow?" 

•TVhyt Do you tliink it'a a murder !"— The attention of the two 
ladies U caught hy the word, and they have to he tuken into 
connacl. But tlie doctor isn't inclined to jump at murder. "Uoro 
likely." says he, "medical students* or artists' skeletons These 
alarma are rery eomnion. But if thi- floor in an ol<l tloor— -hm! 
What o'clock shall you be there. Heath )" — And ten o'clock va iasA. 



L 



J 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



for nw(t da^ — the objedi'H' of tlip movement being « further px* 
amination of the' ftround in the VRult> — pnKBJt.iy not easy of attain' 
ini'nt, B» il will involvt- uiKluiitji sonn! i)rick!iiyer«' orork, alnm.vs n 
troublcwmp ntTnir, ix-qiiirinR tnct and force of authority combine<l. 

Aa Dr. Johnaon ftflid (pHHl-tiijrht tii Piwey. Churksi niugfat some 
word* that made him sny to himself: "Oh. wclU 1 §uppoee I shall 

h«ttr all shout it eouie of these days " He wa« a litth: iuipiiBi- 

tivc, hut could quite well wait, tte brother* ean wait, and do. when 
their Bisters' affairs are concerned. It Isn't that they are really 
indiffrreiit aWut their welfnrr, jio much am thnt it i* impomble 
for UB men to take these thin^ au grand srrieux. Howerer. eren 
if ChnrlpH hii<l beard every word, he wouldn't baTc been much the 
wiser. This was the eouversatiun : 

"Now, Dr. Johniinn, yiin'll have to forgive mcl Tou must for- 
give me! 1 said it all for your own good " 

"What <'Hn I do to «how that I forgive you t" 

"Be a reasonable man. Qo ou comtnijr to see us — to see me, if 
you like to put it ao. Be my friend. Only do be aennible, and put 
nonsensical ideas out of your head about " ■ 

"I understand. I can't. Good-niKht.^ H 

This was every word, and Charles would not have been mudi the 
wiser for hearing it. Of course he kni-w ihat. during the past four 
months, the young medico had been a very frequent viaitpr at the 
house. We know this now. and lieiug miic-li more sagacious thon 
Charles was in matters of this sort, wc infer a great deal about that 
interval. We sec in it a young man of good abilities and fauli- 
leee antecedents, (loei<!ndly handsome and a great favourito with 
his friends — but, if you please, in a high fever; to all intents and 
purpoaea. mad. Like «o many liinntic* he is singularly able to 
eouiiterfcit sanity — indeed if it were not for an oecasional pre- 
occupation you wfuiid nolier' nolhiiig in the least abnormaL But 
could you see into hia mind you would be struck tirst b,v an ex- 
truonliiuiry rapjiort that Mx^ma to exist between liini and Hyde Park 
Gardens. To you, no doubt, as to ourselves, these Gardens are a 
splendiit reHidi-ntiul property overlookitig Uydc Park, n few min- 
utes' walk from the Marble Arch, and so forth. To this young doe- 
tor they aro the Huh of the Universe — the centre pivot on whieii 
all other created things revolve. Streets that lead neither to nor 
from Hydt: Park Gardens are stale, flat, unprufitidilc thorough- 
fares; those that lead there are glorified, considered as approaches 
to Hyde Park Gnrdens. but sinister in so far an tliey go in tho 
Opposite direction. You would find that whatever he may be 




AUCEFOR-SHORT 

enploj'ed on, — whether he is wrhiug a prescription or uting a 
atcthoacope, — he nlwiijra biui in hiN owii mind an imafie of himself 
in his reUitioD la Hyde Park Gardeus. He alwu7« lucateu Iiimwlf 
nwnully as oast, wjst, luirtli. i>r soiith of liydo Park Qardens. lie 
appears to himself to be nirsleriously counected with it liy a wire-ii 
lees currt-nt, but he i* uut able to i^pniui it ho, rm Htich current*! 
af« not ;«t diKcovcrod or inTeoted. if yon add to this that luej 
sieefw bad]y. owiti^ to tbc iudueiioe o{ tbi^ viirn-nt; tlint ho bus 
on slnwwt idiotic bgJtit of r^rvwding a few notes Peggy has written 
him. relating to cotniag lo dinner. bikI ao forth; and that when lie 
OOUM. a* may happen, on the word Alargoret, or the word Ileatfa, 
in print. In any oouneictiou, Im becomes as it wi-rv trmislixed and 
mnaiiu {C*sinK at tbc manic Icttors until workodflj life jogs him 
and reminds bim tlmt really ihia won't do— if you uspribe lo him al|j 
tboM qunlitii<i> ntid attributes, you will not have un iitiduly i^xn^ ' 
fcented picture in your mind of what he had become throush 
not itrfu.iing lo nif OhnrW Ileiitb's iiiiitoT when Charles proposed 
to bring her in to talk about Alice's mother. Of course had tio'| 
been a prophet, and a pnidmt one, he would have ask«<l Charles 
to keep bet out of the room; or. when she came in, would have 
shut his «yrH liitbl and iiU)pj>rd hi« cnni. It was too late now. 
The faoe of her bad come intu bis heart, aud her voice into his 
cars, and both bud Oomv to stay. 



CHAPTER X 



OF THE DISTBICT StmVETOB. OF THE NEW KILN-rOtUlOATlON AND WHAT! 
WAS FOVfID Ui IT. OF AUCIs'li VATUKn's DKEAU. »OW ABOUT TUB 
LADY WITH THE SPOTS! OF Him PEGGf's XOOREttS 

Whex Dr. Jobnaon arrived at No, 40 st (en o'clock next morn- 
injr, excitement wbs alprady tiirbulmt in the ktooikI floor nnd Iwso- 
mrnt. Up wvnt siraipht lo the Stinlio. where Chorles and Jeff 
were reviewing the position, ^nd liiuird from tliem t.hnt Pope &| 
Chftppcll were bristlinp wilh indiifnation at the idea of havingl 
to move a single footing in order to dift up a mine of dog's boiie3,J 
JMBt on thp word of mere BnatoroiBtsI Ha.vcroft was furious, espo-j 
cially as he had liberally fcurrenderei! cat's bones, for etratt^ciil 1 
piirposep, and adopted the King Ohartcii Spaniel; nnd th«n. here i 
you were, axkiiig bint to ohangi: Bguiii, uiid make it man's boncstj 
He hated being minced about; and as for uodoin' liniKliod bri<Jf 
work, it wMit ngaiiiAt Itim. "Tuko it nil down of oonnw', if you 
likef he said, "but not if you listen to me you won't do any such 
thing!"' And wojit. on to point out tliut if wo gave vmy to the 
weakness of paying attention to persons, circu]nstance«, or things, 
there n('VPr wouldn't ouytiiiiig gut done. However, we were to e*>:^| 
our own way — he wouldn't say anything! ^1 

"Tbpy nrr- nil in n Jino stow downstairs, I can tell you." said 
Cbarles. "Haycroft, I believe, is laying bricks at a reckless rate in 
order to mitko it moro difficult to decide on undoing it. Pope is in 
favour of consulting n Inwyor^goodneas knows on what line I 
Chuppell, as far as I understand htm. thinks tip bonivt aro too 
email to be worth making n fuss sbout. Besides, if it was a mur- 
der, it must have been such a long time ugol He ammiH to bi-lioife 
in some Statute of Limitations. If yon kill n sufficiently small 
person, and then wait long enough, it don't count I" 

"1 see," said the doctor, "but sbull we go down and talk to tbcm )" 
Accordingly, down ihey went ; but into tlie office, not ft^Ung they 
would be welcome, necraenrily. elnewhcro. 

In the office, prolonged discussion. The attitude of Pope, that 
me^ldiin' was contrary to his own nntun-, tbnt hiw aneexlors had 
been strangers to it, and tbat he never could abide it in other*. 

100 



ALICE-POR-SHOET 



Of ChappcU, that ve !ui<l -nry little to go oa, as really the bonrn 
were quite insiRnificAnt ; not »» thaiish it hud lM>cn n wliole foot, 
in whicli cue bv would at onee have a<Iv<ic8tod a further search. 
But he thought & line diottlil bo <lrawii. Thciw bouts mi^bt have 
got tlxire by the oierest accident. And it Vf«« not only tlw cost 
of taking down and rebuilding, but the delay in the completion of 
the kiln. The eastings were invoiced from the foundiT — in fact 
wer* on the way now — «nd we were losiuf; money srory dny from 
the dobiy in tlie construction of tbi» kiln. Run-Iy Mr. Heath and 
Dt. JohnEvn would not think us bound to throw our work buck 
on the Htrength of these miwrable little honest CbapiwU'a con- 
tempt for the bones was beyond his powers of lanaruiwe. 

Chiirles was most contrite about hin own share in the matter, aa 
far M it occasioned dislurbauce and trouble to the Firm. IIo 
coald not allow them to be put to any cost, as really had it not 
l)«en for him. the <iuc»tion would not have bwn mi*r<I — !ii^ would 
willingly coTcr the expenisee involved. This conciliated I'opc. 
As for Mr. Jeff he <^borused approval of everytbiug that sounded 
pbuvibtv, and said that that was his idea ! 

Dr. Jobunon'H contribution to the diacussion was th(^ importont 
ODC. He couldn't say for cerlnio wbut tlic leeal oblii;ation was on 
a medical man (or any one cite) to whoMC knowbnjgir ihi? discovery 
of a hoinan bone came. If a eompletc skeleton were found buried 
from wbich llu> integumcnti hnd evidently fallen awiiy by decay, 
tbe dutf of immediatelv communieatinii with the authoritieji wna 
obrioua. But if tlie poli<« were ^nl for every time a human 
bone turned up. life wouldn't be worth livinir in lodgings which 
medical studenta or artists had occupied. It must depend on eir- 
CumittaDce«. Perhaps this time it whh nil a fus» about nothing. 
(Chappell looked consoled. Pope aod<led the nod that has said so 
all alonjr.) After all. we really didn't know wbo bad lived in the 
bouse — au Eg>'pto]ogisl perbups, and sonie bils of mummies bad 
got midtid- (This theory was almost noisily welconteii, and evt^ 
one laid cbiim to having thought of it.) Might we go down and 
look at the placet But it seemed it was all covered in now, and 
we shouldn't be any tlie wisi^. Well then, might Dr. Johnson 
personally bear the account of the first finding of the bones from 
the bricklayeittt Certainly- 

Mr. HaycToft's account amounted to a denial of hav^inf! seen 
anytbtnio; wbatever himself, tbe banes having been picked up out 
of the hole by the young man, known as OreoBy: but really Tod- 
hunter, if you came to that. He had gone off tbc job yesterday 
evening, owing to word*. Could he be got at) WcU — of c»MX«^ Sx 



J 



lOS ALICE-FOB'SHOBT 



■• i.:>H 



would he «udy enough to aend for bim, providf^d you knew hit 
addiCM — Dothinfi ca«i«r! But Mr, Iluycroft didn't know his 
fiddresB. upfortunaleiy. "Tliere's his family," he edded. "only, of 
coum, thi^!/ live down in Wornwitcnihirtr." Ic jJiort, Mr. Hny- 
eroft had rim<le up bU niiud to obatructioii. and we reall; bad to 
chooso bFt«'<^n Roiiig to the Huthoritir!* with a talc of Huapected 
foul ptay, on the strength of two detached metfilarsal bones, or loir^ 
ting tho mnttcr alone. w 

"I ^luiild tbtiJt twice about it before making a rumpiu. Heetli," 
*»id Johniton. "Wc shall look very foolish if the stoty foils 
through, for uuy reason. Beatiles. they wouldn't turn thn Ooronnr 
on a^in (to tbo b«st of my belief) about an aSair that mi^bCj^ 
easily belong to laitl eeutiiry." f 

"Well then." said Charles. "I Tote we let It alone." And Hay- 
croft went biioJt to work triumphant, and in a few days was ready 
to connect his new block of brickwork with the liue the lom-uat 
liad run up imd never ronic down. 

But, alas, for the uncertainty of ihiogH ! Tribulation, an Unclo 
Rumua ituys, is waitiug round tho comer for all of us, and in tliit ^ 
caae sud inmblir uwaitrd Pnpr & Chnppell. For there is in Lon-flj 
don an awful Functionary, called the DiKtript Siin-eyor. and it is 
written that witltout hia Huui^tiim no brick iJiall be laid. No mat- 
ter whether it is a portion of a buildinir in the ordinary sense of tbo 
word nr not. a notic^^ bus to bo given to him. and tlien be vfiU 
inspect you. and finally measure up your premises, and charge a 
fee aeeurding to their arvu. Popi: & Cbnppell had not, sad to 
nt;, made any communication about their new kiln — with their 
motives v!V have nothing to do. They wit« legally in the wrong 
in this omission, though of course a cube of solid brickwork six 
f«et high is not n building at all, and tlicrcfore ouglit to bo fr«e, 
of the Building Act. 

Now had it nut btyrn for thi- ineident of tlio bonos, Ur. Haj 
croft would not have had words with Urcasy and sacked him off tbclj 
job. For that wu.i what had hnpiM-ned. And these "wiird«" had 
been artificially fostered with a view to the sacking of Greasy, 
wliich hud actually lio-.n determined on by Mr. Tlnycroft the mo> 
ment be susq)ected that a search might be instituted for more bonea, 
under his footing*. After all, the evidence turned on his testi- 
mony, and Greasy's, Left to bim»i-lf. be eould lie as he liked. 
There was securitj- in lonclineiss. Therefore-, Greasy was mdccd, 
on pretence of words, and another young man put on the job. 

Orcasy got another job, on a ehimney-stnek at No. 2B. This job 
was at loggerheads with tbu Surveyor; and acting from infontui'' 



SIX 

rce-^n 
tbSt 



1 






ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



lOS 



"fan tiroueitit by Oreasy. Iwitt«<] ihe Surveyor with unfairly wink- 
inK at wrioiw irr^mlsritr « No. 40, nml biMiring hard on men 
CTTon of fomi ul No. 26. "What job nt So. 40(" said the Surveyor, 
in the person of his clerk. "WcVr no job going on nt 40, up «t 
ihf office," — ^"Aak liim!" aaid the job at 2a. Doddinjr over its shouliter 
at Grea^. And so it fell out that a few Any*, after CburlvH and 
Johniaon had the iiiti-Ti-ipw we have recorded above, the Surveyor, 
tn propria persona, descended in wrath on No, 40, and walked 
atrnight into dw^ vauU witlioiit -so much lui asktiiK leave. 

The remfliuder of the story ia Bad. Let u* nhorten it. Pope & 
Chnppell m-ri! xumnmni-d hefom the magistrate for coniiavculiou 
of the Itutldiiuc Act. They were fined and admoniahed, and tfaft 
atniclun- itMolf i:^n<l<-miird lui irrtgiilur. havlaflr two courses of 
footkttRs inatead of three. lis owners were in despair; but thoT9 
was nothing for it. Down it bad to come eni! down it came. 
Hayeroft said it was enough to make a man tnko pison, hut ho 
only took an extra pint of beer, which be did not account as poison- 
ons, but the reverse. 

"Think of all them bale cut to waslol" he eaid. Because when- 
ever he wanted » but or eloHure he alwaysi cut a whole brick, and 
tberofore regarded them as waste when once thrown aside. But 
what must be muM. and — however reluctantly — Mr. Hay croft 
started on the afternoon of the magisterial decision to undo all 
Ms work, end clean o3 the brick* for a fn-sb ^tart. 

"I^ Rire," said Charles, an hour or so later, to Pope and Chap- 
pell, "no on<! <mn be more sorry than 1 am for whatever share I 
had in it. And you really must allow me to do irhat I ouii to make 

up for it " And wait going on to propose that he sliould con- 

tribnto, in a princely fashion (as one does when one':) fiither is 
a reckless cheque-writer), to the expenses incurred, when Oliap- 
pell interposed (rather to Pope's disKust. Gliurli.-!! tlu>u;u:ht) and 
said, with more vitality than he ununll.v gliowed, that thnt wouldn't 
be at all fair, a« really the bone bueiuees had nothing to do with the 
nDmber of fooling^i. 

"On the other 'and, Mr. Chappell." said Pope, "the number of 
footina hnd notfain' to do with the tiatin' we've got over iL What 
this Official 'UmbuR really objected to was that he was loein' a 
fifteen-sbillin' fit-. Do you KiippoNc he'd not have puMcd (howc 
footina if he'd had notice ? He's l>een slatin' us to keep up his 
salary. That'll whnt we've been sluteil for! And do you Kuppoim 
that mociatrato feller won't get hU commission off the jobt Of 
course he will I I know 'em. They're all alike. 'Appen to know 
the expression 'fiaby,' ib. 'Ehtht Meanin' untiua^vi^itOci:; , ^\f(fti- 




104 



AUCEFOn-SUORT 



ful, unrclinMe. Well — of couno you dol But you don't know tb« 
unloniiili^gy of it) Ii'h nbort for official, tliat'it whni il is." — Charles 
liadu't l<n<.iwn this; and Ur. Po[)e coDtinued. as a reli^ to Ilia feel- 
ing»: "But T'm luivin' ni.v rc-vuiigi! on himl Sor this 'cad I'm jkaitit- 
in'f Well — I'm makiu" ii ua lUco that Diatricl Siirvt-yor ah <?v(ir 
I cnn get it." Charles said he'd been lookinf at it, and won- 
derinjc who it was so lUte. and now he saw, aud it was quito 
wonderful ! 

'"Ead of Judas Iscariot. I like the idearl" — And Mr, Pope was 
ovidenlly rcrj- happy shout it. — "Come in I" 

"JJeg([in' your pardon for knockin* " It was Haycrofl who 

hod dodf' so, seeking an interricw. "Excusin' tlio interruption. 
Aloti£ of that heiktli I meutiomj to you. Mr. Cliappell " 

"Oh yes!" said Chappell, "Hnycmft tliiiika tlic kiln would have 
been such a lot better with a few inches more clear of the ceiling, 
on account of thn flue '' 

"And it ain't for me to say anything." interposed the bricklayer, 
"but now ttm work's all down to iho foutingn again we (!Ould get 
the heiklh by taking out a bit more ground." 

Pope assented. "Do just as you like, Mr. Chappell," said ho, 
and w<-nt on with Judus Iscariot. Chnppell said. "I'll eoine down 
and hare a look, Iloycroft," and said good-day to Charles, and they 
went Bwny fOKPthpr. 

Charles remained a shoK timp ohnttinfr and then returned to Ilia 
Studio, a tiling lie was always doing with a fleree resolve to mako 
up for lost time. He poised a pleasant liour or so walking to and 
from touching distance, and looking alternately at a suit of stage 
nnnour and its repliea in bis picture, and messing the paint about 
indwisivuly — toning, he called it. and getting quality. He wa« 
beginning to feel quite meritortoua over his industry, and when 
bo recognised llic footstep of JeiT descending the stnirs. whidi 
was the harbinger of tea (a truly Bohemian meal when it is near 
six o'clock) be bad the effrontery to pretend to himself that he wn« 
ttorry: and that it must be early, and that he'd no idea it was so 
late. 

The nine days' wonder of the kiln had been exhausted, and Jeff 
and Cbnrlea had talked it over, and in and out. and up and down. 
So the eonvertation turned on the Fine Arts. The two young men 
were of diffrrpnt jHrhoolK. Charles classified Jeff as a clever 
chap at a email waler-colour sketch, and decidedly gixid in 
black and whiti- — gtit a very good quality ia some at his work 
— shouldn't wonder if he turned out some good eaux-forfes, if 
he stuck to it— «nd to on. His friend on the other hand por- 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



eeittd in Charles, wilh H(n>e admirdtion. a hijih-flycr — Royally 
Acinictnicnl^'Is'tfy — Jfytbology — fine bold tn'Btmunt of t!w^ buuian 
tgan, ami so on. Tbey bad, bowcvcr, n cuminoii intcrent— lh« 
pennai>eticy of pisracot*. But the tnjiK', which LasUxl tlirutigb the 
■econd mip of tea. was not to be eshausted this time- For a bur- 
ned footstep ran niwtair* and a hurried tap came nt tlic <loor. 

"Uajr I come itit" It waa ChappeU. perturbed. "Excuse my 
running in in thi* way. I wnnt to nA — T Oioiighl you two KMitl^ 
men had bett4:r stei) down — if you dou'l mind." — Oli no, we would 
eone by all mennsi \Vltat was iti But llr. Chappcll is out of 
breath from ruuiiiiift iipitutrs, acid also has to oollecl liiuuclf. 

"Ut. Pope thought you had better come down too — whilo it's 
only just uncoTDiw!.'' 

"While what's r* — Both ask the question at once. But then, 
oddly mough, tlon't wait for any aiinwcr, and all go down together, 
lit. Pope callintr out from below to ask are they coming. 

T^MTf make Ktraight for the vault, rxeit^'d. Outstide thi! door, in 
the area, stands the bricklayer, watching for his employer's rp- 
tum. "I're not uncorored any more." ho iaye, and Chappell 
replied, ""Yea, quite right !" — And lb<-ii tliey all go into the vault. 

It has been one of those strnnRc summer days one gitu, now 
and again, in London that muke one feel what a beautiful city 
it might bo if it were not for the filth of the ntmosphore. and it* 
deponit* on the building*. A wondrous afterglow ia going lo come 
in tbe west, when the sun, now on its way lo setting, hAH cnnsi^d 
to bathe One world in a stupendous glory of golden flame; end 
again«t that afterglow the street-lamps mean, when they aro 
lighted, to show as emerald stars. And, ibougb the sunligjit oanaot 
reach tbe Tank at No. 40 itself, it has a utrangr pnw«r and faculty 
for negotiating reflections and gleams into all <Iark comers and 
hidden ways; and such ii glenni strikes in through ihi- window 
made of Qerman rounds; and us the party pass inside, ii illumi* 
nates for a moment the sjtot whrrc ihc ground is being taken out 
afresh. And we se« at once that what it shines on — the thing 
of whidi llaycroft has not nncovcrtid any mori. — i« n thing that 
aun sfaODe on once to its deliglit. and has never reached till now 
for it may lio a hnndr*^ years, when thi« reBected ruy caught 
upon it and showed us tlie shadow that ia left of the Bowercd silk 
s» it oner wore; nml thi- substance, au^ nait is, of the woman 

'bo once wore it. Something is left, be sure, over and above mere 
bone, iwidn that Blocking and that one tihoe tliat Ktill kK-ps its 
And when we hare carefully rvmoYcd tbe ground that hides 
fooo on a body that scons to havir been pitduA V<%^\nT\^ \tt.\» 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



» 



an ill-dug gnvc. no that tlio feet at first sloped up and projcc 
at tile ground level, we mav find, as wc think with Khudderi:i^ 
curioaify. *oni(; truce i>f thut fiiei-', sunn- record, some one littlo 
thins at least that will show us what this womnii wiu thut wua 
forgotten so many year* lM>fore wt- wore born, even the oldest of ns. 

They chucl»d her in hero in n 'orry." says Huyeroft in n voice 
fallen to th(! ocfasioD, "aud tlnry never ilug deep enouieh. That's 
how that shoe come off. After tlicy'd coverrd her iii. shi! stuek 
out. So liicy pulkxl off the elioe, and 'ainuier^l the toes down, for 
to get the bricin ilusb. Tlint's how thi^ta cnts'-boiic^ wc fouml 
coaiK off sppiirule,"— Charlud can hardly help smiling, through the 
grisliness of the whole thing, at t!n> sort of cluim (in dcfcnw of 
hb infallibility) made by Huycroft that tlie bonea were intriuHically 
cats', though occurring on a human Hkrli-tnu. 

"Go on getting sway the ground — gently — gently." says Chap- 
pelL And is so solicitous for gmtkncss o* bnrdly to allow of any 
lemoval at a!I. ITaycrofl kneels down and slowly clears with his 
finscrs round tbp head, or where we expect to find thtr head. 
''There's something covBring over it," he says. It appears to have 
been a lapiiet of the flowered silk drees, thrown back over the faco 
to iiidi' it. Popi- cannot naisl tlm lemplutiou to exliibilions of 
sUr«wdn«s8 and insight. "Fou mark my words!" says he, "tbo 
murdcror Ik' <!oul<{n't abide to look at it. 80 ho just chunked up tho 
akirt to 'ide llie face. Force of oonsciencel" And he gives short 
t)od«, of superhuman sagacity. Public opinion Ibiiil(s his tlieoiy 
on the whole plausible, though premature. 

"The liair's oil clogged up, a sort of piokle," says Haycroft. 
"There's a rare lot of it ihoiigh. It's all in a sort of vrliile miick," 
— Jefl suggests hair-powder. Probably right. 

"Are you coming to the face. Ilaycrofl i" — It is Chappell who 
asks the nuestion, lie Is feverishly oxcit^-d to seo wliat is coming; 
but nlno bursting with cautiou about the means taken to arrive at 
i(. — "Easy doea it. Sir." auys Haycroft. and goes on at bis own rate 

Ai]d now it is all cl«ar. so far as it is safe to touch it: and Hay- 
croft, assuming always a rather superior tone, aa one professionally 
intimate with the bowels of the oarib. and not wwily surprised at 
anything that comes out of it. remwrks : "It won't look so well m it 
docs now. to-morrow morning, uiiy'bing like." — And we others 
accept this — not brenusc wo think the speaker knows, but because 
we have no knowledge to oontradiet him on. 

"Are you sure there"* no ring on the fingerH'f" aifks Charles. 
"Quite sure," is the verdict. '-See 'em at once if then? w(-re. But 
«t«p ft bit! There was a necklace, sure enough. And the beads 



i 

ring S 



1 



ALTCE-FOR-SHORT 



lOJ 



^pc off the Htrinff, and «I] Ml down undcmMlh." — "Don't yoii toucii 
'em, on any B«.'omn," saj-fl Pope, auil Uaycroft ouswera that lie 
ain't a-toudiin' of 'cm. PcArl* is whnt thtg aicl Ho can &w tb&t 
pn-tty pluin. 

How about IcaTins "it" for the night t A luizy impiranion hangs 
nboiit tliat »om« one ougbt to stay lo w-aicb "it." TliU is not rea- 
H>uabl«, cODeidcring nil the long yciiro thai "it" ha« born uniwn 
niid forsotteu. Some earlb has beea remored — tiiat is all the 
(ltlT«r«noc. Speculation in afoot about piu»iblr molt-atntion* dur- 
ing the tiigbt. How about cats) Uaycroft renounces Mb previous 
poeition about catx, and only allow* tliat oiut vxiiitA — tbo oiu^ up 
the flue that uever eome down. He can bo etuffed in with a sack, 
and that'll keep Aim qui«t ^-naiigh. Riitaj Thero ain't any, in 
tlie tnoQDer of apeakinir. Been too many oals about 1 Boy«l Well t 
— of courac you can't do anything ugiiin*t boys — they an all- 
powerful and all-de^lnictive. But then — they don't know! B^ 
bMm, they'll imiin h" in h<^ — Hiiyeroft will rig up the door tempory 
on its 'iiifKs. and he can ttet a unnll pad that'll do for a shift] 
and see it all fast nfon; he gout. So all dtsperav, and canj 
away, mch vnt according to his 8UBce]>tJbiIily, more or less of 
horror. Uaycroft ie probably at ono end of tho »calc, Charles at 
the other. The fonnor in fact has a strong set off, in o kind of 
BCraw that he hns dintingoiahed himself, though it i« not m cloar 
why. It is tnie tliat he assumed the position, so to speak, of Master 
of the CcTPmoniiii, sk soon as ever "it" made a m-ngninablo npijwir- 
anw above (rround. But then, on the otlier band, bo had done bis 
best to keep it uodcr, and would havie raoconled but for n sucoe»- 
■ion of accidents. He was, however, one of thoim utronfr characters 
Ihat so steadfnrtly on tlicir way, however much tliej" are iu the 
wronir, and snap their fitip^rs at eunfntniion. 

Cltarlm was, »* may be imsRined by whoever has read his char* 
acter rijihtly in tliia uarratire. very much impri-stionnf, cv<'n more 
Ko than with the recent suicide. In that, the whole of that occur- 
rence bad been explieabh- and free from myiitirry. It was Drink, 
and that settled the matter. It was sJiockiuff and repulsive, but 
it was vulgar and <i<'gr«<l«i — a thing lo be forgotten, not upccu- 
latcd on or analysed. In this, the gruesome silence of a century, 
more or less, anm the murdered woman won thniot under irround 
and covered in, to he seen no more — Ilie thotifiht of the body lying 
there unsusptrcted while iht; livinn a-oriit pusse<l inccwsantly to 
and fro above it — the sliRhTness of the chain of events thiit had 
kd lo its diaooviiry, any fiiihirr in a link of which would have left 
tbe aecrot still unrevealed — all these appealed both to i>;«,\.\iM£ mv\ 




J 




ALICE-FOB-SHORT 

imtucintition. Aiid Chnrles was so bnrrowrd thnt hct folt hft ffoulil 
really bo i^lud when he jp)t home, altogether olcar of No. 40, ami 
could r«!ioTr hi« mind. He could t^ll thi- 3tor>- to Peggy. He wn« 
e» BOTiy for JeS for haviuK to 8ti>|> iu the plai-e that he invited htm 
bom«k Rut Jeff didn't, mind, 1-ord bless you 1 Besides, he wu* 
going to the Gaiety to see NelUe Farren, with old Gorman, and 
Cbarlos (hr pointwl out) had birtlrr come too. Ho would be too 
late to dress, and it would be ver? uncomfortable not to have a good 
wash and a cdrnn iliirt nft«T all that <!ori)se. So the two youug 
meu set oS to meet old Gorman at Orenionciui's ; and then after a 
mrrry repast, Char!<^ rriod off the piny and rtarti,'d to walk borne. 
But he ihovighl better of it. It woa wi Jale. He aLgiioUed to a cab — 
and as the doors shut his Ick" in of their own accord, hp thought of 
how he hud riddeii hump with AUoo. Runi little AUee! thought 
lie. And what a nice little party she was getting to be — and how 
ahie would stare at the story of ilie la 

CbarWs thought slopped with a jerk I It stopped exactly wbor* 
«e have sIopi>ed it. in print. And it left him with a puzzled faoo 
all the way from Wardour Street to Bond Street. Then he np* 
prared to pas« through a phase of relief, and to breathe more 
freely, after remarking to himself thai probably it wa« only • 
coincidi-nec. 

For the thing that Charles bad recollected, that this time-hon- 
oured panacea for nil the Unaccountable Imd betn iuvoked to coun- 
teract, was Alice's story of tie lidy with the black spots. But 
of course — it was a coincidence! Flow could he he so foolish as to 
connect the two things together) This frame of mind lasted all 
the way to Hyde Park Street. Then it gare way to a compro- 
mise: "An awfully (luecr coincidence, for all thatt" But ha 
wouldn't make any suggestions when he told Peggy tin- story — It« 
would be good and Scientific and Philosophical, and research pay- 
chically. He should like to see how it struck Peggy when no bint» 
wHrt- given. 

lie was juBt in time to join his father and brothers on their wny 
up from tho amoking-room. but lie did not bt^n bis Btury until bia 
audience was complete. It took some time in the telling. When 
he had got (luitl^ to the end be was a little disconcerlml at the 
perfect calmness with which Peggy said, "Of course it's Alice's 
lidy with tho black spota." 

Charles wasn't going lo be caught out. Amour proprv stepped 
iu. — "Of course!" said be. But o trifling indecision in hiit voieo 
betrayed him. 

"Then; now !'"aiclaimed Ellen tlio youiigeat. who vaa dining down 



I 

I 
I 



I 




AIJCEFOR-SHORT 



10» 



L 



afl tbore wbs no company. "I don't bcHcvp Chopley thought of it 
till just this iiiinut«. 1 tion'l.' Tliai I don't!" 

"Not a iMd shot for « ihirtw^nrr," »»id Chnrlcs, who wax truth- 
fulneas itaeU. "But I bad thouglit of it— I thought of it m the 

"One often thinks of thin«8 in cabs." said Archibald, the eldeat : 
brother. He vim rot coiwidcTud n grniiw. no Im had bwn nMugnodl 
a position of Twponubtlitr iu his fatiier'a business. Mrs, [{eath 
alwa;^ bore in mind thnt Archibnld h«d bwn hrr first Bdiievemcnt 
in the way of a human bo.v, and sho felt thnt his iolclIigeDce ought 
to do hn credit. But whtn^ he fiiilinl to bring his idcns up to 
concert -pitch. Ihc- end had lo be attained by interiJ relation. On 
this ocx-atiion «ho If-nned back in hitr obnir with hor eyia closi-d, 
and epake as one who reflects on Philosophy internally: "I do feel 
that is #0 tnif— what Archie Miys" — and proconiiixi to show grounda 
for a belief that the human intelli^nce. in cabs, is enlarged and 
expanded. She got through this without mom intrrruption than 
a totiO'VOce from Ellen — "What stuS Kaiuma's talking. / shan't 
liaten" — and a remark from Kobin that little girls should be seen, 
not heard, followed by a ripoMt- from Elk-ti — "Just as if I was 
Alice!" This is iutereating, as showing that Alice was an estab* 
]i«hod inittitution. 

When Mrs. Heath had done. Peggy reeumed — "What do you 
ntally think, Chnrlr? V said <lio. 

"About the ghost! Of. of course, that's an accidental cotn- 
cidonec — iit leant, 1 don't know what to think " 

"Mate your mind up I" thus Peggy, rulhleasly. 

"Well— rtally — Pogt — yo" know that kid has lold us a who 
buflget of stories about No. 40, Juat look ut tluise romances ahout^ 
bpr father and thp mjin in a wig that woi* in the kitchen — wellt 
yea, of cour«! the father may have hail a touch of D. T., and that 
story might I>e tnic. But think of that one about bow the lidy with 
the e|>otB was dressed iu the drawing-room window curtains!" 

P««gy didn't look less thoughtful over this — rather the con- 
trary. But she put off what she liud to say; Mr. Kealh, according^ 
to hi» UKUfll practice, hanng cut into the conversation with revive 
of a retrospwrtivu arrear, Hi> had bi-ard Archie's remark at>out 
the cab; and he, al«o, had a joint interest in the justiticatiou of 
that young man's intelligi-nce : 

"Hey! What's that Archie says! Thinking in cabs, hey! Wliy, 
I do all ray thinking io cabs. No time auywhere el.te, hi^ ! Who'a 
hwa thinking in a cab!" But his wife was not properly gial«ful 
for this raQy on her behalf. 




\LTCE-FOR-SHORT 

"It'* oil thif nnnsciwiciil story of ChiirU-j-'n — abmit omnfttliine 
they've dufc up. aud a ghosi — oh dcnr! Tell your father — 1 can't 

raise my voiw " Ami Mrs. ITcatli sliciw« sympttims of 8yncop(), 

Jn an indocUivc wa.v. So tho tale, wliioh the au^st head of the 
houKC tijtd tlioui;tit tit to puy no iitl<!nlion to wlicn it wne first tolil, 
has to be ^ne throug-h again, subject to jocular interruption on 
hie purl, and a smise of s.vrapnl.hctic incmlulity rising to applauns 
anionf; the other moniberp of the conclave. 

"Ht^! Wfli— !(■«'«! all niipUty find ix-wplel" Thus Mr. Hwith 
when a confuted joint-stock rei>ctition of the story comes to on 
imd, and ia U>licr«>d to havi? Uvn liiyiriL Ul- pws uu. with an aspect 
of tense judicial insipbt, a fhakm forcftnucr enjoining careful 
atti-ntion. "Now. I nfiouUl like to ask you just, this. oiu-. quL-s- 
tion: What wns to prevent this tailor man and his wife, who don't 
sft-m to hov(! biin tho K-sl of charaeten, from taking utime of tlie 
boncf< off your wkvloton in the Sttidio, and buryins; tliem in llio 
vault) Hi>yt What do we say to thntr' Wbeix-on Robin Ids 
loo*e a ply perKpicuoUR "Aha I''— and the world feels that Nemesis 
is OTOTtaking Siipenstition apncc But that «he i» nipped in tho 
I>ud when Charles attests that his akeklun is a man's, and lliia 
i» a wpmnn's, lie cite* ihi* as the nearest conclusive plea to band, 
but (Im-su't coiitribut« mvn-b more to iht; ilebalc, Wbot on rartb 
Cflwld he the use of such chatter J 

P*«gy said ncilhin); whatfvt-r. She and hor brother got a Rood 
long talk on the terrace in the eveiiiue later, of which follow 
csiracts. Peggy resuinrxl tlit; gliost-stofy first, all the prcviau* mat- 
ter faaring related to the disinmruient, the vhanw of public viiquiry 
throwing; more light on the story, and ■« forth. "Well, now, 
Charley dear," she said, "what do we really think about Alice's 
lidy i B'lih of us, you know." ■ 

"Poggy dear — I don't even know what I think mynoif P 

"'Sot I, nithcr! We neither of us know. But tell me more 
about the dress. Can you sec tlie pattern T' 

"Yes — just the remains of it. Colour all ffone. of course — but 
you can see that it was silk, and worked with a sort of Chim 
flowere " 

"And was it like the Cretonjio diinlzes in the drawing-room j" 

"Why i Oh yes, of course; but I .irri Well now, ihnt i* ve 

qu«'cr. 1 didn't think of it when you fejKike at dinner." 

"Charley Slowlioy! What a Killy old man yo\i are, Charley 
dear ! I IcU you what though I We must make Alice- for-short tell 
US again about the man in a wig " 

"It wasn't a thing that happened, you know. It was what h«r 



ea^^ 
ery^ 




fother (kam^. He dfamed hn doamed it, don't you remember)" 
Cbnrlce mimickod Alicp'* rjcprrwion, and IxitJi Inuglux). 

"I recollect. He deamed lie deaiued tt, and when he viked up, 
bo told AlicT- At luoiit, wlicrn hn wikMl up (lier pronuncintion'a 
Itettinif better now, and I'm glad) he was sbikiiig, and be eaid 
"Dood Dod. wlut a dr-am I" 

"Yes — and then Alice a»ked him " 

"Alic^ aski-d biin what it witM, und hr tnid hfr ho d«am«id that 
an old man in a trig bad come and spoked a loiiic. long sword — 
9ver «» long — rif,'bt froo raotluT. And tlicn lin gavo father nver tho 
loufc. long sword, and said father to spoke it froo too. OIi dear, 
how fiinn; slit- wan! nodding it into un. don't you knowi|" 

"But first she said an old man, and then a young one— «n<l then 
contradicted IwriM'lf and got quitr cwnfiisi'd " 

"Well! We muat make her tell it again quietly, and not upaet 
hi*r with too many quoxtions. Shi^ it sniiiU, you know. Btaiidi-n, 
it struck me afterwards that she didn't mean an old man at all* 
but nn old- f nub toned man — and couldn't linil tlie wonlit " 

•'What was the other word elie used i An old grandfather man — 
did f^hc mean an anovctra) blokrt I Huy, I'ogg}-!" 

"You say what V 

"Well— if<t another ■ubjoct. But I tikaulii liko to know " 

"What would you like to know, dear silly old boy{" At this 
point of th« conrrryntion, (tgiint to yonrnclf tJint Charles is smok' 
ing on a dividi-d frardcii seat in the waning nioonliicht (for tha 
moon is still there that saw the Gnt dittcovirry of tlir bom^s), while 
Peggy leans over from the other half to ruffle hie liair for him. by 
requeat. He likvs it. "Vou n-ally must firat a swii-tluturt tii rii<ila 
jwir hair for you, you old ftoose." says she, and the conversation 
continue*. 

"What should I like to know? Why — what did you say to poor 
Johnson tbnt lit! gut no upmn about — that evening about a fort- 
night — ten dafs back? 1I« didn't luftke you an oSkt, did 

iw-r 

"Ob. no I" Peggy is a little agacee. Her brother fools it in the 
band that is nilRing his iinir for him. 

"Ob dear, nal He would have gone on for months — for years 
perhaps, without doing that. But " 

"Yes—bul 1" 

"But bo would have gone on." 

'•But gone on howt It always seems to me he's such a very good 
sort of chop at behaving — steady sort of cuas. How do you mcjiu 
gum onT' 




112 AUCE-FOR-SHORT 

"Oh, Charley boy! You or* an old stupid. Gone on adoring, 
of coiir!=cI Bui I believe you're only pretending^ " 

"1 was half-pretendiiifc. I wanted to put it on a footing. Don't 
you see you might hnve been refusing to take peptone, or let him 
listen to your chest, or something of that sortl" 

"I'tc got nothing the matter, and I wouldn't let him doctor me. 
if I had. I should like a much more callous physician — « cold- 
blooded card." 

"Keep to the point, Poggy-Woggy! What did you aay to him 
(hat iipsrl him soJ" 

"What many girla would like to say to many men — only they 
dan- not, in cnac they should find thcrowlvo* mistaken and look 
foolish. Exactly what I wanted to say to him was. 'Don't get too 
fond of roe. because I won't marry you I' omly 1 couldn't put it 
that way, now, could I. Goosey i" 

"I don't know " 

"Well— anyhow. I didn't! I'll fell you all about it, and then 
you'll know. I walked him out in the garden here, and we chatted 
about Alice and her mother. Then the conversation got round, as 
it does aomctimcB. You don't want it to, but it docs '' 

"Got round to what!" 

"To that sort of thing I was speaking of. X think it was mj 
Haying what a terriblo thing it was to think tlint this man who 
killed her muft once have loved her. and what an awful thing th« 
alow death of love was. Of course I was thinking of real love. 
Affedion-love — not Fnlling-in-love love " 

"What the Uooco is the difference!" Charles hurst out laugh- 
ing. 

"There ia a diflfereuoe. Well — he wouldn't imderstand, mad 
twisfod the eonvrrsation round. I don't think it was fair." 

"Wliatdidhcsuyr 

"Well — perhflpn it was my fatilt, partly. 1 said I supposed his 
ufieclion for her died a natural death as soon as slie got old an<l 
ugly, and wna half driven mad with all those children. And thai I 
Buppoaed it waa the usual thing — that while ahe was young anil 
pretty he was fond of her, and then as soon as she got disagrocabfe 
be bated her. Then I think he sOiouhl have let me change the con- 
verwition, as I wanted (o, inrtend of " 

■Instead of what V 

"Instead of getting vciy much in earnest about how Love that 
could change wasn't Love at all, and that sort of nonsense — — " 

"Poor Johnson!"' 

"That waa just what I felt. Because I like bim so much that I 



AUCE-POB-SHOET 



113 



^c«n't bear the idea of his beioft miserab]* — through me. So what 
could I ilu. when lu! Itegsn soing un liko that?" 

"There was Dotfainn eo very much in that. Mias Petherin^on 
I uid the nine but night." 
' "Bother Mi»8 Pctherington I Ther« vas Iota more." 

"What sort !" 

"I su)>pow I »hall havp to tell you to mtko it understood. He 
aaid. 1 know a man. Mtsa Heutli— and I kuow hint well, so I can- 
not be miiii.tkpii — nhoip feclingK towards n particular woman aiwm 
to bim BO fixed and uuchanic^uble that be oaunot conceirci chanj^J 
a* ■ powjhili^, nor siv hy whut nx-iins clinnge could comt; about*) 
But I have do ri^'ht to talk about him.' " 

"IIow did you know he didn't mt-iin somebody cIsp !" 

"I didn't — for a moment : he spoke in such a third-persoiiish sort 
of way. But a moment uftcT I xaw, I can't toll yoii how, that ho 
wa» speaking of himself and me. And I u-os so sorry for him." 

''But what was it you nuid to bim '( That's what T want to come 
at " 

"Why — as wwn as I could wrcw myself up to stiokiiiR point, I 
said: *I)t. Johnaon, I know a woman — and I know her well, so I 
cannot he mistaken — who susppcts a man. a friend nhi; liko very 
mucb. of feeliiig lowardtr her esactl.v what you describe, but ^he 
knowK ahe cannot return it — ciinnnt he his wife, iu short. But she 
does wish she could speak plainly to him, and beg bim, pray him. 

for her sake ond his own, to put all such ideas aside ' and find 

somebody else, in short; only that wasn't how I worded it." 

"Poor Jnhn»onI T[iiw did he take it(" 

"Very well indeed — but very gravely. Stuck to the allegorical 
treatment." — Peggy won holf-lnughinR, balf-cryinu at this point, — 
•"Did ebi6 know some one else she cared more forf — that was hU 
next quoation. — 'Not that I know of.' said I. 'But you seem to 
tbink I know a miphty lot about her.' — 'I think you do.' said he. 
'At any rati', I'll take your word for ber" " 

"Waa that ailT 

"No — we turned to go Imck to the house, ond junt then I got 
an attack of courage, and stopped. 'Come, Dr. Johnson,' said I 
"don't lei's have any more mystifications. You meant mc ond I 
meant you. We meant eocb other. And remember that what I 
said about mysplf. sidewaya, I reolly was in caniest about.' — Ho 
aaid. T>o you wish me to aay prod-byef and held out bis hand. 
And I ealW out, 'No — tiTtninly not!' so loud that a policeman 
looked over the raitinits. Then wo said no more and walked up 
to the liouM. And when he went away I told lum \ \i3.& «%\& vV ^ 



114 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



for hifl Bal(«, itaA he. mustn't miS off, liico Cjiptnin Bratlley and that" 
silly boy — what was bie iiamel " 

"Robtrrl Forrest i I Iiopc lie won't Was Jobtuon good I Did 
be promise not to do so any mor«{" — Pegsy ftave her beautiful 
ht^ad a long lugubrious ^akc, imitating Alice, witb ber f^broirs 
Up nnd eyelids dropped. 

"No! Very bad," said shfl. "Said be covldn'i cliBOge. Stuff 
«nd noR«ent«l'* 

It was getting late and tho moon woa tliinking about retiring. 
CharlvM got up ofi the seat and tapped the tobacco out of bis 
meerscIuiUDi ou it. and Pvggy blew the uh away, for tidiness. 
"Poor Johnson I" said he, "I'm sorry for Johnton. But I say, 
Pepisy " _ 

"What, dear boy!" fl 

"Are you quite sure !" ^H 

"Oh y<'»! Quite, quite sure, I'm very fond of him all tbe 
same, but that's oothiug to do mtb it," 

"You fancy you'll miss him if be shies offi" 

Peggy half assented. "Well — 1 do— bat perhaps in a day or 
two " 

" \-ou might think differeutly. Do yoti ever miss Captain 

Bradley t" 

"Captain Bradley! 



The idea 1 1" 



CHAPTER XI 



or Tllie STORY or TIIE BCHCB. a P09Bt&I.B CLCE. MR. CeRRINRER. DR. 
MUTII Goes TO sat IIIU. COXCERMNti lIKDLiU 

Ub. Pore and Kr. CliappcII lu'xt day, im well &a all the other 
vritnesees of the excavation, stood awaiting thi.- arrival of "t 
Autfaoritini." to whom iiofi<H' had bo-ii <liily nircn of the discovery! 
of the remains. "I'm thiukin'," said Pojie, "ihai this lilllo affair 
won't work •« hndly an a wt off ngainut ihi- lOatin' we're 'ad over 
this kiln." lie bad a babii. wLeti lie iJiot a uev word, of tuakiiMC it 
BO a long way. 

"How do you make that out I" aaked his psrtoer. 

"Too axk Mr. 'Eath hix opinion. Ac(s>rding to my idon wo alial 
have a rec'Inr bcneflt. SparrowKraphs in the I'rwie — S'ciety of 
Antintiarii'H — Archu-olotj-ists — intcrwiljii' partioulara — ainj^r dla- 
eorery — );harstly details of einfc'lar diacoveiy — identification of rv- 
nuina— 'co* aomebody'a aurc to find out tbey'ie Nell Qwyime." 

"She wasn't murdered " 

"Wi>ll ihni — Homo immoral historical female that iva9 murdered. 
Sure to somebody turn up!'' 

llowi'vw, nobody did turn up. Not for want of immoral hi»- 
lorical females, but liecause none ooold bo found to hnvc livml in 
the bouse who had sIko vnni»hcd and left no trace. Mr. Pope was 
indisnaiit irilh one or two dead Sireus who were said to have en- 
joyed a doubtful reputation — a curimiti tafU^ vn their part surely! 
^Bod 10 have earned it in thai hou>u\ for not having been mur- 
dered there. One especially would hove done beautifully— but aUa, 

instead of getting murdored alio lud married the Duke of , 

and had sneaked out of all re«pon8ibility for authenticating thman 
remaina, loaving that tank to some tibsctir)! [irraon who hud posai-i 
biy been moral, and certainly hiatorical, but had been ijpuHnini-' 
ously loet sight of. 

All that n-u.-< (|iiitt! eWr was iluil tlieM! were the mortal remain 
of a woman, probably about live -and- twenty year* of age, wit 
dark hair and a great deal of it; who. being completely dreaaed otl 
for a boll in a Uowered silk dress (whose pattern was stilt trae&- 
ablo), bad boon atabh^l tlirough thu heart with a trcnieaduu.^ 
thruit, owl tbes hastily buried, but aftertiiiiid» catcImWs cb^vtv^ 

US 



lie 



AUCE-FOR-SHOHT 



n 




in by replacing tli« briokwork fliwr. Thr mwr)n«r ot lln- doatli was 
inforrcd from a fradur© of a rib behind the heart — struck, it was 
siijipdst'd, with gTPOt force by the point of llic rapii-r tliut hiid 
Hlreniij- passed through the body. Some of those who ejtamined it 
profe8«e<l lu set- the iD^IentHtion of the point upon the bone — but 
thi» WB8 disputed. 

\\'hat had been a letter woa atill idfutiSaWe in whut had bwn 
the boBom of the dress — but it vitf impossihte to decipher tt legible 
word now. It had been a love-letter onee perhaps — who eovdd eay t 
Think of the <'li-ur bright ink — of the scratching quitl — of the ab- 
eorbed successful face of the writer — a hundred years agol — as h© 
thought to liitnHelf how well he had sai<] that, and wondcrixl what 
Uiaiiner of anewer he was going to get. But perhaps it wan only 
n r*i-i-ipl for cookery, or an luvitalion to tea. Now, the blood-atain 
had usurped the ink, and there was an end of it I 

The jewels had all bix-n rcmorfd, cxci'pt the |>earl necklace, which 
was claimed partly by the landlord of the estate, and partly by the 
Crown BS treasuri; trove. The: Itut claim foiled on some t<s;hnical 
count, and half the pearla were adjudged to the finder. It being 
impossible to determine who he wa«i. the proceeds of its side were 
by eoin]uoii eonst-nt given to a Hospital. 

The ground surrounding what bad been taken out was all virgin 
soil, and was i<lcntiliecl by ITaycroft a.H similar to some he had 
cleared out of an arched recess near the staircnw. Some of thi« 
bad been 8erai)ed out reci^ntly, he tliought. as there was the matter 
of a few shovelfuls under the stairs. lie pointird out thnt probably 
tbe murderer, feeling uneasy about the thrown-up soil in the vault, 
bad removed it to This recess, and packed it in flush with a sort 
of parapet across the lower part; — "There was a beer-caslc stood 
in thcr^r." unid this theoriiit. "l*anin' it was on the parapet in 
front like — and he could whovel in the eile and flush it off iindcr- 
nentb no noboily'd ever notice it hadn't always lieen ibfri-." And 
the theory was accepted and adopted (o the great grntiScntion of 
ilA author. 

Neither Charles nor Jeff felt the least bound to voluntwr infor- 
mation about tlie jug. Iieing aakvd no quealious. Besides it wasn't 
clear it had anything to do with tbe mstlcr. They brought it 
down (it WHS beautifully mended} into Charles's Studio to smoke 
over it, and reflect and speculate. 

"You set? how it was. Jeff!" aaid Charles. "It was the beer-jug, 
and wa* placed inside the safe recess by Homebody and lost sight 
of. Then this murdering character came, and chucked iu alljth*t_ 
loBn, or und, as Haycroft said, and covered it in " 





ALICE-FOR-SnORT 11? 

"Bui, 1 e*y. dinrlcyl Whnt wt Goody Pcppcnnint imd bcr hus- 
band to KTobble up that stuff! They didnt know (here was a jug 
ihet*." 

"Of course they dido't, etoopid! But they were caretakera. The 
first instinct of ii oimtluker i» tbn appropriuticin of thn uninrcn* 
toried. Tbc Kvnnd is its rcnUiMition, ho cnllcd, at the pawuflhop. 
^ I Tbey k<-pt (lit- jug in ifaia ciuie, bt^cuiuit! thtiy tlidiight it of no Tolue." 
I "That IPOS a mistake 1 Just look at it! " 

"They gut a good haul out of it, though. I ixpoct ihut ring'ii 
«^rth monoy." For Charles had told Jeff all about the rinc- 
"It's to be kept for the kid. But why it nhould be in the jug 
beats nic I giro it up!" 

And exerybody gaw it up. Hdaxiy made rash atarts in oonvor- 
Mtional effortu to dear up thin my«tMy. but had always to climb 
down in the end. Perhaps the weak theories were more interesting 
than the sounder iini'», ns Hhowing tho effect on feeblo tninds of 
attempts to grapple witli the insuhible. As. for instanee, that the 
ring had fallen into tint bi^T. This was Arehibnld'*, but he de- 
clined to enlarge u|>on it, feeling no doubt that it was safest in 
its unailonicd niinpliifity. Then t]>eri! wiu Partridge's, who 
ascribed it to the "gointrs'on" of the "girls" and their young men. 
but alno caulioiuly avoidt^d detail. Robin rediin^d sticculation to 
its most elementary form, hy merely shutting one eye, and saying 
that wc should aee we shouU! find that ttntre was Bom« very quitw 
•tory attaehed to it. Mrs. Heath preferred to indicate, by subtle- 
tic* of mnnni^r, that "hf <^<ltl]d see llimuKh tlio whole tiling, q\iito 
easily, but that it would not admit of Kcueral discussion, especially 
nniong young pvTMonH. "Ill tell you after" deacribea her altiliidc. 
Her husband suggested ponderous and cxhaiintive conclusion, re- 
tainud from motives of a magiatenal nature; but only committed 
faimwlf so far as to ray that, if the affair were put in the bands 
of tile Criininal Investigation Department, he bad no doubt the 
heads thcrcnf wnuld givo n gotnl acimunt of tlu; mflllcr. 

Charles and Peggy botli thou|iht the only surmise worth a straw 
wan Ellen"*; that Ibcri! was a magpie in the houM.-. This ac(iuired 
so definite a status, as to be spoken of as "the Uagpie tboory." 
It might have hnm the true one, but it waan't. 

Bow often a clue to an old-world story must be lost sight of 
throu)^ its never corntnn to those who seek it that some survivor 
could supply the link that ts wanted! Ofteu and often there must 
linger in some brain, near a century old, of some forgotten human 
relic— wXDc tenant of an Ahnshotise or Workhoasc, oi xKVl^K^iLtA.- 




lis 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 




liouse or Qui — some menioFy of uarltent vbildliom!, Bome Kpokg 
word from lipi^ as old &» his or hem are uow, tiiat would tl 
u liicbt on what must reiuntii in darkncsn for nil time, except that 
word be iitt«rod again to ears tliat will listen, and miuda that trill 
riN-ord. WImt may not be lo^t. now and agnin. in the gBrralities of 
cslreroe old ajte, shouted down h.v the vi^torous surrounding lif«. 
that only carcn for nowf Wr slight and dinfjird the rccolliictions of 
tilt- Kip Vnii Viuklcs we hare ahout us. every day. beLuoae the 
Knatnkill Mountain into which they diBappcnrrd from the village 
of Cliildhfiod wan tbo World of aclivf life itself! They have oonie 
back DOW, and Heudrick Hudson and his Rsnic of bowls is van- 
ishing from them ; and tin* village- alrfct ooniia buek. And tbey 
see a^raiu the old old folk that wore there — that are loofi fcone now — 
and can majbe Iicnr whut tlwy say I And whi;n thry try to tell, 
we say— "Oh. bother I" 

Weil! That'n the wort of answer tliey get very oftiai. And w» 
lose a preat deal by it. 

No ccntrnarian turned up to throw a light on the mystery of 
No. 40. But n jrooii di-ul of trsdition is to bo got from leaser 
veterans. The Chelsea I'cnsioner who wasn't at Chill ianwallab 
himself con find you nani<« on its monumental column uf tbusc 
who w«re comrades in arms of old friends now dead who wero 
tbePP, nnd told him all nl>oul it. And (be Arl-Studcnt of sixty- 
od»i. whom Cbiirk'.H inude ueguaintanctT with at the Royal Acadeojy 
school*, was a Ipswr veteran of this sort. He was a sitrutigi' eon- 
neetitif; link witli tbe paat, a life-student of the schooK dating 
back almost if not quite to th« days of Fuseli. Ilis name occurs at 
the corner of eopjierplale illuatrations of tlie days of our Grand- 
mothers — the grandmothers I mean of us old ones — your gnist- 
grandmothers, dear hoys and girls I Instances of female beauty 
called variably Relindo, Zoe. Fanny, and Gaiety, Tenderness, Coy- 
iMSa. and so forth, show the sipioture J. W. Verrindcr. and ono 
or two illustrated works of the time of the Peninsulur War were 
eontribnled to by tlie same hun<L By what slow decjidene* ihe 
unhappy artist hnd dwindled to hi? present position. Heaven only 
knew! But there he was. a perpetual iife-student, who so far as 
Cbarle? could Bseertnin hnd never completed a diawjne or a study 
since the one that had won him his medal and gained him his 
position, early in the century. Since then — bo it was said among 
tlie students— old Verrinder had pursued exactly the same eourU' in 
tile painting school. As soon as the sitting of eacJi model came 
to an end be would wipe out the work be had done with turpentine 
tad brgiu unoUier on ilie same canvas. The polished condition 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



110 



tl that caavuH ninj- hv imsfrinrd. But Clinrlrs frit thnt most prob* 
sbly tlw man, ne he iiov eair hitn, vas at the ead of a slow dSgrin- 
goiade, and thut thirty yean ago thingii ■vr-rf HiHorrnt. Up hsd 
slwftfs (and had ainaye had, ^aid tradilion) the- bAtat elolhea, 
and tbe aanio imliffcn-iin; to xoup and wiitrr. An imptidml youth 
once said to him, "Why do you nerer wash yourself?" and he 
r«Iili(.Hl. "Why nhnuld I !" and tlwn added. "If you wcnr me, yiii* 
wouldn't." But he uH^d to ehave, or be ebaved. it was allcgt^d that^ 
be had uvvcr had anj' lunch Hiiicc he giivir up making ch.ilk draw* i 
)nK*> when he u»cd to eat the crust of a twopenny loaf, prtMerving 
Ibe crumb for i-raaur». H« must have bought nen- tubt^s of colour 
eometimMi aa he couldn't uw them twice over: but no one had «ver 
seen a new cotour-tiiLc nor a new brush in hid [tosac^ion. Ho 
vas alwajs at the end of his tubes, but always able (o get a very 
little more out at ibiiti. K(iwt-«?r. Iw supplied him-splf by borrow-^ 
iiUts. Up used to retreat rapidly from his picturr as though to 
ita effect from afar. 8]i<t then suddenly »winK)ug rutiud, pounce vm 
a twiRhbour with — "llHlf-a-nqueexi? of indinn Kedl" or whatever 
colour he wantc<t — (ilwayo too nuddm nn oppral to be rtsisted. 

Charles, always rc<ckless about his colourmau's bills, had, at this 
time, juxt laid in n hugr Kinck. Ro msgiiitici^nt a riillcirliou at ma- 
terial as his box contained was rarely to be seen in the paintinjtj 
•choo!, and of euurw it attnicttH] alti-iition. This to»k the forml 
of examination and condemnation of its cnntrnt«, on the ground 
of the sujwrlluity of ojieh to any reasonable artist. 

*'\Vbat (io you wnnf with Cbrnmo, No. 3 f 

"Whut do you want with Ualachitc Green f 

"What do you want with Cologne Earth )" 

And 80 on through some tliree doien tubes, of which not one 
received unsnimouM sanction, except Raw Umber and Flake White. 
EmcIi was eoudemued in turn as unnecessary Io a serious arlist, and 
most were oenmired n^ not bring p«-TTnnnirnt Among these, 
Asplialttim came in for universal condemnation. Just as it was 
under review, Verrindcr rhnrRi'd baekwardM the whole width of 
the room, and arrived at the group round Charles's box in time to 
ovrrhenr K>me !<cathing n-nuirk about it. He caught at it. 

"Asphaltum not permanent! Uo! Hoi — Wish I waa u per- 
manent as Asphnltum " 

"Field saj's fre([uent destruction awaits the work on which it is 
much employed " 

"All humbug!" 

" owing to its diqioeition to contract and crack by changes of 

temperature " 



L 







1H> ALICE-FOR-SUORT 

"Got any tbcrel Tbieo tube*? Take 'cm all and pay you Dezt 
week " 

But Ohnrli'.t iraa mitcli too princely for thi* koH of tbing. Uv 
immediately pressed the tbree tubes on ilr. Verriiider. whose eyea 
glnuRit!(l witb joy as he grnsped them. "I'<iu'r« a gvntlnnnn," f>aid 
he, and theu rushed back to his picture. Charles had ua further 
con Vi-raa lion with him llieii, but some wei^kii ufti-r whm ho wnx 
painting close to him from a Turk who had been captured and 
brouiibt in to sit as u ino<lc'l, Vcrrin<l(!r lunied round and luiid 
abruptly : ^^ 

"1 haven't forfcotten you gavn mo tbree tubes of AsplialtumJH 
Fou're a gcJitlcmnnl" And then showed signs of another lon« 
retirement. But after be appeared to buve gone for good, he sud- 
denly came back and exclaimed: "Three tubes of AaphnltumI Mj 
Godt" 

"I've got more colours tlian 1 want.'* ttiiid Chnrles; "isn't tbon 
some other you could use?" But Verrinder shut Ms lipa tight and 
glared, and shook his head with extrcDK; rapidity. 

"No-no-uo-no-no-uo-uol" said he, almost in one word. "I'm 
not that sort! Hut you're a gentleman. There's but a very few 
kft, nowndftys. They're ull Feejeo Injuns," His mispronouncing 
of a word or two did not seem to be from want of education. 
"Injuns" might have been jocularity — a word spoken quotation- 
wise. 

diaries was getting hia own canvas into a terrible mess, owing 
to the Visitor niuggesting he should use Pr\isflian Blue in the fienh. 
BO ho made no answer, hojiing Verrinder would die down. But ha 
didn't 

"Feejee Injuns, all of *emt The profession's gone to the DeviL 
But don't you give awny your colours too freely. Maylie there'll 
come a time when you'll wish you'd kept some of 'em." This 
attitude took the edge off his reluctance to accept a further dona- 
tion — in fact, seemed to make it dtlBcult not to offer more. Charles 
did so, and aaid he milly hnd to<i many. 

"No-no-no -no-no 1" said Verrinder again, "I'm not that wrt. 

But look at my box! I'll ttdl you Homctbing " Charlea looked 

at the cumbrous contrivance of trays and recesses, so blotched and 
hiddttn witli colour-aqut^eces and coagulatMl oil and vuniiah that 
it was bard to say if it was wood or metal. He decided it was 
metal, not japuuncd. Vi-rrindcr contlned: "That's my new box! 
You wouldn't think it, but it is I My old box is at home — ^fortytive 
jeara!" He made u periodical retreat, knocking down an catK.-! by 
lb» way, and setting it up again as be returned. 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



ISl 



L 



"Uy old box was IWvoti & luirood, Cbnpaidc It hndn't tubes 
in it Littlo bladders of colour " 

"I suppose you bought it »en>nd-linnd !" 

"I didn't buy it. It was siven to mc. Ah deary me, yee! It ' 
given to mo." Ami hf. became silent junt lu Cbnrk-s was begii 
ning to fw! an int<-rrnt- He tried to make him begin a^io, by 
little hints aud sugireatiuua, but these failed. H<^ remiiin^ eilent; 
but next time the model was sitting, he addressed Charles sud- 
denly. "You're the young man that's taken tlie big Studio." and 
then went on to gire the strrct and the number of the house. He 
ended with an inflexible laugh — "Hoi Hoi" — and was miher iin 
■DDoyance to Chnrles, who. to say the tnitb, now wished he had 
proTtded himself with u htimbk-r workshop. He auid $unii--tbing, 
in thftt mise to Verrinder, and added, "I daresay you were lat 
ing at roe for tuking u great big plaeu out of all proportion to my 
abilities to use it." 

"Laughing bI you!" was his rejdy. "No — no! I wouldn't dai 
that I— not the man to. Didn't you gi^'o tne throe tubes of Asphal-1 
lUDit No — no! I was laughing to tliink how near fifty years it is 
since I was last in that Studio." — An inflection towards seriousness 
camo in thci Toiec, but raniehed imm<'(l lately. — "It waan't a Studio 
then— only a room. The high window was carried up a bit later." 

"Who wn» it occupied it then, if ono may auk I" Charles was 
getting very curious, but was afraid be might by acme blunderg 
check the flow of information. Verrinder seemed to be readyf 
enough to talk though, having onee begun. He inenlioiied tha 
name of a well-known portrait painter of the beginning of tho 
century — and added, "It waa he put in the high window. But 
that was after be tumnd mc out." 

"Had you half tho Studio then)" Chftrlea was puziled. 

"No — it wasn't that way at all. I was his nssiatant — eort of 
pupil — used fo paint on baekgro\nids — curtains — hits of fumituro 
— 'POtUpftab witli nrna on 'cm. 111? gnvn me my old box. Sonie of 
tbe bladders in it were very old. and had been given him by, who do 
you think ( '' Oliurle* gave it up. 

"Joshua Reynolds himself I There now!" And Verrinder, hav- 
ing miccwafully Hurpriw-d hiit hcjirer. went on one of his back- 
ward royages. When ho returned Charles asked him why hi* 
master, or miployer, hud turned htm out. 

"Too much company 1" said he. "Ask mc that when the Fetjea 
Injuns hurt: gone." 

In the eoorne of time the Indians ilispi-rsfd, Iravin^ owVj 
Charle^i and Verrinder and u m-j^utlve young m&a \uu«:V^vu4 ^9 ^'^'^ 



133 



ALICE-i'OE-SHOKT 



Turk. It was a few days before the cIobid^ of the Academy Exhi- 
bition, im<l tU(- p\a<:v wiui tlic doinc of the Trnfalgar Sqtinr? Riiiid* 
iog, where the Aendeniy still lived, in those daye, thouKli tlie time 
far its dtparturv to Burlinf^un Houne was iipprOBcIting. Tho 
Exhibition was open, the nntiiiuo school broktu up; and the pnint- 
ing AcJioii] mil) T.ifc achtiul pro|H-r hod gone upstairs Into what 
the derision of that date (which wo oureolv» have never feit in 
Lannony with) thought proi>or It) eall Wilkius'e Pepper-Caslor. 
As soon as the place was ijuiet. and tbu encmj- hod tr(iop<;d ilown- 
atoirs, Vurriiidiir resumed, still paiutiuiE. Charles also went on 
painiing, as he wanted to hear. But he prctcnd<;d to want to 
Iiaiiit. 

"Why did • turn ms oiit( Weill — it wn« his own house, 

Iwld vn a kusi-. and hu had a right to. Of course he had a reason — 
thought it n Kood one, no doubt. I didn't. Wotdd you like to know 
what it wasf" Charles fully espected if be gave an aSnoativo 
answer to be nutt witli "Then I Hban't tell you!" But he risked it, 
BHyiiiiu; simply. "Yes — I should — very Bineh," and was quite t&kcD 
abaek by the direelncss of the ncjily he got. 

"I niadi- I'lvi- to his daughter. That was the reason. YesI be 
turned me out o' the bouse. Forty-five years ago ! Rutber more!" 

Was that going to \>r the end of the story! thounht Charles. No, 
not quill- yrl. Fie would talk more if you let biin alom?. No 
burryl Presently, he went on, dropping bis voi«. and dropping 
what hud lifi-u almost a sort of biiffc) manuiT with it. 

"Yps — that was over forty-five years ago! And IVo never sot 
foot in iliai house sinee. Oiioe T was ijassinjr. when the hills wer« 
Mp; Slid I half thought of going in. But I thought better of it. 
So mi^iht yuu liavt^ " 

Charles said something about how it was always pninful to go 
back to old timcM. and thtin felt that he at bis time of life had uo 
right to niorsliw to this man, speaking to him now of twenty 
years before his birth. He was a dirty and poverty-stricken old 
figure of fun lo In- sure, and a great tntighing-stock to llie thought- 
leea boys whose last footstep had Just died on the stairs. He was 
grotosque in manner, though not bo in speech — or very slightly. 
He bad ■ habit of puffing out his cheeks and throwing up bis eye- 
Itib; hut it did not seem to expr(^<) any dctinite phase of mind, as 
it would come at any time, or in any speech, and only bad the 
effect of making the &i)e«kcr Bo(-m not in oaruest. As he referral 
to bis past, and made his hearer fc«l it as a reality, ho bocamo 




tliia Qtmo !• omtiled (or obtioos rcuoiui. Il li tb4t ot a portnil painist 
jira at tha lloio. 



■ AUCE-FOR-SnOKT 1»8 

more and more a straiitte possible conaectinc link with S still older 
bjgone time. Who ccmld «ay what wati ktiimti of tlio huumt b;^ its 
occupant of fiftv yean ajto, aud of its traditions acm long for- 
([Otteot Cbarlos thought it better to tiilk nbout the Iiouac lUvli 
M Hu! most like)}- course to briox about revelations. He sketched 
the pre«ent occupant*, «nd fniUd tip. "Of counw yoii "aw about 
thr find of boniit in th<> vault — thrw? or four weeks agot" 

'T see nothinft nowadsjrs. What hon<i«( Mutton-bonw t" This 
and hill ptilBng out his cheeks at tbi^ tuomeul gave an appearance 
of incredulity or ridicule. 

"Xo. Human bones — a whole skeleton. It was in all the 
papers " 

"I never MM! the papers. I u«v«r see unytliiug. Ifan'a bones 
or woman's bones t" 

"Woman's bones." j 

"Was it Phyllis Cartwrijihtr ^ 

"How can I loll t Nobody knows who it was. All the anti- 
quarians arc trying to hunt her up, and are not getting at any- 
thing, m far. Who «J(M Phyllis Cartwrightr' J 

"Haven't the s]ig;htest tdea 1" Tliis was ptiuling. " 

"Whu Phyllis Cartwright then (" nslccd Charles. ITe was begin* 
Ding to think the man wati uut taking hia wonU au terieuz; the 
more so bocauM of his way of puffing bis cJiccks out, and raising 
his eyelid*. 

"I couldn't say." 

"Soinetliing must have made you think of Phyllis Cart- 
wright " 

"Somiithing — ^yeal Can't say what." And nothing more could 
be got from Mr. Verrindcr. But it sei-med as if what be said was 
true, aud iluil the name Phyllis Cartwright had really auddenly 
come into his hc-nd; he eoiildn't trll why! He became silent and 
preoccupied for a time, and then suddenly saying — "Why Phyllis 
Cnrtwright T' n* if he had hccn trying for n irluo to her. pnekisl up 
his tubes, wiped his palette, aud riused his briis)i(--3 iti tiiriieutiiie. 
The final cleaning with aoup wss in a waKhboiife helow, and 
Charles carried bie own brushes down also. Uotli cleaned simul- 
taneously. Verrinder sucking his bruKhex to "hape them off. aod 
spitting out the soapy water, "Why Phyllis Cartwright?" said ho 
again, and glared roun<l nt Chnrlcs to emphnsiE<? enquiry, with n 
brush in his moutli like a flag*-olet. Charles could throw no light 
of eounm-. and went away to lunch thinking Verrindcr more than 
merely queer, possibly craty. Still, be had kiiowu something abuut. 
the bouse, from forty to tifty years ago. 



L 



134 



AUCE-FOR-SHORT 




Clmrles hnd epoitwl his study of Ibe Turk, whom be wu bogin' 
nine to paint iu IVuwinn EIluc. lie decided not to go back ti 

thc-TP WHS another Visitor, even if he was onl^ old .* who 

nlwnys wnnlcd Qceh paiulcd Indian Rod and black, llo reappeared 
in the School ut thn Dirxt MHMii--tiliiftinfr, aitd gave awnjr his Turk 
canvas to Verrinder, who cleaned the Prussian Clue bdcinning o3 
end started t^raijfbtwuj' on a attidy of u young woman witli > good 
dosl of confidence in her own appearance. Cbarle« was not fortu- 
nate in his plaee, ihtIiuph Im.'Cuusc he came iu lute. He was aoine 
diBtuncc off, and just in the line of Veirinders beekwnrd rushes. 
He squared in an ambiguity with charcoal, with the splendid inde- 
peiideuee of s true Academy student, and was beginning t» 
«i]iiecz»' otit wormcunts at rottdom on hia paklte. when Verrinder 
backed on to him. and begRed pardon. He had inadvertently blocked 
the road. Now. lie wanted to talk more to Vrrrindcr; and what 
after all was an outline? He could just as well do here, three feet 
off. Indeed the outline didn't dignify really, being a matter of 
form in the non-artUtic fieiise of tliut [ibrase; in the artintic one it 
was a matter of amorphousness. Charles shifted his easel, and Ver- 
rinder espreswrd hii^ gralitudr', repeating his conviction that Oharlca 
was a gentleman. Prescnily he charged buck again, niul thn;w 
a remark to Charles en passant. "I've found Phyllis Curtwright." 
said he. And a bystandi-r iinmeflintely naked what sort of fcrt had 
«he. imagining sbc' was a Model. For Art seeks for ever lo find good 
feet on Models, and finds them not. When Verrinder next came 
back, he had another cunmiunicalion to make. "Found her on a 
picture buck — show it you 1" — and rotumod to his casol before 
Charles could repl.v. ^ 

As soon as time came for ifao Model to rest, it tran^in>d thatW 
the name was on the back of the frame of a portrait in Mr. Verrin- 
dcr's possession. He had seen it there on some previous occasion; 
and hud relaineil the name, lliougb lie hnd forgotten wlien am] 
where he had seen it. "If you don't mind climbing up. Pll show 
it you," said hi-. Charles got the impn'Hston that Verrinder lired 
nt the top of somewhere. 

When the sitting vnn over, he spoke to Verrinder again alwut 
Phyllis CartwriKht. What Imd made him suppose she had anj-- 
thiug (o do witli the house! 

"Abal" replied be, "I didn't see that. But you're a gcntlomian. 
You won't a«k questions, So I'll tell you this much. The portrait 

€atu« from that houae^I'll show it you " He looked up at 

aa if ho thought he had spoken. "Ehl There was nolh- 
■ Name omlltod tot muds raMgn. 





But you iroii't aak qnestiono. It was aU fortj'— nnr 
ream ago." Hi* voice had been as promic. ait mattsr-of- 
fnct ovrr hi» rWDlWiioii of the liouw-, «vt-n wlicti li(> told bow he 
bad Bhrunk from doing over it again, sh it wse wbeii lie talked 
of tli(> AMphaltum tutiL-H. Tlie only sigii be sliowed of boiitg affccbxl 
by htB owu references to the past was that be did not speak aicain 
until aftT tho uHual hrusb-cWning had hoea gmw ifarougli. and ho 
and Charles were goini; out. Then be said suddenly, "If you lik^ 
to come along now, I'll mIihw it you. But nun<l you, 1 wouldn't hnvo 
done it only you gave me those tubes. It's a fine colour — a fine 
colour! — And I can feel you'll uak uo iiuestiona." Hu lived. h<!Miiil, 
out Lamhelh way, and walked. Charles sugge«ted a cab. and Ver- 
riixlcT (aid— "Certainly. You pay." — And a liansom wait eiiliated. 
and giTCn an address "over beyond the Hospital." 

"Some people never c^me ncroiM tbn river/' said he to Charlea; 
and Charles bad to confess that be had very seldom done so; also 
tbat ho had never been in the str<«ta they were passing through 
at all. and didn't know their names. 

Verrinder hved in nn attic at the top of a high house certainly— 
but un tiihubiluul of any coutiut^ntul town would havo niadi! liglit 
of it. Il was roomy euough; but wuh choked up with furniture, old 
and mouldy, ond many pictures with the faces turned to Uiu walls. 
The window of tho only room not so chokiJ up opciuKl out on a 
aniall vqiiare of le«ds, sunk in the roof and having a railing out- 
side. It looked out over pleasant enough semi -sub urban gardens, 
now lamenting thoir surrender of spring green to the London 
amoke. Beyond these wan a dome tliat seemed to belong to u build- 
ing of importance, and Charles was surprised that there should bo 
in London so large a Htnidurtt and that he should be unsble to 
reco^ise ii. He felt he ought to know, and waa almost axhamed 
to ask. Curiosity won the day. 

"la tliat bitildicu; over there, with tlie dome !" In- biigiin ; and 

then hesilated. Verrinder cut him short, ood spared bim ooofe*- 
sion of complete ignorance. 

"Tho Asylum, Yesl Bodlom, if you want to know." His man- 
ner was half curt and forbidding, half subduml. "Here's the 
picture 1" said he. abruptly. He opened the door into tho next 
room, which seemed to serve as his bedroom, though visibly half- 
full of lumber, and immediately rrtiimcd with a canvas. ".\iid 
here's the uame. Phyllis Cartwright. It might be by Romney. 
Very inf<rrior to Rcynoldn, Homney!'' 

"It ou([bt to be valuable." said Charles, and was thinking of saying 
be wondered its owner bad never aokl it, u il dV^l we^n. \a \m «> 





1 96 ALTCE-FOR-SnORT 

family portrait. VrrTiii(i<'r'it nnKircr nnliripntcd sompthing of tlw 
Mrt, "Valuable— yes I Hut 1 shan't sell it. Shan't sell any of them ! 
They uwd to hang in oiir Imiisf. They tnmi: stniigbt hen-. Tlicy'Tr 

niw-iT bc«n moved " and then he §toppcd shorl, and turned 

another picture rouod from the wall — "Man with a big nsmc," wiifl 

he; "don't think much of htm! Turner " and put it back where 

it was liefore, Ohsrles stood looking at Pliyllis Csrtwright, nnd 
wiahing be was nt libi-rty to ask qutsliouft. After oU. he wasn't 
n penny the wiser for seeing a picture, nicr^^ly hocausp it had been 
in the hoiisp in old times. If it bod bitn known to have beea 
paintod in the house, or that its subject had lived in the house, 
that woiild have bcpn quite andthcr thing:. At pn-si-nt. Phyllis 
Cartwright waa a name, and her portrait an oil-picture — obscured, 
aa ia the manner of oil-picMirex, by a long life in ibc dark — so 
obscurw! in fact ihul it would have been hard to say if she wa« 
dark or fair. However. Chnrlcn had promiwil to unk no questions, 
or considered that hi- b«<l. So lie held hi» tongue resolutely, PreB- 
enlly he bad his rpward. 

"You're n gentlmnan 1" Hnid Vt-rrindcr. "You promised and 
held to it — I can (ell you some more, but no more than 1 want to 
tell." He spoke as if afraid of being catechised, ^H 

"I will ask iiolhing." said Charles, "Tou may truet me " ^" 

"The picture and all tJicse others came out of that house you aro 
nt now — came out Iohr l«fore you were bom. They belonged 

to , who turned me out "f the hcius<'. I told you (" Charles 

noddwl. "He bought them at ihe sale — the Family was sold up— 
name was Lutlrell — lieen there a lone time — sinoi; the house was 

built " He made a short pause, then said abruptly, "WcUI — 

That's pretty well all I can tell you!" It was disappointing. It 
was also most difficult. Charles foun<l. to make any foniment that 
would not seem like a question. But lie found something to say, 

"At any rate that is something to know — I have not been able to 
find any of the previous history of the house. But the namM 
Luttrell and Cartwright may give us a clue to follow." 

"Luttrpll may — I'm not clenr about Cartwright — my memory'a 
bad — I know they were a very fast lot— ^ards and dice — that aort 

of thing. I suppose mtmt have told mc- about them often — 

or else " And be stopped afain with a deadlock. But he 

prr!M>i]ily resumed: "As for why your story of the lion<^" made me 
think of PliyllU Cartwright, 1 can tell no more ihau Adam. I 
muEt have seen the name on tbe picture, and iM it alone. Stupid 
way one has I" 

*'Jl wan a good job for m«," auid Cbartee, "ibat you bsppeuul to 



ALICE-FOR-SUORT 



1S7 



look at the iiicturc-liack juRt when jou did, or T nhoulda't harn 
knoom about Luttrell " 

"I didn't look ut it. I wiK dozin' up here. — wpII on midnight it 
was — and it crossed m7 mind. Crossed my mind where it was! 
And tlit-ii I pulled out tbi« frames from betiind the ntliers. niid 
ihciv it nni; »urr ciiouith. I oinst have seen it. y^ars agonel And 
it liad 6lii)i)bd niy memory-. Some things don't! Some thingx 
dol— " 

Cbaries felt that if he stopper) much longer he sliould forget his 
promise and nsk question*. So hv nindc a pr<-lfii<Tn of bving due 
EOinewhere, aiid said he must run. But he liad profited by so much 
«s th« name of the ohi holder* of Xo. 40 amounted to. And them) 
might be any amount of coouecting link among ail these dingy 
convmiics. He crtKlitL'd hinutdf with b wiso dis(?n<Lion tliougU iu 
not UTing to get at too much. He was siiro to see Verrindcr again. 

Charles was, no <ioubt, wliat Pi-ggy had culli-il him — "Charley 
Slowboy" — in some respects. As ho rode away to a very late lunch 
in bis btuiaom, a numhc^r of H(H!culutions crosecd his mind about 
Verriuder that Peggy would have thought of at once. Was he 
mad} His nuinn«r wiW very odd, certninlj'. But surely, if he waa 
mad. he never would go to live in sight of Itedlniu. Of eourae 
uttlnax he was mad. Hddi>d Chartos to him>u^lf. ahMurdly. But then 
suppose his only symptom of insanity was that he went to lire in 
Hi^t of Bi'dlam. V-iug mud. That's a very circular convrndrum. 
thought Charles, and gave it up. Ho went on to another ; why did 
Vi-rrinder live in appurently such povwty when he had pictures 
in his pOMcssion visibly of great raluet The portrait was a liey- 
nohls or a Romiiey at thi; IcasL Nobody oould any what the vniuo 
of the Turner might be If all the rwt were like the sample, there 
might be thousands of pounds' worth of pictured in that attie. And 
there was tlicir owner, dirty and neglected, in a very old black 
suit tliat glittered with poli^i on tbu JoinU. in booU with patched 
upptrr leathers, in a coloured shirt with a traditionally white coN 
lar. held only bf a iront button, and trying to climb over the back 
of his head — altogether a miscrnblo waif, such as ono may see 
tnimchbig aaiidwicbea furtively in cornerx in public museums and 
fCallerics. There had been no appearance of anything that could 
be enlled hnu-h or dinner that Charlfn coul<! reindlucl — slayl waa 
there not the eombinatinn known as "the tray" in household espe- 
rienoe. but lacking com|)onents> Charles felt as if he had seen « 
Dutch cheese near a n-rtical btwr-jug with a cracked lip; but he 
vam't sure; it was more a sentimeDt than on image tliat was left 
in his mind. 



1S8 



ALICK-FOR-SHOET 



Anotfarf speculation ma: Woe Verrlnder n miiwTt Ho — that' 
wmilthit dol No nii*cr in kia tenava woutd keep such valuable! 
pklum. If he w«9 very clever be mi^ht. with ii rirw to a riae ia 
priop. But that ih Iwrdly the miser character. The miwM- longs, 
for rpti'itt, taui Itoee for realieatioD. The dcnIcr h»e far sight and 
fortitude; in the mi»or both ni* mergmi in cupidity— no much so 
thai 1m> eould not bear the idea of the n>ftl gold a picture was 
vonh beinir in nnothcr'a poclcrt, if he could (cet it lulo his own. 
Oh no! There was no secret hoard in Uiis cnw. He was really 
at poor as a rat, but had eomti hidden reason for holding on to th«^ 
piclurea. 



CHAPTER Xn 



or A visn OP alick to xo. «, and of ths red uan with tux xHire 



L 



Whex Charles toM PegBy (some iJays after, aho buving b<!i)n 
uway «t o frictid'n) about his expedition to Lambeth with Verrin- 
der, she said ho should have asked more qiieatiocis. AfU-r nil. wi* 
were nonr tbi^ wimtI Mr. Vprrinder rpmcmhcrod the house a very 
lonir time ago: but so might inaiijr i>eo|jle. Of course; it was ouriuiia 
tliat nil those pictures should oner have hrca in that house; but 
then if we were not to ask questions what use waa that I Couldu't 
Mr. Verriiider be pcraiioded to come to dinner at H^t> Park Gar- 
dens! Peggy would soon find out a lot about it if she could gel at 
him. Churli.'S buret out laughing. "Well!" snld Peggy. "I don't 
see atiylhint; so very absurd in tliutl Why shouldn't Mr, Ver- 
rindcr com<i to dinner at llydc Park Gardens'*'' The reason she 
spoki* of hvT family rL-sidi-nue by its iiaum. iiistvad of sayltur, 
"here,*^ was that she and Charles ven at bis Studio when thiv 
conversation look plaee. 

"Why shouldn't Mr. Verrinder eomc to dinner at Hyde Park 
Onrdeiis!" repctitod Charles, and laugliis! again, "I'll be haiigtkl 
if I know. Poggy — only J can't help laughing for all thatl How- 
erer, I don't believe h« woidd come, if I aakeii lum ever so. But 
I should somehow as soon think of sending Mother in the carnng■^ 
to leave eanls on iln. Vurrindur. It's not bccaune he's poor and 
shabby, poor devil, but because of his line of rumness — he would 
be out of his element — aa much ao us a Trappiiit monk — more ao!" 

"1 didn't know there was any Mrs. Verrinder " 

"Nor yet I didn't, myself, PoggyWoggy. till the other day. I 
don't know that I do now, because she may be as dead as a door- 
nail. But there either is. or was. a Mrs. V. — I aayl what a 
diffioult Art painting is!" — Peggy assented, and he went on: "Pm 
fick of painting thin Iwastly armour, and it won't come. I vote I 
have a pipe, and you may ruiHe my hair for mc. As Mon aa 
Pnrlridge and Alice come, we'll luive ten. Pve bouglit a lot of 
cakes and they're in that parcel." 

"lit ruffle your hair. But you must blow the smolw the other 
way." Charles agreed, and the weary artist, w\m> haA w*jVtoA'«'\^- 

120 



I 



ALICE-FOR-SnOBT 

o*t iiitamiirion for <iutt(> two hours, setilod down to hU pipv ou 
lb* ftoor, vith hi.-> hi-iitl in bin iiuliilgi'iit Hstt-r't' lap. They were 
n«7 iMndnoini* yoiiitg pi'oplc, certainly, both of them. 

TW rMaaD tbcy wcro t)»-ri< nt this inirlicutiir momimt wa« that 
Wi unninnent had boon made that Aliae (as a kind of native) 
»hmiM show Mriu Purlriilgv tbn houst-. for a In-at. P<^gy hnd 
KfMt t1rfMi«iird hy her mother from the carriage, while Fartridg« 
Mn) Alice vn-Tf to walk through the Pork. 

"What did he tell yoii about Mr§. Vemnderl" said Peggy, falling 
Wok on the oonrtfrHHticin. 

"He's never mentioned her himself. It was the Curator of ihe 
Schooliu, wIki hni known him for forty year* pnsU Hr was vory 
lavilunt, but was curious to hear all I had to tell him aliout Vet- 
riudcr'a liousekw-ping. Snid he went to sec him there once — thirty 
yuan ago! Asked me if I had 'made out anythiue' about bis 
wi/^" 
"What did jon say T 

"Oh, of course I said he hadn*t mentioned her to me, and I 
didn*t know he had a wife. lie n-idicd lliat he bud a wife, unlewa 
•be had die<! without his hearing: of i(. 'Not very likely,' he said. 
I told htm I bad nom no sign of any hidy in (tie place. 'Oh.' said 
be. 'that would make no diSerenoe.' And then he shut up. There's 
•omrtliing mm about it." 

"I tell you what, Charley. Tve got an idea 1 Mr. Verrinder must 
have married ihe girl be was turned out of thi* hoii«ir for making 
love to, in the end — because if ho didn't, how came be into posseS' 
»ion of h«r fatlier's property? Don't you ■«■? Look here. Hilly 
boy — and blow the smoke the other way. Now listen to me! First 
of all Mr. Thingummy R. A: turns htm out of the houMV for malc- 
iugr up to his daufchter. Very well then!" 
"1 don't wc that you're getting any nearer." 
"Yes — I am. Don't bo in a hurry! Next they midce a runaway 
match of it — the .voung people do; of course I" 

"That was all right and natural, wbfii tlie parents objected. But 
you don't understand! Verrinder distinctly said be hadn't «* 
foot in that house since its owner turnird him out of it. That was 
u the first thing he said." 

^^ "Tea — but oni! <ran suppoee all Kortn of things. He may have 
^1 moaiDed obdurate — hardened his heart and died unrcpentimt" 
^M "No^ffcn/ won't do! Verrinder would have U:en sure to go into 
^B the bouse again if he and his wife inherited the things." 
^^^^^erhaps he left the house and went nomewhere else beforn he 
^^^K *' Cbxrics ivjSccicd, and blew the smoke the other way. "That 



I 



AUCE-FOB-SaoUT 



181 



f aeeuis tMesible asd reasonable," raid be. "We'll let it ga at 

that." 
1 "Whu ore tli« people who have come into the big back room 
downstairs 1" aifkcd Peggy. 

"Pictiirw dealers. I believe. They wont to alter the littlu oval 
skflighi— «av tliorc's do li^lit. Jc9 Is very indijiQa&t. Sara ita 
Vaiula I ism " 

"Oht— Mr. Jerrytlioiisht. But i» tlionj no li«hti" 

"Jvfl 6iiya it's a glorious old Queeu Anne house, uud it's vricked 
to alter it." 

"I shouldn't par oi>r attention to Mr. Jerrythought if I was the 
picture dealer. It wos a hollroom, wasn't it!" 

"Jeff says so. He's ill Queen Axinu's confidenc e " ■ 

"Isn't ibst Alice's voicoi" Yvf., it is. And in come* Alioe^ 
much exeiicd at her position as sbow-woniau. or jiatronesa. of the 
house, iln^ Partridge iicvcr hnving bwn there before. Alice's 
iip<-ecb and apiniaranoe have improved euorniousl.v. Kt-ully if wo 
had not bad our cyca on her for the pnst few niontbu. unknown 
to our r<.-n(lors, wo should not have nvognisod liirr, and llitn per- 
bape we should have written that a pretty blue-eyed maiden with 
mouMU-oolourr'd buir. nictily dnr^tKtMl in a Japunese blm^priut frock 
and a cap of the same colour, came running rather flushed into 
the room, and that wc did Dot rccolicet hnving seen Iwr b<-foro. 
As it is we are in a position to assure them that this little fcirl waSH 
the vf.ry selfMimc Alice that wnw knoekM down by ihoiic usugbty'l 
little boys in the fog, aud save.! from u wbip[iinit by Charles Heath. 
And tlioM- little boyx were no tloubt utill piirmiing their ruriwir of 
ineubordinnlion and depruvity. while Alice bud by the merest acci'-M 
dent bcHTU lifted high nbove ihcm in the social scale, and had not, w9 
far, done anything to disappoint her patrons. 

Eight munlliH is a good long period in the life of a child of nil— 
oTer ten per cent, of the whole, vre believe — aud Alice had the 
impr«!»ion ihat slie lind lived a very vf.ry long time at Hyde Park 
Gnrdens under tlio chronic control and goveramt-nl of Mrs. Part- 
ridge, subject to uccnsionnl interventions from (he higher regions. J 
Indeed, as a matter of fact, the occasions were frequent; aud a^ 
whobr day rarely passed in which Alice did not iind her way into 
the drawing-room on some pretext or other; while Peggy for her 
part, aiid Chiirlt'S on hin intermittent visits at home, were frequent 
visitors in the hous^eeper's room. But by this time Alice baa _ 
noniR into the room, and nhc io «> anxious to H|ieak, vre must notj 
keep her waiting. She was too full of her mission to allow of anq " 
obacn-imoe of vavrv artitjcial formif, uad pluBg>;d SlI ouce w iae^vo.» 



L 



^ 



13S 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



^ 



f**. l\cT pmniinciution was still far from pi-rfcdt, but mucli ioi' 
prored. All altering plissc of toeth bad made ber lisji take anolbi-r 
(arm, and grent t-florts Uud got rid <if both lidi/ and lotidy, and 
obtained in exchange an approach to lady. We shaJl Ti-ry soon be 
nblo to print Alice u-itUotit lier prun uncial ion ; it will be so norma). 

''Mustn't I Miir Mid. Parkridse dowustaire, all where Puasf was, 

and Mr. Cliarl<-y caxni- down eviir •» long ego '" and bOT* Alice's 

I Tott'e pot a kind of puzzled ruefolaeM as she added: "and wlier«| 
Uicrw u»!<i-«l to be futbcT and motlierl" 

Partridfte. feelinj; it due to her di^'nlt^ to dissociate lieraelf 
from Hoe thoughtless enlhustasm of childhood, remnrlccd in con' 
fidence to the (jrown-up world tliat we were quite wild witli exeite- 
DWDt; and thim rvmiiincd aloft. Chsrica garv the authorisatioa i 
adtcd for. I 

"Of coHMip yon shall, Alicc-for-Bhort ! That's what you've eona* 
for. Now liatful Ton go downstairs into the oflioe — nol stopl 
wait till I tell yon what to sny — nnd nstt the gmtlcman there to 
allow ,vou to show Airs. Partridge all through tlie shops. Sa; 
you're Miss Kornnagh that used to live here." Perhaps the last 
inxtriiction didn't reiich. as- Alice was <ilT. after repealing, to nhow 
her elear understanding : "Mre, Parkridge all froo the sops." F 
th and { were still ainhiguoua, in unstudied speech. 

"We won't go down, Pc^y, it makes such a lot of ub— loo great 
a riMtatiori !" And Partridge followe Alice under assnmptiaa 
of guardianship, but really very curious to see whore the hone* 
were found. Peggy and Charles enn always go on chiilling. 

"How arr you and the Doctor getting along. Poggy i" 

"What a ftill.v hoy you arcl Why should the Doctor (ns you 

col! him) and I 'get along* " 

■ "What do yoa want ine to call himi Wliy «houldn'l you geti 
along— — V 

"t don't see that any get-alonging cornea into the matter. Dr. ' 
Johnson and I are very good friends and always shall be— if I hava 
my way. As to what I want, you to call him — of courw one would 
naturally prefer to call him Itupert — it's such a pretty name I Only 
wlM-n » mnn'-H inelin<'d to behave like that, you can't rail liim by 

hifi Christian name, nor he yours " You see. when a yoxtng 

Ia<ty is talking to h(T hnithcr, xbe needn't construct her xentcnccs 
carefully. Cbarlea quite understood. 

"You like Johnson a d«il h-ttrr than Captain Bradley?" 

"Captain Bradley! Better than an omnibus-full of Captain 
Ugh !— what It horrible idfa I" 
Pfioae Jfohin's told you about the Captain V 



istfl 
;>wfl 



d 



AL1CE-F0R-8H0RT 



133 



L 



"No! Ila" ho «niiioli-<! himself t" (Rim«w! t^tiHositjrt) 

'Tea— ft Misa Calleuiier — Edith Calk-nder." Peggy appeared 
to know the lady, bot not to admire her t«triiv«g«ntly. "The idea 1" 
Mid ahe. "Edilh Callender ! 1 1 Well— he U eaaily congoled. How. 

ever, I euppoM it's all right I " Arc wc^ wa wonder, nltoffrther 

wrong in tmrmisiiif; ihnt Peggy whb human enoii^ to fi-'el almost 
no pique, in§tead of tuite none, at the man nhc wouldn't huvc mar- 
rictl (no the. sutd) witli a pair of tongd, and at an omnihus-fiill 
of whom glte fairly shuddered, haviug given up wearing the wiUow 
on her account, and cMiisoled hiniM^If with inferiority) No! Peggy 
was quite dialinetljr human, for all her philosophy. Charles evi- 
dently thought so, for he said, "Don't be jealous, PoRgy-Woggyl 
You wouldn't have tlie Captain yourself. Tou didn't expect him to 
ask your lc«vo to mnrry Mies Callender, did yout" 

"Hf'd got it alrcmly. I w<iiuh?r if lie told Miss Cullender about 
—all hie previous offers 1" 

"Pnrtieulnrly hi« la«t one. I wonder if the Doctor means to tell 
the next he offers lo about Mia* Peeruy Heath " 

"Oh not Kupert Johnson's — quite a different sortl Quit«I I 
wiitb lie would ttiough — but ho won't——" 

"How do you know that F' 

"1 inouj h«f won't " 

"You seem lo know a lot about him. I tell you what. Peg; 1 
don't bclicTv you would bo glad if another ^r1 nccc]ited Johnson — 
you'd be sorry. At least, you'd be Klad if she rejected him " 

"Rcjpctif I Rupert .Johnson ! I should like to aec a girl 
him. The luinsl" And Peggy scfrms genuinely indignant withi 
this shadowy damsel. 

"You did it yourself, Pog. anyhow I" 

"No — Charley denr — bo fair! I never rejected the poor d<'-nr 
fellow. I only warned, cautioned, and earnestly entreated him, like 
the pasaeDRerK' bradR out of the carriaHr windows. It wouldn't 
have been right not to. wht-n I'd made up my mind. I think I 
shall make the tea now. They can't be much longi-r." 

A step wiu* hejinl outaide, an<i Pi'ggy ■niil; "There they are " 

But Charles said; "No, that's Jeff. We must let him come in' — 
hci always oomm to tea. Well I you know. I couldn't tell bun you 
were oomiUK and hated him, and so he must keep out. Could 

II " Peggy laughed aloud: "I dok't liate Mr. Jerrjthoughl." 

eaid she. 

He was admitted, to make the tea. It was his prerogative on 
ordinary occasions, and he knew where things were. V;\».'n ^t\\i 
don't know where things aio you caimot make Xxa. "&& acv ^uxn- 



¥ 



IH AI,ICE-FOESHORT 

wtf lo the ittKking <if the ten with a fervid intensity t]uil perlinpi 
jtvat beyond the scope of his Htibicct. Ha amount of cnncciitration 
trill imablo you to make tea well beyond a certain poiul. JeS 
w-Bs d<-!<tiaed to ov<>r*Jioot his mnrk. and nuiku tlm ten tixi rtrona, 
ll had to bo weakened after pouring out; and, ae we all know. 
it'* not the same thing. 

"Newr mind, Mr. Jerrythoiight 1" said Peggy, "ifs a fault on the 
Tieht Hide, If it liad been tO" weiUt we should never iiuvn forgiven 
you. Should we, Alice?" For Alice and Mrs. I'artrid^- had re- 
tuntcd {mm their subtorrnnenn expuditiou, but Alice hnd been bo 
silent that iro have had nolhiug to report of her, and tlie etorj- ban 
bcpn Hilcnt too, Peggy put it down In her n^eollectiona of her par- 
eula haTinjt corao upon her and made her thouglitfuL But then, 
wnitn't Purtridite aUo a little dislrailct She had no associatiouB. 

Alice replied bricftj- tn Peggy's quiittion: "No— we never sould 
hove forgiven Mr- Jellyfork"; but the subject didn't seem to com- 
mand her attention. Neither did the cnkcM Charles had so sedu- 
louxly provided. Alice was quite another Alice from the little girl 
who bad rushed tumultuously downstairs to show Partridge over 
Iho estate, only hnlf-un-hour ago. The latter, in reply to on uiider- 
t4>iie() Miquiry from Peggy, disclaimed stomacli-aciic on Alice's b»- 
hulf. The child wua fanciful, that was alll She would tell Peggy 
aa soon as—presently I — the ohfttncle to iramrdiate ^l•^■elation being 
Mr. Jerry thought. This naturally added to Pecgj'*s desire that 
that young gentleman sliould discontinne his review of the London 
'Stage, and go. lie for bis part hccauie aware that somethiii;i was 
amiss, but of coursi' pitched on tlie wrnng thing. He thought it 
wait the lea. and i>trove to make up for it hy brilliant anecdotes 
of Carlotia l-eelerq. and even wbitt a chap be kni?w hud told him 
about Madame Vestris. and so forth. And the more Pegjiy wanted 
him to go. the mort; hv !ttrov« to compensnie for the utrong ten. 
So that no one was any the wiser when Mrs, Ileath and Ellen, in 
the carriage on ihp way back from ii eull in Ruasell-sqitare, eam» 
to pick Hp Alice and Peggy by appointment. Partridge would 
toko the 'tius, and Charles wos going to drees at the Studio, and go 
out to <liuner. 

"Queer little cuss, yonr prolngfr^!" auid Jefl, when the party hud 
dtnp«r«^. "She ain't a chatterbox.'" 

"Slie didn't Hcrm like herself." »aid Charles. "Perhaps it was 
finding the whole place so changed." 

When Ch(irle« walked into his Studio on hi* return from his 
V out, bo found ji huud-(lt;livered note on his oasel, and saw 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



135 



get* a 
|H>|r8ect 

^ "Of 



it w«8 from Peggy. Alice was in a very qii«er slate— seemed to 
have had n frighl. Pfggy would wait up till Iwclvo in cjuc hr was 
early enouvh to come on. She would like to see bim as sooii aa 
ibU'-. Charli-B woiircd liis Hydi' Piirk Onrdciis tntcli-kcy from 
\et pocJict, pn<l Kot a hansotu. lie would be there by eleven- 
thirty; for hiid not tho Urown-Smitlia hon-d him. iind cnuscd htm to 
have importaut work to-morrow, which a lonx uiKht'a rest wab 
csMcntial lol In about twenty minutcH tlie lutoh-kc? had fulfilled 
its function, and was back in hie pocket, 

Pcggy'ii voice cam(' ilow:i ihcHtaira to him: "Is that you. Charley! 

I'm so (tiad you're come. Alice has quite f righlened us. Really one 

gctN afraid iibcmt bi-r poor littk head.*' ChurleH went uptttnir^, 

Ihk on the best phrases in which to pooh-pooh nervouB 

lalit^ 

"Of course it's no use for me to saj- anything." — It is tSiS. Heath 
that qmakit, nn tlu< point of mnji'stiL' retirement to the upper 
K^DB. — "But if I were at liberty to say exactly what I thoujiht, 
it would b<! " 

"Yc9 — Mamma dt^ar — what would it bef" — for Uainma had not 
/proTidc<d herself with her opinion wlicn she b<>gan, her ntti^otiou 

ing vouci-ntniled on her atatua oa an authority. She required 
tvo or thrvc seconds to think of onc^ and meanwhile had to fill 
in with collateral matter. 

"My dear, yoii know I always am silenced, «> I hold my tongue I 
Rut I Ikink. uU llie same I — as for the little girl, you know what I 

ink. becnuRC I hare anid it nevcriil time^ already, Slw i* full 
,of funciea, aii<l if you li§teii to her, you will only malie lii?r worse. 
She oiiRht to hare a good dose *»f Dover's jiowdi^r. uiul liuve no 
Stt«3ttioii paid to her, and she would soon bo set right. Ilnwcver, 

n't pay any attention to me!" And Mra. Heath went upetairs 
Vkf the oidy person ill aliihl in a proccseion. 

Charles and Pi-ggy Hoiight tin? drawing-room, and said they would 
turn tliH gjiB ofl. and Phillimore might go to bed. "The others" 
were not home, and Pupa wu* in "the Library" — a place whcro 
•onw litlea of books were sometimes perused through pliitc glass. 
PeMfy hushed down a hiirntT or two (not to have her eye* glarftd) 
an<l duid she supposed she had better begin and tell it all from the 
besinninfi. 

"Tou know." she continued, "we both thought Alictt very ailent 
«t lea. Wcdl I She didn't suy a word all the way home, and only 
n eacMled up to me in the carriage- ()f courwj we got hero an 
^^^BuntoUD long time- V-furo Partridge. When ue got in, I V^v«>i«& ^W 
^^Bhild and eaid here we were back agaiiif and 1 ^lo^^ ^bc*^ <cu\o^^ 




1 



13« 



ALICE-FOR-SnOBT 



herself. Do 70U know sbe only shook her head in that comic rueful 
wftj «he hiis. nnd didn't apeuk u v.-»rd." 

"Was she ciying? Had she been cryingl" 

"Not a bit of itl Let me go ou tCfUiog. I said, 'Whnt i* it, Alice 
dear) What'? Ihe matter I You'll t«ll nie wbat'e the matter — 
won't you T — But sbu only shook her head and kvpt hrr mouth 
shut, till I eaid to her Beriously — Tou know, Alice, Mr. Oharloy 
will be afraid to have you at bin Studio unless you enjoy gains — 
he'll think j-ou're fritfhti'uetl of tlie Imfy with the apot o ' And 
what do you think she answered 1 — 'I sould be frightened to iu^> 
once mure — only xot tbp lady '—'What would you be fright- 
ened of, Alice deari' said I — and sJit- aUHwen-d, 'I HOuld be- fright- 
ened of the man downstairs— the man with the knife '" 

"Oh,of course!" saidCbarlea, "I understand it all. IlwasPope's 
man, Buttivant, who lead-lines up the windows. The man of light 
and ftfoding, we wittily call him, JvIT nnd I. He makes horrible 
grimsoee " 

*He Inisii't any knife " 

"Oh yes. he has! A putty-knife to jam in all alons; the leads. 
9nd then wipe them sharp alouR the flange to elose it down. Ho 
does a good deal of work with the kxiife. Depend ou it that 
WM iir 

"Wfll I Wait till you've beard it all, and then exi>Uin. I tbou^t 
it was Mr. Pope, or one of biM men; and I enid, 'You mustn't be 
frighli-net! of Mr. Popi', nor any of his workmen, Alice. They 
won't hurt youl' And then she &aid, oh not it wiisn't Mr. Pope 
•t alL Mr. Pope wn* a very nice — good — man, and sliowed her 
blue things and green things and red tilings, and looked her band 
'downslA-irs. And then I made hcrr tell about th(' men in the 
'shop, and the man you describe must be the one she called Mr. 
Puttyknife — it was natural. So then T presstvl to find out who tin- 
inan waa. and it seemed lie was a bad man in a red dress, with a 
lonn ]oi>B straight knife, ao long as that I It was n red knife, and 
the man was red. and he came along by the door where motlwr 
CMoe when the jug broke " 

"The door of the kitchen, where llicy do tin- leadinjt 'i|> now " 

"Ym — ^because they went in and found Mr. Puttyknife, And 
he smelt •A ile-puint, only very stroiiK- But Alice must have beea 
ewmpli-ttly npset by the red man with the knife; and when Part- 
ridge came in an hour later (she stopped in Oxfonl Circus to buy 
me something) she gave me her version of the story. I'm 
■he's none to bed." 

eivr mind — tell nic what »iic soid- — " 



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137 



"That A]ice was in the beat of epirila till they went dovimtairK. 
She hod made gn-nt friends with Mr. Pope, looking st the coloured 
glsBBU — uid vtent downstairs — 'hold of his haud.' Thwi u4)en 
tb^ got to the fftot of Iho stairs, Atim 'gave a xhrink, sod CAUght 
up to Mr. Pope.' I'm giTin^ you Partridtce's words. Mr. Pope 
aekcd if she was afraid he was going to run away, and aho 
Hiinw4-red fK>ini.-lhing Partridin> thought was nonseu*? about where 
bad the man with the knife gone. Mr. Pope said what man, and 
(J»e uiiBwervd tht! ruil nvHu, And then Mr, Pofie thought she meant 
a figwrr in n?d in the gla«sc«, 8niiit Somebody, and said of courws 
Wd goni? to Heavfa, becaiiae lie was n Saint. Whereuiiuii Alice 
Mid (it really was very funny, and I can't help laughing at it) that 
abe hopod bo hadn't gono to Fleav*^, btrmiisw fatlier was there; 
and Uiw P<«gy. that she belonged to, had said sot But aft«r 
that die never said a word, and seemed, cnid Partridge^ quito out 
of it." 

"Well." said Charles, "that U a funny etoryl" And not a single 
correct accredited wa,v of dealing with a talc of this sort could 
b« think of, brrtttT than tlint the child munt hnvtr been fi-vrrisJi, ond 
bad eaten too much pudding. "But did ^o stop out of it «fl«r 
tbnt allogt-thcrr 

"It looks like it," said Peggy. '•Well! Tou know how she was 
when she came upstairs — and all your beautiful calto* wenj left! 
Sut she Memed very well in herself till about an hour later, when 
Partridge came to me and told me she'd got very hot and feverish, 
and it was tlien I wrote the note off to yon, becnii«T J wax fright- 
ened about her head : however, abi- went to sleep all right after. It 
wan no use sending another note to yon. not to come." 

"Oh no! I can sleep hi-n' now I've come." Only. Cbarlea 
wstfo't going to retire with that object until he had made some littlo 
stand on behalf of tbo attitude of tnind towards the Intrinsically 
Improbable that is Baoettoned by Common Sense; with which 
also testa the function of grouping the Impoieible, the Prolmbte, 
and the Actual, with good sharp boundary linee between tbe 
gronpH. 

"I'm pretty clear about whot it really was. Peg." said he. "The 
fcTcr wan really the enunc, not the effect, of the hallucination. 
It was a case of suijpresm^ fever." 

"Caw of suppressed fiddlesticks' cods I" eaidPeggj. "Qo tobedl" 



CHAPTER ym 



OP BBELtACOHiB SJL.Vn«, AND WIUT PECnV THOUGHT TUEBB. iXO 

wuou sue uei tuess 

Tp the bouea of Ibe murdered woman were flatterinft thcnisclvn I 
that Ps^-cbical Itcsptirch wns going to throw a liejit on tfieir hUtoi? 
u:iil iiteiility, tliey were ilestiued to i]is«ppointm<.-nt. For thoi 
period of Tendon's anmiRl flight to the country had muie, and thaJ 
Heath family were off. In foct, they were ovenhii- in the ooiintry 
already, for mort of London that was worth tlie name had leone 
some wirt-kft liaek, at the time of tlic f^'tiils <if Inut chaptctr. A 
good hundred thousand prohably had been deducted from the four 
million" odd that made up the metropolis, and now there was 
nobody left. AlmuatI If Parliament hadn't been eittiiig so Utd ^ 
it would have been quit«L fl 

Payehical Reai-Hrirh recniirea at least one volary of diabolical ^^ 
tenacity of purpose to keep ibe life in it. Almost every living 
human crcnturc lias some moosuro of interest in Ghoete and 
Bogies, but it ta a measure tlini is very apt to run out after Bay 
twenty minutes nitlinB *it an unrcsponnive taMe. with your littl» 
ilnjters in coMtoel with your neighbours' "to keep up the current"; 
or after maybe sleepinn: one night in n haunted bouse and not 
seeing a grey woman; or covering a quire of foolscap with plan- 
chette writing from your co-querist'e first husband and then find- 
ing that she is .Vivut (whcn-Bit you thought for certain she was 
Jtfw.) Smith; or beiiut told that yoiing Blank had confessed that 
il wttM he pushed the tiibir. ju»t to show what awful ess^ the Com- 
pany (including yourself) were. It is true tlio interest will revivfl 
sooner or later; but il is nn intermittent one. and n-quirt^s philo- 
BOphical (hou^bt and temper to do it full justice. In the common- 
place mind it i* npt to lapiu? unless kept up to the mark by tlic 
Btimulus of a neighbouriog philosopher. Let us all do honour 
to tliotH.' who (nocordtng to tbi> testimony of their w^imtiRc oppo- 
nents) hare passed through long periods of patient resoarch 
Btching for sptwtrea tbal never como; weighing medium* in 
1 and findii^g they weigh oxactly what you would expect ; 
f with oilic-r nittliunia who worm thoir way out of tbft 



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■ 




ipt in the iark; niid getting smtnlgci] hy mstorialisatioDa with 
liiliou and lamp-black auperijosecl on tfi*' mt-fliiiin for teat- 
purpOM. Hvvcr mind if I put Homo of llic^ points wrontrlyi 
join me in adrairstion of the pcreistent philoeophy thai recognises 
tbc fact tbit no imount of ncgntivo cviili-nwr nhsotutclj- proiiM that 
atiylhiug wbateYer ieu't due to any CAUse we choose to invent a 
name for. 

(juries and Peggy were under no obligation to invent new names 
for the njKictni] appc«ritn<!v tliul had terri6cd Alice. Supi^riiuliirul; 
hflUuciuation of the scdbcs ; idcn wilh the forrc of n lu^nnntion ; 
subliminal conxriotiMM'K*, utimtilnlPil ]iy iiucoiiai-ioua hypnotic sug- 
gestions from bystanders (le that right t We hare miagiringa.) ; 
purely t>ubj<'Ctive plimomc^non ; nil thce« were ready to hand, and 
you could talie which you liked; or different ones at different 
times- Charles was in favour of No. 8; for after nil, did not ha& 
pBr«nIs drink i You couldu't get orer that. 

One thing wna quite cerlain— that when Pckkj-. who inclined to 
jVo. / was away at Shellacombe. and Charles was It-ft to himaclf 
rand his ineredulities, nothing further would be done in the way of 
investigation. Ali(^<^ (if course went to the seaside. Charles hcgau 
to be aware that his prol^g^e, whom he had carried oil to hie 
fathcr'.i liousn withi>ut asking himself whL■Tl^ she was to go next if 
she was not welcome, was becoming a member of the family. IIo 
law that thiH was because she wss sueh a denr little thins, and got 
lold of eTeiybod,v, as well as bimself and Peeey. He was grate- 
ful to hi-r f<ir being one- A niee Hx it would hnve hern, said be to 
himself, if A lice- for- short had turned out n ItttJe beast I 

Alice- for- jJuirt sn'mt'd likely to prove Alicc-for-long. or Alico-foj^ 
good: probably the latter. None the Iwa* hccauiw of her aptitude 
for instrueticin, and greed for information in the glorious new 
world in which she found herself. It wa» little wonder that tho 
dreadful past was getting dimmer and dimmer — rapidly becoming 
a dream. 

But Peggy, noting this, noted also that of this dream there was a 
survival — an idealised memory — that stemed to her an injunliec, 
but always inirritable. For Alico treasured the recollection of her 
leather as a good and glorioiiM 1>eing, constantly adding to hia 
imaginary perfections as time went on. But of her mother no 
memories were pbunanl. She qtoke without rescntmv-nt of tb9 
puniNhmentH she had so often received at her mother's banda; but 
she clearly thought juatice. or vengciinoe, was her mother's funt* 
tion ; and lore was her father's. Peggy fretted undet wWV. «R«a»«^ 
to her the uufairoeaa ol it alh If (which waa couce^'^aX^'S i£CMiSiSub« 



4 
4 



4 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



howerer improbable) the child's mother eould see from Bome Other 
Blatc nf Miftrncf (or of entncthitig cquirnlcnt in its d^ree to 
what «* irail exiBtenw) the child's memories respeetireljr of her 
husband nnd herself, sho must noods fc«I the exquisite cruelty of 
the order of creatiou that had warped her life: exoept indM^l 
aomp higher winjom liad 4mm<^ to show her that wrong was 
really risbt — but in a sense that our fmilu intelligences cannot 
grasp. 

P«gBy would nay to hersolf at this stage of her mental reriew of 
the subject. "But then my intelligence u finite, niid can only per- 
ceivi; Iho i;rui;lty nnd the wrung. I refuse to tell any lies about 
what I thiiik and feel now. Iiecauae one day I may think other- 
wise." And she would always wind op with "At any rate / won't 
marry and brin# vbildren into such a world — and any oiiild that 
wants to be bom must find another mother than I. finite intel- 
lieeweeor «ol" 

She bad almost attempted, onee or twiee, to procure an affec- 
tiouate leiiieticy towards her dtaid mother from Alice, and had 
felt the hopelessness of the attempt. The mother's excuse had 
turni^il on the fact tlint iihe hud li'd a poison«^l life — (hat she wait 
always drugged, and that her iiersonal identity had no chanoo 
against tbi: drug. And Alicia waai far too young to underaland 
the course of events that had vitiated her blood and made her to 
all intents and puqioiwa giome one else. Fur the creature that 
Charles bad seen on that occasion of the broken jug was much 
more Alcohol tlian n womnn. Wlirn Pi'ggy spoke with her at the 
Uospital, on her deathbed, the obsession had been removi^d and 
the woman had i-ome oiiuiii. just as tndy a» the denioniue's sane 
soul returned to him when the Gadareno swine rushed to the Uko 
Mid bore hia eur.'M! away for cvi-r. She had come back, and knew 
and could teli her own story. How hard it seemed that no rond to 
the same cud could have been found, abort of a deathbed in a 
Hospital, brought about by a murderous blow that was itself a 
vlionl in the long aymphony of Drink that sounded through tho 
Inst years of her lifel If she could only have been convicted of a 
theft, and sent to prison, she might have been redeemed. But 
whne w«8 the use of saying any of this to a child! Some day. per- 
haps. Alice would be able to understand ber mother'a life, and see 
tliat «he alone was not to blame. 

Alice's n-spue from the fl!iini> ami ihe mire waa to lie a remunera- 

'c one to hor rescuers, and no disappointment. It might easHy 

been otberwiite. It may be that two-thirds of the human 

that plead for space and light and culture in the great 



AUCE-FOR-SHORT 



HI 



hells of civilisation nould give vt-rj- littlu joy to tbc gardoiwrr'n 
hfHrl. und rary rauc-h work to hi» hood. But that is just as true 
of m8n,v who claim them as a birthriiprlit. And bow about the odd 
third tlutt would pay *> well for tranHplsnliiig ! Peggy used to 
turn thie over and orer iu her mind ua she wutohed her little 
pToiegft cnr«>ring biirc-li-gntrd owr the snnda at Shdlacombe, or 
in hpr first Ktorioue experiences of being bowled over by tlic sunlit 
ripplu of the littk bn-uki'm. Think of tiir contrniitl Think of the 
aordid nnd hngfritrd life of the class she came fritin — t-vt-n n{ the 
beet of it. Think of tliut nn.-H. und the cntit thereof 1 Think, if you 
dare, of the niill lower depths of stuffiness and foulnoas — no ron on 
VeiiKy'a thouehta to lieraelf — of the air of the niiim» whole families 
sleep in; of the dreadful world in which the threshold of the gunlit 
filth-house is the alepping-atone to the mdy gUuim of lleavcn it 
can ever know oo this aide of the grave I And yet (even as Poggy 
quoted BrowDJng to herself) Ood htis not imid one word! And 
«II the other* are there— are there — are there stilll All the olbers. 
so many of u'bum inijfht buve liecn Aliw?, and wen- nott PenKy 
felt half-nutd with the horror of it all. Oiere on the ShellAeumbe 
htuieh. with the blue sea nt her f<wt, nnd out nlmvtr it an inertKliblo 
coloMtis of ellmbing cloud; an infinity of piled white vapours bent 
on touching the seoith. Hnd winning like to sucontl. Slie felt it 
almoft a pain to hear, across the sands, the voices of the childr«n in 
the water, aud Alice's among thum. plain enough — yea! — that vna 
her voice, no doubt of it ! And there were the erics of the ffulU, as 
niusieal as when w<? uttre hen? last year — and they have gone on 
cvtr ninec, all the while wc were in our hnplras, fog-bound ci-ntn- 
of civilisation; and Alicfi wjia where «-e shudder to think of her 
now, in that appalling uuderin-ound darkness witli her mother 
snoring in a drunken sleep, ami the bones of the murdered woman 
waiting to be an interesting discovery. But the other children — 
the other children— they are all there still I And I'eggy quoted 
her Browning again, and added blaspheraouttly that perhaps it was 
because He was ashamed of His handiwork. Don't bo angry with 
her, y^. nr Mr. Onindy! She is only grappling, with rough ean- 
dour. with the terrible problem that has perplexed and oppressed 
V» all. except you. 

What would not Peggy do. if she was a millionairet She would 
soon hfivf thrm III! mit^Bll th" ehildfen — into the minlight. She 
would pitch them, by swarms, into the glorious water. She would 
drcMK thrm in all luirls of nice little costumes »ui;h as Alitr hnd — 
none of your workhouse grey! She would feed them, and teaclv 
them (only Khc wouldn't have them taught an? l«A»e\iwA«^t, ftx^^ 



L 



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AUCE-FOR-SIIORT 




t 
f 



turn them into sober, uaeful, bone^t member? of th& common- 
wulth. And «* for tlirir |iiirt--iiiii, they woultin't mukf. any difH- 
culltea — ihey nxvuld let hpr do ns nhn liked. Of co\ir*o they would, 
PessT di-*r. with :rour beautiful hair, aiid your beautiful eyes, and 
|1m> »earoKt apjiroftcfa to a wrinkle that thought nhout a very dovil 
of a world can make in your beautiful brow— of course they would 
let you harw them. No difGculty about it! In fact, tJicy will 
mak« none, nettlier, about getting you plenty more where thoao 
camtf from, if you want them — or if you don't ! 

Poor Pewo"! She was imii^itiff siich a sweet Garden of Edon, 
■U fuU of hundrudit of happy liltle people like those over tbero 
(really it's time for that child to fome out!), and the Inut turn 
of hur drtiam struck a diseord — it was just as though tlie Serptuit 
had runjr at the bell, and Rent in word that if he wasn't admitted 
at the front gate he could find no end of ways of alipping in. And 
why {ran the cumMit of Pegpy'i* thoughts)— why do we blame him. 
wlifii hia ciiiefest fuuction, his most effectual modus opi^randi, U 
to inatiicale a blind obedienec to the very first instruction Uod gavo 
to Man, when He plaaul him in the pirden? Ha* he not a elaim 
to an ahuost official position, with a right to millions of promotion 
money, for his rxfrtions (in conjunction with two other member« 
of a great Syndicate) towards the increase and multiplication of 
man and the replenishment of the Earth f He may be the Father 
of Lies, but is he not also tlie Fatlier of r»ndon and Liverpoolt I« 
be not perhaps a faithful serpent, a well-intentioned Afc^ncy. who 
has a little exceeded bis instruct! on ». which ought to haw beon 
elenrrr, and contained clauses dealing with congested districta, 
cubic feet per adult, accessibility of maikets. and so forth? Or are 
w« to suppose that the primordial instincts of Nature are due to an 
oversight of the Almighty ?^that if he had only th<jiight a littlo 
longer, and not bwn in sjieh a hurrT,-. he would have turned out a 
t«ry different Creation; and poor Mr*. Kavanagh. Alici's mother, 
never would have gone to the ]>cvil, and her husband wouldn't haTo 
hammered her scalp off, nor provided himaelf with an '■■emergency 
bottle of Cyanide t 

Peggy wasn't a Freethinkt-r, not »Iic! But ahe wu* rather a freo 
Thinker; and we perceive, dear Mrs. Grundy, that you are riflbt, 
and that such Doctrines are Dangerous, and that Peggj- wa« in 

rBeed of flnidancc. Perhaps we nil are. when we move in the dark. 

|3o(ter to sit still, and shuii speculation, whether tlie Scripture 
nOTeth ua to it iu sundry places or not. But lOio wasn't that sort; 
_mu«t needs be a-thinking. And she sat there on llie sands 
Alice, I aju aure, stop in a great deal loo long) wonder- 



I 
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I 

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ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



143 






JO' 



ing at (he great doud-uountutii that al^ or aoorod. or botli, 
above its inmne in tlio sea. How litllo it cared for tJie emoke 

ail of uTi o(«an Iraiup. Bristol-bound, that couid do ua more 

lan just defile the horizon a littio at its biiso, out ra^twarde. Up 
climbod — up, up! — for tver. iuto the unfathoumlik- blue — you 
inly Deeded to natcli it for a space to imairine its endloss Icaniit's 
mountain mid vallvy. of pivcipioc and plain; to di.imvt'r itH 
caverns that you did not see at fintt; and then to populate tiiem 
all. plain, precipit.'e, and uavcrn, with countloas niyria<la of winged 
things, each one a little joy-spot to itself, and all the lemons of 
tkutn rising ^till higher and bightr to the high heaven, and rejoic- 
ing in the Kun. 

"Yea, that's all verj- fine," said PegRy in answer to her own 
tbought. "Of conrsn if onn <X)iild bi^ a littli; Blnbry Hort of Kpirit, 
swimming in the blue I But one isn't. And suppose one is Sally in 
our alley, und our alh-y in a Htent'h-holt', with no mori- joy in it 
.n cau be got from an ill-intentioned Piiblic-ilouse and a wcll- 
intmtionod Piirson! What do you make of thatt" 

Nothing. Neither you nor I nor any one else can make anything 
of it. It remains the unanswi^md and unaniiwerablo c'onundrum ot 
the iuscrvitaUe Sphinx, Nature, 

PeRgy ""^*"' obliged to leave tJie Origin of Evil, and the Omnipo- 
tent Omni benevolence of ila Creator, no clearer than she found it, 
in onicr to gt-t Aliw- out of the water. Ilnw to do tliin was ut-arly 
as difHcidi a probleni. for Aliee had the coign of Tantage, and 
knew quiti- well that neitiit-r Miaa Peggy nor Mrs, Parkridge could 
couTenienily come into the water to fetch her out. llcr position 
was not one of resistance, but of poitpoocraent and ftui>plicatioii. 
Ita ponttr lay in an infinitely large number of infinitely small 
breaches of faith. To refuse flatly to come out of the water is one 
thing: <o promise to <rome out in a minute— only one minute more! 
— and elwiiys get ihe promissory note renewed at its expiration, i« 
another. 

In thi- end Alice was fctclied out; and. being absolutely cold like 
a fish, and having pale blue finger-tips and chattering teeth, she had 
to run about l-vlt so long in the sun to get warm. . . . SttU more 
food for reflection! Just to think of what and where that child 
would hnve h«ra — ^but for the merest choniret The harder Peggy 

und it to grasp the difference, the more hideous «'as the thought — 
the other childrm art; tkerc still! 

Though Peggy had never been wanting in readiness to join in 
charitable work, or in «orrow for misfortune and po\i!t\? , Aw \ia\ 
never suffered from tSie nightinuro of oui gtcat aa& ^t<^s^^<im.% 



144 



ALIOE-FOR-SnORT 




civilisation until tho bormr of tlie livo« of t^ns of tfaousaDda naa 
brought home to her by this chauce emancipation of one. Shu got 
no forwardrr townrds a conchmion, even by thp time all the eand 
was got off Aiice'a feet; which was a loopj: time, but not Mrs. Park-^H 
ridge's estimato of "ix wccIcm. Shr only went back lo htr old ent>*^| 
elusion, tliat Population tuaa the root of all evil, and that liie 
world miRbt bo a Rood and hnppy world if only the ji rope n«i tip* of 
tho Fatriarfhs oould be kept under. "Moke yourselves scarce!" 
would hnvp bcon her advice to Uie Human Rncr — "Maki- yoiirsirlvi-a 
scarce, aad we'll do the real!" — we being Representative Govern- 
nont, or Edticution, or the Churclies, or Endowed Charitica, or 
Sodety. or C<M>peralive Kffort— (me or other of them I Anyhow 
K>mo nRi^cy which knnwi< how lo! Mpanwhite it was clear that 
Marria^, under whatever form it presented itself, was tlio Old 
Scrpcnt'a tninip-<?«rd — and oh what n faculty he has for putting a 
naiserable two or three on the top of our best Kings and Aces and 
taking thn trick! However, it wna in Peggy's power to set a ROod^J 
ejumple and she was guiug to do it. W 

But the Serpent ie the subtlest eft of nil the field — at Itaat ao 
iays WicUra version — and t-ven at this very moment he was schem-^— 
ing the frustration of a million resolutions just as <leberminc[! al^f 
Pe^ioy's. He doesn't go to work in identically the same way with^^ 
all people. If he did he wouldn't be a subtle eft at all. On the 
contrary he has a different bait for every fish. lie throws his 
hook !<> the shark and dog-tish with a hug<^ coarse piece of ficsh on 
it, tainted as often as not. And they bolt it at once and nra 
captured, and are iieunlly landed and curried nway by him. Some- 
times they run away with thu bait, and the angler is disappointed. 
But when the fish ie a ehy fish, and wilt only jump at tho most 
delicately madcr fly, with tho moat beautiful colours, then the 
woild's great mischief-maker has plenty in stock and known how 
to use tliem. In thr caw b^-forc un hi* inmiediate motive is only 
to ruin a castle in the air of an enthusiastic j'oung lady. He is 
much too clever to try to shake bcr resolves, by oSeriug her 
any of the baits supplied by the other two members of bis .Syn- 
dicate of thn^i.-. Rut ho will look in bin wuUct and find some- 
thing, fl 

Peggy srnt Alice and Mrs. Partridge home, and "et out to mee*^" 
her mother and sister and Misa Petherington. who had gone for a 
walk along the sands. Then it proved so tremendously hot walk- 
ing, that she gave it up, and turned to go slowly home, pursuing 
her mr^ditations. 

"// onls oae could get any one to talk to about one's idea^ 




W^ ALICE-FOB-SnOKT 145 

how nicP it would be! I'm eur« it ouffht to be posstblo to do 
sometliins — if it waa ever aa little. But [wople urn §uch fools tmil 
so iiDprncticaL Papa, for instance! 

"Only Fopa isn't quit« u fool, becautw look what he said onm 
whrn I did gel him to be wrious for a minute — about not being 
able to reform the World until we'd refuruied Uiit Flesh nnd tlie 
Duvil," No <loiibt this did Mr. Hcnth credit, though we fancy 
Ibe remark had been made before. But let Peggy go on with her 

"It it so aunorine. when you think what Ewarme of friends sud 
acquainlanccH you'vt- got. that y»ii ruii't find mid you ean upenk to 
obout a thing you are always thinking of. I really do think, of 
all the lot, there tf>n't a living Houl I ctui exchange an idi^u witli. 
Except Rupert Johnson, and he's quite out of the question. It's 
dangerous to mmtioii anything to him now." 

The sun liad gone for a moment behind a solid cloud, and Peggy 
watt HtandinK in ii purpli^ inland — only it didn't eeem purple where 
she was. She half-closed her sunshade, and stood scratching the 
Mad with its point, making letters. We really don't think it 
was aoythiug but the merest accident that one of these letters was 
nn R- Ind<i^ then- wus nothing to distinguinh it from the others 
she traced except that she rubbed it out with her foot. If it stood 
for Ruport (whidi I see is the iiurmisc in your mind), it did not 
do BO long, for she bad rubbed it out almost as soon as she had 
written it. 

"Yra — that's what I sh^il! do — the very next opportunity. Of 

conrM it will never do to hnve thia sort of thing goiue on — oh 1 " 

This interjection, whii-h wp cannot wrilc in the text nn n« to do 
it iiuitioe. was due to the first jwrception of a young man approach- 
ing, with intent. A handsome sort of fellow certainly, in n very 
■•M-d<le costume. He iniglit be a yacbtaman. We did not catdi 
nhat be said to PcttflT. hut cnn record her anMwor. 

"Well — how can you eitpect any one to know you in those flao- 
nelly thingst You don't look the least like a doctor! When did 
you cornel " 

"Late last night Went to see n friend at Barnstaple "* 

"You knew we were here I" 

"Of cotirw I did. That'is why I went to see my friend at Bam- 
ataple " 

"Good, truthful, honest young man! But I never told jou you 
might come- 



k 



"Shall I gn away againr 

"To your friend at Barnstaplet He can w^U" 



146 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 





"It's not a tip— it'" n she! N<i — y<ni nccyin't look so — it's not 
Uuit sort of she. Sbe's niuety-scren iienl month " 

"VVc)l now, Mastrr Rupert! Whnt n shame ( Ton n-nlly mni]i> 
me ihiiik it was Something. I should have beoo bo ([lad." We 
can't Ktop in iJin midillc of n convrrsiitiun to iinnly^c ■ focllng of 
siivb a siilide (character as Peg^'s alleged exultatiou, present or 
fuhiw, lit Dr. Johtksoii having st-t hiineflf up will] a new She, nnil 
giren up his noDsense. "T really shoiitd have hoen glnd of thai!" 
sho n'p™t<il. Shi? nibbitl it will in. so tUut ibt'ro ftlwiiUl be no mis- 
take. "But <io tell me about the old lady of niucty-sevcD- -" 

"Shi'V II woniliTful oM liuiy — wiw nboul seventy when she. fiwt 
made my aci|i)aint«nce, and hae known mo all my life. She hae 
B twin ainlLT who is irvoD more n<'tivu than berwif. One of thuni 
must live to be a hundred. She's had four busbnnds " | 

"Bieas UB and save ua! And how nmny di^cendnntal , . .' 
Fancyl— four familica, earh with ii name to iteclfl Tell mo the 
names of all the old lady's husbands." 

"I npviT recollecl them twice bHUc," said Dr. Johnson. "But 
I think tliey were Spaekman, Clale. Lecheminutit. and BanHt. 
She's Mrs. Bnrrctt now, and lives in a cottage at BaniBlapIe. Siie 
wtt* my Diirsi* wlw'u T was a baby. Slie is so well known to me an 
Anne, that I have iu practice a kind of di§belief in her ever hav- 
ing been Hts. Spaokman or Lectieminant. I make u concesaion (o 
Barrett, hut grudgingty. Ilaven't you ever felt the same about 
some niirae with a Christina name!" 

"No— T never had n chancel Because Partridire i? my only 
experience. It seems to me that sho la Partridfre. in the nature of 
thingH. and nothing coidd ever have altered it. I'm not quite cer- 
tain what her Christian name is. Here we are at the bouse. Of 

courw! yoTi'll com(' in and have limchf " Of coutm-, but witli 

slight shams of reserve. "That hat looks as if they were come 

bade " They limJ, and lunch was waiting, and Ellen ruflhed 

downstairs like the Falls of Niagara. Ilcr mother followed in a 
mon? wlf-wmteiiifd way like the water in n tnrbine-tube, and 
coupled an expression of well -con trolled pleasure at seeing Dr. 
JobnKon witli iin enquiry how long he waB going to atay, 

Mrs. ilealh didn't like "the way things were goingr" with her 
flaiightcr and the Doctor; but, beinK wise enough to know that any 
interference on her part would defeat its own objcet, she raised no 
obj(:ctii>ii to Dr. Johuson taking up hia quarlera at Slu-llacoinbc 
Hotel, with freedom of the foreshores of Shcltacombe. Nothing 
wa» »aid about restrictions on viuiting at Sea View, which wag 
the residence taken bodily by the Uoatb family; who had come with 



A 




ALICE-FOR-RHORT 



a coob, aiu) inore aervantit than could find cmploTmeDt. to eta; 
till the rnd of the Mason, a perioi fixed at dUcrvtioii. 8ho1In> 
oombe consisted of thb hoiisi- iind the Uotfl, one ot two mora 
houKT", tlip bjitchcr'jt, and the Post Office, It was only by oon- 
eiuumale 6trat**y that any oni* coining out of doors could avoid 
any one coming out of any other doors; so reservations iuuil« with 
a view of limiting Dr. Johimun. or any other llotvl resident, would 
only have betrayed weakness of jurisdietion. and lint, Ilpnth felt 
that subiuisBiou was tbi: litrtlcr part of valour, and mbmittcd. Per- 
hajm tbp Doctor would really believe Peggy's resolutions were 
valid, and would ahfer oil. So .iIip ki-|it nintrcn^ly neutral, promptod 
by her own version of her dauKbter's best interesta. 

Now Master Rupert (as Pegicy ba<] tJiought lit to chriiti-n bim) 
had never nude a formal suit to the object of his adoration— f/i uf 
be would never havi^ done witliout consulting Iit^r fainil.v! Six- 
had informed him that nothin? would induce her to marry even the 
man she Iik<'d host, in tlie world, and as she really didn't al pren-nt 
know any one she liked better (as a friend of course) nhc was 
vtrs anxiotm ho tdiotiUl dismiss noiiKeusical idcaa from hi» mind 
and be rcaMinable and seuiiible. lie had assured her that in his 
wildest dreams hp m-vi-r nliould liuvf pre-sumiHl to tbiidt of offer- 
ing ber his wortblesii self, but that it was quite inevitable in tbo 
Nature of Things that liht: shoidxl never be absent from hia 
Ihougbtis, sleeping or waking. Surely it was hi* own look out if 
he 1c»l his rr-asoR and wimt into n madhoust? thiuugli indulging 
this prepossession. She had cciven him plain warning what be hud 
to expert from ber. Very good! It was all fair on both sides, 
bien ^nUndu. And we could walk over to Surgo Point, and tako 
Alice with us this aftenioon. Oh yeal — Alice eould ito quite aa 
far as thai — if »lio did knock up. Dr. Juhiirton would have to 
earrj- hor. 



CHAPTER XTV 

OP BOIIEMU, AKO BOW THE HIB8 PHTNXBS APPEASED THERE. OF TBB 
FLVB ART» AND THE ETGHTT.RKTH CENTORV. OP TRRPSIOilORE, AX» 4.J 
UtIOfiT TIIAT MK. llE.tTU HAW ^ 

CiiAKLES bad a subcutaneous conseioiiaru'as that h^ wax not doing 
full jtislicfr to the Fine Arts; bh(J when he resolved to remain in 
town for the prcsrnt and grt » little <?bange- of nir "Intt-r on," he 
folt lliat hi: wnti H-uIIy workintr hard — etrivjng ever upwards, and 
that Life was roni. Life was enrneul. Besides, whpn everybody was 
goiie away it wue so jolly iii London. There was next to no smoke, 
and you felt you could turn round. The opeuiiigs given to thOj 
Bohemiiin for asBerfinE his nationality in the season wcw 
moonlight unto sunlight, were as water unto wine, compared 
his pnssibililies in this dull and flat recess. lie could dress ae lu 
pleased, and even go without a waistcoat. He could ait up all niKhtl 
if he liked, and !io in bed till goodness knew whcnl And tlicn, 
when d^oodnesit knew, he reully didn't see why a dressing-gown and 
slipper* wouldn't do; and. accordingly, they did. We really believe^ 
that ■ multiplication of items of this sort would grive a true vtt:v 
of Bohenuanisni aa practised by Charles. There are, we belie 
other national cbaracicristics; hut, so far na wi; have b(K':i nb)!; 
learn, they lack local colour and individuality — and do not seem 
to differ mulcrially from those of the great nation of rr]>rtihatcs all 
the world over. Charles was not of this class. His easy 
good-RAtiin- iind rendincirs with cash made him popular in 
Sohemian circles, especially with models; so much so timt he never 
sat down to work without a knock coming at the door, which when 
partly opened let in the thin end of a Model. Of course this fl 
happened exactly as he made his good resolution to stick to work — " 
and the thick t-nd nhon-ed no disposition to go unless he promised 
it eittinga. But aa Charles didn't want it then and there (and it 
was rather indifrnnnt when not wanted), he had to stand holding 
the door partly open while he conversed about it* family con- 
DSCtion with it, for a lonir time before it would depart. Ho wa« 
diHlurbed again in onotlier five minutes by an indigi'nt m<Tl[ 
middk-aced man with mutton-chop wbiskere, wbo had no meana o£ , 

HI3 



lieve^^ 
viev^l 
ieiv4^| 
)e t«B 



1 



ALICE-FOE-SHORT 



149 



I « 



livelihood except 8s an nrtiat's model; and for whoso d«alb by star- 
vatioii, UN ha wrnt loo protid tp ootnc on the- Parish, ChnriM wns 
clcnrly r««poneibl« if he did not forihwilh paint bim ot seven 
sbillin^ n day and bin luuirb. Of oourw; be e<rt half-B-cr(iwn from 
Cbarles as a uratuity, and went niray thinkind how soon he could 
comi- »i;uiu. ViMtorii of this Mrt vn^a Irjiiig enough at all tiroea, 
but when all the other artiste were out of town thc^ vote at tbeir 
wo rat. 

Mr. Jeff was, iboug-h scarcely a pqirobatc, probably a murh truer 
icuian tliau Charles. The first tngtance utilised above, when it 
went iipetairs to call on ibe nrti»t in U«' attivn might havu b<wn 
beard (or a very long lime afterwards bav-iuK a pleasant but noisy 
iRtcrvicv with him and a oouplr of fellow-drtiala. Mr. Jl-II mia 
Bt work — was iu fact puttioK in an 'ead from one of hi« fric^dc 
;Iow the work lhr<ir« wc cannot nay; the impreaKioii oulnide iht- 
^door was one of Chaos, accompanied by imitations of popular 
actoni. The n-awn wc comit to know anything about it is that Uisa 
Prj'iitic and her sister, the two lady watcr-colour arli^ts who had 
taken the second floor, told Charles nhniil it 

"It souitdfKl aa if they wen' racing rOuud and round the room, 
and shouting and shrieking all tho tinic." This was the account 
given, and Chark-a ft-ll bt- could iiltiitify it. 

"Old maids call auythiu' a noise. You can't move." Thus Mr. 
Jcrrythoiight iu cxtc:i nation nftcrwardi" to Charles. "It wo» only 
3oe Scratchly and old Gorman. Teachiu' him a now dance, sho 
wa» — no 'arm iu that, Charley f" 

"Not a bit I Perhaps it wa§ only the Misses Prjnne were j«iloua. 
No doubt you wiTc Hs i|iiiet ait niiCT"." 

"IJone of your chaff, Charley I" And Ihen a spirit of conce^sjon 
showed itself: — "P'r'aps slie was rather obntropuloiis I 'Igh-spirited 
ffurl in her teens I" 

"She hasn't beeu in her teeus thia five years past. She'a four 
and twenty at IcasI I" 

"She's younger than th<» Miiuies Prj-nncs, anyhow!" and Mr. 
Jerry t bo uirht coii«idcrs he has made a p(tint, 
. "So are a good iiiany im-ojiIp. my dear JeS I But there's a (crfi'utn. 

I fiiul — a Kood many tertium quidt!" 

I Mr. Jeff seems vague about tho meaning of this pbrasc. and not 

I quite clear that it is not an imputation on character; fur lie says 
^B.Binhtgvously that Miss Lucretia lives with her mother, and if that 
^^Hau't enoufch. what is! Charles explains the expression, and Jeff 
^^ rays oh, be »^^^» ! But he is a poor Lutinist, and dow tiiA, lotj^ "iM 
ground firm under hie feet 



ti 



4 



150 



ALICE-FOR-SHOET 



^ 

ciun''H 



Whnt Mr, Jeff did feci clear about was that it was rather sickciun' 
to liave ibude two old drunmlicOfH (thi? Miiia Prj'iini^) ct>nic in and 
epoil tKi^ place. Just as we were nil so jolly! He should go next 
(juarter, Tiimin' iho wholir [iliu-i' iiilo a Dtsseriliii' CliaiH-I! 
Qimkers' Mectin'-houiw, he ctillcd it. Where was the use of 
payin' aucb a hi^h rent whea you couldn't call your soul your 
own I 

"The MiMOB Prynnes won't do you aiiy tisnn. Jeff," said liis 
friend, "if you leave them alone. Don't yoii make love to them 
aud they wim't make love to you." j 

"Won't they! I'm not so sure of that 0:ie of them — the least 
8kinu>' of the two — was Uyia' il on yesterday. Did I know if there 
wax a trapdoor anywhere to get on the leads) Wanted to make a 
study of ehLmney-pot« in water-eolour." 

"How did yoii coinr to be talking to her!" 

"I didn't — she talked to loe. I heard a sound like ■ single 
middle-agi'd fcmnle's 'oofs in that queer little erili tliat's neither a 
room nor a landinjt — right up at the top of that last little stair- 
case. And I caught her there- 

" t'laiirunte dvliclo," said Charles, And this lime Jeff B4!n'cd, 
without hesitation. It sounded bad, and felt like a safe inves 
tnent. 

"That"? what I thought, myself." said he, "only I couldn't say 
eo to Ikt. T n.iki'd her if I could do anythiu' of a civil sort, Sli« 
wanted to know if the place was staircase or premises; and suppoN* 
iiig preniist-s, wfaicli did it go with) Of course I said it was part 
of my diggings, but I shouldn't be using it till to-morrow " 

"But it doesn't belong to your Studio at all." 

"\ know that — but premiaes arc not like property. You get 
in, end otlier people have to pick you out like a winkle. I've chris- 
tened the place mine now, and 'ung up n pair of old check trousers 
on a 'ook to 'orrlfy tJie Misses Pryiines. Well! if I don't they'll 
be swarmin' upstairs with biindboxes " 

*•! dou'l liolieve it. But how did you settle about the roof 1 " 

"Told lier there was n trnp-door through, out of my bedroom; 
B but it hud been tried to be o|ieiied. and wouldn't. Besides, I was 

I always in bed. Said T rpnd in l>ed a good deal " 

I Tou newr read, Jeff! What a story-teller you arel I say. 

^ It 
■ "^ 



I 



I had breakfast very early. I i-oto wc go and lunch at Crcmoncini'n. 
It'll bo one o'clock before we pet it." From whi<'h it is clear that 
this chat took place in working houn; and, whichever Studio it 
was in. ih« occupant of the other bad no busineea to be idling aud 
Calking there. 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT ISl 

So etnnpVrtcly is the imiigc of wliat conititutoa "an Artist" 
txed in the mind of ETeryman that as soon sit he know^ tluit this 
Ktock <|Uiilificii(i»nH of ibc profesBion are compliei] with, ho makee 
little enquify about what the outcome of it ail is. That is the affair 
of Critics. Purdm*i--rs, and Dealers, All that he, Evt-ryuian. has to 
do is to (ret an affirmative answer to one nr more of tho following 
queatioRS, ami tli<.-n lu^ will know thai lhi§ man is an Artist — to 
wit: llos this man a Stinliot Has he one or more easel* i Docs ho 
buy large i|UHntitit-s of ooloun. and net professional discount f 
Does he employ real live ModeJsf Does he wnd to the Academy I 
If he docs no ouc of (heae things, he evidently isn't an Artist — if 
he does them all or any fair proportion of them, he evidently is. 
Evcr^rman m aalistied. and ni> man loolu at the resulta or carm 
twopence about them. Maybe this was truer in the siities than it 
is now, when very few people are not Artint*, and spcciilativt- build* 
rTM arc running up barracks of Studios in every suburb; when 
Artiala' Coloiirnien are as numerous as inilk-ahops. and everj- pout 
brings a new little book of canvas samples; when most of the 
Timet newspaper is taken up with One Man Exhibitions, which 
Kveryman in expected to go to. and we never go to unless we bare 
a free paaa. In the sixties it was not at all uncommon to hear of 
n picture eale; in the case of big swells ooroiietted suppUcantB 
were humbly competing with Cali Cottonopolis for tho privilcfre of 
poeeeesinK their great works as soon as they should deign to finish 
them. It is all chimgrd now. as far sk the buyer* go. and Evcry- 
maa is really weary of Kidiibitions. We. ourselves, feel we mitfht 
p«y a shilling of gate-money if only all the Picturc-.i in an Exhi- 
bition w«r« bung with their faces to the wall. Not seeing so many 
pictures all at once would give a siiise of rust, and allow n» to 
rocrnit and bccomo able to rejoice In Treatment and Quality and 
Due £:;ubordi nation as of old. and to recognise Values and uU that 
aort of thitig instead of thinking it must be getting on for Tea-time. 

But we have digressi'il. and we really have forgotten why. It baa 
nothing to do with what wo wanted to say, which wnst that tho 
outcome of Charles did nut seem proportionate to his espenditur«, 
eflort, or material. He was an Artist— no doubt of ibat — for did he 
not comply with all the regui^itions? — no, not quite all! lie had 
never sent anything to the Royal Academy, his connection thcn- 
with being only through his studentship, which he reverted to in a 
purpoa>elc«K way at intervals, sometimes not going there for months 
together. But on all other points his claim to being an Artist was 
indisputable. Scarcely a week passed without a vcr^ i>VsA>oii».\fc 
and expensive new canvas coming to Ko. 40, au^ Vnw£ «,\}\iyxM^ 




AUCE-FOR-SnORT 

to B most E«iir«hiiig ntammation of ite merits. If then? wns a flaw 
on its surface, it dearly wasn't fit lo pninl on. Of if it was too 
Rmootli. Or too rotigli. Or too sbsorbent. Or too non'nhsorbent. 
Or one-sixtc«titb of an inch out of trtic. Or maiijr other tbiuga. It 
iilwnya bui) to have a second expensive canras at its back "to keep 
out tbc wet," and Rrcat circiiinsp<.-ctioit wiut necessary in knocking 
in the WMlges to lighten it up. lest one of them should be the leagi 
tighter than the otiter. But nft<T pnr(ix,viiiiiii <if SyiiUim. i^niiitiocu 
of Uethod, epidemics of Ortcanisation. the Artist would "i^JUgb in" 
n firat idea with a nonchalances duo to thr Mud<lcn »ub»titution of 
■nspirutioii for mere artiaanship, to wbicli all thesi< precaiitioua 
more properly belonged. PuttinR it in broadly, as you felt it, 
vaa your firitt Artistic impulse. Getliti^ it iuto u horrible mess. 
destroyioB the quality of the irround. and losing all the outline, 
waa the m>coiid. Wipiuie a preat deal of it out with Bentoline was 
the third, and conioliiiB yourself with the reflection that it would 
be all ripht when you came to moddle il up wufl the fourth. After 
that you nmokod and looked at it wintfiilly n good deal, and said 
what u pity it wiu you huchi't let it ulone. And then you (or 
Charles, as may be) would order another eanvait. 

Hr. Jeff waa of unolhcr wrt — but still an Artist. To liim, a can> 
vas was a canvas, and what more could you wantl It was a thing 
that b'> fltw at (or an hour or so, witJi raasterb' touclies; at the 
end of which period he wrote "JerrythoiiRhl" very lnrBi> airross 
one comer of it, The:i it waa a Jerry thought. He bad many 
admin-rt, and owing to the way be wrote his nami? gut llie credit 
of having jirofiled by u year or so in Paris, and knowing the wcri't 
of chic. lie was quoted as an authority by noma of his oontempo- 
raries. as for instance: "Jeff says it's no use looking nt tho 
Model" — "Jfff says it's no use luokinR ut your picture" — "Jeff 
says retouching's a mistake" — and so forth. He was true to this 
last dictum, and let his first painting alone n!ligii>uiil]r. ITc ccr> 
lainly was encouraned iu this by his friends, who, when tli^ 
saw any of hia work showing any additions to their fimt tine cuo- 
leas rapture, would collapse with moans iu front of it. "Uy dear 
boy, why did you touch it again t" they would say tearfully; ''all 
tbe charm is gone — all the freshness!" And Jeff would agree with 
them most cordially, and :<sy he couldn't think what the doocc he 
was about, to go retouchiu'! For our own part we have alwa>'B 
rcgnrdfrl him ok the forerunner of a great Modem School of Art, 
and consider him entitled to honour on that account. TIum ia 
bocaum> wc xhrinU from the attitude of mind of the person wbo, 
it>}d that a certain picture conveyed tbe aame Impreseiou of 



I 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 








153 



nn AKprct of Ntitum im tlmt nf tlie Artist at his first monient of 
percciviimc it, i«mark»] that then it viae it bad job he'd noticed iti 
Fortiinntrly for 3irff there whs eveti in iIioko cjiriy tUya a public 
that did not belong to thia person's school, and it ^ood cnme to con- 
sider itw>lf iticoinplctr withniit n J crryt bought, und fortuuate to 
poeseas an exceptionally good example of him. 

Disturbing rcfioctiona mo.v havi- o(-cunvd to otitxid^s who 
witnesaed the operations of either of theee young arltstA, and may 
have been cinphn«i»cd by their results. Did Memling go to work 
in that way) Did John of Bni^ef Did Titian and Velasquea 
(T)oil their firgt painting when they did their second I Did tho 
Flort'atiuca of the lUruaisaauce run up such bills willi llieir colour- 
men, and have in new panels as recklessly as Oharle* hod in new 
ciuiTiUii^t Cbarles'it juntiticution in reply to binta of thU aort 
WftB. substantially, that of course they did things a lot better in 
tliow days; but then thc^y wcrv Old Master* and didii't siriiple to 
lake advantage of that fact Strange mysteries of process were 
known to tbom; they fn'ound tlieir own colours — prepared their 
own canvases — made their own bnisbes. Kv«rything was diffcrftotl 
For one thinK. it was the Middle Aites, or at any rate only a 
minute or two lator. It wni< u pity ihuL w<- lived in auch n sqxdl* 
bound Em as the present, when of course the Arts couldn't be 
4;spi.-cU.-d to fluuriah. but wc buc) to inuke the bent of a bad job, 
and be Artists up to our natural capacity. For, in spite of the 
vbilting infliK-nco of the PivBenl Tenw. It woidd only mako 
matti?rs ten times worse for us to be disheartened by the disquali- 
ficationa of our <roii tempo ran eon tuitnit, and begin not biting Artinta 
at all. It wan no uw giving in, because we couldn't paint. L«t us 
bo Artista, whate\-er else we were; and console ouraelvM for our 
insufficiency by the refleiction that an Age like the proaent dmcrrvd 
nothing better. 

Chnrlcx's ideas, whidi we indicate, may hanr been oxaAfferat«d 
through his not liking to admit that he really didn't know bow to 
paint by instinct, and had been able to tind no one to tc«oh Mm; 
but they were a good deal in s>-mpalhy with the current practice of 
our own time, so far as we oiirsetvi'S have observed it. Have wo 
not gone on creating shoals of artista, on the distinct understand- 
ing that compltanco with canons is the whole duly of man, in Art; 
and tliat the h.vpotbesis of their existence now is that tiiey shall 
bo overwhelmed by their anteccdentK? Put he bad to lind excuHca 
for not being able to get aloug, and it aatlsfied bim to think that he 
wai Mtruggling after a vague ideal, which tot vfcSK \),\ui'xV^Bi«fc&. 
Kaaaa bad gone awdy out of reach cl tbe Wquilu !&<%. Vx. ^»a 



t 

t 

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ALICK-FOH-SUORT 



pleasant to him to rc^fled tlmt though Smith nnd Brown painti?(I 
better ilua be, they WL-re ail ao fur behitid Titiun tliat it rtully 
didn't mottor. Jeff wii» quite in sympBthy with him on the grnpral 
trrouod of the indisputable iuferiority of uew work to old. with 
thiB difif:r<.-n<!e: that ChBrlos mndp umt of the Italian Rennifetincc, 
while be himself appealed to the ejgbteenth eciitury id England, 
with excursions to Hollnnd a littli- earlier. Certain forms of ugli- 
ness &?emed to have a charm for him: but if he couldn't get them. 
he would malcc u sliift to put up with ubiiolutn iimipidity of nn 
authentic date. A Quecn-Aune tcaxpoon. without more sdo — that 
IB to nay, nboiit which notlting fiirlbi-r could be snid than that it 
WM « Queen-Anne teaspoon — would warm his blood, and caue« 
him to ri'joicu by its divine simplicity iind ontire Tightness. As 
his work began to be appreciated and paid for, he siunndered a 
good dcjil of Uh" prouftedR id curia-ahopii in Wardour Stni-t, and 
would often g^t Charles to come upstairs, iind not lose a minute, to 
»e<! some piece of furniturt? by Cliippeiiilule or Sheraton, wliu»o 
qualities ClinrleB hn<i to accept on the nsaumnce of its possessor. 

"Tlie man that made Unit was an Artist, Mr. Charlea 'Eaih. what- 
ever ,vou may sayl" This wns about n chair the enthusiast was 
gloating ovrr, "Look at the desiRu! Look al the litiielil There'a 
a corner! Ever see nuylhin' finer tlinn thnt corner F' 

"It's only a corner like any other eorner. It'e a decent aervioe- 
able chair though. Wliut did yon give for itt Seven bob!*'— Jeff 
disdiiined to reply, and Charles went on: "It's a mere chair, with 
nothing to b<' unid nlmut it. It i.sn't large, and it isn't small, and 
it has a back, and it's sluSed with horsehair. Can't see where the 
Art cornea inl" 

"It ain't in your line, my boy! It's not medieval." This wa» 
•poIc«n with compoaaiun. 'Tretty thing that coloured mezzotint — 
picked it wp to-day in I^icrster Square — fifteen shillins!" It was 
a lady — such a lady 1 — As far as her head and anna went slie was 
inoffensive, if elegnnt. and seemed more than contented with her- 
ai'If. Bui when she got to her waist, which she did yery quick, 
as it was tucked under her chin, nhe began to boom, and only sub- 
sided during her stockings. However, elegance resumed its sway 
at her feet; altbovigh they eertniiily would hove been largi-r had we 
been consulted- For some reason known only to the publishers and 
their confederates, an appeardnce of siekly red and gn-en and bluo 
had been produced, suggesting to Charles his earliest experiences of 
the Fine Arts when hu wns iilloww! to juiint tlio lllusirated London 
yews out of his new colour-bos. on condition that he didn't put 
tie brush in his luout^i. This su4;gostiDn was the moru foruiblo 



I 



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ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



les 



fbecansc the Miif^Jirntf* «Tinr<l to hav-p practised th* syBteni en- 
'joined on Charles, the Buppreesiou of Colour, on some high moral 
grotiml liltlf aiijirf'piutt'd by oiw nmbitinuK of n Vwielian Secret 
of misins Uum-nnter with VermilioD, and la.vioft it on thick. 

"I suppose youll My t/uil iaTi'l nu^itrvnl trither," continued Mr. 
JeFrjlhouf[ht. "You are the most narrow ■minited b(^^r I «vcr 
came acroas." We may apolofpw! for hiK way of aring ttio word 
nwdlBvoI a» an adjedire of Art pure and simpl«; whereaa, when 
grou come to think of it. it really refers to History un<l that sort of 
thing. Charles often <!id the name. Jeff would hare pointed out, 
if cfaalleuged. that epoohs and periods were not bin game; aDd 
ChnrlM would hare ttgn-ni. Siylr. was thf game of both. 

"It's rubliish. anyhow!" said Charles. "I'd sooner hare tlie Elwii- 
TOer Rproddlp. atiy day of the we«rk."' 

Jeff appeared shocked: tliough he would have been more so if it 
hnd b(H-n Elwacxer, as alleged. But it was realty Robert, an<I 
t)i«r« you saw the value of a name. Why. if that jugr> broken aa >t 
WB*, waa put up at Christie's, eto.. etc. etc. 

Colloquies of tliis sort were frequent, and sometimes led to 
vrarmth of exprcsiion on both sido — not dircctpd by cither aitainst 
ihe other, but agaitist the respective biUt-noirva of tlie sp<^aken*. 
I Charles hadn't much patience with the seventeenth century, but he 
■ forgave it a little at timc-i. Agninat tlji- cigblei-Titb hi^ fwlinga 
rwwB thoM of the Cherokee towards the Choctaw. If it had been 
I possible to scalp a Ci-nttiry, ho <v^rtainly would have done it. But 
though you may pciw Time himself by Uic forelock, metaphorically, 
he is indivisible, amt cannot be taken a clause at a lime like a Bill 
in Commitlee. -IcfTs task nf ovcnvbrtmiTig the Middle Ages with 
sarcasm and invective was a harder one, owing to the vastness of 
the area in be traversed and the comparative uncertainty of infor- 
mation. Uut younif men of imperfect education will rush in where 
Philidogisis find .\n'hiii)!oci?ts fe-ar to tread, ami Jt-ff pluckily 
included the lieli^rion. Philosophy, Literature, and Art of tlin 
Media:i'al period (dating, say, from the dawn of ByKanline Art to 
the decoration of the .Sistino Chapel) in the broad and compro- 
bcDHive category of Rot. 

Charles, who really had some cducntion of a «ort, over and above 
A public-«chool smattering of the Classics, was mucli more detaih-d 
in bis indictments against his particiiinr aversion. The discovery 
in the cellar of the bonea of the murdered woman, and thir little 
he had been able to gather about the old house itself, had set him 
a-lbinktni^ about toupees and patches, und sedan cbuirs, and Wila 
and Beaux and Beautica in tie old ballroom V\i« \«,u&A \^vA.\n«p 



16S 



AlICE-FOK-SHORT 



1 



dnaler was defiling. Aud vlicii he recalled wbat little he Iiad read 
of tho (lu^ vrhcn tin- old hoiiKo wn« new and clean un<l nm<-h of 
recent plsster, and The fields wore Gelds aloug ihe Oxford Itoad, 
and tlie I'utlle froTn tin: country Htupped to drink nt Bay™' Water, 
near ll.vde Park tiardens. and ihe air was fresher in the eprinic- 
time, and the summer bn'on- mure ridld^r ladnn with ihti ticfnt of 
faajp, and ibo town ckancr and smaller— eti 11, in epite of all this, he 
thought of the dnya when th<! uH huuae woa building, and of itiow 
that followed, wilb ehriukinff and aversion. For tht-y warned to 
him to brUtle with earda, and to rattle with diee. and to echo with 
bInA|)h<;mic>, nnd In rvx-k of corkii. All the flnshing of nil the dia- 
monds, all the beauty of the women, or as much of it as one could 
KM through thn i)(iwdi-r and tbi- pati'hes; all tht^ wit and all the 
reparlop. or as much of it as would Ijear rppctition ; all the spirited 
blood nil I'd iu thi^ name of honour; all the Courts of alt the Georges 
and one of the Annes, whoever the other may \if — nil the righl- 
rcntb fu-ntury in a word — was for Cliarira no flavoured with the 
atmosphere of winc-cellarn. ea rrsonant of dicers" oaths, so foul with 
its apothfOKii* of its own sensuali-iin. ihnt even the reapectable 
eurrivals of ita upholsteries aeetued to hiiii tainted, and be eould 
not look on 8 creditably executed tniihognny sidelHiiird in one of 
JefTs favourite bric-a-brac shops without a suspicion that in the 
good old time when it was new. its good old owners, if male, fin- 
ished the Jfty in a ntute of good old iulosicntion. Of cour«c thiit 
wnx nn entirely false irapreaaion of a very deserving Era, pro- 
duced by imperfect study which had lighted on one or two doublfnl 
pnisagi-s in the plays of Congreve and Wycherley, and a dull chap* 
ter in linssetaa. 

For present purposes it really matters very little if Cbarlea did 
think of the age of his English great-grandfathers as a slougji — a 
dn-ary morass with Handel shining above it like a glorious star, 
and the terrible eloquence of Swift denouncing its slime from a 
puddle in its midst, and Blake ignoring it and getting out of tt 
nnsullied at the end. Let Charles tliink what lie likes! Wo know 
that it leaHy was a brilliant century, and that Litemturc and the 
Ana flourished- Perhaps if the latter lad flourished a little lean 
and taken more pains, we should have been in a better potiition 
to Hhnre Mr. Jeffa indignation against the Vandal dealer when he 
heard that it was abeolutcl; proponed to repaint and deeornte the 
ceiling of the bidlroum as soon aa the new skylight was eonipW<'d. 

This reminds u« that It wa* when thi- two went away to lunch 
nl On-moneini's after the conversation about the Misses Prynne 
that Jefi told Charlea of this atrocity. We were just going to t«ll 



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ALICE-FOE-SHORT 



187 



^^UboDt this when we j^t led nwajr into a diwiUNion on th«' Fioo 

^^^rts, wtii<rh hs« loMcd till uow. If you will forftive us, we will 

F promise uoi to do so any mof*, 

I "I aupiHW you tliink it right to paint ovor the ccilin' and rub 

out TeTpsi<:i>orer' Thua JeS at cigarette time after lunch at 
OrcnoDcini's. 

"Bothf^r Torpwchore!" said Charles. "She's nearly rul>t>e.l out 
as it is! Why don't you mIc Bauerst^^in — that's bix name, isn't 
It? — to let you remove -her from the wail for yourself — you could 
add her to your collection of Art-Trt-«HHr«»." 

"I *a>- — Charley! 1 wish you'd come with me to see the feller 
and talk to him about it. lie cnn't undrrslnnd mc. and of eounw 
I can't spi-ak Oerman. The builders are comin' in on Uonday, 
and thcT*tl mskc such a hasli of the ceilin' tbuTU won't be any 

chance " 

"Can't Bauerstein undcrtlund Eiigli«h1" 

J' "Not M) much 08 you'd think. Or perhaps he pretends he don't. 

But I olferpd him a hov. to let nu! try to get Tcrpsicbure off the 

^wfeII ; 90 he had a reflson for understanding. I say, Charley f 

^P "What do you say, Jcffl" 

^^ "Don't be spiteful about the eighteenth century, but coniR along 
sod tackle Baucrntcin. Ilc'd lirti-n to j/ou. You see if he don't!" 
We need banlly eay that Charles, thus apiicali^d t". cutisetitfil. 
And when Ihr- two rctumi-d to No. 40 they rang Mr. Rnucrstijin's 
bell, and explained their visit. Charles was able to clear up a mis- 
understanding. The German had tmaginc<l Mr. Jprrythought to bo 
an Artist anxious to compete for the redeeoration of the room; 

^HjjUid. supiwsing himactf to have btvm mistaken hy that grntlcmnn 

HKot a confidential employee instead of the prtucijial of tJu- cunreru. 

^^nad interpreted .TeiPa *ov. as a doueaur to proeiire hiji influence at 

I headquarters. He had neither shown nor fi-lt any iudtguation at 
this, but taken it as a matter of course. Oh dear, no! ho said; ho 
had no objection to the removal of the picture, which was of abso- 
lutely no value. Only Mr. Jerrylhought must make haste, as the 
builders were coming on Monday. 'Tou'll have to eonie and htilp, 
Charley." Mid Jeff. And Charlua found himself engaRcd, some- 
what under protest, in rescuing with assiduous care a most miftcr- 
nble <laub (in his opinion) from the hand of the dnstroyer. 

But the whole of the work connected with the preservation, 
removing, reliniiig. reui-wing of any pictun^ alri-udy in existence 
{a BO fascinating as compared with the onerous task of original 
comixnilion. in wliieh we are never ceriaiu wi.- un^ doing right, that 
Charles soon became at>sorbed in it. Ko in&ttKi W« etaicR«h^» 



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the object of antiquily may be, we bocom(> blind to \t» dofccts tlie 
nioniPiit wo hnvp to do nuvthinti to arrcst its decay. It is this very 
enlhusiasiii ilml oiukes lhi> Rt-HlorPr the dcttdlicBt of Destroyers, for 
nothing cnn rWT innke hira sw that the fiMt step towards ensuring 
the contiuiied eiustt-iioe of unj-tbing is lu k-t it iiloiic. Thf niiliirttl 
itistim-t of tb<! jiictu I*- restorer in to take Htcps for the prencrva- 
y tion of everj' picture before it is dty. But he likea a little real 

tuiliquity to ^v(! him n start. 

There was very little Terpsichore left to conserve. So much tho 
better. <ronBiilereil as an object of ciithuaiaau. Her smirk was still 
there, like the celebrated grin of the Cbc*hirp Cat in Wondcrlmid, 
nn<I the jrrafw of tlie design wub thereby manifest. The enlhiiuaBm 
bcame infectious, and Mr. Bnurwtcin got involved in it and gave 
Home virry pood recomniendatione. It spread to the ivgion of 
Stained OIahh, nnd Pope k Chnppell came (o see what was 
goiuK on. 

A fierce controversy rnged nt the outset. What gum or glue 
should be used to attach thin tissue paper to the face of tlie 
precious vfork 1 Common glue, fish-glue, i.iinglass, gum trngacanth, 
gum HTabit-. flour paste — all had their advoeates. Wt- believe tJiH 
last was decided ou and left till the nc*t day to gel quite dry. 

Nest day every one rose feverishly early, nnd went to see how 
Terpsichore was. She could have l^een nothing hut a piece of wall- 
phistor with somp paper pasted on it, but slu- was examined and 
reported on as if she had been a successful operation for nppcn* 
dicitis. "In a very good «tiiti%'' was the verdiet. 

The next step was to attach coarser paper ami then follow with 
a sueeeasion of canvases, each enarser than its predeci'ssor, until nt 
last came the moment to decide whether we would simply rip 
T<)rp«icliore ofi by main foroi? or whethpr we woidd chip <!ontinu- 
ally behind her with flat knives until she came away of her own 
accord. Tlie lant seemed bust, and Charles and Jeff spent a (lay 
cautiously worming palette-knives behind Terpsichore, and fear- 
ing the said knives might nt any moment inflict irreparable injury. 

They were deeply engaged in this way, and the German had 
(Imparted, leaving ihein in posspssion. when Charles, who was worlr 
ing on a ladder to the right of Terpsichore, took off his spcotaclea to 
wipe them, and aoctdentolly dmppcd ihcra on the floor. He had 
thought they were alone in the room, and that Bauersteiii when 
he went out had closed liis door, leaving them i!ote oecupunta. Thi« 
could not be the case clearly, for there slood'a lady, who certainly 
vae not in the room when he went away, and who could not have 
dropped through tho skylight. iShe had noticed evideullj- that 




ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



158 



L 



duvles had dropped his spectacles, and V017 obligingly sloops 
down sa Uionf-h to find tht-m ai]d liaiid tht-in lo liiui. Cbarli>tt 
cniight right of the glnsses under the Inddcr nod stooped to pick 
them up. 

"Who did you say thank-you tot" said Jeff, tumiog found froiu 
his L-hippiiiK on tbt' laddt>r. 

"Thnt lariy/' aaid Charies. 

"I saw no lad?-." 

"Sho was here jiint now, anyhow," snid Charles. 

"Somebody for Dauerstetn. I auppoee. But he must hove left 
tbc door open. BrttCTr sKiit it." 

Cfasrics went out to do so. but in a moment eame back, puzxied. 
"I My, Jeff!" wiid lit-. "This is (jitecr. The door's shut I" 

■^ aappose she shut it," eaid Jeff, proBaieally wnconcenied. and 
chipping. 

Charles eaid nothing, but went out. Jeff heard him open and 
tiy to ctoftf th« door gently, then witli addt-d forei.>; tbtm finally pull 
it or push it to with a loud slam. Then eanie a violent rinn at 
th*; bcJl. C'Wrly Cbarl<;s had abut himiM'lf out. Jeff got delib- 
erately down the ladder and went to the door. "What'e up T' said 
bo oa ho lot Charlen in. 

"You go outside and try to pull that door to qoietly." Jeff did a» 
directed, and made n itu<^<!i;.viiun of tneffeetuftl trials, increasiiif^ iu 
ioree, tiU the door hasped to, with a bang titat eehoed through the 
hnuae. 

•■The door wag shut," said Charles. "Thnt woman's somewhere 
insidt- slill." Jeff auggi-^ti-d waiting a minute to see if she reap- 
peared of her own aecord, but she didn't! And the eloseat 
wtarih only iJiowud tlmt tlie two young men were alone in that part 
of the bouse. 

"There's only the skylight — and the ehimney — and the drains — 
to get out at." <).iid Jeff. "Of courtH> atie alammed the door and you 
didn't notice it." 

"T>id you f" 

"Oh no! / didn't. But then I wasn't in it It waa all you and 
her. / don't come in." 

"Oammon, Jeff! You couldn't be off hearing ibu door slam. 
She could bare shut herself in quietly, but she couldn't shut her- 
«.-lf ou(." 

Tboy made feeble i^xperiroents of getting the hasp to hold bndt *o 
as to allow of gentle dosing, but without result. The door had 
been readjuRted to wparate llio dealer's sublet from tbft Tctwtiwitx 
of Po(H! & CbappeJl's hoidins, and the lock was \tii«m'iM^^ '«*"M- 



I 



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ALICE-FOR-SHOET 




sitxitrtivc. It would pfrform its proper function, but woulcl Ho 
nothin); els^ — not if it knew it I They closed the door ttnd weat 
hark through the lobhy to the now dnrlconing room. Thi<y Iaiighi-<1 
uneaeil.v, and essayed some feeble mutual chafF about the Udy 
liBving come for one of t!ifni. But it didn't work. They lit the 
fcas. and this seemed to inaufcurnte a new condition of things, aud 
to enahlc tliem to take up ttic Bttitmie that the door "mtidt have" 
closed witlioiit tbeir hcarinK it. They adduced strange instonecs 
of people who lind *U-pt throufc-li tlischargeB of canuori close to iht-ir 
cars. The improbability prr sc of the door closing inatidibly was 
made use of to cover the udililiontti stuiftblin^block of its occur- 
ring to two persons at or.w. It was such a rum start its bippcninff 
at uil. that the coincidenco didn't add lo ita rumnees. "Just as 
like «« not to happen to both nt once, / should say." was JefFs 
vetiiift. He implied that onco such high-class rumnens was ufoot, 
we might exp<^ couBistency in the st^rt it was connected with; 
it would work out alike all through. 

Wlien Man hue to account for an unaccountable phenomenon, ho 
goes through the mosi violent mental pymnasttca before he ac- 
knowtvdgni himself hcoten. Chnrl^ nnd Jeff dcddod that if they 
w«nt away to dinner now at the Cock and then to see the new 
mclodramn, they would liavc lime to talk it over. And they talketl 
it all over through dinner and through the blanks in the per- 
formance — lint didn't get any forwarder. 

"It must have been a ghost !" said Charles as they let tbemeelvc* 
in Hi No. 40, 

"ilust hare been a ghoat !" repeated Jeff. "I say, Charley I " 

"Continue your remarlc. Mr. .ferry the uKhl." 

"How about that ghost the little card saw — Alice (he kidl 
Ohost of a woman I" Both had thought of this, but Jeff had the 
courage Ut mention it first. Perhaps be felt he had a less dignified 
character to lose. 

"I shall go to bed," said Charles, abniptly. "Junt the child's 
fancy!" he added, reflectively, as be lighted his bedroom candle, 
"Oood-nighl, JeffI Don't see any more Ghosts 1" — 

But he thought a good deal about it all the same, till he went to 
sleep. 




^a^Uff^^ .•■ 



CHAPTER XV 
or Alice's walk to sviwe rowT ajio how she wrkt over tub oum. 

or A DECLARATION AT A CR1SI8 

Alice repudiated with ecorn the idea that she should ever get 
tired, and •)> for btnngr mrriMl by Dr. Jobiiaun — n grout hig f(irl like 
her! — ehe was euch a wi^ight. dignity npnrt, ati to put it ^luitc out of 
the quc«tion. Dr. Johnwm's reply lo lUt§ was to oatdi her and put 
her ou his shoulder. "Plenthr, I am tbo velhj/ hig!" wan the pro- 
test, or wan c/)iitniiied in tlw eonftision of exullatton and pro- 
t«Bl, that wae sandwiched bct»-nni bursts of hnppy lauffhtcr in a 
ahort intcrliidp on the luwu in front of the bouno. when- notliiiig 
would grow but taniarinlt and hyrlMng™s, with a coiiccmiou to 
hartVtonKiu' ftxn iti tlin btittrc-s^-wttll that made it a terrace, hft- 
tiause of the wat«r trickling through from tho clifi behind. 

"What n "illy man you an- lo wanti' your atrc-ngth aol" says 
Pe(c^. coming out to join them. "Do put the child down inune- 
diatrly. Wbi-ji nhr'* tir<^ sJic'll Ik? glad of a lift. Now, Alico 
dear! You take hold of me on this side, and Dr. JohndoD on 
that — and lln-n- wp an-l" 

But the trio had not gqne very far when they wcro called ba^; 
thai is to suy. thi^ went oiHihI to and didn't go back, but called in 
return, and neither caller could hear the olher. So AHeu wrut 
hmA to glean particulars, wbilo Peggy and th« Doctor wont 
slowly on. 

In the eonrae of time the small cniisury overtook thom bubbling 
over with entrusted communication. Minns a great amount of 
stammering, liaping. and panting, for the ni(«sriigrr won out of 
breath, tho actual substance wns as follows: Misa Ellen aaya Krs. 
Heath snya the Coastguardamun said it wasn't Nafr along th« 
irndcr<!HfF pathway and to keep along the hill-top and not go near 
tlie edge, and it was written up no public roftd but nwin- mindl 
This was girrn fairlj' (orrcctly — only the negotiation of the words 
Coaatfcuardsman and Undercliff wua difficult, and early awocia- 
tiona cnrpt in in the rendering of public road as public-house. 
P<*iy shuddered at the expert articulation of the word. "We'll 
try lo do without tlte puhlie-houw this time, aaj'bowV* «aXiWlt. 
Johnson, cheerfully. And the p.irty set oS. 




ALICE-FOK-SnORT 



Firet ijiej had a long spell of wtod, eomelimcs ribbed. Bometinips 
smootli; sowctimcs giving way utid ri'Vfjiling i)nriiT»ludee ; eomc- 
timee intersected by rivers which looked like nothing till you were 
clo»4' III), but biiil 10 Id' wuUcikI along: tht^ i-ilgcr of. nni] trhich in the 
end dedected the traveller towardx America one way. and the other 
wuy towar<la thc! puiut be started fiou. 

Alice widied Tory much to utop nnd die for worms — a fascinat- 
ing and absorbing employment; but for its full enjoyment a fork 
is necessary. Practised with n spade, especially a woi^dcn one, it is 
poinftd to the worms; ami also, except hu be hard of heart, to 
the digger. If n viviseclor by profcuion. and prone to scienliiic 
observation, he may derive iiiairuelion from the way in which, 
when a womi is hBlve<l, ils iutelUntiinl end wrigglos: but no one, 
Bcieiilific or otherwise, can pretend to be .tatiatied with an ampu- 
tation by a blunt spade. And the inconvenience to the worm of 
being forced through the sand when the spade is too blunt to cut 
it, L*, we hope, obvious. A pnraeol, nr siinslnitle, tliongh it may Hparo 
the worm, is apt to be fntitleas and platonic. Therefore, when the 
party arrived at an expaosc of half-dry wind on which the worm- 
caHia were sci dean and beuutiful that they inadf one wish one 
was small enough to he among them, as among hills on a plain, and 
enjoy tlie londBcape, no doubt Peggy was right to answer Alieti's 
appeal — "Only just one worm, Miss Peggy — plpathc, only one" — 
with — "Nonstnsi.-, child ! Wt: shall never gi-t to Surgi- Point. JJe- 
sides, it spoils my sunshade, if one digs in far enough." However, 
Alice was consoU^d by being allowed to have her shoes ofi and 
run in the water, some weight being allowed to short cuts that were 
open to her, ban-foot. But when one wishes to play at being a pony 
on the sands, all the edge is taken off short-cnts, 

Rupert .TiiUnson wns quite distinctly on honour, this walk, not 
tot Not to what! Don't ask impertinent questions. Let it sufBce 
that bia being so on honour, made Peggy's mind eaay about allow- 
ing Alice to go free on the sands, whether as a pony or a seeker 
of sliort-euts. It woulil perhaps have been kinder of Peggy to make 
herself as ugly as possible, under the circumstances, instead of 
putting on her blue niualin with sprigs, an<] her hat with the 
white ribbons. They i>iuited her exactly, and you would have been 
iu love with her yourself, if you had seen her. We had very nearly 
written that thc blue mnslin was a new rivet in the attachment of 
her victim to his idol — but really he was all over rivets, and there 
was no room left now for another. As ho walked beside her there 
on the sands— keeping a reaiiectful dialauce (eighteen inchca or 
thereabout*), on honour! — he was simply in a state of wild intoxl- 



r 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



163 



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cation. H«; siiw nothing but Peggy — cared notbitif; for the jaspi>r 
•ca that yras now a inoveilees mirrur fur lliu satnc great white cloud 
sa before, which ttM>lf lim] ni^vcr movtsl nil day; for the little rip- 
plins waT« that for eom« unknown reason decided to rise and come 
» little way loiraitla tbc alioru and die. wilb it Hhorl rai'mur.y of 
fionlina foam above its tomb; for th*t myriad" "f littln utiff Bull», 
eat!h StandinK on ita owii itiverled image iu the wt-t sHiid. and mak- 
ing n« woniler where he can hiive pneki-d iiwny the wings that 
8lea[ue<] »o larKC juet now iu the «un. as he floated to a rather better 
plnc<^ in front of his friends with ii muaicel irry. iind aettled down 
to a rather nearer riew of what they wen? all looking at iu the same 
direction. Tie bn<} no eyes for the gfi-at headland, sleepint; in tlu! 
aun, that tliey were eoon going to climb, nor for the white saiU, 
full-ael, of the tDotionle»t «loi>p)i tlint had triisl to crvep round it all 
day, aud faikil. Even the crah that ran out sideways, from under 
the stone he kieJced. and defied him with out.iprood claw* to mortal 
combat, could wot make him withdraw his eyes from Peggy. Peggy 
was hi» univerM^, and except when nbe hcrsitlf culled his atlentioa 
to iiK-idcnlu in the olhift universie^this other pM>ple'd universe — 
the infatuated young man look no more notice of it than he did 
of the crab. But \vd was an houourulile yoimg man; and oh he was 
not to, h« didn't. 

'*How that young person has changed, sjuee that day you came 
to tlip Hospital— eight months agn!" He wiid thia jiist as it 
became clear that ihe short-cut proKrammo would he superseded 
by tile pony, and Alicia am*red nwny in that character over ai 
favourable eurfaca with no ribs on it. 

"In it n'ally flight montfaat I had no id«n. How the timo doe-s 
run away 1" 

"Quite eight motitba — no! nlmoat <iuite. ITer accent's so im- 
prored. And do you know she van telling me all about Hubert and 
Priuee Arthur and his cruel uncle in tlw garden just now — before 
ve had that scrimmage about whether I was to carry her." 

'^^ow did you come to Prince Arthur?" 

"Beeaiiir Jie .-uiid siie called me King Johnson. That led to 
Prince Arthur naturally. And she was bo funny about Charley. 
'Do you know.' said slie. Sflicti I was a vethy vethy vnlhg littln 
(lirl, and told Pu««y stories — I told and I told — and I told Pus^y 
O !<ucli a long story oltout Prin<n- Spectaclea.' 'Wlio was he,' I 
asked f 'I fink/ she said, *Xlr. Charley was Prince Spoctaclea — I 
fink MO. But 0, it was such a vethy velhn long lime ago!'" And 
Johnson imitates Alice's maiuier, not inadcnunlrly. 

"A* aoon aa ww calch tlw poaj," says Pv«gS, "wwU xqbShs \*» 



I 



184 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



tell us more nbont Prinoc Spoct«cIc«, I wonder when that dear! 
iilly boy means to come down here. Dtd he tell you f" 

''Hf Kjii<I hp wiis roming. What that meant I cnn't sojl lie and| 
his friend, Mr. Jenythought " 

"Oh yes I Mr. JcriT^ouKht 1" Pfggy represses n disposition to^ 
laugh. 

" were much exercised about a ghotil they bad seen." 

"That'll intercstins I But what gho»ti You know Alice saw mJ 
ghoet on the stairs " 

"Q{ couritc »hc did I I remember all about it And we said it J 
must be the (thosl of the boues— in the cellar "* 

"How <fou1iI it have been any other gho8t t No doubt at all about I 
il, I should eay." 

"Are yoii in «impat ( Do you bt-Iic-vc it wns a ghost ?" 

"I don't think I do. I don't think I qiiite know what to believe, i 
But If il waa a fthost, it was the ghost of tliuse bones — of their 1 
owner, that is! But what was Charley's new ghost — and Mr. 
Jenythoufcbt'a )" With the same ilisiHtHitiou to laugh; but w« 
would not leave him out in the cold. 

"Charley ni<l ht- would write you n long letter about it. What | 
he told me was that he and his friend saw a lady in the pieture- | 
dealer's room, and they didn't know how she got in, or got out." 

"Come now, Uaster Rupert I There must have been more than 
that. I aup[iufie every lB<ly one sees in a picturc-dejiler's room isn't* 
to be n ghost, becauM one doesn't know bow she got in. or got!! 
out I" 

"1 don't know. Very likely I (pit it wrong. Youll get hia 
letter " 

"Why shouldn't the lady have come in at the door like every- 
body elecf As they did themeelves! Beeauae if the door wasn't ^H 
open how did they gel in! It wiwn't Ihtir room." ^| 

"1 don't know. Don't ask ma. That's about all Charley told 
me, I only saw hiia a few minutes." But Pe^gy persisted in 
nnnlyBJng the utory, in spite of deficient particulars. 

"What did he meaii about not knowing how she got out? Any- 
body can get out of anywhere — only ibey can't get in when the 
door's locked." 

"He said something about bow they hadn't heard ihc door sliut. 
But ri^uUy it's no u* nskiiig mc. T only got half the story." 

"Hadn't heard tbc door shut! Why, of course she didn't shut it. 
A couple of gtiesel" 

The conversation was momentarily interrupted by an appltcatioa 
Srom the pony for Dr. Johnson's stick, to throw into tlie water (or 



ALICE-FOR-SHOBT 



1«5 



a frimd, a cDllit-doff, who seemed lo lire on the sbore, waiting 
for sticka. W«» be Kiiro (o bring it out I Thp ponj guaranteed it — 
and went sway with the slick. Pegftiy ti'ent on danoIiabiDg the 
evidenoe di« bud not hrard. She wo.i onl.v following tinui-honotirecl 
pivoedenta in bcr trratmcnt of the miraculous or eiipcmatural. A 
ieyi of tbeM, taken at rundom, art^, judgnit-nt first, dotu afttrwiinls; 
(iiippljr of data, at choice, from one's own stock ; an unfair bias 
afraitut other peoplv'ti spo(>ks; an aarriptiuu. by impli<'ation, of 
Crriinism to prprious investigator, and so on. ITowcvcr, one 
jrenerally makes up for one's behaviour towanta llie Paycliioal 
Bmcarchce of others by the excessive impartiality, amounting aome- 
timea to onesidednesa. with which one treats one's own. But we 
have no tim<! now to do justice to this interesting subject. 

By the time PcRKf had got her brother and his friend properly 
clniMifi(<<I — given Uusn a n-ry low degree, or plucked them outright 
as Gfaoetleadera— they were drawing near the place for leaving the 
ahoru and mounting the cliff. The pony was a very minute spot 
tlmost bul of hearinK; but vas recovered, none the dryer for ita 
advmtuf^n, after shouting. Also, the collie-dog had swum out 
lo the stick; but after examining it, had decided it was the wrong 
stick, and had come bock without it for another, and hud burked 
■s a dog barks who is surprised and hurt, but not angry. The 
stick had gone for an .\tlantie voyage; there wasi no help for ttt 
Then followed ineident connected with gc-tting the pony's stock* 
ingn on. And then a pauKe cm iJie shingly beucii for real, the 
parly beinfc hot with watkiu(r in the sun. Pegity seamed to think 
she owed witncthing to Pnyirhiciil Ri'Mean^b, after her recent treat- 
ment of it. and catechised Alice about her experience with the 
(potted tally. 

"I sawed her coming slraight down the etairs," recapitulated 
Alice, "and go froo the airey-door out — right out — into the airey — 
aU by herself." 

"Did abe look glad or sorry. Alice!" asked Johnson. 

*K)b! Somjl!" very emphatically. 

"Poor spoiled ladyl Somebody must have burted her — wfe» 
was it, I wonder r' 

"Re-ally. Master Kupert, 1 can't have you makinir Alice use wrong 
words. 8be's gftting an acoumpliiilicd luHturian, but Hbe'n a bttd 
linguist." 

"1 apologiac. It'a hurl — it's not hurted. Somebody mu«t have 
hurt her— eh! Alice f 

"Somebody — rouirt — have — fcurt herl" says Alice, by litftlalmienVh. 
to be prepared for hurt, which is fired oS conecX\s. Vi^beS ^wiJa 




J 



16S 



ALICE-FOK-SHOUT 



L 



she has done her iluty by Lindl«y Murray, but rather at &» ex*; 
pr-nse o{ the oonvcnuition. Slu' wishes to make amends. There is R 
flight of steps cut in the rocb just above where they are sittiagr, 
end nn idea occtim to her. 

"You go up thowj Pteps and come down like the ladj did— 
pwtend you're the laily 1 Stoi> a iniiiule — we'll put the Bpott on." 
And Peggy proceeds to dcecptotc Alice's face with little p8tch«fl of 
tu-ii-wf«Ml. "Two hi*!*— two here — one here— (tnt! one here! la that 
riitht !" 

Yes — that's right! And off goea Aiiee. But she returns half- 
way, because one of the spots has eomr off und flowed nwny. Sha 
eiitera into the i>arl. feeling it intensely, and must have every- 
thing right. The nccond time, thi- pcrfoiroaiiec comrH off. Peggy 
cnniiot help thinking to herself, how strange it would have been, 
if the story had been real (which of course it wasn't), and the 
murdered woman could have foreseen that a hundred years later 
n child would be pretending lo be her, in the sun, on Shellacombe 
beach. 

"Why did you catch hold of yourself by the tummy, you fnnny 
child?" says Peggy, when Alice returns amidst the applause of the 
andieticc. The piece has been most successful, but tho incident 
of the actress holding her left side with both hands was not knotm 
to he in the text. 

"Because the lady come dou'7i the stairs — and froo the aitey — 
with hofe hands like tliat." And Alice encon-s the action dcxcribcd 
and continues: "The spots never stickeded on, only just till the 
bottom step. Then thej- flowed nway." She has an Artist's 
pleasure at thia not havinir occurred earlier, and impaired the 
climax, 

Johnson looks putxlcd. intcrculcd, excited — a little uncomforta- 
ble. Hut no further speculations can be indulged in — because we 
shall never get to Surge Point, at this rate. Peggy quite agreed 
to this, and the party started on their upward path. Alice waa 
allowed to go on in front, under a guara:ite(' that she would not 
go near the edge «nd look over. 

"Why didn't Alice tell about the hands before t" said Jobiiaon. 

"Do you think that, looks ns if she wns mmnncing, as Part* 
ridge calls it ! I don't. To nie it goes all the other way. If I 
had to tell an inciiWt in words. I should lie sure to Icnve some- 
thing \mdcacribed. that I should be equally sure to act, if I did 
like Alice did, and put il on the ittnge. There's the Uiicierdiff 
path — we're not to go along there. Straight on — Alice I N 
thtt waji Straight ouT 



I 



I 



1 



ALICE-FOR-SHOET 1«1 

Uioc mn on in front, lolking nnd nin^ng lo iiprwlf. Sbo 
Qed to Peitny to have cUftnged compk-ti'lj- from the subdued 
Bn<] ill-nourinJicd morsel of hiimaniltr thai. Chiirli'M tind brniieht 
honae iu ihe cab, eiglit months ngo — ns completely as her mother 
l)n<l chnnj^itl when Itii^ AkMbol demon fiew. uiid left hi^r to dio in 
decency. One thing is very (vrtain, that Uiss Alice wa* now hav* 
ing u lii^h old time, as the phrase is; and that, child-1ik«, ahe 
tooepted ber happineivi without wonder or speculation, m she bad 
aocepted her misery without complaint. 

Ob dear, how hot it wbh to bi? nun; climbing np that Iii'll-sido 
under the aflemoon sun! It had been hotter certainly st mid-day, 
if that WM an; cxtmiiution. Btit it wus liot iiiough Etill to jitH- 
tif; Alice in aajrin^ that a half-way-iip rest on a stone Icd^ was 
like sitting on the hob. HiiwL-vi?r, there is nn end to all thiugi*; and 
it waa ail the pleaeauter when the smooth round *wrep» of down- 
land were renehcd, and the party was working idong the path that 
waa not a publico road,,enjoyinB the fff^shne^s of the sea-wind and 
the chortiH of the innuiuc-rable gulls below. They tart no living 
creature except one sheep, who seemed to have missed her party, 
and who would bWt and Htop, ninl wait for answer and gi't none, 
and then start running again and be heard bleatinf,' plaintively 
elsewhere. Alice was much concerned and wanted to offer sym- 
pathy and uiHi-iiuiiee; hut there were diStoidtiea about thia, and the 
idea had to be xivcn up. 

The <Uy was getting on (for thi-y were much behind their 
intended time) when they came within what seemed a short dis- 
tance of the KTcat lightlioiisc, very white and very clenn Uk« a 
wcll-maih- model popped down on a smooth carpet of down, with 
the sweet immeasurable blue beyonil. Tln-y wi're on tlie higlwwt 
point of llic down, and they bivoiincked a little to enjoy the view, 
befor* descending to the li(thlhouse. The wind wiui n,>p<-nting of 
ita apathy all day. and wim making up its mind that those sloopa 
and that brisantine should Kct round the point at last, and not lie 
becalmed all night. They could tum thi- wii»l-swc^?p siin-nding on 
the water, and watched for the flap of the white sails as they 
.greeted ita arrival; and saw them stir, then vacillate, then tako 
the wind and start — hut oh. so slowly 1 It looked to Alice as if 60 
little wind aa that could never do them any good. Why couldn't 
that grenl huge steumer out tliere, whose engines we could hear so 
{dainty up here at this height, juet turn a little out of her course 
and picjc ihem all up and take them, free of charge, to Bristol or 
Cardiff! Why not, indeed 1 

Alice, interested iu the ships and the ateamet, ven\. B.'na,^ «. 'Si»/t^. 



I 



MS 



ALTCE-FOR-SnORT 



(listanoc from her companions, rpplyin^, to Pc^rt's frequent eau 
tiona not to go attar the ndgv:, that ihi-iv was no vtlgi; onlf xmoovG, 
smoove. emoove fields — like this; and Alice palted tbe slieejt- 
cropped down to show how sinooih it wus, Pirggy cnlli-d her back, 
and fbo came. But Alice was n good obedient child only In a 
I>artiul or Uniited Beiisc, Wlicii alio obeyed you iincr, nhc con- 
sidcTF^ that that was enough, and that it was no business of hers 
to consider the spirit of your instructions. Having once come back 
sbo had tlone her duty, end might go nwa^ again. It was not her 
bueiaess to take note thai Miss Peffgy and King Jomit<in, a* niw 
caUcd him, had accidcntlj* become mnch absorbed in sometiilns 
they bud to talk about, and were not aware elic hnd gone anny 
flgnin, to gft a rather nearer view of the ships. On the contrary 
bIh! regarded this absorption as favourable t<i Iut own fr<Tdom of 
action. She would have come back in an instant if either had 
calleif; but as it chanced neither diil so. We nei-d not suppose that 
Master Riijicrt wus forgetting bis compact, tliough for anj-thinst 
we know, he inii^hi hare be«n. He was lying on the turf at Peggy's 
feet, with hi« chin on his hands, and his feet towards the sea. So. 
even :( be bud had eyes for anything but Peggy's face ugainM tho 
blue, be could not see .^licc, and no doubt fancied Pegg; waa 
kee|>ing Aer cjes on her. So she iliougbt she waa herself; but you 
can't possibly, always, don't you know. If ynu happen to be t«lk- 
ing Sfri(>i;nly to a fneod. and she (or he) ia sayini; something that 
engToseos you. entertains yon, plcnses or disjileiiscj you vtrty 
much — well ! every now and then you're sure to flog in your atten- 
tion; and then Alico dances away out of range, or the equivalent 
thing, whatever it may be in your ease, happens. And then you 
start, as Peggy did, and egme hack into the world of conseiousuesd 
and action, from — whatever other world you may happen to bare ■ 
been in, Uetaphysies. Cookery-. Political Economy, anj-thiuu! 

"Oh dearl I wish the child wouldn't go out of our jigbt," anid 
ahc as Alic« vanislied. evidently walking, beyond an outline of tho i 
bill agaiost the sea. Pe^y got up to follow her, and ao did ^| 
Johnson. ^B 

"She's all right there." said he. "It's not a precipice when you 
get there— these places are so deceptive. But I'll go after her and ^_ 
fetch her back." Peggy waited where slie stood, on tlie main paib- ^^| 
way to the lighthouse, with tbe little heaps of stones along it, kept ^^ 
frcsb-paintcd white to show the road on darlc winter nights. Sh« 
was not anxious; she knew the ways of these cliff-«idcs too well. 
If you were to bii anxioua every lime any one went out of might, 
tlierc would never be an end to it. They would bo back directly. 



M 




I 



ALIC&FOR-SHORT 

Besides, llMtor Rupert could see her now — be was out of sight 
liini»lf. They would bi- back dirifclly. . . . 

How fiinnitj' the blrtit of that sbecp eoundodl How it ran 
ibout tool It was over (biTo just iiow. nnd that Inst time it 
•oundixl iiM if it wan down ibr hil)-*ide towards ihc wa. where Alice 
was. Surely that foolish link- itionke.v bad not gone ruiuiiug down 
to tl»e cliff to wc tiic! Jibit'p. Rbc munt have gonp nn a lonft way 
tbousb] But there could be uothiug wrong, or Master Rupert 
would hare sboutMl bocJc. There was the sbeei) egnin — poor thing! 
it Koundi quite in despair — stop I 

"It un't the thttp at all~U'a Alieer 

Vfiesss neither says nor hcnrs these words. Ab «bc lookiii back 
after to that terrible inonienl, ibey seemed to come into her memory 
with the mit of tbc scene — with the glorious am and all Hi-aven 
above it. with the land under encbantment from the first lentrthcu- 
ing of tlut iihodnws, with tlie endless mtisic of the BMai-birds U-low — 
ceD the mysterious note of the wind on the tetcfiTaph wire that 
wama tiw; lifi-ljoat of abips sighted in distress, or wrecks so near 
that the rocket apparatus ia the only chance of rescue. They 
would all <!omc buck vividly to her recollection, and witli tbcm, 
just as vividly, tbe words she neither spoke nor heard, but that 
filled the place just the same. *flt isn't the sheep at all — it'g 
Alioer 

How quickly one can think whi-n thought in driven, forcnl. stunff 
into the brain. As PcKKy ^'^'^ (and she ran bard too) to the point 
at wbii'h Jiibii.''rin bud disniipi-un-il tbc tbonght bad time to form in 
her mind: / »haU tote Ihem both! That Alice bad slipped down 
some awful precipice, an<j that Johnson was after her — that was 
clear as noonday to her almost before she started. But then, all 
ia a few seconds, followed a hideouu vision! — she would go home 
alono — atonrf The intensity of the horror of her eomiitg to the 
house lo tell of it — even worse, lljo felling of her brother after- 
wards — all crowded into that little wpan of time between the mo- 
ment when sbe beard the slieep erj- last, and wlie:i she saw. still 
some litt!<? way below her, ibi? figure of Rupert Johnson, who must 
surely hare ftone mad, as be was to all seeuiti^t pulling oS his 
booltt and stockings. 

fcRify rani Oh, bow she ran! And so running she suddenly 
grasped the explanutiun — Alice had slid down the rounding curve 
of Blippery down, urowing steeper and steeper, till even the she^ 
that cropped the sliort lwTbug« bud no foothold on the grass itH^lf, 
»nd could only reach it from the tiny roads they tbcTOBftV'^* V*i 
made in voiinllea* Ji^re^ If Johnson went dtitcu tlure ai'unVKi ^on 



IfO 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



would to a certainty lose them both. Eren barefoot, as she saw 
ho meant to try it, he would uevt-r kwp his feet. Anil then she 
knew ahe was blocJcing: her mind aftainet the thought of wbnt losing 
JnbniKm ni<-ntit. It tvua autiiidin); its aummona at the door, but 
she refufied to admit it. 

Shi? Bi-iufd .Tohnsdu's onn when slie reached him. You will eea 
how quickly all this passed from the fact tliat it was while h« 
took oH two lace-up boots, and an ordinary pair of aocka — not 
stockings. 

"Not both! Not Lotbll Oh. Alice, my darling, forgive meT' 
The dc^airing cry had no <?xiicctatiow that Alice could hear — 
it was just the form a pang took. Johneon hesitated — barely a 
second. Would slio not rclcniio hiH nnnt 

"Margaret Heath. I love you more than all elee there is for mo 
in Heaven or Earth — but let me got — I nsk it," His voice fell U3 
he repeated again. "I ask it.'" Bvit Margaret clung to his arm — 
"I cannot bear to lose you both," she said, quite rapidly, under her 
breath. 

And in that moment, this man knew what he would have to live 
for. if he lived. But he knew he would not Itt- wortliy of it. if he 
allowed the excuse that he could not release himself without vio' 
lenoe. It was true, for Peggy was no chicken; a great, alrongr, 
splendid girl — more tban a match for many a man of amall 
Rtreuglh, Johnson was <lislini-tly n powerful mnii, but Peggy 
fP'ipi>ed hint tirmly, and it would have to he violence or sub- 
mi ^'lini;. 

"Oh. Hupcrt Johnson — I cannot bear to lose you. Not both! 
Not both!" 

It wax a hard trial. But the cry Peggy had thought waa tbo 
^eep came again. He hesituted uo more. *^Forgiv« me," asid 
he, "for I love you." 

He shook her oS suddenlj- with force; it waa needed. In fact, 
•he sluggi-rrd and fell. She loved him for his strenRth, ond imme- 
diatel.v picking herself up, ran, barely glancing round to see him 
as be wi'iit eautiouidy biircfont down the awful curve, and ran, ran, j 
ran till she reached tfae tighthouse. 



I 



As far as Peggy could remember, after, what happened when 
she got there, screaming — *Thoj-'n! over tbtr cliff — they'ri^ ovftr 
the cliff r — it was in this wise; She ran, crying out continu- 
ally, through a beekyanl devote<l to the cultivation of fuchal 
tnd the washing of rather clean clothes, and was met by their 
ItttiadKai, vtho was large and trustworthy — of that there oould 



I 

r 
heir^ 




i 



ALICE-FOB-SHOKT 111 

be DO doubt I — and nlio iti^tantlj- called out Phaylitn. Some- 
thins wbii"tlcd iind said, "Pst — tiuidc!" Tlitn she wn» tiwur* of 
.Caie — two — ihK* meu in naty biu«— one with a ^rcat bare throat, 
vjth a loHK coil of rope on his shonUlcr. Aud iilthoueh she hod 
the dimtni'ttt impn-ssion of tin." iiuinlMT oiid pemouulily uf iheae 
men, a long scnr on the throat of the ropc-maii that begao undeT 
the vsr am) rndcd un a innssire clavick' was nn cicnr to hrr as if 
abehad not been fainting away. Then things djsupiieared. scar and 
all; but not befon.' she <;iiught iin Irish qiicstifin from the Coaiit* 
guard iaun<lres§ — "Me dyurr — will je fhry thin oiul till ns whera 
your frinds sn-i" She strugglfcl hard to gW words out — she knew 
what to say could she have E|>okc-n, as she had Hrrangt^il it nil 
bcfor*! — but it wn» nsvlcss. Everything rnniehpd as n man's voicp 
ftaid — "No good! Search!" — and was followed by rapid esit and 
running on lh« tiirf outside. Then all became a blank until sfao 
found herself asain in the same place supported by a powerful 
•oapy arm. She was being criticisi-d. 

"She's a darrlin', shurol She'll spake directlyl" 

"She hat got hair, tnl" Tliis wan a Di>vonnhir« acctmt. 

'Te're an impcrrtment maiden! Lave the loeka alon e " 
The Iri"hwfinian had acM-ptrd Home Di-vonahire phrawM evidently. 
"Will ye ibry her again with the rUbs to her lips. Phaylini { Thry 
one little sip, mc dyurr! TbiTc*ii a wnrrld of good in it. Just 

to put the hearrt in ye! That's right! " And PeftRy. more to 

oblige than with any hope of benefit, swallowed the nasty stuff. 
But the Iri&hwonuui was right — within two ciiuuteH, iJiu drew 
a lon^ brcAtii. and the world came back in intelligible form. Sh^ 
■at U]i mill Bimke. 

"Ob, bow good yon are! But they are killed. IknowitP And 
Peggy nut on, dumb, with the weight of all Iciit upon her. 

"Is it your frinds thin, that wint over the cliST You be asy, me 
dyurr! T^ve tbim to the blioya " 

"I irant 10 show you where they are," eaid Peffftj", suddenly 
'; awaking to tlio position and struggling up to her feet. She stag- 
gered and ooUapaed again on a wooden settee. "Ob, in a :niuut«," 
«h« said. 

"It's a «batic« the young men have found them by now. You've 

little call to he nnxious. Miss " But this sort of eonsolatian, 

quawrriug and eon acient ions, doi'a not suit Phflim'a wife, in 
whom Hope eccms a» ntnmg ns her brogue; her husband's is very 
slight. 

"Voti love tbim to the bhoys. me darrlin"! Shure I hear ttsro. 
comiug OD the hand eod. Listen to the f al« oi 'em." %xl\ ^\% '««'^ 



I 
I 



173 



ALIOE-FOH-SnOET 
Peggy hrard no feot. and wanted to go 



«nly ■ pious fiction, 
meet cheni. 

"Not yi-t, mc dyurr!— Ve'II wait here with me, and Phaflim HI 
go. Go uiid mate iIib boys, Pbaylim. AncJ wht-ii ye know, 
whintlc^l ..." I'cggs heard the«e last words somewhat under- 
toned, and fancied s}ii' had not hwtn meant to hnnr th«n. Thi-y 
niiuU- her shudder, though they were hut little in themselves. "It's 
youreilf wiH stay here with nie, quiet like; n«d tlie bhoys II Ih? 
here within tin niiniitps." 

Whether it was teji minutea, or tRn bou», Pi'ggy i-ould not \utve 
giiciwd from nnythintr in the context, but in the end a whistle 
sounded — "Will ye belove me aiiotber time, whin I say it's all 
right f Koid the IriKhwotnnn. "Twiccd whistlin' manes all right; 
watisl is for a casually." she wenl on t'spluiialoriiy. Then both 
ran out rrnssured. There they were coming! But Peggy was 
hysterical and could see nothing, for tears and tht- duxxle of tho 
wcMtfring sun, which wos just in n line with Ihi- coming group. 

"Oh — tell me — tell mel" she cried, "is it a gentleman and a little 
girl I Is it both 3" She caught tlic sou[>y arm, ond detained it. 

"Well DOW. I falc for ye 03 if it was niesilf!" says tbe kind- 
hcartod ercntune. "TIo's comin' down the hill with your little girl 
on his showlthers. pig-a-baek." Whereon Peggy, quite upsel, could 
»lo no (ithcrwiwe than buret into a tornmt nf tear* of joy, and fairly 
throw heriu'lf in her gratitude ou the ample l)oeoia of the Coasl- 
guard'N hidy. "OU, you are so gooil !" nhc i-ricil. But they mwrned 
to take ever so long coming. What a distance she must have run I 

If you feci B little ashnmcd of Pi'ggy for collapsing in tliix 
absurd way, be good enough to remember what she had gono 
through. It seems to us that to sev thi- man whom in her own mind 
and hcnrt she had just mado the most of that any wnmon can make 
of any man — to sec him disappt-ar ovt-r lliut uwful vanishing curve 
to what seemed cprtiiin denlh. and then to mn»tcr the point that shn 
rould not help, and thai ihe iveoreat soonest help m^ist be got; and 
then to run as she ran — it was a good half-mili- ns it proved; — it 
fiurtainly seems to us that all tbia made up about as severe a trial 
as yourself or we coidd grt through unmoved. And Peggy, for all 
Iirr Philosophy, and her great resolutions, had many characteris- 
tics in common with other human women. However, she's all right 
Again now, in the story, and Johnson is comin« down tho hill with 
Alice on his shoulders; and she is even turning over in her mind — 
will yon believe it ( — whether she won't do n little dignity ou tho 
subject of her surrender, It'a so awkward I — she can't even re 
member exactly what she said. 



> to I 



L 



M 

A 







ALICE-FOR-SUORT 

As for Alice, she — poor chilil! — b suiiply in a dumbfounded 
not bj- any mrniiii cirnr nboiil whni \\n* happened. Mnsti-r 
Rupert aloDe is unmoved. lie has got hia boots on asraiu, but is 
hntleML Traces of mcrraiiingA run }«• detected on his wsiatooMt, luid 
is th«N not some blood on his hand IT "Yes — but I didn't get that 
on llw gran," aaj^ ho. "Tbut was an iudependent affair alto- 
getliOT." 

Th«T pass ibroutih thf eardoti and into the lightbounc room wheni 
Peggy fainted. Johnaon spraks first: 

"Vou must fomive me. for the reason 1 said." 

"Forgirc you. Maitter Riiiwrt* What for»" 

"For knocking you down, of course I" 

''Did you knock me downl Alit^' dair, go n!th thia lady, and 
eh«1t let rou wa&h your hands and face in nice warm water. You're 
■11 grubbied and duMed uU over " 

"Shure nod 1 will! And will ye take tayT Thus (bo Irish- 

imKn — who ia ibe inother, it seeuia, of the massive collarbone, 

!io ia not a rmidcnt. but a ydung mnn-of-war"« man ovi-r from 

lymoutb. »n a vLiil. Wa eertiiinly will lake tay altl>out;b it's 
past six o'clock. And the Devonshire irirl dispcrww, to prepare it, 
Phi-lim and th* ihriw young men, all myslerioualy known to Ji>hn- 
son already by their Christian nanics. also disperse, perhaps from 
Bn inatinei. Jobtwun and Pi'trto' are K-ft alone. 

Pesgy wanted in her inmost heart to fling; dignity to Ibo winda — 
but ofae was, as we bnvu lately said, a woman. Johnson dtd not 
feet quite sure ho would not be presuming too much if he took 
h*r for granted in iMliaetluetice of a few ehance words under ten- 
sion of siK-h excititmi-tit. There were tlw mutcriolH for a niiutite 
or two of stiffness. But it could not and did not last tonjc. An 
you Ran guvee at the aort of way iu which it ccHa(^d, (here can be 
no need to tell you. 

"There's Alice coming now." said Penjiy. "Yes — you may call 
me anything you like. It's one comfort I can call you Rupert 
instead of Dr. Johnson, which I hate. It's like Boswclll — Tako 
care, or you'll aeratcb your baud again." For it a|>pcared that 
lh« blood on Dr. Johnson's hand was made by Pcfigy's ring, when 
he dragged his own out of her grasp, and as he said, "knocked her 
down." It wnK Alico'si ring, or what wax to be hi-nt one day, and 
Peggy was wearJnjc it, as she alletced, to keep it aired for her. 

Alice'H aecotint of tltc- nct^iili-nt waa that abe didn't go near the 
, but had doue religiously as she waa told. But the gnuuil 
ao grcatky, that ahe went like boys on a t,W^ K.i\^ ^ 




4 





ALICE-F0R-8H0RT 



Imitated the wRy in whioh sJin Ivgnn 1o slide, imd finnlly wnt 
down on her hands and kntpee. iiul then it wne too late to tavo 
herself, ami ahe went on nnd on, until at last sIh- <T08aed over r 
litlte leilgc nf sheep traclc. She gave the idea that she nji*«e<) it 
with her feet, but partly BlHpixtd herftelf by catching at it with h«?r 
hnnds — perhaps straightening hereelf on the line of the sloiw 
and thereby favouriuK a lower ledKe. on which her feet caught 
and stopped. Ponr AliocI The position was awful. She might 
oven hove died of terror eould she have eonoeived the precipice 
Ix'low. But hnjtil.v for her, ehe did not realise anything worse than 
that there was water there, and she might fall in, A sheer fall of 
two hundred feet diil not i-ome into lier ealenlations. 

"Oh, 1 teat frightened!" said she. "I tried to squeam and I 
Btiueamod — but I couldn't squtram well heoausr I went fwmp, ftimp, 
ftunp — oh, 80 hardl You never, never, never would have fought 
it waa me. to hear it 1 But it was mi?." 

".\nd what happened next. Alice f" 

"Oh. then Dr. Jomson said hold tight and call otit again Alice — 
and 1 said please I waa dovo hero. Theu I saw Dr. Jomeon dig- 
ging in bis knife into the ground," 

"I was obliged to moke one or two holes in tbe ground to get A 
foothold," said he. explanatoriV. Alice went on: 

"Then Dr. Jonison turned upside down, and came down with 
his hands, and cntched tne round here" — grasping hcc wrists alter- 
nately. "And Dr. Jomsou said me to keep quite quit© atill, and 
Wf sould do nithclj for hidf-nn-hour." 

"Yeel And Alice said elie should like to go home please, didn't 
you. Alice?" Alicu nod<lud, with feeling. 

"But I can't understand f said Peggy. "How did you manage 
to hold on!" 

"Why— don't you eeel 1 dug out the«i holes to catch my toes in, 
and went down htuid foremost." 



It 



nasty tnoment before 
felt firm I knew it 



I knew 
was all 



"How awful!" 

"Not a bit of itl There was a 
it would hold — but a* wion a* it 
right " 

"Wasn't it awful when ,vou went down head first)" 

"Tes — till my to<-ii caught the bole* " 

"I don't understand— didn't you put your toes in the 
flrrtt » 

T wanted to — but it wouldn't work. If I had put my toes in 
and kneeled forward on the elope— don't yon seet— I waa afraid 
1 ehouM pitdi forward. And then Alico and I afaouldn't havo beon 



^ 



^ 



ALICE-FOR-SUORT 



175 



liRTT. Wn KlictiM have been bathinff" He iUuatiated Ibe kaeeUiif 
diiBcult.T with Ilia knudclea. Peggy shuddered. 

"But how did you do tbun T' 

'^b— of course I laj down flat on my face nnd wiggled round 
Aiid slid forward — it wax tatbrr nasty till I eaught my tooa in tlie 
holes. If I liadu't. Alioe aud 1 Bbmildu't have hod our tens. 

Eh. Aiicp r 

I'egKJ' is conscious of a feeling of suppressed appUuse among 
the eoastgiinri) foil:. "Tt was a bud plnn-," myn tli« young eailflr. 
"If the genll^mau and the young lady had come wttii a run, lliey'd 
have ovi-nhot tlie U-dgp I was iin, and after that it was str«ig1it 
ss a lead-line down to Uie sea " 

'"It WBS a rare good joh you aigfitt^d 'cm ho »oon as you did, 
Andrew,"' says one of the other rescuers. Then be went ou with 
fuller t'xplnnution lo Pi-ggy, "Ton wf, Mn'aiti — it was in ihis 
wise: Wc kiiew what sort of place it was like lo be in — knowingJ 
Ihc rod(3 well. So Anilrc-w h« wtrut ulwig tint eliff face, uudil 
Kevett here and I we took the taekle along ou tbe hill-top. And 
wbfia wr .ligliti-il ihcni, Andri-w hi- got (o a liKlgu just under the 
little lady to make a sort of stand if tbey was to come free. And 
Andntw lir made thi; line fast to th<' liltlt? ludy, and alie eaine up 
easy. Then we were getting afraid there might bn a casualty, for 
tbo gcntl<-mau was too stiff to inovo. aud we couldn't spare one of 
us from above lo go down and nttncli the line, and wc had to 
*end tht; lint? <lown to Andrew and he couldn't make it fast to 
himself for want of turning room— well, yes I" (this is iu answer 
to a remark of Andrew's) — "you might have come up belike! But 
maybe it whs best to do as you did." 

"Vnmt did you dot" said Peggj: 

"Andrew he siiRg^ted the gentleman might slack out his toea 
and drop down t-^ay. and he'd catch him. And then he made all 
fa«t and wc got your husband up. Ma'om — aud if you osk mtt I 
say it's God's mercy you've (tot him bock." Peggy felt this was 
^gp doubt true in the abatract. but thnt Andrew and the speakerj 
^^Btre eulitled to acknowledgment. "What became of Andrew | 
^Mid she- For she felt he wa« left on a rock-ledge. 

"Oh — Andrew t He wt-nt back ihe way he came." 

Peggy ""d Alice wcr»; both very Unxy by now — but tea, 
seemed to abound, with all its contingencies, in that lightbo 
bad a very reviving i-ff(*t. aud Peggy ft-lt fit to stort for ho 

) ttmel Alice fell into a sound sleep, but this dlda'l xtuAVeti^ 
e Andrew came back witli thiMn, to ehovt a «^M)TV-c^l^, ft.vi&. 
Apr tlie whalf way. Just us they wet« ataTtVtuj YwiJsJ 




n« 



ALICE-FOB-SHOBT 



overbeard their boetess epeaking to tlie coaBtgiuzd who had given 
the narrative of the rescue : 

"Pater I Ton'r© no better than a boim fool I Oan't ye aay with 
your eyesight to discriminate when payple are swateheartingl 
Hosband iudade! Not yet awhile 1" 



CHAPTER XVT 



or HOW BROTHEDS ABE FOOl:^, ASD HOW PSOCT WA8(rt KXACTNt 
^tiAUKD. or AUCe's rAWILY, »UT NOT Ut'OU ^, 

Chulcs's letter to I'cfrti?. with sll sboiit tiiG ghort in it. cam* 
lab! cnoufcb to criMta hera with all »lioiit tlie rescue in it. Neither 
letter was quite bcna-fide, but cacti writer aiipiKisod the rocoivw 
w<ii(!(i n-iiil bpiween the lints. Charlea wrote in the tone of one 
whf> pooh-pnoh? sujicrslition ; yet knew that PeRKj" understood 
him, anil would w^i ihat lie w»H really piiu!le<l, and did attticli 
eomo importance to the story. Pesrjty wrote a full aocount of the 
cliil mtHadvL-uture^ but did nol iDcludn a dcfinitt- !itjttemi;nt of hor 
rriations with Dr. Johnson. She apolonised to herself for doingr 
this by Kivning to ilie fact thnt. ufter all. «Im> wa.i not "ciigiig«d" 
to Master liiipert. Who ever heard of h girl beiu^ engaged to a 
nutn wilboiit her fatbi<r being cnnxulted — or for that mattor, her 
brother) It wasn't even oertniii thai Kupert would ever be able 
to afford to marry. But of eouriu^ Charley would kucss all about 
it I Her letter had too many hints of the stattia-quo in it for him 
not to see wbut was in tin* wind. 

But I'emjy was quite miHtakcn. Charles read her letter tlirotigh 
several tiniea, and waa greatly excited over the stofy of the rescue. 
But he quite missed aceinfi that the circumstances therouf bad 
been accompanied by any unusual effervescence or incan<I<!scr^cii 
of feclinti in two of the actors. Of course Peggy did not write. 
''Dr. JohnHun aatd that lie loved me passionately. Then he 
knocked me down, and went over the cliff with his boots off." but 
ahe did infnse an amount of itu^eation whicJi wpuld have been 
enoufHi for any but a brother. She wanted C'harley to see and 
iindervland, without baviuK to inaku a furniul Htnteininit. Thnt lie 
did Dot may have been partly due to the prominence his mind gave 
to Alice and ber eafety. In fact be thought so much about thi« 
that vben he wrolo in reply ho forgot all about his gratitude to 
Johnson till be came to a postscript. He was eloquent enontiifa 
8i« soon stM he rt-aehed tlic topic — in fact ihcrr wn» iis much post- 
script as pra^script. nearly. But at the beginning he waa too full 
Lof lii« littlo protegee to find n word for bifl friend or hiit aiater. 
''Well — I don't know!" said he to Jeff, in tbe <»va% >A ». cwa.- 



178 



AIJCE-FOR-SHORT 



• 



Tereation shortly after, "pcrhnpB theie mny be nomctliing in it. 
Only (3ou't you go auil say anj-llutig about it. old chap!" For 
he had nmd some portions of Piggy's letter to Jeff, with blanks 
of omiHaioii, and resorvpsi; and had thereby caused hini to oIoao 
one eye with wBperbiiman insight, and eay; "It's tho Doctor!" 
-'What i»r aaked Charles. 
' ^l say. Charley! Draw it mild. Pretendin' you don't know! — 
Jrinipy couple — Hanover Stjuare^HoIy Mutrimoio'! You mark 
■my words, it's the Doctor!" And while Jeff added confirmatory 
nods, and new sagacities of exjireftsiion. Charle>a went over I»9 
letter again, thoii«htfully. Rut, that timo. he only said ho was 
eure there was notliiug iu it, and one wan always suspecting things. 
Mr. Jerrythought said they would see, and for his pnrt he should 
order a button-'ole. to be bef<in--haMii, if he waa going to be aaked 
to the wedding. "Consider yourwlf asked alread_v. my dear Ixiyl" 
said Charles; "but it won't come uff." For Cbnrlt-s hud rcaily 
Iticlieved Peggy had meant all she said. However, he made wmo 
concession afterward», an alHirc ri-conlfd. 

"I shall have to ram it home to Charley," eaid Peggy to her 
lover, when ehn had rciid tlirouRh hi-r brothi-r'n letter to him. And 
fihe deliberately concluded her next letter willi. "Kii|>ert says he 
must be back nt the Hoi^pitnl on Tucmiiiy." Charley wn« then 
alleviating the hardships of Bohemiuui^m by diuinir at home to 
JtetTi his fnlhir coinpany, on the prftext that the old boy must be 
feeling lonesome. That evening it occurred to bim that he might 
c)itablisJi a charactrr for iwrspieuity and experience in msttcni of 
this sort by broaching the tojuc. But, obviously, the proper course 
would be to check the impulae of responsibility until conversation- 
time proper. Aa soon as his meersehnum was lighted would bo 
time enough. Till then, he would be content with feeling (hat 
matters of this sort were serious, and not to be tritled with, and 
did 80 accordingly. But his father took all the edge off his achemev 
by anticipating Ina disclosure: 

"Iley — what waa it, Charley boy!" aaid he. "what your sister 
saysi "We're" not going (o marry, whoever else docs, Becauao 
we're not going to preach what we don't practise!' We're mighty 
fine people, we are! And then we go and fall in lore with a 
doctor!"^ 

Charles's mortification at hanng his beginning Fpoilod waa not 
of a serious sort — but he would console himself a little, and 9>bow 
his experience of mankind, especinlly womankind. "That's jwt 
like a girl, all overl" said he. "But I suppose we're all been 
ej;'ecling it!" 



i4fa 



a 



ALICE-FOR-SUOKT 



179 



I 



L 



"Wo (hall ell say wp have, anjhow!" said his fnlhi?r. "Nerer 
mitui, Cliarluy! I itanwiy wo h«vc." Charles fplt transpnront. 
Hi" father rontinupd: "What's the Doctor!— what's ht- like?" 
Wbert-'oii C!iarl(?>', who(M^ triflinc r^linm* never ptwpcd out of doora 
4n[oc|>t whrn his gcnpTOsily, chivalry, or benevolenot^ wen- usiuflti 
iftr ai meals, broku into a ht-arl-wholo puncjiryrii' iif Johnson. He>^ 
•wan the finest fellow that ever breatlicd. in himself; tht* ableatr 
in mcdidne and surgcj?'; ibv moitt si-lf-siicriliciiig irtccters wllliin' 
Chark*'* caqwriencc. But he wns too honest to get on in his pro- 
fesaioQ — not balf-biiiiibu)r enough! And liia motbtT und ni'lera 
wen- dcptoidcnt on him, and be would always bo as poor as a rat. 

"Very f-ood testimonials, anyhow." said hi§ father, "I'vo got 
aomc more in bcrr." And hp prodviei'd letttra written from Sbclla- 
«ombe by "ihe boys" — whom, by the way, owinjt to the cumbroua 
extent of lliia large fiiniiiy we Imve not In'en nble to mention, 
ta for. They wert"- respectively Kobcrt, fifteen, and Dan. ten; and 
£11en rntni- betwei-n tbtra. They bud eoiue to Shelluuunibt' on 
the very day of the cliff accident, with their tutor, Mr. Capel 
Wridht. All the jiarty had gone next day to innpect the soene 
of the accident, and to bunt at the fool of the cliff for Dr. John- 
ton't hat; and these letters contained full, if obscure, particulars, 
interlaced wilh pnnegyrie of Dr. Johnson: and ending u|> with 
bow he and Pe^gy Rot left behind and cut off by the tide, 
and would hnvc hud to wnde tlirough the water and i>po!l their 
things only luckily there waa a boat 

*^iiy I see Peggy's own letter!" said Charles when ho had run 
bis eye through his younger brothers'. 

"Peggy's <nrn It-tterl What letter? Oh— Peggy himu't writlm 
to roe— not she! Fra supposed to know nothing about it. It's not 
■uppoaed to fxist, I believe. I've your mother's k-tler" — wbii.^ 
be handed over to his sod. 

C"n.iid<-n.fl as n report nf what waa occurring at Shellocombe. 
Mrs. Heath's letter was unsatisfactory, Considercd a? an indicl- 
mviit uf her lin!i!>iind for not interposing to prevent a variety of 
things which she did not describe, it was maslcriy. "I am sure t 
waa ri^ht in nayiug to Mnrgnret" (so run the letter) "that you 
would not approve of i*hat is noing on; but that I could my 
nothing. My eliildr^-n mujil go thc-ir own way. I hav« no authority 
with them. But 1 have notliing to say aicainst Dr. Johnson per- 
aonnlly. He apiiefrH to be without family eonnediou or meanSa^B 
beyond his prospects in his pr<ife8sion. In addition to this thcy^B 
have only known fuidi oiher eight nionllw. BviV ni <miit%k W ftM. 
approve of it, J hare uotbing to say. I nm. nwiti^ >^vt \oa'^ns£<< 




ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



1 anjr^l 



1 bsvo Inid litiTgttrvt that I hnvn no monns of knowing 
your wifihefi are. liut that for my own part 1 cannot eanetion 
thing raxk. And ihin 1 hnv<j Miid, thai 1 think it my dulj- to sj^-uk 
plainly aa a mother (however much I may be blamed for it) and 
to say tbat I am not able to fonn anjr opinion whuti!vcT of tlio 
dcvirnbility or otherwise of Ch*. Johoaon, as I have not been con< 
suited; but that a daughter's first duty, before allowing hprsclf 
to fonn an atlachmeut to any man, is to obtaiu the consent of 
her pairntii. liiit that if my husband think* otherwise, it is my 
purl lo defer to him " Cbarlea atoppisi reading. 

"I think 1 must havp bcfiun in the middle," said ho. "Isn't 
then' a sheet before this!" 

The old gentleman, evidently much amused. Bat polishing his 
eyeKlasses. "Not a bit of itl" said he. "That's your mother all 
oTer. The b<!St of living women, my dear boy; the very best I 
But she ain't by way of being consecutive. That's the beginning — 
where you started." 

'1 don't think," sai«l Charles, meditatively, "that I should like to 
marry ii girl who axked her parents' leave to fall in love. She would 
be such a very cool customer. I wonder if Miimmn did so her- 
wlfr 

"I happen to be able to UiW you." said his father, who was ehuck- 
ling to himseJf eo that his speech came by instalments. "Your 
mother refused (o introduce me lo her (iiHrcnti! until she Imd quite 
made up her own mind. I sihall tell her Fve told you that." And 
Mr. Heatli laughed till he waa obEigud to lay down his cigar, and 
pull out his silk handkerchief t« wipe his eyes. As soon as he had 
recovered, he pii6fM) again peacefully. "The best of living women, 
my dear boy." said he again, "only not exactly n born logician," 

"Here's Peggy's own letter lo me." said Charles, producing it. 
Tlis father settled down to read it comfortably, through the newly 
polished ej-eglasBCs, while Charles sucked ut his meerschaum in 
Hik'iice. lie folHixl it up when he had finished, and handed it back. 
"TesI" he said, "that seems to me pretty dear. 1 shall have an 
official visit from the Doctor. And • long lettei from the Mir* '* 

"What shall you say to himP* 

"Ob^of enurse 1 shall refer him (to your mother. The women 
settle all these things. Your motlier wants to put it off on mc, 
that she may wig nw! afterwards. But I won't be let in to sa.ving 
anything; beaidea, the young people wouldn't pay the alighteat 
attention if I did. Ycm can't control a young couple, auy more 
than yon can a mad bull." 

Ch&rJes saw that botvccn tho two atools the young ooop!* 



ALlCE-FOR-SnORT 



181 



wouldn't fall 1o lh(> irround, but would go to the nltnr. He kUd- 
quielwd tht- rule t>t ibe far-aighlL-d miui d{ the world, which was 
mdier nrlilicia); sod ho wt(« nil Ihc nict^r ns nhsolutv trutli fulness 
dawned, with » amile, ou his countenauc^. "I reilly was telling 
fibK,'' nniit hp, "when I Knid I'<I hn^n c-sptwliiig it In fact. JeS 
found it out before 1 did. — Oh no I — I didn't tvad the whole of tho 
letter to .Ti-JT." 

And when he xot back that ^vcoinft to the Bohemian home, ho 
found Pt^Kr"" IfttiT tlmt Bupertod lier lover without «ruple, aod 
f«h llie whole aSair wae settled. 

It must be much easier to write fiction than Ilietorj' — to put in 
and leave out iticideiila at {ileusurv. There are no many ihing*^ 
that happened to the people wr nr^- writing shout that have no rcol^ 
eoniveclion with what (iu fiction) would be the plot, so called, of 
the «tory; hut thnt lay dnim to short parngmphs nn the senrr of 
their fictuality. and tfarealen the conscience of the chronicler if 
I omtltMl. Ought hi; not to record this, or Ihutl 

For iastaace, the incident of Mr. C^pel Wright, the tutor. Pe^m 
waa vtry sorry for it. She hftd rfattg bcfln ptirf<'ctly unconacioua. 
"There must be some man — somewhere — that isn't in love with 
one!" Niid slic, pilfouuly, when Ell^n dtwcmdod on her with tfao 
uewa that Mr. WriRhi had written to bep off completing his eugaice- 
ncnt on thr vorc of s fnmily distraction. "You know what ikai't 
all about — with your Captain Bradleys and .your Robert Forrcsta 
and your Mr. Jerrylho lights" ; which last aocunntion prnvnkcd fbVH 
nearest approach to indignation un,v one so comic could warrau^H 
followml by the despairing rxpri'juion of conviction recorded above. H 
Ellen pounced upon it as so much vanity on the part of her sister; ^ 
and udiibited lier to Eiiroiie, *a to speak, hb & jn.v in pr-ncock's 
fetithera — whieh was unfair, after the form her reproat^het) had 
taken. What amount of truth there was in her suggestion about 
our friend Jeff wf e-annot say. He certainly was not so sensitive ot^l 
Hr. Cape] Wriiiht, whose defection wae universally laid at Pt-ggy'^H 
door. She was very unpopular with the boys after the diNippear-S 
I ance of their tutor and master, and bad to puss o life of penileDCttH 
and apology. Her mother dieccrn«l in the number of Peggyi^l 
I admirers a repetition of her own experience, but without tlie aan»-" 
I excuKCK. Her fntJicr naid they wero six of one and half-a-dosen 
f of the other. 

y There wiw n cttrtain amount of occurrence also connoct«d with 

I Alice's famil}-. Her father the tailor had a haU-bcoVWt tUDaMe& 
1 Jonathan, suppow.'d by Alice to be called ao tio\ wV] Vnca.'naKi "bib 







' 



n-as stinU-sl in quantity*, but because wliatever waa the natural 
Icnicth of his limbi* they bad not been made in puim — one Jcg 
being very mudi aborler than the other. anJ one arm perceptibly 
so. Alice in her own mind imagini-d that Jonntlinn, wbui ut 
home or iu society, would mentiou Samuel as bis whole brother. 
She bad scarcely wrn bim at any time, nnd had only one elca* 
memory of him — when he came one day (before No. 40) to quiirrel 
with her fathar, upparentty about smniethiug that was spoken of 
by both aa "the document," aud undernlood by her from its 
Hoiind In be Homothing euch sujd tlm ollurr nioiint. while he him- 
self meant somethiue else. It was a dock or a dog; or both, if 
they were referring tu different things. Alice inclined to tlic latter; 
the first beinic unfamiliar. 

Thi« Jonathan Kavnnaeh (he. was the non of Alice'a grand- 
father) was identified aa her uncle after the iuqueat as soon as her 
mother wnx lit to make an inltilligiblt- titutcdnrnt ul>out her belong* 
iTi;j>s. It was not thauRht well at first to press her for more than 
pitrlieulant of the quurnd. After her death he i-aine by Bppoint- 
ment to see Charles at the Sliidio with refereuce to Alice. He 
abandoned hiH claim |o giinnlinnahip with ahicrity. Trade, ho 
said, irae very bad — hadn't ever beeu so bad to his knowledKe. He 
wasn't culled on to take nnoUier inmate. He might have donu 
otherwise had trade been good. 

"He's an undertaker, it seems," aaid Charles to Peggy, report- 
ing the visit. ''If people would die a little faster, he would talk 
to Mrs, .Tonathiin, otu! see whnt could be done. Bui with this njii • 
ous ejiidemic of immortality going on, where are youl" 

"I auppoae," anid Peggy, "there are too many nmlprtukers. Just 
as tbme are too many everything elscB." Here followed a slight 
Bpaam of what hus been called PopnlBtion-on-tbe-Brain; but ber 
itnmediatc interest in Alice quieted it. 

"Oh no!" replied Charlea. "the human race is boycotting the 
iindrrlakera out of spite. Only it must have been goiitg on it 
long time. They said at the abop lliat their Mr. Abraham had 
called on thin man to see if be would do anything for his half' 
brethren — a long time ago— and be excused himself in the aamo 
way." This was at the clothier's in Oxford Street, where it may 
be remembered Charlea went to grt information about lh« 
Kavonaghs. 

"I suppose," Pepwy then said, "that if this man, or an; 
relations that can be found, refuso to do anything for the chi 
they will fortwo all claim upon her!" 

"They could have no real claim, as a matter of right and wrong 



, Ibo 

otbfl 
chil^ 



ALIOE-FOR-SHORT 



IBS 



—but of counc t«w wouldn't bother about th«t Wr had hcltnr !ct 
It al«n«. They won't trouble ual" 

So sftpr cnllinff at Ilydr Piirk Gardens at Charles's 8ugg<*tion 
"to satisfy himself" that Alice was in good hands, and at the 8iig*M 
gcftion of hin inurr will that lie might Icnvc r curd nnd perhaptt^ 
uhijtiately bury tlie fainilj-, Mr, Jonalhun Kavanagh retired to 
d^voti- liimMcif to thp rclntivcs of eslnblirthnl corpM'ti, nnd to hope 
that thc-y would soon follow the )[ood example set by the latter. 
After thin Alictr'ii Rummunic^niioua with ht-r wurtwly known family 
were of the aliirhtest. The brother at tlic I'cckbam clothier's cer- 
tainly Bpponrcd. but it wub to [loint out ihot he wiia sliortly going 
to set up for himself and that it wouldn't be "fair upon him" 
that Aliot' -ibuuli) "utand in his way." Cliarli-s txtinguii'lH.-d him 
rapidly, to hip (treat relief, a* it selSah young !>egi[iir. The dry- 
(oltcr of RolhiThithi- oame alsti; he rental bis inability to eonlrib- 
Ute to his winter's support on the fact that he was only in the yard- 
Whtrreasi had he bwu in the Orfice it would have ln-iyi enother pair 
of shoes. "lie didn't give me the idea," said Charles, "that dry- 
•alting Ktimulatcd ihn uudcmtanding. I ertdeuvourvd to find from 
him what the difTerenee was between drysalting and wetaaltinic, and 
he fxnwnt"! that he wim only in the yard, but they could tell mo 
in the Orfuv. So neither of ua having any more to say. we parted 
CD good temm," 

The eheei»emonger never put in an appearaneo. This was so 
much the better! He wan only twelve years old, nnd would hnvfl 
excited commiseration, and called for succour. The only on«^ 
Alice «ccm4xl to entrrtniu hh n-nl flmti Hnit blood wax a young H 
sailor, the next in age to the drysalter. who was nineteen: he wag 
K h<^ro in h<^ eycn, who having dirpartud on hi* last voyage for 
SiDgapore was identified in her mind with that port, which waa 
voniurquentty rather laid claim to na an nppunagc of her family 
wbeu it accrued nnder Miw Petherington. She felt quite at 
home, did Alice, wlien Singapore appeared u* Qi»igraphy; alio 
having only known of it as a real place people's brothers could 
ICD to. 

That cxhaualA nil that came to light about Alice's belongings. 
Charles's imprcHsion was that they genernlty felt that Alice watf^| 
quite too Hmidl to bother about. They hu<l other tish to fry, and aha^ 
was a tittlebat. Also they were not going to givr the parties that 
had tooJt her up any excuse for putting her down. They kept out 
of tba way. The eldest brother lni<l claim to the Krapa of furni- 
ture. «nd Clwrlea purchased of him the table in "«Vttc\v Xifc *■&& 
Pefts; had found tjju pictures of the youDg Qoti\ema.iu \v '«%& ^ 



1S4 



AXICE-FOE-SHOHT 



good substantial table with drawers, and would be useful in tlie 

Studio. 

. Well 1 All these little matters, or nearly all, belong to the claea 

of incident that are not necessary to the story, but that seem to 

claim a passing word. The claim being now satisfied, the Story 

tn&y go on from where we left it. 




CBAPTER XVn 

L^riXlA STIUKCBI Or «IS8 THISKLTON's VBOnLE. HOW 
lARLES HAD BETTEat 00 TO tmELLACOUBE. OF REGEMT3 1-AKK AtfU 
A OOU, UE SAV TUEItE 

Whfj^ Charles. letuminK to his Studio that niglit (or momiuR, 
for it wna well p»st miilnigbt), ivtid that coiicliteivR letter of liiit 
sJBter's, bo esperienced a etiie^ of iBc^ration which ma^ be familiar 
to many who hnrr hvrn in liki! cune. Qiiitv 8ii<ld(-iil.v. nod Juot a* 
tbougfa it was all a matter of course a vtrj doar sifter is to be 
tftk«n from un. She was with us in the iiurftery — has liorii with 
us ever aince; she has ehored all tbo hurdcnn. all the sorrow^ nil 
the jo.vs, of our babyhood and boyboiAl; and if the vbancc-> of the 
curnTHt of life hare drifted us more apart ns boybocid chaujuwd to 
maahood. and the g:tr1 became a woman, still we bavc floated down 
in iQi<l3<tream tngirther and uever quite lost toticb. And then, all 
in a moment, the old epoch has ended and a uew one has beicuD. 
The foot of a alrniiger is in the home of oiir fnthent. We may 
lore bim. admire and respect him: it does not malterl This was a 
littl*! Mcrvd comer— « side ehapet in the Temple of Life, and was 
so bespoken by ue for a privatu ri^fugp. n siri^iirt- biiven from itttina 
and wreck, that the incoming of anj- other bas little less than tbe 
force of au eviction to ourselves. We n(«d not wonder tbot 
Charles felt raw and rebellious, as be went to t«d; nor that he paid 
very liltl« attention to a letter containing n patiictic request for 
ten potmde. "/ know.*' said he, partly interpolating, partly reading, 
the nctunl text, "it's going to save the writer and her widowed 
nodwr from an execution at the hands of a cruel creditor, whose 
demand for twcnty-seveu pounds thirteen and sixpence hns been 
scraped together, all but nine pounds nineteen and threepence, h; 
lianl work and strict economy — but which hns to be sntistii.-d with- 
out fail by the day after to-morrow at mid-day. Just the usual 
thing! BotlMT Lnvinia Stralccrl" xnid be. "I know no Lavinis 
Straker," that being the signature of the applicant. 

IStaA morning be fult chilly and grown old. He said to him- 
self (probably with truth) that if he had not been ci;fMCt.\nft % 
Model to sit for the bead of Itc^u in bift picluto ol \k»^ vc& 

18$ 




k 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 

Cordelia, h* would rertoinly hnvo "yliiicfc<'(J" work, nnd gnnn for 
a walk <i> Hainpfttoad [lealh. It was eo jolI>- this time of }-car with 
the Icflvc* drifting about and nobody in town. 

Cbarica vena naUy fonder of dreaminft than action. Hla iniud 
vaa alwaffl at work, but the riridnvM with which imaAe« presented 
themtclvN to biin wna mialoudtnt^; and be — piHir fellow I — had had 
tbe misfortune to construct a vivid imaiie of himself as an 
Artint, whioh it wnH quite bi^yond hi* powcra to )nt<^rprct into 
action. His Kuardiau Angel was not on the alert, or had lost 
touch with him for n moment, when he wicctcd his profession. 
He had tluceived othi-rs, a^ well ua biuiseli'. For thoufili In.* 
was defcclivp in mfvhniiical aptilHdo, he had, as a boy, suificicnt 
to mulut drawitiKs which showoil indiriiltiality and powor in tlio 
mind of thoir author of a certain sort. Was it any wonder 
that bis fumily and hia frit-ndd tboughl they could foTCmxt a futun! 
for bim in Art? If only ho could acquire the mere technical 
facility — luiyboily can do tlmt with jH-rscvfrnnni! What mnkcjt 
the Artist par f^xcellencc is not vulgar accuracy of eye and dex- 
ti'rity of hand; it in the mind that lies behind vinion and mampu* 
lalioii. Tbi;«e latter can be Irninpd, But the Prom<i(lK-an fire, or 
Inspiration, or whatever you like to call it, that distinguislics 
Phidias from Fiddlcstlickn (wn know wc are eafe in tbat solecUon 
of a name— there is no such sculptor) — this quality is inborn; and 
when ynu suspect ila exitttcnoe ibo best thing you can do ta to 
develo)) its indispensable concomitants, and give it a chance to 
ftBW-rt ituplf. 

Very much the best I But do you do it by ooumea of chalk 
dniwing from tbi' Antique (a singular name for all that in, in 
plaster) with a plumb-bob to show you what is exactly above what. 
and a conviclion ibnl if a drawing cannot hf. savixl exactly by bread 
alone, it can. at any rate, by bread (not too new) in combination 
with atippUngt Or will the end be attained by Mudy in a School, 
where there are as many different systems as there are teachers, 
of which [lyiitcms tlie totid. minus one. must needs be misleading 
system?) We are only asking these questions apropos of the ways 
in which nt- know Charlos studied the Fine Arts — of the better 
ifyiitems that have superseded Ihem we know nothing whatever. All 
our datn an- of bygone ages, and no doubt we should be pleasaully 
aur|iriscd if we ooutd see and know what is being done in the Arts, 
nowaday a. 

If Charles could have had half-a-dozen Icaaous in th« um of 
colour from — whom sliall we snyt — QncntJQ Matsys will do na well 
as another — so as to grasp the iieceaatty for ore and nn-tbod — for 




W AUCE-FOR-SHOKT 18? 

(Waning ea*b <iay'§ work as ibc precureor of the nes(, he catght 
at least hnvc learned how to Icnm, if thi- Antwerp blii<;k«niith 
hndn't been able to five him another eis kssone. But his course 
of Btudy <xiDt«ined nothing Ihnt forcird thii nM-dn of hi« work 
upon him, and it was not in him to find them out for himself, as 
gKAt artist? whcwo studcnwbip wnn hnlf-ii-eimtury ngo bad to du. 
S<) lit: nov<T really learned his trade at all I He revelled in the 
•antcmplation of the invnt workii hi- wan giiing to paint, and tho 
ordi-ring of unlimited materials from fascinatino: ArtistB' Colour 
Shops ; and he spntiged and Flammnd about royally with the coloun, 
used anyhow, when he got tlieni. Bat he never organised anything, 
nor perceived that he wn? only inaiciiig piclimiiMir;' messee on 
iTonvas nitli a vii-w (o eouwrting tht-m to sometbiu^; else, later on. 

He had, ready for total modification, a preliminary mea« of this 
Kort in tlie bead of R<^m in tlu; pit-ture of T^ar and Corddi* 
above mentioned: and on this momini::. nhen he felt so ehilly and 
grovD old, ht! was expettinf; a nTiain IrlJHs Thiuelton to come and 
be painted a« Rcinin. Miss Thiselton was that very common oecur> 
n-ncn — s young woman in rcfKiecd circuinstaacca, who wonid bo 
thankful for sittintfe if it waa quite ctearl.v understood that she 
wann't a MoiU'L 8hi: drew a sharp line at hrr neck and wriittx and 
r«|uircd & certificate of dioraoter from Artlsta before she sat for 
tbi-tn. 

Keal 3(odels are prone to begin talking in an Imbecile wfay the 
momnnt they enter the Studio, and rontinue until they depart 
Uiae Tbisclton, not beinjt a real Model, held her tongiip al first, 
So an opportunity is giTen of describing her when her face i" at 
reet. which ia her best aspect. As she ia sittiuf; for Regan, the 
reader may likn to form a judgment of Charlcs'e injsigbt into 
Shakespeare. 

Ton know tliow hcnds that disnn and fascinate when tho face ia 
turned full on, and disappoint when the aide-viewa are rwealed 
Inter I And also thoKe whose profiles are full of glorious promise, 
with O such a dreary oome-down to follow when you get at both 
eyca at onoel It would be unfair to place Mise Thiselton's in the 
latlor ctaaa, without rttu-.Tvi:*. But though she owned two beautiful 
side-fac«s, one on either side, they marrt'd her full faee. when 
aubmitted to ihct same speclntor. by their diSerenoo of opinion 
about what it was to be. She did not squiiil — abeit omtn.' — but 
both bor fine eyea could hardly rest upon yonr face at once, as long 
as abe continued a mere acquaintance. Focus forbade it. The 
iotomtins rippln on her interesting hnir consoled o^e fet ^w 
defect, and tn fact was one of Uias 'niiM\Uii\'& <^gI vWw^a ^n 



J 



186 ALICE-FOK-SHOET 

beauty — and was always busy correctins mistaken Impressioni. It 
was lii-lpcd hy ■ i>Hrti[;iilurl.v pretty pnir of soft white ban& with 
filbert nails, and an iniplicatton ot a very gtHxl trj-ing-ou %ur«' 
tor a tnantic department. 

Bcffan was sticking her chin out apparently, at the montent 
choacD by tlie artist. Miss TluMtlton liicn-fore is duing so too, 
about balf-an-hour after her arrival, Charles havini; taken all tJiat 
lime tnixins up Besb-tiuts; wbiclt hv won't bi; able to use, becautw 
he can't use any tints at all; hut whioh no arlist could possibly use, 
ux(%pt on th(! by^iuthesis tliat C<irrugf;io (for instance) couldn't 5rc. 
We all know how our chins got the beet of us and protrude while 
tluT (Inclor i* f(.i>ling our pulst;, in anticipation of the word of cuin- 
mand to put our tongues out. Evea so Ilegan, as interpreted. 
But in order to do absolnle justice to the conception, and acliicv« 
the uictftii:!^ of u olosu rendering, it is necessary that iit>guu should 
HUnd lip. It i« not clear whj-. for thti srtii^ apiienra to be work^X 
lag quite independently of the model; and, to our thinking, the V 
girl might just as wwll have unt down. But sho didn't, and th<! 
consequence waa — an occurn-nve not at all infrequent under the 
circumstances — that she became dizzy and ultimately pitched hoad- 
lung down ofl ihn "throne" she was standing on. Charles was j'lut 
in time to catch her, and save her from a bad fall. To his great 
emWrraHmcnt. instpxd of pulling herself togi^lher. nml saying 
she would he all right directly as a sensible youii^ person would 
have done, she remained on his bonds; either really inanimate, or 
pretending to he so for some purpose best known to herself. Our 
own opinion is that there is no necessity to suppose the latter. 
The faint may have been genuine enough. No suspicion to th« 
contrary crossed Charles's mind, but he was mightily emharrasswL 
He didn't understand this sort of thin); at all. and was in two 
minds whether he should not summon help. There were no women 
within call except the tu'i> lady-artiste upstairs, and soineliow lie 
didn't think he should improve matters by going to them. He was 
saved from further s|ieculatic>n l>y the young woman coming to Iwr 
Honsi'ii. She would he all right soon if she sat stUl and rested for 
a few minutes. Charles would have been much better sati.ifieil 
that slie should dcqiart. and suggested a cab home. But ho could 
not say he couldn't work, if she felt able to resume sitting; and 
he could do no less than be amiable, under the circumstances. So 
he lit a pipe and went on with Regan, unassisted by Nature. 
Nature sal on ajid rested, but this permitted much more (nawn'a 
inftnte than is pomiblc when Nature's fact- has to keep still or 
Bome terrible mishap, undcUncd, will occur in the euhtle and 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 

(ielicratc opf^ration? of tlie canvas. Charles felt that if speech naa 
otil,v n!IrcT in thin case, silence was copper, nnd dccidial on giuiirrul 
OOVrerBation. with a sort of flavour in it of his boin^ quite accue- 
tomed to l)ii« Aort of tbiii^ and l)eing, an it were, n murriixl man 
with several RTown-up daiighlere. 

"Getting ni?ht agutn. Miiw TbisL-ltont Thai'* rightt Now you 
had much ix^t«r tnke my word for it, and have a little brandy in 
thai eold water. Du try ill" This with an afttHrlution of gri-at 
responsibility about sgmething in Itrg^n's nose, and without look* 
lag round to see if Nature would take the braudy- Churlca him- 
eMfy wished his relations with his fttmnle Models to rpinoin im- 
personal; as impersonal at any rale as tbey would p&niiit. H» 
wa.iii'l at nil indigi'noii? in Bnhcniin, and was much Ii-hh popular 
with them than hia friend upstairs. 

"Oh nol" rcjilied Nature, "do please take it away, Mr. Iloath. 
It makes me ill again only to look al it! Are ,vou a good sailor f 
Charles removed tlii^ hmndy- bottle without replying to the ques- 
tion; but presently said, as though it had taken a long time to 
reach him — "No, very bad — that in, pretty good! 1 suppose the 
brandy made you think of tbatl" — Beeause his not liuviiig on- 
am-riHl madf him ncora to himself nrcdleasly distant, almost uncivil. 
After all. tiifre icmi a half-way between being grumpy with Nature, 
without which your work lacked an indescribable something, and 
taking it tu Cremariie or Roaberville. 

"I did think of the Channel boot." said Miss Thiselton. But 
she was not a real professional Model; so she seized the occasion 
for a certain amount of rcsrrvr, and remained silent accordingly. 
The effect of thia on Cluirles was that he decided (hat slie was 
quitfl mfe to be at ca«e with, and that he had been a donkey for 
being so aliff. Tie would talk a lillle. Wlint should he talk about? 
Siippoae he tried the ncqnaintnnee who h.id sent this iliss Thtsi'l- 
toH to him. There could be no pilfaila and snares there. He was 
a man he haci met once at an Arts Club be had joined some timo 
^ince. of whom be knew as little as the circumstances allowed. 

"What sort of work does i(r. Gnlsworihy do)" He asked it in 
the tone of one wtio liaa selected a topic of conversation — you 
know how one speaks when ono has selected a topic} 

"Do yo;i ra<-an Mr. Calthwrpef 

"Ah — to bu aure^ — Calthorpel What sort of pictures does hn 
paint r 

"Oh <ieiirl Poor Mr, Calthorpc!"' This vrith a smile of commis- 
eration. Charles ini mediately felt anhunx^d of not having known 
Calthorpc waa a dufler, and threw a alighl clftVm Xo VkB.V\a% vcn^ 



4 



lOO 



ALICE-FOB-SHORT 



m 



conceated (lint IcnowkdRp into an "nlil" of nsscnt. The ^aiii 
Indy nrwpfd) thi.i us valid, ami proptiyUsi to intensify ilisparBec- 
ment of Mr. Calthorpe's pictiirt;g by concessions in thp way of con- 
oulntion. The iiictiirea cmiWn't Iw hclptsl; Imt we could exaggvrnie 
personal testimonials, as a sct-otT. 

"1 rwslly oiiKlit nil t" say so Uioitgh; lie's been so very kind to 
me. He really is the Itiudest hearted man, Mr. H^ath " 

"No doubt he iwi't." 

"I iee your pardon T' 

"I nii-'aa he i* — i>f course he is! T uaed the wrong word." 
Charles wasn't paying altcntioD. 

"Yce^ip's bci'n very kind to me. And of course I abotiM ba 
sittinc for him still, but " 

Cbiirlca wasn't on ihi- aWt. lie ought to bn^e broken in anj 
asked if Nature felt equal to etnndinK up with its ehin out aitain. 
Miss Thiselton. not being opfioiwd, wi^nt on aftfr a Mligbt hesi- 
tation; "IJut my mother wished me not to ait for him any nuHte — 
I dareany it was nil rigbtl" Shc^ made a prctencfl of ^carins 
away thii ^tection of the Gonvereation to make room for eome^ 
thing cnlintly new. 

"Do jjou know Mr*. Calthorpe. Mr. Heath i" 

"Not the Ica^l 1 Never Mcn herT' He was so absent, or Renan 
so <'ngrosttinp. ihat he quite f.titi-d to 6<>e lliat the clearing up 
movement had not been bona-fide. It wasn't! 

"Ah — llwrn .Tou wouldn't know — of cotine you wouldn't 1" 

"Know what V 

"I oughtn't lo aak. Ntiver mind !** It was obvious at this point 
that pn«a«r» for information oURht to follow; otherwise reJa- 
liona might become alraincd. Cbnrlca aciiiiiesM^d. but without 
intciT«t. 

"Oh— hut I do mind! What wouldn't I know?" 

"I know I may trurt you not to repeat anything I say. Whedter 
Mrs. Caltborpe is — is eonsidered — is at all a jcoloiis person?' — 

I*t no male human creature — even though he be an Arch- 
bishop I — imagine be can restrain a live fcinulc Model who has 
mndir up her mind to talk about ladies and gentlemen. Further, 
let him not suppose that when once she has suof-eedt-d in givini^ 
the convewwtion a foothold in the departments of huninn life (hat 
range from Arcadia to the Divorce Court, he or imy one else will 
Buceefd in preventing her from bringing hersrlf in. eitlier as part 
of the cast or as an example to her species. Mis^ Tlusi'iton hod 
made up her mind that sbe wnnn'l going to talk Thcolo(t>' («u; 
•re put it that way), and she' 'l going to let Charles ofi. 



I 



1 



p 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 191 






'Do you think she's jealous. Mr. Heath!" she repeated. "But 
you don't know her, of course— — " 

*^0W should I know anytliiug about hett Fra only seen him 
at the Obb." 

"I wish you had seen her. because you could have toUl me, and I 
should bar4^ trusted t/oji." Thiii ptnoed the speaker — as one of the 
lonelr and defenceless, u-ho in a world of traacheiy had Hght^N] on 
a rtcrlinn smil akin to hi^r own — in the ranke of friendship at 
ItuM. Wberntis Clwrlea had harguiui-d only for tbi- privik^i of 
oontemplatinf; a good-looking head, for purely technical purposes. 
at the rate of ocur KUiUitit' per huur, and refreshments if its owner 
sat on into the afternoon. 

"I'm a very bad judgu of choracler," said fac^ endcavouTiuK to 
extricate himself. 

"Oh, do you think sot But you could have told ma if it was 
tme about the li!(enc«a " 

"What Ukt-nt^!" 

"Tbe likeness to mc. Hr. Caltfaorpo said his wife was an ugly 

likeness of mcl At least, the pro&le was " Charles looked 

round to see whai Urs. Calthorpe was like. Verdict, be should 
^'draw Uies Thiselton's side-face as soon on ho had got rid of R^an. 
t really was lovely, now lie came to look at it. You didn't sec tho 
stiflfbt defect in the eyes in this view, and the lar^ iIro)>ped eye- 
lid was very good, with just a trace of blue vein viiiible. It is tha 
artist's misfortune that however much pains be takes to fix up his 
model, Nutum (when it gets down to rest) always contrives to 
erolve something better. For the moment, Charles judged it 
safest to get Natun? re-r-stnblis!iOfl ns Regan, heeause lie was l>e- 
'eoming slowly conscious that Miss Thiselton. anchored in an arm- 
diair, and giving way to a form of tittle-tattle uncougcninl to liim, 
was not business. However, Regan did not last very long, turn- 
ing visibly bin*' again after standing for a few minutes. "Per- 
haps it would be better not to try any longer," said she. "I am so 

Very sorry, Mr. Ifcatb. but I didn't sleep lust night " Charlea 

said never mind — come again on Thursday. Or on Friday, same 
liroet Yes, she could come on Friday, unless — "Unless whatl" 
asked Charlei?. Unless nothing, apparently. 

Just as Miss Thiaelton was on the point of wltlidrawing finally, 
she turned round to Charles une)t|)ected!y — "I hoj)© you an? not 
nngry with mc about that tetter," she suiil. Charles was completely 
uuled — a little afraid the young woman's bead was unsound. 
"What Ictterrhposkrd. 

"AleUer 1 wrote asking you tn lendmc mowtj. \ wa w* w^'^m*^ 




]9S 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



1 



and woTTy now. 1 know I ought not to huvc done it. But ymi 
to kind " 

"I luivp nfTiT linci any letter." — Cburles piillfd out one or two 
papers from Ills pocket, to see if ho had overlooked or absorbed 
romcthinp wittxiiit knoninj; it. But therv wss notliiiifi!. to all surrm 
inff. Miss ThiMlton, however, pointed, and said. "That one there— 
thiTc it in!'* 

"But this isn't you, MiM Thiselton. This ia — wbat'a her name 
Lnrinin Strnkcr. You'rt^ not Lnvinin Struker " 

"Oh dear — how stupid of mel 1 signed my own name, and I 
ought li> have KJgiicd the luune you know me by. Do you know, 
Mr. Ucalh, I quite loat my hcjid yesterday 1 You would forgive 
n)<r if yon knew — I thitik I bnve not gol quite right yet— talking 
as 1 dill just now about that Mrs. Callhorpe. But you do forgive 
met" Tliis as if tlutt wua Hwr Kiilly importiint point. 

Oharies's recent dose of this yoiinn woman's profile and trans- 
pnn-iii eyftlid just atoppwl bis Haying to bimM.-lf tliut she. was an 
outsidiT of hia soul, and be really hadn't leisure either for blame 
or forgiveness, Tbi"y (.■crtainly euutd not huvt- c«mi> inti> court 
earlier, even after the young lady had pitched her^'lf into bis 
arms off tlie throne. For tIiot;gh no <loubt what wc liuvc htard 
froni a heroine of a stage love-story is true, that if you can once 
makp "him" carry you across tlit- -ilrt'et, or uptitairii or down, or 
Buatnin you when insensible — it will Rive you an immense advan- 
tti^ later in engaging his aRiKitions, even if tlw^v »r<.' not cn(«nglcd 
right off: though we quite admit thi*. there is n diHorence when 
it'll rIbowM — panlon our homely way of putting it! We mtian tlint 
Charles's chief experience of the tumble wan a severe elbow-lhruet 
on thi^ MtifT-ncvk placi- in hin khoulder, nnd it wa« still hurling him. 
It exonerated its infiictor, x>erbaps. from any suspicion of guile — 
but it nlxo may havo left him ralliiT inipulicut of i>itbtT blkme or 
£tirgViieabBt, as applied to Mise Thi«cIton. The recipe of the 
forogoing nctrc^ got no vbuncc of working. But tlui profile »nd 
llie drooping eyelid secured an expression of rendincss to forgive, 
whicli was distinctly iin aclvimce on what might have boon. "Ob — 
bother!" Besides it made Charles ask what the trouble was. 

It was a hrotlwr — ii younger brother, who bad run into debt 
to save a friend, ile was quite young— only just twenty-one — and 
flbc and her molher hud just managed to clear iJie poor boy, and 
get him out of his scrnp<^ But thno n tenant, who occupied ■ 
aroull frt-ehuld hmnK belonging to her mother, had dieappcarcd with 
his furniture, leaving rrnt owing; tind the house wna mortgaged, 
and ihct Jutcreat was due to-morrow, and it was no use aaking 



I 



^ 



ALICE-FOB-SHORT 



193 






for an extcnston, en<l so on, and so on. CfaarlcN felt it wiu all as 
u*uiil, cwn to the fact that if he would lend Miss Tbiaelton, or 
Strflk«r, ten pounds its repaTinent could be asatimd hy srcuritJM 
^ithnoat too good to bo tnii- in an imperfect world Itko our% He 

lid not allow to hiinaelf that he was oonscious thi^ profile and the 
eyelid had anythins to do with his coD»?ntins to advanoe the 
mouej-, which he iras just abb? to do. He fonsidnr^-d himivlf an 
dent agcot — rather too good-natured perhaps t He wouldn't 
anytfa))i£ to the Qovernor or anybody elan about it thoiigli. 
c would send Miss Stralcer the monejr in the course of the after- 
noon, or to-morrow moniiug by firat post. She look her diipttrtiire. 
And aft«r lunch he put two five-pound notes in on envelope and 
t them ofi by poat to her. regiatered. 

Our own opinion is thnt it would have been well for Ohaj-Ies, 
■t this moment in hi^ life, to go awny at once to Peggy at Bliella- 
CO<mbe. Had it not been for the feeling we have referred to about 
iiis sister, and the ebaiige thia love aftair of tiers vmt sun- to niaka 
in their live*, he would certainly have done so. He would proba* 
;bly hnvi- it-ry noon forgotten i!k' profile and the i-yrlid ; or Prggy 
vould have suspected ihein, and (hen her quick healthy insight, 
and bi^r knowledge of her brother, would have pushed them away. 
But Charles felt certain {although he had no official informa- 
tion oa yet) tJiat things would change, and would never be so jolly 
^ajrain ae they had been. He was glad it was Johnson, certainly; 

ut thi-n. wiLMi't hi- sorry it was anyhod.vf No! he wouldn't go 
to Sbellacombe. He would go and walk about R^renta Park. 
KampHleail was tno far off noiv, and hr^ might meet somebody >n 
Kensington Gardens. He felt internally scarified, and disposed 
to be si-ntimcnLal. He wiui in an un.tufe mood to he by himself, 
and irben he went out for his walk be waa mysteriously accom- 
panied by a profile and an eyelid, which were much too clever to 
force theniMiIvee on his notice, and floated away, like muata 
jWaiiianteK in tlie eye. wht'n iin iittempt wiut made t" pursue and 
nvict them. He was uudtT the impresaion that his mind was 
full of his sister ami .Tohnnon, and he wa« quite mistaken. It 
would have been well for him that he should have had Jeff in to 
us usual, but ill-liie!c voubl hnve it that that artist hud gone 

way to paint a portrait. It was in the nature of things that every- 
thing JcfF did alioiild have iu>mething Inughablc about tt, and in 
this case it was that he had gone to paint hia aunt's portrait at 
Upper Clapton. It must have been laughable, or Cbarlo* wouldn't 
bare lAugbed when he told a friend who was goiui; to oelV ctv ^«% 
(witli a rcmoiltiihlo soup-ladle he had plcWcd \iv "^"^^ '"^ ^""^ »i*>\i'i^ 



i 



Ift4 AUOE-FOR-SHORT 



■ 

bavaB 



I 



• 



nbdul thf rpaBoti he noiiWti't find Him iipgtairA, iin<1 tlir f 
(who was Mr. Kerr-Kerr, ii you wish lo know) wouldn't have 
laiighcii bnclc. It msdr thmi rrrr cJut-rfiil tJiat Jeff should have 
Booe to Upper Clapton to paint his aunt. But Cbarlea'a melancbolr 
come back on him, in cnrnpnny witji the profilp and eyelid, na won 
as Mr. Kerr-Kerr <l«part^ leaviiiit the precioua aoup-ladle tn his 
charge; and Chorlcs tiN>k them nil thr«^ melancholy, profile, and 
eyelid, to lleKenls Park with him; aud stood on the §uspen8ioii 
bridge nvrr tin- OnnnI nni! nur^d the first, never hontig the can- 
dour to acknowledge the other two. 

It (Miitributcd to the mdniicholy and fostered Jt to dream of ifa' 
days when those May trees over there were in Marylebone Fieldi 
and tho r<^ul Dr. Johnson and Olin-r Goldsmith nsi^d to walk out 
and about anionic them, with IkiEEy, perhaps, taking notes, either 
naeiitally or graphicnlly. Thotte were the ilays, or none so long 
After, of No. 40 in its prime; of games of quadrille or faro, till 
near on to dayliglit. in thi- Studio Charles occupied; of orgies of 
([Dm)«ndi»ing and drink in the ground-floor front with the coU 
umned recess ut om- end for the buffet; of stalely tniuiieta end 
gavolles in the old ballroom the picture-dealer had defiled. Those 
were the days of that foul murder-rtory w> should never know 
the rights of — ell. all forgotten now ! — not a clue lo guide ue. A 
newspaper paragraph about it had moralised, and pointed out the 
lesaou it tnupht us, ilint sooner or later murder would out. And 
Peggy had remarked tlint the moral seemed to her to bo that mur- 
der Bometimes didn't out, unlii it might almost as well bavfl 
•topped in. "Wbut a many murders do stop in, moat likdy!" 
said Charles to biiuself, on the canal -bridge in Regents 
Park. 

"Would it bf- any use, I wonder." he eouiinued. "to look up t]ia^| 
queer old fiab Parminter — not Verrinder— again and try to gei™ 
Aome more out of hiui. One hawi't any time — that's the worsti 
I shall think about it though." 

"You're such a lazy chapl" said Conscience— a compunion w! 
Derer leaves us, and who giHs no famiHnr that nhe breed* eonlem 
for her own counsels, "Stteh a lazy cbaitl Wliy can't you do 
instead of thinking about ir(" 

"I rejilly shall though, serloualy." aaii) Charles, "because ono 
ought to try to cWr up ghost-stories. What was it the great 
tSamuel said about it — under those very trees, ma.vhap! — 'the ques-^ 
tion of tJti 
question human 
wee than we were three thousand yean ago.' That funny littl* 



m 



aid about it — under tnose very trees, ma.vhap! — (he que*-^— 
he appcnrnnee of ghosts was perhaps the moiit importaa^f 
humanity had to decide, and we were no nearer a deci^* 



AUCE-FOR-SUORT 



1»5 



Alioel How I Bhoulil have liked to see bcr actinfC the Iftutsi oa 
the beach nt Sh<-lliit;c>nitic!" 

"You ought to (to there — you promised, jou know," eaid Con- 
science, still at bi» ejbow. 

"X shall Ro. All iQ Kood tinie. Don't be a nuisaBoel I must 
jnat May for ono morr Aidiiig n!iirn ihut ticnd'tt dry." The pro- 
file «i)<] the eyelid asserted themselves 

"If it wusu't for thctn," asid Cou»d«Dce, poiutiaK, "you would 
go down lo-morrow P 

Churlc'H luitghcd iw^onifully, *'I iii-rer beard sudi noiiaense in iny 
life." 8aid he. "If iI'h to bo thiu «ort of thinjr. I shall give up Art. 
and tidtf to—" But tliul was as far as In- jfot, 

Uo turned to walk buck slong the broad walk. The gate wm 
clotting; but hi- tvus ullowed to paiu if be would prombie to go 
atraiiiht across, and not keep the gale-eloBtiig back. Ue wnlked 
on lltrough the nlmutit deserted Park, shouts of "All uutl'' ri-aching 
bun from wandering guardians, and the beasts iu the Zoological 
GanlL'n.i Kt-niing to i>cho tJieir injunctions. No wonder. Charlie 
thought, if it is true they am allowed out ou parole in the ejupty 
Park, at night, an the story goes I 

In oriler to leiigtlum out liu wulk in the siUtn<!(! uf tlx; Park, now 
moonlit and enjoyable, and at the same time to keep faith with 
the autboritii-s, hn niad<! for IfaiKiver Gate, instcud of kncping 
on the broad walk. A belated workman or two, and a park-keeper 
who eaid. "All outt" sternly and riTprndchfully, wpto all the 
folk ho Mw until he drew nextr the bridge over the OrnumeiituI j 
Wat«r. Then he became uwure Ihitt there was a woman behind himifl 
following at no great distance: but still near enough to give llio 
irapresrion that alie wiui foUuwttig. If so. &Ite must have been fol> 
lowing for some time; for the Park at this point is (or was in 
tboae days) very bare of trees or any incident of cover, and 
Charlc« must have scon her had he passed her anywhere on the 
open grass land. He quiekened hh pace, realising that o prowlor 
of the class be suppoeed her to belong to would see tu this a faint 
that her society was not eoveled. She also uppeariKl to quicken 
her pace, but not aufficirntly to lessen the distance between them, 
Sometimes a cabman, fancying he has been signalled to. will follow 
you, without your seeing why; and then he is naturally indignunt 
when he finds hU mistake. Wus this woman wnilcr » liito delusion T 
Cburlos had heard of such things. But as be stopped a inonieut, 
hesitating between two paths, he ndtin-d that she stopped too, 
wliich Mi-med to him to dispose of tlic theory. 

He reached the exit gate opening into thu \iLQCt*<:Vt4^ vi«.&^ «.v.\ 



196 



AUCB-FOK-SHORT 



felt inclined to argue with its guardian, who told him to "Look 
■ilin', i-tin't j^out" It sormcd ridii'iiloiia to loolc nlive, when therg, 
was somo one else fif t; yards behind, who vas still at liberty to look | 
deiid, at choice, and who wa^ (o htr nUowi-cl to escapi* nl»). Charles ' 
loitered a moment on the other s'niv of the way. lighting a cigarette, 
in order to <^oo»e tlie opposite dirt-ction to (be one taken by the 
woman. She came out at the gate, and he thought he heard her 
finish un iniiudible rt^mark to the park-keeptr with the words, "TeU 
him to Ko that wayl" and then pointed to her left and went off, 
qiiit^kly, to thi^ right. Charles tbouuhl he recognised the woman's 
Toicc, as a voice he had hcnrd, but without bring sure whose voice, 
and waiti'd to see who it was that was to he sent the other way. 
PrcHcntly a man come running, who jccmcd to nuike enquiry of the 
park-keeper, who appeared to tuni him over in his mind, nnd 
then finally pointed with his thumb to his left; in compliance, pre-j 
eumably. with the woman's instructions. Seeing Charles hnd no-J 
ticcd the trnnKaction, he vouchi>afcd some explanation — "He's best] 
out of the way." he said. — "Ugly sort o' cuatomerl Furring. /! 
ehould say" — and seemed, to Charles, to think this sufficient. 
Cbark'S was amused tn And that he himself was inclined to accept 
it, as one accepts anything and everything in England that is done 
by a person with any sort of badge or uniform. Besides, in the 
alight glance he had nt the ugly sort of customer, he had noted 
in htm that worst of all eomhi notions, the clerical and tlie disso- 
lute. He turned nnd went his way home; and, as he wcnt.'an 
impression grew and grew that he knew whose voice this woman's j 
was, and also the ligiire that went with it. IJp would listen very' 
carefully to Miss Thiselton. or Straker. next Friday, and would 
observe the good trying-on figure, to see if this impression wb§ 
light 




CHAPTER SVIU 



OP uiSH a-rSAsen's AKrecEOOTs, and beb voice, why didn't CHASLeg 

UO TO BIIKLLACOmiEt IJOW Mb!^ rKITNXB MAW A OIIOST. tlOW l>II. 

jomftwN SAW utaa strakeb. ciubles isn't ct lovs 

JtKXT Fridav iMimp. end wltli it Mias Siraker. She was looking 
very dim. thounht Chsrles — tni:ch too nicn r^-cr to have nnj^ing 
in common will) thui Park-wum«ii. The Kood tryiiig-on figure waa 
nnu" enotipb certainl.v ; ihe voice was going 1o souni] quite different, 
Charles frit confident. She was very joumaliere, clenrly. wni Miss 
Straker; for this time she hardly struck iiim as at all lop-eided aa 
die looked him {mnkly in the face, and thanked him for his timclr 
loui. 

"I doo't know what we should have done. Mr. Heath, if it had not 
b^en for your great kin<lno5s. My mother would have liked tn come 
and thank you herself, but I thought it would ouly bore you, and 
Mid uo!" 

Wa« it the voicet Wellt It would have been more eatiefaetor? 
if it^bad hetu mopt- unlike it. Still, it wiis crrtiiinly possible to 
b«licTc it wniin't, and Chnrlw adjuetod his belief accordingly — at 
least for the present. This moriiiHft, MiiiM Stnikcr «■«» nt her 
bwt, and Charles wanted her not to have beeu that woman in tb« 
Park. It did not seem to oocur to bira lliat she miglit Iiavc been 
tbr TikHt of tli« vile, and y« n gof^ model for Ilegan. A porfectlj 
lofrical and detached artist wouldn't have airwl twopence wlirtheel 
An waa tbi- Pnrk-wnman or not. Still, Charles did not suspect 
that ho was other ihsii perfectly detached. 

IfJMS Straker, birooming abunrbed in Rogan. and romembering 
ih* reserve due to a noi-professional p(jBiti<pn. gave no further 
opportunity of judging of hi-r voice until she struck work and asked 
for a rest. "I outcht to have asked you." said Charles, apologising. 
"YouTl have to sing oufwhco you want to rest. Miss Tbianl — ■ 
StraJcor." He began with one name, and corrected himself iu the 
middle. 

"Itiss ThiBcliitrnkcf," *aid she, laughing. 'It makes a funny 
nanw. But I don't mind which yuu call mo. Mr. Calthorpo was 
»«ry impertinent, 1 thought. Don't you think it's i«t^ Viav^TVaiwtA 

197 



L 



198 



ALICE-FOR-SHOKT 




to call a girl by her Christiau unine, Mr. Heath?" Charles n 
comparing the voice; ami was getting no nearer, but only puizli 
hiniseif. Ho replied absently, "Tes — very I" The young lady 
mcnndored on. lint in a suavi> unilerlune which gave uo clue. 

"Mr. Caltborpe used to call mc l.avvy. My brother always caiU 
me Vinny. Which do j-oii like boat. Mr. Heuthi But I iniistii't 
talk and disturb you."— And she picked up a book and began to 
read. Now Chiirles saw the book woa Lea Tntfailleurx tie la Her, 
and be didn't believe Miss Rtmker could read French. However, if 
pretending lu mud French kept her iiiiiet, why »!iouldn'l she pre- 
tend 1 It pleased her and didn't hurt him. Besides, the prolilo 
and the eyelid hud recrudesced in that position. Oh nol With a 
profik and an eyelid like that she never could — never — never! 
There was one tMn^ though she could do and was doing, vit.: eani- 
ing money at the rate of one ^lulling an hour by reading Victor 
Hugo in a comfortable armchair. Charles [iroteated. in the uame 
of business. "And s nici^ humbug you arc !'' tlioughl he to hinuiclf, 
us Mi«>B Struker put duwn the voliuue with apparent reluctance, and 
climbed up to be Regan. Her hand felt very honest though, aa b» 
ht^lpcd her on to tbp throne. 

"I love Victor ilugol Bon't you love Victor Hugi>, Mr. HcaUtt 
But 1 like Noire Dame de Paris better than the Travailleura df la 
Mert But I like Leg MigSrahles best. Isn't Jean Valjcnn gran<U" 

"I didn't know you nwd French so weU." Charles was taken by 
surprise. She could pronounce Tranaitleurs. 

"llidn't yon? I thought you know. Oh dear, yesl — Why, you 
know my mother is a Frenchwoman, and I lived in Paris till I 
waH niuf'tivn! I rend French much better than English. I can't 
read Dickens and Thackeray half like I can Dumos or Victor 
Hugo." 

Charles felt ashamed. Perhaps his suspicion about the Park- 
woman wa« juHt Bs groundless as his assumption that thia girl, 
more French than English, could not read French. He was always 
Euapccttng things I Why, at this very moment lie was imagining a 
too-ready assumption of some bygone rapport in the words, "I 
thought you knew." — Never mind! He would clear all scores by 
never thinking about the Park incident again. He apologised 
cordially, in secret 

"We lived at Cboiny-le-Roi till my fatlier diixl." pursued Mi» 
Straker. picking up her thread of narrative at the anxX rest, hav- 
ing been conscientiously silent during work time. "It was very 
nice at ChoisyU'-Roi. I was learning sinflring then. Do you Ul 
giDging, Mt. Heath {" Now Charles was very fond of mu»c 




ALICE-FOB- SHORT 



Iflft 



MHMid • littk, himself. "Were yoa ("tmlyins for the profession I" 
Wiaked. 

"Oh ywl I have « good voice. High sopnno. Bnt I can't sing 
for l«og together. If only it w«ro stronjrerl" 

"How tmmr- yon to fiomc to Londnnf 8urely Paris is bctlt-r for 
traininfc than London )"- 

"Much bi-tirr, if yoit can affort! iL But u-c were very poor, and 
I had an off«r of Irnining. wiihniit paying any fees at all, from 
Pcscialino, who. you know, lives in London. I got OD vety w«ll tiU 
my voice played tricks." 

"T thonght your mother had some house property in London (" ^ 

"No— the house is at Choiay-tp-Boi — our old house. The mort-fl 
gagct^ if on Eii^lixhnian. 1 shouM like to go back to Paris now wa 
have had to giro tip the singing. Shouldn't you like to live in 
Pari*. Mr. Iltathf 

"Oh yee — I shouldn't mind liring in Paris. But tell me about 
your voicp— hovf <W-a it hreak down?" 

"It goc»^BPpK clean nnny — all of a sudden ! I was singing to 
an Ag^airy — to tT>- for an eiifcagemeut. I had sung (nio song — very 
well, I thouitht. I tried another, and found I had no voico— 
eonldn't sing a note! Wasn't it funny I Did you ever hare it 
happen to yon, Mr. Heath 1" 

"i never sang to an Agency to try my voice," eaid Charles, "or 
it might luivp. But <li<l that make you give it npt Wasn't it rathtsr 
premature T' 

"Oh no I It happened o^ain soon aft«r. We had to give it up. 
Then Pesciatino ««id it was no use my going on trnining. Theo 
Mauritti was always in want of money " 

"Is that your brother *'* 

"Yea— and money liad to be found — so " 

"Tou took to sitting. I ean't help thinking you wen rnther pie- 
mature — in too great a hurrj- — about the voice— hut of course I 
can't tell." Chnrleii was leaving Iti-giin to take care of herself. 
His irTepressiblc ftood-nature, coupled with a haunting sense that he 
had doni" this poor girl nn iiijuslice. wn» gaining ground; iind there 
was no friendly guidance at hand to steer him into safe waters. 

"I jih'iuld like you to hear me sing. Only you hiive no piiino," 

"Not 1 should he playing all day, instead of working, if I had a 
piano '■ 

"Oh, do yon playt But those ladies upstairs have a piaiii>— 
thi'y wouldn't mind )" 

"Wouldn't mind lending itt I wouldn't agk — don't knq-n iVowwi. 
wdl enough t Oh dear, no! Certainly ttial wom\4 iw^fti 4o" "^^i^ 



soo 



ALICE-FOR-SrrOKT 



n 



Charles didn't fool at nU confident about thp tIcwb th? two Mita 
PcTDnes vould take of un invasion of tbi-ir pn-'mim-a by n mtlwr 
showy-look injc younK fctnolp, to give a matin^p ransicale to an 
nudi<'n(v of oni' ninglc' gtntlirmun. Even with llw powurful Mnc* 
tion of their own pnmcnce it would be doubtful ; while as for ask- 
ing Ji-f! to oouxoliiluli* uiiiltiiM, Ll- wuuld only make tliL'm worM. 
The MiH Piynncs wrn- already inclined to kick and make com- 
pluiut about Mr. JerrylhougUt'a noiace overhead; und there had 
own been allegations of ilisivjiu table female cbarftct<!», only as- 
cribalik- lo liini. occurring in the gauewnys of the houM> «t un- 
earthly hours in the momiite- Je£F indignantly repudiated this — 
it IK but ju.1t to Liui lo say ho. 

Charles, at this moment, in thie narrative, is hcsitatine about a 
plunge, which if taken may affeet his future st—iously. Wbilc he 
is thinkins about it, we may mnltc farther rcferoncc to these sug- 
geattons of the Miaa Prynnes about Mr. Jeff. Their alory was that 
on the occasion of a partial eclipse of the moon which was predicted 
lor hnlf-fiast ihnje in tin- inornin([, ihey had tiniidlj- ventured forth 
to obaerre it from the window of the little crib mentioned in a 
former eiinpter by Mr. .IiTrytiiouglit. that was neither a roum nor a 
lauding; a clear sky being visible thcrpfrom. They remained 
watching it until all the Astronomy proper had come lo un end. 
and the luoeu was left to ki> on by itself, without addition of 
factitious interests. Then lliey returned as ihi'y hud oonip; but 
were scandalised at being passeil on the stairs by a most disreputa- 
ble-looking person in n sort of flowered dressing-gown, who could 
only be g<'ing up to see the moon from where they had seen itt 
or, culpahilu dirAu, to thi^ nparlment occupied by tliot very doubt- 
ful and noisy artist with the abaurd name. Tbe younger one; 
though si)eeelili'PS. coulil not restrain her curiosity; oiui ki-pt her 
eyes long enough on this person to see that she disappeared into 
his room, no doubt closing the door very quietly 9o that no one 
should hear it slam. 

They of course did not tax the delinquent with hia irreirularitiea, 
but it came tp hia hearing indirectly; being communicated (t» 
downataira) by a person of Mrs. Twills'a olasa (but much thidcer), 
who came in to do out the Misa Prynnes, and lo empt. snd any 
little hit of eooking when wanted. She was a mnrried woman, 
and could communicate on stieh a topic with Sir. Chapp<^11. who waa 
also married. Mr. Chappell did not see his way to making or med- 
dling in Mr. Jerrjrthoughl's affaire. What c()neern waa Mr. J. of 
hia^ But Mr. Pope saw his way, to the extent of aujorMting 
sxistonco of B reciprocal understanding, hy winka or ducka, 



ng t^ 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



SOI 



twMD himtflf and Mr. J., from which Europe was to be csoludcd 
by mutual cuDsent. This led to rcvelution nnd totnl dciiinl hy tho 
cufprit, only applicable (by fpe^ial prorigo) to this particular case; 
for Jeff repudiated ua » persa:iel insult any imimtntion of bcbnv- 
ing him»elf, a« a rule; and only alleged that at tlie time in ques- 
tion bis door was lockwl tiKbt. and he was fast asleep. He further 
eaid that if it was a humbugging gho^t. he vould thank it to go 
aud 'ornt somebody e]»e, Charli-s hud htatni t^iiottgh of this story 
to make him nhy of taxing the lolerotion of the Miss Prj-nneB by 
nqueMing loans of pianos for his lady ucciuMintiuiccs. But we 
may now go back Ic him. lie has had plenty of time to decide. 

"But I suppost? your motlii-r wouldn't object to niy calling on 
you to hear you sing I " 

"Why should she r 

"I thought poeajbly — it was only an idea — that ebe wouldn't like 
Artists you are sitting for to be on tlie footing of friends— I mean 
ordinary friends- " He felt be wasn't putting it well, and hesi- 
tated over it a little. 

"Certainly she wouldn't — not any Arliste. But see how kind 
you have been! She wanted to come and thank you lo-dny hrnwdf, 
but I thought it would bore and hinder you, and she had better not. 
But she rrally i^ most grateful, Mr. Heath." 

Charles had taken bis plunge, and was committ«d to Miss 
StrukcT BG an ncqunintunce. But he threw in a little word or two, 
to define and limit his position. 

"Tou sec. Miss Slraker. I often hear of people who want a good 
ringer, to make a parly go off wcll^and who pay very well too. 
Mind! Tf T don't think your voic« up to the mark, I shall have 
to be unkind and sny so " 

"Oh — tlie voice is ail right." said Miss Straker with equable 
coofi^loncff. And »he resumed R<%an with olncrity, at oni; who 
knows time has httm wasted. 

It might hare struck n bystander that as won as ever she saw n 
el«nr toad to n jiennaiienl acquaintance with Charles, she began 
to make it much easier for him. It might have bnen unfair to aug- 
gt»t that her fish iK-iiig hooked she gave htm the line to himself, 
and Ml on the bank quietly, taking good o-nr*' not to frighten him. 
But the oerlainly knocked otf the little tentative pcreonalitiea 
which are the drtight of thi- female Model in full swing, and which 
11 aho seeined to be on the way to acquire in perfection after a little 
, more experience. If dw did thix with n view of making Charles's 
t visit at her mother's an caay and natural thing to him. po»«ihW 
I pleasant to repeat, it abowK that ithc undctHi-Qoi \^i» \\is.u. '^iaa 



S02 



AUCE-FOR-SHOBT 






had gone a long tray towards diagusting him b.v her ettampli 
inlrojuoe the story (probablj- not exactly true) uf Urn. Ciilth< 
jealoiiBr: and hi> didn't feci st nil Bttrnctcd to a discueaion of 
what iuira«^ tltal lad^-'s hiiabuiid &li(>iild biivt' cmlli-tl bcr by. She had 
much better have left the pnilil« nnd the eyelid to do the job. Hut 
now il wus all riKht. And uo doubt Miss Luviniu SlnikiT ho* 
came much pleowinler to Cbnrlea when ((rtr whatever reason) she 
gavi- up atiemptiiii; to captivate, and adjusted her coucfraation with 
a due regard to the aetuul degrvf of their nequaititaner. She also 
inado liim guite comfortitble ou the Park <iueslluii Ly Burtiig sh« 
and a friend had heard The Mr»iiah the evening before, but had 
hud to WRit nn Iioiir in tlie street. So r\xt: could not have beca in 
Ilejietilii Park after "the official hour of sunset." 

*'I Mhaii't be free for some daj'K now," nnid Charles, when tlw 
sitting was over. "But after next week I have no eagftgeineat. 
To-tDurrt)W morning, I itin going down to Dcvonsliire, to taj 

family " For be had remembered hia promise to Cou- 

seience.. 

"I didn't know you had a family." 

*^o inon? I have, in thtit aiiiise — in the sense you mean, I mean. 
I was )q>enking of my mother and sisters.'' 

"I »-e. I didn't know. But you will come and hear nxe iung, aH 
the siime, won't youf" Charles said of course be would, as mor 
as evi-r he returned to town. 

Now observe, that if — (only we don't at all say this wms tbo 
citM.0 — 'f this young woman was a desiguing youiiR womau, her 
last two remarks did her powers of design great rrediL The fiwt 
did awnty with any impressions her previous eouversatiou might 
have created, by registering the fact that she did not know that 
Cbark-a was a single man. The second, by leaving it doubtful 
whnt "all the name" applied to, left a meaning opim to it fruitful 
of eugiiKsiton that Charles's coming to see her as a single man 
might he open to interpretations— not of a sininter «ort. wrtjiinly, 
but of a nature that made it more pure-hearted and frank in her 
to disclaim thirm in advance, "You need not bt'. the Ituist fright- 
ened. However much I like you. I sliould seorn to take advantage 
of you," was what lOie had eoiitrivi-d to say, if we mny Judge by 
the way Gburlea again blamed himself for having misinterpreted 
her. "Whnt a vain ass T ani '." he said to himself. WliiU? she, if si: 
had fiueb meanings, niay have felt very like Becky Sharp after 
master-strolie. 

Charles saw her dawn to the door, hone-xtly believing that, of t! 
two, hers was the pastoral nature. As hn stood watobing thfi 



.__ -—-^ 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT SOd 

tryiii«-oo fi|n>TC go down the litrpct, ho wa« acofwini by "Hullot 
Charley — who's the Beauty F' And ihere eU-od Dt. Johiidciu. 

"She's not n Bcmity. Shn'ii only a Modfll,^ naid Charles. And 
then his chivalrous heart turned round and blamed him far speak- 
ing in eiipb n w«y of any girl. "She** a very nice, IntLvliko Kirl." 
be eJdtid, correcting and c.iteuualinir. "Onlj' I ahouMn't call hur 
B Ttr-HUty, Minrtly. I'm [minting biT iw Rpgnn.'' 

"SKe was a nice ladylike Rirl. with a vengeance! Now, Charley, 
come along in Bn<l hcuT all my lu'ws. Ni-vrrr mind the nic-o lady- 
like inrL" For Charles was keeping his «ye on the raniahing 
form. It ttirnL'd a L-urniu' and wait gutiv. 

"PcKgy liasii't written to me y«t about it," said he. Surety none 
but bi« n)otfaL<r's son could ever have got so far tn meJios rex with- 
out an lnd«x, or a Preface, or an Exordium, or at least a Title-page. 

"1 mi* lh(Tr«T'n not much to tell." Haid Johnnon. "But di> My you 
haven't been execrating mc — you said I might, you know! " 

"Dili I ! Well. I suppone 1 did." — For in a couverftution wh baro 
not recorded, Charles bad said In his friend, jokingly, that if he 
hn<I fifly HiKtirrN, single ones, iTohnson wnii tvdromc to make offers 
to them all round. — "But then, ruy dear Paracelsus, that was to be 
if 1 hcd iifty. That would leave me foMy-nino — or in case of 
bigamy, forty-eight; or qu^ogauy — tetrogamy — whatever it 
ought to bt — forly-six." 

"I see you're not very angry, old chap " 

"Angiy!" — Charles could only wring his friend's hand affee- 
tionately. "Angryl — Why. as far as it's being yow (roes, nothing 
oould plt-'aEse me Ifttcr. Oidy of CfHiref — only of course^it's a sort 
of break up; mipht have gone "n a little longer, don't you knowP' 
'or even in iliose itiiya i>ef'pli- used to say, "don't you knowl" 
then tbey used to say other things as well. A time e4imo when 
asid nothing rl«c. 

JobtisoD looked as if he did know, and was rorry. "I'm a brute," 
be, "and I know it. But you would have bad to forgive sorac- 
elsc, old bey, if it hn<in''t befn me. Aa for Margaret, I tliink 
'« not miieh u&banied at mi', at prci«ent. But she didn't like to 
confess up; because, you see, she had made up her mind not to 
marry, on high Philanthropic grounds — good example to her 
Bpecies—fliid so forth ! So she said if you hadn't found it out 
from her letter*, I must breidc it to you. Now it's broki; !" 

"And at any rate ic isn't anybody else — that*8 one comfort I 
What did the Oovemor sayP' 

"Oh. of course 1 haven't seen him — 1 want you to come and Wt^ 
UK' in that quarter. Your mother and 1 maj \k (a\^ \o\)a>'(« \a«An 




n 
I 



4 



904 




ALICE-FORSnORT 



it up now, after difficiilticji. Vfc are on very good terms. But aba 
tclU int.- I inimt aulicipule oppoditJou from Mr. n<.-iitli." ChorW 
Iflughod uitrrnitlly. nni) muj have bcgiin to emilc outwardly, for 
Johnson addtii. "Don'l you ihink so!" However, Clwrlcs womi't 
eoinp to commit his fntlx^r, or any one, to iinj^ing. So he toerelj 
promised bis moral support, thut oveniuK, if Jobution would como 
back to dinner at Hyde Park Oardt-ns, nftcr a visit at the Hos- 
pital — an institution he said he fell ashamed to look in tlte faoe, 
after the way he had neglected it lately. 

Mr. Heath Senior cerlainly made all the slereotyiwil ol>ieclion«; 
and though ChnrJea felt incredulous uudcr the skin, and detected 
in them a certain spirit of jMinpositj' tu which, in his futliiT, bo 
was no sirnnger, they did not attoRethcr fail to impress his friend 
as genuine. Master Rupert felt uneasy, uud fcnrecl his projected 
mother -iii-lnw was right. But, as it chanced, matters official hav- 
ing been !efl in abeyauee, the talk turned on his family, and lie 
mentioned hii" fnther'a Christian name — Philip Keiirick Johnson. 

"Why, God bles9 my soull" exclaimed old Hentb. "You don't 
mean that i Ken Johosou— 'whyl-^he and I were at school toitether 
at Clifton. Well, now — that is strange!" Charles felt immo- 
diatfily that the objections had only a feeble hold on life — wero 
apiritlcM and ana-mii;. 

"Tes," said the Doctor, "1 think my father wtu at school at 
Clifton. Tlic^n bi' wrnt to Addiixronihc. He died when I was ijuite 
a boy. He was killed at Inkcrman." 

"T remember — you laid u*. But 1 never knew be was Ken John- 
son t Wily, we were the greatest friends, he and II We were 
tliere three years nearly. We fought six times in the first two yeari 
— beginning of every term. Somclimes he licked; si>metim«i I 
licked " Charles felt that the objections were moribund, 

"But you didn't always fight," said he. 

"Oh no ! Last term I was lliere he'd got a beetle I hadn't — (we 
n»ed to collect beetl«!) — Neeraphonu St^pulhr I think it was; and 
I had a beetle lie hodu't, whose name I enu't riKiollect— dear, dear 
nowl Whnt was the nnnio of that bectlcf Charles said never 
mind. "Ob yes— but I do mind I I should like to remember the 
name of that beetle." However. Mr. Heath hnd to itivo it op. and 
Tent on: "Anyhow — he put Necrophortu SepuUor iu a little pill- 
box and put him down my back in data, and we got in a row with 
the master, and after class I Rave him mine iu exofaangie. Ah 
dearl" 

Charles felt that the objections were dead, and that tbey mi^t 
be handed over to t/eerophoru* SupuUor, about whom Mr. UeaA 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



305 



prolMbI; wron^. bs we belierc lie in a vi^ry common 1ie«t)c. 
irhow, it was <iuite clrar no on<< could obj«ct to nny one marr<rinii 
hill ilaugfater if he buii fouf^dt tbut man's father throuich two yt-ars 
of Mhool, at (he bcKiniiiiiS of vvctj term. But a definition of the 
poeiilton WHS uallod for — that dipitty ahould suffer do outrage I 

"As for you two young fnlks — ^ynu and Ppgfty — yow must think 
it o»er a bit — coimider :iutkiii^ sullied — ^bad to be in too f^reat a 
hurry — hardly known each olbcr a ypnr— your own pmsprrts. my 
boy. most uni*rlain. etc., etc.. etc." But Charles noticed that Dr. 
Johnson hnd b'-cnme my b<iy. And wheu be eoid gDod-uigbt tn hit. 
father, after Johnson had departed, evidently reporting; a Rood 
dMil of progress to hiniwlf. tbi! general recapituliitioii ni-rtninly 
contained no eleineut of serious obstacle to the happiness of the 
two loTcrs. 

"We must gee what your mother has to Bay. Chariey. If she 
Miy!i I'm to say yes, T suppose I shall hnin' to my yes — iifhcrwisc, 
othervifie! — she and Pep must have it out between them. I expect 
they're ordering the wci]i)ing-dres£v3, and bHittling who's to bi; naked 
to the wi?ddiiiK. / ahau'l have any voice in the uiattcr. You'll find 
it all witled when you get there to-morrow. But just fancy that! 
Ken JohuBou'a sou I" 

Cbsrie*, re-envnioped by this interview in the atmosphen; of 
Home, forgot all about his Studio acquaintance — the profile and 
thp eyelid wore discntablished for the lime being. But they floated 
back iitto his field of vision as soon as it was empty, and brewed 
dinMcnirion b<"twocn him.-telf and Conseii-ncc, For the latter had thn 
bad taste and feeling to suggest That the prospect of locintc Pegtcy, 
SO far as he should Inw her, was less repellent to him than it 
would have secured a luuntb ago— ever su tittle less, pi-rhaps. but 
Btill less. 

"If you mean." Charles angrily replied, "that Vm in love witli 
this etupid Model girl, and tbat she could make up to me for — 
thore I I won't talk aliout it. It'* too disgusting and ridicnlona.'* 

"/ never used tbe expression 'in love,'" said Conscience; "you 
made that!" .\nd Charles said he wasn't going to tnlk any more 
about It, as it was late and he would have to catch au early traia 
at Waterloo. 



CHAPTER XIX 



op MR. 

TllS IBVrLB. 
SEARCH 



*T THB RAILWAY STATION. OP ALICS-FOB -SHORT J 
WHO WAS THK NICK LADVMSB OBtLf PSVCIIICAl, 



CtURLEa cauK^t the early train. Ah he entered the station a 
dingy tigiire KaitJ, "How-iie-rln, Mr. TTcjilh (" ta him^ — » din((y fixu^ 
in a najileae bat. with a threadbare coat anxiouelf butloned against 
contingencies of biittonlpssncas elsewhere; with an umbrella that 
was pretend i UK il hadn't a bruki-n rib. and knew biitrr; witli n 
cflrpct'bftK made of cnrpct, as they always were, oace, and one 
end of Its leather hauille made uncoitgenially funt with xtrinif, 
and a brass plate on which a name was once l^blc. Il was what 
had eaiifrht Chiirlcs's eyi' first, and hi- wii« wondering whim, ax it* 
owner dddreaaed him. Then he saw that il would have been Ver- 
riitdcT, if it really belonged to its present owner. 

What was KaddcHt in ihe poor fellow's dilapidation waa that ho 
evidently believed he had Buceceded in his attempt to emnrten up 
for tlie public (-ye. His sliirt liiid been washed, but probably at 
home, in a household without servants. Ills coat had been brushed, 
IxtrhnpH with the wooden hn&is of whnt was onen ii clotliejt-bruah, 
but now was bald and hairless. His hal had been stroked round 
with his sleeve, inoNt likely; and th^n he lind felt that be euuld go 
on parade. Charles only felt sorry for him. not repelled by his 
shnhbiness. 

"How-de-do. Mr. Heath t I haven't forgotten you eavc mc three 
tubes of Asphaltuin. Beautiful coJourl" 

"Are you going hy the eifthl- thirty. Mr. Verrinder! Because if 
you arc wc can travel togrther."' If Charles had rati Mr, Kerr- 
Kerr, who was rather a point-d»-vif« (tentlemau, he would have 
dodged him, bocause he wanted to be by himsidf. But ax it wa* 
this poor woe-hegone piece of unljquity. chivalry stifjiped in. Ho 
wasn't going to shy off froni tlie poor devil. IJc could have pro- 
vided himself with good and sufficient reasons, but he would 
have suspected himself of snobbishncfis, and ho wasn't going to 
run the riak of trial and conviction. 

"Where arc you going T" said he. when Verrinder answered 
him yes to faia first question. Verrinder wae going to Witlej. 



I 



k. 



20« 



A 



ATJCE-FOR-SHORT 



907 



"ni take tickets for both." said Cbariea; Tm going to trflvcl 
third." Of cuunx' tie wasn't, but he didn't want any cUsa dia- 
otioiiB. lie tixik two thint-claBs tickets, knowing he could 

bi^ varrtttgi' and i>a.v excess fani. 
"Yoa never came to aee me at my Studio," said he when tiicy 
were settled in llieir places. The train moved nlowly out of the 
station, and vs.* brtiinning In be at its ease about croes-lines and 
ambuahes before Verriader answered hiiu, 

"Oh no— oh not Too Kmg ngo for mo! It's a good way to 
«ome, too. No, ao — not my line — thauk you 1" 

ChariM uiidertitood that he really thiinkrd for the invitation — 
that tlicTe wae no element of derision la the phrase. "I see," said 
he, "I won't botlwr you to come. It i* a very long way."' Charles 
ored the distance as the reaann, lest be should seem to impute 
rift aensibtlily about old nieniriries tJie other seemed to wixh to di.'t- 
claim. Ho judged by a hardness in hi§ voice. Charles ntmcin- 
beted at ihia moment that he had promi»Hl to make no on(]uiries 
into Vcrrinders previous story. Otherwise the words. "Too long 
ago for me." apart from the voice, might huve given him an eicU9& 
Verrinder said very little indeed during the short journey. Ho 
•aid he Khni:Idn't likn tn Im n brick ma krr, but that they said the 
smell wasn't untvholesome. lie said he »houldu't care to wurk 
on the line, but tJint hr undentood you atn-ays got compensation. 
He seemed to assume that no railway employee could escape death 
by miMdi-cnlure or Iwdily injury. IIo rcflt-ctcd that it w»* much 
civieter in this part of the world before the railway came, showing 
how far baek hia memory of this part of tlie world winit. IIk 
miKht have become interexting at this pniot, Charles thought, 
but tlicy nrrivi-d nt. Woking mid he changed for Witley. Chartea 
remembered this little incident long after. 

Tlw jourmry to Sb<dlaoombe was such a long one that it is not 
be wondered at that the profile, the eyelid, and the proniincTd 
oioe wen? completely forgotten by the time Peggy's arms were 
[»und her brother at the little railway station at Cleave, where she 
^CBioe with Alice to meet him end show him how quite the same she 
was in spite of her escapade. lie felt that was all right. As 
Lmucb the same aa the little unalterable railway station on the 
slo line, with the roses still in bloom along the pUtform fence, 
and the name of it done large in pebble mosaic on a alopo of 
grocn along the other end of the platform. Even the two or threo 
other people who arrived were exactly the same as usual; and they 
were driven away in the same two-horac carriage and the same dog* 
cart by ihe sanui civil men whoae nature detied the \qSmsxi<:k» cA^ 



I 







i 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 

metropolis. Or if they wore oot abaoluttl.v tlw Sjun* people 
btid Fomc quality about tbem which BDswcrcd all tb« purpoeox of 
iJ*'nti(y witbotit committing il« owner to being on.vbody elae, 

"Oh, you bnd boy 1" said Peggy, when she bad driven conviction^ 
home, "do you nu-an lo my you've eomo hiTL' wiUi no lueeae«| 
but thalC It swmed ao; or else the trnin, sanctioned by n whieilaj 
from (he far pnd. was taking awny ChnrlcH's box. No! It wa« 
ftll ri«ht, and there was nothing for "the man" to find room for in ] 
front. So Charles and Pegsy. and his eoutemptible little valise, 
were off in the twilight throagh the little Tillage street, whiebi 
was as much thp same as the station had been, or oven more bo;^ 
with the snnii' sun-browiifd white-hnircd chiltirt-n growing up to-' 
be the same ptople. and the same people remembering how very ' 
mtich the same children they were, otier, tlipmaclvps ! CharW 
felt how premature be had been to funey the world wus goiu^ to 
disperse because bis sister marri«i. She wouldn't change, any-] 
bowl Why, look at herl There she was, more herself than everl.l 
And very lovely Peggy looked in the half-light, I can tt-ll yottfj 
with her hair shaken out and only the least little shade of iun- 
scorch from long exposure on the inexhaustible satids. Alii^'s cye§ 
were fixed on her in admiration; but then they almost always were. 

"And is Alice burnt black too!" »nid Chiirlc-S, afli-r reference to 
the baking powers of Sbellaeombe, which were alleged to be quite 
outside and beyond all jirtfeilent, off tbc Equator. It really i» 
fluite wonderful what individual cbaracteriatics towns have aloDg 
the English const. 

"No — ab:furd little monkey t She stops quite white, like that 
8ho«r Ur. Charley your face, Miss EaTanugb." Alice docs aeem 
strangely white, or ivorylike; eon);idering that she too has be«t] 
baking in the sun, and living most part of tbe day in a tent oaj 
the sands. She has become more than ever one of the family hji 
iiow, in this yypsified life, and must be thought of ns such. It ia 
Cttrious, because really it is only a short Iwo-thirds of a year since 
she was that poor littk — almowt strty^ Arab, we wanted to writOv^^ 
Peggy felt all the more for the others who were left. ^B 

"Let's have a look at you, Alicc-for-i'hort," says Charles, And 
Peggy has to remind lier eompnniona that a waggonette is not aj 
place to romp in. "We've got to shut up and lie good, Alice," ha 
eays. vVnd Alice repcata after bitn. "Sut up and be doodi" and^ 
bccomcn demure. 

"But I did tumble over the tiff," saya she. as if it waa a merit- 
an extenuation of any current miiijlcmtuinouni. 

"Cliff, childl ^Vhen will you leani to speak plain '( Oh dearll 



i 



ALICE-FOB-SHORT 



»» 



My hajVs all oomine down. No — it's no use trying to stick it u(>, 
Alice AfttT — never niiud! Wi; tlmll Le b«ck directly — and you 
shall do it up for roe. Say cliff, plaint" 

"Curl'iff!" Thiii with ii gtviit pfforl from Alipe, who continue, 
"Tumbled over it, I did. And l>r. Jomson came <lowu upiiida 
down nnd cjitdiwl-trd hold evtr ao tight " ^H 

"Caught, Alice! i told you causkl before." ^| 

"Taiight." Witli c'onitciimtiou.i jfmvity. "And I was fightcned." 

"Tell Mr. Charley nbout the bwtlc. Alice." 

"Then- was u bi-«tlc — Oh. ihu di^c-est little btietle— so big, lika 
that — and he jrot ou iny nose, and ticklpd — oh, he w<u so pretty — 
such bi^Hutiful colour!)!" 

"Go on. What did you say to the beotle?" 

"I stflid — niispofliijg Dr. Joniaoii slidiis duvn atop of us. what- 
ever shall we do to hold him up V ^M 

"What inde«l?" said Charles. "What did thn b«rtle say?" ^ 

"He flowed away because hi? was angry. Angry with mii! Be- 
CAuitc I rubbird him off my iinsc on to the grast — grass.'' A con- 
ecieutioua correction. 

"What did you think quite first thing of nil, Alice," asks 
Charles, "when you Erst wt^nt over!" 

"I thinkcd— I thought— susposing T go in the water, and Mias 
P«KSy *he conies after me, and Ur. Jomaon he conies after Uiss 
P«Wy — *^ should all be in tlip water together." 

"Excuse my sayiug. ili^ KuvBiiHfih. that that was a flat and 
insipid way of looking at the position, nnd not worthy of your 
youthful promise." Alice stands. Peggy stimulates her memory by 
a word or two. 

"Tea. Miss Pegfty — please ! I wundled and wundled and wundled 
^^usposins we was all in the water together— poor Mr. Ohnrlcy, 
what would he do wivout us! Ajid I waiited to cry, hut I was 
fightened it would jolt! And then the strong man came up be- 
hind — I wa* gliid ! And hi? tiird loe up — don't recoUeet uuffint 
morel'' says Alice, breaking off abruptly, and shaking her head 
|>r(jhibitivttly. 

"And here we are." says Peggy. "Really. Miss Eavanagh, if 
you don't li-vini to stay nothing, instead of ntiflinf, I shall give 
warning and find another place." 

"Nolfting," sny* Alicf. forcibly and dl.itinctly. And Peggy 
IdBses her. We hope Alice won't be spoiled. 

Said Cbarlee to Vii<rKT- nest momEng on the eands: '^<ra \c% 
us all about it, Pogfy-wogg." Tor the iuil-ap VftxwiwM. V^ "^ofc 



SIO 



AlICE-FOR-SHORT 



s^a-flide houee, playing at gnmca vvi-riitglit. nud tlie lawlras Chnoi 
railed th<- nrrRnsemcnt of plnns for the dajf, in the morniiii;, 
prevented all peaceful eommuuication between t}w brothw Hndl 
sister; nnd mutunl tncit mncIioQ had beea givcu bj each to ibe] 
other's deferred questtoningti. 

"No! First j-oii tell mo. Como the other side because of 
HHJoke. No—nearer up under my suuabade ai»d tlien I caii ru 
your hnir for you. Oh dear! It's so stioky with th<; ta\t water." 
For there had been swims before breakfast. "No, I wou'l tell you 
anylhiiiK at nil till you've told me n great lot— heaps! Bupcrt 
came to see you yesterday — I know that much — aud you went 
homo and diiu'd at tlie Gardens. Now go on aflrr that!" 

Charles, enjoying the drowsy spell of the sea after so long a 
doso of tlie Hliiffy town, was able to listen to the musical plash of 
the waves and the cry of the sea-birds: the laughter of the bathers 
and their vnin's; thi^ even boat of the oars lielping a pleasure-boat 
with windleirM sails over a mirror towards a sheet of silver that ma? 
be wind; to lislen to and fnj'oy al! tltese. and yet to give, in easy 
inataimonts. a narrative of the previous day's events. He bega 
with Rupert's urrival on the dooratflp. Ho ascribed his scruiiulo 
care in ouiitliug any hint of Miss Straker (the if>>od tr.vinK-on 
figure passed nwny down the street in hi* bniin, but he .taid nothing 
about it) entirely to the faet that the bill before the House related, 
to Peggy, not to himself. He vcoulil ktn-p in the background, &iv 
say nothing about any Miss Strakers. We understand. 

He judKT^ it best to make the most of hiti father's little exbibi- 
tion of orthodox obatacle-mongerinp, and Peggy was eatnewha' 
downenxt for a moment. But she broke into o happy laugh o: 
relief when the story came of the school fellowship, "You mustn't' 
of Conner ntlnch too mncb weight to tlw mere fuel Uial Paracelsus'a 
father was at school with yours." said Charles, nolnnnly. 

"Oh, you d('iir prosy old boy! Tile idea! Wh)-. of course there 
won't be any bother with papa. Just fancy 1 Fought each other 
fiveiy term for stix termul Do yon know, T really believe if I bated 
Rupert (or Paracelsus, as you will persist in calling him) Papa 
would want mc to marry him. And then they swopped specunens. 
That's what Bob aud Dan are always doins. I wonder if that was 
phosphonii" wlint'it-hi*-nnnH- that lickU-d Alice's nose?" 

"NecrophortiS StpuUorf No — he's a ghoul. I suppose — liw* on 
oorpspR. Ry the bye (only it's a sbitme — he isn't a ghoul at all). 
I mei tlitit i)uttr fellow Verrinder in the train j-eaterday. Fil tell 
you about him presently." , 

I'eggy didn't show any intereat lu Verrioder. But the gboul 






M 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



ill 




made her lliinkof somcUiing*lM- wiu wmnling to tullciibout, "Hi>w 
about thnt ghiMti" 

"Which ithoalt" said Charles. Hi- didn't want to tell Peggy 
about thv ghtut the j-oungvr iiit» I'rTnne saw on the ataire. It 
di<ln't ^etnn to liini ii fit ghost for Pemy. Brothers aro mighty 
particular, wo can tc)I you I 

"I <lidu'l know there were two ghosta — unl«M you count Alice's 
prirntc ghost with tlir spots! 1 meant the one Rupert told ma 
■bout — what you aiid ,vour ab«urd friend (well! lur i» absurd) 
aaw." 

Til tell j^ou about that presently. I want to hear more about 
you nnd Parnrrli'tiiL." 

•^There's uothiiiji left lo lell. dear old boy I We are a ludy and 
gr-ntWninn, nud that'll all nbout it. ilcre'K his letter that came thia 
morning — eix pages I And what's more I've read every word — 
j-c*!— while nil that racket was going ou. before we came out. 
Vm dreadfully ashamed of myself, though, if you ask me. Here's 
n little bit of pfistupript I haven't read " 

"There's nothing to be ashamed of — ^you're not the only Udy and 
gentleman." 

"I didn't mean that — I meant, all my good resolutions! This is 
about you." And Peggy, having cxeitcd as much curiosity iu 
Charles as can be felt after bathing in the sea before breakfast, 
and then treating breakfast striously. and then wiltling down to 
acnoke In the smi under favourable circumstances — after doing this 
'eggy becomes absorbed in the letter, with an nnimnted serious 

lunlenanee. "One can't wonder at I'aracelsus," thinks Charles, as 
looks drowsily at it. 

"Who was the nice ladylike girl who went away down the streetf" 
'oggy's quealion is, or would \x! to a bystander, mendy n <|ue«- 

in— quite free of implications of any sort. But Charles's nature 
was not cunning enough to see that his safest courM! would bo 
to say it was only Kiss Thisclton, and explain her afterwards. 
"I^t's hara a look at ttie l«lter." aaid he. as ii he couldn't tell who 
it was without the context. 

"WcUi" said Teggy, interrogatively, a few momenta later; for 
Charles r«ed, and made no sign. 

■TlTell whatr' 

"Wlio was the nice ladylike girll" 

"The iitee ladylike girl t" Charles pretended he was 
ia another part of the letter. "Ob yc» — of eoorw! 
'b see — the nice ladylike girl — that muat have been 
ton." 



I 




inter- H 

1 




913 AUCE-FOB-SUORT 

"Of couTBe it muBtl Who ele« could it have bwuf There i 
fpirit of mifchit'f in Uiis: but the fad is. tbut Peggy alwajs sees 
clean through her brother, aa though he were plate glass. 

"i'ou d»in't knew Mies Thiselton. Tou're never sii-ii her," says 
he, Peggy's answer revealed ihe weakness of hie position. 

"Denr silly old Charley! As if there were a bun<irt(i and fifty 
uiee la<l^likc girls sand-hopping about all over llie Studio just thtit 
minute when Kiipert ennic in. Tou are such a dear tranepart-nt 
boy 1" Ccrlainly, make-believe wasn't Charles's strong point, lio 
ni!V«;r made nnjr one believe. But thui, he olwaya confessed up, 
candidly. 

"Miss Thiselton, or whatever bir name is. isn't a aecret. Vxa 
painting Regan's head from ber. She's very like Regno "* 

"That's a reconmienddtion 1" 

" to look at. Jtut she's not at all like her in character." 

"How do you know thatP' Oh dear, how ahani people'a aisten 
are sometimes! However, Charley bad to justify his estimate of 
Aiiss Tliiselton. somehow. 

"I'm only guessing." lie tried to rwall something that would 
accredit the young woman, and felt the land rather barren, "you 
ouffht to e>-mpathiM with ber. Poggy-Woggy. anyhow; she has « 

younger brother who's a source of anxiety to h^r " Charles 

has a riditfulous, balf-bumorous expression as he says this. 

"Ob, Charley dearl Tou never were, and never will be. a aourco 
of aDxiety to lue. Only you are so good-natured. What does Miss 
Thiselton'6 youngrr brolhpr do to make heTanxiows!" 

'*Oh, ruDB into debt and she has to save his life. He's not a bad 
boy, but silly." 

"Well! That's like you, tool But now, dear old boy, listen to 
me quite seriously. How much money have you lent Miss Thisel- 
ton to help her with her younger brother J" 

"How do you know I've Ipnt her any ("' says Charley, feebly. 

"Oh. you are the transparentesl, dearest old boy." And Pe^T 
docan't press the subject, but goes on ruffling her brother'ti liair 
for him. After a little, CharlcH. who always ends by complete eon- 
feaeion, after making nobody believe anytfaiug at all, rcsum«a thft 
conversation. 

"I want to do Mias Thiselton a good turn if I can. She soys eihd 
has a very fine voice- — -" 

"Skf saj-s sjie has I" 

"We]l~«he's a little odd about it. certainly." Charles givM 
particuIarB, briefly, of Hiss Straker's story of the Toioe. 'Tou 
N^ if she could get some evening eDgegemicntl^ it would btt ton* 



4 



- 



M 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT SIS 

, to be discouraged wlien the Toice aeiually did break down — 
it may iwror do aesin. I'm sure we could find Home one lo 
give ber an opening." 

"Of coiiMc wc coutd. Any number, if the voice is really fine. 
But on« inuHt know. How if I were to come to the Studio to hear 
ber einsi when wc come back t" 

"Fre promised to call at her mother's next week to hear bcr." At 
which a t>»ssing bck of concern rests for a few seconds on Peggy's 
face; a sli);hl jjhaw? of apprehension- Are sneh simple brothers 
a* this one of hers to be trusted in the jaws of Miss Thi^ltnna 
with splendid voices and French mothers t She hoped lie was — but 
hardly fell that cautions from her would bo of any aerricc. In 
fact that they mit'ht precipitate instead of avert. Perhaps it would 
be safe — why should she be so nerrousl She chan^rcd the subject- 
"Bul when am I to hear about the Ghost f Charles was not sorry 
to ftct awny from Miss Thieclton or Btrakcr. Fortunately he hod 
aaid nothiui; about profiles, or eyelids. And as for the Park, of 
couTwc that wasn't Miss Strnker. He decided on a platform of 
iRcredulity to tell about the gbost from. 

"I don't belicTe it was a gbost at all. It was a lady who went 
nway witlionl uiukiiig a noisr." And he di-scribes all the circum- 
stADoes, clo^ly enough; but he ehirks doing full justice to the 
inlructable charactrr of ibe door-lock, as a resource for explana- 
tion 10 go to. Peggy if sure she could pull that door to, and mako 
IK) noitte. This groundh-as pretcaision piques Charles, who resumeii 
the door, and intensifies its fastenings. 

"Wltat was tilt- figure like to look ntt" Peggy asks, thinking 
perhaps that if Iho door was a« competent ns all tliat, it might be 
worth concession of possible ghoat-ship, under protest, to examine 
into the personnel of the spectre. 

"Ton see my glasses were on the ground, anil .Teff was pegging 
away at Terpsichore. She left an impression of a grey head and a 
good deal of crinoline. I saw the white hair as she stooped, in a 
puff on the top " 

"But. Charlej- dear, you couldn't see it as she stooped unleBs she 
hod no hat or bonnet on." 

"No, that's true. It was funny. But it was only an iinpreBsion. 
Il all hnitpeucd in an instant ; iind how wrm I to know who would 
or wouldn't come into Mr. Bauerstein's gallery?" 

"It wa.i a ghost. Charley, it was a ghost I" But Chnrlcs disc^mn 
the mocking tone in thie, and is hurt, lie wants lo do the ridicule 
hinuelf. and otbLT people to take the ghost's case up, that he maf 
pelt tbetn. 




I 

A 



su 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



o^o^^ 



"I don't we wh; vou beliere in Alice's ghost and mak*? game 
mine." be saya, 

"Well then 1 He shall have a little ghost for himself he Bhall— 
if he's goodl But it reully it very euriuus, imw, isn't ill Seri- 
oimlyj" P*8sy fw'" that Frivolity ought to giro place to Paychical 
Keseareh. Charles aeeepts tlii? position. 

"We could tiini on n Mrdium or a Clairroyant. Jeff knowa 
one who saw fouqience in a ebiU!'§ stomaeh, and they had to turn 
it iipxidi- iton-n and iihnke it.'' 

"Fourpence in coppers !" saya Peggy, immediately on the alert 
on th*> ehild'a biJislf. "Oh <li.nr! I hope it wnMi't foiiqHiict; in 
coppers i" 

"I Hiippotu; it wiitt n tanner, I'll ask Jeff." But P<-J!gy louka 
veiy uncomfortable. "I'll remember (o ask." ('harles coutinuca. 
"Anyhow. ini!cliuin or no, I tell yoii what T will da. I'll hunt up 
poor old Verrinder again— did I tell you I met him eoming along!" 

"Tm, you said so — at Wnterloo." 

"I'll go to see him again, and try to find more about the house 
ftnd the people that bad it. I'll make n point of going. What 
waa the name of the people? Lemuel, wasn't itJ" 

"No, not Lemuel — ^Tri-mlrtt, T think it wn«. I know then- wiw an 
R in il." Whieh was an example of the sort of attention a story 
receiver from the amateur Psychophil. Fntioy the feeling!* of a 
ghost tliat is concerned to reveal buried treasure to impovcridied 
heirs 1 Alas, poor ghost ! 



CHAPTEE XX 



OP mss STRAKKR H COUi. AM> HOW CHAKLES WENT TO SKE HER Af 
OF IlKII ITOULI\ MOTIIKB^ AND I!OW CIUfiLBS SPOKE FKEXCB. OF , 
CHAT AFTER UVSIC, Ul THE Dr»K 

WnEX Chttrl<Tii Mid lulinti t« Pi-ggy nnd Alice nnd other members 
of bis family a neiek later, at the little railway alatiun. his aUtor's 
laiit iujundion to bim wax to go and m-c Vcrrindcr nitd intmp bim 
well about his knowledge of No. 40. Obariee eaid he would make a 
point of it. That in xucb nn in<-i!tiv« oxprowion that it miKWdH ; 
one who uses it is apt to feel that promise in such terms h almost 
a* go<xl an prrfortimncc, uitd Ibut be baa already done \i'\* diil;. 
Il is alao clear that anything you am guiuK '" nmke a t>i>nil of oaai 
be "stood over' for special attention later, while aimhing yoU' 
ore not making a point of had bcttir }<r done right off. or it mnjr 
get forgotten. Rut it may be ire arc, in sayins tbis, only trying' 
la iwncoct exL-uaed for poor Oliurli^, w!io ia rather a favourite 
oars. Detter perhapi! admit at once that he oURbt to hare gone 
to «ev Verrindt-r. aud ht didn't 

What a pity be could not forget his promise to Miss Straker to 
go nn<i hear her fling! Perhaps if hie nx^ollt-cliiig it had involved 
»n ftdmiMion that he wn» intcreslcd in a ghost, be would have for- 
gotten. And then who knows bow differently many things might 
htn nonet What a pity one cannot always forceeo everythingf 
maH arrange accordingly 1 

Ho had dono a good deal, in the swret drowsy world of the 
Devon beach — surely in eueh a place the Lotus is at ils best — 
to forget all about tlxt prolilc and the eyelid and the; voice that was 
to follow. But he had not carried oblivion far enough to have 
no curiosity about wlint il was ho had nearly forgotten, Thia 
curtosily would be satisfied when Minn Straker reappinred for 
her next wtting. Tie whs quito <;lt'ar ia bis own mind that he could 
iMitiufy it without danger. A» to the visit for the purpose of hear- 
ing her Toice, that was business, don't you seei He took good 
care to keep ibal separate. It was a promise, and he was bound in 

I honour to fulfil it. 

I Miaa Straker was punctual to her engageiosiA. Sba XwAtsA. 

I 215 



J 



31« 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 







pluiti, nniJ had n coI<3. ChatU-tt wutin't quit*' sure wluttlwr lu! 
glatl or M>ri7 for this. On the whole, be ivas inclined to be glad. 
ju3lif!(»I him in not being in luve wilk h»r — which bo nerer hod 
been, of course I Uut it is always pleasant tg feel that ODe has been 
justifii-(l. 

The weather had goae off — lost all its beauty. Things generally 
had co11a]iHe<] and become flat. They had changed nlao at Shelta- 
be on the day he catne awiiy. Rut on the Atlantic when tho 
tber changes, things don't go in the direction of Ibtneaa. 

iant rollers were pouring in nt Shelliicombe. and bathing nas a 
thing of the paaU While Alice was enjoying the eiperipnce of 
her iirat npnlly rotigh sen, Charles was wondering what po^6«3ed 
bim to praniise lo hear Miss Straker sing. He wsfin't much vexed 
though st things being so flat. It put matters oti u elenr footing — 
8 business footing, in a certain sense, lie was detcrmiued not to 
allow thent to get on any other. ITe would get Hiss Strslcer one 
or two good introductions — if she really had a fine voice — and 
then he would wash his bands of her. 

If Charles's coiuniunings with himself strike you as being rather 
unreason able, takf this into account: that he was constantly deoy- 
ing the young lady's ideiility with that woman in the Park. Con- 
tinual denials are like creeds, of which it has boen said that no 
man ever recites one until he doubts its substauee. Evun so no 
man formulate* hia disbelief in anything until be doubts its fal«e- 
hood. If lie had not been haunted by a misgiving that that noman 
WM rciilly Mixn Strnker, it would not have been necessary to dia> 
believe it so frequently. He tried to think of subtle ways of elicit- 
ing from her where she bad been on that Regents Park occaaion- 
But Charles had doubts of his own powers of tinessc. lie could 
not even deceive himself. If he had been able, do you suppose 
be would have been auch nn inveterate self-cxaminerl No! H« 
would have alloweil bimitelf peace and quiet. 

Miss Slraker was to gel over that eold before he went to hoar 
the voice- Charles sei/ed the opportunity to throw an almost) 
hard-hearted tone iulo his recognition of the fact that this didn't 
matter. Any rime would do — that suited the roeaUst. His tima 
wasn't hers exactly, but he would be sure to be able to find nn hou: 
or 80. 



I 



In this story (perhaps you may have noticed itf) some of tbo^ 
chorocliT.i ATv known to and understood by ua, the writer, down to 
the ground. Others there are whom wc can make no profession of 
underatanding. We cau otdj- conjecture and surmise about their 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



81? 



I M 

to 



Baotives and feelings. Never mind wb; thia ia so; include Idise 
Strokfr in tbi? Inlt^r <-Ius«. ronkc Cbarks the most eanapicuouB 
cbarader in the former, and ask no qtit^tions. 

WhclhtT the young womun hbicI to herself ibat so lonft as ho 
ended by eominir to the hoiiw and hcoring her sing, ihc iiitfTim 
wall of no imiiortanw, wfr bavt- iiu raeaus of knowing. It is possi- 
ble ihat we do her gTcBt inj\iKlipr by spct-ii luting on tlint point. 

nd n-mi-mbvr tbia too, that, admitting that she had mailc up her 

lind to entangle Charles and capture him, flbe wub not, sn far ax 

« «an see, playing tbe game unfairly. For it is a game every 

woman has a right to play — as good a right as the swimmer has 

to Ntrikc out for the shore. Remember too the stakes she puts on 

tbe tabic. 

You may also, if you like, ascribe to Miss Straker a feeling of 
ignily. and bclierc that this promptrd her to hnvr a cold and be 

ther morose and sulky during that interim; a feelinie which said 
ber that fkr van not going to entmp thi« giiiMcxs and trans- 

reul young man, and bring biiu within reach of a prehensile par- 
ent, wilh any ulterior motives. Why, see! Was she not snifflnp, 
and being an unattractive o^ pusaibli-? You aru wiilcomc to this 
view. It isn't ours. According to us, tbe cold was oppressive, and 
she Ml quite nurc of Mr. Uenlh when it hod gone, and she wasn't 
froing to exert herself to be pleasant until (so to speak) it ahould 
be worth putting capital into the vcnturr. 

"But then tbat makc« her out such a cold-blooded character!" we 
fancy vr« lu-iir you laying. Doc* it f And suppose it does, bow 
do we know she wasn*t) 

Anjrhow. about n week after his return — a week including three 
sEltinga of Hegan — Charles found himself on his way to Warren 
Street, Camden Town, lie chose a day when Regan had been in 
abeyance, so tbat no question of a perxonnlly conducted tour should 
in. It isn't called Warren Street, now. and tliere i-i no uw 

>ur looJiing for it under that name. We believe it is called 
lanccy Street; if so. we preft-r thu fornwr nainc. Charles waa 
inat a little dincomposcd to find from Miss Strakcr tbat the pleas- 
anteet way to walk was to cross Rcgcnt-i Park to Gloucester Gate, 
and then go past the York & Albany and turn to the right. When 
afae gave him her address before, he did not associate Camden 
Town with Regents Park. Subjectively, that Park began for 
bim cilber at Hanuvvr Gate, or some point in the Maryleljone Road. 
If you went througb it, you came out at Primrose Uill, '^toWi^.i, 
But you might get to Hampiit^d, or IU|j,\ig&\e, ot ^RT4t\<^-^i&- 




I 




k 



218 ALICE-FOR-SHORT 

Tweod. XoK Chatlea's ouly active mental association with Camde 
Town VM n street colled Owiohurfth Stn-i-l. thut you went to 
Kiii^'s Station, and came away from as won as you possibl; 
coijld. So when Regents Psrk came into court, Chnrlc* wisliod 
somewhere «Iae. He drovi- it out by reflectiug that where he mw 
the woman was do neani^r Camijm Town than — thnn plaovs gen«t-j 
nlly urr. 

It was a wild and punty afternoon, bred of promattire niiiinoc 
tialu, wh*'n he found himself kucickjng iit the donr of ii two-winH 
(lowed bouse opposite to a tavern in a garden that overhung tt 
rnilrond. which nt this point was in a deep trench, brnccd againit 
IiuidBiipa by iron girders. The dwellers near by live ill an incettant 
roor and ru^h of pacing trains, luid tis Charles nrrircd a tuimol- h 
moulli WHS about to throw up a train ahortly; but bad only- MI'S 
far. covered the tavern aforesaid with smoke. It came, in a lei- 
surely ftort of way, na hu looked out of the flrat-floor window, 
waiting for a sloppy servant-Riri to say "Mr. ileath*" in some other 
part of tlic Iioiisr, He lia<l told hia- to suy il. in this pbdhii^i^; but_ 
by mutual consent the recitation had been deferred. He was 
ecious that ibe voice of iiias Strakcr awked suspiciously if ho 
bocD shown into the drawing-room: evidently ho had had a nar 
escape of being k-ft waiting '*in the hall." He could not hava' 
said after whether he heard this, or whether it was a residing of the 
charncit-r of tlin sloppy servant ihnt i-iiforn«^l it as a coroHaiy. 
Ho caiisht more clearly a French remark; "Tii as beau mp gronder, 
Jc veux le porter. Jc nc KtiiN pns encore si vteille"; and Miaa 
Straker's reply: "Ah. mon Dieul La belle chose tiue d'avoir une 
mure qui Hluibillc en farfadct — iii lutin !" It wum odd to Gharlca to 
bear her duent French after his judgments of her for affectation 
of acquaintance with tlir tniigunge. Perhapa some of her defeeta 
cf Kngli«ih speech were due to her early up-bringing. He then ^ 
heard her way impatiently: "Allons, ma mere. Monsieur uotit^| 
attend!" and her mother: "Descends — descends! Tu fais toujours 
Ic brouillamini. Descender uuxwi Ic c-nnichit"; and then Miu 
Straker appeared, preceded by a poodle. They had been very audi- 
ble on an upper landing ns tlie di>or wun widi- open, and pi-rhapa 
had been leaa careful about being heard as foUca ai« when the| 
apeak their own tonguo abroad. 

The young lutiy was eerlaiidy looking her best, and Charks was 
•orry. He wanted to feel st-cnrc in hia cntrcnclimeni*; and that 
P«BBy'* appreheuaious, which he saw as clearly as the saw through 
him, sbojild turn out groundless. If they could be proved to liavo 
no /oaadBtion up to dale, iiidepeudeut impulses in the futurt!. 



■; but I 

ha4^H 
trrowjH 



•^ 



M 



AUCE-FOR-SHORT 



SI» 



qnlM uiu»nnec(«d with (lie prevbiia pnifilc and eyelid, might n>- 
main sn opra question. Not that he wanted Miss StralcoT at home 
to provtt ivimktTe. She wiut mdeiinu^ tn ii <MM-tnin nllowAnce of 
com«tineC8 — but it was to be cxaotlir cDouKh to mak« his visit pleM- 
ant, without making him feel tihy of wbnl lir Hhould hare to report 
to Pemty. who was alwars headquarters with hiin. 

"Unmma will hn down dirootly." Mid HiM Sirakcr, and Mhook 
bands unpTofeseionally. The venue was ehantred, and she was no 
longer cvirn ii biilf-fliilgis} Ibtodfl, but n youug lody unexplained. 
"Would you like tea. Mr. Heath! Shall we have lea now, or shall 
I singt 1 tliiuk I xbnll wing brtlrr, after tm. Whot do you 
think) I think Tea." And aa Charles thought Tea too. she 
pttlird n bell wbieh didn't ring. "WoiiUl j-oo bo ao kind as to pull 
that other one, Mr. Heath t Sometimes this one doesn't ring." 
Cbarks did so, and felt an inch further insido the family circle. 
He bad pulled one bell on one side of the hearth — she had pulled 
the oppoeite one. All thrM littlo thing* have an effect on life, for 
better or worse. 

"Ilere i« Mr. Il^nth, Matuma, in here," she continued, frying 
to the door; and t'liurlcs tlsiTcon thought he caught llir word« 
"Toujours gouvernante — je n'en ai pas besoinl" in a miffy undei^ 
tone from the old lady. IT<t daughter may have govemriwed her, 
but there was no doubt about her appearance — it was distinctly 
goblin-Hko. Charlr*. dvitcribing her aft<Twnnl« to Peggy, could 
only testify to brilliant parti-coloured ribbons, like flames that 
appeared to radiate in every direction from a little old (or oldith) 
woman who might have been good-looking onoe, but not on ber 
datightcr'* lines. If she had been good-looking, it would hare 
been piquancy, iiuite free from anything the least serpentine. 

"I am Tcry plir.-ln-nee. Ynu-Misterrr-Enee." Thi- good lady 
•peaks Eugli^i right enough, with only an occasional Frencb 
phraw, but cuts her sontenoce into segments, independently of 
their RM-aoing, uwiialiy ending eacb segment in the middle of a 
word, and with an ovcrpowerins French accent: "If I wa*« at- 
Ubcnv. Tee to sunk you a^ I shoode laigue. You woode not find 
toe tni7ni(*. But I am iinderTO the »«m of my dniigh. Tcrrr and 
dM will not nil. Ow me to iipik." This is the ueurti^t we can man* 
age to Urs. Straker's English, phonetically. She ended in French 
for the lieiiefit of Ikt daughlirrnr. "En eftel. Madcinoist-lle me 
tieut toujotirs en frein"; and her daughter, who was niakinff the 
tea. Mid pan-nthetically, "You muntn't mind Unmma. Mr. Heath." 

The bystander of a family tiS never knows wlutt to say. and 
perbapa is safest eaying nothintt' Bui u C\wa\e* Wi. Wi^-i 



I 
I 



220 



ALICE-FOB-SnORT 






opene<I bU month in the house Ix^fore the battli', he folt he rc« 
must speak at the armisl-ice, not to appear taciturn. "I'm aura 
Uisi Stroker buUic.-:) ynii awfully. MxliiirK.'," he snitl. cliKling the 
question of the latitude. "Dut I mustn't quarrel with her abou 
it, am) upset the nppK-eiirt, or ehi-'ll throw me ovnr ntid I shan't 
be able to set my head done." But though Madame speaka fair Kog- 
Ititb, subject to ameiiiimeiita, dlie does not know all its slang and 
colloquialisms. 

"Throw you ovare? Comment! Ovan'. when*!" And Hade- 
moieello (ucplains: "llonsieur a peur qu'il soil bouIevers4 au milieu 
de son Iravnil — <iu? jc lui manque si nous nous d^sncuordons." This 
is accompanied by a shaking-off action of the hand not eniployed 
ti'u-mnkiiig, to ilhistrnt'--. It is a very pretty white hand — ther« ia 
no doubt of that! 

"Mn foi. noni But now I umlerr. Stant what you m«aa. 
'Throw you ovare' — it is slanck — arjrol." 

"That's it! We're n elangj lot^ — we English. Americans ai 
worse. I don't think you're much to tjoast of. nowadays, in Paris." 
But it is almost as difficult to speak limited English that a fot> 
eigner will be sure to understand, as to s\ieak another language. 
The goblin in puzzled, and her daughter has to interpret. 

"Monaieur dit— que nous autres, nous sommes aussi argotcu: 
comme les Anglais— commo Ics Am^ricaina." 

"Ainfli ilisait toujoure ton p6re — te Dietionnaire was gone to 
Reville. Mon mari. Monsieur, my oi-band." Charles felt that 
iuterpri'iplion. curried lliis lenRth, reflected on his education, and 
began trying his own hand at French, rashly perhaps. 

"Je ptiis purler tin pi!u Fruncuis, mais je n'ose paa, paroeq 
j'ai toujours peur d'user les " 

"Mais oui — mais tmi — continue! ! Tout va bien — Monsieur n 
pas du s'arr^ter." But Charles has to go helplessly to the daughter 
to be rescued. He laughed at himself. 

"There now, you see, I wanted to say that 1 waa alwaya afraid of 
using ihn wrong words — what's the French for the wrong words' (**■) 
Neither mother nor daughter are very prompt to reply. One a»y9' 
"piirlcr iiioxnctcment," the other, "parler il trnvers.*' 

"Yes, but what's ihe esaet French for 'the wtnug words'! Thafs 
what 1 want to know!" 

*'Peut-«tre les mots inexacts — les mots mal-ehoisis," 

"Then when I got the wpong umbrella in I'aris and wanted 
tell tliG man at the Hotel it was iho wrong umbrella, ought I to 
hare said lo parapluie inexact, or mal-choisi?" 

"Won't you have another cup of teat You'vt had twot — yes, but 



lat 

i 

"I 



M 



ALICE -FOBSnOfiT 



W 



IT* snotlKir. Not Very well, then. 'Saw well hove inuaic. 

''ould 70U be M kiiid as to close that window, Ur. lioatlii You're 
learast to it," Charlc* did ss miiiOKtnd. 

"Hope you haven't been feeling cold?" be said. 

"Oh not It isn't that. It's boeauKo it sound* •» in the utroct, 
and the people atop. What aort of music do you like best, Mr. 
Healht Gounod's Bcrcciiscl WilUbat doi" 

"Cerlainly, but unythtn^ you lik e " 

"Gluckr 

••By all meapfl! Whatever you yourflelf prefer." 

"I don'l care. One song's the Bamc ns another. Perhaps T sing 
tbJB beet. I'm sorry our room's so emull. Mr. Heath. Never luiiid 
taminff over. I can do thnt. You'll hear best in .vour old place." 

The MiiiR was the Gounod she had nieutioui.-d. It was a song 
Charles had never cjired for; it wasn't in his line, lie would have 
preferred aome Gluek. But the voice! It was simply btiwildering — 
that ia to say, bewilderiDfc as coming from a young persou lo all 
•cnmtng m> itnmusicsl. For Charles had decided in hiH mind thnt 
abn waa an altogellier iinmti.iiejil character. Probably ahe was. 
Sut her voice was superb, for all that. 

She followf^l <in with a Htornrllo of Oordigiaiii and then "Pur 
Dicesti,'' and others; but seemJttK quite indifferent to which she 
•ang, or what aort of mu^ic. It wa-i apparently only necessary 
that it should be a tax on any ordinary singor'a high notes. She 
acnncd pi^ectly bnppy at the top of the human gamut, singing 
with a piano tuned up lo concert pilch. Charles sat on. sat on. 
listening to one song after another. The dnsk of the evening 
lirew, and the gobliu went to slee;> in an armchair, and woke with 
staria at eno re-crises, and said ma foi, ahe had l>een presque 
lie I But Charles still sat on, and another song came. At 
Uiss Stralcer said we should have to have lights, and she was 

■rry, because it was much nicer without. After balf-a-doien songs 
■«t IcuHt, ihi-rp could be no immediate hurry for more, if only from 
mercy to tbe singer. Also acouatie advantages of distance from 
the munic ceased and determined. To remain at Ibu other end 
of the room would surelj- api>ear aeodleaalj stiff and ceremonioua — 
fur tlu- goblin'it protest* at intervals covered all reawnablo claims 
of chaperonage. Charles orosaed over to the piano, and eat beside 
it in the half-dark. He wan a little intoxicat«l with the music. 
But he was conscious of a wish to retain formality of relations, 
piaviaioDally nt any rate. lie eniild make any cunceissions at any 
time; but. if he committed himself by a word, ha could not with 
lu> idaaa of huuour retract on« letter of it. 




933 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 




"I cannot understand," be eaid. 'Svbat you told me about ihai 
voitt: br<-iiking down. Ton hare niing to mc for quite an hour andif 
a haJf, and there secma no auco of fatigue." 

"None whnti'vi^r! But it might brrnk ()<iwn now at this moment; 
anything the least upsetting — a person I did not like coming inta 
tb<? ro»ni — might do it." 

"But how does it break downT' 

"Simply stops " 

"Would you be afraid of taking an evening engaet>ment — to sinff, 
at u piirty i" 

"Not a bill Only the people mijiht be dleappoiuled. I should 
be ob1ig»l to tfll. Kone of tJif aspnti* will rccominciid mo bocaueo 
of it. 1 broke down at a swell parl.v at Lord Bulintr's. and it was 
my ln»l chnnw- with th<^ agent?. It had hnpppned before," 

"And you could go on singing now, nud liuvi; no fear of a break- 
down r" 

"Singing to you — none whatever." The aoMnt on you waa rety 
idight. It might have mrant anything from "you alone, whom of 
all other I would soonest Hiiip to." to "you when you are tlie i>nly 
ptTson in the room, and not 6\ieh an important one neither." Per- 
hh^ Cbnrlctt ought to huvo bud u greater alacrity towardii the latter 
interpretation. He did not catch at it. After all, he was not euob 
a sttiio that wntimeutul oonfidcncf-K with n hi^d of very beautiful 
hair al least, two side faces that taken apart were certainly rery 
int<'rOHting, and a hand that ginnmcd white in tlic dunk on th<- key- 
board, should have no chamis for him. Charles was young, and 
male, and diingi-rously incxiK-rieuccfl fur bis iige in the riingo of bia 
own susceptibilities. He fondly imagined thai a limited study of 
Peggy nud bc-r friends had given him m> iiisiglil into wumunkind. 
As if they bad ever — oven Peggj- herself — told him tlic whole truth 
■bout anytbingi And if he had been told nuw, tbal this girl was 
saying to herself, "I have only to watt quietly, and this younc 
man will jump down my throat of his own aoeord." Iw woidtl hav« 
repudiated the suggestion indignantly. Hind you, we ore not say- 
ing any Much thing was true; end we have no mi-icis ai fulhumiiig 
Miss Strakers thoughts as she sits sketching a slow tunc with her 
lingi;r fipH on tin- silent piano, with Charles — well! u little furtlier 
off would have been safer — thinking to himself that we could do 
without the lights a bit longer. We ace only Haying if Charlea 
had been told this he would have mapped tho teller's bead off; 
while we should have said. "May be ao — may be noil" 

"•Surely the model business must be very distasteful to you I" 

"Honey has to be earned, Mr. Heath. Of course when Mamma 



4 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



233 



and I c«m(^ to London wo thought the singing ms going to b? s 
great Bucceao. Pcwnntiiio wiis tto bopefiiL You luu^t not tliink it 
was pnt aside too easily. Wo made many trials before wp gave up. 
But of cskiii-ito <in<! <!un(K>t Uke aittiijig to artiats. No iromaa could. 
Oh d«ar! What am I sfiyingr' 

"Why not? I nuitc ondfM^tfliid." 

"I was sot ihinkinK of you when I said artists. I am glad to 
*it for you, Mr. Ilwilh," Surely tlwrii was no noed to qualify tJii«. 
"At least — I mean — Wei! ! I only mean — artists are not all alike. 
TIndn't wr brttrr hnvr th(? Inmp ? Just listen to Uamma t" 

"I like sitliHjic in tlw hrilf-dnrk." 

"So do I. Hut shp won't f\eep at niglit. if ^e goes on like 
that," And tin- ponversnlion ran on, or snimti-n-i! iin, like thi» — 
Charles eouldn't hare said hon long — till a clock struck and be 
jiimpt'd up »nddcnly saying hv must be gone, it, being wrvi-n o'clock, 
by Jove, and ho had no idea I 

"Mamnn, rvcillp-toi! Monsieur E'en va — 11 vent to foiro w» 
ndicnx." But tlw- goblin denied having bocn aalrep. and Olinrl^s 
took his ieave, saying that ho should certainly try nbat be could 
do in the way of cvvning (.■itgagcmcnts fur Mias Slrakcr. 



CHAPTER XXI 



HOW CBABLEa WEST TO BEUnUH, ANH CaME BACK. HOW UtS3 BTKAB 
SiNO TILL ELEVEN o'CLOCK. ALICE's sPECI«EN. PaoPllKTIO POLLTj 
UOW CHARLES COULD LOOK UI8 SISTER STRAIOUT IN THE FACE ABOUT' 
tllSS 8TRAKER 

Whrx Charles next bow bis sister tbe equinox was past, and tb^l 
irsles that hnd hem in such a h\irry to Kct to work thut iifii^raoon 
of liisi visit to BJiHs Straker had eome to an t-nd reluctantly aft«r 
a busy life cxpct-dinfr terra-time. Thpy hnd Kalisfied thMns<-lvi^s tliatnl 
front WM nt bund; that fog would be forUieoming; tbai every day"" 
would be shorter and chillier than its predecessor; and that tbo 
metropolis would he miserable eiioiigb nnw without having ehimney- 
stncks blowii <iowii and jietticoats blown up nnd umbrellas blown 
inside out. The early riser, rubbing the windnw-pane dear for 
belter vision, could see the hoar-frost glitter in tin? cnrl.v MinlighL 
He eould then, by waiting a little, sei' llie suioke of the earl; 
kitchen fires pn slrninht tip nnd spread itself nround, and thicken 
and thicken and thicien until it was an early fog. and its nature 
and origin could be analysed and investigated and made a Blue- 
Book of, and its conw'Ction with the kitchen fire denied. And no 
doubt tbe eiiuinox knew this quite well, and felt thnt London w*^;, 
provided for, and went off on onotlicr job. 

Chnrles had not, U-m in Tendon the whole time. He had spent i 
week in Belgium, going in the boat from Antwerp to 'Lav 
Bridge. It made him think of Mrs. Gomp and the Ankworks 
Package, It was a mill-poud sea. huving a rest after ft<*nt exer- 
tions, nnd if it had not been foggy the voyage would have been 
pleasant. As it was. Charles (ell it would have been edifying to 
have Mrs. Gamp on board, and hear her opinions on the subject of 
tbe steam- whistle. He was very gind when they got into 
Scheldt, and still gladder when he had found his way to b He 
und was having eoff™ out of ihi- thiekest of all possible cups, ai 
listening to a carillon playing "Voici Ic sabre, lo aabn-. le snbre.'_ 
There ie no pWsanler sensation in the world than feeling yoo 
have really got abroad, after being in EngUtnd. And tlwt coSe9_ 
i* the thing that drives it home to fou. 



n va«^ 

^entifl 
andodfl 





AtlCE-FOR-SHORT 



99S 



Oliarle* wandcrml about Antwerp, twnacioua of defective ctilti- 
ration. lie felt that his orgnn of Kutx-ns ought to h&vp been 
inoK <iCTploiM.i! before be came ihere. He was very gla<i Pegrgy 
vsen't with him in connection with the anatomicnl dcmoneirB- 
tiou picture in llie Oallery, But he can't really hare cared very 
much nbotit Art, for he got bored, and went by boat to T«iD»chi«~ 
and iMick. And next morning be went to Audenarde, and the oarilifl 
]oD «id it was la fillc de Uadame Angot And then he went on to 
Brufres. and found that St. Ureuia oonldn'l be seen for another 
week, becnuge of some Teitrrungement of the Gallery. So he saw 
what he eoulil and wi-ut on to Cbt-nt. Ht- really went much too faat 
to «oc anything. Trnvetlers by themaclvea are very apt to do tbia;. 
Howevi-r, he was auiu^d, rueliiu^ about. 

Ue sppnt an hour or two nt Bevcrnl olhnr Flemish toxmx, and thwM 
went back lo Antwerp, wbert- be found a ateainboat just start-^ 
iog for Rotterdam, and thought ho should like to *ix> tlolland. H« 
had still a day of his return ticket left. But aliia! before be had 
got lialf-way he found the nnxt boat back would bo too late for 
the London pa<'ket. So be hnd to gel out nt Dordrocht to oaleh 
the boat that had already started from Kotterdam. Ho spent two 
boun in Holtitnd. walking; about nt Dordrecht. He caught tlie 
London boat iboutth, and reappear^ at London Bridge just eight 
day* oftLT liir nturtcii. 

You ibink that all thin hns nothing to do with our story t Te&— 
it hai*. For it »hows that whutl^'l^r impression Mi&i Straknr had 
produced on the susceptible young man bad had ample opportuni- 
ties for vanishing, in all rcutum. .Tusl tbiuki Eight whole days, 
Bpent in about that number of picturesque old towns, Wo are siiro 
that, when we wrTi- twi-nty-four, no young lady would havn la.-iti-d 
throuKh that- Hriworer. we don't bclicre that this one realty did. 
It wiw iin unfortunate curioaity — akin to whtil he who fimily 
abatains from a novelty in nectar feels as to what it would have 
taxtvd like had lie drunk it — that made Charles discover, on hiB 
return to his Studio, that it was absolutely essenlial that Miss 
Rtraki^r should come next day, before his impreeaions of Flemish 
work had faded; othorwiw Uegan might suffer. He couldn't get a 
Irtter to her itt timi; fur im nnMwer. nnd it would be just as easy 
as not for him to call round at Wsrreu Street in the course of 
the <Trening to securv hn. In thciac days there were no sixpenny 
telegrams, reply paid. 

So he must Dii-d» luvi- a ride in a lianBom to what lie lum«elf ana* 
pected of being a danger ahead, merely be-cause he had nowhere in 
particular to go to — for bia family were nox 4m« «v M^jAa "?*.■**- 



A 



ALICE-FOB-SHORT ^ 



Garden* till next daj, and even hia father had been swer the 
fortuigbt at Shellacombc. If be had only b(y.-ii content to bide for 
a talk with bis »^(?r, thintre might have taken a different coane. 
Mind you! If Cbnrti-«i bud liccrn irresistibly attrnct<^ to thi* girl, 
ve should not bare bad a word of blame for htm. Bui be was aoy- 
ing to liimMrlf nil tlir whib- ibiit be wiis perfectly det^ichcd and 
independent. The only evidence that he bad to the contrary was 
tbat hr oiiid it 3:0 nfu-n. 

He went to Warren Street and soothed his conscieiife by keeping 
the hansom waiting half-An-bonr, «k ibousb forsitotb be meant to 
go soon. Then he settled down to stay on. and disuii^s<?d it. Utsa 
^tKker was as good ax bcr description of her own pciwcn wbca 
tbi^rc was no one abe disliked in the room; for she sang to Charles 
and the goblin and the poodio till pa«t eleven o'clock. Poesibty 
it is only lllx;aus(^ wc are ixi fond of puur Charles tliat it seems 
to us to have been somewhat ead — it certainly was neither bad, 
nor perhnps even mad — but it ivae at least sweet enough to makii 
him feel, as be let Ihliss Straker'e very vhiie band leave his. at 
tbe street door, that ho whn rtmning away from bim.wlf ss wd. 
an from her, and tbat lie bad (ibia lime) got away safely fro: 
both. 

We hope wc arc not doing tliis girl, witb her beautiful rippling 
hair and superb voice, and slight obliquity of visage, a great injus- 
tice But the transilion to tlie family party at Hyde Park Gar- 
dens Bomeliow aeema to remove us from a doubtful atmi 
phere to a healthy one- Tbc comer* home had brought tlio fr«>ih 
nesa of tbe sea with them, and Charles had a fe«liwK difficult 
to describe in drawing eompari^ns with his previous evening. 
It was tbe firat time be bad lived in two worbls apart, and tbongh 
be bad no sort of repugnance to tbe two worlds merging, be had • 
haunting sense of its iinpractieabilily. Suppoaiug Mi^ Straker^ 
(and as be carried the senrence no farther in bis mind, wby should 
we) — bow aboHt Peggy t Oh dear, wby did ihcy sci-m bo anti- 
podean) 

Charles, while denying Mi«s Strakrr overtly, had in some dvptb 
of bis inner conaciousneas a speculalioa going on about the recep- 
tion of a young lady exactly resembling her into « family exactly 
n'jjembling biii. In this aubliuiiual drama the parallel of Pfggy 
went to call on tbe parallel of Mies Straker, and found it good- 
found it in fact fiilfiUiug all aorta of self-denying functions, and 
an example of heroism in respect of ita adoption of tbe trade of 
Model. All tbe revelation (tf cbaract^r went in the direction of 
sound moral <]ualitiea, tending to ju&tify the parallel of himeelf, to 



^^ 

ing 

us--^ 
ar>^| 
oanH 



ALICEFOR-SHORT 



m 



afaov its judirnmit. siid to exonerate it from too unconf^itional 
«iirm»rlrT to mpm iM-oiity — (in whioli. bl>w^^v(■^, P<'ggy'9 dniililc UM 
tnoie Btnsi than his did; in fact the latter epoke of Miss Strakar's 
to tho former an wquinting, nnd got indignantt; ftxtingiiished. Rill 
father's |>arallel kept curiously iiuiet, but his mother's was actire 
on the ncorc of Fiunily: wo*, howuvcr, just cm thr point of siirrcn- 
deriug to llie warm advocacy of Pefrtcy's. when the original of 
Chsrle* found hn fa&d nrHvi'<l at (Tycl<! Park Gardi-nn in tht^ nick 
e£ tile departure of unloaded vehicles and the middle of a Chaoa of 
WM-blown, Kun-tannud arrivuU, kiaoiufc liim when femalo and aikingi 
queatiom : — 

"I am gnins,'' thun tht; voii-e cif Alice. pl(uir abort- Ihi^ turmoil; 
"I am leoinK to show Mr. Charley the thpelhimen I've collected — I 
colhrcrted it tiiidiT a great h>g otone — ever so big ! Oh, it wan auch ■ 
hig stone. And .it kicked, the thp<>thimeii did, awflr — but I held 
on tight, nnd Dan he took it and oli-aniil it out, nnd it trnulfln't 
die for fver so long. Such a beautiful thpethlmenl And oh, it 
does smetl no nice" 

"To be sure. Alice-for-sbort dear. I must »eo that upedmcR. It 
sounds a beautiful sitecimen." 

"But tlio born BTe itoing hack to tbi-hool." saya Alicfl. ruefulljv 
She sto's it n'tlh confidence in its relevance to a sympathetic mind, 
She and Chnrlcji nnd Pi^gy get out of the mainsln^um of truiika 
and arrivals into s batJcwater in the parlour, where the parrot 
liTM. Thr 4-xcitcmi'nt witliout is taking form in Polly in n surt 
of whtrlwind-daucc, upside down, round the top of his ca| 
with a curt, dry remark, at intcrvBls — "Better keep that dooi 
•huL" 

"Alice is to no to school, tool We've settled it all," says Pefwy- 
"But you. dfiir boy. you do look eo townified. Whj- wouldn't you 
come for longer to the sea 1" 

"Tvf. been all Oria- tlie Low Countries, harriii^ Flolluiid — 
couldn't get there in time. Pvo had plenty of change. I only got 
home two dnyd ago, so I don't see how I cun look towitified." 

'^'ve such a lot of thing* to talk about that t don't know which 
to betrin with " 

"PleHSie. Miss Peggy, may Polly come out. jnrt this oncp — jus 
only thi» once He'll promisi- me to be good — won't you. Polly 1 
But he declines to commit himself — may even have conncicntious 
missiiissa how far it ia safe to do so, fur he aaya in a very 
aaecadi manner indeed: "The bird makes such a row ytm can't 
hear yonrwlf iipi'uk." 

"Nonacuoe, diick! The idea of having PoWy omV uq"*. \o. ^■■wA 





SS8 ALIOE-FOB-SRORT 

I think he hnd better be covrrad »p.^ Pcrhapa he hadt for 

has begun calling fdr ihe Police, at the top of his lungt. 

"Bui I shall sliow you my thpcthimen, Polly, when you do come 
out," says Alice, as conaolation. auii Polly falls iuto an undertonQ 
about something that amuses him very much. 

"I really have, tliough, Charley dear, heaps of tliinga to talk 
about. Only first 1 want to know about the younff lady thai si 
Miss Slraher." 

Charles wtis a little disconcerted by the suddenness of lliss 
Straker'a appcnrsnce into ibe conversation, having iiuite forgotten 
that in hia lust letter to Peggy he had said: "I heard Miss StntkcT 
eing last nighl— her voice is wonderful." 

"Who JB Miss Struker! Wliere did you hear her)" 

"Didn't I tell you about her? At Sheilacomber 

"Nol That was Miss Thiselton. Bh-ss tJio boy! He's got sui 
a lot of young ladies he doesn't know which is which 1'' 

"It's the same young lady. She eat for me as Miss Thiselti 
But her real name is Straker," 

"Oh— Charley dear!" 

"What. PoggyWoggy )" 

"Is it the same girl that went away down the slxeetr* 

"Why shouldn't it he!" 

"I didn't any it shouldn't. I only asked if it was," 

"Of fourae it wasl" 

"Well thcnl Why need we be so toiich,vt But you're a dear old 
boy. Now I must run or 1 shan't be ready for dinner. Come 
*)ong, Alice Where's Partridge, I wonder." And Peggy depart* 
upstairs in the wake of the family, with Alice attached. 

Charles was ready for <linner. So lie went up&tairs to the draw- 
ing-rooro- But first he uncovered Polly, who said thereon without 
emotion, "Straker.'' He reiieated it three times with perfect dta- 
titictncsa. and then broke into a genial laugh. Charles covered him 
up a^ain. He felt that U>a grent a prominence might be given to 
iht mime It Poil>' shouted it all the evening in the bearing of tha< 
bonsehold. 

*'And now, Cliarley darling, do tell mc more about Miss StrakeT." 
This is in oonveraation after dinner in tho bnck drawl] 
Xlie rest of the family are playing games in the front. 

"Why tlid you say. "Ob. Charley dear,' do<wii*tairii about her 
Peggy is far too truthful to stand on bet indisputable rtgbl to ssy, 
"Oh, Charley dear," and mean nothing at aU. Bc«idv«, intonation 
is worse than eyllablea. 



4 




IL4UU I 



ALICE-F0R-8H0ET 



t*9 



•^ell! I did hopo she iras allogclhpr n new one Of floone I 
know nothing whatever agaiuet Uias ThiAettuu, or Stnlnr. Only> 
if it luul boeii a aew one, she might not have been " 

"Whatr 

"Why, of course you know what I mean — n. Model and (hat sort 
of thing," 

"I don't believe she ie that Gort of thing. But no doubt she is a 
Hod«l ID a sense. She sat for Mr. Calthorpe, who I ln^lieve knew 
h«r fiiat aa ■ musician — he's n good deal that way — and he passed 
hef on to me." Charles went oo and gave a cireumstniitial account 
of hi* ai-qiiaintnnce with the young woman, Etnting fnct« but Hoften- 
init Bspeeta. He said nothiug about the Park inciUt-ul: after all, 
bin haring half-mistnken some one else for Miss Rtraker wasn't 
eridence. He could not have told it either, without deeming to 
have been threes-fourth* miHtnken at least, 

'^ut what I can't see." said he. when lie had made a clean breast 
of it, ■'is why I shouldn't get her a ]Einging job — even if she w<u 
that sort of thing (in reason and moderalion of eour»e). If it's 
bad for girls to sit for artist*, surely it's bett*?r. when one can, to 
get ihem something elst' to do. Aud this girl's voice is — I really 
can't tell you what it is! It's the most singular case. I should 
like to know what Paracelsus will think almut it." 

"IIclI be here directly," said Peggy, with confidence, "Ilis note 
only «aid ho wouldn't be hero to dinner. Vi-s. I should like to hear 
her voice." But she looked very thoughtful over it too. 

Peggy's coufideuee in the early apiiearance of Dr. Johnson was 
wrll-gronndcd. She went out to moot his footstep on the stairs, 
and Cliarles remained. fecHug diBcreel, She returned in due course 
— which meant quite four minutes in this casr — bringing with her 
a very medical attendiiut. The yachtsman or .ourlat had vanished, 
and his tlt^rees had reasserted iheroeclvcs. Wliethcr Hupert. was 
himself again now, or had been himself then, who shall say! 

There wan evidently room for a good ilenl of conwrxntion about 
Shellaeombe — but it came to an end. Then Peggy seieed an oppor- 
tunity and *ftid: "Kow let's ask about the voice. You tell him 
about it. Charley." And Charles, rather glad to have Miss Straker 
brodclusl on ti-chuiciil grounds, said: "Yes. we want your opinion," 
and went on to describe the case, "You saw her at the Studio," said 
be when hv hud iloni< so sufficiently. "You (-iillnl her a beauty. 
P«rtuipa ehe's hardly that." On the whole he felt he had done 
very well, considering; and that Pnracolsii* wouldn't get any mi*-! 
taken impreB«ion«. as ho called them, about her. He laid menUl^ 
KUeea on tbe importancci of this. But vhen ¥uw:iAs>w w&.\ift 



230 



ALICE-FOB-SHOKT 



couldn't recall another eaae like it, but he would aak HiiScr. 
Hiiffcr, or Mfiini! itgch Dame, nbout it, Chnrlen felt illoirieally that 
he wasn't prepared to hare Klisa Straker diamUaed so lightly. He 
vm* riithrr difKuiilt to satisfy, wiis Master Charley, and not quite 
clear whether he wanted to talk about her or not. 

But conversation is like fro^ in ■ mnrsli. or birdn Id a wood. 
It will die quite awa^, and make you e.ipeet the nest topic; wln-n 
jurt one rfiirp of ■ nightingale or trill of a fl\iti' from a froglot, and 
the whole performance ie gone through again, da capo ad libiltua. 

"Whiit wn» the name — Strakerf" nskod the Doctor. "U that 
what Polly meant. I wonderl I thought it was traitor, and 
couldn't niak<' it out." 

"I suppose his shawl's slipped off," said Peggy. *'Sometillies It 
don< 3ntl then he begins. I thought I hoard him shrieking;, juMt 
now." Shi? went to the door again, and it wa« soon manifeat that 
Polly was sliouting "Straker" al short intervol.i, Charli-s didn't 
at all look forward to having to cxjijain Polly's new word to the, 
funiily geticrally. And he was very audible. Even after the d' 
was closed it was difficult not to hear him, attention being o: 
anoused. And he eertainly kept the qu^tion before the house. 

"I wisli you would go to set? her. Master Rupert." said Pi 
"You could pretend you wanted particulars of the case for a 
What do you think it isf" 

"Sonietliing nervous. I fancy. Nothing to do with the throa' 
nothing in the organ itsi^lf." 

"Does she look hysterical. Charleyl" But the Doctor wys looi 
ar« nothing to gi> by. nor symptoms. Some women are hyaterii 
without any symptoms at all. 

"Then, how do you know!" says Peggy, with severity. "B 
flTcn if she's not hy3t*'rii:nl I should like to know more about her.^ 
Because U this dear goose of a boy ia going to sit liatening to her 
by the hour together . . ." 

"I've only done so once— or twice." 

'' . . . I should like to know what nort of a girl whi^ r«uilly is." 

"Why don't you go and see her yourself I" Thus Johnson. 

"Because T'ni afraid I shoiddn't like her. And thm what to say 
to Charley I couldn't, couldn't tell I" 

"Do you think," eays Charles. "I car« so much as all tliBt!" 

"Charley dear, don't be artifioiaL Oh dear I how transpar«: 
young men arel You're not much better yoursult, Rupert, eo g' 
needn't talk." 

"But I really don't," says Charles. And reassured hy hia o 
voice, he teally tbiuka be doesn't. 



!r 

I 




Supert hasn't preeti-d the front room jet, for all he's been such 
■ Ionic time chatiing. At this juncture comee Mrs. Hi^ath's Toice, 
uking, "Ik th^t Dr. Johnson I hear?" with an accent that, sei-ms to 
imply that I>r. Jackson and Dr. Wilsou might have oome. He 
got* nvray U> an accolade, being very popular with alt handd. 

"Now. Charley dear," Peggy says, very seriously, 'nisten to wh&t 
I mat going to say " 

"I'm listening." 

"Very well then. What I have to say is this— Yea. Sit still like 
that, and I'll rufile your hair. That's right! Now about Miss 
Strakor " 

"Fire awayl" 

'^f you can look me strnight in the face, and say, really and 
truly I needn't be uneasy about you and her " 

"Of course I can say that. Really and truly you needn't be 
linear " 

"Oh, yon silly boy I Do you think I don't know nhcn you're pro- 
TflricatinKt Voii know quite wdl what I mean." 

"Perhaps I do. But then I dou't know whether I do or not. 
So it otnL-s to tJic same tiling in tlic end." 

"Are you indiSerent to this girl — absolutely indifferent 1" 

CharU'-s takps off his spfctnrles and polishes tliem. When you 
can't answer yes or no to a question, it is well to have some slick to 
whittle, some pipe to light, snme stitch to take up. Pulisbing 
spectacles ts very good. Before Charles replies, he makes the 
IrnxM briKht; then looks round at his sister through tlu-m. 

"Aleolutely indifferent is a large order," says he. "I don't 
Itnow that I can quite nin to that." 

I'efCKy knows nothing about Uiss Straker — only suspects and 
doubt*. And all hrr misgivings nioy be groundless. But Chnrluy 
IB her brother of brothers — her idol of old time. There is trouble 
in h(!r hrarl. ami troidilc in her voice. But its words ore only, 
"Very well, Charley dear, you would like me to go and see her. and 
ni go," Then Chnrlea iriea to pull s little philosophical indiffer- 
ence into the conversation : "Yes, I should like to know what you 
really think of her voice:." But he feels he is a little behind 
time with this. It may as well stand, however. 



CHAPTER XXn 



L 



BOW PEOGV CJlLLED ON MISS ETIMKER, AND MISS STBAKER WENT TO ' 

GARDENS. HOW ALICE AGREED WITH POLLT ABOUT HER, CHARLEs's 
PATHER TKISKS IIIH A FUUL. HOW JIISS STRAKER WROTE A LETTER, 

AND Landed a rtaa. but what about begekts park' 

Peoov wns aa good n9 her word, aud did go to call upou Miss 
Strakcr. It was by appointropnt. and Miss Strsltpr wns nt home. 
It was oTi uuc-omfortabW visit; but Uien it would hove been mora 
so if there had not been tho resource of its professional charnctcr. 
Its object clearly was to forward the .vouiim; woman's musical proft- 
poetp. The agents might haw given her up, but that was no reiiKin 
why private introduction should not push her. Provided nlworfl 
that the voice was all that Charles's fancy painted it. But oveo 
with tliis Imekground. the visit was an oucomforlahle one. 

Miss Straker san^. and woa in good form. There was no doubt 
nI>oul iht? vciioiT. That wa» all right, at an.v rati«l Bill vfliy did it 
present itwif so stroogl.v as a set-off, a moke-weight, against sonut- 
tiling that wasn't ( Whut was it shout the dinger that made "at B»r 
rate" so necessary? Why did Peggy's mind employ tlie same pbraae 
about tile goblin Fn-ncli motlier b3 she' was drivni homo nftttr 
nrrsnging a day for Miss Straker to sing at Hyde Park Gardens to 
her family and a few appr^iative friends! Wilmt rfie then said 
to liersrlf was, "He wouldn't marry the mother at any rate!" Of 
eourse not. Nor the poodle. But the appearanw of thia consid- 
eration showed that however little Peggy might feel drawn to the 
young woman, she had recognised fully the dangers of llic aitualion, 
and ucknowkdged to herself that her amount of beauty (with that 
hair and all), coupled with such a voice, might be quite euougli 
to daxxlo en<l ttntauglc a boy nf Charley's sort. But then, what 
bad happened after all to justify her in assuming that this was iho 
girl's motive and intention) Absolutely nothing, except (lerbap* 
that it happened to be Charley, and who could help being in love 
with Charley, for all his spt-ctnoles 8 We, in this story, know moro 
ubont Mi*" Straker than Peggj- did. Yet, for anything we know, 
she may have bcwii trotli-plight to somu othL-r yimng giintleman else- 
where, without having overtly deceived anybody. Unless, indeed, 
JOU bold that she ought to have said to Clurlea, "Tbat'a the end. 

33% 



4 



ALICE-FOR-SHOKT 



asa 



■ 



mto 



i III 

L 'n 

Hthcs 



of tbe BOngs — now ro — Vm engaged," or. "Leave hold of my band, 
Mr. Heath, it i* another's; n fnir shnke is one thing, but—"; and 
eo on. It always eeeme to us that it would be safer to forbid friend- 
chip bctvn«n whut Mrs. Smith rnlleil j'oung ladies and gentlemen of 
Opposite eeses. tlian to pretend to allow it and then be so nice and 
critical about the di-tncanuiir uf the former. Especialljr as we are 
so very c&sy-Koinir about the latter. This tirade of ours applies, 
howrvrr, only to Miss Strnkcr's attitude up to thi- dnti- of hcT visit 
to H.vd? Park Gardens. After that, discrimination is called for. 

As to thi! ritiit, it was a success. There was no hitch in tho 
nn^nK, and no dissentient voice about its value. The ,vouug lady 
was looking her b<'!it; uiid that, as we have said. wn> very ^trik- 
ios when the line of eight was not exactly at right angles to the 
WEIR of her ^-ebnlls; it improved also in inverses ratio of their 
inclination. Charles was internally triumphant, with the slightest 
rtviTvalion — aunlogoiis to the one Peggy had made in another con- 
nection. "They could all see what a fine singer she was. at any 
mto!" There were rules at which they could not see Boraethinn 
; not specified. But there were many other things which ono 
Vftuld see, at any rate. Elleu said troldly that one of these was that 
ahn wnnn't n lady, and had evidently never bi-cn in good society. 
"You're a nice young lady to talk." said her father; "why. you've 
only been in good society yourself thirteen yeard." 

"There now!" anii! thi- monkny. loftily, ''tliat shows how much 
Papa knows about things. As If I was in any society at all. Why, 
I'm not out yet!" 

"Then T vote you shut up!" said Dan, the youngest boy. "Alico 

d I think she's awfully jolly. Don't we, Alice T" Now nona of 
le young people had had much opportunity of forming an opin- 
ion, having unl.v been in tho room for a limited term, and then on 
tolerance as it were. 

"Wliat <lo<yj Alice-for-sliorl think !" said Charles. "Come and tell 
me, Alice-for-short." And Alice comes, ending with a leap on to 
Mr. Charles's knee. 

"I Mink," she snys, struggling en the initial to avoid saying 
fiiik. "I tAiiik the same what Polly thinks." 

"What does Polly think !" Alice warms up to narrative with hpr 

ea qiarkling, and holding very tight to Mr. Chnrl<!.-i'a wntch- 
cbain. 

"Poily thulh-ink»— Kiss Straker's — quite, quite beautiful! Polly 
eeed her — sawed her— of coorlh I She came into Polly's room. To 
MM* in the glass and take oS her shawl. And oh, such a (uuivs ti'A 
woman 1" 



I 

i 





ALICE-FOR-SHOET 



"And Polly said she wa^ quiW beautiful! Oo ahead, Alice." 

"Yc*. only otln-r word*. Polly iinid. 'Just iiko mc, jtut lilca 
me.' and I said who. And ho said. 'Straker.' very loud- And I 
cntled hitn a vain bird — ^yes, I did." And Alice adds emphasis with 
nods. 

"Perhaps Polly meant her mother, Alieffl" sugKcata Peggy, with 
gravity. But Alice gives a long incredulous shake of the head. 
She knows Polly bctti-r than that. 

"Well 1" said Charles, after more comparison of notes about the 
funny old woninn and her daughter. "At any rate. Miss Straker 
has Polly's good opinion." It is extraordinary how oftvu thi 
reservation -111) ruse came in. Blio had a wonderful voice, at any 
rate. She bad great facility, at any rate. She had beautiful hair, 
IjCBUtiful hfinds. tcttth. figiirp, etc., nil nt any rote, Charles liked 
her. at any rate. Peggy didn't dislike ber, at any rate. Every- 
body used the •■xprcssion without noticing that every one clw had 
done so too. However, in spite of this, the visit wan on tlie whole 
B success. 

If we bad been Charles and had wanted to avoid an appearance 
of being in love with Miss Straker, in the interval between this 
party and a larger one to whieh musical influence wns to \ie invited, 
we should not have acted as be did. In our opinion, he would have 
done better to disccmlinue viltings ultogetlirr iit the Sliidio, and n^it 
to call uuneeessaril.v at Warren Slreet. Instead of which, nhal 
between arranging nt every .Mtting for the day after to-morrow, and 
calling at the house in the evening to eoy to-morrow would do just 
BB well, he contrived to see a very greut deal of Miss Struker in 
the interim between the two parties. What precise form their 
intorviewingii took on these occasions need not be set down ia 
detail; we are satisfied that the goblin would not have fallen asleep 
if iihe had not had full confidence in her daughter, ond ns for 
Charles we ourselves feel every confidence in him. No doubt their 
bchnviour was uncKccptiounblc But what coneerns this story is 
that when at tbe second party the young lady scored a most bril- 
liant Mjccess, the opiuion wns freely expressed, in conversation 
about her and Charles, that "anybody eould see." In dealing with 
interesting subjects of tlii.t elass. Society does not always talk lika 
a book. Speech in frsgmenla is more expressive. Society con- 
firmed nnd extended tbe verdict* of tbe famil.v circle; tlie lady sang 
ma^ificently. looked well, was quite producible — all at any rate. 
But ulwnyit tliere was this same reserve. 

However, anybody could seel There was no doubt of that. And 
OB everybody looked (.perhaps even more than they were asked to 



1 



AUCE-FOR-SHOKT 



235 



look), erpfybody did see. PegRy felt uneasy, fretted, distressed — 
but iJitf ooiil<] not *ay exactly v!iy xhc ftlirnnk from hcsriiig what 
she knew ehe should hear. There was a sort of Btlffness, ahnoat. 
b<'lwi*ii Iht mid C!mrlc-y — m-ither Kpciiktns to tJic othCT of Mimi 
Straker, I'ejKj-'s feelings taUinit the form of secret commise ration 
for her brdthiT, mid his of o ^ti^iiioion of it, cotipI<^l witji 4is iifiir tin 
approach to reseniinenl Ujicninst it as he could feel where Poggy 
wn» con(H"nicd. Tctuion in vnrioiw fornin run through thi- fainil;r. 
Charles's mother offered him aD tnauimate cheek to kiss and with- 
dn-w it on the icpot. Ht-n wna un attitude of it^rcrtful iliinuty 
under trisl; of fulfilled foreknow ledtio of diutftcr elisbtcd by ft 
hciiilittronj; circle of rclntionH; of an intimtion ultiinHtely t" brin^ 
to book the real fon» et Qrigo matQrum, her husband. The boys 
worn uiidi-r tcnition in another ttra^e. They wero bottling up ilcri- 
sion — icaitioK for the sifnial that should let them loose on their 
rictint. Elli-n oloni', acknowlc'dfriiig no jurisdiclion, bound by 
oettber man nor Mrs. (irtrndy. attacked Charles boldly on the sub- 
joet, and iiskctl liim hi« inlcnlitinK to bin fati-, 

"I don't care what Miss Petheringtou says," said Miss Ellen. 
"I'm foiirtoen next July and Tm not going to hold my tongue nnd 
be ahislied. What I want to know is. are we going to have Miss 
Straker for a simter-in-law or an? we not ? Which is it to bo f Aiul 
that old <iuy witli tlio rilmnda for an sunt I No— Charley I It's 
DO UK your glaring and looking inscrutable. I mean to mnk<; yoii 
IcIL Now, Charley dear — is it to lie Miss Straker or is it not?" 
But Charlo kept on looking inscrutable. "Is tekai to be Mis* 
Straker, Jumping Joan V be asketL It was a general nickname for 
Elk-n, from « well-known nursery rhyme. 

"Is — Miss — Straker — going — to murry you or not? Now is that 

plain, or ahnll I nay it all orer again I Is — Miss " But Charles 

interrupted her to eay Miss Straker hadn't asked to be allowed 
In, M far 1 

"Now isn't Charley ridiculousC This was in appeal to Teggj, 
the only other person in the room. "As if one didn't know tluit 
ladies never propose T' 

"Xadi« jivwT propose," said Charles, imperturbahly, "without 
consulting the gentleman's little sister Joan. Not real ladie»." 

"Now iwi't Charley irritalingf Anyhow 1 nhnll ask Papa what 
A« thinks. You see if I don't." But Charles and Peggy made but 
a poor job of a laugh over it, when Joan had departed. Pege7 
was more than half inclined to cry, in reality; while Charles could 
only aay hp rc«Ilj- hadn't proposivl to Miss Straker, after «,Vi\ "V 
won't hare you worried about it, my darUug ViS, oa^^v'j'Br «aSw 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 

hia sisirr, kiseing him. Aiitl he felt in two minds nhout wTipi 
he wouldn't wash his hands of the whole concern, and pret«ud 
he wnntcd lo go awny and study in Rome, or oomcthiiig of that 
BorU 

That ovOTiitiK ho and hi? father were left alone, late, 

"Charley boy." aaid the old geutleman. suddeuly, "tell mc about 
Mim Straker." 

It waa Charles's nature and instinet to meet every questiMi (from 
his father certainly) in llie spirit of llie qiiestionoT, and to rfply in 
full, without evasion or reserve. In the present eaae he hesitated. 
not from any dtairv to kei.'p back informslion. but bccnnnc he rc4illy 
could not see his way to wording it. It would have been an ease- 
ment to him to be able to say : "I love this girl, and would marry 
her if I could. Will you consent to her if ever I canf Will you 
take her for your daughter, and help me to n^k my motlicr to 
accept her too?" lie could uot manage this, and very strangely it 
WM the first four words he could not Sll out. Uo could linvc aiikfid 
his father's consent to his marrying the lady easily enough. But 
although ho could have nffirnieil his intention as to action, he shrank 
from anything that expressed or defined a fffcling. Under pressure. 
he might have said grudgingly that he supposed he was what pco- 
pUt call in love with her. Bui be would not hnvc wiJoonicd the 
obvious rejoinder — "If you only suppose it, hadn't you better try 
to live witliout her. for her sake and yours !'' Because, you ecc, 
he had got to the point of wanting to marry her, and taking for 
granted that he wouki not, could not, want to marry her unless 
lie loved her. What a pity he could not analyse bis own feelings, 
and coUnIe tbeiu with the fact that he had only known MittS 
Straker a few week? ! 

"I can only tell you a very little about Miss Straker," sfaid he, 
replying to bin father's question. "What I can tell won't take 
long. She was introduced to me by a fi-llow artist, not as a pro- 
foaeional model, but ns a young lady whoso circum stances were not 
very prosperous, and who would not raind caniing a little money 
by sitting provided the artist was n friend, or a friend's friend — 

well introduced. I mean " Charles hesitated a moment; hia 

father may have been looking n little incredulon:'. 

"How do professional models generally begin?" be asked. "Do 
they knork at un artist's studio, and say they feci like Hercules or 
Venus, and don't the artists wont a model?" Charles laughed. 

"Very oflc-u." he said, "especially Venus. Oidy. you ijuito 
understand? Venus wasn't in it tliia time." Yes, that was quite 
undtTstood. "However, FU toll you the rest I know about her. 



n 
4 



1 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



flSt 



Her fatlipr was n teacher of Ia[iguagi?8 in Paris; whether he U llr- 
in^ or not I am uiiwrtuiui there is some rcliictBnoe to speuk of it 
Bad I don't like to ask — ho tuaj be a eveej). She haa a younger 
brother mtint-'d Maurice whom 1 have not seeD yet, ami a mother — ■ 
as per Mmplc the other day." 

Charles tJien rec-apitulakil the atory of Uie singing experience, 
«nd honoiimbly admittei] how often he had been at Warren Street, 
and that he had found the houae very iittraotivc. T/ he did not 
Ktatc to A nicety the exact degree of familiarity that subsisted 
between him and the young ludy. we feel surt- l!mt (if you hav« 
CTcr been young yourself) you will excuse him. Fancy, every time 
ther« was any little kiasiuK or squeezing or truderueH-i, if you hnd 
to achcidule it and frame a rcporti Charles, howover, didn't coean 
to flinch from any easeuttal in his confeasiuu. 

"I know. Fnther," said he, "that what you wanted to know about 
was " 

"Exuctly!" said his fnther. "About your own relation to her— 
is there anything you can tell mef 

"Is there anyl" Charles reflected. "I am not sure that I ahould 
have her sanction for saying there was. She has never nutburined 
roe to do so. Nothintc has passed between us that would make it 
nnjuatiiiablo in her to refuac ma lo-niorruw, if I mnde her an offer. 
of my invaluable self." This was stretching a point; but it wafl] 
tmo thin fur, tliul tlu^ tsHt time Oluirli-s purtcd from lu-r nt hnr 
mother's door, they parted in silence. Otherwise, the parting had 
been as loverlike ab yoti would wish to ace, or as tli« coutribulora 
would wish yon shouldn't. 

"What w your aetiuil relation, my dear boy, at this momenlf" 
Charles paused a moment — then replied; 

•If nothing hut the ufficial tnilh is to be lold. none at all — but 
tins official truth would bo a lie. In my own heart I hold myself 
pledged to her, and T believe she knowa it. Whether she holda her- 
solf plolged to Die I do not know. Ilnve I ony right to pri-J<« her 
to say ajus does, when I have not had any professional success and 
may nm-er hare any — am still a mere st\identi When I took up tin 
profession of an artiat, I knew it was u lottery, mid was quite deter-* 
min«d not to involve any one else in the risks I ineurred myidf, 
I knew I might never be able to marry, and accepted the positiou." 
This sounded hoTAJc, and Charles felt happy over it But hia 
father evidently did not. 

"Arc you wire yon <]id accept the position V said ho. "It aoomal 
to me that a resolution never to marry was very little Ufte. \k'a\sflft^ 
you also made up your mind nCTer to iaW m Xotq— X^iV sXwwi wA 



838 



AUCE-FOR-SHOBT 



I 



showing it Tou can't carry out the idea honestly short cf run- 
tiiag ttwav frDin ctAtiy girl you like." 

Poor Charley looked veiy downcast. "I see it now." said he; 
"it'n j'liBt as yoH Bay, FBthrr ! Brit, oh ilftnr ! — it i> so insidi(nis." 

"T«»— it's quite celebrated for that qualilj." The old boy 
(■hucklci! to hinutcrlf over hi* Hon'* cnniloiir — but was eorry for him 
all the more. "But wait a while. Charle.v boy. wait a while t Hope 
to »cc the way clear, and try to nee atraight." 

All ibia occurred two or three dnya after Om muflical gsthering, 
and the second day after the porliuii: in Warren Street which wo 
haT« hinted at above. Charles had rcccircd a nota from Ui«s 
Sirakcr in thu morning asking him to put off his nest visit till 
he should hear aiinin from her. She had to go into the country 
for a day or two. The letter was not stamped; perhaps was brouglil 
by the brother (whoui Charles had not ao far seen), and left in 
the lettcr-boK at No. 40. 

When he got back to the Studio after the above interview with 
bi» father, he found another letter wniting for him from the 
young lady, with the postmark Watford. She had written from 
the country, and it was a long one — must have something in it. 
CharU-s'ft face teamed with satisfaction ad he opcnih] it. It 
changed as he read aa follows: — 

Pabfitt's F.iBM, on the RicKutNsn-ouTu VioiD, 
Near Watfobd, Middlesex. 
Ur Dear Mr. Heath, 

I hnvo mudu up my mind I should write to you. hut do I 
do right f 1 am inexperienced and do not know where to look for 
advice, for you have ttpttn my Unman, and as for poor Jfauricc, ho 
IB a boy. But 1 know you are good and will believe me it is for 
both OUT luikeii I apeak. 

I have been awake all night thinking of our parting last evening. 
And I am ctitivinwd it is right that I shoidd apeak without reserve. 
There should be no conftatmcnis helivten us, 

I am convinced that !t is belter for both of u« that wc should not 
deceive ourselves. I feel sure, although I can scarcely tell you 
what makca mc, that happineji-i is not possible for us except at a 
price I could not ask you to pay. I cannot ask you to rttnonca 
jiour family for my sofcrr. You will say there is no need. But. 
indeed, indeed, I am right. Sometimes we women sec these tliinga 
more plainly than mm. I can wx- so plainly that there is a gap 
bttwoca u». I cannot ask you to make tbla ^crifio; fur my «k«. 



I 




ALTCE-FOR-SHORT nv^ 

"Dcsit Vr. TT««tIi, you must not blaino mc. You trniitd not if yon 
could kiiuw what pam it costs me ti^ wrUu tbU. liut I kiiuw that 
/ din right and that it ia for your happiness that no aiiould say 
good-bye. It ie best that we should forget. Think of mc only 
as your most affectionate friend— 

L. S. 

Do not. I beg. say one wprd of this nor show this letter to your 
good nnd bt-ntitiful sister. No one is to blame — but I em sure of 
what I say. Adieu 1 

Waa this letter written with a full undcra landing of Charles's 
choractrr, and an intention thnt he would behave exactly 03 he did 
bt-hace! For of course its effect upon him waa (and we say ihia 
hopinnc that wo have made his cbarac-tcr as clear to you as it is to 
ouraclvu) tliut. in the firmt jilaoe, he tfcitrfrly slitpt. lu tlu- next 
that, after an insufHcient breakfast, h<? niadi? straiitht for Euston 
Station to catch jin cnrly train for Watford. In li-nn than nn hour 
be waa being driTon lo tlio address so circumstantially detailed in 
the letter. He was told at the house that Mi^s Lnvinia had walkrd 
out but would hn bncJc idiortly ss brcnkfnot wiu; n-udy. H'^ uskej 
ia which direelion she had gone, and wejit to meet her. When sho 
saw him, hct exclamation was. "Oh, Mr. Hcnth— you cmmol lutve 
got nijr letter," Hi> made no immt^liote reply, but caught her in 
bis arms, kissing her passionately. Then he said, in a voice that 
showed the tension of hiH f«-Iinga: "Tour letter t It brou(i;ht mo 
hero. But I will not have it sol You are mine and I am youra. 
Beaides," he continued. l)eeoming calmer, "indeed you are quite 
mistaken in imagining things about my family — they are not what 
jou think them. What a sillj- girl you are!" But fur all thai he 
had his own misgivings. 

We have said that we make no pretence of undcrslandiug Miss 
Straker. But we wish that it aliould be itoted that if she did intend 
to bring about fhia result, no mor(> nkilful mnnipuEatiun could 
have been resorted to. It might have failed completely with another 
man than poor simple, chivalrous Charley I Under tlie circum- 
stances its effect was threefold. It assumed a more advancod 
iifugf- in The Lovcr'n Progress than wn* warrantable, or than it 
would have been safe lo assume witli every other man. A good 
many young gcnttemcD, »» we understand, hare t^ven gone tho 
len{[tb of kissing younfr ladies (not under mistletoes), and yet 
both would have been nurprised to hear ihnt there were to be do 
conceabnents between them. Secondly, under cover of this asauniQ- 
tioor it made a very explicit declaration oi tho ^cud^s w»^^1&RQ^A 



I 




340 ALICK-FOK-SHOKT 

the writer without &ix^ appearance of ovOT-forwardneea on' 
^ Irt. TLirdly, and chitfly, it onticipnttd tJw; omsurca of &e liigher 
nq;>ectabUitif8, and disarmed ihem hy anticipation. How could 
OTQB n Title liHVi? descended in wrnth oii the social surroundings 
of a girl who had of litr own accord quoted ibem to free its aon 
from the rash undertaking of a motaeDt of hcedlesness. But 
whatever suspicion passes tbruug:h our mind, or yours, tliere wo« 
none in Charles's, as he nccompanicd Miss Straker back to the 
farm-house; where she was, as slie explained, the guest for a 6ty 
or two, of a friend she liad made iu the course of her musical ad- 
vunturea with Apeiila iu London. Her name was Clara Parfitt, 
and she was a fellow rictim with Mies Stralter of the said Agents. 

Naturally Charles, who had had no brealcfaet to speak of, 
accepted an invitation to stop on nud have some more. He passed 
the morning intending to go by each train in succession, but they 
all snorted away audibly from ihi? slaliuti without him; slowly at 
tirst as if to give him a chance to overtake them; and then fneter 
and faster, even as trains relieved to have the matter sellled. He 
stayed to dinner, an early mid-day dinner, farm-house wise. To 
he brief, he forgot himself entirely in n fiKil'ii paradise, imd Clara 
Parfilt showed herself a model of sympalbetie discretion; for she 
undertook tneitly to play priijiriety, and dt-serted the part without 
providing an imderstudy. What with one thing and another, the 
succession of deferred departures ended in his just catching the 
last train. 

There were two roads to the station, and there hod been somo 
debate aa to which way the gig which was to take bini was to drive. 
One was the better road, the other the shorter. The couple were 
toiisiderately left to make their adieux clear of company. 

The ni^lit had clouded over, and cold sleety rain was beginning. 
By Charles's reiioest. Mibb Struker did not come out into the open. 
ijhe remained under the honeysuckle porch; the gig was waiting at 
the otlier end of ihe gardeu walk. 

"Good-bye, my dearest love!" said Charles. "Now remember! 
No more doubts — no more besilation:!. You are mine and 1 am 
yours." And then, after such a farewell as becomes a love^, he 
was seate<] in the drifting ruin beside the driver, "'It's got rather 
late." he called back to her. "but we shall catch the train." 

"Tell him to go that way," she called after bim. and pointed 
to her left. The young man who drove turned round reluctantly, 
"Tlie ro-ad's a bad ro-ad." be said, "but belike it's a surer one, 
taking count of the time." 

Charles just caught hia train. But wbi-retts the youug man who 



ALIOE-FOR-SHORT 



241 



wulked r>m (be gnrel gardcn-puth was joyous with an intoxicS' 
tion that conies onlj' once in a life, the one that rode homi^ in ths 
rnilway train was inisorable with a tnisi^viii!; thnt by the tim« be 
reuched Euston had grown to fever-poiiil. 

For the words, "tell him to go that way," wore the worda spoken 
by the womnn nl the Pnrk gntc. and the tiiovcnicnt of the hand thnt 
(loititi'd to the left was t!ie nioveniwnl of hers, nnd tin- volri' itself 
was here, and the fi^re. And the worst of tt was that she had 
told him, unnsked, that she herself had hecn, at the moment, e!9&- 
where. 





CHAPTER XXni 



BOW PBOCr CALLED AflADC ON MI»R STRARER, AXD OOT LtTTLE COMFOItr 
FOB CUAALBS. litSS STRAKEU'S L'NCXKTAIN SOVKD 






Charlies h^d promised to go to dinner at "the Oardena" 
evening, lit- did not go. ertiding iiiatvad a note to Peeiiy, tell: 
her not to expect him. He wasn't feeling »ory first-rnle — nothiDf 
pnrtimilur wrong; only a alight cold, ttnd he thought it best to ke«p 
indoors for a dn.v. 

This wn« en unusual attitude for Charles. His normal comw 
would hare been, being unwell, to tab to the family msii«ion to be 
nursed. But he was always transiian-iit. us Pt'ggy suid. She 
MW at once there was a screw loose. "It's Misa Straker. somehow!^ 
»}><• Raid, with insight. "I shall go anil seo." Sti nn th<- in'irnin? 
of the third itay aft<r Charles's inteniew with bis father. Peggy 
went to the Studio. 

"Oh. Charley, dearest hoy, what i> the matter!" said shf to the 
haggar<] worn-out %ure she found there — "instead of her brother," 
WHS how it presenti'd itsolf to h<:r. Anything wnrse than a flight 
cold, or a reseonable disquiet, had not erosseil her mind. "Yeft-^ 
you're quite in a high fevnr, and I shall send for Bupeit." 
felt his hands and kissed him. 

"No. Poggy-Woggy, please 1 We won't have Rnpert just yet. 
tell you all about it. and then I sliun't be so had. I didn't want 
to come hoini- and have Joan jumping all over me." 

"Very well, dear! Come and Irt's he quiet and you tell me 
about it. Of course it's Miss Straker." 

Of course it was; and ns Chnrles lold the whole tnith, ani 
wouldn't tell anything but the truth; and as he never oould soften 
anything without sliowiitg obviously that be was softeninji: the 
atorj pn-9«.iitt'(l itself to Peggy as an u^ly one enough. Still it vm* 
impossible to say that there were no circumstances whatevw 
whieh a young woman might be alone in a Park, yet blandi 
Only, how about ExcIl-t Hall t It was n rase for absolute ampeo- 
sion of opinion, pending ennuiry. Pet.i.'y was thoroughly aware 
that even in making such fn<jiiiri(-' ''i . inl'l be dan^r. For 
sister who (however warranlably.i -':ii,|.-, doubta, negotiates, 
posee. io the preliintuurie« of a brother's marriage, oiust be ) 

U2 



e»— 

Sb^ 

III" 

ant 

'1 

■no^ 
ften 
the 
w«« 




-. ^ ^ 



ALICE-FOR-SHOBT 343 

pKFcd to etAnd or fall by tint ctvent. If it cnitim nboiit, Aq will bo 
ttie lister in Law alone. doC in affection, of her brotht.-r'd wife; if 
it dijcA not, lier brother will puss through n cnacoDdo inoTcmciit 
of forjiiveneM, «DdinK in & triiiiupliaul wcdding-mardi with 
aiiulher Ituly, witli griititudct obbligalo to hcmolf. 

PfKHS ^^8 vise, and took Up the poeition that the niiitter mutt 
be <:k'urL-cl up at oiun;. in jiinticc to lIiM Straker. It was probably 
easily explainable, if onlj we looked it lu the fatie. "You irt»piil 
boy," said slie, '"you don't mean to say you wodid go on and marry 
tllis poor girl without speaking to her about (hi») Tlieii why not 
•peak Dowl As she herself said, there ought to bo no concealmcnls 
betn-eeu you." 

"Xo — Poggy darling [ But fancy my going to her first thine' 
afli.-r the way we ported only a few hours ago. and hurnling oil 
this on her only because of a eouad in her voice, a movcmeut of 
h(-r bend. If it's all nonsense, as molt likdy it is, think of the 
figure I shall cut!" 

"That's true enough." said Peggy, "I di<ln'l think of that But 
why shouldn't I go to see her. and try if I can't touch the point 
without searing herl I should soon sec if there was anj-thing 
in il," 

"How diould you set about itf* 

"Dou'l kiiuw — gouauj-! — till I tr>-. I should be guidtid by the 
conversation. Now just you let me go and sec her at once and see 
if I don't g<rt riMiugh to ch'ur up tlu; mistake — it's only a mlfitakv, 
I'm sure I — and I'll come straight back here and put your mind 
St oaM!. Will she 1x1 at homei" Pence dawned in potir Charley's 
storn)-woni heart, and he kisaed bis sister and called her a duck 
and an Angel. Yes, most likely she will be at home. So off gooa 
PrKKy atraightway. 

Poor Peggy I She had undertaken a difficult task. She felt liko 
Jiidus as she kissed what she did not suppose waa oerttiin to become 
her sister on the cheek. "From what Charley tells me, dear ilisa 
Strnkdr," said slir. "I think I may take it as certain that he has 
cboccn you for his wife, und that you have chosen him for your hus- 
band. X(>ne of his fiimily know it, except myself. And I have 
come at once to tell you that whoever niy brother loves, I love, «ud 
to ntik you, so far ns I am concerned, to tbinW of yourself as already 
one of our family." She felt that »lie had bceu rather makiti^; 
a «pcec-h, and waxn't iture she wasn't a hvimbug. Perhaps we all 
ff*l this whcnerer we say anything consecutive. Honesty is aup- 
powtd to bo fraught with jcrk«, and cincority with sloppinew o£ 
style. 




Slise Stntker's eyes nought the ground, and the fine cfdidB 
naaerted theraselvfs: "Oh. how kind — how generous of you, dear 
ii'itis Ueatht How otn you forgive tnpt" 

"Forgive you for making my brotlit-r happy! Thut ia easy 
enough," Peggy laughed. The conversation that followed was 
general — but on the same linesi. P<-ggy, bowfever. dwell on the 
fact that her own action was quite independent of any of her 
fiimily. whom ehe had no right to eommit in uny way. But, uud 
slie, no one of us would ever oppose Charley in anything be had it 
heart. 

"I think he lovee me," isaid Miss Strnker. As she aat on the sofa 
beside Peggy, with iier head drooped and her eyelids in evidence, 
she certainly looked well. If Peggy had seen her on the stage. 
nhtr would hav(? said how Irue to Nature, Seeing it done in daily 
life, eomo slight idea crossed her mind that it was like on tba 
stage. 

"You may be suro he always means what he says," said she. most 
uniheatrically. But she bud aomebow to get on to the Park quca- 
tion. How should the do it t It got more and more diffictilt. 
Suppose slie was to try round by Exeter Hall, and see if she could 
get a lift. "Y«u are very fond of muaic," she went on; "ao 
Charley." 

"I suppose I am fond of mueie — yos," aaM Miss Straker. "Sonii 
times I think I am not — but only that I happen to have a voice, ai 
that has made lue ^Jug." 

"You must tip fond of mueic-~0T how could you stand an hour 
outside Kxeter Hall, waiting for the doors to open!" Miss Straker 
looked blank. 

"Oh no! I never did." said she. 

"How very funny 1 Chnrles certainly told mc you told him a] 
standing outside Exeter Hall one evening." 

Was it or was it not the case that Miss Straker was biting 
lips, and looking a little pnlei There was a piuiw- of a fc-w 
iM-eonds h^fore she spoke. When she did there was the least sh: 
of eiiapplabuesB in her tone, 

"What can make Mr. Heath say so! It must have been 
where eii*e I said — the Egyptian Hnl! perhaps!" 

"Very likely," said Peggy, conciliatorily, "but it doesn't the least 
matter. Charley made a mistake." For Peggy hiid got a littli 
nlormed, and was not prepared to rush the position. "Perhaps,' 
she said, "you are fonder of music than you thi:ik, and if you ha< 
to do altogether without it, you would miss it very much. I dare- 
say- you practise a great deid!" But Miiut Stntkcr did not aiwwcr 



I 

>ur 
^sJter 

-I 

t har^ 




^ 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



US 



»nd w»n»M) uncfl^. She w^nt back to the previous 
Son. "Am ^•Il^ siirt? he s«i<l Eieler Hnll?" 

"Quite SUIT," And u Miee Strakcr had KTived the point her- 
wlf, Pvssy reiiulvvd to curry it a litt]c further. "Quiln lurn,, 
Becauee he said he muet hav» been mistaken in fsBcyiiig he eat 
you ftomen'ben> t\%e. the wiini? evening." 

There could be no doubt about it. Ikfiss Strakcr was rer; di»-l 
quictMl. She twiated her fing«rs into one unother, cleared bor 
throat, and tidgrted a« «h« eat. 

"Whi-rt? did hv ibink he saw met" she said. But the uttonpt to 
epcak uncoDccnicdly was not a buccww. 

"In R^-gvuU Park oomirm through a grate into tliti inntr circle, fajr 
the Botanic Garden. 8oroo one wim folIowinK the person he to<dc, 
for 70U, and she asked the uian at the gulu to sny iihc hud 
in the oppoBiIe direction," Miss Straker wn? certainly very pale. 

"Thrrt- in my mother," nnid she, bs a kno<-k cumc at the nlmct* 
door. She left the room hurriedly, as tbougrh to niect her comin^;^ 
but her FtepH mounted, nudibly. One eneily hears tlie difltirenc 
between goini; upstairs and grains down. 

"Et puis I Xe se trouvc-t-ollc pso il la maison^nia fillet" said 
the Ooblin, corning in n minute or mo Inter. "Ow-do',vnii-do, Uccm 
seeoe? She-as-leuve-you-by-your. Self-eet-ees-rude." Peggy,| 
wifely shNtflininK from ncbool-rooni French, raid Mitts Straker \ 
iuat Bone upstairs. She was afraid she inisht be unwell. 

"Slwt wan veriwell r^rinanor. Ning I will go and sec," said the 
Ck>blin, and went upstairs. 

Then Peggy hr-nrd acraps of a colIo(|uy which was (like the on© 
Charles had overheaitl under tlie same oiroumslanoes) probahl; 
more audible owing to the speakers' taking for granted it wouldl 
not be uuderstood. 

"Non— non I Jo ne me s^ns pas maladc . . . ne chuchottc paa 
. . . ni lu n'ns pus bi-Miiu dc beiigler. K'esl il pas possible de parler 
i demi-voix sans vocifererl" . . . 

''Tu me rrproeh(!S toujournl . . . Mais, iju'est ce quelle a dit — eo 
efletr 

"C'^it loil" The rapid qwech disappeared behind a closed^ 
door, and became a murmur. Presently tho door opened, and ahe 
Oiugbt Miaa Straker's words. 

"Dia eomuA J« le tous ai dit I Moi je ne bougo pas. Je 
ioL" The old woman ■aid stuni-thing which might have beeifl 
"Hoa tyran." and came downstairs. 

"EUe a un pen dc vertige. tnn filW 8he-B8-geedncSB-Q{-4ap 
Kaia, Hadenioiselle ni'u bieu compria\ C« ii*«tt\ t\«i^T ^^n 



946 ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



Frencfi 






PcfCgy bad been bctravod ia a rash momieDt into anying in Frin? 
thai ahe voinprcbeiidiHl. It let Uadame looae, releoang her from 
Engliab. 

"Ce n'est rienl ga va passer — affaire d'une <I«mi-h«urc! Plait; 
il! Kaia comment fnut-il vous en aller — gi pen Je tempa! Vri 
meiit, si vous voiis en allex, ic dois payer raiiii-»d<\ Elle 
biimera." But Peggy insieted on departing. She had diatinc 
bfard Mixs Strnker sn; alic would not come down again, no whcrfi 
was the use of stopping!! Neither she nor the Goblin really cared 
for convprsation, and the Inttt^r vury likely did not know how 
quick events had moved. If i«he had she would have broached the 
aubjcct, inatcnd of talking ahmit how Iivt datightdr Iiiilliod hor. 
She appeared to be referring to a recent blowing-up, without con- 
sidering that Miss Heatli waa not 9uppos(<d to know aufthtng 
about it- 

"Ma fille me fait totijours le bouc-fimiBOftirp dc see bfnioa, Vou* 
Buvei! bieu ce que c'est — le boucn^missaire ?" 

But Peggy didn't know, and the Goblin didn't know what the 
Kngliah eiiuiralent was. Thia made both ft-ol the limitrdncM of 
tlit^ir tuinintmion; so, after a little more reciprocal mieunder- 
standing. fnr virility's snki', leave-taking developed naturally wi 
out cfi^-tslinfai^tioTi to eiTher. 

Peggy went strnight back to her brother, thoroughly iinhnp; 
about the whole concern. What did it matter if Miss Straker wi 
unable to nceotint tn him for the fact tliat ahe waa out iil»n(^ lal 
in Regenta Park? There might be a thousand ways of explain' 
ing thnt. Bnt nothing cmild clear away tlie apparently deliberat« 
falsehood about her having heat elsewhere at the time. And what 
P^SW had ovcrhcnrd seemed to supply the motive for il. "C'etait 
lui," the laat wurdH she Iiad heard as the door closed, could only 
m^-an that Mips Strakcr had caught sight of snnic oni? she Oioiight 
Chark«, and had fearciJ that hf — whoe^-er he was — also had seen 
her, and had then fudged up the Escter Hall story to cover contin- 
gencies. Why, if she reciiigntaed him, she should not sjwak to him 
and get his companionship and protection home was a mystery to 
Peggy. But then eJie forgot (liat a young lady who did not know 
lier brother as she did. might not think bim, as she did, an Angel — 
or if human, a preux rhevaHer at least. 

\- She told Charley all her interview with the daiight*;r, and so far 
na she could he sure of the French, of the rest of her converaation 
with lh« mother. It was all miserably unsatisfactory; almost 
damnatory, so far as telling a lio went. Peggy saw. before ahd 
ie£t Oiurles, thai hia feverish misery and anxiety were changing to 




ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



S47 



1 



anitry cosTiclicm. Fi^nring he h)iouI<I ni^ih intn nn exlrrmc in tbU 
direction, find do Mies Straker more injustice. &ho trio} to eoftcn 
matl«re. "Vou know. <tfur Cliurli-y." slu- siaid, "thCTi* ur* so many 
thingd it miitht have been. And think nbat a trirl's t«rror would be 
of one false vonslruclion tliut roi^cht Iiavt bn-n ptit »» lit-r bt^inj,' 
there alon« at that time. Do you know ; I atmoet think 1 my»c!f 
miglit havo gone the k-uKlh of n good round lit- luidcr the circum- 
8tan«re." 

"No, you wouldn't. Peg, Tou would have up and explaineil. 
TTou'ri.' only Haying that to exonerate hcT." 

"Ob, Charley 1 You're gt^tting too hard o:i her before you know. 
Now do, dear boy, do as I eay. Or let it be this way — ni write 
to her at once, and iuiy thai I by my atupidity haTe made you un- 
comfortable. Put it all on me," 

"What po>«J will ihut do) I should linve to tell hex when an<! bow 
I rccf-gnia-tl her— the night before last when I came away 1 Oh, 
Peg^y. it will never be Oie aarac thing again. It's nil spoiled I" 
And the poor fpllow broke down and wa* so miserable, that Peggy 
aaw tbt-re was only one remetly possible — nnrescrviHl explanation. 
If ^iss Straker collapsed, and Charles threw her ofi as worthless, 
*M that aiieh an eviU It would Ixr less poin for bira to know the 
truth now and get it over, than to be undeceived about her too 
hiie. Bi.'sidex, wlio conld way iiow I'drnpli-liOy »li() might not clear 
herself? Anyhow, she was entitled to a frank indictment and a 
fair triaL 

It was settled that Charles should see her forthwith and should 
i"pcak plainly, Peggy wn» biddi'U to atny a wi-ek in the country 
with a friend. She had to be off very soon to pack: in faci, she 
looked at her wateh over it. But CharU-y wouhl write to her all 
about it directly, wouldn't hel And he wouldn't go and do any- 
thing doaperate, that wfl> a dear boy. would bet Peggy kis^r-<l him 
exbauatively, end said good-bye. But she went away with mia> 
Sivings in her heart. 



CHAPTER XSJV 



OF Vim PttXISSK S SECOKO OIIOST, AND IIKtt CAT, MOSES. flllE IS NOT 
ao »CR.\aGy. AFTER ALL. PaVCHICAL BESEAROl. HOW CHARLEil 
MOKE MUM KTRAXEK qCITK Orr. UISS OEOUGIE AUHOWSUITII. 
FBOUy WILL ME Utas STBAKKK AOAIN 

Poor Charl«y could not ecrew his oourajce up to sticking point. 
It was perhaps » rclii^ to him that Mr. Jprfjihoiight spj>c«r<?(t, and 
took Uim awiiy lo hmch. This Keutlcinan. the largeness of whoao 
heart seemed capable of welcoming the widest posribio circle of 
frit-mis. hud reotiitlj- tweu alimrbtd iuto the hosoma of th« Miaa 
I*ryunes nil tlie second floor. This rapprockrmrni had betn effected 
hy n se^'ond nppearaneo of tho Knmc ghost in the sucre<l hwlcbamber 
of the ladies, nl mi ourlj- hour of the morning; when there was no 
doubt the door was loeked, and was found locked by the occupants; 
who when full dnytight ca:nt mustered courage (o get up and over- 
haul ihi.- njiparition of tlie gloaming. Tts authentication as a 
speetro hnd cleared Mr. Jcrrytbought's charaeter. and «spiTJwion» 
of th<T n-inciraii of the two youngish ladicrs for tltc iiyustiee they 
had done him wcro reported willioitt reser^-ation by Mrs. Farwig. 
whom we think wb hovt- mentiuiii'd before. You may remember 
perhaps that she did for the Miss Prynnes, She also did out 
Mr. JerrytlicMighl. But tlicw doings out wen- xporndic — slic only 
done the top-tenant out now and again, just to get hiiu n little tidy, 
or wherever would he '■' htvnl Her function in the i:ic-idcnt on 
hniid was to convey to Mr. .Icrrythought the ajwlogies of the two 
ladies, snd their wnsc of the injustice they dono him. without 
commitliiig cither party to nn «i'knowlt?dgmL'nl that it knew the 
other party giv' Mm. Fnrwig leave to say any such a remark parned- 
Noboily was to know that anything of anj- sex wluilever had been 
seen prowling about the apartments of its anti-tj-pes. 

Nevcrtlieleas the eecond-floor had felt that uHHmd* were du<r to ■ 
the attics, and had wished them a good-morning, on the stairs. 
The attii's wero not going to miff off and btt hutTy, and hud re- 
sponded. Both were conscious that the substratum of events was 
tlie gho.it; hiit that if alluded to at oil, it would hiivc lu tx! when 
scquaiiitanee was maturer. Another at«p forward was made owinK 
to Pursian cat, the properly o* " Uis* Prj-nne», finding that a 



I 
4 




ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



149 



chiiir in tkft a(tie studio wa.t good to nlocp, curl up, and Mntdi oo. 
The first time ihie cat, whose name was Hoaes, appeared in Ur. 
Jfirrjthougfat'ii mom vnjuyinK n ri>fre»hit>g »lumb<T on the wid 
cliair, that (tentleman, not realising; ita identity, conceived the idea 
of taking it by the Bcmff of the neck and cjcctinft it. Hut Moms 
WSB capable of inlen§e deliberation coinliiiied with iiiconceivuble 
rapidity of action. When the Hcruft was within a ynrd of the 
hand that was lo lake it. Moaes be^an to consider placiiily w!iat 
he shonld do when it nhoiild be within a foot lie turned the matter 
well over in his mind, without undue haale. and dtcidi-d that if it 
caine ncarrr hn would gvt ready to djotc townrds the door. When 
it was an inch off. he varied hia proprramme and wt-nl away with 
R ffickct. in the oppofito direction. Tie left the room after trying 
to rip the floor up. and yawnin(f. Btil having seen that the chair 
was ffood. bn rcapjifjintl in it nt interval* (without allowing him«clf 
to be infiueneed by closed doors and windows) and when missed 
downxtaint would be mOnimed by hi* owner*. Probably he wnn 
mainly responsible for the visiting acquaintance between the sec- 
ond>floor and the atticK liaving eo niellowi?d that comparison of 
soles about the i^boat luid become possible by the time Gkarlea 
and ilr. Jeff were lunchinR toRctber at Creraoncini's, at the prea- 
viit moment of tbis story. Even Charles'* painful preoccupation 
(ascribed by Jeff to stomach) did not altogether prevent his paying 
nltrntion to this last appearance of the ghost. Let us follow Jeff's 
nsrratiw; — 

"She ain't so very wrnRpy wlitn you come to shake hands witli 
her — the younffcst one I menn. It's more ae a conpio it tcUfl, and 
tlien you notice it No I 1 should say ihe youDgeart — ahe'e Miaa 
Dorothea— didn't ran over eight and twenty to thirty. 8h« mw 
the ghoHt. They admitttfd they wns in bed — but then, of courae, 
I'm ircttin' like an old acijuaintanee " 

"But I say, Jeff, thia was before it was daylight, as I under- 
rtand/' 

«Yes. sort o' half-lighl." 

"Then where the dickeni« would tlwy be hul in bed t" .4nd to thin 
Jeff replies enigmatically, "Some women are like that, when single." 
And rather makes a parade of bis knowledge of the vari«tivs of thin 
Strange animal. 

"The WTraggiput one— she's Miss Loura— she didn't ace the ghost, 
or only just. She's au excellent sort of female, you know, Charley; 
1'tc nothing to eay against her— only it'* no use trying to draw 
a veil over her. It would be affectation! Because fon^ dcot S%. 
«nd scraggy to a degree " 



360 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



How much did ibo 







"But about the ghoBt — the giiost! 
one net- 1" 

"Sho oouldu't see because her eye!! doo't come open easy first 
thing in tho nioniing. But MisM DorolbiM saw Iier quilu pisin. 
Sho hfld a lot of grey hnir and a sort of sacquc as they used to call 
'«m — flowored silk — nud othi hand to her side. I told '&n in my 
opinion it was the iihost of the bones in the cellar— you pecoUect!" 

"Rulbi-r! Wliy. it's not u twt;lvemoutli ojuro. But don't you seo 
what it is, Jeffi They read all nlwiit the boncx in the nirwRpapOTs, 
ami luiw tlip«T was a tlowertd silk ball-dres^, and then they go and 
see a iihost to mateh. They don't ace exoelly the same things 
that would bv flat and uniiiteresting. They make the dress a 
peisDoir, and the powdered toupoe cornea out grey hnir. Then lh«, 
bonM had lieeii run througrh, so ihey stick her hand to her side 
But that's what it is of course !** The code of honour in matter* o( 
Psyehieal Research is ao very queer that Charlea thouRht uolhioff 
of conactotisly keeping back Alinr's di'tjiil of the hand od her aitli 
He was not goine to eoeouraice superstition. 

"Xow — 1 gay I" Jeff is indipnant. "What on earth hnrc tb 
Misa Pryiini's to gain by eookin' up a ghost ?"' 

"They don't cook it up. my dear JeffI Of course Mins Thoodor 
tkourjhl she saw the gbost, just as she deseribr-d it," 

"Thought be hanged 1"' says Jeif. "Besides, her name's Doro- 
thea." He is very unconviiic(>d, but it is Iiecausu a slight has beea 
put upon Am ghost. If the ghost had originated elsewhere ho might 
have ^out^ on another tnck. ^h 

ClinrWs temper is not at his bei^t. because of his cireutnstanceaj^l 
Thej- make him supercilious and irritatiog. "I should he incHned^^ 
to refer the second ghost to a more reflex action of the ncn-e* 
centres," 

"Reflex Grandmother!" interjected Jpff; "1 tell you what 
Charley 1 If .you're going to talk rot, I ahull 'ook it," 

"Reflex action of the nerve centres, consequent on httTing twea^ 
the Grsl. The 6rat one is less ditBcult to account for. It was out 
in the passage, and we luiTen't got to deal with the difficulty o£] 
the locked door." 

■'Who saw ■ ghost himself? Come now. Charley 'Eath, ar 
that! Who saw a feminine form iu a flowered silk drt-ssing-gownl 

"Of course I did 1 I wns eomiuK to that, only you're in irnch a 
hurry. Jefll Well, we knuw that one wasn't a Khost, hecause I 
ncrer see ghosts. I ought to know. Well I Mr*. Farwig got-ji and 
talks all abotit that ghost to the Uissee Pryniics, and they bein^, 
onlj a couple of ailly hystcTiwI """ma, of cournc go and ace 



1 

ut 

ilty o£^ 

inswej^H 
[ownf^^ 



I 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



SSI 



|cbo«t of the »&mc pattern. They'll svt eome more liko it directly 
— you wc if tbry don'l !" 

'"Now. do, you. mean, to say," eays Jeff, gee-eawing his words, as 
one wbo waimK up to urgumnit. "tliat liliss Dorotlicn Prrniu? is a 
I«dy you wouldn't believe on oath ? And if so. why not a ghost on 
thr stitirK an wrll n* anything Hnoi" 

"Beeau^e of its intrinsic improbability," Charles is rather proud 
of thiK, hut JcIT flouts it. "lutrinHic: OrundroollicT !" says hi'. He 
is tu the hahit of resorting to this form of sneer. It is not complex, 
and iipprars to he to some minds exlmuxtivt. 

The discussion of the ghost goes on as such discussions do, not 
cxBPlly cimfirming the opinions of the. conlron-rsialists (fur they 
may bare none), but strengthening their respective determinations 
to uphold the first thc^ia each has committed himwlf to. This is 
called sticking to the point, and each enjoins the other to stick 
to it nt intcrvnls; alnays meaning of oounc hiit own point, not 
the other's. If the discussion is abotit a ^hosi, neither i^ares much 
nboui the question, but each in uxually ia love with his own ^If- 
sBMrtion. as in tlie pn-aait case. 

When each had tnid the other wrpral times that he was per- 
fectly »ui reasonable, Charles anil Jeff mint Imck to work; the lalier 
perhaps to wonder at himself for having espoused the cause of Miss 
Dorothea's testimony so slr<)ngly. 1l«' former to r««olle(!t how 
iinhappy he was and what an unpleasant task he had before him. 
For even if some explanation was forthcoming, the Exeter Rail 
•tory wa» » fib — must have been ! 

Ab soon as ever he could brood over his trouble again undisturbed, 
he brooded. Did it cros" his mind, we wonder, in the smallest pos- 
sible degree that be bad Just been able to tako a certain interest 
in A wrangle about a gbost. in sjiite of it? However, it is quiin 
true, no doubt, that it came buck upon him in full force when left 
to himwif. 

He brooded continually, but could not bring himself to go 
•traight to Miiw Rimkcr, as he ought to have done, and ns he had 
arranged to do with Peggy- Someliow it had seemed ea§ier to him 
to do it, ill hitr |]n-Acti<«. His courngir hud fiiilrd him nuw, and ho 
could not even bring himself to write until quite late in the even- 
ing. Then after a hng Iftler to Peggy. '" which he said, "I am 
vriling to Lavinia," — a convenient ambiguity. — he wrote another 
to the latter Hiying that all must be at an end botwor^n thorn. She 
faereelf had truly said that there must be no coneealmeBta on 
MtlwT part, an<] he could not but fM'l after what hi* nstcr had told 
him of their interview two days since that Wia wwn <ia\A4Rt«» 



952 



ALICE-FOH-SHORT 



qoirf ^1 





in Wr liit<l bwn mUpUced: an nppnrentljr in order to avoid inquiry 
into soiu«tliiiiff possibly quite I>lainel«M in iUelf she bad rc-j)arTr<) 
tn a ftuli-racnt thut wan nl 1i:it>it a aubt«rfusi:!. uad ntu-r such a 
thinic liad once corae to his knowledge it vns impossible that hia- 
fttttlitiS^ for hvr Ahuulii n-inHin ticii-'lianged. Shu hail uut ireslMl 
him ne be had trcnt<^ her. She could imftgino whtit it coat him to 
8fly fiiD-wi'll, but he <JOuld iK<e no other courai! open to him. He 
had much better have saved himself so many words, and nritlcn: 
"You told me a lie about Exeter Hall, and fou muHt have hud a 
(Cood rcflson; so 1 won't tnnrry you. U> off!" Why muM 
writers ulwa.vs be ho eeutentjous? 

"Ob denr— oh dcnr!" »nid Peggy, when nhe had n>fld thro^ 
Charles's letter to her, coiitaiaiint »u abstract of the above, "■viha) 
a mess that dr«r boy doea get inlo whenever I'm not there to look 
after biiu I" And theu under pledfres of strictest secrecy she toid 
the facts and showed the letter to a Tcry great friend, "the eldest 
dauichter where she was staying^ (wc absolve ourwelves from any] 
ahBrn in the construction of this phrase, by inverted commas), a: 
that youug lady'a remarks are wortli recording. Though ou 
twenty-three, she had had great eTpericnce. 

"Fancy breaking it olT on high moral grounda! As if Ikal could 
last I" Peggy felt her own position called for some justificatioa. 

"T iltcln't want it broken off, (icorgiu dear. I only wuutod all 
he clear as soon as possible." 

"Well, of coorBc," Mid Georgic, who alway* posed ss an autho: 
ity, "if fhere'a to he a row, the sooner the better I It's no use hold- 
ing in — it's woiac when it comes." 

"It's such an iujusiice to the iwor girl " 

"Bother the poor girl 1" interjects Georgie. 

" to puaa judgment on h>T in ihis sort of way. What ean shft 

poflsibly do I Write and beg pardon f What would you do yourself 
now, Oeorgie!" 

"I should write fast enough. But I shouldn't beg pardon. What 
would it be for? I might confess to the wrong murder. No! I 
should tell him it was clear ho had never loved me—that he didn'trj 
love m>- now — thot it wu» evident he lovud some one else — uamiugi 
who, where possible. I should point out that he bad slighted and 
inaultrd me, but for nil tlmt I sliould never lovft another, and I 
should wind up by suggesting that I ehould pass the rert of my Ufi 
praying for bin happineea," 

"iiut it woid<] be so much better to have a complete ezplaiiatioii 
and gi'I it ul! dear " 

"Would it though! Now look here, Margaret I My w«y. the 



I 





AUCE-FOE-SHORT 



chap would be on hia kneir^. brgging m; pardon, nnd promising 
never t4> <)o *o a.a^ more. KxptaoAtion-waf. it would be jaw, juw, 
JAw. and there would m-rer U' an <^nd of it! Bcnidcs, in affain of 
this sort it's no use brinjiinfi in foreiim matter — morality and jua- 
tiee and right an<l ull (lint sort of tiling. HowcTcr, no doubt you 
would be glad for thi§ one to come to an end — now wouldn't you !'* 

"Tht! only tiling that would make id« glad would be that Charley 
should be happy, and now he won't be." 

Wo ur<! Horry thiit Peggy's friend. Miss Arrowstnith, has no moT 
plaoe iu this story, because it seems to us that there is juucli in her 
SUini<^lion that, in the court of Love, Love himself dhould be judgn 
>i>d Jury, police und wituesKes. usher, gnoler, exc«utioni-r — tiint ho 
should write the records, grant the reprieves, forge the fetters, 
sharpen tht! axM, keep tlie key of Hut slocks — rt-ward the de-«rrving, 
and reprimand the culprits. We have re-worded her; but if that 
was what Hhe meant, we are inclined to agree. 

Peggy wrote hack to Chark-s bnggtiig him to go at once nnd giva 
poor Larinia a chance to defend herself. She also wrote to Uupert. 
ordering him t» go without delay to CharlcH. and telling him what 
to say. He did oa he whs bid. going alralgbt to thi> Studio. 

"That's what Peg snys 1 am to say, Charley," said he, when ho 
had finiHtiiiL 

"Mias Straker can write," said Charles, grimly. "What do yon 
tliink yourself, ParBeelsuH^' 

"Tell me more about the Park incident. Was this man with her 
there?" 

"Ko— he was following at some distance. She might haire out- 
wntki^ or outrun him." Tic put his palette arid brunhcii down 
and leaned bis mabl-stick against the angle of the chlmney-piecfl; 
obviously, a pipe wn« better than trying to work when you couldn't 
work. 

"I don't tbink anything of the incident tn itself," he mtumed. 
"if only she hadn't told that Eseter Hall story I No — Faracelsusi 
dear! I'm not ibe only mim that ever was disillusionrd. There'l 
nothing for it but to forget it." And Charles sits on and pu 
at B coDKolatory pipe, gazing at tlie fire on the liearlh (for 
time came again, with decision, some time since), and his fri«ii 
•lands (^^o«ito to him, in nil the fulness of his own triumphao 
bappinua. and feeU a greater pity from the' contrast of their Iota, 
But. whatever bis instructions were from headquarters (perhaps 
heartqnartvn would be n<Nin:r the mark) he was not going to »itf 
a word that would start the bare afresh. It was clearly bcM, ^W\. 
Charley ahould paas through this extictWacc, iLiii 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



And vrhalt Wbat Paratvlsiis ne«r1v sutd to htnuclf was, "And 
marrr a decent woman." But he didn't iiuilc sa.v it; he paused 
and ami-tidpd the unissued thought into, "Pi-ggj- will find somebody 
to con»ol« hiui." 

Bill Peggy wnsn't going to Iji-gin tliia qii<yit till ht-r (ionscimo© 
was quite Itnppy about Uiss Straker. When fihe caiue hack a £ew 
(inys after, she found Charles luid rweivtHl no reply lo his lettt-r. 
"But 1 tell you this plainly, Charley," said she, "if I had received 
xudi It l<!tti<r us yours myiidf, I sUoultl luiv<! torn it uji in a rage. 
/ wouldn't have answered it, and I'm not surprised at Lavinia nol 
having done so.'" She was lo ix- T.uvinia nlill. in Peggy's mouth 
St lea^t. Wna ('harles quite certain he welcomed the fa<:t, after 
doing so much forgetting — of which the first forty-eight hours 
had Itrtm so i-ery painful and Uboriouc) Would be not rather 
have had some more definite asBistance towards bis present 
attitude? 

"I tell you what I shall do," said hiB sister, "unleae you positively 
order me not. I shall go to Lavinin myiu-lf and talk about It, and 
get at the whole tnith. I suppose, Charley dear " 

"Yes, Poggy-Woggy — what ['' 

"I suppose that if it all turns out a lot of mares'-nests, you ipi 
be glad — reallf/ glad t" 

"Oh. Foggy dearest, who wouldn't be gUd in my circumstances! 
Wliat do you take me for?" 

"A dear silly old Itoy. I sliall go lo LnvinSa to-morrow, anyhow !" 

How much better it would be if everybody alwoyn let fvcry one 
else's love nffnirs alone — shut their ej-rt tight and looked iho 
other way. But we don't want to blame Peggy, mind you ! 



^ 




CHAPTER XXV 



CHARLBfl AND JBPF 00 TO SEE VERKtNDCa. HE WILL NOT VSK HIS OLD 
PAUIT8 my HOKK 

CnjJiLKM Mt tDiich too tItsfKvvri to work effwrtiially. and in the 
course of his broodiDRs over the position futuid Wiii»elf itnndw,- idl- 
ing into hi« pTMonal rprrric* a good deal of Jeff's ghost; that was 
the deflcripiioa his mind reeogmiaed the la-Hl iij>p<>iirum^t- by. He 
regarded his own as more suthcntie: Alicp's original venture as 
the moHt *ti. Tliey Ki»l value io proportion ti> the iiniounl of aug- 
fteetion prticcding their oocurrenee. 

Thir ghoat rviainded him that he bad never been to hunt up 
Verrinder a^ain. That would be a nice thins to do now. He 
would ^^t >I<'lf to come niid the^ would go tot(i:ther. It was the 
fifth of November; a Kr«y negative day — wasn't going to anow — 
wsan't going to rnin — much loo npathetic! It would he a capital 
do; for the fireworks. Su Charles and Je9 decided, as they char- 
tered a promiiiing hnnsnm fur the espodition. They spoke of "tlio 
Fireworks" as one of the ueeessilieii of the year — as Protestants 
and Engliihmf-n! 

Jeff was acquainted with the general bearing Verrinder had ou 
thi! lion«e. and under^tond lliat light might ho thrown on Chnrlcx's 
ghost by hiin, and indirectly on his own. However much Charles 
might Regard it as "purely nubjoctive." htt intended to nppropriiitn 
any illumination thrown on the one as equally applicable to the 
othi-r. He Mpoke unhcHitatingly of both sulijtwtirity and objectivity 
as Grandmother. Uis frequent use of this expression compels repe- 
titirin ad nauteam. 

"1 was in two minds." said Jeff as the cab rolled away, "whether 
to invitj'. tlic Miss Prj-nncs to come too (of courw onkin* you fintt, 
Charley, don't you know) I Only they couldn't both have rode 
bodkin." 

"You're a nice chapl Besides. T don't see why the Miss Prynnes 
should be in it." 

"Tbi-y saw the ghost. No! Eeally, Charley 'Eath. you may make 
gtunc; but Mi« Dorothea's a vi-ry inti'lligi'nt pexnon." 

"We (wuldn'l hare done it without Iwo «k\i*, Ini «.\\. Sia.'C ^a«&. 

2&5 



i 



9»» 



ALICEFORSHOBT 



• 





i n si in<! lively aToitl discussion of bow lo divido the pictured ittut, 
of the four lictwepn the wibe they couldn't, hare done without, 
ordtr not lo prupitk with the poiiii of which should ride with 
wliich. It i« tho elder Sliw Crynne (a mere m^ue potentiality in 
this caAe) diBt is the kuI stumbling-hlock. Chirks feels a diangc 
<if Kubjcct wowld be conFiderate. 

"I Bay, Jefll YouV« lived in Paris. Wlial doee a Mossoo 
by a iniwry-Doseeay r' 

"A whatr 

"A RiiacrT-DORegay." 

"S©roebo«iy'a been 'oaxin' you. What's the FrMieh for jlf" 

"A BouqaeMnisire. What'? that if it isn't a nusory-noeegayl 
An old party said tt to my sinter Pr^.-f:?.'* 

JefT piMtiled ahotit, tryinR tho words over and over, and at la 
announced that he'd spottetl it. "It's what the Mossooa e*U tha' 
pictiirt of Holnuin Hunt's — Ifi bouc-^missaire.' The eerape-Roal. 
don't yon know, in tlie Wild<Tniw». But then tlicy call oil sort* oi 
thtntre all sorts of thin^! You never know where to have 'em."- 
And with Kwch convcntntion llicy whilcd away tho time durii^ 
drive to Lambeth. 

Tile mriffhboiirhood •Mmod rtplctc with Ouya — ^morc »o than 
whut Charles accounted the more civilised regions north of 
Tbomeit. A vigorouM Protestant ivm tvcmcd to flourifh. As ihi 
stood oa the doorstep of the houw Verrinder lived in the atti 
of, an extremely young group of nnti-Pspixts aitsailed their «a 
with the corrupt and worthless modern substitute for the origin 
exhortation lo aympathiae, which wnn Kufiicicnt in our youth, 
old times they would have paraded their inability to see aw)' reaBo: 
why Gunpowder Tn-iwoii ■hould ever be forgot. Now they hri 
"Guy Fox Guy. hit htm >n the eye." which seemed unhiatori' 
The Guy, in llicir cn«c, wim a wry small boy, oonducled by han 
owinK to his niash not fitljim. and obscuring his vleion. lie solic- 
ited a pvtiny to burn himself — an appeal that would huw touchi 
a harder heart than Charles's. 

Tho first pulln — plautFibte one* — at two of tho bolls on tho di 
posts wwre ignored. The second series, backed by a knock th. 
Bpoke impatk-ncc, was answered with reluctance. The function 
the dooropcner. when it was at last opened, apiwared to be 
Oppom ingroM, yet to act ns a medium of eommiinicatiou with a 
concealed authoHly. The result was not encouraging. The author- 
ity would not undertake to say Mr. Verrinder was nut in, but would 
not interest itself aclively. Its manner suggested disbelief that 
uv one could possibly want to aoc Mr. Verrinder. "Do you know 



M 




AlICE-FOR-SHORT 



257 



Tb. TerTiDilert" it shouted from its lair at tbe end of a laag 
pa!»<iffc. Cbsrli's said y*, unqtii^Htioniibl; ! "I *tippi>»! you know 
he's riftht up atop o' the houael" Charles eaid he had been up to 
Mr. Verrinder's room oIlc^^ befons, Tbf> mitiioritj' Uim^on nppwirwd 
in its shirt-sleeree, rolled up, and stood soapinft its arms at the 
end of tbe pasenge. ''I ^ippiMir," euiid their nvui-r. a willov and 
depreesed man, "I may relj' on you two Kentlemeii to say I nerer 
pivc Ic-BTC, to latoriwnilf- me fr<nn U-iii" 'iiwlcil orcr the ccinlii; if so, 
up you goes, and weleouiel" Charles gave llie required uoder- 
takinff, and the dour-ward nOnxcd. "It ain"t Mr. Vcrrindpr so 
much as my missis I'm keeplu' la view." said the »oaper. still luxu> 
riating in wap'strokcM nil down liis 8nn)>. 

Cfaarlea and JeS passed up tbe wooden aiaira; not folloired hf 
the girl who bad opened thn door, but conscious that the soaper 
cnmo out alome the pai'ntK and irlaneed up after them. 

Up wpnt back, swmitig Katisfied. Xo tenant appeared on the 
way up. except a suddt-u younjr mau. who flunK liiH door wide 
open, said abruptly, "Oh, 1 hvg your pardou," quite unre-iuonnbly, 
and Hhut it again with ii slum. 

Tbe door of the room Charles had entered by on bis previous 
vinit wiut cloMd. and no nnRWcr onmc to his knock. lie kiioekeAj 
more than once. Verrinder evidently wasn't there. "I shall risk™ 
trring the door, ns we've come such a long w«y," said Charles; "he 
may be asleep." But the lioor w«i» loi-ked. They pudied oanb 
inidnr thi- <loor; then turned and went downstair*. 

Charles went down in front, Jeff did not follow closely. "It's 
no use stopping, Jeff," said Charles, "we murt give it op and learo 
s messaice." But Jeff hung back. "What's tbe rumpus, Jeff f said 
Charles from below. 

"Just eome up here balf-a-minute. It's rum! At least I can't 
make it out." Cbnrles went up again. The reason be was sum- 
moned was that Jeff, as hia eye came on tbe level with tbe keyhole, 
Nw that it was blaek; while lie bad noticed thnt light wa.H coming 
tbroURh the opening tliey had pushed the cards through. 

«The key-H in tb.r lock," said Jeff. ^ 

"What of that r ■ 

"How did be lock tlie door when he wrat outt" ^M 

"There's another lock." ^ 

"So, tlH-rr isn't. He's in therw stilL" 

"Ob nol He came out by the other door — there's a door to tbe 
other room. Come along, Jeff I Well mention it downstairs. De* 
pend on it, Sir. Soapy knows. C^me along!" But fot &VV \VaX 
Cbarln rtimembcre eb-jirly that pictures vei« v^^*^ V^iat^ u;^\a9\ 



M 



S«8 



ALICE-FOB-SHORX 

tt w«s from there Verrinder lo<^ the portrut 




r nn 
ay 

1 




that oflicT door. 
PhyUifl. 

"Hnin't you fognd him (" ssys the soapy oiio, comitur forth dry." 
and pulling on an oven-ont. Hi: has been unartenin^ for nn 
oxciinion, and uiiist be utilised before he reaches the street di 
He means (toiug. elearly. 

"We hnvi'ii't found him. And his door's locked inside, 
the key's in the door." 

"S'poBc he's oiit !"' The speaker ignores the diffieullies in the way 
of this solution — perhaps does not perceive them. "Amelia!" 
rtsjioiise comes from the basemenf-. 

"Mr. Verrinder's gone out, ain't he?" The maid-of-all-ivo: 
comes to the snrfaee. 

"He hasn't look iu his milk — nor yet the esn — nor yet I haven't 
lienrd him." Then she ends np, ns it strikes Charles most iiieon* 
seciitively, "1 shouldn't worrit, Jlr. Tnluall, if I was yoiL" B 
»he wails, wiping her hnnils on her apron. 

Mr, Tatnall apix-Krs to be eonsidering — in fact to have for 
monieut put nsidf his intention to go out. He seems to hope 
suekiiig bin eheeks in and feeling for inspiration on llieir n 
shaved surfaces with his thumb and middle finger will lead 
results, but does not seem satisfied with what he gpts. Presently he 
half asks, half affirms : "He's been at his game ngain," the >iu«stiou- 
iiig half being nddressed to Amelia, who in return says, "Wlint did 
1 ear to Missis!" 

"What i* Mr. Verrinder's gnmeC asked Cbnrles. 

"W'hat did the 'Potheeary enll it this time?" Thus Mr. Tatnall 
to the MiTvuiit, who still stands wiping her hands on her apron, it: 
seeming to pin her faith on jt. 

"Mr. VerrindeT said go to the photograph shop. That's wbetc 
got it." 

"That's about it, gentlemen!" said Tutnnll. heginotng to moTe 
away satisfied. "He stoopifies himself with chloroform. He'll 
come round soon. Tou knock nt hi» door iigiiin in a quarter of «n 
hour — he'll answer to you, Give him a quarter of an hour." An 
off goes Mr, Tatnall, more interetiled in hia appointment than in h! 
top- tenant. 

Charles and Jeff decide on giving him a quarter of an hour; 
former verj- uneaay, remembering that T^vnniigh had ptirehawrd hi 
cyanide of a photographer. They will take a walk round, and call 
in again shortly. An inspiration scixts Amelia, and she take* her 
hands from her npn^n to point through tJie open street-door. 

"If you was to walk round by the Uorspital *nd ask for Dr. 



all 

I 





AlICE-FOR-enORT 



iS9 



Fludycr, ho knows itr. Vcrrindi^r." Uer Epe<?ch is full of elinoa 
■nd impUcation, but it ei-n-crt iiit (urn. Churlcs quittt undetttandt, 
and ItDow^ "th« Hospital" is Bothlehem Hospital, or Bedlam. 

Dr. Flmljtr is easily uttaimiblo— knows Verrtnder — hud lietter 
come round, and will bo read.v in a minute. 

''Can B men kill kimaclf witli Clilo reform !" asks CharW, as liutj 
walk briskly lownrds the bouse. 

"nt'"it only got to lakL- (-noufEb of it," 

When they arrive. Amelia ha? reblacked her hands, and has to 
havi' a lU'W wipe, Tlwry ull go upalairt. Thin time the sudden 
young man only peeps out digcrcetly and retires in silence. 

They knock at the door Bgain — under ti-uBioiL "lie was there 
last nitcht," says Amelia, perhaps antieipating an enquiry, 

"I'll taki! on myitulf to hai-ft the door broken open." says lhi> 
doctor, after a moment's consideration. "Unless there's another 
iray in." Charles rrnienilicrs the lc?nd-flat Miink tn dw roof, and 
sufTKcsts the question of its attainability. There may be a trap* 
door. Tcs, it is slowly elicited that ihnrc is. Up tliem «tepa; 'ooked 
up to the oeilin'. Also that there is a younjr man has been out 
on the roof muny's tliR timi; — and ho may happen to be downntaini 
BOW. Amelia Roce to seek him — though why it haa been so diffieult 
to got at this trapdoor and this young man is not clear. FTowfrrcr, 
he comes with alacrity, is out on the leads and finds the window 
Dnfantcned, and gctx through and opens the door in much leas 
time than it took to discover his c.iistfinoc. How the room smells of 
chloTofomi 1 

There are the remains of a scanty supper on the table — or rather 
what givcM the imprcKHion tbut the supper was scanty. On a [leg 
on the half-open door of a cupboard Charles identifies the napless 
hat iind highly poliiih<!d coat. A (lefectirc ambrelln stands open 
on its circumference to dry in a corner. Last ni^iht was drixzly. 
Til- bad come in wet. had witcn in his loneliness whatever two cold 

bops oS the neck and the balance of those cheerless potatoes repre- 
ented; and bad (so it is silently supposed) gone awuy to rest on 
be other side of that closed door each hcsitntcn to open, 
cither from doubt or certainly of what may be found on tlie other 
«ide. 

Dr. Fludycr acts first — as he knew him best — and goes into the 

om; the others follow. The smell of chloroform gets stronger. 
I bod i« ocxiupifd. Thtr doctor, going first, turns down the cover- 
lid, which has all the appearance of being pulled tight, for com- 
fort, round the hack of the nightcapped bend. He takes hold of thn 
ulder, and shakes the motioaleM figure. ^n.\ VlL nncKffi& «JA- 



S60 



ALI0E-F0B-8H0RT 



k 



nnd \mrc»pon»ivc. Tl will ncrfi rcirpond to Iiunun touch 
Whatewr its occupant's exory on this earth was. it ia 

DOW. 

But he muRt havL' become insensible, ond died, one might nlmo: 
6ay, in comfort. The Sinire is in the attitude thst most oourta 
hWp — » perfi-srt pre-arruiifw-mejil for a long nifdit's «yiL Tlin 
©nlj evil feature i? the towel pressed close round tho mouth and 
no»e, and firuily held in front with both hands. He hud pou 
the cUoroform on it, and ho lay down to sleep. "Yes," snid Dr. 
Fludyer, as he removed it. "Tie did this erery night; at lea*l eve 
night when ho couldn't sleep without it — mort nights, I fancji 
This lime he took more than he rec^koned on. About twelve hoi 
ajwl . . . What? . . . Oh no I — nothing to be done. Slono-dead.' 

The throe men and tlic girl go back !nIo the sitting-mom without 
« word, closing the door very gently. All are white but the doctor; 
the girl is ashy whitt. Of course it is all in the doctor's line, ho is 
Oiereljr grave — to hurt nobody's feelings. In this ease it is doubt- 
ful if there is any one to hurt. ''1 will sec to all the.rti i» to 
done" he eoye; "there is no immediate hurry. l>id you two gentli 
men know poor Verrinder well f" Charles tells in the fewest wo: 
how very liltlo he bun known of him, nnd ends by volunteering 
be of any use. 

"There is nothing to he done that I cannot do," ««y» Dr. Find 
yer; "unless you know of any of his relational! He asniired ma 
ihul he wuit abdoltitely nloiic in the world, except for the one peri 
through whom 1 happened to know him. A patient over at I. 
Hospital." He aodv out at the window, towitrds the diimi^ of tho 
madhouse, lie speaks with retioenoe, and Charles does not like 
pteas enquiry. His aeciunintnnee with the di-jtd man had bocn 
alight. He repents that he has told everything he knows of 
and feels that he aud .leff have no renexiii for rcnwining; may cvi 
be df trap. But the doctor continues speaking ef him: 

"I knew him fairly well — poor ehapl So far as any one coul 
know him. But he wns very rcsrrved. 1 don't think he was really 
so poor as he seemed — but be wouUl not spend anything on hiroaelf. 
Once he Mid to nie that he was putting by money in ciute he should 
ever have a home again." The doctor had followed Charlea't^ 
glance round the bare npurtraent. 

"Will there be an inquest i" said Charles. 

"I think probably not. I don't think you need anti<:ipato bci 
bothered about that." 

"I wmm't tliinking of tlie trouble." 

"Well, anyhow, I think there won't I shall make an auti 



la 

I 




W ALICE-FOR-SHORT S«l 

tliCTc'f Burc to br fatly lir-nrt or nnnicthing of the »ort. Tho dose 
of chlorofom) I allowed him could not have killed a healthy man." 

"How do you know he didn't cx<*c'd it V 

"1 don't know — he may haw done so. I could only ^vc him 
dir^ctiooH nnd trurt to his doing ns I told him. I'm afrnid when 
there's a craving for ausBthettce. proinieea are worth very little." 

"He didn't kill himself, I suppose!" Kni<l Charlr;!. heeilatinKly. 

"loteutionally t Oh uo— ob dear, nol He only iliil what he may 
have domi fifty tinx-ji before, for anything I know. He overdid 
the doae, and this time the hearl-coni plaint met it hulf-wsy. You 
•ay you met him at ibc Royal Academy Schools i lie wa^ tatkinff 
about them to me a little while ago— said one of the young mtn 
had given him thrco tubes of colour — seomod very much pl«ased 
about it" 

"I recollect. Ono of the chspn did. I rccolloct his talkinn about 
his old box of colours, and how there were some old bladders in it 
tJmt ho naid had bclonitrd to Kcynoldn." 

"Oh ye«! I've seen that. It's under that bookcase. I daresay 
you feel curious to look at it." 

It waa pulled out and placed on tlie table, near the potato desola- 
tion. Cbarlcs opened it. and felt in touch with an earlier world. 
Fifty ycnrti or more ago en artist, vfho must have known theae 
colours were authentic, bad frivon this box to a young man full 
of hope, longing for and believing in his use of it in the future. It 
was all past now, future and all, and the years bad borne no fruit; 
and the lieurt that hud beaten so tiififa. that long half-oentury ago, 
WBB dead at last. The eoloor-tube» in the tray were bard, and the 
dippers cli'ggi-d with dried beL-ltaps of oil and vamiah. The badger 
iioftener was indurated and awry, and the blade of the palette- 
knife had a waint. Charles felt curious to see one of the little 
bladders of which he had heard, if one remained, and, seeing oono 
nbnve the trny, lifted it to neareh. Underneath lay a letter. Dr. 
Fludyer was giving some direction to the servant. 

"Here's n letter directed to you. doctor." Ciiarles handed it to 
him aa be npoka He felt it was time for him and Jeff to be uroing. 
To stay on would be like waiting to luuir the contents of the letter. 
Obarlea ctoswl the bos. and prepared to go. Ur. Fludyer merely 
looked at the direction and iilippMl Oie letter in his pocket. 
"I expected tliis." he said, "but it was an odd place to hide 
it away in. Very lucky! Will you two gentlemen leuve m« 
your namea and addreeseet I ought to be off too. They want 
me round there. I shall come buck in an hour or ao." OvMSidk 
amid, aa be hasded bim bis card, be would comft o^« ui a. ^i ^ 



« 



i 



909 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



tvfo to hear thi* rosults of tlic poKt-mortmi. But tbo doetor rrplinl, 
"Don't come— rU write I" and tfaey said good-bye sod weut dovn- 
Btairs. 

The perverae Toung nan put hU head out agaiD, and said, 
it from Nesbitt'il" and Idggml more pardon wlwn he hoard t 
wasn't. Ae th^ reachod the street-door a latoh-key clicked in i 
and Mr. TfttuaH ontrrtsj. The appointinmt had involnrd beer,: 
mnntfcstlj- 1 ITi" deprM»ion and kqIIowdcss had disappeared to- 
Itelbor. Chnrka fp|t disincliiiod to bv hi.-i informiint aliout hin 
timanl's death, or doleful chniiKcs to ring in anj form; feelinf; thai 
rciillj Mr. Taluall would havu to pri'tctid u>leniiiity and be hypo- 
critical, and the clash would bo too gTMt. The beer however 
aiaerlcd il^lf. and told ha human bottle to say. jocularly: "Hain't 
he slept it off yet? Won't you si^c him another quarter of an 
hourr 

"Shall we. ObarleyT Would it be any use T 

"Not a bit of use. Come atonal" 

And tboy went away, k-aTing Mr. TatnaU to bear the news fi 
Amelia, or otlicrwiae, as might happen. 




CHAPTER XSVI 



HOW AIJCE KKCir ALL ABOUT IT. ALICB » KINO AND THE 3KVnaM 
TBEREOK. UISS STHAKCR'S LOHU LinTKIl, WIIICU OUARLES DID HOT 
IIKAD TO IIW PATHRB. BCT HOW ABOl'T METER HALL? OF SCHL'SOHYJ 
DAYS AXD BQUAtilir DAYS. UOW l-EUl'Li: TALK. WAS CUA8LE8 tS 
BAN CXPAIR, AFTER ALL » 

CirAKLKS was lookine no doubt Tcry miwrnbic and depress 
vihtm he wnt lo see. bid laniily the cvenlDx nfler this. He did Dot' 
kncnr how far the whole :=tory of himstlf and Miss Slrnker hnd be- 
Ronwr [tublio properly, but he bad on unea<v ecuse that he w^s being 
treated considerately, and this mtide him uncomfortable. As he hnd 
quite made tip hii« mtTid thnt the whole tiling had come (o an eJidi 
it would have pleased him best that it should never have been 
hndwn to bnvc i-iintnl — if would hnw hwn comfortabler lliat flvcu 
P«gey should have been in ifrtioranfi? of it. But he eould not find 
«at how far the nvcnt bud tnkrn xubstflntinl form in the c.wji of hit 
family. As often happens aftiT any e-ii^iling ocpurrenee, it wai 
not c«"y to n-eall cxnctly whnt had passed and io what order o£ 
events, and to assign to each recollection its own proper import- 
ance. It cerlniiily sisnnpd to him this evpninB that there was a dia- 
poeition to treat him as the killed and wounded afiw a battle, 
physioOly as well as Hpiritnnlly; the former tendency showing 
it^lf in eoneessions of the most eomfortable vhnir^ or aofa- 
cuahinns, or tlie best ptnei! in front of the tire, or havinn a fresh 
brew of tea made instead of lettinK him drink that horrid black 
BtufF; while Hw tatter took the farm of an almost l^amboyant 
silence about love-affairs and eu^ap-menls, and indeed young 
ladicit in K(-[i<rral — they Iteing the true gist of such matters — but 
3fise Klraker in particular. ' 

Thirl atmofphfire «f R4?d-Oro8S effort on Charles's behalf in- 
creased if anythiuK at dinner, later in the evening. There was no 
compnny ; therefore the prewnoe of Cham]ingni' had to be accounted 
for. Charles perceived in it not only s benevolence towards him- 
self, ns one proHtrated 1^ the Ktraiii of tryiii)^ irxpi-riences, but also 
an element of Bacchanalian rejoicing at a fortunate delivery froiu 
a rc|Tett«ble embarraaament. H<- was grateful {qi ^bl£ l«T\n<» — ^viu'v. 

S63 



S04 



AUCE-FOR-SHORT 



inhfl 



for Uic tatter. Kobod; (unless it was his father) had beea in 
confidence, atid lit- would have appreciated a mOK vi^roua i|^o: 
of the whole thinR- He could not shake fi*e from the idea that 
Archibald wanti-d to wink at him. and aay — "Well out of tliat 
acrapc, Oharlcy, old chapl" — that Kobin wanted to offer &oiue form 
of <%nu;riitululiun, btit tliet if lie did itpeak he woulil taku rvfuac 
in Komc inapt abstraction; for example; — "It's alwaja something 
of that »i>rl," or — **Therc's nothing like midcing one's mind up," 
OTon — "You can't help things happening, don't you knowl" Hi 
felt perfi-ctlj' certain that if infortiictd of the Pftrk incidunt, hi* 
brothers would discorn in it a fishy start, and that Elleo waa simply 
longing to break out oguirist !Miiut Strnkrr. As for the boys, they 
wcfo at school, and although he paid Alice a viett in Mrs. Part- 
ridge's domiuionti (wberi- she continued to live eitJicr because U 
Partridge didn't want to give her up, or from mere nornUd co 
tiuuanoe). h« said nothing to her about Miss 8lrakvT. She la at!! 
so nry young, thought he to himself. 

But the Truth is Alin; was oI<l i-noiigh to nndr-rstaiid a great dci 
about it; little girls atirays do. Our oini opinion is that 
younger they are the mono tliey know, and that inespcricnoo co 
on them uuawarea between dhildhood and womanhood. The fact 
is, Alice had catechised Peggy, and acquired a compendious insight 
into the plot of the story. Charles had been rerj- fond of Miss 
Strakor; ever so fond — as fond as that— indicated by palms hel 
far apart — and Miss Straker was naughty, and Charles woa ao 
That wsit all, and wax dear. Tie may have suApocted that 
pathetic blue eyes behiud his little protegee's rougb hair w< 
brimming over with pity for Mr. Charley, and that she was quite 
at a toss how to console him. She could sit on his knee, however — 
Qveo wnder the cireumstances in which he found her this evening, 
just retiring for the iii(th(; and Alitv wiw vrry niee in a suitable 
coetume. and it was pnKsililo to criticise her toes. Charles thought, 
as he always did about Aliee. what o good day'it work Ik di 
that day ho put her in a hansom and brought bcr home to 
Ganleii^ 

He had said but little to Peggy before dinner about Lavinii 
Peggy had not bnen to see linr yi-t. but trould do so if she got 
eooouraging answer to a letter she had written two evenings 
Nonr hii<I come so fur. Tbl^i^ long talk had bnfn about Verrinder, 
and the end of Charles's fruitless excursion to see hiio. Pi^gy 
was much eonccrnrd el his untimely d«alh — untimely in the sense 
that it took away the last chance known to them of llirowing ligh' 
on No. 40. Charles muat find out about what would be done wi' 





1 



ALTCE-FOR- SHORT 



365 



bid picture*, and try to bujr tbat one of Phyllis Cartwrigbt. They 

bad just been talking about the ring and the ghoil. or rather 

uboHts. when Chnrl<-i<'H attention waa caught bjr Bomothins in the 

iaext room, and Peggy did not succeed in recalling it till dinner wai 

? announced. 



•^ow— let'* look at the ring!" anid she to Charles. wh«n tho 
latter came into the drawing-room after smoking time — that is, 
^«ftcr bin smoking time; for the otfai^re rrniained behind. Any 
abnormal action of his waa put down to hie recent loTe-afTiiir, and 
^liia abrupt withdrnwal after smoking one cigarette was nodded 
over, aud said. Am/ or akf about, as b; sagacity ttiat could quite 
pierce the mcnning of that. Sagacity may have been right this 
far. lluit lu- <tii] p(i upstairs expc-ctiiig, or hoping, to find a letter 
bad reached Peggy. But tlie post bad not yet come. 

"Yes! It's always fun guessing over rayBttrriea," said he. For 

?tggy had been propounding an idea ihnt the namei; of the 

on the ring or their inilialit formed some »ort of posy, or 

a. that might afford a clue to work upon. "Let's have A 

'look at the ring. There's the post I" . . . 

"No — it's not. Thai's Rupert. He's only come for a short time 
^tbongb. fl« he has to n^t hack to a patient. Now, look here! Tou 

now that ring of Aunt Sarafa'a. witli ruby, emerald, garnet, ame- 
thyst, ruby, diamond — all the initials spetl regard, which woa, I 
auppoae. tltc sentiment our gieat-grandfatbera felt for our great- 

■ndmothcrs " 

"It sounds chilly, nowadays I Let's look at tliis ring the same 
way. The emerald's the biggest. It ought to begin there. What's 
thf next one?" 

"Amdhyst, silly boy! Call yourself an Artist and not know an 
Amethyst when you see one. Come her<- and help. Rupt-rt! That's 
a ruby, comes next. Well! That spells ear; emerald, smcthyst, 
ruhy. That's a pearl comes next. I suppose you know a pearl 
when you see itt'* . . . 

"Wiiy didn't you take the diamond for ihe initial f" asks Rupert ; 
•^at would moke dfar; there would be some sense in that." 

"To be eure! Sharp boy, go to the top of the class. Then 
another emerald. Then a sapphire. Then — what's thist — a topas. 
1)eare3t !'— Well done us ! And the nest ktter's P. I say. Charley, 
darlinfT, it's going to be Phyllis." 

"There's no reason, remember, why it should be Phyllis merely 
because there was once a person of that name at t\\c Wjaftr 

"I know — itat prosy old boy! But tbcTe'siiioKawrtvwa^onvi^^ 




2B« AUCE-FOE-SHORT 

make il PliylU*, if we con. Whet's thia next stoner But alaa! 
Nobody knew. It was a red-brown utonc, followed by a det-p bfuo 
opaques one. Then an opaque yellowish white one. Then anotbor 
sapphire. 

"Flow diaappoiuliiig!" said Pe«Ky. "Tou see, even if we go* 
the letter* wo wnnt, there'* not enough of thnn. We're only 6re 
and we want seven. There is the post!" And Pegg?' put the ring 
ba<^ on her finger, and it wnvn't examined o^iu for mnny many 
years. 

For, even ns she drnw tlif ring on, n lettiT wns iieing brought up- 
stairs tliat was to make a diSorenoe. and a great one, in the livct of 
both. "It's her handwriting.'' snid Charles, affvcling Stoicism. 
Thi'' moment ho saw the letter he began thinking about bolicving he 
had done llliss Sirnker an injustioe. Her not writing had fortified 
him. If »he had not told bim a lie. how simple to write and say 
Ko. He had not been able to six', n^ Peggy did, tlint his own letter 
wa!< one ibat keen resentment and sense of undeserved wrong 
might leave imanswercd juat ua much a» conscioua guilt. He had 
taken the letters from the servant ti> pa^s on lo his sialer; but she 
left Jliss Stroker'o in lis hand, to open himself, if he liked. He 
continued to practise Stoicism, and laid it on the sofa, between 
them. 

"W.-11— Charley r 

"I know there ean he nothing satisfaotOTy in it " 

"Then I .Hiippose I must open it. What a BOOM you are, Ifaater 
Charley ! I^n't he now, Rupert l" Rupert gave an amuaed nod of 
assi-nt. "Now let'* have the lettiT," said he. 

Tt WHS a three-slieet letter, and Peggy became absorbed tmd atten- 
tive. Cbarlew carried hia alTi^clalion of stoical indifference the 
length of taking the opportunity of telling Dr. Johnson all about 
Vcrriniler. It cost him a viiiiblu effort, but he may have been satia- 
fied with his porformanec, 

"You're always coming in at the death. Charley." said Jobnwn. 
"I know Fludycr. Man with a complete set of artificial teeth. Met 
him on a very interesting tiienlal enae— male patient thought he 
was his own aunt, ond was always boning her caps and bon- 
Beta " 

"You've alwa.vs got some mm new mental ease, Panicelaus— — " 

"Wf'Il ! Il'» a subject Tve always had a hankerinfi: for. I do get 
a good deal of practice that way, somi^w. I've had charge of any 
number of loonies " 

"And now you've icot a whole family on your hands t" — Thi« waa 
■P^Bro'j ^'^<' continued — "Now don't disturb me. I'm reading." 



4 



J 



ALICE-FOR-SnOKT 



S«7 



'Which was most unfair, ae do one had invited her into the con- 
TCnuition. 

"Vemnder died of the Chloroform, of couree. But Fludyer will 
£»d enough fattj heart to c«rti(icnt« on. n(:'ll dMwrvft ibc ?rali> 
tilde of an overworked coroner. Besides, if he doesn't, they'll 
l« down on him for nllflwiiij; u piilii^nt to liuvr no miK'h Clilomfomi. 
You didn't get any more out of liim about Verrindep— did you? 
iWho Willi th<' |>ati(-nl in tW iioapiidll" 

"I thinic he didn't want to tell me. tie might tell you 
pCThafn." 

"They arc reticent about tiii« sort of case, naturally. VU remem- 
Iwr to ask about him. If vn talk abotit Vt^rrinder, he's pretty sunt 
to mention biin, and then it will come easy." 

Poggy got to the end of the letter, snd snid, "Is that all! Stop 
■ miuute!" Then she harked bactc. reperused, barked back again; 
then folded (he letter abruptly. 

"Don't read it how. Charley, if I let you have it." — Charles 
promised. — ^"Kead it quietly by youmplf, and think it well over." 
He put it in his pocket, and tbi-n left tbi' rooia. Fie hud «uid he 
would smoke a pipe in his father's room late, and have a quiet chat. 
3fr. Heath Riiiior bud gone away from the party in tlie front room, 

few minutes ajco. 

"I hope I've done right," said Peggy to Johnaon, when the door 




'Are you afraid of « recurrenee of ayroploroat I'm not. I be- 
ierc he is, as he said, disillusioned. However, I don't know whafs 
in the letter, of eourEe," 

Charlr-s and bia father settled down to a really comfortable chat; 
one which ignores bed. and is conscious of toddy and lemons and a 
full coal-acuttle. "We'll turn ofl the gaa here. Pbillimore," re- 
leasee that priuie^minister. And nothing r<'niain)) but to inai^u- 
rnte Uie eonwrsalion each anlieipatee, and botli fight shy of, after 
a very elaborate Brrangvment of preliminaries. 

"We've quarrelled with our sweetheart, I understand? Hes", 
Cbarkiy boyl" Chnrlr* ({ives a shrug;, wliieh means ixithiug. hut 
ftcknowled^es that the Biil has been brought up for consideration. 
Til* oM boy proeurc* a rejiricvc of a moment or two in L'onnvclioD 
with choice of lumps of sugar for toddy, and then says vaguely: 
"Swccthcartat Sw<!etlieart8 is ilt Well, we're all mighty fine 
people! Now telt us all about it." and leans back in his arm-cbair, 
B liatener witli cloned eyes. 

Charles remembered that his father hti<l bud no <^c!viA \Tv^t)nEA,* 



SS8 



AIICE-FOE-SHORT 



I. tbM I 



tlon about anrthingr (bat bad huppoiu^d aiDce they lost torn 
on the subject. Sinco then ttie actusl B^ucnw of eronts m», ^bUk 
uiwifr the influeivci' of u letter from Mias Straker (which had 
jumj)^ to tbo conclusion that what wfl» no moni than a well- 
nilrunced flirtulioD gmvn her u ri^bt to aiitieipate a deeiHiTC dncU- 
ration). bo bad hurried on to an eeUtircustmriif, and become the 
decturcd lorer of the j-ouiib lady, with no roorcr knowledge of hor 
character and antccodcota than wc have been able to commuaicat 
to the rcudcr of thia nurrutivc; probably with I^ab, for we (an 
jrou) are under no tender int)a«tic« from either a profile or 
eyelid, and llic wonderful aoprano is only a hearsay to ua. Tt 
then be had. as he thouxht, identiSed her beyond a shadow 
doubt ttf having brr-n in Rcgentt Park under circuntvtancea tha 
seemed to him Inexplicable, at the very lime that ebe assur 
him she was waiting at Exeter Hall door to hear The Mgtsia 
That ther«on be had wriltcii putting su end to all relations beti 
thorn, and hud had no answer. That Pe^cgy had thought him wroE 
and luulj-. and had written to Mina Slrakcr. That h<^ had 
»eply to her letter in his pocket, unread. Ail thcso thines Charli 
now told bin fathiT, and ended by saying that yee, certainly, no 
it was all over between th«m. 

"Cnle(« intiecH,'" ht; added, "this letter eontainji wlint I cxp 
it cannot and will not contain — a complete explanation of 
Fark business, and her tic (because it wo* a lid) about Esc 
Hall." He touched hia pocket with on implication to the actio 
that the letter would remain thcr« for private perusal later on. Hi 
father aceint-d quiti? to accept this as natural and just, and pr 
ferred no request to see it. 

Perhaps Charity him^-lf felt lie could more easily wait to kno 
its eonlents, because be wiilied to establish justification in hii 
father^M <-ye» on tlie matiTialH of the status-quo. He- wnnte<l hi| 
])oaitioQ to be logical from existinf; data, and if the letter shot 
contain disturbing new eli^miTnta. to bnve tiimr to think the 
orcr be^fore acting on them, or committing himself. The thougb 
was not cleorly outlinM. only haxy. 

"I cannot see," said be in conclusion, "that I ahould be doir 
Miss Straker any good by atlempling to micw a relation that 
feel has lieen destroyed. H I could conceive any poisibte explac 
tion ..." He paused. 

Thi> hnlf-clow^d eyes of his Ualener opened aomirwhat an 
turned round towards him. "Charley boy," said he, "you've been 
fool I You've bcwrn a fool all along. The beat thing you can do nn 
is to put this girl out of your bead and attend to your work. Oa| 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



200 



rnnny to temp of tbp9«< for«i|Ri places — Italy — Rome— md ataif 
the Fine. Arts Uier«. Mis-s Strakor won't brviik bi^r heart ttxnit 
you^not she!" 

Ohnrira fluabod pcnyptibly. tin wnan't quite no cool ynt tbnt ho 
oold bear to bear her spoken of slifthtiDglj by any one but bimself. 
His fittbcr continued: "Qiiitn right to look inilignsnt ! But )>bo 
won't, for all that I You ro to Italy and Rome— you needn't 
Ittick flbout tlu: moniiy. Bi''«i<Ics, if I wniin't hrn! to pay the biltH, 
there's a lot of money of your Aunt Grace's that will cotae to you. 
Ju*t you think about it!" 

Charlti- iliJn'l think tlie Buggestion at all an unpleasant one. 
but he itidu't iiki- hriuK toW he was a fool. Ho knew he wnx, but 
would h^ve preferred to be complimented for his wisdom in know 
ias it Focling hr hadn't much to «ny in wlf-dcfMice. be pulled 
away at iiia pipe till its extinction, aud waited on until his father 
catn« to the end of his ctgar. without Miyiug anythitift. Tb<^ cigar 
went on to its ^xtremest end. ilie smoker reeortliw to a itenkulfo 
point to hold it when it scorched his finger*. An hv closed tlic pen- 
knife Im: turnc'd to his sou. and said: "Ah, wi-11! Wr'rv not all of 
US as vife as we miifht be. You know why your aunt left you that 
moncqr, Charliryi" 

"Because she was sure I should never make anything by my pro- 
{MBion. Perhaps I nhan't." Charles felt quite hopoful though, in 
his heart, for all that. Little hi Itnijw of the days that were to 
come, when mm then scoring by snnuni thousands were to IIto in 
ciread of bankruptcy. He was in some m,VBterious way to be 
litektf, aaiii ITopc. However, it was satisfactory to think that hi* 
aunt had led bim two hundred a year. He felt hurt that she 
should have iuHultcd him in hi^ will. "Bmaust be will never do 
anylfailig as an artist" was the reason asigned for a life tuterest 
in fiv« thousand poundx; be waxn't to be trusted with the principal, 
perhaps wisely. 

"It won't do to marry on, my hoy. However, I don't bcliovo you 
would marry without my consent and your mother'a. and of course 
if we liked your wife we nhoiild help you. I'm very glad you ar« 
oS with Miss Stretcher — what's ber name! — because so far as I can 
(MH? ncilhiT your mother uor I nhoubl biive likird her. By (be hyo, 
bow lon^t had you known her altogether? Three months*" 

Cbnrlcit didn't auswer, but raised the qucntion of bodroom can* 
dlesilcka. 



He was a hit cowardly about reading the letter, Jiut wbe>\ \i<i 
found himself alone in the bedroom, BtiU ceaened loi Vvo^ i>-'^ ^ 



270 



ALICE-F0K-8H0RT 



teaourw againM tlu! lun-critiM of Bohcmin, he hud no fiirtli 
exciuc for not reading it. Ue opeued it and read as foUows: — 

"Deaii Misa iruTti: 

*'I will writp ti> yoH. faiit not 1o your brolher — be has treated 
mc cniclly — oh. cruelly 1 — and I will nut see nor speak to bi 

Cliarloi wiia not propnred for eudi PruBaian tactics. H« wi; 




SOI 
en 



to monoiKilise the position of tlie initiator — the injured penon wl 
bad a right to resfiitmenl. Tiie letter went on ou liups ideiiti< 
with thosT siiRgcatcd by GcorRie Arrowsmith. 

"But I forgive him. It la not bcvaiiEe my own fi-clings towards 
him hnvc changed or could ever change, that I write this. It is 
becau§o I see now that hi- does not lovr me — thnt he bus net' 
tovrri mr. lloppincKs could never have been our§, even if the gret 
social ohttacUs betwi^eii us could hnvr bi-cn ovrroomc. 1 csnn' 
bring m.v)M'1f to think that these have had any share in his hasi 
end nufeelini; conduct — for I will cull it no worHc than tha 
:^h no! lie is too good and geoeroiu — that can never have infl' 

cL-d him !" 

Charles's conscience wriRgled uneasily; now (upon lus honour] 
wa« he positively crrtain he bad never ssid to himself that at 
rate if he did lose Lavinia there would be peace aud iiwiet. n 
not a beastly bobberyJ No! Ilis conscience absolved him of thai 
Kui as to whether be had fell a little releas»fd from n gobli; 
mother-in-law— well 1 it would give him the benefit of the doubt 
bring in the verdict not proven. He was rather glad to get on 
to the eubslanoc of tbc ciplanntion : — 

"I have notking to conceal about the circumstances which yo 
letter lellg mc wn* the provocation to nil this erueltji and unkind-' 
ne»g. I will write it all without reserve, for I know I am safe in 
your hands, but T do not wiiy allow (Charles cni«cd) Mr, lleatb to 
read it. Still, do aa you think best I I say this because I do not 
wi»li him to TTproAch himself, and ho cannot but da so when 
knows the innocent cause of my presence in the Park at that la 
bourl I will tell you cvcrytliing, na I would have told faini' 
indeed I would — had he asked me, 

"Our gticat trouble — I moan mo and my mother — is my 
father."— Charles stopped abruptly, let the letter fall on his ko' 
while he stroked his beard. Hie mouth thought of giving a wkiatl 
but decided n«t to. — "Wbyl — she said he waa dead," said be. to' 
empty apace. However, he went on with the letter: "He ia of un- 
sound mind, and we have to live apart from him. But he follows 



on 

M 




AlICE-FOR-SHORT 



»1 



ns fibout. I amnot in a letter toll the vhole slory. Rut v« left 
Poriit thniush him, aii<l he foII<>wi-<l ua to Lundoii. He <Ioes nal 
know where m; are livinK. I must tell you he does not seem msane. 
but it ia impOiutiltlL' for my motluTr niid myxcU to livu with bim." 

Charlci paused, considered and decided that it was excusable to 
call the father <l«a(l, umlcr tlie oircuiu»t8nra.'«. He wa« softening, 
but this did not make him RUispect himself, lie read on: — 

"On that evening I euught sight of him coming from n coffe«- 
ehop near the Chalk Fami Tavern. 1 did not know he had come to 
London, bm I knew- if ht saw me he would follow mc home. He 
v&s disputing vrith n cabman about the fare. I walked away 
towards Primrose Hill, and when I reached the gate, eaw he was 
following. I went as quick as I could across the Hill and Rot to 
the Park gate near the Ojmnasium. Thi>y were just closing, but 
I ROt through and I thought most likely he would not. and after 
running a little more I walked slower to recover breath. I was 
afraid to go townnis where we livcil for fojir hi- should follow. So 
I went the other way. Half-aeross I saw Mr. Heath in front, and 
did not want to owrtake him. All the Mme I fnlt safer, seeing 
him"; — (Charles softened perceptibly at ihia point) — "just before 
WB reached the (rate I hoard a jitep behind and then saw my father 
had got through and was still following. I hung a little back 
to make sur« Mr. Heath was through the gate, and then nsked the 
gate-keeper to send the man, who was following. t)ie wrong way, if 
lie should nsk which way I went. He was good-natured and sniil 
y«8. Ail this while your brother must have seen me. and thought 
it might he me. But he was in ttm vhadow and T thought he bad 
gone on. When I got home, going round, I was glad — hut I am 
afraid now that any time my futlurr may find out where wc are. 

"Dear Miss Heath, if you feel inclined to blame me, for all this 
plotting and seheiutwg. think what it must he to W followwl by a 
father who has before now threatened the life of both your mothof 
and yourself. Of course she and I both know it is his head that 
is Bffect«'d— but he seems so sane that every one else is mis- 
led. . . ." 

*Tlut bow about Eseter Hnll ?" said Charles to himself. He went 
on readinjf the letter, which dwelt on how the writer had all but 
taken him into her confidence next day — how slie reproached hcr- 
aelf DOW for not having done so. But only let Peg^cy think what 
ia meant bf the e-xistcncc of insanity in any family — what the 
eAeots of its publication aret Was she wrong in this conc«al- 
mcntt Perliajw she wu*. But slic never intended to v'nVi'aft'A, 
And then things had followed on eo audiifti\\y\ S>\ie waW^ \ia.iNjw^ 



S79 



ALIOE-FOR-SHORT 



takra by Burprise. But the (act was, tliat had it not Y^o for 
mother, she would liavo told c\-crjrl!iing, ntid mndo no rvwrvi 
"But bow bI»uI Ejeter IlalU" ihouRht Charles ogaia. Wae 
tie whole of tbc letter ( No — here wa* n pont.«ortpt ovcrlwif. 

"P. 8.: Aa to what j-ou say about Eseter Hall, I am completely 
puizlH. I am auro that Mr. IltMith tniKtonk itom«thing I Mai< 
But I caiinol make out what. I wailed with a friend at 
EKjTtinn Hall two nightji before. 1 esn recollect nothing flue 
could have been," 




That was nil I Charles read it through again, and .vet a^in. 
first effect upon him wa« to incrensc the csB*perntion he felt agaiturt 
the attitude of hta family. He found himself resoMnp that 
would give it hot to that jtoudk monkey Joan, if she Icl him ha' 
any more of her nonsense. He cho^e to regard this pesolre as 
quite another department of his mind, nnd having n<i cnnnnction 
with the letter. Probably it waa the thin end of a wedge, which 
was well in and working forwArd by the time he rc-MiTclopcd tho 
letter, and was at Ubtrrly to pretend he whb not goiii^ to allovr 
himself to be intlucneed by it. It wh8 a wedge that went cod- 
tiiiually forwards, never slaekeil Iwck in the Ic^st; it was easy to 
foresee that at its thick end Miss Strnkcr would bo acquitted. But 
before coming to that point it irtuek once cir twice — mainly om 
Exettrr Hall. Charles began the series of refiectioua that ended 
in a »(iund itlcrp with an unalterable certainly that it wa» Exeter 
Hall and last night — not the Egyptian Hall and the ni^t befons 
last. The certainty was relaxing to o eoncesaion that it tautt have 
been the night before last, aud be must have been mistaken, whrn 
(iblivitm i-nsuH. Next morning this conceBsion waa recalled, but 
witli a feeling that some protest ought to have been made ns 
Bct-off. So he decided that perhaps it was the E(typtian Hall, afi 
all. But it wasn't the night before last — oh dear, no! 

It ia iM> easy to remember any number if you can only reme: 
not to recollect any other numbers at the sumi- time. But 
be to you if you onco begin to speculate about whether it was 
two or n three! 

Charles had got himself so muddlrd over it by the time he 
down to brcakfant, and found Peggi- ibe only arrivnl. that Vt fwrbi 
said when they began to apenk about it: "l.ct me see! Waa it 
Exeter Halt 1 was so certain it waf, or llie £|^-plian Hall? Oh 
ycK, it was Exeter Hall, of course." And he really felt comforted 
when Peggy uasurt^l him tliis was the caite. She kcrpi back a oon* 
pjcljon tluit Charley was being unfair to LsTtuia on the strength 







ALICE-FOR-SHOHT 



973 



of e v^ty ehaky memory: >im1 •!>« didn't M7 "Mim Strakcr" in 
her mine), toreaetiag that she might turn out Laviiiia after all I 
Bat she nneti't goins to isj- anylhing to iofluoncc him 000 wftf or 
the other — thought she woajv'l. anyhow I Each felt that the paat 
nijrht bad had a aoftcnintr cfFrct, nnd that now what tticj had to 
talk about waa nut so mui-h wLecher exouae could tie fuuud for 
Miss Straker aa how thry ouM mukr nm^nds 10 fa^r for the amount 
of injusliw done, whatever it wu^ without plunf^ing into too grtrat 
■n cxtr«mo of roinstatenwnt. i'pggy'n «ensc of justice was struK- 
gtinj; agaiitat tho dread of takiui;; the reeponaibilitr of throwing tbo 
lovers into one another's arma agnin. 

*Tou Icnow. Charley," said she. "I do feel that the whole buai- 
oess was too hasty — too much like the way propte make love on the 
Ktuge." 

"Or mistakes off it — isn't that what you moan. Poggy-Wog? In 
fii<-t. you consider your brother a pigheaded gooaet" 

"That's it, dcarl You put it brauttfully. Yon see. I can't help 
fecUng — (jou won't be augrj-, dear, if I say it! — Promi*.-!) — feel- 
injl ([lad it's all over, becAUso I do think Larinia may be right, and 
that you n«rcr really — really — did care about her. At lenst. not 
M iniKh as you thought." She is {rettioR her ship into all eort« ■ 
of iboab and troubled water?, and knowa it. But the net^l of Hnd-I 
tag some way of making up for injustice goads bcr ou — "So 
can't pretend I should be gbd for your sake that it should all coi; 
on nfido. In fact. I do think, Charley dear, that yon and Lavinia ' 
aro httttrr apart." Slie said "Lavinia" feeling that a harthntss 
might he safely wiflened — it was a aiialake. Besiilea. the idea of 
boins asunder is fraught with the idea of coming together, and in 
our opinion Charles wus not in a state of mind (o be trusted with 
it. "All the same it secna unkind— to — to believe we were mis- 
taken — don't j^u aeei — and not to — to— ^" Peggy f<'lt the 
watvi* very unaufe indeed; wished she was out of them. She hud to 
prcl«ud to arrange Charley's beard and moustache for him, in- 
stead of finishing the sentenec. lie did it for her. 

"And not to go and tell her we thiiJc it's all explained and 
w«'re 5tTj- sorry for cverj-thing, but that for other rcasgiw — niil 
Kood ones this lime— I would on the whole rather not marry 
bcr." 

"Oh. Charley dear — how can you be so nonsi'^nsicul !"' 

"How would yon put it then, Peggy!" But Pegoy couldn't toll. 
Charted cnt the Gordian Knot. 

"Tho question is simply whether the stoty is true. If It wm«> 
true, Uiaa Straker would be to me all she wa« \)cioT«, u>&\ don'jA 



274 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 





'M 

.1 to , 




bn dioroiishlr ubsmed of inytdf for my bnsliuosit, and nbouM 
nl once and a«lc bet to fonciTe and tak^ mc bock. But i« it tmc 

I'l^^sy ^dd brcn no onrly wnvJct^ 1}<r(orc that she took reivgc in 
eileucc. We must confess to bciDK unable to 8«e what she ousht 
to bavo Mill. She f«:lt rorj- <toubtful if it wnan't cowardly to leave 
Charles to think ehc thouKht it faW. and miRht have found some- 
thing to aaj, in time, but an eruption of fastbreakcrs stopped the 
coHofjuy. 

Alii-e. iu Ibe natural course of her identifScalioo with tlie faniil; 
had brwmo nn rstabliflhcd incidt-iit at brwikfn»t. "Tbc boy»" hn' 
been tbe main as^nls in bringing this aboul, and had in conse- 
qiicnpc hfyDtnc veiy unpopular with Mr^ I'nrtridg<'. Wc an: norry 
to iay that Dan, the .voungoBt, had denounced thai old retainer 
wiititinft Aliw nil to her Ixiislly olil itrlf. Thin wa«. howcvisr, 
secret communion with his brother. lie and KUen took the p1a< 
in the Hmth family, thai NihilinU, Doukhobont, AgncBLtim. Turk 
Heretics, and InGdels Reneratly bold in the Iliinian family. Usu? 
ally the espousal of any cuuso by Ja<-k and Ellm was enough to 
rDHiiro iti> condemnation and opposition by their seniors. B 
occasionally a case occurred that wa4 uwer good for banning 
ower bad — if not for blcnninK — at lesst for apontoneons encourajce- 
ment. Such a one wa^ Jack and Klleu'a danund that Alice, vr. 
had inrrgrd in the family mcaln in Dcvonsliire, should continue 
do so in London, so far as breakfast was concerned at least. Alii 
was really welcome CTcrywhcrc, but the elders felt it a duty 
sustain her nondescript position somehow; hence she mny be aa\ 
to hare slowly become a member of thr family un<h-r protest. 

On (he occasion in Iiand. Alice was among the enrlie<<t of the 
faatbreakera nt Hyde Park Clardfiis. All wi^rc rath<T early this 
roorninfr, so Mr. Heath Senior, baTinfr shaTod (aa aforesaid) over- 
nifchl, meant to ipt to the city nt ten. Hence Prggj-'s interview 
with ChnrlcH had been cut short. Let us try to hear as much 
the coutmraalion as we can through the rattle of knivei aiul fori 
and mere demands for more milk, less milk, one mere lump, and 
en, that drown and internipt. 

"Of courao yoti may have ecruncliy tonei if you like, Alice 
Why isn't Alice to have scnincliy (oast, Ellen f" 

"Bceausn little girln ought to be consistent. Alice said 
day (Not I'm not a tyrant — any more than crerybody else ia) 
she liked (hick loost, tight brown all over, and now »lio wants 
thin and hard and the black scraped oS " 

"Of eoiirth I do! Berauee yelhlcrday waa Tbnrtbday 

*tu* Alice, implying that some scheme for the belter organisati 




J 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



STS 



"of life luis to be observed, Pcgg; enquired, "Why thick toast. 

', slightly broiram), on Thursday!" 

"Because Thurtliday ia a thquoahy <iay, like Monday. Ail the 

>otherH nw «cr«nchcy and crickly, except Thntiirday." 

J "Now, Peggy, isn't that ridiculous} As if Wednesday wasn't ■ 
lot squothicr than Monday," But thi« ricw of Joan's ia com* 

' bated by Charles, who lakes Alice's part. 

"Alicxt i» quite right. Thurnday and Ifondny aro noft and 
squashy, ictlh no crust. The others are crusty; only Saturday Is 
doubtful. She's [(crfcctly right, so (wniit now, Joan!" But .Tump- 

, inn Joau i<i not a younfc pcrsou who can be contra die' ted with 
jiniiunity. Slit rouiidH on Charlm with tlu- >ti)ring of a pitnthiT. 
"1 should like to know what Alies Straker would say to that I" 

(On which H'ua Pclborington auya with n chilling liiiit of remote- 
neu from the conTcmation in her tone, "1 think. Elten, you had 
better eat your bruukfast." And i^Irs. neatb, wbi> hati nccnii'd, and 
is flbotutding spaciously behiud the um, enquires once for aU, 
"Ellen, am I, or am 1 not. your mother t" 

"Suppose you write and ask Miss Straker, Joan!" says Charles 
hinuwrlf, gond-hiiniourird and iinmovrd. lli< is reully fonil of thi» 
demonstrative little sister of his. and usually very much amused at 
the way ohc hit.'t out all round, and adjusts llie uiiiverM-: "Bccauwt 
1 conid take the letter, yoa know." Mrs, Ileath's attention is 
arouHed. 

"I tfiink, my dear Charles, — but I know I slial! be set aside. — I 
ghould have a right to be told when Mim Strnker is to be asked, 
and what she is to be asked to. But do nol consider me!" 

t "You don't understand. Manimn di-nr! It's not an invitntioo — 

flel'a see, what waa it she was to be asked?" For Peggj-. who says 

'this, has bocn quite bewildered by the mpiditic!* of the convei^ 

iMtion. Alice cuts iu with a real desire to clear up obscurities, and 

[place thing* on a proper fnofing. 

I "Miss Straker is to be athked if Thurthday and Uosdajr aioii't 

»quai:hy, and other day* crusty '' 

"All but Saturday, doubtful I" says Charles. And Alice repeat* 
after bim, "All but Tbnliirday, doubtful !" Her cye.i gleam with 
earnestness, and her small face is serious without trace of a Kmilc. 
The company fed a wi$h to kiss her; but it'a hrciikfast. M tbey 
can't. Urs. Heath either ignores the tririnlity, or does not nee tho 
giat. of the convcrsati'in. and says freexiiigly, "At any rate we 
bare no day free till Wednesday. And I bdg that no arrange- 
mcnta may be mode witliout my knowledgi- and sanction." 
"Mamma dear — indeed nobody's making uns »TTaae!«»Ksi^a^^'^* 



276 



ALIOE-FOB-SnORT 




nil a mistake! yahody'b he'ing aaketl tMjvthcTe, etc.. ttc" TliU 
wna m xort of joint-^tock rcmiirk, joined in bj sorcral. Now ICrs. 
Ueath was not so uuobBervaiil aud stupid us might wwm — for oon- 
curnMitl; with thin «)iiiciisiqo& thcTO luid been another ftroong tbe 
males, rather loud aud absolutely in4:i>inpT«beiisible to byMandcn, 
Hc!«^ in a clianw famplc:— 

"It'8 Slack's bustnces— not mine. Tou must write at o: 
thu moment we g<?t to thu office." 

"What am 1 to say) I don't evea know if it was bor o' 
aicc ft " 

"It's no concern of ourn, anyhow) If it had been proper! 
packed, it would have been eatable enough. What could 
Slack to shout m loud, I can't imaRinc!" . . . And so on. Vfl 
merely give a fragment. As thia and mueh more RTOaa-ooiiiiterod 
continually with tho dinloRue about Alice's squashy days, Mrs. 
Heuth bttd good ex<nise for misumlerataiidiTig. But nhe hod non« 
for rejecting nil rxplnnnlionx, and adhpring to a false conception 
on its own merits, while admitting tacitly that it had uo foum 
tion in fact. 

"I may be right, or I may be wrong, my dear Hargarel. I 
accuNtomed to hr corrected. But T do soy, and I will say, that 
ought not to be asked to receive Miss Straker. The Kemp-Brciwn 
are a different thing. Tlicrc has been no occurrence tfaere of 
sort or kind." Charles has been getting more aiul more nettled at' 
the scmi-allu«ions to himcclf and Hiss Strnkcr, and at this point 
the wonn turns, 

"Am I nnkrd to the Kcmp-Brownes', Foggy- Woggy T' nyB be 
aemi-sotio-voec across tbe table. 

"Oh ycje. Charley dear, you're asked." PcK87 looked at 
apprehensively — nearb" asked him not to be a gooae, 

"I iihall go to the Kemp-Brown ee'l" he said; "I don't see 
reason why I shouldn't go to the Kemp-Brownes'. and I shal] go.'* 

This rviioltition lind n certain note of driinnee in it. The Kcrap- 
Browues were very musical people, and a Miss Straker ereiiing bad 
been pending ever «inn^ this family had heard her ning at Hydo 
Pnrk Oardi-ns. Of course Charlrs miRht go, and remain at tbo 
other end of ihn ro()m — rn^ver apiak to tht siiijKer. or even lialcn to 
her. But that wasn't his meaning I Yet it was impomiblo to 
hold of a mere acceptance of an invitation to a friend's bouse 
cause a young lady was going to sing there about whom there 
been un occurence of a sort or kind. An imcomfortable feeling p 
vailed which might have dispersed naturally If the tnlk had 
down nnturally. But jt was cut off short by the other end of tba 





Ui 



died^ 




AlICE-FOR SHORT 



877 



table getting overwhelmingly loud. Mr. IleatbV lempvr h»A been 
ruffled hy points under diwntaaion tielween liini tind Arehibald, the 
rld«st con in the businctw, and at this juncture it climaxed. He 
went the length of AtrikioK tbo table with his hand, 

"T don't c*rr what McCormipk aajsl He hae nolhinft lo di> witli 
the matter. I should say the same if he was the Archbishop of 
Cunterbufy. As for Ekins, hes n oolos^nl idiot P 

"There was nobody at Kew at the time," says Archibald, meekly 
and npnloKcticnlly ; and the outsiders whose attention is attracted 
I7 the rehemence of things, feel inclined to support Archibald and 
help to point out that there really wmt nobody at Kew, without 
knowing of any reason why there should have been, or anytbine 
whatever about it. 

"I shall be veiy cautious another time, and so I tell him plainly." 
thua Ur. Heath, with a Kcsticulaling foreling^, "I abnil be very 
caulioua another time about leaving anything whatever in the 
band* of Wither* & Shanks. I <lon't cow whether it's wool or 
petlitoee. You may tell him 1 said so. Uol I don't want any 
more tnt. Tou may tell him I said so. Is tbc cab there. Phillt' 
morel" — Vea, it is; and oS goes Mr. Heath fuming against some 
p< !r «OD or persons unknown, who will remain unknown to us, aa 
tfaey do not come into this history. 

I**C8y *HW that tiic circunistancea of Charles's rupture with 
lAif* Strakcr were responsible for the condemnation her family had 
eh4Xw«r<s() npon that young lady without waiting for a full and true 
account; that this veiy condemnation, half-beard and perhaps 
cxaggeruted by him, had stimulnted his readinosa to turn round 
and believe himself wrong; and ihut any word slie said might 
cither d(j the same thing, or be mont unfair to a girl who appeared 
at least to be in a most unfortunate position- If !l had been to 
aare Charley from certain iinhappinese Ae might like enough have 
flung all other considerations aside — but was she sure it would., 
•ftvo himt Might tbem not be intinilely worse Mis£ 8lrakers it 
the bush T Vt'hnt had she against her, personally, but a slightly 
drawly, theatrieal monncr! After nil the (|ueetion was, would 
Charley be happy with her I She couldn't say yea — but could ahe 
Bay DoT 



CHAPTEE XXVn 
now MI9S PRTNKK nuxTBD roR MOSES. HOW ciiARLrji wnj. 

PIiyU.M CAHTWBIOUT. JOKAH AND ST. UAROVRET. UOW CHABLES 
WBST rCK A WALK IN RBOKNTS PAttK. ASI> OVSRUEAKD A COS? 
8ATI0>I. HOW HE FOUSO MIHH HTRAKER AT HOME 



^ 



When Charles (tot to the Studio he found « letter from Dr. 
Fliid.'n'r. CnuM^ of diukUi watt tin ht; unticipntt'il, henrt. Chloroform 
contributory, lliieiiiess inalrucllons were (tiveii iu Verrmder'a let- 
ter to himwH, mid n will hnd boon found ns indiiriiti'ti thrivin. Aa 
soon HH forcnalities ehoidd havo beeu complied with the pictures 
would bo n-iit to nu(-tioii. Ohiirli-s sriid t<i liiiiiHi'lf ihnt hr would 
go to the sale and buy Phyllis Cartwrigfat. It turned out that It 
wsK to bo othcTwivo. al 

For when he cawie to thiuk over the eventa of the Inst thi**"^ 
wceke, it became more and more manifoat to bim that the situation 
lietwreu himself and thc^ young lady had t>ocD msinly of hi* own 
creatine'. Of what value were pliKhted troth, vowa of vonatancjr, 
and so ft)r<li. that wmild not rtand the strnin that had bwn put 
upon hisi It had all hintceil on his own aLTtiriUT of recollection, 
and if he hnd rt^iilly luvpd tlie girl eurely he would have doubl<,>d hitaJ 
own heariiiK rather than coudeiriti hi-'r in «ii<-h an off-hand way^^ 
And thtn Imw inijusl his family hnd bppn! If they wcrtt all ready 
to rejoice over liis manifest devotiou to Miss Stralter cominft to an 
abrupt Hid. would it not have been kindiir — moro Ktrai(i;h I forward, 
to "pcnk plainly — not to give such an uncertain note in a matter 
involving »o mudi to atlt People iieunlly e»jM"ct evfry fine elco to 
cut and dry their conduct; to open with a flip and §>hut with a 
click. Cbarlen wua no exci-ption. lie growled t<i himself and 
nursed a »ort of working rewntment again^'t bis family, to bo 
diM-nrdi-d wlii-n done with. ITn could no* consent to ho over- 
weighted by the opinions of people who eoidd be so unjust — for 
plainly as tlit-y all allowed their eondeinnalion of iliss Rtrukcr, they 
actually did not know, or knew very imiwrfectly, the Rrounda of 
his seoeaaion. He could fancy Archibald snyiiuK. "So Cluirlcy'K 
thrown that yoonir woman of hi* overboard. Good job, tool" and 
Bobtn repeating auuielhtng acquired from on older mouth, au' 



] 



AtlCE-FOR-SHOKT 



97» 



i§, "fiasy fnouuh to see which waj the cat would jump," or, "Are 
you Ktrprim-d t I'm nol"; nnd Jonn imiKiunciug iiuilibly u!l over 
the house that Charley's Lavinia wne an ineidious minz, and she 
didn't can- if Chnrlcy did hcjir hrr say so. 

No ! It was altojrethrr weak and wrong to let himself be swayed 
by their shallow d(«iMoiis; a ctrar aUlicntion of hi* own individu- 
ality, a rraunciation of his claims to manhood. He owed it to 
htmKlf, and lo L«viuiu if hia vowtt w<^re worth a straw, to act pre- 
cisely as he would have acted if there had been nothinv to consider 
but their two selves. P^gy was of cour^ an isulatt-il cu^e, ulways 
for iwparatv cotui deration. But then Pcg^ would admire and 
excuse any action of bis ibut was based on a ehrinkiu!; from wrongTrJ 
stimulated by a tttmerouE or cbiralrous motive. If he went stntifiht 
to Lnvinin heri- nnd now. for forgiviiiesB and rijpall^he know that^ , 
Pofnry would applaud him in her heart, arfi'iAne'^Mt' foS^■fc-^'^' * f_ 

But hi- would do nothing in a hurry 1 To iHH)tbe bimoelf and 1 
in a calm frame of mind, he would have a ftood look at Kesan. and 
eee if sb<r was rvslly dry. If he t-rer did finish Regan (and obri- 
f>U8l,v ho couldn't do that without Miss Straker), fit any rate sb 
would har»! a thorough drying 1 And if he didn't, at nny rat« it 
was no fault of his I An inspection of Regan Klarinf; apace with a 
chin wi-Il abend of hrr pyes. nnd clcnobing two wrll-balniiCfi! fista, 
ended in a decision that at any rate it was too late to do any worh 
now. Thio phrsKc had recrudcncrd ; but to somo nrw end. not yet ' 
determined. As no work was possible, the iiest beat thing would 
be to pay iTcif n TiKit in his Studio. He hadn't been th^c for 
ever 90 long. 

Tbn Hiss Prjnnes' door was half open, and did not know 
whether the person who hfld the handle inside was slu.vicju in or 
onming out. Whoever it was, he or nbc hoard Charles's footstep 
and inclined to staying in. He passed up and met ii Buimd of 
Toicca — Jeff's and the .rounger Mis» Prynnr-'n. The formi-r testi- 
fied that if its owner saw Moses, he would bring him down at once. 
The latter tliat it would l>e sure to be all right. Moses was always 
diaappearine, and always turning up. Further that tea would be 
fite. and .Terry was to be eiire not to be late. Oh no. tlint he 
wouldn't! The voiees seemed to mingle with alacrity and eitbila- 
ratton. Charka piiusrd a minute on the stairs with a sudden 
amused look. Some idea had dawned on him. "No!"' said he to 
ttimself. ■'that would he too riiiicTulouB!" Only, a* Mis* Dorothea 
paaaed bim on the Maire, with the smile of her interview still on 
her face, and a geod-morning for himticlf that tiorrowcd a chatice 
cordiality from it, he added, intemall^f, "B\jl w\t^ twA^ 




ALICE-FOBSBOBT 

"Wliat A time you have beeot" said the door-handle bolder, 
her fliater rcpliMl. ""Wc wei* looking for Mogea." Thi> door cloccd 
on a seneo of a slight domestic ruction. j 

"Au,v niore gliosis, JeS!" ^ 

"No. only 'untin' for the cat." — Mr. JerrythoniAt also had a 
plr>a!iuiit twinklu on htm. and a slight flush. — ''Wi-II, I'm blowcdl 
there he i« all the time," And there he was sure onoujcb, ci 
vliug round ibc visitor's calves. It was ns nothing to Mok;« 
cease to exist when hunted for, and to re-materialise when coi 
Ten lent. 

"Half a minute till I take him down. Charley I" And JeS ca 
tures Mosc9, purring like a forgo in full blast, and bears him awi 
to his owner. 

"I WAS just going to give you up and fro," saye Charles, some 
minutes after — somi: uiaiiy miuule* — when JeS reappears aimIo- 
grtic. ^M 

The rescued Terpsichore had an easel to herself, as hftTing intcr^H 
Gitling igualitiiM. We have noticed ttint works of Art that arc bcinjt 
cared for and cos^ed over, soon develop qualities. It la 
known that new things seldom have any qualities whatever. It 
a puixlc to thc! metaphysician, but presents no difficultin to tbs' 
artist. Terpsichore, who probably was painted in an afternoon, and 
tlu-n looki'd hanale. und crud<-, and commonplace, and meTctncio\i: 
and affected, and Sat. and appealed to no sympathies, and toucbi 
so chord, iind in whoso oompositiim no Trentment was visihlr, ani 
Values entirely disregarded — this very Terpisichore now that si 
had had her Ufe saved at such t-xpeiise, and been provided with 
gilt frame (only the gilt was kept down and not allowed to stare) 
hod become endowed with qualities, niid hud had a good deal 
style distinguished in her by a sensitive and thoughtful Omni: 
cience— in fact the Cultivated Critic himself had Tisitad Jeff*i 
Studio and discerned in Terpsichore an interesting example o 
something it was dutiful to be interested in. Undtr glass, the po; 
tions the Destroyer's band had spared suggested the beauty of t 
holf-vflnisbed bits he had had a gtiod scratch at, and very near 
abolished before tW Preserver caught him at it and chased hi 
away. 

"What are you going to do with hert" Charles asks. 

"Intercitin' memento 1" says Jeff. "Shan't part with her. Miatf 
Dorothea was saying the frame would bear puttin' down a little 
moro. Wl>at do you think f 

"Was that when you were looking for the cat. .Ttfff" 

"You go along, Charley t You're always poking your fun ! Ni 






ALICE-FOR-SHOET 



»1 



IfiM Dorothea nMy is a very Ben»ble person I Ain't it time for 
lunch r 

It isn't, jn«t yet. But it will be. In the meantime we can 
CODveree a jrood deal about Vcrrindor'A drath ; nboiit the old iiig thia 
story begnu with; t-ren ubout each other's work, which we regard 
with lukewarm intereet, each prcferrinjf tn stimulate the other into 
talk about hin own, un<lcr prpteiit'e of udvtw" he doesii't m«an to 
take. Hut when Charles came to look back on this conversation, 
it wrtninly Ktruolc him that Mis* Dorothea figured in it rery ofteii 
as an estremely sensible person, and wondered whether anjlhing 
wouI<] come of it. 

Urs. Farwifc. on the stairs, suspected Charles of having been un- 
dcrfctl lat<!ly. She Iind noticed it these three dujra, and mentioned 
it to her husband. She referred scvcrsl timcx to this Inst fact; and 
not only had olw? said to Farwig that Mr. 'Eath hndii't been look- 
ing himself this Ions time pflst, nnd whnt he wanted was keeping 
up. but nhf! hud dwelt upon the same theme to our old acquaint unco 
Mrs. Twill", whose memory cluntr about No. 40, even as Petrarch's 
about Vauclusc. or Dante's about Florence. .Mm. Farwig seemrd 
to adduce the number of limes she had mentioned any circumstance 
as cumulotive evidence of its primary certainty. As she bad stood 
her pails on the stairs, durin' ciMtnin', and ebe herself had stood 
between her pails, Charlrs and Jeff could not avoid a longish collo- 
quy, a iiood deal of which was for<'iKn matter, and reviewed the 
difficullirs (if bringing up a young family on an unccrtnin income. 
However, the pails were removed in time, ami Mrs. Farwig made a 
bad fininb. oriitorio-nlly, with the words, "Ah, well — as I any 1" And 
tiien Charles and JeS got downstairs. 

But thiry did not get away to lunch. For Mr. Baiterstein, the 
dealer, intercepted them, and drew them into his room lo see a 
Morhind. Churl<-a <!vudod giving an opinion about it by saying lie 
thouicht Morland such a very equal artist. Being applauded for 
this he roslily ventured further on the same lines, and said ho 
thought Reynolds nn example of an unequal artist. But the opin- 
ion of Europe was evid('utl,v aguiust biro. lie retired aithamGd. M 
Then thtry drciilcd they really mu»t get away, or they wouldn't % 
get lunch till dinner-lime. They might have done so, hud Cliarles 
not rrwilb-dt^ us he wh" k'.iving the house that there was scaoc- 
thing he wanted to say to Bauerstein. It related to the sale of 
Vtrrriuder's pi<-tures. and a short confcwnce ended up thus: — 

"Then you'll bid for it for me, up to lifte«n pounds f I can't well 

Ed tliat." 
)lr. Bau«r8teiu would undertake the c<nani\%^\inv. "^^ 
- 



1^ 



S$3 



AT-tCK-FOR-SHORT 



would bid tip to fiftoao pounds for Charlce. If be bid bibber 
would b« his owb purcbasv. Wliat did Clmrli^st tiay tliv nnci 
wast "Villis Gardride"? — Charles wrote il down for him, with a| 
oUicr nwcHiil parliciilars. But ihis dday jusl mmdi' tbp. dnpiirtui 
for Or«iuoncini'8 overlap witL that of Pope and ChappeU, win* wei 
loquacious in tbL- passage as Oharks cntne forth to rrjoin Jof 
Pope's vulgar tongue was audible as bo I«ft the old ballroom 
the door liis and Jeff's private ghost, as tlwT- olicd hirr. haj 
oome out nt. 

"Expectin' a beggar tii know about Trsnsuhsturntlution ! 
Protestant lifggnr! And him n Dennl" 

'■Wlint did you say to him. Mr. Poiif»" Thii* Chnppcll. who ij 
always a little uneasy about what may happen when the Firm'j 
divinity is gaugpd by oxpprts in bis aliacncc. 

"Said the religious pardiier was takin' a morsel of bread ftl 
cliMee and a gloBs o' shiTry, hut hti'd be round in five minute*." 

"No — you <lidn't say that. Mr. Pope, I do hope?" Mr. Cbappef 
is alsnncd, hut, odvnntngp is only being taken of hi» bc-ing matte 
of-fact. Had ho hei:-n on tJiu other aidi- of tbii paaaagc, ht woulc 
have seen that Mr. Pope had closed one eye, for the beneiit of him- 
self and Mr. Jerrylhought. 

"Not in thofe tcrma. pardnerl But in tlie spirit of the retuar 
My pardnpr always says 'refer him to ini»' \w says. So I 'and Vn 
all ovL-r to 'im-^Deans. Minor Canons. Viears, and Curates. Bish 
ops and Arelibi shops c^me by uppoinlin<-nt and be sees 'em bii; 
self." This explanation he addrt^sses to Jeff. 

"What did you mx this lime though. Mr. Pope!" Chappell awin 
uneasy, and would rather know. 

"Said I would sooner be should tnlk to you about it. Said 
own views were those of the religious public, without diBtinctioii 
of Mwd or smt " 

"No — you didn't say thai, I hope?" 

"Somelhin' to tlint effect. It amindcd all right. Anyhow, M^ 
goin" to send the templates, and bell run to three pun' a foot ffl 
figure-work, and ten shillins for gri.iuilli-. And when hL> coma 
again, you'll 'ave to talk to him about Transubstarntiation. 
look out for squalls." 

Charles had come into touch in the middle of this dialog 
Seeing him suggested a new topic to Mr. ChappelL "That was Mi 
Heath's sketch of Jonah and St. Margaret ho liked, wasn't [^ 
Mr. Popc-r— 

"All, to be sure, Mr. Heath! He was vwy much took with yoii 
sketch. I pointed out to him the propriety of the treatment- 



ALICE-FOK-SnORT 



S83 



*Thcrtf« a 110116 mullion between tlicni. anyhow." Mii<I Cbarlee. 

"Not from that point of vk-w. I don't mi-uu. T wos rcfiTrin* to 
the Icndin' inoidents in their live*. One got swalkn^ by a whule — 
thr otlicr by ii dragon — n Mhr fwliti' lliey'd liavc! 'A pnrtfy 
idea,' I said. "staDdiu' of 'em fide by »dc.' He afreed. ;lie Dean 
did- Anyhiiw, you'll hnvc to drorc *rro out to scale, and I'll lend 
you a hand over the lead-lines." 

CharlpK cordinlly thnnkcd Mr. Pope. It garp him quite n scnto 
of pleasure that hL- ahould really do »omelhing. however small, that 
should bear fniit an profrwnional. He frit imt a little a^hnmcd of 
his miperior lone about Pope & Chappell when be first made their 
acquaintance throutcb Jeff. To whom he apologised as tiiey walked 
nirny U> lunch logi-thi-'r ; he eouidu't well do »> lo Popi- bim»elf, 
atlhotiirh he wan lontnng to mnke amends for bis churlishness. 

Ro long HH ho wan in conlaet with tlie rarini little vnirld that had 
drifted into No. 40; so long as he was sitting with Jeff at Cremon- 
cini'91. chuffing the waiter, who was o Genoese, niul cnck-avnuring to 
Kconcile the Italian of the latter with some slight experience he 
had of thp PuTgaOirio; so long ns he was wtilking Wck with his 
companion throngh the pea-soup that flootlcd the etri^et, in a singti* 
lar fit of post-mortem snmmer that bad eome off the Atlantic with 
a BWt of southwest wind und blown tin? curly frosts awuy, and 
waB makinK folk anticipate (rreen yules and full kirk-yard 
K> long as these things were, and he had distmction. he was in no' 
danger of doine anjthing in a hurry ; not if the situatioQ was of his 
own cnnting, ever sol 

But when Jeff had gone away to his five-o'clock appointment to 
tea with the sensible Miss Dorothea and her indisputably scraggry 
aialer; whi-n tie bad declined to aiwompawy hira in responsi' to an 
invitation ho seemed to have no hesitation in giving. qikI was left 
alone, aa he alleged, tr) writv lettora iKKrau.-ie it wn> too dnrk In work ; 
when he had filled out half-an-hour with a pipe of the celebrated 
Latakia, and liad reuinrked to himself that. JetTs aci}unintan(i! with 
itit/t Dorothea seemed going ahead at a great pace—and he nerer 
reflected on the great pace at which another ncquflintiinen had 
gone ahead recently; when he had done all these things, and found 
no more to do, am! rr-ully liad no Irltcrs to writt — how oftiTi onAj 
Mya one has, when one hasn't! — why, then he was very diatiUAll; 
in danger of doing Norarthing in a hurry; only he didn't know it! 
He fancied he had got a really good opportunity for reviewing the 
position with (he extremest deliberation, and went out for a wall 
through the pea-soupy streets in the wind that am«U of the. 
and watched the *cuvcmgi-re KcavcngLi^ (,"«e prasoOMi^ "Cor WMi^ 



iB* 



ALIOE-FOR-SHORT 




d of wbat^i 




with vri6e toolhlewi rakes, and spooniug it into tureens ou wheels 
which beinji Put in motion spillod mo«t of it. and carried away 
rttmainder to soma deatiiiatioii known only lo the Parish. 

Obviously the proper wiij of not doinii anything in n hurry would 
havt! been to go for a walk in Hyde Park and KeuaiugluD Oar- 
dens, and then no homo to dinner and have a good long talk with 
Peggy — who <!ou1d xay tlint ahii hadn't hnen to see UiHst Strakert 
It would have l>een much wiser in him to do so, instead of what 
he did. 

Ue did start towards Hyde Park. But when he ^t to 
Place he turned to the right. He would walk up to tlie end of Port- 
laud Plaee, through Park Crcacont, and go to "the Gardens" alODi 
the Maryk^bone Road. He called itomcbody, or samethin; 
wasn't <-lear which — to witness that he wasn't thinking of gol 
near Regents Park; still U'na Camden Town. 

Bui when he got to Park Square he reflected that he laal 
wanted n bit of a walk, and it was so nice ami airy across Regoo 
Park in this unseasonable delight of a balmy wind, and then round 
bf the outer eiri^le and St. John's Wood, and Maida Vale. A cap-j 
ital walk, and long enough! Of course he would bo within 
quarter of a mile of Warren Street. 

His mind turned resenlfnily on the passing imp that had mu 
mured this in his ear. What sort of weak eharaeter did that Imi 
take him fori Cnuld he not trust himself within n qnartrr of 
mile of this girlt Aye. that lie couldl He could trust himself 
to take no rnsh step unintentionall.v. As to what ho jihnoJd or 
should not do as the result of matun.'d intentiou — why, the iuten- 
tion wasn't mature yetl If ho wer« to mature auch an intenti 
between, for inetance. the comer of Park Square and ilie Zoolo^i 
Gardens, he wasn't going to be intimidated by the opinion of aa^ 
inaignificant imp like that I I^'t him and bia fellows scoff at his 
headstrongnesH, rashness, vacillation, inconsistency — what did ho 
Caref If ho really onl.v fi'lt oonvinced tliat llisn Slrakt^r's story 
of her father was substantially true, he would go and sue for for- 
gireiiees at once. Why did ho doubt its truth) It was only that 
Exeter Hall recolleetion — and see how hazy he had boon a 
thatl 

Then he became conscious of what Peggy would have said to hi 
at once bad she se^n him now: "You foolish'boyt Can't you 
you are thi:iking all this becauMe you are hankering after Warrei 
Street, and the nearer you get the more you will think it." 
»<;kHowl(-dgcd th(( shadowy Peggy's insight; pulled himself 
•^d crossed the Park resolutely. Ue felt Spartan, and «at do' 



or 

cn'^l 
io^H 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



S88 



L 



OQ a seat, near tho Primrose FTill entmnw bo kiunr »o well, to rest 
after auch a moral effort. 

His c»r nan cnught by conriinntion in Fmnc^b not very far off. J 
Wonls not fatniliar to him he could not calcli, but easy phraseflV 
and repetitionf be mndc out clearly enough. Tho voice tbat spoke 
first wa^ a .voting: man's. 

"Elle esl maiadc . . . die n'a pa* pu venir . . ." 

"Ce sunt il«!i menaongea, et tu ea menteur, mon fila . . . elle ne 
I'a pas voiilu . . ." 

"No 3u£Gt-il pas (luVlle voua a envoys cat argciit! . . . pourquat 
la fatieucr aineil . . ." 

"Jfl ne veiix pas la futiguM', moil . . . Ecoute toil Je t'atteoda 
une (It^nii-htrurel . . ." 

The two voieee iheo fell end CharUs lienrd no more until they 
■SBuzned the winding-up tone, which always brings louder speech. 
The elder man became audible first — anil tbat of the younger re- 
mained inaudible, bein^ always pitched in a lower key. 

"Alors nous sommcs d'nci^ord I Tu viens ici me porter de I'argent 
— et moi je t'attcndx samedi— iL cette heure. . . . NonI Nonl Ma 
foi — je rentreprenda ! Elle peut se fer de moi, . . . Mais mon 
adresscl Pourquoi vcut-el!c cnnnuitre mon adrcsse) . . . Faut 
^crirc ail Cnf6 au dela . , . corarae avant.'' 

The yoiiut: man then walked away westward. The other ealled 
after him. "Maurice I" and then seemed to change hia mind, adding, 
"Non^-non— 06 n'est rien! Va-t-onI" Then he turned to go iu 
tbn o|>iios)t« direction, and Charles suw he would pass near bim. 
There was a gas-lamp close by, and as he passed, stowing away in 
hia puno the money he had received, Charles saw him plainly. An 
appearance at onoe clerical and disaulule was too disliuctive to be 
tnistaken. There wan no doubt whatever about it. He was tho 
nan tlint had fnllowcd Miss Straker. and been mi^diriKtiHl. . . . 

Charles's resolutiou was taken. He walked straight to the hou«o 
in Wum>n Btroct. As be crossed the roud towards tho house, ha 
thought he saw Laviaia just retiring from the window; and, a 
moment after, cume a chord on the piano. If Charles was at thid 
time (piilly of any self-deception, it was in forcing his mind a littlo 
to the belief thnt whc had not seen him approaching. 

Was Miss Straker at home? The sloven he asked the quostioa 
of seemed ambiguoiiii. so he naked it in another form: "Shall I find 
her in the drawiut^-room l" The sloven replied, vacuously : "If you 

wan to go up and sec " He heard her singing above at tlie 

piano. He left the sloven as a Iiopeless ease, and went upatalvft- 

Jtist aa ho opoood the door, after linockin^ 6\\;^i\!j, Vr XwAt^ 



at^ib 



289 



ALICE-FOB-SHOET 



die inBtrument closed noisily. The sound must have drowned his 
knock, as no answer came. He looked in without speaking. The 
girl was leaning forward over the piano-lid, her face in her hands. 
He spoke to her b; name, and she looked up. 

"Why have you comet" said she, almost with asperity. 

"I have come," he replied, "to ask your forgiveness. Will you 
forgive met" 



CHAPTER XXVin 



ST K03 UUTAHUR IK tLUS 



It wa* n San morniii;; in Hay. The iiihabitanta of Sobo were 
f«e1iDK ch^rfitl from tbe fir>t oatbunt of mnl nunnliinc the year 
had grnntrt] tliem. The streeU. if not quite dry after a lortfr aea- 
Boii of continuous rain, wore ftoins to be dry wnm ; and the new ehor* i 
woman vho was elrnniiig tbo front-door atepn at No. 4'X seemedl 
aunpiine of a permanent resull, Thcro wore almost as mnny two- 
hortio carrie^^ with coronets on thi-tn ub onmibiisrs in Rej^'iit 
SlnK-l, and oabs were scjirt'ely beiDK allowed time to disgorge their 
plebeians, by the impaticnw of fn>sh plelwinn* to tnkp their plaeea. 
County families in full vie<iiir had cli-am-d their windows and pu 
acarlet gvrauiuina in their baleouies and incited myrmidona to be" 
ready with roll» of carpet to shield the feet of arrivahi from tho 
cold inhospitable pavinjr-Btone. But we must not be led away to 
Berkeley Squar«; our proper place is at the old Soho houw, known 
to UB only by its number in the Htreet, where on this May morning 
the nvw ehar was cleaning down the steps, and a "harmonioflutc" 
luirn-I orpnii was playinir 'Ernutii iiivolnmi' sprerfll timm over. 

She was a new char; there was no doubt of that — biU as ia the 
race of leaws. bo is tho race of ehnrs, and their employer* nro 
always turnine: orer a new leaf. Mrs. Farwiyr no longer dtd down 
the itcp» and did out the hou»c. but the hieroglyphie of Pope It 
Chappell wa^ bright upon the door-post, and the two human erea- 
tnrcH il vouched for were, a« usual, at work in what had bwn the 
front parlour: combining tlie painting of glass against the light.J 
and tho provinion for more to come, with the recejition of visitor 
anxioua that somebody else shouhl not be forgotten, and that they 
tb«mseln^» should b« home in mind as his commom orators. 

"Fm apecnlalin'," thus Mr. Pope to Mr. Chappidl, and iheaj 
pauses a few seconds to concentrate on a stipple, "I'm spoeulalin'' 
we aball hear of a wedding." Mr. Chapfiell says simply and 
briefly. "Who r 

Ur. Pope appears to pause atxl couaitler among possible coupl<>a; 
iliy asks, as one wh'i belicrcs he has struck wV, V.wv ■»i«-i^ 
att«ngtii«Ded : "Wliut do yoa s&j \a q\u &T%V%n«it^ 




U. 



287 



S6B 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



• 




■ llJh 

iedL 



"What made you Ihtnk of Mr. Heailii" 

"Why — yoMT grumblin' at havinfc to 'unt up his St. Harfcar«t'ft 
leadt." ^ 

"Well, Mr. Popo, Vd a right to Krwmble. I'vp had to trace theflH 
all over apraiii. anybow. But I don'l mean, what inu<l« you think 
of him, himsrlf^what made you think he wae Roirifc to be marriedj 
/ werer beard be was," 

"Only a sort of eppculativc idear of mino, partner," eaid Pop 
"No man Ie§8 likely. 1 should aay, if you was to aak me— I threw 
out the idenr — — " 

"Scniehody must have said eomelhing about it— else bow 
earth should you come to think it i" 

"I didn't thiiJt it — a mere floaliu' ideor!^n!j 'ang mc if I c* 
eee why our first-floor shouldn't get married as much as any 
elae'a " 

"Of course not~l never said he shouldn't, anyhow," 

"You never said he shouldn't, partner, 1 gtual youl But, to 
thinkin', yoH took op the gaimtlet " 

"No— I didn't. I didn't say as much as you did. You said 
man was lees likely. Why did you say that i" 

"Well ! beeuiia; T thoutiiht it. I^ok at the thing nil round." Eo( 
Mr. Pope and Mr. Chappell didn't look at it all round, for the 
offioc-bcll jnnglcd, and on Archifrt-t cjime in to find nn much fniiH 
M he could, and to denounce ten cler£«tory windows for want o{ 
repose, and only allow a little grudging prnisir to the "Joat 
Pope was at work on, on the score of the breadth of treatment 
the whale. . . . 

While this goes on, let ua — as is our prerogBtiTo — look round 
tlie ofHce. and eec what the cJinnges have been since wc were 
last. For a feeling is on us that changes have taken place, thougt 
we cannot Bay ofT-band what they are. Let us look at them in 
detail. ^H 

W<! cannot recall every drawing of a window that bung upon tl^H^ 
walls on our previous visit, but surely— surely — that great aevea- 
Jighl perpendicular window over the chimney-pieoe was not 
then? What a picco of work to hove done in the timcl And 
ihi* swarm of major and minor Prophets, Apostles, Archangels,"" 
Nativities and Flights into Egypt, Oood Samaritans and Unjust 
Slewurils, fitted into every posdiljlo type of window tracery. Nor-_ 
man. Decorated. Early English, late Tudor, even Inigo Jones ai 
Christopher Wren — surely the walltt were not then all but hidde 
bdiind these f 

Well I look a bit closer — look ^ope and Hfr. Chappoll, 




Ihera^ 
nd a» 



difa 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



SM 



land then ngrwiiig with ei-erything the F. R. I. B. A. aajs, 
witli a rii'w lo compl.viiiit with noue of it in practice. Wht-n wo 
Baw htm fir^t. Pope's hair wos black, iron-Krcy at most, with u 
tendimcy to whiteii lowarils the whinker. Now it i* moat strangely 
8il?ered over — and though Chappell seemed then to mean to be bald, 
there was nothing About bis reaiieotublc head ihot suggested an 
onion or an egg.. Kow his head is more than roBpeot^ble — It is 
veoerablc — n hejid most propititioim to an ecdeHiasticnil btiiiinesa; 
and both of them have a certain famil.y effect «ud grlve ao 
impmsion of vuburban rrsiilfiicwi, fritught with <lniight^rii anilj 
croquet biwua. And what is the speech we catch from the good- 
looliing yotinK ninn of twrnty-udd who comcK in with a drawing, 
■nd bnnda it to Mr. Pope: "la it this one. father f And the replj- 
is: "That's it. Kit; put it on the tnblo." 

Why, Nurely now — that time that Charlca Heath came fint itita 
their office with Jeff, to make the Firm's ac^juaintanoe— mirely 
Po^ upokc then uf a child of four, who alao wn.i Kit, and who . 
uked emharraseinR qucvtiomi about rctif{ious Art. You miun 
recoils thott What do<-M it all nuiini What i* tho moaninir of 
Pope's grey head and Cliappell's bald crown, of tite sij^Ha of work 
and prosperity on tlio walls, of the venerable employee addressed] 
u ButtifuTit who brings iu window-lights to show, of the msuy 
footsteps that come trooping il<iwn the stairs outside and make 
Chappcll aajf that's the chaps going, and it must be twelve- thirtj- ( 

What indeed ( It menni that sixteen years have passed, not 
«iite«n weeks (as, for all the story baa told yet. it might bare 
been), sinw Alice broke the jug and Chnrles nhielded her and 
brought lier borne, a small forloru midget, to his father's house;- 
since she stood by her mother's deathbed at the Hospital, and heard ^ 
ber fipeak. that one time only, in the vaivn that, but for drink, 
would lure been her own ; since she saw the memorable ghost upon 
the ainirs.— 

But the story knows nothing yet of what has come to pass tn all 
those sixteen yean. It comes, as Rip Van Winkle came, to note 
the signs and memories of many changes that have been wrought 
in die abwnce uf its chroniclers. It knows nothing yet. but that 
Charles is an unmarried man. and still a tenant of the first-floor 
Studio at No. 40. Let it— ^r let us, if you prefer it so — go up 
and look at him. 

We wonder, as wc go, who elae remains in the house of those we 
knew. Some one has gone awaj' — else where are all "the chaps" 
work about whow! foototeps Cbappell saw it was twelve-thlct'^A- 
Either Jeff or the Uisscs Frynue hate ^vcu uq tiacAi Vb'ouv:^'^ ■ 



Jud^nfc by the sound of tboM fed we should ao; both. There muet 
b« a dozta paintera or more Ht work upsta in— orders for 
past-windows, and whole e)ere«Uirie« in a lumpi tm oot do: 
single-buided 1 

On the stairs we pass a bearded man — a man in «arly ini< 
lift-, whose face gives, or leiives, tlic impn-ssiim ihnt hn is 
younger than he looks. It is sad and careworn, but handaome Bn< 
thoughtful and atlrnctivc, and we should stop to look at him if 
were not in such a hurry to get to our old friend Charley. W 
he be much changed — changed out of all knowledge — in 
::ixteen long years { 

Wc cannot sec him now, for his door is shut and locked and hi 
is gone away till two. A notjoe on a slate on the door says he wi! 
ho back then; so wi- tnm to go. clisappuinteil. And tliHi as wc g9 
down, il dawns upon us that that was he — that man we passed U]>on 
the stairs. Of course it was! Think of the spcctncles and all! 
We should have recognised him. 

But it may be we recoiled imcoDSCiously from doing so, and 
could not bear to thiidc that he should look so sad at heart. Were 
we not, perhaps, shutting otir eyes to his identity, and hoping to 
Kce flguiu the young bright urtist we left here, sixteen yeaitj 
ago? . . . 




When the F. R. L B. A. heard it was twelve-thirty, he recollecti 
that he had an appointment nt that time, and fled in a cab. Po] 
and Chappell and Kit. the son of the former, who iind come in fro; 
npstnirs to join hia father at lunch, passed the time in discursive. 
chat, The.v did not leave till one^so there was a cool twenly 
minutes. Pope resumed the previous conversation. 

*'Bad job it was. that marriage of his! Pon't you go makin^r ■ 
runaway match with a ramshandry sort o' half-Fr*-no-h girl, with- 
out your father's consent. Kit, or I'll disinherit you." j 

"Did old Mr. Heath disinherit himT asked Kit. I 

"Not hel — Easy-goin' old cock I No — I bclicTc he allowed 'em 
two or three h\indred n year — and Charles Hcatli hud a trifle of his 
own — with tlie cartoons he did for us they made up to seven or 
eight 'undred. But Lnrd 1 if it had been seven or eight thouM&d 
she'd have walked into it." 

"What was her name, FatherF* 

"Scraper." replies Pope with confidence; but is corrected b^ 
Chappell. and Kit evidently says lo himself. "1 thout^ht so." 
speaker eonlinuea: "1 don't think the old hoy forgave him for 
time. They didn't get the three hundred at first — and ihey mui 



I 



L 



W^ ALICE-FOR-SHORT 291 

lutve had » rough timo of It. Childn-n coming, niul his painting 
Iarg« pictures Dobody l)OUg)jt." — 

"Can't My I wonder." says Pope; "I wouldn't hiiv« Vm Bt a 
gift. Sat he's a nice fclkTl Aniooein' way be has of puttiti' 
thiuss.too! How many kida? Two?" 

"Two, I fancy. First a girl and tlien a bo7, like tlie children's 
gamo. The prl died." 

"Uow did he como to make it up with Wa father!" Kit, who ask?, 
is youngr and penetratinar. and wishes to go to the root of all Bvib- 
ject«. Mr. Pope can't throw much light, 

"What was it Jeff said. Mr. Chappell?" — He posses the qu«- 
tion on, and Chopjicll i* little Iwltcr. but can record that the recon- 
ciliattou was brought about "by Lady Tliingtimbob. thi; wife of 
Sir Wbat's-hie-namo — you know, the frT<?at physician — married 
Hiss Ileatli — great hennty she was — you riwolloct V 

"Sir Rupert Johneon. I know. He's a tremendous swell now. 
Whnl's liis gag. Kit f Tou know about things. Ts it stummidk — or 
oviariotoniy — or sof tenin' on the brain !" Kit seems a very well- 
informed bov' — hns quite nulelassed bis fnthir. lie bcHevos Sir 
Bupert Johnson is the great aullujrily on the Bruin. 

"Ah! to be surel" snys bis father, "when Royalties' brains get 
•oftcntn', they setid for him to jironounce — or lir oviariotomisea 
'em." He treats those useful and much maligned members of so- 
ciety in iho reckless tone- of one who doesn't expect ever to make 
tlu-ir acquaintance. Kit recalls the eonveraatiou back to Cfaarlca 
H««tfa; he askn when hiit wife di"!. Hi» father replies: 

"She ain't dead. Slu? don't mean to die in a hurry." 

"I thought you said Mr. Heath wa* a widower, Father f" 

"Xo. p(M>r beggar! Good job if he was, / sliould say. If he were, 
he^d marry again fast enough! No, he's divorcified her a vinculo, 
and ithe's enjoyin' guilty splendour witli Duke Rniley or Duke 
Humphy,'* For a little while before this time the famous Bab 
Bnllnd bed appeared which introduced that lawless couple to itn 
readers. 

"Tim Catholic Church," says Chappell. with severity, "does not 
sanction the mnrringr of divorced persons." 

"Don't it { Well then, all I can say is. it ought to gire double 
allowance to the party that divorci-d 'cm. Bigamy to balance, don't 
jou »«e? That would work 'fm up four square again, like at first." 
Bnt Mr. Chappell doesn't reH»h this trifling, especially before a 
juung man; be puts on lua out-of-doora coat and his hat and goes 
away to lunch. Mr. Pope begins following his examylu 'EiV. wu^n^t. 
to cling to the conversation. 






ALICE-FOR-SUORT 

'T88J. Father!" 

"What do you say, sonny I" 

"I thought Mr. Heath's wife ww detuiV* 

"Wrfl— ahe ain't." 

"Whyr 

"I shonld Imre heard — certain I" 

"Look here. Father. / thought ehe was dead. Gwert 
80 too." 

"Your eister thought so — well — you were a couple of wise younu 
customcTB. 8hc'H alive and kicking." N«v«rtlieleBS, Mr. Popo 
pauses with one arm in an out-of-doore eJcovc, as though waiting; 
contradiction. 

"I mean. Father, that when we saw that advertisement at break* 
fust this morning we thought it couldn't possibly be her, if she 
dead already." 

The urm goes no farther into the sleeve; its owner fixes his 
on his son's face. 

"Wliat advertisement t" he asks, with aroueed interest. The 
young man repeals it conscientiously, word for word. " 'At Wies- 
baden, on the 5th instant. Lavinia Strakcr. Friends and rptationa 
will kindly accept this the only intimation.* " 

Mr. Pope gives a short whistle, and says, briefly, ''My wig!" Hi 
thru pulls on the long tli-liiyisl <'0iil, and hi? and his son walk oir 
together. Presently be remarks, as the result of meditation 
"There may have Inn-n fifty Ijiviniii Slmkr.rii." Kit, however, ia i 
a position to quote a high social authority. 

"Owen tlioiight not," says he, "because the advertisement looked 
BO," and his father seems to understand this — so we need not- 
eoumine it critically. But Kit's conclave with his sister is not 
escape without comment. 

"Nice young pair of half-Iiatdied chicks, you and your sisterg 
to be talkins about the poultry yard — and you never asked 
mother, I lay!" 

"Gwcn said mother would shot her up." says Kit, somewhat roe* 
fully — and then tlie subject of an ill-made template diqiloioes thtt, 
I poultry yard, and lasts till lunch. 

K 





CHAPTER SXIX 



HOW PBOCT HAD BEOOHE A OREAT MAS-DOCTOR'S WIPE. HOW ALIOE-TOR- 
HIIOKT HAD BKEN MUfR rOK LONfl KKOUdll TO HEOOUI! A WOUAX, 
BOW THE PARROT HAD FORUOTTCN NOTIIINO 

Kit Pope was quite rifibt about Sir Rupert Johnson. He was 
the jfwnt ftiit-liority <>i\ th<- Bruin. Not ihnl he. was mistnisteil ii 
Other departtucnts of Medical Science, but that that was his great' 
Rnd •Hpi^rwilinK spiviolity. For iin.v oiw; to nnsuroi? hr wn9 in his 
senees in the fnc* of the contrary verdict from Sir Kupcrl Johnson 
wouh! hftifn bi*ii ht^Id ii auffieit-iit proof of iuaauttj^ in iteejf; so 
that no one whom he pronounced road had anj chance of proving 
the Hoiindnesa uf bia tnind but by ftcquieaciug in and insisting on 
its unsoundncM, 

But our old friend Ifaitkir Rupert was ttingulnrly mi-rciful in his 
judiiments. He bad eaid attain and Sffain to the many people whou 
hud come to him to gvt hin help towurdii putting uudi^r reAtraint^ 
Bomc person whoso property they souiibt control orcr: "If you want 
to lock Ihta [nun up boeause he baa a harmlesa d(!lufl{on, you must 
get another doctor to help you. I won't !" And he would maintain 
that almost everybody had some delusion or otlier if he would onl; 
confcas it, whereupon his encmiev would allcKc that he bad srH 
that everybody was mad. He was appealed to once to aid and 
in oonsigning to an a«ylum a girl who bclicrcd sho won followed 
by a white dojr, "Put her under restraint!" said he, "wliat do you 
want to rWitrnin licr from ) The only thing you object t'l i» ihnt sIjo 
thinka she is followed by a white don — she'll think so just the 
iu Colney Hatch.'' Tlio utory went (but how it rame to he knoyni^ 
who can say ?) that he onoe aaid privately to a man who thought 
be waa N«polc<)n; "1 aoe. Emperor, that what you nay is tnie— but 
why can't you hold your tongue about it? They won't believe you."j 
'And that patient was eurul in no lime; but if bo is still living,* 
probably thinks bo is Napoleon to this day. A tjuoi malt Tbs 
fact was, Sir Rupert did not bi'licrtt that fancies of this Rort prored 
that the braiu wa« diseased; so. as long as ihey were barmlees in 
tltemselvea, he ihovi^'ht it In-st to i<!t them alone. But if Najiole 
had begun recruiting, he would have locked bim up. What a p' 
tiier« was no one who could do the same to bia vto\0\^v^, 't'W '"%*• 

203 



S9« 



ALICE-FOH-SHOKT 



D«aaU]B 



comet ewnigh in hU belief tbst he was Nnpolcon, or u ui 
tbought 10 faare bccii ao. 

As we bdTO neen frnm the conversation of Fopc and ChnppcU, 
Rupert Johnson and Pt^KRy Ileuth wi-rt-- married; ua to thi- dale of 
their man-iagc. the fact, that they had four boys and thme irirl* 
leaves us none tlie wiser, but the oircumstance thai two of the boya^„ 
wcr« at liarrow makr'ji it likely that it eame almut not so rcry lonijH 
, after we parted from i'eggy at Hyde Park Gardena sixteen years'™ 
ngo; that day when Alice asked for serunchy toa^l bocniiK? it wxa 
Friday. Anyhow, it was ten years since they moved into the house 
in Harlcy Strwit, and tht'y had bwra a long tiino in Welbi-ek Street 
before that. Sic transrunt human rrsolutionn; all the benefits that 
were lo aecnje to the luinmn race, by way of oxaraple. from Mi«« 
3far]iaret Heath's singleness, were lost past all recovery. Whether 
thft aubtleat eft of all the field felt tlie Lalaiiee was in hia favour, or 
vidied ho had let matters alone, who can sny t But he must have 
been a Utile disconcerted at the suceesaful family of seren — all 
more or lees with their father's strength and their mother's beauty, 
and tJie ehnraclr^r of both, who In holiday linici rendered 
house in Harlcy Street untenantable except by persons of 
strongest nerves and moat forbearing dispositions. 



ity, 

I 



i 



When after a long flbsenoe wc come baek full of expectation of 
diangn. wo are often almost irritated at the pertinacious samenMS 
of some of the iicople oiid tiling we had left liehind. Wc our- 
selves are exactly the same, of course; onr persistent unalternble 
tea is so abftorbitijt in the foreieround of our Self, that tritiinsr 
changes in details of that coDipoaitc entity count for nothing. Wi 
went away a complete carcass; we oome back minus a leir. an a 
an eyi' — or all three — or, for that mutter, all six. I'jua eomp 
What concern Is that of yours! Mind your own business! It 
our Self that left you broken -hen rtM at our deiiarture; thai wrote 
you, duly, those letters that grew less and less, and waned, until 
at last Ihey nil bul <%a3(sl. and then caitic only to ask some Utttft 
farour — something wc couldn't get in the colony, or we wouldn't 
liother you, but if you could get it would .i-ou forward per etcetera, 
care of somebody. It is this very Self that hna come back to yoti, 
we warrant it, look yoti now! And we know, intensely and un- 
chan^ably aa we remain thn nanie. that Time hn* hiH'n at woric 
onr absfiicc. and has made hay witli your identity that was aa 
fresh glided pasture of the Spring. Whatever we are, we know that 
you will have grown very fat, or very thin, or very serious; or lost 
your hair or your teeth, or your looks. Venua will have fied. 



m 




ALICE-FORSnORT 



»fi 



tie colour tbit vm bo becoming — so more than becoming. Bwt 
we can make allowADces — we know lbi» waj of life; and we and 
our tu^suK^ drive tip to tlir door you wured your farewell to i« 
fr<Tm, ten — fifteen — twenty years ago. and have no mifigivings — 
l(t>caiiiie ire are do longer n child nnd can realise all about Ticnc, 
und chanice, and that sort oT tbinjc, don't you know? 

And liere, after all, wo find you. Well ! — we'll he hangrd if we 
ran see the difference, when all's said and done. You are (some- 
tinx-'ii) »o very, very little nltnr^l — compared with what we ex- 
pected. Your hair ie still all your own, and much of its old colour; 
jrour te*th may be n<fw, one or two of them, hut that won't part 
UB, even if you confess up about tbcm; your hands may be a bit 
I«rg«^r — but what of tlinti They arc swi-et and full nf lift- and «<d- 
come, and your voice and manner — why, surely they are the very 
MiDiR we remember in tlie old yarn which, if not quite unfor- 
Kotten, we are so very easily reminded of. An<l then in the 6r8t 
flunh iif our long-look<'d-(or return, we unil you are full of gladness, 
and ihiidc it will all he as it was in the days before our paninn. 

But it isn'tl The chill eomcs noon, and wc know thnt our n-joic- 
ing ia dying jIowo. It won't come back, the old time, fur all we 
•wept and gamiiihcd our honrt» to receive it. And then wc look 
round at tlie thin^ that he, the new young lives that have come 
and grown in our ah«encc; the vae^int places that were full, tho 
homes that have been cleared away: the tenementa or dwelling 
or nuutxionH that havt! rincii where they stood I And we nettle down 
to the actual, and try to find some solace for the loss of the things 
that were; but perbapa, afttr alt, if we got tbcm back, they would 
interfere seriously with th« thinK« that are, and that we really 
must attend to. 

However — to go back to what we were saying — this firm con- 
servation of appearance and identity has its irritating element. 
It is most frequent Wtween the twenties and the forties; and what 
a lady of forty can forget about little incidents of her twenties, 
nnd the way she is wrapped up in the new young lives slie is (to 
a great extent) responsible for, may make the outsider — you or 
oun*lf — feel very IIbI indeeii. 

But what is the end and object of all the lecture! It is to pre- 
vent the render of Oiia narrative imagining that the beautiful 
young matron who, on the late May morning when we saw Charles 

L Heath on the Mairs at No. 40, iind thought he must be somebody 
else, was writing a letter in Harley Street and being dreadfully 
hindered by two very little girls — that this young wotnan. who 
might have been deJicribed as Margaret Heath aii4'B«ne.W!.>A4^wi- 



196 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 






olI«t nenrly no much of tin- first half of thin atory Hhft makes 
of as you con wlio [lave juBl read it. Uut you can recollect 
well enough — thrn- nhr i*, hitr vx-ry self, orily jwrhiips iIhmtc i» in 
her figure a declaration that it intends to approximate to her 
mother's, ns wr ktifw hi-r. in nnother i-ixteen yc«ni, nni] the hand 
that holds the pen has lost the girlish beauty of the one that wrote 
to Mrs, Wycherly Wntkiiw, miil bus jtot n now lic-aiily n{ it* ovti: 
its strength and self-reliance rest ou it as a garment, as it pauses 
above ili<! pni)«r, t-vMx na a hauil ihat tbinkn. and ilutu not wean lo 
write a word that need be altered or erased. And at this moment 
tlie youngirr diild. a Uttlo tbr«!-yi'ar-old, capturpH the arm it b«- 
longs to, and makes further writing impoBsible — ita owner has to 
Appeal for iiucctnir. 

"Alice dear, do come and take Alee away, and show her pictures 
of sfimothing horriblr, or let her spin the irrrestrinl globe round, 
shall never get my letter done. Yea— awect Ducky I That's s 
gul Tid.v — and tlio otht-r'n a Scrpm." 

"Wiss is to eat wissT 

"Wliifhever you p]«a«-, my pet — but go away to Aunty Lis 
and lei itumniy write." And then as she refuses, flatly, hu 
nweclly, to go to Aunty Liwy, her mother calls aiiain, in a rais 
voice, for Alice. . . . 

She will come in from somewhere directly — our old own Alie 
for-«hort ! Shall wit know her u^nin I Oh ! ye» — why, we «s:ogni* 
Peggy at oncol There will he no difficulty about Alice, 

Here she comes; we «au bear her rustle heyoml lliut door. No 
this in Annty T.isny, — Peggy calls her so, — and Tory pretty elie 
Newr a sweeter face to he found in all the length of Horl^y St 
—^11 you lak(! the wager T But ice want to see Alice . , 

What did we expect to see? We fancy we hear yuii ask this (]ueA^ 
tion. Xot a little girl with n eorl of comic manner, all her own, 
after nil these years { Oht no — we knew she would l>e u woman^l 
theoretically. Kor did wc think she was ffoing to be plain, wi^^l 
those big blue e,vi<s oud that Hltle oval face, ao well set on licr smnll 
round ihmnl. Wc sii»iwcted »hc would turn out pretty, but it wa 
to be ,m lines we were prepared for — and nothing, in AUce-fe 
short that wa», pn;pared us for Aunty Li»sy that is. Not tha^ 
now we come (o look at her, we do not feel that it is really she; 
a* we look her identity dawns, grows stronger, becomes irreaistibb 
We see it now — but what a funny way of rvmaiiiing the satni 
Mot Bt all the one we should have chosen. But it's done nc 
and we may lake her as ahe atimcla, and bo gUid that after all 
lias turned out su<^ a very pretty wotuao. 








ALICE-FOB-SHORT 



391 



Such a Tcry pretty womiin! That's it! Ii'# thn maturity wo 
r«uit — wi- wKUk-d hct to be. in some sense, a cliilil sliU; older, of 
course — toller, of cflurw; more dignified, of course — heni>B of 
tbt»s«. of course. But not ft woman. — 

Vi'eU I it can't be helped — we must accept her, self-possession rmd 
nil. L(-t us he glod sho han kept ber paJe blue eyes and her small 
round throat, nnd thankful that her hair is much the same colons— 
mouMt-eotour with « tiuge of cbfsliiut; does that eonvei,- anj idea 
CO you( And let us be Rratcfiil that fhe has never overpassed tbo 
nvenign height, but is itelite and compact slilL — Oh! dear! bow 
very petite and compact "he was in those old days — what a tnnall 
midget it WBK that was pviUnl witli a ropo up the precipice at Suriie 
Point, and left Dr. Jomson behind her, upside down. We must 
nc«;pl the inevitable — look facta in the face— and drop the eubjeet. 
Or the story won't go on. 

When P*vKy. liaviiig been rescued by Alice, or Aunty Liaay, from 
the offgreraioiis of the small thing of the same name, hnd finishcil 
her letter, she folded it bu<1 allowed the other small thing, because 
she had been so good it seemed, to lick it and stick it to for a treat. 
Th«i bIic wrote anotlu-T li-tliT, uti<l the nilc-nce of tlie back drawing- 
room in Harley Street acknowledged only the scratching of ber 
pen; a mummrtKl recital from a {ii<:tun:-book of tlie evnior haby, 
whose name was Phyllis: a hushed demonstration in Zoology, 
cbie^ fictitiouH, in the room Ik^'ohiI to keep the junior baby in 
check, and a distant murmur of carriage wheels implying that 
vititor-time waa coming or Itud come. A premature Summer bad 
set in with a rush: as sometimes happens in May, and then we 
know we bare to enjoy it while it lasts. 

Jjidy Johnson (that wna Pcggj- Tlenth's name now, and we can't 
get over the o<!iiily of it) finishtd her last letter rapidly, as a Itlter 
easily written and involving nothing; sbo fastened and liirected it 
ss one does, much reliered, at the end of a batch of letters, and said 
triumplinnt.ly — ''There I" 

"Now you may ring the bell, PhiUips," she went on, addresein; 
Ibc little girl ; "only pull it down very gently and when you'vo 
got it down, don't hang on the handle but let it go back click. 
That'H right," And the 1*11 was bo suceessfully rung that it went 
on for ever so long, and had hardly stopped wheti a he-servant, in 
Hupprewe<l liveiy. entered the room with prompUiees in his manntir 
and responsibility on his eonntennnce. 

"Theee letters must go at once, Handaworth. These for llie 
post— these by hand — send James. And say he must take the 
uodcrgn>und — and tell nurso she can come td Vh«K ^-&&tWi" 




AUCE-POB-SHORT 

Poggj spoke of these oJiiHren (ta ncoidcnttt «hc hud not oncournged, 
and Iland^worth dienppeared with the letter? and his iofitructions. 
Wliilt; ihr door Stood opra, a porrot wns nttdible briow; we should 
perhaps hare included him Ui the currenl noiBes; but really when 
tlip door closn] ngniii it nlmoHt shut his voice out, 80 aubstanti 
was it and so close at the joiuts. 

"Your bsbr'x Tt'ry quiirt in iherp, Alice." 

"She's gone off like a top on my knee; I'm writinsr over her.' 
And tile scTstchtng of another pen could hare been hnnrd by a 
sharp ear. "Come here — she's sweet 1" Peggj- went into the littl« 
patch-room where Alice trns writing, and put bor arm uriiund the 
edopied aunt's neck from behind. Both gloated over the sleepiaf 
hipfiil. I wish you could have sw;n tJiem. 

"Did you be«r that parrot. Alice l" 

"Oh dwir, yes! I heard hitn. Isn't it funnyt He only doea i' 
now at iulerrals.. I haven't heard it for months and months." 

"I was trying to think when he liegnn — was it wh<Tn -■die " 

"Ob not Ajtes before that. Why. it's as long as I can recollect." 

And then both ladies said together, as by an inspiration; 
yes! I know — I remcmlicr." and Alice says, for both, what 
remember: 

"It waN that day, of course, whi-n stlic first came to the Garde 
and sauiir." And Peggy goes on with the reminisocnoc : 

"I know. I rccoliett it all now. It was when that old :nollier 
hers was in the front room — and he picked the name up and 
iihriekird it nit the crening. Poor Charley !" 

The iiurse came in and the children were oonvpyed away, oni 
awake and one asleep. As the door aiM'ncil there came again fro 
afar, clear and unmistakable, the name the parrot had shrieked 
fore— "Straker!" 

"There now!" said Alice. "Well! he is a funny PoUy. Whal 
on earth has made him rake that up nowT I wiali ho would pu< 
the kettle on instead, and then we'd all have tea." 

"We Docdn't wait any longer for tea. Ellen won't come now.' 
And Lady Johnson pulled the beil for tea, "I'm not at home i 
anybody come*, nandiiworth." in tlte poirtscripl to her invtruetion 
bring it. aiie went on: "Charley will come in and will have ft 
nice quiet timet. I really am getting to bate people more and 
mort " 

"What nonwnxc. Miss Pi-ggy !" for the old first rutmc of all 
clung to its owner, as far as Alice was concerned, and we are glad 
she has not fonwttcn it. ko far, in the Btory. — But read on, and yoil 
will aee she will vary her nomenclature, moat porrcravly, aa aho 



I 

« 
e 
t 

I 




AUCE-FOR-SHORT 



2»9 



continues: "You know you don't bate lota of people, so come now, 
laHtf Johnson " 

"I mean I hale people that call aui) leave cards, and are at Ixnae 
on Thursdays — Mucic,** 

"Veiy well. Lady Johnaoo, then 1 shall tell the Stosaing«ra you 
hate them, if it's tJinl. Bolides, it's rcry enod mnxic." 

'■Veiy good music, and we're ftoinji: but it isn't to-day and to-day 
M Thurwiiiy— tlie Slossingcrs ia the fourth, and the elercnth." 

"Ye»— and to-da.v's the fourth." 

"Tt ciui't be! .\t least, if it is, I'rc dntini my letters wrong," 

''Then you've dated your letters wronR — look at the newspapcl^^ 
it's out tlierc BotiiewhtTi'." On which Pi'gtT Wfiit to si'ek for it, 
and Alice waited, leaning hack in her chair and looking round 
after her to hear thn date confirmed. She heard the iiewsivapcr 
ruMie as Pegsy picked it up; and said interrogatively. "Well — 
Lady J'ohnson — wlto'a right!" TTcr accuracy was atlmitled. "Quite 
riuht, dear; it is to-nioht. I don't mind going at all." — But tbc 
ep«^cr had caught on to tlie paper, and hail bc:gun to (liink uf 
somethiufr «be. She was looking at the Birthe, Deaths, and 
Marriage*. 

'■Salmon — Wainwright. Wasn't that a Miss Wainwri^ht with 
those i>coplc at Briiibton where Ellen stayed?'' .\nd Alice replied; 
"No, not Wainwright — Pulborough" ; and neither seemed to think 
the error in recollection anytbinR to bo surprierd at. Alice had 
dipped her pen to go on writing, when Lady Johnson, who had not 
put the paper down, gave a short sudden cry — of surpriw cer- 
tainly— scarcely pain : 

"Oh I Alice, oh, my dear I Come at once. Look, Wk at thiii!" 

And Alice went quickly. Slie took the sheet of The Times from 
the poioIinR finger, and rend the announcement of a death wo al- 
ready know. 

"Oh. Margaret darlingl Yes — it must be — it murti Oh dear!" 

And both wiimcn burst into tears; (liey are not exactly tears of 
sorrow for the death — that could scarcely be. Rather ibey are a 
tribute to i1m» wholo unhappy pa«t. and ihu wasted and ruined life 
of poor Charles lleatb. It is the end — the official end — of n sad 
epoch, and Death cornea, as his way Is. to report progress; to put 
his sea] upon events, and make us think back upon the bygone time. 
And then we. for our part, may weigh it well, and wonder if all 
thai we reirret the loss of was really good, and evcu if what 
aenncd so hartl to endure was always evil. And may decide — most 
likely— that those are points on which we may never be a penny 
the wiser, and that wc ^ay as well let thvm aVstl^. 



CHAPTER YYT 



BOW I>EATH KUR KBEDa KT. -IAD. EVEN OF A RIDDiXCT. ROW A BOI 
NAUED POtUtl Sad KM\LLP0S, A^D AUCE went to NtaSE BIU 

Pkogv and Alice, ss thcjr waited for tea in the front room, lUte 
ing to the perpetual rumble of carr!ag«a, softeocd down to nil i 
the iEnmedinte vicinitjr by a udghbour who fasd buret out in stra 
all over Ibe street, were very aiknt at 6rst. P^gy wmt and )ook< 
out at tlic front window, wbilc Alice made tbe tea. Tbe kettli 
fined and xputtered. and probably winbiKl it eoiild put it« *piri 
lamp out; the near double -knocks of the callers close by were an- 
swered by otlieraafar; uiid Bomi; «i-ri.' fulilc. wliilcotber* fnictlfiod. 
Fotly was noigy below, and whenever the dour opened for aoi 
development or extcu nation of t^-n, his iibrirk wnx in cvidenoo. H 
aeoidental revival of a favourite about of former yearn wuh grtitlr; 
and Alice, when she had made the tea, went quietly downataire aud 
put hia ahawl over him and quenched lum. Tbi^n nhtt returned to 
pour it out, and carried the two cups to tbe little table near ttM 
fresh spring air from the open window, and both ladies sut down oa 
the sofa that belonged to it. 

"How much can yon remember of all that time, Alicef Ti 
were onlj ■ small, you know." 

'"Remember t Why, I remember it all, aa plain n» yc«ferday 
how abe caaie to siu#, and poor little Dan said bow awfully joll; 
•bo was, and when wv woro cent away to bed wo listened oa 
etaira." 

"Poor littlo T)anny! But wo did all like her then. Alice, didn*1 
wc! I know I wanted to like her then, for Charley's saki 
bocauee I saw how it wa«." 

"So did I. But it wftNn't ao hard for me to like her, because I 
thousht Mr. Charley must be right. I think wo understood it> 
th«! sttiiirn, Danny and I." And Alicu's snd. clear eyea look wlai 
luUy back into the past. Did we understand iti — Peggy 
to borvcJf. — Both ait silent in iittervaU. und whi^n they apeak, it 
with voices dropped. This time, Alice speaks first agnia. 

"YoM know I wasn't aucb n amall as all that; I was old enough 
to fo to Misa Fonescue's, or very nearly. You know it was in th« 
January I went, when tlio bard frost CMXait." 









w 



"I woiKicr, 
remimsceDce, 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



"I know. Toil went away the day before the ice. Tou were not 
there when Danny was brousht in." Peggy's mind pausra on tbo 
mecnory of mnother pHef; it U long enough ago now to t«Ik of it 
quiotlf. Ila7« you ewr rocotrniifcd tho fact that, in trouble, case 
comes from talking of another trouble iudlcadl Alloc feels it too, 
in this ca«e. and docs not break the thread; she is silent and Poggy 
contlnuee: 

"I remember Rupert's voice no welt — TJon't give in — don't givo 
in' — oh. 9u<-h u long lime! And then at Last thert! waa no hope at 
•IL And yet we fell it was wrong to despair, and leave the poor 
little drowned body alone." 

"Ob, I know I I thought I recollectixl it, but of course I don't. I 
wasn't really there. I only heard. But I remember your letter to 
Hiss Portescve, and her saying: Tm afraid, Alice, this must be 
from your AiiiiC Itargnret' — and the black edge. She always said, 
*Your Aunt Margnrnt.'" 

" says Peggy. Etriktng a new vein tn the mine of 
"if you can recollect when you went away to Uiss 
Fortescuc's, and how we could hardly get you off Clinrleyl" 

"Oh yen I I reniemlier it all. But it aeema now as if it was 
another little girl, not me." 

"Do you recollect my keeping on that you were not to be a goose. 
boesOM Sir. Charley wasn't going awayl" 

"I recollect. At lenal, I seem to r(«co!lect that the other little 
irirl wont nearly frantic, and screamed to Mr. Charley not to go 
away; and you all tried to commie her, or me. whichever it was." 

There is a moment or two of silenoe, and then Peggy says: 
"He'll be here very siion now — it's nearly half-past," and then 
drops back to reminiscenoe. 

"Perhaps I was wrong in letting him perauode me, but what 
difference could it have made, when he came to me and said: 
Txiok here, Poggy-Woggy, I'm going to cut it short and marry 
I^vinia to-morrow T — what could I say to him? Wliul good would 
it have dom-. if I had refused to go'i — and how could I when bo 
aaicl; ^f you don't come. Pogg>-. there won't l>e a living soul in it 
of my own l«longitig», and people will think you think all sorts of 
things'— whai could 1 huve done but what I did!" 

"Nothing. It was all right ; it had to be.'' 

"But I did think — 1 always shall think — Papa was wrong, well! 
ntiataken— «nly it scenw hard to say so now, and I'm surv Mamma 
was. It was refusing to receive her was such a mistake. Of 
course. Papa was obliged to go Mamma's way," 

•^famrael" ■- 





b 



AUCE-F0E-8H0RT 



"And OR for ita being her duty because of Ellen, that wm aH 
BtuS and DonwDse; it was no fault of hers that the father waa a 
bad chnmeter." Alice puta in a won! for Mra. Heath. i>r "GrRnd* 
mamnui." for that U her status now. "Was she Dot risht after all 
— ON it tiirni'd out in the end. I mean — IJhe father, like «ou'' 
people say," says Alice 

"Te» — «be turned out badly," eajs P^g:r; "but wbnt 1 mean 
thnt if Mamnia had been mora cominr, and temporised a little, i 
might all havi? itiiid down naturally, and — oh, dear! it's no atm 
thinking of it now; but of cotiree, as it was, all poor Charlcf'i 
ehivnlry was up in arms; you know what Charley'a like I" 

"Obi j-es— Iknowl" 

"And then, of eounw, Memmu had to girc in in the end. Ti 
were not there the day he brought her back from abroad to thi 
Gardrnx, niid tixik ht-.r Atraiiibt (u Mamma ami said: 'This is my 
wife. Mother, If j-ou send her uway, you send me too.' " 

".\nd what did Grannj- sayt" 

"Said iJu- htid bivn Ht^t at iiaitght, but it was her duty as a 
Christian to forgive. It's a »hamo to laugh, Alice darling, but 
really I can hardly help it. Poor Kammnl Ae long as fke could 
make dear Papa do the work and keep in the background herself; 
she waa all Spartan fortitude. TbI^ mitiiitc »hi> wah faee to fB< 
with the enemy, ehe turned tail. And Lavinia looked very nice^ 
and poor Charley lookisl *a happy and hfjiitiing. Oh. dnurl'* And 
Peggy doean't look aa if she found it hard not to laugh. Alice 
ktsaes her, en piutanl. to kcn> hi-r up. A prolongrd knoek, that 
sounds like a disquisition ending in a pun, eomea at tlie street 
door; and the conrersation is held in check until the concomitant 
footman has met lijs fate, and died nway, Icnviiig card*. Speedl 
could not be audible below, but such a lone coat as came with; 
the knock affeeta the imagination, and itnpo:«a the secrecy o: 
silence on whosn has said be is not at home. 

Peggy and AliiMi npi-ak with liiitt^l voicnt; until the young ma 
(who knows all about it) lins enthroned himself on the box, an 
gone away. Then Peggy apeaka nbore her breath again, as ona' 
relieved : 

"I've never made out to thia day when it waa that it began. 
(Those people were the Fotheringays.) Tou know they were ve: 
happy at lir»t, or aeemeil ao. T fancy it wai< while you were atiH 
too small to understand much about it 1 can't eay I ever found 
much fault with her myaelf — but of course she waa extravngaii 
and there was always the one thing. Charley used to turn it int 
S joke at first, and talk about her sweethearts; tbcD the moment 










ALICE-FOK-SHOKT 



303 



th 

Ai 

sh 

I at 

III 

my 

ha 

Kfoi 



there wa« & suspicion of anrihinfi beiun ia mniest, poor Cliarti'.v* 
pcn>ii>tMit ntkinpl t» kiicp it a juki; g<>t painful. NothitiK would 

lakA him ^«e th^re was anytfainn wronu with Lsviuia; he was (no 
chivalrous to nilmit it. I don't boliovn he ever rcnlisad it until 
that bu8inf«« with Low«i]«tcm." 

"Thpy wi-ir at lh« Hottl together?" half Myc. half ask* Alice. 
And PeBiry replies: "Yes, and poor Charley al! the time thouelit 
shc! wait lit Birmingbiim with her mathi-r. Robin cnmc upon thrm 
at Leaminiftou and went xtraiKhl for Lowenstem. and ahe tlirew 

rtclf on Rubin and bi-Id him while I-owwiMrm ran tiwa;. Thrti 
eh& wanted to make him believe there was no hann in it — ju<il ttn 
accident! But l)i« waiter had told Robin tlity werr: Uossoo and 
Sfadame Ratron . . . i«n't that hiuiT' But it wasn't. Pe^n* 
stywsl to find a satisfaction in talking it all over, and Alice in 
hearine her. 6o she w«nt on: 

"IIo never would hare divorced her, you know, except for hor 
sake. He Huid it would bo her IitHl i-hnnn! of being a ri*spcctn- 
wonuin; but »he never trot the chance, for Lowenstern laughed 
It hvr." 

■TTaa she with him. I mean Lowensiern. when ahc diedl" Alice 
a»k« fli? bclivring that there may Btill lie things slir has nevrr heard. 
The unhappy soprano had been talk<>d of as little na possible. 

"I don't know the leflst," Pcegy nnswpTs. "Charley and I ol- 
myi felt the less wo heard about her ilie better, and you see tlie 
advertiscmmt girca no clue. I'm sure that's hia knock." But 
no I It wasn't hia knock. ei,-en now. and it was getting quite 
late. 

"I wish he'd como." 8a,v« his sister, "I'm all on tlie jar — and it 
makes mi- fancy every knocJ< is his. That wasn't anybody, it was 
a mistake — they've g«ne away to thirty-five opposite." And t)is 
two Mand at the window and watch tlie mistake, in the shape of a 
thick lady with a thin daughter, rcinvtatcd no ocnirati; and gatli- 
iied into the bosom of thitty-6vo, opposite. Alice keeps silent, but 
goes on talking. 

"I was always so very, ^-ery glad Papa never lived ta know it. 
Thp diHrrace would have broken his heart." 

"And people don't really niind." Alice cuts In suddenly and 

ther enigmatically- "You know what I mean, dear!" And Peggy 
sccmji to know so well what she means, that nothing but a nod with 
cIo«ed lips is neoeaflary. Wc know, of courx;, that what Alic9 
meant was that public condemnation isn't in eameat about any- 
thing of this aort, and indec! has an clement of forgivvDesa \tv \% 
for tfaoee who kindly provide interesting divotce-«iM"rt. i»iKh. 'SVisS- 






304 



AUCE-FORSHORT 







■hould VIC do vitliflut them, when ve ore regular pereon*: ve 
always be at church ! 

"Poor <lear Papa ! How Iir um^ to repriMch himself for letting 
Charley be an artiett I remember how be asid, vbon I told him 
how good hf'd bwn to Chnrlpy, that he owed it to tie i>oor boy 
for never having stopped him. 'ilow can a man know bo can't 
point tinlvKH somebody teltx hiiti?' Huid he, 'and nobody ever told 
poor Charley.' And then be blamed himself for n«rer having 
had the courage of hJa opiiiioua — 'But we were all such mighty 
fine people' — you remember Papa, AHco doarf And Alloc remem* 
bcn-d very wtll. Both ait on, thiidcing of bygonea, but tlie lant 
recollection has given a new list to the conrersation. and Peggy 
recurs to a theme that in rvidtrntly oftwi under dincuaston. "Alice, 
dear." aaya abe, as one provided for a frceh poesibility in it; 
Alice aaya. "What!" 

"Do you really think Charley will never, never, a 
anything of it T' 

Alice waives the issue. "He makes eomelbing by s-tained-glass," 
contains tlic implicutiun that he makes nothing by itomething 
pictures, no doubi. We notice that ther« is in Lady Johnson a 
lain dcfer«ncc for Alice; that she seemn to impute authority 
her. IndwiJ, Alice's face has a sense of btighlneas on the fo 
bead; which i*, however, well-set and free from overpoworinft 
phrenologies, or we are not sure we would hnve anything to do witli 
her. It doe« not, as nome fornhends do, advertise the profoundness 
of its thou(rht. But it leaves one with a sense thai something ha« 
flntibcd, and we can't siuy what ; and wc know that the eyebrows, not 
dark but firmly pencilled, will back up the flash, if need be, (or a: 
they are so etill in tlu^ir reixiiM;. Ju>it thiit timv, tbey move a liCtli 
a slight half-riicful wrinkle, as she adds: "Poor Mr. Charley 1" Fi 
note, thai to her he in ulwii.vs "Mr." Charley. It i* not ocnimoni' 
ousness — rather, a form of familiarity. 

"He'll n<;ver paint a n-ally finitdicd picture," Miya »hp. And 
are painfully conscious that the tlnsh has penetrated the dark 
cornera of the subject. Bui it huii fnutid nomething there it would 
like to »how us. "He bns plenty of ability, you know," Alice goes 
on, "only he's on the wrong tack." 

"Do you mean he's painting the wrong sort of picture's i 

"No, no. The wrong tack altogether!" — But just an we arc aoi 
to hear what Charles's mitter ahould have been, there cornea 
knock both n-<!ogniite aa really bin. Peggj' aayii, "1*11 ro," and 
leaves the room to meet him. Alice does not follow, but waits 
half-way to the door, listening to hear than meet. In u mmncot it 




lin^^ 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



805 



is clear th&t they bt» not speakinx of the dcaib. SomeUimg present 
and pnwing in <tiii|>luuiiif; it. Alice fpxts out. 

"I don't belicvo it," Peggy is saying. "Only another falae 
nliirm!" 

"Weill Fm odIj saying what old Payne aaya — I hope he's wrong." 
Alici- RHkM whnt'it th<r matter, and Lady Johnson anitwcrs: 

"Dr. I'ayne saya Pierre has Rot smallpoz." 

"Hnn gi.: *anic of the C4irly Kymptonw," Charlwt corrects iho 
broad slatemeul. "Ten to one he's wrontc. We shall see to- 
morrow — intmiiwhilr. I nughtn't to cotnc hrre, I only came over 
to tell you; Payne said there would be no danger yet," 

"Oh! Charley dc-iir, what an alarmi«t you srcl Now do come in 
dnd don't be silly." And under his sister's soothing inHuence 
Chorlrs t^mcs into llir dm wing-room, anil nubinit* to tlie current 
refreshment under protest. "Going without your tea won't make 
it a bit safer, yon silly oM hoy." sayii Pi'Bg>'. Charles aoqiuciwo" 
generally, but evidently thiiiks if he keeps at a distance ami kisses 
□olMxty, hill germs will HiK-k round him and not cross the room. 
He givoi iletnils of the syinptomn. which Pfggy tntiit* with deri- 
Bion: "If one waa to pay attention to all the fussifications about 
infection," she says, "there would never be an end of itl" 

*'Whnt's Alice after T asks Charles, for Alien has quitted the 
room and run upstairs, Presently she is audible returning. Pnggy 
huH biirn thinking out the bi-st approach to lltt- suhjtM't of the 
adrertisemenl, Alice calls to her from outside, and she goes out; 
then follow* a sliorl colloquy in ftti undertone, uiitl Peggy returns. 
"What's Alice afterl" Charles asks agnin. She replic* equivocally 
and thr (incstion dies down, and slu' goes and sits hy bitr hrotluT on 
the arm of the hig chair he is drinking llie half-cold tea in. The 
hand that begins automatically to ruffli' his hair, as in old days, is 
higgtT, and the hair it touchea is either cut closer or not so thick, 
but now that wc see tbem together in this way. and there ia leisure 
to think both i>ver. we are aware tbttt the ebanges of Time have 
icone mostly in the direction of gravity and sadness on his part, 
and men- amplification on bers, Lutly Johnson of Harley Street 
with four boj's and three girla is quite as like Peggy Heath as 
oni- could nnisonahly expect. But w() could have reconciled our- 
selves to much more tangible change in Charley, to bare bis old 
iiinil« iMick. 

"Have you had any other news. Charley deart" 

"T«!" A simple, direti alBrmalive is so rare that P<wgy at once 
aees he knows of his wife's death. She conld not have gm«,sft(i \\ 
from anything in bia previous munncr. S\w gsAa ^tiu ^s»^>. v^iA 



ALICE-FOK-SHOKT 

know what lo saj next, ond snyK nothing; if he has h^srd « 
particulars of the event, he will t«ll her of his ovn accord, h 
Alice's disnppcBmiice is still unncoountcd for, nnd Charles harl 
beck on it. -'What was Alice after?" be says. 

"Now yon mustn't be «ngryl SIw wpnt utmight awn_v to AcaciB 
Itoad to see after Pierre." Cbarlea starts up from hie chair in 
great perturbation. 

"Obi PoggT-Woggy, how oould .voui Oh dear! Oh dear I 
must go and see and ecnd her back again." 

"Kow, Charley dear ! don't be silly. Besides, you kuow perf« 
well you can't manage Alice — she always gets her own wayj 
Charles appears lo be conscious Out ibis is so, and subsides in 
bis chair again. "It'e all rcry fine. Lady Johnson," he says; (or 
liko Alice, often uses tlu9 designation, ''hut suppose Altoe ca' 
it. and comes out like a uutmcg-grntcr nil over f" 

"I don't lieliirvi- Uht<t"s any 'it' for bvT to cnlcb; and I aho 
love Alice just the same if she was ever bo scratchy." 

"So kIiouIiI 1. But yoii ought to consider the poor girl he: 
Aliee-for-sbortl Just thinfcl" 

"Bo easy, old mnn. Nobody's! going to be a nutmcg-gratuT. I(> 
ouly one of your panics about the boy." 

From which it would npix^r tliat Charley is often in paDi 
about his boy. Ho aeems to accept his sister's decision on 
point, as on other*, hut nothing alters the rcsoltito sadness of 
face; it is consistently melancholy, without a trace of the lachry- 
mose. It becomes tct? abucnt as he sits in the big armchair, 
with Peggy rufEing his head as of old. She does not mean to 
hurry him to speak of the di-iitb — iilic knows lie will in his own 
tunc. When thai comes, he says as though there had been a conver- 
sation to continue: "Nol I've lieartl no dctniU — t only know what 
the advertisement tells — it's all orer now." lie seemed to put it 
away as though ho said : **Nuw w<^ have spoken of it, and tbat'a 
enough" — but the thought was on him that her death must suroly 
bring rvvival of blame for her, and he was all on the alert to fore- 
stall it. 

"It was all my fault. Peg," lie says, and be is only r«alBrmii)g an 
old position. "It had all come to an end. and it was my obatinaey 
brought it all on again — I was really never the husband for her.'* 

Peggy's lips want to sAy. "Which of tbc other two, or thre*, was ?" 
but she korps ihcm still, nnd says nothing, at least to that eftect. 
All she says is: "It was a mistake, Charley dear, but it's all ov< 
now." As his last words were to iho same eflect, he cannot 
any exception to iL 



1 



i 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



%0t 



Tieiw rwwilecta her after a fashion." said he. his mind lunding. 
ns it Wfrc, on an Msad whvrv ho knew hi« eistcr's hnd already 
arrired. "He was five years old— only a year youii^-r than Alice 
wa»," Alice thus r^^frrrod to, without farther descrirtion, means 
Aliw at iht^ time of iier first ooeurreuet' ; in fact, aa ii aubHluntiri; 
that describes that oecumrncc: "But then boys are so much younger 
than ^rl»; Fin not altogtrtlicT aorry he reDM-mbtrni her itn little.** 

Peggy is bound to talk to her brother about his wife's death, but 
is al«o longue-ticd on tho aubjoct, and wants to help him to fabri- 
cate extenuation of her conduct; as she can imagine none, leaat 
of nil hy laying blame at hin door, whe bns to be siK^nt. Shv would 
like, oererttaeleaa, to soften her silence, the meaning of which she 
know* bo ItnowiL She has slifjht prnpctisitics towards moral tags, 
true in themselves, but fra.ved with ovcrrnuch use. She giTCe 
thecn up though, and cannot wen managn tho most trenchant nf 
all known words to the point; for she believes in her heart that in 
thill rery popular dcpartroc-nt of human offence, her brother is as 
much "without ein" as she herself is. She may be mistaken — 
rery likely in, we think we hear you say, if you arc human — hut 
what do ue know! So slio doea not suggest that she and Charlej 
should make a merit of not casting stone*, and still clings to silence 
againat her will. 

IIo knows why, and loaves it alom', but the very silence works 
upon tliem both, and when Peggy breaks it at last with. "Oht 
Chnrlry— Chnrlry darling." and n protest against a sob in her 
Toice. he lets Ihe head she draws to her sink on her bosom, and 
tnakos no morr- ado, but rrlps as a child cries when it seeks con- 
eealnwnt for its tears. So they remain, and dwell upon the spoiled 
past. And mi Rupert would have found them, only that when P«niy 
hears him. without, she geta up from Charley am) goes to meet 
him, and Charles thinks he hears, or thinks he mixht hare heard 
had he liatviiHl. the words; "And a good riildancK, too!" at the 
end of a communication crossed by grunts, for the great physician 
doesn't soften his speech eseept for occasion ehon-it. 

The sppenr«nce of his brother-in-law, and the telling him about 
the boy, reminded Charles that ha ought to get back home. He 
bail forgotten about the germs, although they were, no doubt, just 
aa much to the fore as ever. "I'll run you round and have a look 
at the kid," said Sir Rupert, and influenced his carriage, throiigb 
the ageney of HeiuUwortli. to atop and tuke them. Fiw minutes 
more diat-marKin and twelve minutes trot found them at the door 
of Charles' domicile In Acacia Road. St. John's Wood, with Alice 
coining out on the balcony to aco who the carti&CQ vu. W ^omV^^ 



AUCE-FOK-SHORT 



passed with a friend at that moment, you would probablr havo 
raid; "You didn't »rp that very prrtly wonrnn in the belcon; just 
now?" And he would have replied: "No. why didn't you lell mtV 
And you would hove f<^lt thnt piThap» it wa« bocauw Alice's was 
a Bort of beauty you took pleasure in e^ufrgerating, but didn't 
want to be convicted on. So, feeling you had not your friend ia 
8 cumer. you would have condoliH] with him on his luas. 

However, Alicp rently did look vrry pr<'tty on tho balcony; sun- 
set iJKht iu May is an improvement to ail of us. and you felt that 
wbnTi it dird away, there would "till be mucli to bo Haid for heri 
but »he didn't wait to see. for she came downstairs and took tha 
wind out of Cbarlcv' latch-lcey'n oai), by opening tJic door from 
inside. 

CbariM had n diMpiiointment in iitore for him. Peggy** dwcr- 
fu] confidence had made him set his mind on being pooh-po(died 
nnd c«lk-d an alarmiiit. AHc^i. on the contrary, was what is called 
encouraging. This means confession that something is afoot whicb 
we Imve to be i?nconrap*d abuul. Pr. Puyrii' hiid been again (which 
was bad enough in itself), and had esid we were not to be the least 
uneooy. because wc nhouldn't know what it was till tliis time 
morrow at least. Meanwhile we wcr« approaching smallpox hj 
process of climtnnlion, Dr. Payne having just dn>rived us of 
diseases, which we had some hopes of. by disallowing their principal 
eyniptoma: na, for inntnnce. who evirr heard of measles with no ran- 
nins at the eyes ! We had been sanguine about measles — now we 
had to givo it up. ThtM waa the aiiluitftncr of Alice's report of pro^ 
re-M on the wsiy up to the patient's bedroom. 

A quarter of an hour latter. Sir Rupt^rt was departing from th« 
door with: "Remember! all I "^ay is that possibly it isn't." And 
with that aoiall consolaliun. Alice and Charles wi^t back, gricr- 
ouxly downcani, into the house to do what little mi^t be done to 
ftllay fever that meant to have ita way. and to keep a watchful «yo 
for the arrival of that most unwelcome guest, the cutaneous erup- 
tion that was to chrislea the disorder. Meanwhile, Pierre, a little 
chap between eleven ami twelve, had become something red-hot, the 
identity of which he was himself doubtful of. but of which hr. knew 
thia for certain, that he had n pain in ttg back, or it had a pain iu 
his. For he could not tell which was wbteb, Pierr*! <>i llie rwl-hot 
thing! ond in the eouwe of a few day*, for all Sir Itupcrt had said 
that possibly it wasn't, it was perfectly ckar that it wo*, and the 
fcrer raged and would not be contforlcd. 



as t I 







CHAPTER XXXI 



nOV rifARLCa AND HBH. CAMP RAD A rLA9fl]CAL CAflMAN, AICD ItOW 
TUKT ENJOYED THE BALt'tiNY IS THE llOONUGtIT. HOW CHARLES 
WAS A BAD AHTIRT, AND ALICE SHOWED HER LOVE-LETTKKS 

When Lady Johnson suid Alit* jilways pot her own wny with 
Charles, she spoke no morp than the truth. la the controversy 
thnt followed Sir Rupert's dtiparture, hs to whether Alice should 
stay or Ro, Cfaarl«s hadn't a chanoi^ 

"Whal'it till! DBA of trttinins for a narse for two yesre if one 
isn't to nuTse a cate that turns up pTOvidenlially. to keep one's 
hand int Answer me thut, Mr. Charley dear! And n nio« undo 
■ you'll look, if I (to haek now and Rive it (o Fhillipa am! Alee," 
This lart wan tiu: proper di^tinction-nnme of the little Alice — her 
"i" was omitted for eleaniGsa. Phillips's real iiainc waa Phyllis. 
"You know quite well, Mr. Charley," Alice continued, "that if I 
had my white drcMs snd big ribbons under my chin and my blue 
cloak and bonnet, you would think I was.haciIlus-proof." 

So Aliop got her own wny; she turned every one out of the house 
except the cook and its master, and only acquiesced in an auxiliary 
iind<^r extmne preseun-. This functionary had a bncilhie-proof 
uniform of tlie eorreeteat type. But slie had soon to be exchouged 
for another becauec the pntient romplnincd that in the emallest 
hours of the muruioK. when he asked for drink, she held the cup 
near his lips, then drew it nway, to timlnliee hiui. Was this fever, 
or wua it true! Who could tell) Anyhow, an exchange was effected, 
and a new one relieved guard nt intervals. She was a sister of St. 
Sridgi't and a daughter of a jeweller in Bond Street, and Alice 
look kindly to her and made a good deal of acquaintance — in 
fact, she often nllowrtl a neeilless inmud on what might have been 
hours of sleep in order to get a good chat with twister Eulalie, 
chiefly about tliat interesting topic, the supernatural. She even 
went the length of turning tables with her in the silmce of th« 
night. 

Now, even without the added stimulus of shosts and spirita, 
tliere is a fascination in the companionship of the sick-room. No- 
where is intercourse morv social^all formality \& %«c\i^ vk^I* 

809 



« 



310 



ALICE-FOB-SHORT 



responsibilitT- is dpfiiu^. itnd rofrTHbmonU arc nlnars juatifinkler* 
yet never de rigueur if unwelcome. If we arc incliniNl to be silent, 
there is always the excuse that t)ie patieiit U getting to sleep, but 
if we wish to talk, who can prevent us? And if we do chance to 
feel thnt we have been making ti^o much noi^ we cmn alw^v 
make up for it by a short interlude of going on tip-toe, and aayinc 
BometUiug inaudible lo show how tiKht we an- holding our tongues. 
In fact, we havo only to consider the patient sufficiently to oosim 
tbe luxury of a dear conseienco, and we can enjoy ounelns 
thoroughly. 

However, as you say. that is perhaps a malicious and cyntcal iray 
of pHttiiig it. But be ca«yl Poor Pierre never wfl« a penny the 
worse from any neglect of hia nurses. The most beautiful eom- 
mnnii-ntions of the Inhle would be ruthlessly sacriiici'd the instant 
either nurse heard the patient move, or thought she did. Alice 
and Sister Eiiliilic enjoyed the protection of the Rnd Crow in the 
Battle of Life, but did their duty by the casualty tbey had ift^_ 
charge. a^t 

"We've christened ourselves Mrs, Gamp and Mrs. Prig," eai^^ 
Alice after reporting to Charles the events of his absence and the 
state of the patient. Uore than a fortnight liad passed, and 
worst was orer. No one had Ix.-cn nllnwed in the house but Charli 
and the doctor — the primordial one. Sir Rupi^rt Iwing <|iiitn ue 
necessary. Charles hnd gone every day to his Studio, avoiding 
fellow-man. and rushing upstairs surroundLnl by mental picture* 
of germs like a swarm of bees, only smaller, and then locking hia_ 
door to keep the swarm in and his felluw-mnn out. Thla eondue 
would hardly have passed muster nowadays, but in ihow years 
pie had not been brought under control. At this nioment of 
story he was sciieming in his mind to Inko Alice out in a hnnsoc 
smallpox or no—it was such a glorious evening, and the 
girl had really hardly Ix-en out. 

"Mrs. Gump and Sirs. Prig didn't turn tables," said CharU 
"However, when Mrs. Gamp comoe. or Mrs. Prig, whichi^-cr idi«" 
ia, you and me. Miss Kavnnsgh dearest, are going for ever-such-a- 
long drive in a cab — yes, wo are! And you're going to nit up on the 
seat beside me and look over the door. Do you recollect that, Alic 
I wonder?" 

"I remember. Only my feet dt<ilii't touch the grotmd then. Bt 
ought we to ride in n cab I" 

"We can call the driver's attontioD to the germs." Charles saj 
this with much of his old manner. "Or we can hare the 
aterilised after. I'll tell him, aoyhow. There's Mrs. Priif— oc 



rifa 



tha 

i 





ALICE-FOE-SHOBT 



an 



^^^E, AliL-e — gH yotir bonnet on." And as Mrs. Prig comoj in to 
^nRltie KtianI, Alice diwippcars to get iviniy. "We're getting on 
beautifully, Hr. Hvatb," iMiya Mn. Prig, "iind if only there are no 
complies t ions " 

"I can't Bay I've ever tcva him look worse thnn he doea to-dfliy." 
sayB Charles, rather dejectedly. But the nurse goes into the sick- 
room, Bt th(? diKir of which tlii-y arc stHnding. nnd her voice cometi 
out in cheerful confirmalion of her opinion. "Looks don't count) 
you know," she »ayH, and Cfiarlt^a ftfcis hapjiier. 

Just OS Alice end he are departing. Mtie. Prig cslls out from the 
landing above: *'Oh, Miss Kavanagb, I was forgetting to tell you — 
W father knew about the stone; he says it's a Jsciotb. Pre 
brought it back all »afc. n«re it is I Ton take it." And comea a 
few steps down to tranisfer a ring from her finger to Alice's. 

Charles chose a particularly showy Ilnneom with n spirited horse, 
and got Alice and himself in. She thought he was going to forget 
tbe caution he had contemplated to the cabman, but ebo WOR 
mistalcen. 

"This young lady and myself," said he. through the trapdoor, 
pushed up by his ati<-k- point, to the driver, "arc from the Smallpox 
Ilospitah Any objection I" 

"Xone wbatirvcr. Sir. O-onTalesTtTit, I presume t" Thus tho 
Cabby replied, with immovable gravity, and Alice felt that even 
now shi' hud hnrdl.v gauged the Inigth and br<-udth of tlie London 
cabman's mind. "Well," said Charles. "1 did my duty, anyhow 1" 

"Which way did you ti^ll him to goT' 

"Didn't tell him any way — I'll show him with my stick. Let's 
go along Fincldfry Road and round Hampstead," which accordingly 
they set out to do. 

•TTbal was it Mrs, Prig said about a stone!" asked Charles when 
tliey had «ettl«d down to chat. 

"Why, don't you recollect my old ring — the one there was that 
funny story about i" 

"Surely, The old ring — what that poor mother of yours found 
is Jeff's jug. r wfinder whether Jeff sold the old jug. And you 
were bringing thi- beer from the pub. Poor little Alice 1" 

"It all tasna now like a strange old dncum,"' says Alice "Oh, 
■0 long agol Only that time I went over the cliS seems like 
lh« other day; and it was only just after when all's snid and 
done." 

"I» all said and donel But go on tolling about Mn, Prig and 
the tilone." 

"Why— Sister Eulali« aajrs — (oh, gi&do\u\ liiaX (^A&. '•rSv \* 



313 



AUCE-FOB-SHORT 



L 



run over — no, he's all rijrhtl) — Sister Eulalie aaya about that stone 
— you rcmcmlipr tiic utonc vie couldn't find ihc nnmo of 1" 

"I remember tbere was a §toue. And I rt-mwnbor one ev«iiin|f j 
before the fire in the bnek ilniwing-room st the Gardens, tne and' 
P<«gy and Rupert trying to miikfi it sjietl Pliylli*. We wanted 
to (ack it on to thp ghnst at No. 40. You saw thp ifhoM. Alicct" 

"I enid I saw a lady on tbe ataira, didn't II I wonder what 
did see!" 

"You seCTn a Terj- weak-kneed witness. Miss KaTana^b. N' 
much to be elicited from you. But let's sec whnt the Jacinth wi 
do for us. Don't put your glove over it." For Alice ia pulling away 
at a ti^ht glove that bus Ix^en refusing to come tm since tbc7 
started. She runs it back as far as the ring, for inspootioa: 
Cliarlts examines it. 1 

"I recollect now," he says; "but the Jacinth comes after the P,| 
and that's uo use at all. I wish it wait after the L, tliat would giro 
u* a lift, l)ee4iU3e J is I." 

'Tm sure that thing after the L isn't a stone at all. It's a littla 
bit of ivory; that would io. you know." 

"Peggy wanted the two J.'s U) be Lnpis-lamli. — Wi-ll ! that look) 
right — lliiit i» n bit of Lapia-lanuli." Both reflected over tfaa 
rinfi Alice held out for inspection occr the folding doors of the 
cab. 

"It dott look like Phyllis — doesn't it, Alicef If only Jacia 
bcftnn with an II wc should be almost quite complete," 

The littlo incident that followed was aliray* spoken of after* 
wanb by Ch«rl(« and Alice aa. par exeellence, THE surprise of tbeir 
lives, for a voice came from above. throuKh the little trafMlooi 
the voice of the cabman, but not Mundiug ut all like the voice of a 
teal cabman. 

"T can understand it, Sir, if youll excuse the interruption' 
(I've (tot my eye on the horw. You needn't be une-asy)— Jacinth is 
Hyacinth — nynt-Inlh bcpus with an U." But the horse was not 
prepared to allow his driver such liberty, and shiid. and had w bo 
cslmi'd d<iwn with lunliiiig ami disparagemeut. which seemed good 
for his nervous syntem. Ue settled into an cn-<y arable, after o; 
or two Bnort» and lumd-fliii^. The driver resumed: 

"He'll be all right now. You'll excuse me. but you we I waa 
just looking through to mention that the road was up in front, 
and I beard you say Jacinth didn't bt^in witli an H. Youll 
«rxcuKe met" Both, who had been laughing at tho oddity of the 
whole thing, said at onco: "Certainly — you're quito right"; and the 
cabman added: "It wai no use goiug on and having to com« back — 



4 



be 

I 



Jl 



ALTCE-FOR-SHOBTl 8W 

ni turn off this next twm, if you've no olij€«tion"; to which 
CharlM aESf^ted, *'Uo anywhere round by Untiipatead, for a drive," 
hf. Raid. 

"fiut — what a strange e«bb:rr' said Aliee, and a^^n bunt out 
Uusbing. It tMxoncd too ridiculous that this puicxlc of the stone 
should be solved after all these years by an occasioniil cabnuiD, 
!<I)ciikinK through n holr in his own roof. It war iicrfectly clear 
though (and Chsrles felt quite ashamed of not having solved die 
iDTBtery before) that Phyllis was spelled by the initials of thp ring- 
atones; only that 11 and T were sufiplied by one Stone, and both L'« 
by another. But interest in the discnvcry was, for the moment, 
superseded by the way it had come about. It really had to be 
account<!d for; it was impossible to accept such a phcnomenoa 
without explanation. 

"Shidl I shout up through the hole to him, and ask him if he's a 
Senior Classic, or what!" 

"T don't know whnt nni- »nght to do.'' said Alice. "Some expla- 
nation is necessary." And Charles said, "We can't let it ajone^ 
iropoKsiblc." 

Tbi^ explanation came, but not till the drive was over, and all 
three were at the slr*Tt-door of Charley's home. Thm, as Chnrlea 
handed the oabniun an extravagant fare, to avoid complications, be 
asked him point-blank : "How came you to know about Jacinth and 
Hyacinth )" Alice stootl looking at him and vroudertng what he 
would answer. 

"1 am not the only roan that has failed in life," be said; "it was 
my own fault." 

And tliat was all ! But it seemed enough. He slipped the faro 
into his poeket uncounted, remounted his box, and rode away. 
Alice ran quickly upstairs, to relieve guard: Charles followed 
slowly, his face sadder and more thoughtful than ever. 

"We'vr Imd «u«h a funny lulveuliire." Thus Alice to Sister 
Cuialie, and she gave an account of the cabman. Not having seen 
bira, the nurse was less iutereslc-d in his antecedents than in the 
confirmation of the identity of the stone. This was a personal 
matter; after her fatlier'a opinion she felt it was in the family. 
But Charles was rather silent, and said nothing further about it 
till quite late in the evening, when the pulieiit had gone off to 
sleep after a visit from the doctor. Progress was satisfactory, and 
eluit was possible till one or the other of the guardians should go 
away to rest. It was a beautiful warm, early summer night, 
and thvy could sit out on the balcony, within eaay hearing of the 
patient, should be wake. 



I 




314 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



1 



These two were neceMarilj* isolated from the world without, 
thrown, little loth, on one nnothcr'n nDcirty. Thfirn wii« oiir 
tlione casi's, rare enough, of a relatiou between two of their age and 
BOX into which no clement of disquiet could enter; yet which waa 
not tbL> relation of father and dnusht«r, nor uf brother and sifttcr. 
AlicG was not changed, iu the eyes of Charles, from the Alice he 
had picked up off the stones that Piiasy broke the Haucer on, and 
bad wrapped up in bis coat. Kc himiwlf was, to her. simply the 
great and wumJroiia good that had come au(l<len1y down from tbe 
firet floor to the baHctncnt to raise her up from what she had sinc« 
learned to know was Hell, hut which had till then been merely 
a lot — one of those things, or statm, the Sunday-scliool teacher had 
given lier lo underaiand it wua sinful to repine at. So Aliee. being 
anxious to oblig? her Maker, had done all that in her Iny to bo 
grateful to him for short eominons, underground darkneas, a 
lather peevish at the best, and a mother half drunk nt the wtfrst, 
but improviug perccplihly as she beeauie iiUH^usible. Stitl. she 
found her task of gratitude a muc-b lighter one when ther« was 
"vouchsafed" to her — as she understood had occurred in t!io fore^^— 
going instances — an An^I in spectacles, who had picked her u|^| 
and wufted bl^r away to an earthly ParudW of wuriutli awl light^^ 
and love; a ParadiM that had since become her very own. It had 
nnver ero.**^ Alit-i-'s mind that had «1k) not been the <lfur little 
maiden she was, she would nerer have clung to that spray, but 
would hui'e hud to puns out into another wildcrneas — lieltet than 
her first, and protected; but still, not the haven of calm waters 
and bulniy wind.i her mi-mory now knew as flydc Park (iHrileiu, A 
hint that nbe herself had helped the end. that her merit* had any 
thing to do with it, would havn seemed lo lier blasphemy ogainat 
iir. Charley. He was an Avatar that had been vouchsafed a 
wan bi-ing vouehitaffJ to lier; and to suppoae tluit her ixiriiunal i 
tit7 bad made his benevolenoe an easy one would have made hi 
KPm to hrrMi'If imdcNcrving of having anytliing furtlicr rou' 
safed, now or henceforward. On which account when the ala: 
came thiitPicrre bad smollpox Alien did forthwith what nhc woii. 
have done equally had it been Bubonic Plague, and went straii 
away to nurse him. It has trHn»ii>ired that she hnd had two ycai 
training aa a nurae, so the thing waa a matter of course. He 
Mr, Charley's boy, and there was an end of it. 

We may Bpeeolate, from these data, about what these two were to 
oni< another, and to themselves, a^i tbiry iial out on iius balcony In 
the sweet summer night, eujoyinjc, as Charles put it, tfa« cooltb of 
the warmth. The smoke of his mcorscfaaum pipe — for faa ali 




iui aliUH 



315 

[ed a mc^rsdiaum with a lonu: atein. and Lataldft— enrled up 
thr still iiir. nnd llip rfl!<!ctiQn of a backward balf-moon, only 
juBt climbing above the puTpIe haze of an excusable miuiinum of 
Xondon tog, glared in hix xpectaclcx bn he looked through thom 
it the girl opposite; perhaps we should write the woman' oppo- 
FiK", for Alice waa on thn way to twenty-four, if you ple«ae. 
But he saw tha girl fJie had been to him all along — he merely 
looked on her womnnbnod as a plagii; intrusion that had 

Sbeen fussing rouud theso five years past ont] that nobody had 
»aDted— least of nil himself! Why could she not stop a baby, and 
fce banged to herl Twenty -three I Just fancy — Aliw-for-sliort 1 
That cxpri-sses how be thought of her as near as we can put it. And 
all the while abe was a woman grown, muture of form and wetl- 
ItMablisbcd, and with all her Rhore of beauty, and more than her 
■bare of self-reliance and character. And he whs elinging to h<:r 
fcabyhoixl, as a father ding* to that of his favourite daughter. 
Aiid how did he picture himself to himself, tliis man. as be eat 
, there silisitly smoking in the moonlight, watching her and think* 
ing of htB own spoiled puat. and unhappy life; of his vague nnd 
^^ill-directed efforts in an nrt ho was never born to practise; of his 
^^bnisplaced. luislaken. miafeatun^l [ovr for the woman his iutetuie 
^Viebivalry still refused to chink of as entirely bad; and of the many 
thing* that, but for this and Imt for that, might have been and were 
not? His image of biinself was that of an old man, weary with 
ad f -reproach and loneliness of heart, ready for confession and 
mMutance, if such were possible, but seeing no outlet for either. 
He bad chosen his life, and must go on to the end; it waa a gar- 
den where no growth eould be; where no seed had been sown in 
its Season; where no slock had been grafted wilb a right acton; 
The plantain wns in the turf, and the wire-worm in the flowcr-bctli ; 
and one diiy (he tap-roots of the creeping weed would be over all, 
and the gardener would still lie there, older still, sadder still, nnd 
saying in his heart : "This is what is left of the rose-tree I planted 
yearn uso — this was the vine, and this tlie fig. And when tlie young 
,Jeavea csme in their first eprinir, their first communion with the sun 
md showers, I dreamrd of thr bloom and the fruit that were to be, 
«rul nerer doubted of iheir fulness. And see them now I" 

Alice knew Mr. Chfirley was unhappy about his profession, but 
did not know how much. She allowed herself a measure of self- 
deception about his status, and when Mr. Jerrylhought A. R. A. af- 
firmed that; *"Eiith hmi wrixed some a9i>ects of Nature that every 
one else had overlooked" sbe really believed that his words meant 
something, and that Mr. Charley had a etrtiuge au^t'wt \svttKt \Aft 



yc 



I 



4 

I 

J 



m$ 



ALICE-FOR-SUORT 



L 



in his Art. Shc> heard other friendb' Toicoe si>eak of th? qimlit; 
oii(] tone tbnl <linti[iKtii^Hl il, mid Inngucl to be abk- to ^cw tli^m 
horBolf — but atast — iinflijpc<?Bafully. So &he Rnchored her ship to 
tbi- Tcick of ber owu iucapucity, aiiJ trusted tbut it wad Ibis alone 
that pOEtponed her rwcbing a port of belief in his power* m ut 
Artist. 

As to the way in which she, for her part, thouglit of hprwlf in 
hiT relation to him. it was simple, atraight forward, intelligible. 
She was somethiDg he was wi^Icome to, if it wna po»eible or con- 
ceivable tbal it shoiilil bring him niij earthly advantage. What ean 
I do for poor Mr. (!hnrley'il This was the qut'Stion shi" nski-d hi-r- 
eelf e^aiu and a^rain. Tf it had been clear to her that the sacrifieo 
of her right hand wiiuld have done biin any laortal good, she would 
simply have stretched it out and said: "Cut awayl" If it could 
have been shown by some witeli ibal two blue eye* alone wi-n* 
wanting to complete a cjildron from which Mr. Charlcx's happiness 
would spring, she would have cried out at once to that witch: 
"Take this pair of mine, and look nharp nbout it. What are you 
hesitating forf For any decent witch woulii have hesitated. To 
eay that Alice Imd faced, without a shudder, the risk of boing 
turiitvl into a uutnicg-grutcr by amullpox for Charles's tinke, would 
be a false way of stating a true thing. For Alice had never waited 
to picture to herself thfi tonsequeiicea of her action. Her mini 
ignored the risks altogether, as things irrelevant where MrJ 
Chnrlpv wa* concerned ; she never even condcsixndcd to ai 
"Bother them r 

So now, if we were to tell tlie honest truth about why tbc two 
blue eyes (which fortunately no witch was making an offer for) 
were lot'kinK rather happily this evening at Charles's grave, ab*ont 
fuec, tlirough the floating clouds of his Latakia. we should have 
to record that Alice was thinking of the death of her patii^t's 
mother in its aspect of a release to his father. She was really say- 
ing to herself: "Now Mr. Charley can marrj- Lady AnstrntlK-r 
Paaton-Forbes and nobody find fault." This Udy. an enormously 
rich widow of irreat beauty and accomplistiments, waa aiipposiHl 
by Peggy and Alice to have a fascination for Charles; porhapa 
she had, only so far aa we know she does not come into tbia atoi^r, 
except HH a thought in Alii^e's mind as she «ils there gasing at 
Charles and his smoke, and herself (we suppose we ought to n^^n^ 
to say) lawlessly xmoking a cigarette. But she wnn well behind 
the hulofmy parapet nod invisible to the public, so forgive her 
Now it is time to let tlicni talk n little, 

"I knew that cabman to-day, Alice— recollected bim since f 



ted 
ind^ 

=1 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



«T 



**YoD fcnpw him t Oh dear ! What « pily you didn't Mop him. 
Fm so sorry." 

"I'm not. It was an ugly Ktory." CharlM pnueed ; lie was almost 
eonr h^ h&d said it. but. however, Alice wouldn't ask for tho 
story, as lie had said it was ngiy; or wouhl be satisfied with gueas- 
iiUt. He continued : 

"H« and I were at Harrow togellier; he went to Cambridge and 
diatineuisbed himself — took a good place in Matbomatice and a 
Btin better one is Classics — I heard of it all afterwardu. Ho — well, 
he dif^aoed himself atid was ruined." 

"Oh. poor fellow! Quite hopelessly?" 

"Quite hopcUjsaly." The pity in the blue eyfls wmild hnvo sought 
for more information, but there is somethine in Charles's t'oiee 
which <;losi!s tlie door on this raan'a misdeed, and Alice aslm 
no further. Charles goes on to tell what he will, and no 
morv. 

"He waa sent to penal servitude—I forget for how long. Hi? hud 
influcDtinl frionda, and efforts were mnde to get him off on th© 
More of inanity; hut a ruthless judge tuld tlie Jury, whiuh the 
prisoner had no influentlnl friends on, that no man wa« insane in 
■ legal »i*nst- when he was jwrfeclly eonsoious of his own actionii. 
He said: 'No doubt. Gentlemen, there is a sense in which Cain was 
inMnt; nhrn ho killed Abel, but hnd he lieen tried in lhi« Court, 
I should haTe summed up ogaiost him.* So poor Densil was 
packed off to gaol without benefit of Clergy. Hi> was in thn 
Church, by the way. Edward Thwaites Denzil — that was his 
fumo." 

"What a shocking story 1 It seems so impossible ; he looked a nice 
man." 

"A very nice man, A good man. too. I dare say — as good as 
another nmn. tlmt in. Btu he'd txx'n pitchforked into a profession 
he had no business with," 

Charles's voice, on hiit last thm) words, bad a stymie of witarioeas, 
or pain, in it. Alloc knew its cause, and her mind lost touch with 
the story of the cabman, ititen.>stiug though it was, and went solely 
to join her compnnion in his thought of his own life. He took 
this brain-wave for grauted, and went on as though it bad really 
become sppfch : 

"I wasn't pitchfork*^ into mine. It was all my own doingyj 
Poor Dcnxil wtm jammed into the Church by bin family. If bo bad 
be«n made a soldier of he would have been all right — or a states- 
. or a lawyer, or anything to keep him out of mischief " 

■^Oh, Mr. Charley dear, what a shame I I won't »X ««i\\%iwtv\a 



I 



L man, < 
I *^0h 



»I6 



ALICE-FOR-SHOHT 



joxi, so UmtcI Toil never lose a ehaoce of sariag something i^' 
ful about tb« poor parsons." 

"Why shoulil I* Only ihis lime I didn't mean to be spi 
On the contmi? I was complimenting tbem for rrniaining 
under their eircunistiuifea, Y'ou kuuw the atory of the AldiemirtP" 

"Yes— no!— go nn." 

"Tlio A]i?hemist wbo eontraet*d to turn copper into gtild? He 
made his ndmirers subfieribe the copper, then nseembled them to* 
father to ace the ma^ic transmutation; hut be gave them a caution 
— a neccaanry rgndilion to obacrvc. On no account was any odo 
think of a bhie monkey. The copper vanished from the crucil 
hilt no gold eame in its placet The (xirwircr taxed tlie spcctato 
with thiuking of blue monkeys, aiid one and all admitted they had 
thought of notliing else." 

"What's the moral. Teadiy-Weach.v V 

"Clear enough. Folk that spend their livM profcsrionallT 
Ding Evil can't tliink of anything else. The blue monkey ia 
eaae of a parson U our dear old friend the DcviL" — But Charles 
pulled up short in hia homily; h« didn't want to hnw to <;xpi 
Mr, Thwaites Denzil's blue monkey in full. The nearest 
iiwny from the unhappy cabby led bock to the pamllcl abo 
himself. 

"Anyhow, Alice dear, the poor beggar wait right when he wid ha 
wasn't the only man that had failed in Life." Aliee threw away 
tlie end of the Inwlean cigarrtte, and «nt fnrwiird with her rlbown 
on her kneea, and her face resting in her hands, looking up at 
Charles. 

"You are thinking of youreelf," abe said. It woa not « questio: 
but a statement. 

"Of both my selves, dear." he replied. "Of my human self- 
and a nicn hash I made of that, and wc won't talk about it. A: 
of my professional self, and that, at any rate, we can talk abow 
A nice ha>li I made of it all the same." 

"How old ar«? you now — really and truly how old) Fortytwof* 

"Forty-one iieit November." 

"There, see now, you arc even younger than I thought. I 
thought you were. Oh yes! you're going to say that's noiiseiixc— 
but you know what I mean." And Charles admits it. "1 will not 
deceive you, my sweet, 1 do." he aaya. And tlie-ii his citation iron 
Hra. Gamp recalls Stater Eulalie. 

"Mrs. Prig guesaed roe forty-flev^D, and I gticaaed her twenty 
nine. She's thirty-nine, she say«. Im't it inondiblef" But 
Alice's face doesn't care what age Siater Enlalie ia: tltc burden 



III on 

:ib^ 
ttor^^ 
had 

a ilea 

'^ 

boiS 



1 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 31« 

uk laterost, n straagr one, is upon it, atul she Joes not mean to be 
headed oH bj anjrbodr'* ttgc. 

"Bov can you know whcilier you are guccoasful or oot at forty 
(mel How do you know you won't have a tremendous succom, all 
of a sudden! Yee— after another ten years, perhaps — but soma 
tinw! And then twenty years of real, hnppy work. It has all been 
before. thU eort of thing. Why not you f 

AticT! hn« taken one hiind from under her chin to point nt poor 
Charley, like an accusing Angel, "Why not youf she repeats. 

"You n(i"lirt look 90 rcpront'liful. Miss Kavanagh darling. I'm 
open to conviction, like other culprits. Hut not I'll loll you, 

dear " He knocks out the ashea of the Latakia from his pipe, 

and reflcctP on the (ir»l inatnlmcnt of hin csptanation. Alice 
replaecta lier band, and remains with closed lips and ftyes of &ced 
attention. A «tray lock of hair flnutJ) over heir forehead in the light w 
nijcht wind that is seeking windows to Mow In at, but makingl 
little effort to blow them open for itsrif. If a sptxTtntor twenty 
feet biKh could have looked over the balcony, he would certainly 
hare felt the beauty of Alice's rameiit face without exactly know- 
ing wheilier it was due to its inlelligeuee. or the reinalna of the 
afterglow, nil but dt-nd now, but juxt able to put a faint cadence vt 
benedietion on record before saying good-ulght. 

"T icnow Diy work is rubbish.'' Thus Charles at tho end of his 
panse. "All unreal rubbish! I know itl As I look baok throuffh 
tlu! dr4-ary mukn of itpoilc^d cauvaees, I ask myself th<^ quc!«lion: 'If 
theae had been tbe work of another person, and I had been Crceeua, 
ahould i have purchas(^d Ihenif Nut I! And yet I paint on, hop* 
IDK that Orceeus will see somelhinK in my work I do not see myself, 
«nd humbly ask to txs i>eriailT('il to possess it." 

"Bccauw? you look at your own work. Von should never do that, j 
Put the canvases away till Crceaus comes. Tbe less you see of 
tbcm the better." 

"That's what Ckmub thinks 1" But Alice is too earnest even to 
notice any cynical exaggerations or "grim ironies" of Master 
Charley's — she knows his way of old, Her mind is on a warpath of 
•olid purpose, and she doesn't mean to humour any extravagances. 
She takes absolutely no notice of his remark, but Koes on. 

"Keep them out of your sight, and take the word of your friends 
about iheir value — not your own. Think what Mr, Jerrythougfat 
aoysl And what did that man sny tlwt <:ame to dinner at Harlej 
Street ? He's an Art-Critic and an authority. He ought to know," 

"He »«id my pictures showed a delicacy of insight, combined 
with a breadth of treatment, that foretold a fut,ut« (ot 'Ciofc bx^^v&v. 



L 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 







Tlut'a nhat he said. What he me&nt woe that tho L^oviile 
UDcxctptionnblc, the PommeTy-und-Gntno extre-MC, nod that 
would lake » leg of the crouse. please 1" 

"Oh. Mr. Charlfy— Mr. Charley! Tor shame I If you lake 
tone «'hat beeomes of the value of human leetimony to anything I 

"Whnt i* the value of human {cstimony to anything?" 

"Very well then ! I won't talk to yoii. Unless you'll be reaeon- 
nhlo." A good-htitnoiired smile twinkles over Charles's face as ho 
looks with admiration at the earnestness tmd the flashing blue eyes, 
not t|iiiti! without suspicion of a tear in ihcm. He aurri-'Hcierw aiKJ 
promisee to be reasonable, adding something under his breath. 

•that's that you saidt" asks his monitress, 

"I said — 'Bravo, Atieel' " This belongs to the class of irrelevant 
conconiilanls. and A!i<* tnk<-s no noiioe of tliat either. She 
ploughs straight through the weeds, and goes on turning up the 
furrow. ^H 

"Besides, there are plenty of other people who say just the saia^| 
about your work — it isn't as if it was only one little humbug of an 
Arl-Critic. And then, your work has never been properly w.'^-n. 
The public don't know it." But Charlea notioea that hi* defeiiiior 
retires to a second line of defence, and s\ispcct» that the fcui 
on the first line were not fit for use. "Who were iIil- plunly 
other people r' he asks. Alice feels that one or two, who have 
on the tip of her tongue, are not strong examplea, and will oc 
weaken her case. She extricates herself cleverly. 

"No — I won't set them up just for you to knock down ; .v<hi I 
you will. But thouiih you won't bt^Hevc me. iJjt-rc n-ally are nv 
brrn of pt'oplc who think a deal of your pictures. Wliy. only 
other day. Lndy— Wliat's her-name? (Tou know who I mron — with 
n bridge to hir nose— well—Tie ver mind!) was asking about the 
and saying' how interesting and original they were." Chull 
shakes an incrcdnloiia head slowly. 

"Dear little ilifitresa Alite." he saya, uring another of her roai 
appcllationa, "I have noticed that people are rather fond 
aacribing a factitious ioiportanco to events of Hltltr mom<-nt 
themselven by dwelling on the fact that they only occurred th^ 
other day, T will take this opportunity of poinling out that the 
opinions of T.ndy No»'bridge are not of any valoo in thcmwlvca, 
and do not acquire any from the date of their utt«TaDee, 
TMient." Charles hns fallen into his old mock-pompous or didac 
form of epeedi. and Alice laugha with pl»»aure, for it iit n »i( 
to ber, tJiot he Is \vks unhappy at heart. Be would not do it if he 
were quite miserable. She knows him, i.own to the ground. 






AUCE-FOR-SHORT 



Ml 



"I was iUTP j(m were talkiiuc nonsense all alontc," she uys. hope- 
fully. But she is iiifiappoiuted when his tone ohanges B4[aiD ia 
Ilia reply. 

"No, drar. no!" he Mys. "I vax talking nonsmse then, but not 
before. 1 know people praise my work, as you say, after a fasliion — 
but they speak eneovraffingly, Doti't you know how nrushed one 
I feels when one's encouraged eneourngingly!" Aliee thinks of 
I nbutting thia on thi' ground of its intrinsic absurdity: but uUsIifl 
^rite knows how true it is, and gives up the idea. "Oh dearl" says V 
^Hp^ "I wish I knew about paintuig and could praise it." Charles 
^^Eui^ aloud at this. 

"bh. MistnsB Alice — Mistress Alice !" he soys, "that's just what 
you couldn't do if you did know. You praise It now because you 
lovo me and Peggy, aitd becatiao you think you have n wnrranty 
from impartial authorities, but you haven't for all that!" Char!e<t 
knoclcK thf ash out of his pipe with a sigh. Thon he begins to fill 
it Ofrain, and rallies to cheerfulness. "Now we're talked enou^ 
aliout tne ! I want to know about your precious self, cliick ! 
What did you write to poor Rogt^r?" 

Alice unpacks the arrsngemont of hand-support for her face. 
wfai<-fa huH had moiewfaut the- force of a gun-curriage; aud sub- 
stitutes a hoir-ruffling disposition of her ami" above her hertd. 
which i* not unladylike when llit-re ia no company. It has an effect 
vf effrontery, with conscious wrakncsH in thit background. , 

"I'm sure I'm very aatry fur Mr. Sflwyu-Kerr, It wasa't me. 
you know."' 

"Wasn't you }"* 

"Wasn't my fault 1 Besides he aays if I had been ever so di»- 
Dgrteahlc it would hare been esaclly the same," 

"Poor Mies Karansgbl 8bc uia4 in a fix! Nol — I don't see 
what was to be dune. But what did you say to himi" 

'"/ don't mind your seeing thr letter. Mr. Charley. It's not gone 
yet. Ill run in and get it." Which she does, but does not return 
immodiali'ly. Charles goes in to look for her, and mnits her com- 
ing out from the back-room where the patient is. "I thoiiidit I 
IwBrd him." she says, "Lut he's sleeping uieely stilL" Charles 
goes in to tlie light to read the letter. After a glance at the first 
page, he lookfl up. "Higlily proper I'' is his comment. "I wonder 
if yoti girls are aware tliat every one of you writes exactly tho 
Rsme IcttiT under the same circumstances T' 

"Oh, Ur. Charley, we don't I I'm sure mine is quite original." 
Charles rtrtiirns to thi? Ii-Uisr and rends nloud ; 

" 'Dear Mr. Selwyn-Kerr' — nothing oilg\iia\ \a I^V, MxaWiwi — -'"V 



i 



d is I 



323 ALICE-FOR-SnORT 

cannot find words to teU tou bow completol.v four letter yesterday 
took me by «uipri«e. 1 Mk yon rood carnoetly to believe me when 
I say that I had no sutpicion of tho «xUteiice of aui^ a fceHng 
nn the pnrt of one whom I hnve nlwayn rcffarded onlji a$ a 
friend, however cordial the friendly Ttlation mifcbt \m- that fa>a 
always subsisted between us. and that will. I hope. alw*)« 
continue.' 

"Now, MisB Kavanaehl will you be kind enougrh to teD me 
whether you consider that ori^nHl, and if so, why}" CharW i* 
sitting on the eonier of a substantial cquare table as he reads 
iinder the gns Alice 1ms juet turned up. We can recognise 
table, and the drawer in it, bb the one in which Peggy found the 
tailor's patltrn-book ; it has become part of "the furuiture" and is 
taken for granted and undiatinRuished. If it enn think, h 
puu^led it must be at the Alio' of now and ita memory of 
Alice of then. Does it remember the days of its first furnitmre- 
poliab. when there was no Alice at allt The days of the ^reat 
Shop, where everything was new, and your orders received prompt 
and careful elteiilion! If it does, it aaya nothing about tbem, nt^H 
doea it seem inquisitive about the precise relation of the gentlcnu^^ 
who IB silting on it, and the young lady who atanda there beniiie 
bim. 

Tet it might be pusiled at this too. although the explanation 
would be most reasonable. For nothing could throw more Ughl 
upon it than the perfectly easy and uneonoenied way in whi 
Alice lays her right hand across Charles's shoulder, and with 
left hand takes hold of a comer of the letter he is reading; 
though retaining a right to unntch it hack on nrpentanoc, if 
should occur. Nor the way in which his left hand goea aeroaa and 
finds two fingerB of her right to hold, whiit- his own right keeps 
a firm hold on the letter, as a hand that suspects foul play. Out- 
side in the balcony, they might have bwni p<x>plrr who had met ft 
year ago; as we see them now, they are redolent of three 
four hietres of intimacy, beginning with tho babyhood of 
younger. 

"No, Mr. Charley dear, do be serious! That's only the in' 
duct ion." 

"Very well then I On we go : 'But I should bo ftclinji in .a n>' 
vrons and cowardln manner, from scruples about aitying n di' 
a^rrii^ablc tiling, if I l<-ft you to supjiiiiH? that my feelings lowari 
you could ever be other than those of friendihip. Pray diunis* 
fite. id<-A from your mind.' 

"Poor Mr. Sclwyn-Kerri Squelched T' Charles looks round at 



tion 
hi<« 

i 



ALICE-FOR-SnOBT 



33$ 



tll6 pi«tty face on bis left, whoec owner Je biting its under lip, bmM 
one half vvx^d. half latigtiing; au<l whoib! cbivlui aliow a elJKhtl 
flush of embarTMnneDt. acccntinfc the beautj' of it« eyes. "Weill"! 
Bays ahe, in an abaurd, npulofcutii; maniK-r, "go ahead and read tba* 
TCBtl" CbarlcR nbalces h)« h<?ad rcpronchfutly and reauroes. 

"T am lo bUine — at leaal, I blaiue myself — for not gueaatngv 
about it. find I Etispis-tcd tbn tnitli. T mittbt nt I(-a«t havn dis'fl 
couraKed you by my manner from u course which can only result 
in pain fur botli «f us, esiieoidlly for inp; for indiwd. di'ur Mr. 
Seiwyn-KciT, 1 did and do value your friendship, and now I feci 

it baa (fot spoilud ' That's original," said Cbarlea, Htoppiug — 

" 'not spoiled' is d«?cidedly original." 

"I thought of aayiiig," says Alice, Bubmissivelyr "couldn't bn 
OUUlStce to keep going, aod not have any Love in itf But I had 
to giTO that up. However, go on I" 

Charles does not go on at once. He glances on a few lines ia 
ad?ance. murmuriug to himself — "'ought to tell .vou Iio:i«atly — ■ 
Jesaie Freeth'— what'a all tbisf" And Alice saye. "Head it aloud,'*^ 
and rj-liniiiiishes tin? hold coriirr to place her hand on his unoccu- 
pied shouldi-r. and put her cbiii ou it We givi- llie-ie photographic 
dctailn, to help on a conception of the general position. Without 
ibem. mi aap prehensions might ariae. Gbarles reads aloud as 
bidden. 

" 1 feel that I ought to tell you honestly that I was completely- 
thrown off m.v Kiiard by a foolish report (as I now suppose, aQ 
entirely falae onu) that you and JcHsie Frectb wen; iMigngod, or 
nearly. People arc so silly 1 I daresay, though. I believed it all 
too easily bi-cutise I am so fond of Jessie, anil I thought it would 
be so nice, and you would ask me to your house, and now per- 
faapa Jessii^ will be unhappy about it, because, you know, if on« ■ 
pcTMO makes a mistake, another may. Do forgive me. for writing' 
all tliis to you — but I owe il to myself to tell you how I was misled. 
I could not bear to be thought heedless or inconsiderate towards a 
friend) eBpi-cially towards one whom I have always valued as I 
have yourwif,' " 

"Turn liver." said Alice. Charles did so, and continued, remark- 
ing that, "here was the peroration." 

" "Dear Mr. Selwyu-KiTr, you have done me tlie greatest honour 
that any num enn do to any woman, so do not believe that I am 
ungntefvt or unfeeling, because no other course ia possible to ma 
than the one I hare taken. 1 shall be very unhappy about you tintil 
I bear (as I eameetly hope 1 some day sJiall) that you have found 
bappincss dacwhtre." Meanwhile I canuol sij \i» v'^'^vti.'S ■CuaS.X 



M 



324 ALICE-FOK-SHORT 

c«n never b« more to joa than what I now ssk to dc allowed to 
aga mfself. 

Your affectionate and faithful friend, 

AuciA Kavanaoh.*" 



4 



r 



Char1<» turned back the paeee, asking, "What's the asterisk ! — 
oh, hrrt- wr are I"' 

"Oh. Mr. CharW, don't say I mustn't put that in. Think what 
II bother it will be to writi* it nil orer again. And so cold-blooded!" 

"Ixit'p fee what it is, Mi?tr«r88 Alice. 'P. S. — I bope I ghall not 
do wroiifc in Apt-aking of litis matter to Jessii" Freeth. I will 
prvmuif not to talk to anybody clw,' And then you come straif^t 
©fl and show the letter to roe. You're a nice little Alic^for-sliort !" 

"Oh, I do liko it so when you call me tbat. You haven't done 
it for ever so long. But I may send the letter, mayn't I? I 
thougbt it such a good one." 

"It's a capital letter. It sbowe the authoress. You sead it ofll 
Jessie Frceth and Roeer will suit each other to a nicety." 

"Oh— but 1 " 

"Yea — hut! So come now. Miss Alice! You wouldn't bo Ruilty 
of matchmakiiif; of course! But Ihnl't what will come of it." 

"How can I leave poor Jcseie in iKnoranm ) She'll forget all 
about him if I tell her — only, she oufibt to know.'" Alice is all up 
in arms about her friend, and her face is flashing with eameet- 
n<-s* again. She hns seemiHl to think the little drama, so far na abc 
herself cume into it. otily a farce. Women are apt to look on all 
their offers but o:ie as farcea. But ahe evidently fears for her 
friend what speech in time from betaelf may prevent. "I'm not 
malehmaking!" snys she. indignantly. Her ehin hns conw off 
the hand on Charles's shoulder, and she is half-sealed on the 
table behind him. He is relighting his pipe. When he has done 
this they go out on the balcony into the moonlight, and settle 
down 8g before. 

"Wliy do you say 'no' to all of 'em. little Alice T' 

'Tve only said no to three so far, unless you count in Sir Tbomw 
Brabaxon ( lie makes four," 

"I certainly count him. But wby do you i Little Uistrvaa Alioe^ 
if there is any one in the bush you're keeping back, do confeM up! 
Take a poor old widower into your confidence." Charles sits took* 
lag at Alice's drooped <-yelids and hesitating manner, aud waiting 
for a concession. Presently she looks up; 

"Why do I eay not Because saj'ing ^ee involves so much, 
suppose. " 



'• 




ALICE-FOR-SHOET 



its 



"It involvee a gr^at dt-ul. So ilof* iiKking for il. Think what 
it must ban coet ihe Brabazou to screw kimself up to tbo 
point " 

■^Ue's quite bapp;r — he heard poor father was a tailor! " 

"Ycji — Imt he was vorr heroic. Ilr knrw about tho bc^r and the 
Pub ftoty, anil jet he came to the scratch." 

"fiut not about the tailorl I wait (rUd he had the consolation 
tbftugh — it wot a cooBolation. A tailor U a tailor, put it how 
ymx niaj!'* 

"So he ia — but never mind Sir Tommj", /« there nobody in 
bucbf" — Alice shakes licr head alowly from Hide to »ide, and at' 
laat says, "No — there's no one I care about in the bush— certainly, 
no one!" 

"Well! We must wait and hope. Little Alices mustn't be wor- 
ried and hurried. And they i^hall be old nisid^ if they Uiie. And if 
ihejf don't they ahal! ranrry whuevtr ibcy plraw." 

"SiippOBC they want to marry people that don't want to marry 
them!" — liut tliis queation rvmaiua unimswcrtd because the patient 
wakes. 



Alice sita thoufcbtful after she has orerruled an attempt of 
Cbarlvif to mnko her go to bed while he sit« up witli the invalid. 
This happens ever>' uight and Altee usually gets her way. as she 
dom to-tiighl. She xils and tliioks and thinks, and tlicn says 
with a siirh, "Ob, how glad I gkatt be to kiss Aunty Peggj- again I" — 
For Pierre, suddenly wakeful, has wanted to know why Annly 
Peggy was talked to over the balcony to-day and not allowed to 
oom« up. He is getting very convalesceaiL 



CHAPTEE XXSn 



HOW AUCe OOT LET IN FOR PARNASSUS. U<iW SHE WISIIKD CHAIII.S3| 
BESPLEN&EST WIFE. OF TWO F0OL8, AND WHAT THEX SAIDl 
US. TUAT CAME TO LIOUT 

A RKHARK of Charles's townrH« the md of Inst chapter rcmaind 
us thai a faut haa been neKlecl&I in this record. Wlieii he said 
Alice's letter showed the nuthorow, he was not speaking at nndom. 
nor in jesU Bhe was not only an anthtireaa, but, conaiileHnfr her 
years, a very successful ono^ 8hc was responsible for a »i)iall 
volume of poems, which were spoken of respectfully by the Preaa, 
and for several shorl stories. It is possible tliat you are aoquaintcd 
with both, and if so may agree with us that the latter, though 
credits bill to Alice, were like her love-Iottera (or friendship- 
answer to a love-letter) — that is. nut specially original. But her 
verse certainly showed a faculty for verso- mak i ng ; and when The 
Predominitnl Era remarked that Mr. Brown, tlie Author of Wfek- 
Ende at Pamaigut, recalled Miss Kavanagh's method, that iu- 
£iiential organ expected Ur. Brown to feci flattered and ny 
thank -you. ^m 

Whether Alice's dispositions towards ih» Uiise couM harp brci^H 
detected in her recitations to Pussy in the basement of No. 40 we 
cannot eay. For our own port we think either Terse or prose in 
auch Tcry young people giifea no real clue to their capadliea later. 
Almost all childrm (liltl« girls especially) tell stories and nulw 
verece. But we a^ee with Lady Johnson tltul an incident that 
happened during Alice's school-days at Misa Fortoecu«'s showed 
that (he technical faculty of 6lting lan^sge to rhj'thni and pro- 
riding both with the same meaning was more marked in her than 
in her school- fellows. Miss Fortesciie was an enthuaiaat in Poetry, 
and used to oxumine tier jmpils on the subject and award prizes as 
a stimulus to reading. Slie had been more than onc« in a tight 
comer owing to her lilierol views about wliat littln girlx ought or 
ought not to read. Indignant pnrenia had descended on her brand- 
ishing Elizabethan poems which tliey hud cuuglit tht^ir ofTspring 
reciting, and (wo regret to write it) :>Jie had resorted to the mi^an 
expedient of Imputing depravity of mind to the rvader who saw 
anything (o question in thorn. It was a powerful fulcrum, but 



initi^ 



ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



S»7 



feel for the parents, and doubt if it was fair plnj. This phase of 
thv >ubj<«t, h«wcTcr, tloee not concern ub at thi.t momiMit. 

It ebaneed thai Miss Fart«Bcue one da^ took it into her head to 
■Et op what i« cnllfd B 'corrcction-clttBs.' The idea was to take is 
IuukI koj paaaages from celebrated poets that atruck Miaa Forte:tcu«| 
a« incomplote or defective, and to write in or substitute others 
more lu keeping (accordiu^ to her ideas) with their Bnrrotindioga, 
She explained to Peggy that her motire in doing this was uot tOa 
nnu-cd the defects of Shakspeare, etc., but to givt! a wholcMnne' 
stimulus to the litcrnry fnciiltic* of her pupils. The loeideut in 
blind was tlie seltiuK of au cxaini nut ion -paper (with marks) in 
which some passages were to have subalitulea written for the 
italicized liut.^ or the hiatus (in other cases) filled in. Uere was 
one case: — 

"Hen Tvttt hit IiaMl npon tbe lap of Earth, 
A loQlli to Fiirtiiu* anil to Fiini« UDknuim i 
Fair Sclimm frfnenrd nnl on hit ftiinl^f tiirlh, 
Aii<l Mclanobol; iiuuk«l bint foi bt.T own." 

Miss Forteacue selected this line for excision we are not 
i on to speculate. It was in the examination paper, and Alice 
Bupplied her substitute thus: — 

''Hot lOng. nor lute, made matio >t liia birlli." 

Perhaps filling in blanks left b.v a I'oct was Irss impertinent than 
this ioterfcnnco with an existing text. The impertinence was, 
bowerer, Miaa Fortescue's. Alice had to fill in, or loeo marks. So 
she went at it brarely. These that follow have blanks, left by 
Shelley, filled in with italicised words fay Uiea Kavnnagh:^ 




"And atlU 1 lore. Hid ittU I Ihinli 
Bat ulritigi'ly. fnr my liuarl can drinli 
Thv drotji of miuh il«ap»ir aiiit Ijic 
Ali>t linv: n eain prrroijatlTr! 
And ir I Iblnk. m; thonghu como tut, 
I mix tbe preaent nllh tbe put 
And Baub socma oilier thui tbe ImI. 



^^^^^^B EHnging lore to its lone mate 

^^^^^^B 111 tb* Irj-bo^tr (llscouaotata I 

^^^^^^B Tc>lc« tbe airecteit tTcr bc&idl 

^^^^^^P TKan CA# ,1^'* tr**! in l/u noon-day tky 

J Of Ulia ainrc Il«lj," 

f No dotibt yon would have acquitted yonraelf bett«r. But our 

businctw is merely to record, and wo onlj nutiC titvw 'I'utiv&KfA Vi 



L 



32B ALICE-FOR-SUORT 

rmnark tbnt Alice's answers were so immoaaurablj' belter than 
lUose of (he other young jteople, tlat MUs Forleseuc retained 
tUom to •'how to Latlf (then Mrs.) Johnson. And Charl«e. Both 
required Alioe to write ver&ea on the spot, and Aliee, who would 
h«Tc thrown her eiaminnt ion -papers into the fire if they had b«n 
retunitd to her. did ua she wua bid. Pqjgy informed aii editor of 
a Monthly *hiit unless he inserted a poem of Alice's in his cotunmt 
she would ue^cT aak hjui to dinner aeraiii. and he not only complied, 
but dem.inih'd nion' of the same sort, and ti^Dt it. So that io tt: 
the poem^ of A. K. accumulated; and, as you possihly know, faft' 
tlicir admin-m to this day. 

Ho now we can understand what Alio« was at. in that Uti 
piitoh-room nt Harley Stretrt. Also what slie evidently meant to h* 
at as soon as she had got rid of Mr. Charley — "packed him oS to 
bed" WHS ihi- way liir mind put it — and had devoti-d heraelf to the 
patient's restless hour or so after his long sleep. But her prepara- 
tiims and her new [ii-n did not lead to much eopy. Perhaps tho 
ntmosphcre and the incidents of a fever-ward are not favourable w 
nutli<in>bip — they wtm- all there in tliis case, but wp are keeping 
them out of sij-hl as mueh as possible, as we all know what they 
are like without telling. Or, If not, we have been stra 
favoured liy Providence. 

Anjhow, Alice felt very little like writing when sho be^n to 
and threw down the new pen. 

She went out into the starlight on the balcony. The street hi 
Htilled down towards the small hours of llio morning, as much 
streets do in London. Stray gusts of late homc-coniers in Tlansouis 
recurred with iutermittonl rntlle und slopping to of enti-donr^ 
Every one of them made believe to be the last, but left a silence that 
siM^med conscious there would soon be unolhiT. And it cftme. And 
then the heel of a deliberate policeman appeared to be trying to 
impress the paving stones, and convinec them tlmt every one had 
now gone to bed. But they rejected his evidence, and were justi- 
fieil. For there was alwn>-s one last cab still I 

But it was pleasant tu sit there thinking, in the sweet lUght- 
air. And Alice sat and thought, and wished and wished. Her 
wishes took a curious turn. She wished she was Lady jVnstrutber 
Paston- Forbes, and then she could marry Mr. Charley and u»e all 
that money to make him happy. For she took Charles's paasioi 
for this lady an grand tSrieux- "Now Hit* Btnkcr'* d<^ad." 
her thoughts to her. "(hew's nothing to prevent it. Oh dej 
how nice it would be 1" But so completely wa« Cliarlcs tho grown-up 
person, and so cumplctiily woa her version of hurvelf, aJ hoc. 



*d. 

a 




n-up 
' hoc, tl^ 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



S2ft 



little girl (h^t be b«d draim up out of the fifulter and placed in 
affluence And hnppincM, that no slightest idcn of benefit thnt would 
arise from the obvicuB fact that if she was Lady Ausiruther 
Paaton-Forbe*, tb«t Udy would certainly be Alice Itnvanngb, was 
allowed to enter iuto her calculationa. The intensity of her wlah 
to we Mr. Charley happy, n wish into whieh no eolfiab thought 
entered, reall.v required the eipedient of meDTint; her peraonalit^j 
in th«t of an imagined benefnctrix, to make a working hypothreis.! 
She knew tlml Charles was very poor; the extravagance of "Uias 
Blraker'' had made him so. And she b»ilt a glorious eastle in thg 
air in which this next Urs. Charles Heath was to engineer her 
wealth BO as to place her hiisband on a piiinucle. But tbr magnifi- 
««nt widow was not to be trusted with her own identity, intact, 
to do that Alice disintegrated it with an infusion of herself; she 
waa to suppV volition and purpose. Meanwhile her discarded 
remainder never r-aiui' into court — it was to exult with iliss Peggy^ 
— for in this dreamland all the dramatis persona were to belong^ 
to llie early lime — over llie great achievement of achievements, 
(he making of Charles into a happy and successful man. BoUier 
obstacles I — She chose to dwell on it, for the sbccr pleasure.^ 
of lh<- tlioiight. Fancy seeing Mr. Chnrley really groat and 
happy, and she, little Alice-for-sborl, having really bad a baud 
in it! 

And as Alice pondered under the starlight with an uiiiinated 
face. Charles was, let us hoiif, asleep. If so. maybe his own 
waking thoughts had crept into his dreams. They wore aboui] 
Alice, and Alice's loo numerous n-jected lovers. He did not 
about most of them; but one or two, Boger Sclwyn-Kcrr particu-' 
larly. aiK-jned to him to be worthy applicants. He could not under- 
stand AliceV persistent decision in her treatment of the subject. 
He could n^coihtcl, with a smile, his sister's firm resolve about 
marriage, and her lament in the same breath for their effect upoa 
tho roan she utr(-u<l.T lovpd. But in Alice's case thL-re was no sus- 
picion of exalted Tiiriiose. She boDcstly meant that she didn't^ 
vant to marry tlie gentleman, and aaid »o iiluinly. "Of course,"'! 
thought Charles to himself, "she buttered him up aliout friend- 
I ahip— they always dof Even Peggy friendshipped Rupert. But 
tbea die gave him distinctly to understand there was no one she 
I liked better." Sleep did not allow him lime (o finish wondering 
I whether Alice reall.v liked some one else better. But perhaps she 
I did. "Bvtier," in this case, be it observed, always means fifty 
[ tinacs as well, or even more. 
I What mauwer of tiling Charles likened his \vi« ta -McXva^ft "ums^ 







ALICE-FOR-SHOBT 

to ehov — a garden run to waeto~-a weedj tenglc on oxhausted 
No plnct! tltiH to plant a sweet youiig rosie-trc-e in ! The teoant of 
the garden naa decpl; interested in the place the rosc-troe should 
find — et-ienbere. But it nevi^r croaaed Lib miud for a mouittiit that 
it could possibly bloom and flourish atnoiig his nettlts and rag- 
wort, and bv wuiiUl fain have eevn ita otraer plant it on Tirgin boU; 
in a garden full of sunlight, no ray of which orer seemed D<nr to 
pierec- tie overgrowtii of his own. He was a spoiled piece of goods 
in his own «yes, and his tired old heart, spacious and empty cer- 
tainly- was not the home for a young tenant and new curtains and 
carpets. If this Chaos of metaphors conveys its meaning, it 
may perhaps be excused. 

Hcanwhile tlie young tenant never dreamed of herself in 
capacity. She and Peggy were joint-caretakers i>erhapa, but o 
really responsible occupunt hnd still to be found. Lody Anstruther 
Paatou-Forbes was a pourparler, subject to approval on mor« in 
mate a<-qtj(i!ntance. She was the most probable at this momeU 
But there were othera. The moat desirable fruit on the stall w; 
always being picked up and handled to see if it was really fit f 
Master Charles's consumption. It is true that Puggy had m< 
than once wondered whether it was necessary to go out of doors 
find it. But then she hud snid to herself, ''See what I may spoil by 
htntiiig Bt such a thing T' and decided on leaviug these two uncon- 
aciousn esses alone. 

Neither did either of the joint-caretakers figure to tfaemselTea 
what a ruinous concern the owner of the hovise thought it. Cct-_ 
tainly Alioe did not as she sal there in the summer night, coi 
juring up an image of Lody AjiHtriither Puaton-Furbca, conduct 
by another image, a radiant one. of Charles, to the altar. She e 
went the length of dressing the bri<lc in white satin, trimmed wi 
laoe, embroidered with roses and leaves en chiffon. It is of coursa 
possible that the perfect serenity with whicli she aurreiiden;d 
Charley to the keeping of this impressive spectacle wns founded 
a confidence in its instability. She might have grudged to the' 
actual what she yielded easily to a dream of her own invention. 
But even had she hesitated in the casting of the parts in tlii 
drama, there would have been no suspicion of a tendency to assi 
n leading part to lierself. She might have put in another bride; 
ahe had recollected Charles expressing admiration for an eligibl 
one; but, as it clmnoed, :ioue occurred to her; so Cbarlea and Iicr 
Ladyship lived happy ever after — that period in dreamland be 
ready to occur within any given limits, to meet the views of 
dreamer. 





d<^H 

th^ 

lion, I 

SlgM 

ribi^ 




ALICE-FOR-SHOBT 



MI 



It was so sweet anil the ni(rht-air eo wann on the balcony that 
Alice th«ui(ht she nuKht *aWy <Io» n little. I'icrrc wae well 
within liearing and aha had made up her iniiid that as lung ai hu 
slept » sound she wasn't gning to wake him up for bcpf-tea or jplly 
or DtcdiciiU! or anjrthiii(r. whatever the doctor said. But she had 
the presence of mind hcforp dropping off to wrnp hprsi-lf In n warm 
railway rug. tt might turn cold; but it was bo much uioer out 
here than in the room. 

Sh(! may have slept an hour when she was half u-akcd by the 
sound of voices close at hand. It occurred to her that she did not 
know where die was ; so ahe roused up thoroughly to sec. She ealiB - ^ 
fied herself on tbie point, and slio that the voice* were those O^H 
Charles's next-door neighbour — a paiuter like himself, hut a sue- 
oeesful one — and of a friend who seemed to have walked home with 
him and to he takiTig leave to go to hin own honw. Ought idte tofl 
iudtcate her presenct? by coughing, sneezing, shouting, or olherwiseffl 
She WBK he«itnting which to choose when a qncwtion from tho 
friend stopped her, and her curiosity to hear it answered made 
her refrain and Usten. dishonourably. But then, the question was 
about Mr. Charley. Honour be hanged! 

"Who lives west door on this sideF' 

"Heath. Chiirhs Heath. You know the story about him? Nol 
Wh>', you must know itl" 

"I ifon'i know." 

"Well! Three men arrengetl to give a dinner and each was to 
aak the womt painter bo knew. Nobody turned up but Heath. 
And he wanted to know why he had had on invitation from all 
three, ilawl Hnwl llawT 

•^arl Bar! Ear! What's his work like though, reelyT h 

"Footy stuff. Gormy colour. No drawin'I" ^| 

"Man of jiroperly?" — At this point Alier! fell that the eonTeras^H 
tion WAS carried on for a moment by facial expression. Then tbfli^l 
Queationer said lie twigged, and the other resumed articulate 

"At Icul, I oughtn't to say that. His governor didn't cut up 
SO fat as was expected. He'd bceu very warm iu his time though. 
Sut he cune to grief in Trade. Stilt, not so badl'* And again 
tbe other said he twigged. Then the first dropped his voice, and^ 
Aliee knew h(- wax going to spcjik about a leily. But he iateusifiediH 
in interest to nuke up for hie aotto-voce. Sbo only caught 
anatebex, however: 

"You must have heard about tliat affair? , . . seveu t« >sv^t. 
years ago . , . moddle . . . fguie-moddle . . . t^ ■s«k\ "K* to»x^«&. 



^ 



33S 



ALIOE-FOR-SHORT 



. . liandsomc womiin . . . ^mit Binder 
dark horse to put his money on " 



licr right enough! 
. . . fine eoprona . . 

"She alive!" 

"Couldn't eayi Went regularly to the bad, I beliere . . . dl| 
TOrte-tourt proceedings . . . sorry for himl TTnV n nino fcUcr 
nice a feller as I know I Do you know what o'clock it i», cny boy )" 

"Tbrw. Good-uighl!" 

"Good-night 1" 

And th<; two iM'pariiU'd with sudden nlncrity. to makrt up, by 
saving two minutes, for tho spending of three hours in talk like the 
above. The one :^iut liimaclf briskly into his house; the other 
broke into an exculpatory trot till he prefenvHl walking, and 
!igbt«i) a cigar. 

As soon as tbc.v were clear out of the way, Alice went indoors to 
finish hcT doze, so far bb she f<^U likt'ly to do so. She was giimply 
boiling with indignation, especially about the story of the three 
invitntioiis. Now, liad Alice only known it, sive need not lum 
troubled about this, For this story is told in just as many formt 
a::! thtrre arc professions. A ii^ made to figure as the worst lawTsi^ 
B aa the <iulleat writer, C as the slowest actor, D as ihe gruut 
liar, and E as tho drciiricst bore in London. It i« a very 
•tory, but we confess wo are getting tired of it. It wan new 
Alice, and her blood boiled on Charlc.-r's behnlf. As for ibe 
orences to his Inte wife, she knew well enough that tlic tinhcar 
portions of the conversation were worse than what had read 
hcT ears, and tho soti^-enh-ndus probably still wor*> llian 
Her wrath did not diminish when she remembered that she 
board this very same next-door nciRhbour (who waH no "Iran 
speak in praise of CbarWs art. mid nscribe to it a subtle qualit 
Had his tongue really been in his check all tlic while) She aidn^ '. 
self this question, and then. Ifeooming cynical, asked this one al 
"Do real Artists ever speak a word of truth!" And then remetl 
Ixircd that Charles wan the soul of truthfulness, aud could not bv 
speculate on the inevitable inference: Was he n n^ol Artirtl 

How if it really bail all been a mistake from the beginning 
Stippose Charles hod gone to the Bar — would the Bar hawj slipped 
away from him, like an ignit-faluva over a marsh J If he had eale 
faia Terms, would ho havo learned how to unt his word* grac 
fully, later ont Other men, as good as he. had learned 
to prevaricate, before now. Why not hct Ho miglit n< 
have been able to rise to the height of a politician; but, if 
was only i>lraight forward equivocation I And after ho bncnmo 
Judge, be wouldn't have had to nupprcaa his veracity any loc 



ALICE-FOH-SHORT 



»3 



reviewed olhirr prnfcKnionii in tbe same c^nionl tone, produced 
by what sh^ had just heard, but alwiiye with the useumption taken 
for srantKl ibut Cburbiit vould have heeji cigual ix> nn; of thrin. 
He had tfarovm a doubt on his powers as an Artist duriui; twenty 
Toart of practice— liut it wua onlj' ■ doubt. Alice would tidmit 
no more than that. 

There was a general tuicliMiey. in all her Bpeeitlntion about 
Cbarles'e capabilities, to exclude a(?tioD in favour of reflootiou and 
imagination. When she asked hcTself wliy she bc-lieviH) in them at 
all — because she admitted they miint be definitely referable to 
voniL-thinj: he said or did — she fiiiiiid bersi-lf compitUwl ti> nnnwer 
that it was something he said or wrote; nothing he did. Have 
not vtr — have not you! — siiniPtimes been foreiil to the conclimiim 
that so-and-so mtul be a rcry clever man because of little thin^ 
be has thrown out in en iitnunecmed way — thing* you could 
Boarcely seriotisly repeat as aebieveinent« in epigrain, but that 
gave a ntrong bian and ooloiir to your estimation of what he had 
nol said, but kept in reserve* When Peggy one day asked Alice, 
"What make* you think Charley could write a playl" Alice was 
nonplusaed. She felt it would be most unjust to Charles to trul 
out chance turns of speech of his as the materials on which to build 
him np as a poet or c wit. But she bollevcd in stime latent polcn- 
tlftlitieg all the same: and when her sieva indignatto against tho 
gentleman next door had subsided, and her fir^t vigorous ncscnt- 
meat of his criticisin of Charles had given way to the counter- 
awing of the pendulum — "How if it really had been n mistak*- 
from thp beginning?" — she rci-alW tliia conTOrsation with Peggy;| 
and then she wondered whether the conviction she was not able toj 
support, but felt so strongly, niigbt not have been baaed on a uiiased 
possibility that would no/ have l>een a mistake from the lirglnning. 

Sliu looker] at tier pulii-nt. He was sleeping ijuili-- beautifully 
aorain, while she hersnlf hnd become suddenly intcnsi-Iy wakeful. 
This does happen when one bus K^u jerked out of one's sleep. 
Sbo re-read poor Jlr. Sclwjni- Kerr's letter. Tt was one of those 
mUtakea — to our thinking — an offer iu writing. It lacked epon- 
tanoausness; nil the vital parts had an effect of steam intentionatly 
turned on. while tbe more restrained portions suggested priggiah- 
aesa. Alice said to herself, "Yes! Passionate protestations of 
respectful admiration." Il was her iiwlation in the zone of small- 
pox that had made ilr. Kerr's declarntion rinne by post. "I hope 
he doesn't tl>ink Pm going to cateli it." added Alice, and you may 
wonder why. What *hc meant wait tliat there would be a certain 
lierotsm (the antithesis of Ur. Uuppy) about a '^i<;»qca«\ xo «.\n&i 



L 



SU ALICE-FOR-SUORT 

in the jaws of an infections hospital, nnd thst aho misht feel 
mornlly liuunil to marry ita uutbor. "But it oil turns on whether be 
believes I'm vaccinated and it took. At least that's what Mr. 
Charlej- woulil Bay." 

WLenever any odd turn of thought or Iiiiiicrous phrase preeeotod 
itself she always put it down lo Mr. Cherte)- in ibis way. At>d 
ehe noTC proceeded (ainayg ascribing her thoughts p?t«ntially to 
Oliarles — olasdiiK thi-m as what he would have thought) to con- 
struct a preposterous lever de ridvau about a hcroino who had 
nndertakim a amnllpox patient. She hud two auitora. a vaocina- 
tionist and an anti-vaccinntioniet. Each was anxious to koow how 
effoelually aho hud been vaccinated, but for liifferent reasons. The 
former bec-ause he wanted to write oS an offer of marriafio to her 
and Bpem to be running a riak of a nulmeg-gruter bride, heroically, 
but all the while relying on well -authenticated lymph. The other, 
heeatise he wanted also to propose by posl. but not until he hail 
examined a sample of the lymph injected into the deltoid of hil 
beloved, to moke sure that it didn't contain the virua of Bubonic 
Plaifuc. One never ean tell. The scene of this romarkahle Kttk) 
affair was to be the waiting-room of the doctor who had vaccina^ad 
her, where the two suitors would present themselves simuttaneouely 
to make enquiries, each with a ready-written letter in his pocket 
Each suitor then was to try to bribe the vaccinator to give infonni- 
tion of ft terrifying nature to the other, to put him off. The anti- 
vaccinator, to say that the lady had occidentalli- been vaccinated, 
with common Epellicans, and was open to any amount of nuallpox; ' 
while his rival endeavoured to induce him to exhibit some virua o( 
Bubonic Plague (which he has taken the precjiution to bring in 
his pocket) as tlie selected sample specially used on the lady. "I 
wish Mr. Charley would write that. I know he could do it," Mid 
AUccl "If I could only find something he had written, to convict 
him with, I'd soon midii' him write more." 

Whether an old recollection, eonneeted with the table they had 
read th(! letter on, was really the underlying cause of all this spccn- 
lation.or whether the latter had revived the former, would be hard to 
My. Anyhow, at this moment Alice recalled a conversation of year* 
ago between Peggy and Charles ; how a hunt was made for a missing 
letter in tho drower of this table, and how Pe«gy turned over 
sonic papers and said, "What are all these?" — And how Charles 
had »aid they were nothing, and hustled them bnclc into the 
drawer. Our own belief is the rt-co!Iection of this had hung about 
ber, unconfessed, all along. She thought otherwise Utcr, and waa 
inclined to believe a well-disposed spook had a hand In her reviral 



ALICE-FOR-SUORT 



835 



of the incident and consequent impulse to open the drawer. Which- 
ercr it waa, ubc did open it, and sieenied not dispkoand with her 
InvcetigRlion of its contents. "1 w&s sure of it," said ehe, half 
•Joud. Slie put bade nil she had taken out except one roll of paper 
which she deliberately appropriated, after glancing at it. "Verj' 
well, Mr. Churky," said she. "now we'll see who's right." But the 
closing of this drawer made a noise and waked the patient, whoae 
chtim for attention put an end to further examinntion. So after 
enough inspection to see that it appeared to be a storj, having for 
its title, "The Other Road Rouiiil." Alice put it awaj' where sho 
could lay her hand on it again, and devoted herself to Pierre until 
Sister Eulalio appeareil to ruliovK her, by which time she wiu 
heartily triad to go to bed and to sleep. 



CHAPTER SXXm 




HOW LATAKU KEPT OfT INFECTION. AKD HOW ALICE WENT TO ratBKSfl DT 
THE COUMTKY. ttOW I'tlYLUS C.UlTHKlCtlT CAUE OUT OF A DABS 
ROOM, AHD JEFF &AW AX OPTICAL DELCHIOH 9 

Whcs tlipre U bad iiliiesa about, work goes to the wull. Tbs 
Artist may be putting tbe last touch on tJie concentrated pffort oi_ 
ycnn, Ihi* Author on the yery verpt^ of a triumphant climax 
bite been looking forward to through hundreds of eeomine 
intini.Tative pagt;e, the Phyeiologiat within an ace of puitEng salt 
the tail of the vitnl principle, the Musici«n of striking the 
chord, or tbe Accouutant a balance — it all cornea (o the same thing 
No matter how industrious we may have been, nor how engroei 
in the crisis of the moment, just let diphlberin, typhoid, Aiiia 
diolera — even vulgar mono syllabic mum pa — make ihe'ir appeoranoe 
in the household, and tliere's an end nf everything I The colour, 
that waa to have brought this into harmony with that, or 
t'other down, dries on your palette u:iused. Thf ink on the 
that waa to have embodied your subtle fancy get? wiped o9 
your Utile bit of wet sponge. Your attentive observation o1 
sterilised vacuum, which amtEbse had as good as undertaken 
appear i». ia iuternipted. Th(! to^ chord and the balance remain 
alike untitnick, nnd you have to go for the doctor. And your work 
good to the Devil. 

But if you care for your work and an; keenly in tamest a' 
it. you don't give in without a etrugsle. If. like poor Charley, 
are half-hearted, yon do. Charles didn't really do any work at 
Studio during Pierre's illness. lie went there, surreptitiously, b' 
lather thnn otherwise jumped at the probability of spoiling evi 
thing he touched, as an excuse for never toucfaing anything at all. 
Besides, ho couldn't have motlels to work from! The indecisive bo- 
grlnnings he made ab apologies to his own conscience had more th« 
character of rccnrds of what he hadn't done than of work. But 
fidgeting over these, feeling anxious and miserable, and keeping 
every one else out of the room, seemed to fill out the day. Only 
it was rather like eating chemical food to give a sporums setiw 
a full stomach. 

SSft 





day. Only 



ALICE-FOK-SHORT 



m 



Our oW friend Jeff paid him frw|Wont visit* outside the door 
during the illneas, and waa talked tu by Charles from within even , 
after the pnticnt bad been nllowod to get up. Wbon one day. somo 1 
eix weeks after the first attack, hi; kamwl that Pierre wn« tn gf> to 
tho «ea-fidc, he fintly refused to be cxehided from the room any 
longer. lie atimmed up his altitudi? tuwurds medical authority nnd 
hrffienic prceaution in two forcible words, "'Ang roll" was the 
ftentiraent iritli wUieli be met Chark-n's refiua] to let him como 
in. And he followed thi» with a threat, if Ohnrlee pereisted. to go 
straight awa^ to (he Kmallpux Hospital and rub Iiia nose in a c'on- 
fluent CB«e of the deadliest type. He eiiceeeded in getting past 
the door, but made one coneession to prudenee. "Tou won't object 
to my amokin'.'" said b^ "tia a precoutioo against infection, don't 
you know. Charley." 

So as the two old friends sit there, puffiuji clouds from the 
Latakia of the bygoiio tiniv, wi! can take a look round at tliu 
Studio and noto the changes of uxtocn years. 

There is the easel Charles was paiiitint; Regan on wbi^n wc wero 
hero Lael; ibere is the throne sbo oame tliat memorable header off 
into Chuili.-»'.-< arma; ihore is the chnir she n-i$ted in after that 
adventure. The table she sat readiuK Victor Hugo at is gone— we 
raw it the other day at Acania Roiid — and there i^ another in its 
place. We recognise the tobacco-jar from which Jeff fills a pipe 
1m find* on the chimney-piece, and tlic mahl-stiek Charles puta 
down as he liehts one to keep Jeff company. Why should any I 
man have more tlian one mahl-atiek in his life^ Of courie there in 
the Invariable lay-figure with her head on the wrong way. Wc know 
her of old, with her Hquan- IwU-hcads burit-d in her syrtcm and her 
akin slipping over thejn ; her effrontery in pretending she has a key. 
while she knows it cannot lie found, and wouldn't work if it could ; 
her repulsive appearance when bt-r bend conies off aceideutally and 
we shudder at her peg. Olher»-i8e, we sec little for recognition. 
The room seems much fuller, but it U mostly due to canvases that 
are modestly turning their fiicea to the wall, nnd a certain number 
of framed pictures, sometimes with a printed numeral pasted ou 
tho frame— a memory of an Exhibition it was concealed from the 
public eye in, or would have been if the public eye hud sought for 
it. On the easel is a picture — ordy we can't see it for n staincd- 
gUitid cartiMin that ts in front of it. which is upside down. We 
cannot quite make out whether it ia Saul and David, or Christ and 
tbo Woman of Samaria. It may he oilber. and it doesn't matter. 
It is Qtiite as much leads as anything el-<c, and the leads seem Ut 
bctons to another design. The walls amV ceVVvng W\e %<>^- '"''^ 




i 



S3B ALICE-FOlt-SHOBT 

dirty— Kine cannot intemipt work and have tliincs shifted for 
nhitcwnnhinftit and cicaninpt — cela t« vott! But tbea vet? mod 
other people don't see it; nor anything else, bccaiiae of the filth. 

Chnrles nnd JefT, having smoki-il and rliattc^d in the room rvcr 
fiinee we vfere here last, notice no change at all. It is, to tfaeiD, the 
firet-flnor Studio and nothing el»c. It hiia no qtinlificBtion*. Tbo 
windows have been cleaned at stated iutervalB. and the floor 
Hprubbed, nnd what mori- do you wiinl { Tlir unn.'ucliul>le zonr* 
of the ceiling have some cobwebs all to themselves; and aa Charles 
objects to Mrs. Corrigiin, tlict pn-sent chargee ttaifairen, stnndiiig 
on the top of a pair of equivocal steps and strctchin' up a Inooia 
jnut to movr the worNt of the! dust, tl:e said worst thtokenii and 
blackens and floats, well out of reach; but is rcR-ardcd for all that 
as temporary prr #c, thongh fortuitously pemiAncnt. Probably it 
understiinds human nature, and r^-joicc" at Mm. Corrigan's in- 
creasing unsteadiness froui beer. Both it and the dirst are port 
of the exi.sting order of things, and Charles lins aCTjuired a com^^ 
plete ignorance of the esistenoe of both. ^H 

"The hoy's going down to St. Leonards to-morrow. Payne e»j^^ 
he won't bo very badly marlceiL You see, he's young." Of course 
it is Charles who speaks. Jeff nods iu a way that says. "Tou will 
R* that all my optimistic prophedea will be confirmed." He pur- 
Buea the same line in words. ^H 

•Nobody's caupht it neitlier! What did I tell you ( It's all rul^^ 
bish about infection when you're properly vaccinate*!. Yon flak 
my wife!" — For ever since Miss Dorotliea Prynne became Itte. 
Jeff, about a year after Charles's rash nnd unfortunate mnrriaac> 
ahe has been referred to by her huahaiid as a well of accuracy unde- 
filed. nc throws truth and falsehood into hotchpot, and ri^ividM 
the mixture into what Urs. JeS says is true, and what she coD- 
dcnina as fatee. 

*T(r«lI! You're right so far, Jeff, but we're not out of tie wc 
yet!" 

"Now youll be foomigated. my boy I And stripped and all your 
clothes burnt- And squirted all over ilininffctiintH, Dolly any* 
they always do," And Jeff is quite satisfied that this is the case^ 

"I suppose we shall have to do something. But it's not wo bad 
as alt that. I ebau't be sorry though to have a clean bill of health 
again." ■ 

"Miss Kuvunagh's going with him to the sea-aidol" Thla la fl 
atateroent, so far as confidence in an afiinnetive answer pic» — ■ 
question, so far ns no such confidence is warrantvd. Charles's 
answer aeccpts the latter form. 



::* 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



S89 



"Whj, bo!— Alice is gone aJwady." 

"OoBe alrendy I"* 

"Gone to Mmu frien<U at Cli*I verb u rat, wherever tliat U, to g:et a 
thorougti change of air — somtr friends of Peggy's. My brother-in- 
Inw B<lT'is«s) it — tliou4;bt slie couldn't have a cumplele change too 
soon. In fact when I went home ye^terdny I found it had all been 
Mettled in u hurr; and nho had gone oS, leaving the Sister and 
Sarah-«ook to see to Piem." 

"Oh. I •er." 

"Sister Eulalie's to come down to St. Leonards with us to-mor- 
row. I ulintl Mop thorr long enough to gcc things nrc going on all 
right, and then I must get back to worlc again. This sort of tbing 
won't do." 

"\Vork regHar upaetl" Jeff sj-mpatbisee with the position. Ho 
is prepared to go any lengths of insincerity in hi« laiocntalionit 
OTer llie hardship uf being dragt»il away from oDe'a work. Ue 
eecs con«olatioD ahead though. "NcTor mind, old chap I Tou'II 
work utl tht! bctt^T wlien you do get to it again." 

Charles jumps at tlif pleasant chanee of self-deception that is 
offered him: "Yes. I know that is sol There's nothing like a littlo 
compulsory idleness," 

"liesl thing in the world," says the optimist, '^ou go away to 
tbo Ku for a week, Charley. And you'll come back a giant rs- 
freshed. See if you don't I" 

"l ahnll be all the better for it." — Charles ts temiicrate — speaks 
with reserve. He would have been better pleased to have the 
fiction toned down to his powers of prirt<rncc. The giant rcfreahed 
has stuck tu the giizard of his credulity. He tliiiiks of auggesling 
a duScT refreshed, as an amendment; but shrinks from the egotism 
of humility, Etrtlc-r chnnge the subji^cll 

"I shsll have to have a regular good overhauling of all my mate- 
rials — they're in a fearful mess. Just look at that box!" — "Tlw box 
Strikes US as familiar — for we are not conscious of the time we have 
aldpped; the sixtfwn-yiuir interim. Our knowledge of that box is 
OS of yesterday. Jeff knows all about It though. 

"Wlial n queer old curd be wos to bo sure, to leave it to you — ■ 
just because you gave him some AsphaltumI Do you believe it 
wa» Reynold*'", Charley t" 

"Not the boi. Hardly! He only swore to some little bladders 
of colour. I never found them. And what's so funny is that 
wbat's-bis-nome— don't you know) — the man that bad this house— 
whose daughter Vcrrindcr was in love with— what was Uia 
nomef 



k 




L 



340 ALICE-FOK-SHOKT 

"Ob, I know, perfectly welll Sneathly—Crapewell — Lampvie 
— I ehall remeinb('r dinrctly " 

"Well — never mind! That cliap, anjhowl He must have uaed 
tbia box n hundred times in this very rooto." 

Jeff looks rouiid 8 little uncomforlubl.v, "Yore gliostises !" says 
he Charles remarks, with the slightest sound of injury ■» bis 
loDe, "Well. Jeffl There haven't bet^i any more ghosts for over 
eo long. Years and years 1 Come now I" — He doesn'l fe^l bo can 
be acc'iisecl of Psyfliieal Resiairch, this time! He gofs on ei* 
culpatorily : "The laat one was seven years ago at least ; tlie woroan 

the bny snw " He stops dend, and Jeff disclaims couDectioit 

with this iveiit. "1 wasn't here." be says. 

But ho knows why Charles stopped, nnd of the incidenL Told 
briefly, it was tliat on one oceasion, when Charles's wifo was at 
the Studio wilh the boy Pierre, the latter, bcinit then a vhild of 
Bvv <ir six years old. had looked n good doiil nt an empty dtailt 
and afterwards had a^ed who the lady who laujuhed wuri, who was 
Kitting in it. Jeff knew that what stopprrit Charles iu his allusion to 
this incident was. not only that it involved bis wife (for thty 
had frequently conversed about her, and Charles was rather eaiy 
in his confidences wilh Jeff), but tliut there was another person in 
the room at the time, the man Lowenstem, wbom Urs. Cborlct 
had subsequently eloped with. It had been his firet introductiou 
and could not-but be an unwelcome recoUcclion. 

Charles's stumbling into this lino of Thought jerks the 
oouveraalion out of its groove; and Jeff, who has been for 
N>me timo on the watch to aik a question, makes this atumblo 
of Charles, of which both are perfectly conscious, aa ezcuso 
for it. 

"What's become of her, Charleyt" 

Charles lays down a pipe, not half-smoked, on the eascl-lc'ic 
This is an uncommon thing for any smoker to do. He got!* to 
the window and looks out. or mokes believe to. Jeff follows him. 
with concern on his face. He places hie hand — slightly alapii itp— 
CO lo Charles's shoulder, and leaves it there. 

"De«d 1" ho asbs abruptly. He is uiore in Charles's confitlcnco 
lliau any man; on this subject more even than Rupert. The lat- 
tcr'e impatient indignation against Charles's wife bars frco inter- 
course between them. Charles wants no discordant note to claxh 
with his own chivalry. He cannot bcuir to hear her condemned. 
Jeff's simplicity of character, combined with a lartnr-bearlcd dnira 
to Sin. made in order (hat he may depute the stone- throwing to a 
Public whose virtue^ acknowledges, makes his blunt speech often 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



341 



wclccme to Charl«a, where a Utcl be nwkcii no prctcnnon to would 
have b(*ii waeicd, 

"Deadt" he wpcati^ "I sec."— For Clinrlc« maito* no reply. 
Both flO back, and Charles takoe up hU pipe again. He doesn't 
mind talking aUiiit her. 

"Of course," sa.va he. "she herself really di«l long ago. But the 
Iranian ohc changed into is dead now. She died somewhere abroad. 
Baden-Baden I think it was." 

"TbafB all Tcry weU, old chap! But you don't really think 
tbat. People ain't ttomchody else " 

"Thai's a very common misluke. Jeff dear. I know that n popu* 
lar belief exist*, to that effect. But recent investigatiooa hiiYe 
abowti " 

"Gammon I" — This eomca so explicitly that Charteji fctN ho 
won't get a hearitig for a viirw he ncriously holds unless he drops 
the popular lecturer, and speaks by the light of hi« own belief. 

"I mean what I say. Tlicrc are plenty of extreme cases of double 
«on*ciou5iics9 — of people- who have «|iokrn only French in one 
state and Dutcb tn the other, and so forth — who have been two 
(lifferent people at different times, in fact." 

"And then when one of ihem ptioncd you, you wouldn't 'aiyt the 
other— is ihat it. Charlej-T 

"Ac to hanging, that's the Judge's business. But I shouldn't 
think harshly of the other, if I thought it was a case of double 
identity. There must be plenty of cases of change that don't 
go quite so far, but wbcTO it can hardly be said to be the ssmo 
peraon." 

"Hust there! I can't see my way to half-and-half. According to 
nty idcar, Charley, identity's got a sharp edge all n)und. Tou're 
either me or somebody else. All the same, your idear is 'andy for 
' Pi^-ogamiRti'. or wlmlevcr yon call '<Tii." 

Vague e&etches cross Jeff's mind of questions he would like to 
adc, such as:— Uas Mrs. Corrignn two identities: one a mid- 
was^ly slate laying claim to sobriety, tlu- other a Snturdaily state 
convincing of beerl Or, did the late Mrs. Charles's second iodi- 
riduality begin tn ookc through )ier on that ilny whcit Baron Von 
Lowenstern was brought into the Studio by Herr Bauersteiu and 
casually introduced to the Artist's wife) Had he asked this last 
qnc«ti»n of Chark-ti. the reply must have bevn that this was not 
her Tery first fluctuation of identity, of a nature to accommodate 
Folygnmisl*. or wliaU'Vcr we call tlieni. 

But he a^ed no such questioDS and poor Charley was spared 
mon ranindcn of that painful time, and fotccA \a ua ^MSf^wst 



k» 



L 



S42 ALI0E-FOR-8HORT 

exouse-mongering: vhkh, howerer loj-a] hi» effort, laag fabe 
eveD in his own enra. Kvcn what bad been wid h«d rpc«)lcd to 
liim bow 01) that murninii; hia wift^ had come dowu to the Sttuilo 
for moDey, nlUiouKh ho had told her he could not overdraw »t the 
Bniik, but Uiiit he kii<-w Ru|JL-rt would bolii him again. And bov 
Rupert eiRiied a blank fhcK|up for him thnt croninx. aud he filled 
it in with n iift.v. iind )tavQ hi« wlfo half next day. And hoir 
\l)^rv were slraiued r<?!atious between tfaGm. aud she vent awBT 
for ji wivk to ht-r motlicr. And lic)w nil tlic roit you know, or nwy 
punss i-auie to pass, including how it wae "elicited" ou the trial 
ihflt a iliifiup of Bnron Lowcndrm'* for £100 jtayablc to il.i%- C 
nt-mJi, hud bi-tii part cashed, part takeu In settlement ol an 
account, by a Uoiid Strwtt dressmakers firm at about that date. 

Ilowcvt-r, Jeff did not pursue the iiiibjfvt, an<l CliarW, ttfter 
musius a litdc, seemed to give up the point. For he said pries' 
cntly, "I suppose whiit 1 really meant was that iihi! hiH'nnu! wome 
one else to me. So she did — quite another person. If 1 had nMt 
lnrr, it would biive bei-n ti stningcr — not my hoy's mother. She 
died long ago, to all inieuta aud purposes. But I would rai 
the had done it outright," 

\Vlien you want to gi:t away from n stibjcct, and not to sdriii 
do so, your l>est eoitrse is to bark back To a previous stane of the 
conversation, with n view to turning' off the rond dI hduio point you 
httve iiutt'd en paggant. The presence of llerr Bauerstein a little 
while since would have done to vnlnmrr n subject ChnrJew had 
wished to apeak of, hut he didn't want to revive the obuoxio; 
ajipearanco of the Baron on the scene; so ho sot clear hack to 
first Bt^rt: 

"Let's seel What were wc talkinti of? Poor old Verrindei 
colour-box. Has Bnuerstttin sold lh« Turner j-M ! Voti knuw 
had a bijt offer for it I I heard of it just before this illnees." 
But Jeff haxn't ItcJird. Tie in not in the way of lic-nring thesa 
things now, as he was iu old times, lie lives at Abbey Road, 
St. John's Wood, and han hin Rt\idio in tho house. lie is a fre- 
quent visitor at Charles's house uheu there is no barrier — lience 
rather uncommon presence at the old place to-dsy. "Do 
know, Jeff," CliarW ootitinues. "I'm in two minda if I won't h» 
Phyllis Cartwright cleaned after all I I'm sure the hand v< 
come out bright, and we should so*; the stonoit — by-the-bye V' 
never fold j'ou we found out about live name ou the ring." And 
he tells the whole *tory of tJu? cab-drive and tlic myst<.'rious welt- 
informed driver. Whereupon Jeff says hookey — that was a r>im 
surtl It is surprising how titik lie has changed in the sixteen 



n 

n HI I 



naiJ 

1 




M 



ALICE-FOH-SRORT 



84S 



rean- Tbero in nothing in him thnt coiTp»poDds to the s^tled 
aadn«88 that bad coni« upon Cbarlea. He is vbi^rfut anil meanx 
to bo cOTpulcnt one day, but hns only just announced the fact. 
OtbemisQ hia diScrencos are u««li^ble. 

"I'll oomo in and have another look at her when you're open 
to the public again." Thus JriJ. n-fi-rring to thr portrnit. 

"She isn't at the bouse. IVe had her brought down here. She's 
in the buck room," Ho g<?ta up und leads thr vrny inln th*! bark 
room, whciTi he used to sleep in the days of early liohtmiauiHiii. 
Thi? tthutti^re are closed, and a long ray of light struimo through 
a heart-shaped hole in the top, and makes a solid bar of illuminated 
dust acruKH the room, in which flies end strange floating things 
eome and go all day. Tbc epaee is half-choked with aeeumulaiiug 
rubbinh. ami is hot with the bent of numnier snd unopened win- 
dows. A recent fall of soot basu't improved lbi> almosphere. and 
proToke-a an admission thnt we must hare tbc Sweep. When he han 
done his worat, lira. Corrit.'an, who i^i straining at tbf l<-n>li. will 
bo tmlooaed, and will do the whole place thoroughly o\it. Only 
she i» so orrlciis ehe: is sure to break aometbing. ChnrW has a 
touching belief in the existence of intact valuables in t)ie gloora. 
Il datea from the lart time bo stowed some bric-i-brac of hi« wife's 
away, to keep it safe. Since which, seven years ago, Utile enough 
has been seen of that room and ita contents. It is a ehapel of 
ease to thi? congn-gation of lumber in the front one. and it is not 
often that anything that finds it way here is sought for again and 
brought out into the light. Phyllis Curtwright isi nn excvptiou, 
owing to Jeff's visit and the accidental turn of the conversalion. 

"Tifl'it havi! h(T out in tlie iirxt room a:id g<-t a good look nt h^r. 
Those shutters are a bother to open." Thus Charles; and PbjUis 
is conmyed into the 8tu<]io proper, and pinord on an eawd. TIv 
sita doiro in front of her, and moistens the chilled ramisb that 
cbacurcs her hand. 

"What was that picture of a chap with a sword P' It is Jeff 
who asks this quertion. He got a look round at the ehnpel of ease 
But ererj" one in a lumber room always is interehted in Bomething 
that sticks out, and it doesn't do to indulge bis eiiriosity too 
mueb. Maybtt CharlL-a ibinka so, for he pnya liltk- atleulion. 

"1 thought so, Jef!. Look here! If I rub a little oil on, just 
to nhowl There! — there you nrel What picture of a chap with 
a sword f Jeff looks at Phyllis Cartwrigbt's hand, and deals with 
it before replying. 
\ "That hand, ajid the Snger with the ring on it would coniA «pA 
kite bright and clear if you gavu it to wk&V&-^a\&-utiufe— '&«m«»* 



»n 



ALIOE-FOR-SHOET 



elirfW 



I 



stein's man — to do. . . . What picture f — Whj, thnt one the 
vm* strikin' on — jiist in front uH yau go in." But ObarlM is 
intent upon Phyllis. "Braccbi — that's his name! lie shall ha 
it to-mtirrnw." Charles is very decisive now and then. But 
reconHiders, this time. — "Only I suppose he'll cateh smallpox front' 
it now. Bctt<'r wait n woek or so ... 1 don't know which pictu 
you mean. Man with a sword )" 

"That chap in ft Goorgo the Second dress, — deep crimson eoa 
a waistcoat and a half, and tic-vrig, — vith a drawn rapier in 
hand — straight in front as you (to in." 

"You've got QueiTi Atmc <iii the brain. Jeff." But for all thai 
the atlenfion of both is altractcd. so to speak, to their own oonver- 
aotion, and it is promoted from the Ktatuo of ehat to ihat of active 
interest. "There it no chap in a Queen Anne dreaa." Charlea 
is <iuite positive on the point, 

'ill *how it yon," aays Jeff, und they nrtnm to the l»ck room. 
"Just herel , . . Weill that's runj too." And stands puEsled. For 
there, whi?n( Jeff cxpoctod to find it, is a picture ocrtninly. Bui 
it is, quit* diMiiiotly, tht; Three Oraeea; an old picture of Char 
that he means to have out again and go on with, some day. 

"Well. I'm blowcdl" says Jeff. And Chnrtcji appi'MRi rather 
blowed loo. But very soon optical delusion comes to the rescue, and, 
properties of refraction and polarised light not clanificd. «■> far, 
sciunlisls. And Charles and Jeff think no more about it; 
presently the latter takes his leave, scattering his path as he 
with rraKHtirancv about smallpox on thu autlioritj' of bia wi 
who is able it ap|)ears to vouch for several cnses within Iwr O' 
OXpuTicnce, where smflltpox hne provi-d rather an advantage thaH 
otherwise, clearing the blood of vital orftanisms of a diabolical 
nature, and above nil lbintr> improving thn complexion. 

Ohurlea. left alone, falls back into thinking how dull the houae 
will be without Alico when be goes back, hut for all that hovr ni 
it is of tliose frienils of Peggy's at Ewhurst to hare her so soi 
after the illnew— however, Kopcrt knows nil about it; so it m 
be all right. Shu was looking dreadfully pule and tired y«atei 
and now shell come hack her old self. Il won't be long, 

Alan, for Alice'a little achcnie for Charles's prosperity and lia 
nesa! He hasn't a thought for Lady Anstruthcr Paston-t'orl 
And OS for hia late wife — well ! she did die wveu yearv ago, "to 
Intents and purpose." 



Wn 




CHAPTEK XXXTT 

low CUaSLEE west to the AtPa. AKD FOUND THEy TOBHB amX. ' 
BACK IN KNOLAKD AND Orr TO KllKLLACOUBE. Bl'T NO AUC'K- llOW 
ST. PUB HAD A CAP, AND MR. WILKlMaON WAS CURED WITH RAT'S 
MXMID AXD TReACLH. OF A LETTER UNDER A CARPET, AND ITS UQUT 
OOC AX ESCAPADE OP AUCE'jI. HOW THE nCNlC CAMK HOME 



^ 



It was pkastint cool July wiuiUu^r when Chnrlc* and Sister 
T!ulalir, now fully cbrietened Mre. i'rig. tuok their convaleeceot 
down lo St. LeouufiU to m-niit. It was nothing like to hot as that 
c«I«bra(c<I Autumn when Aliee so nearly ended her <]uy^ in tbe aea 
ot SlMTlliicDmbe. But it wan rrry pleasant for all that, and when 
Charlea had socu Mrii. Frig niid hin son comforlablr provided for, 
he rMumrd, not without reluctance, to London, and surrendered 
his bouse into Uie batulii of prop<!rI>- rnM'inntrd upholEtenrrs (who 
had taken), and who almost came up to the standard hinted at hj 
Jeff, and suslnintd by hi* wife'* niithority. For they ripped up 
everything, and jiulled down eTerythinit. and wrapped up every- 
thing that, was to bo takm awny and biimrd. in nhccts saturated 
with Carbolic lutiou. And there followed in their wake an armjr 
of equally wclI-Toccinaied pdinten, plai^terers, and paper-haofrera, 
nndvr wboM- niiKpict-s BlrippinK, clcur-eoating, und repainting ran 
riot, hand-iu-hand with Carbolic Acid, over the whole houee. 
Chorlc* bung nboiit (hc^ pnanisKW to protcot them from tin- germ- 
deAtroyer. and secure a reaiduum of his property for future u«e> 
While the twnp<?»t of diaisfoction raged he camfied )»« a BohiMDiaii 
at the Studio; armed, he said, with a medical Certificate that do 
germ had been dctwted on him by the moiit pow<;rful miscrij»c(i|)e. 
He ubs<ilutp]y refuw-il to go ni-ar Harley Street, or see a living soul 
of his belongings there until he should have had a good run abroad, 
Romi'whprf in tbi- <;ciuntry. 

But be was all the more anxious to see Alice before he went away, 
and wos rstW-r puzzh'd at her being away eo lung. Being glad she 
should get a good change he said nothing to that cScet even to 
Supert when he came to ace him at (lie Studio. Peggy wanted 
to <roroe, but he begged her so earnestly not to do so that sb* 
jicldcd. It was to be Dobody but RupcrV mhIW W t^ ij^vifc ww*.'a 

Mi 




3td ALICE-FOR-SHORT 

and irot quite above suspicion. Why bo took it for kthdUhI that 
Hoy sclf-rvHpediiis ftcrm would avoid his brotber-in-Uw be couM 
not liav« soid; but bo it wasl 

TTf- got my twatriU m full of Carbolio Acid." said he. "that I 
ameil h everj-whoro, Rvcu this letter from Alico> jurt fresh from 
the country, iit-cnis to mc to amoU of it." 

"Oiif gels llieee fancies," replied Sir IJiipcrt. But when Chartet 
turned awny, he piokini up tint k'ttcr ami nnurh it, 

"Alice eeenis very well," Charles went on; "when does Peggy 
expect her back? Of course the lunger she stayji the bc;tt»u-." 

"Thft iongfir tlie better. And the longer holiday you take the 
better. I should say- You go owny to-morrow, Charley. Lea* 
«verythiiig in niy hniida. You can Iru&t ine," 

"Of course I can. Dr. Jomeon. But I should have likod to se^ 
Alice bcftiri- 1 go." 

"What fori" 

"Uo particular reaeon. Just it fancy!'' 

"You can't do any work now, and you know it. Much better use 
up the spoiled time in getting some hcttltli. Go to SwitzL-rlund for 
a nicinth oiid gvt really set up." Charles felt iileaaul« from the 
implication that his work would have reality and value when bo 
returned. Tin iM^liovcd under the skin in his own eaiiuuite of Its 
worth. But still, it was reassuring tn walk oror the Mbca and prv 
tcnd the warmth of the ignea supposiU did not Teaeh hb fceL He 
was t!ru1-:-fiil to Rupert for tile way he made his BUgffestiou, and 
classed the nmruinc^ of glaciers us steppitig-stonM to picturM oa 
the line at the K. A. So — after a little more demur because he fdt 
that somehow he Nhould like Alice to be ratified before his depart- 
ure, thou|(h lie couldn't anal>-se the feelfug — he packed up and 
found himself in due course looking at the bridge of boats at 
Cologne, and admitting to hiinaelf wtiat nn inroad on hiN health 
the events of the lost two mouths had made; as one does when the 
holiday has realty eonie. oikI ouc can allow the arlificial tcasioa 
to alack down, lie waited till he trot letters from his sister and 
Alice, and abo from hiit Mun und SintiT Eulnlio at 8t. Loonarda. 
He found these warranted ease of miud, and Indulged in it; and by 
the time he got to Luci-rni-. in two rather tedious railway joumeyB, 
he waa beginning to feel that he had done the best tiling in taking 
his brother-in-law'* adrice — and probably, he found himself adding, 
for Alice and his boy also. But he was rather vague aliout the 
exact nature of the benefit his absenoe would confer, and sus< 
pected he was taking a mean advantage, and aaaumtiig it on inauS- 
rient grounds for purposes of sclf-juatification. You me, be was « 



M 




AlICE-FOR-SHORT 



little ad£cted to nrrr-indiils(!ii<w in evlf'iiiuilyus. Tt 1.1 n rictti 
thai (Icwdops UD<ler cuiidilioua of shakeu nerves and health beloir' 
par, and is none tho weaker from disappoint men t and friutrntcd 
pllrpaM^ 

It vanishes Hmonjc the AIp«, at nnjr rate if yon climb them. 
ChiirlcH Vila, cuuglit up ut Lucerne bj- a robust party of r'>i''>SJ 
tnouotaineers. vho prevailed upon him to nccompanj' them up v.^ 
Tcr7 iujtigniftojiiit \u:«k who»p name w(^ havo forgotten. Aa ba 
Stood on its summit looking at a eunset that was batbinn the 
world of gliiciem in pri>iimtii? lik'ht on oiti- Bidi^ and d<in-n on tlia 
deep, coo) crystal of the darkeniiiK lake bcloiv on the oiher, and 
afar to tho bngc Ktill in-Aik* ngniiixt the dcy, KrvDv in their confi^J 
deuce of to-morrow'e dawn, §elf- analysts fell away into the back-' 
yronnd. And whrn he woke at a chalet next day, after fifteen 
faoura' conlinuoua sleep, and found that bis young friends liod foi-j 
BakeD him to ascend one of the monsters he had seen aKainet 
Klin, Kwviiif; instructions tlial lie was un no ncuotmt to In' waked, 
self -analysis was as good as dead. He did not wait for the return 
of the mounlaineers, hut went on to the nest place he expected 
letters at ; and ihtn, beiii); reassured liy ibem, and unstimulalwl by 
other mountaineers, passed a pleasant three weeks in humblo 
pcdestrtuuism from town to town, ami out' or two most unam- 
bitious ascents of peaks of a commodious siie, suited to his aapi* 
rations. Then, fueling entirely rtriK-wcd, but always witb a senae 
on him that he had been keepinjt away in order to be renewed, and 
that )i(r mustn't do »a much longer, he came bai-k nnit perceived that 
tliiuRs Enjtlish were very undersised, and it would take him some 
timf to livir himm'lf intn his groove ogain. 

But be broke the sbofk of re-entry into ibe stinted life and 
(TTudKed spaces of I^ondon by going first to St. Leonardf-. and taking 
hi* boy and ^frs. Prig n long drive to HnstboumC'. The sweep of , 
the channel wind over the flats of Pevensey and Hurstmonceat: 
the incessant fauslied music of the iM-a that never tires of its ebb 
and flow, the cry of the sea-bird that bas never pau§ed since tbo 
cnceotArs of all the persons of condition in Engbtnd i;Duie uver and 
ovfirwhelnied tiurib — (at least we understand that thi^ is His- 
tory); — all thesr things, and tlw; example of content with tbem 
■huwii by the black cattle on the flats, seemed to contain tho 
eaeence of a pause— a blank of silence-^an iMDply kiif to rest tbo 
mind on between the cbiiptL-r nlHtut the Matlerborn and that — 
well! about Brewster Sessions and Tied Houses, eupposo wc aaj — 
anything of that sort 1 

ills. Prig hadn't seen Alice, of course. Ba\ sW Wi'Viai "^w^v-i 



MS AUCE-FOR-SHORT 

of letters — alao of oouise. Whoreupoo CharlM tlioujtbt to himself 
thnt if that wu to be of onuntc too, iin. Gamp ■nd Mm. Prig 
must bare gone into ver? close alliance in a Tery short time. Very 
young scbnot-girU i)o thiit on tho npnt ; without the nccokratioD of 
Sehtinx first, like their future lortta and maaters. or aUvea. But 
after nil, these ladim were grown up, espcciallr Mrs. Prig. How 
e\-er, eiie only produced ODe letter, so perhaps it iraa a lapMU 
txni;v(p. The leltvr wus quite satisfactory. And wo vnn 
home to-morrow. And we wcnL 



> gottiy 



Charles was conactoua of a gvod deal of irapBticnce to 
again after his long ocpnration, and vexation that be should 
fold her at oiic-u nt tfarley Strtwt. Xnlurally alie und nil her yoang 
brood had taken fiitcht aud were basking on the sea-b^ach. Th«7 
hud this year gone, iift<-r tu>vrral seasons of Bcotlund and tho 
Lakes, to their old quarters at Sh<?11acoinbe. which had grown, and 
become quite a largi- waUrriiij^-pliici'. to Vvegy'» great diagu-ct. 
Charles was rexed at having stUl a long journey before him next 
day, und wan ver;' diittrait on his way up from St. Lc-onarda, giv- 
ing only partial attention to iuci<]eiita on the route. He waa pre- 
occupied with his own thoughts, and remained so until ho reached 
h(nii« and the accuraulationa of unforwurded eorreaiJondeuw and 
parwls demanded attention, and a beautiful new ExpcrimcnlBl 
Clurniii-al Chest for Pirrrt; from Aunt Pi^pgy called for ajinpiithy. 
which could not be denied to atich delicious stoppered bottles and 
porcelain capsules and spirit-leitips. 

Charles was not a little disconcerted, on his arrival, nt a 
from Alice- telling him not to bir Hurpriacd if he didn't find 
at Shellacombe^ Why, tlie family had been nearly a month at 
een, and surety Ali(M^ wunti^ the Hva-nir a* much aa any of them 
13eaides. f^tncy Shellacombe and no Alice 1 It seemed absurd. 
But Alice nuiil alu> -ihouid ei>m<! in a day or two, an noon a>« hi-r 
friends, where she was, would let her go. Well! that seemed all 
right too. Fancy any one who had got Alice wanting to be 
of her! 

Then a thought cnmc into his mind — was it. nt last, Mr. Ali 
Waa it. at last, some one Alice was not prepared to aay oo 
some ono she was thinking of saying yes ti»t He wdcomo^ 
thought mecbanicaU}-. He bad so often said to himself that 
should rejoico when this camo to paw, that it would never do tP 
be Iwhind now. Oh dear, yea! That would be deli^tfuL 
pleastnl Peggy would be! 

He found tho pleasure Peggy was goins to feel faciiitat«d 




± 



1 




ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



S49 



ten. He ns Me to kt Am stand over for a while to laake wn; for 
iL There couldn't be tlui Hmallait shjidow of doubt about iia 
existence— but thro, of course, he wasn't going to begin ringing 
joj^-bvlls until he kattir Homi^lbing nbout tbi- clmp. if it wus a chap. 
But ther« nowt II« knew ali about it. It alwa^ was a chap, wheu 
girl* went (o Ktfljr at country-hniiti.'* and couldn't be got bncic to 
their sorrowinK relations. He had known the same ihiuB happen a 
bundriH] times. Hp snid thi» to him»clf with confidence, without 
reBeetiu^ tliat he had probablj- nut been acquainted trilh a cool 
hundred of marringcablo youns ladicn in the whole course of bU 
vzieteDce. Few of ua have, at forly-one. 

He acquired a sudden interest — it was odd he had not felt it 
before — in "'/o Mrs. Wiiitringharo. The Manor Rou-w, Chclrer- 
huret, Surrey." Who was'/o Urs. Wintringham? He cast about 
in Kin mind to think wliich circle of Peggy's friends she would be J 
found amon^. He succeeded iu faucj^iiig she niuKt be a Mlaa 1 
Constancp Batlcjr, who hnd married a squire with a parit— of 
wfaoin nothing else was reported to distinguish him from lii* fclbw- 
oreatures. That was it, for certain! They had picnics ia tliat 
park — picnics in parks always brought nbout general cngage- 
menta. Charlea felt raiu of his penetration. But he was going 
to keep his raptures under until he kmrv thnt the diap was a verjr m 
nice chap indeed. Of eourse they would come, when called on; but \ 
he should be rather difficult to witiafy in rcKjwct of Mr. Alice-for- 
•hort. There wasm't another Iik« her in the world, and it would 

never do if But the if's were too hidco\is to contemplate, and ■ 

Charlm brushed them aside in favour of asking Sinter Eulalia ■ 
about what "'/a Mrs. Wintringham" amounted to. He had to let 
this Ktand over, as it appeared liuit while htr wnsi n'uding his letters 
ujiisiair^ she bad departed to catch a train to the home of her elder 
sister, St. Bridget, after sliouting good-bye up the Maim to him, 
and telling him not to come down, or she would lose it. 

So when repacWingn and adjustments were done and bedtime 
came, Charles paid a Talediclory viait to his boy. who was nice in 
clean sheets and a clean nightgown — boys are. you know! — and was 
soatcd on hiM pillow fmbraeing his knees with his eyes fixed on his 
eiureat fetish, tbe glorious Chentii^al Chest, which he had placed ■ 
at the bed's side for piirpow^i of wornhip. and wanted to have ■ 
candlelight for to the extent of a t ix- to -t he-pound, not a quarter I 
burned through. "Isn't it orfly jollyt" «aid he, and witbdrt-w not 
hi* gaze from tlie idol. Wliereupon his father captured bis candle, 
kissed him. and went nway to bed. 

Ic went away, and left Iu hiniavlf in iVre lyiuA li^\ts!<A, W*\ <o« 



^^Hc wi 



sao 



AUCE-FOR-SHORT 




old aadncBB come on him a^rain. The old feeling that his life 
gone askew from tho brgiiitiing nnd thnt it was too Inic nov 
remedy it Tbo memory of fim old Jays when, rifijilly or wrongly, 
he boliCTcd in that boy's mother — of whom ho spoke truly vrhen bo 
ftiii) aim huil been dciid. to him, through all theao years n-ben abe 
wa« tiviiiK her siiocowfnl Tereion of n mistakeD life with some 
oni> (or moru) L-lm-whort-, The sciisi; of agi- — aeu of mind — agi" nf 
heart — in a frame that refused to acknowl«djie any subetantial 
change. For he wus obliged to admit lliat oven in hia twenties he 
would have overslept himself after that climb with his youny 
friends of the Alpine Club, and could n«Tcr bavc regarded it as a 
mere prelimiwarT,- stretch before siarUng for the Dent-du-lli 
His mood was that of one who, feeling so old at heart and worn 
spirit, wus litili- ill iovi- witli his ovra vigour, and would a 
have welcomed (rrey hairs and failing muscle, to tell the truth 
ihe door about the inner life of the household. It was a natural 
feclins under tho circumstances, but perhaps not altogetber 
relied on to laat. 



t as a 
UidJM 

>th •!■ 




nodec^l 
ibanH 



Woa it Inie that i^hellncomhc had bceome quite a large water- 
ing-place! The little unalterable railway-station at Cleave waa i| 
statn-quo, or very neariy. Usually, at a side-ntation of this 
when thf neighbourhood braces itself up to got abreast of mo 
civiti^lion. s sordid and iinbreile hnrror etarts from the enrth 
pToelaimH iliut it is ihc Railway Hotel. It owns a pewter bar 
floated with bccr-slops; and if you enquire of a chance cretin 
without eniploynicnl. who is iu a fatuous apartment labelled Pa 
lour, whether you can have a chop, a aandwicb, a biscuit— wit 
each ita duo ntlownnco of grease, flngermarks, or mould — he 
tell you to arsk at this same pewter bar, and you will sliortly 
that it is a grove with no Egi-riu — ibiil its tutelary guiius i« 
Article of Faith, and that no amount of impatience and euggeMi* 
noises will cause him (or her) to materialise. Ko such instal 
of tile nighttnurc of pruiiiicrity hud come to tlie Uttk- .station 
Cleave. The roses still in bloom on the platform fence, and 
hollyhocks and diihlins that lined the approach frnm the gate, 
enjoyed a sea-wind untainted so far by anybody's Entire, 
when Charles arrived with his boy by an afternoon train, he foui 
exactly the nune people going away by the aame carriages^ 
same station-master calling attention to the fact that be wasi 
tbe same age, by the collapse! of an attempt at a gtcry head, ni 
tbe timidity of an irresolute corporation. Ho took (to all appeaE 
ance) tbo same waggonette with tbe same young man to drin> 



^& 



J 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



»X 



it. He inre up ati«mptinir lo eolra suf;s«9ted problemfl of timd 
and change, and fc-It luick on the mcrntor; of Alice Uie nnaO, and, , 
how she jumped oS the opposite aeai onto hitt knee, to shoir hil 
how little ber fnco was burned by the eun, aad had to tubride^ 
rt'buked. And bow ahe told the tale of the rescue, and Dr. Jom- 
eon. and the bccllc. Oh, bow vividly the little animated face catne 
back to him, after uU iboM.- yean I 

And then he remembered another incideol. the da.v before be 
went owftv, II f(m! to a foolish roiirriaffe, with n serene face and an 
intoxicated heart — the ioeidtiit spoken of li>- Peggy nl Horle 
Street. For it wan true that as be left the bouse, the child, who? 
had been very silent all day, and under imputation of stoniiieh- 
acbe, epraiiff suddenly into his anas, and strained him liichtly, 
ConvulHiri-ty, about the neck, and cried aloud, *'0h. Mr. Charley, 
lEr. Charley, doo't go away from us. Don't go— don't goV Aa be 
sat in the car, and thought hack into the past, be could feci the lit- 
tle arms about him still. Theu this memory- revived liis inarnage. 
and the two betwocn them made croas-cuts in his heart. And he 
thought on into the cjirly, happier years of his miirried lift — slop- 
ping short, by a gteol effort, on the threshold of the clouded time. 
He was glad to be helped, though, by the plash of the wnvca and 
tfae ery of the binlN. when llic si-a-roud was reached, none too soon I 

Nobody at the house, not a soul! Unlcsa, indeed. Uandxwonb 
and the cook and the houseniiiid were souls. Her ladyship and 
the younit ladies and gentlemen ("I wish he would say miasia and 
the cliiidrcn," thought ChnrW) hnd p>n<- to o twi-pieiiie at St. 
Fob's Gop. For St. Pob bud a Oup, and they always had hol-wnter 
at the boat in the cliS. Uence picnic*, frciiucntiy. (!hnrle» wimld 
walk out that way, Handsworth — and would be sure to ini-'et ihem 
ooming' buck, though of course her Ladyship would drive by the 
roftd. All very clear. But Charles wouldn't start this mtuute. II« 
ami his boy would biive u cup of tea first and go off presently acroaa 
the field-path; they wouldn't be coming home just ypl. Charles 
knew ihiit, broadly «[M-iiking. iwople don't come home from picnic*. 
Very late, and with ^eat difficulty, they may be gtmdt-d home, oejj 
OOAJted home. But if it is Cnu (and just look at that big yelloi 
noon rise over the hill) two houn lato is the earliest to expect 
tbein. Xo hurry I 

"T say, pater I" 

•'Wbal do you eay. filius? Only don't talk with your mouth full. 
A iboughtles* «i>rld will coudfmn you as greedy, whereas the 
reverse i» the case. Clearly, he whn talks with bis mcmtli full \«*' 
fere inteUcdual intercoune with bia kind lu in^itt S.u\o\%'QQKft'^^^^"'^ 



■Ifa 



• 



ALICE-FOR-SHOKT 

plMSun-H <i{ tbc tnbl<!. It Khows tbc etipremat? of mini] otct — fat 
inBtance — white bread, rather too new. and much better fnab 
butter than oiie ever gels in to-wa." But Pierre has delected 
a claasical lapse on liia fuilier's part, and interrupts Iiim with 
deeieion. 

"I Buy, that's wrong!" 

"What's vfrong !" 

"Filiuis, It's vtx^fltive fili. Filiu* fili filium filii filio fi!i» " 

"I believe you are strictly correct. Pour me out another cup and 
don't epill it. Yps, two lumps like usually. And DOW perhaps, 
vocative fili, you'll say what you say, pater 1" 

"Why, tber«'s s boy at school whow father's a Bussisn, end h^nt 
on oil and live fishes and bites his mother when thry quarrvl. Hc't 
oarfully strong, and can lick coalhiMvers-^— " ^^ 

"What a very dlsngrpeable person I What's hie name!" ^H 

"Wilkiueon." 

"A singular name for a Riiesian. But be may hav« assuned it 
to disguiae hts nationality. The Russiana are, I understand, a 
subtle and a scheming race." 

"Oh yes — he's a Russiim." Pierre continues with unshaken co4- 
fideiiLVL "Bostdea, be can turn right round in lli« middle and not 
twist. And onoe he turned round and couldn't ftet back. And 
they had to nib liiin with rat's blood and treacle." 

"And ihea he came round F' 

"Oh yes — he cnini- round then." Pierrr'ii faith in the trcatiiumt~ia 
toudiiug. His father wonders, if all sehoolboye believe, as Becmu to 
bo the caw.', nil tile wild legend* their sehoolmntes tell about e«ch 
other's parents, which are the wicked boys who make them I He 
get* o\it his pipe and tobacco-bag. 

"Your story. Pierrot, appears credible tlirougbout. with one 
exception. Tbc name Wilkinson eeems to me to cast doubt on all 
the other ]iurlicular9>, which are in accordance with wliat wc know 
of the habita of Kus«ianR scnerally. But Wilkinsonl" . . . 

"Well — ^you ask old Butlin if his name isn't Wilkinson!" Thia 
was his schoolmaster. 

"Ah! but is he n Ru»sion — thai'* the point? The Muscovite is ■ 
i:9Ecntial. Where's the matches? AH mine are done." 

"Handsworth's taken ihcm away. I.ook hero! I'll lijilit a bit of 
paper At tlic uni." And Pierre picks up an accidental half-letter, 
that seems on the drift, to make a spill and light it at the spirit- 
lamp Htill burning under the tea-urn. 

"You're a man of resource, Pierrot," his father says; "now miud 
vou don't act youncif on fire!" But an Ibv boy begins to tmr • 

k d 



~ffl 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



S68 



piece off to mike the opill, he iutfirniptd Itim. "Stop hnlf-a-minuto, 
old man," be gays; "let's aee what we're tearing up." 

"It's Aunty Lissy** writing," says the oliaervunt elcren-ycar-old ; 
"it's only a letter I" 

"Onljt a letter! You're a nice young man." But I'ierrot ia 
frieliteoed, for fais father has barely glanced at Ibc fintt two linen J 
vl>en he iittcnt what vrould hare beeo » cr>- had it not been I 
chedced. "lly God I" criea he, "fancy that !"— And he almost stag- I 
gere; then drops back on a sofa-seat behind htiD. holding tho ' 
letter grasped on hl^ knt-o in one hand, whilir tlic other olencbea 
tight and jerks on his other knee. Pierrot almost begins to cry 
in cameitt. 

"Oil. Papa— oh. Papa— aw you ill !" 

"AJI rigbt#dear boy. all right! If 8 nothing — only I got a start." 
He takos tile frightened youngster onto his knrc. and ennsotes him. 
Telia him to be a wan and eo fortli — not to be frightened at trifles— 
inculcates Spuria, lie's not a little girl, is heT Re i? not. and 
ia proud of that adiieTement, Very well tlien — he had better go . 
a^d rim about on the beach, because we tbiidt we won't go to meet I 
thbm, but will »tay and smoke our pipe till they com". Alao we are ' 
on no sceouiil to go in tlie water, bee-uufie wt- miifht get a chill 
after our recent illncM. But perhaps to-morrow in the middle of 
the day. Even then, wo mustn't stop in too Imig. Pierrot's mind 
slips easily on to a matter that eoncenis him so nearly, and ho 
'forgets his fright and goes out to glont over tin- o<'irun he is going 
to bathe in to-morrow. 

Hia father rctoains motionlcsx on the sofa, hiIII grnMpiog th4 
letter, (or <iuite a minute. Then he draws a long breatli. "That 
darling childl" ho says, in an undertone, and again, "Tbnt darling 
child! Alice-for-shonl Think of it!" He drops thi? letter for a 
moment, gets at his pocket handkerchief and wipes his forehead; 
then polisiics his api^ctades. and the tiiime Alice etiristened him by 
in ber scerel mythology passes through his mind. "The dear, dear 
iittlo thingl'' he says, and has to dry his eyes before ho puts tbo 
gUaaea back. Then he picks up and smonths out the letter and goes 
oe«rer the light — there is not much left — to read it. It is a half- 
page, and begins in the middle of a sentenee- 

". . . dreadfully afraid he must come to know it in the end, becauM 
though Dr. Pill aays I shan't be hudly marked and Mrs. Wintring- 
kam thinks so too — (mind you, don't direct to the MoUier Superior 
when Mr. Cbnrli^ cotivs back — he might n.v the letter^ — wl ciivtisw 
there must be »ome mark — for a year ot to ftt VeoAt — wai 'Obom^ 



9S4 AUOE-FOR-SHOBT 



L 



across^ 



Mr. ChnrUy iB the mort unobaerrant male I «tct came ac 
about people's faces, and their thinics, still I do Kor lliink wr can 
hocus-pocus him for good. Only I wnnt to he quite well and stronK 
aud able to lutigb at him wbun the cat dova come out of the bag. 
Kcet> the cat in the lonfcest we can, anyhow. What a^ravate^ rae 
is thai tliere is sure to he a mark just round the corner when 
people ftlwa;* . . ." 

That was the end of the other ude of the sheet — Charles could 
not fill out ihi^ sentence^ He gave it up after one or two gtusnct. 
But he read both sides over and over ajcain. Then he aat on — 
nut on in tho twilight — hix left hand still holding the letter. If 
he moved, it was only to raise his two banda togetber and drop 
thi-TO. Nothing vlia: At In»t he roused himself with a little ehah''. 

"Was there ever such another dear, di'ur, iJfar girl in tin- world f" 
Hfi made the tnquiry of space, and didn't wait for an answer. 

ITc pulled the bell — or rather, the bell-hundli;, A boll-handle 
docs not transmit potter except the wire bo efficient; or perhaps 
there was no bell. "It aounds att if there wax none," aaid Charlet: 
"perhap?. more accurately, it doesn't sound aa if there waa odk 
It"* Platonic, anyhow." — So he went out to find IInnd»worth, and 
met him coming. Handsworth had "heard tlie wire" and oon- 
rliidcd "that Mr. Charles hod rung." l'tjrn«c» about parlour-bells 
seem to run into inaccuracy naturally. Charles asked for the lamp 
or a couple of candles to write a letter by. When illuminated, be 
discovered writing-materials an<l sat down aud wrote. 

He wrote, absorbed, to the end of a four-pafce letter. It vm 
written straight through, signature and all, without any apparrni 
difficulty in rtructuro, or stumbling- blocks in phrasing. Then be 
looked at hia watch, ga^'e a aliort whistle, picked up hi* liat, and 
started out to find liaster Pierre. A signal, once or twice repeated, 
of the' nature of a coo-ey, convinced him tluit that young mm 
had got well out of hearing, and would have to be chased. He was 
considering wbptfau llie cbaao nc<^d begin now, or might stand 
over for a little, when his ear was caught by the sound of wbeett. 
and an anticipatiriT ery tlmt it wa« Uncle Charley at laat. 

"Yes, it's Cnele Charlej'. and what's more be knows id! 

about " But Charlcit stopped, to do full justice to hi* welcome 

to his sister. — "There's forgivenesa in that hug," thought Peggy to 
herself, after a qualm of miKgiving at hix word«; there could be no 
doubt what it wub he knew all about. He continued: — 

"Tes. I know all about it, I'oggy-Wc^gy — (How well you are 
looking, dear! — give me another kisa, and don't look ao soared) — 




AUCE-FOR-SHORT 



MB 






and T am only My, liint of all the ilarling glrla " And roalljr 

Charles couldn't Mtv anf oiorc, as a mattpr of fact. 8o he let it 
ttlono diiriog d<^bnrontton from tlie oarHiuct!, wliioh iiiroIri-<] Phillips 
and Alee beiitji carried ujistairs, likp Sabine women souud a.ileop, 
ov<T thnir fiiclc-V ln'o slioidJcr*. For Im suid he prffcrrcd taking 
tbeni bolb, as a too uxorious Roman soldier mitcht hare done. He 
abot them onto n bed, like c<iol!i, nod Iffl thu remainder of their 
arrangement to th* nurse. 

"WpII— Clmrh-v!" 

"WeU— Lady Jolmsont" 

"Come and wit dourn ticrc. dear old boy, and I'll tell yon — ^no, 
don't! — Come out in front in the moonlipbl, and well »it on the 
nat — How well you're lookingl— The Alps for crerl" — Charles 
■ays tlicy luid that Hort of flavour about theiti wbeii hr came away; 
and then tliey botii go out towards the long stream of mootilijrbt 
on th« spfl, und ibe mysterious blin;k pyminid betwwn it and the 
moon, whieh ranishes when you hide both. They anchor ou a seat 
in tlic! wildc.-rn<'99; where the si-a-wind. lind it not been asleep, would 
have been doing a little swwping of tliy sand. A* it was, it wa« fto 
still the lufts of spike-grass hardly slirrtid.. PeiKgy appnjacht-d tho 
subject seriously. 

"It was Alice herself — (Yes, I know! There ia nobody Hke 
Iwr!) — ntid "he alvmys gets her way, you know — now isn't it truct 
Weill She arraitged it wttli the SisU-r " 

"Mr*. Priitr 

"Yes, Mrs. Prig. Tf slie eaugbt it, nhn was to go away at on«fi 
to this nursiufc-home, or another, if tbcy couldn't lake ber in. The 
lutad of it \* an old friecul of lllrn. Prig. She bcgnn feeling hcnd- 
acbw and chills two or three days before you n-eni to St. t^i^onnnU, 
and the pi-nplc at tho borne wnt a upecial earriage for her— just 
fancy! it naa a four hours' drivir nnil wo knowing nothing ubuut 
it! -" 

"But the dear girl! Wliat did they <Io it forf Bocauw we were 
up to our eyes in contagion already — germs all over the plac o ■ " 

"Don't you twt^i She tlwugbt you wouldn't get away for a 
clionge— besidrt your getting on extra chance of catebing ii, if you 
buoft about tho house. And ahe know she would be just as woll 
nutaed — or better." 

"The i>oor, darling childl All by herself at a Hospilall Oh, 
Peggy I But what did Rupert tayV 

"It wu* no use his saying anything — nor me either. The thing 
was done. I was nrj near telling you thougli, only Rupert stopped 
me. Ve*. fttopiwd me I And I tliiiik now he w6a qi»Xe t\;^v. '''9t\t.v 



ALICE-FOB-SHORT 



L 



poKC,' ho (inid, 'Cb«r)<7 is told, And hang* «l>out at tlio houM;. «8 be 
would, and catfbos il too. and dies, and Alice recovers, w!iat good 
will it have done Iicr to Icll him? Cirriimwribc the dicoaee first — 
tnik lai-tiipbj'iiicB und inc>riilil,v «flerwanU!' Tltul wni nliat he raid. 
And 1 think he was ritibt, Charlev. Alice will have ftom« pleas 
now in mwing wlint ii capital job tlie Alps have ttirncd you out." 

"Dut when eball I aee her I — that's wliut I want to know. W 
nhc U: hiTt- in n day or two, an she saysl And are the doctor and 
Mrs. Wintringham righl about the marks, or — whal'a tbr matter (" 

"How do yi)u cnnie to know what they sayT' — For Peggy has 
looked blank surprise at Cbarl«, and cut short his torrcot of 
questions. 

"How do I come ? Why, of course — oh, 1 forgot though, I 

iicTer told you how I read your letter." And Cbarlea d««cri 
what bad happened. 

"See what comes of eaves-dropping and such like, you fool! 
boy! You might have remained in the dark — ] see how it was, 
llioush. It was those children. Tliey get my iRttcrn and pu«b 
them under the carpet, to keep them set-ret, I expect the otbei 
half of this one is under tlie carpet now." 

"But arc they right about the mnrksr' 

"Indt-rd. I do hope 8o. dear Charley." Peggy looks very serious. 
"Because for a girl " 

"Oh — I know — I knowl" says Chnrtes, willi pain in bis Toioe. 
"And oh dear — ihere was I. fancying what kept A1ic« away 

aomclbing of that kind. And now, now !" Chagrin and di 

tress cannot do much more with two words, than make tbem Ii! 
these. 

"But, Charley dear — ere you so very sure! Would you be 
very glad, if Alice were really engag<?d to be married?" 

"I'm," almost »liuiits Cbarlee, "l'e»— if ibi.' man were good 
enough for ber, I want thai dearest of girls to have the very 
of cvifylhing — thu be* I of husbaixU — tlie happiest of hi 
Evfrytking. So do you, Foggy -Wc^ej, and you know it." 

PpBfry dmisn't deny this. But then- is a curious n-serve in 
handsuuie face in the moonlight, as she sits looking at her brotb 
It might have influenci.'d some sprach Inter, but the convorsAtion w; 
cut short by jolly eatyrs, so to speak. They u-ere so many, and 
mnny. and such glee. Metaphor apart, they were tho picnic i 
wluit hud bi'in the pieiiie. an hour ot two siuee. which hud now coi 
back with many strange tale« to tell, and alive to the advan 
of supper. Pii;rre reappean^l with them; but it scemod tluit be was 
indisposed to admit that he had lost much or anythiiig by ht 



-M 



iiifi^ 



'4 




1 



ALICE-FOR-SHOBT 



857 



on for Uk pflsl two months, and, in fact, iraa inclined 
WtpKstion ttie advantages ot pi<:nioe as (.-ompiiricJ with Smallpos. 

So wbaterror comment waa pending in Ladji Jolinson'a mind on 
her brother's natural aspirntions for a beloved protegif. it was not 
made, on thiti occjiiiion nt k'nst, iind Charles tutik no note of an; 
ezproesion on her face. No wonder t — for his was at this moment 
obaesaed hy a ainall nc]ihew of seven years, who *pronj; on him 
from behind, and mar b« said to ha^ e sounded the kejr-Dote of the 
pcrfonnanvc- for tho rest of tho evening. 



CHAPTER XXXV 



aOW ALICK LOOKKD OUT rOR A SPARSOW's SHADOW. AMD LCT HER }iVf0t 
RKAD CUAKLEB'S LBTTEU ALOL'D. UOW CIIUtLeo MADB A MOKTAt 

SHORT-CUT Aeaavit a ckdrchyard, and took alice to WIMBLEI 

HOW ORANDUAHMA VfOVLlt TALK ABOUT MISS STKAKKB 



IXHI^ 



L 



Ir Uin u-hole human race were polled to decide the queelion, 
what 18 thp most dcliirhtful tbinK in the world that doM no baroi to 
niiy oDc doe, aurtrlj mon^ tluin half would auswer — coDTaleaoemie. 
Of course there are do end of foeatcr satisfactions thnt hare idotd 
oliiim on our conMiderntion, if wu include thoae which invohe 
discomfort or incoDveuieuce to our fellow -creatuivs. Nobodf 
would place a mcro ecnstial enjoyment, like returninjr health, on i 
lore! with iihooting or finhinK or winning hc-jivily on the Stock- 
Eitchanee or at Moule Carlo, all of which involve correapondinK 
drawback? to some one else, and couldn't be enjoyed without tluoL 
But, for an ahaotutcly innocuous jileaaure, give ua getting well after 
an illness. 

So Alice thought to herself us she wnkeil up vttry iilowly, on tha 
second nioming after our lusl chapter, iai ail the comfort of h«f 
little room at Chclverhurst, tho old Surrey manor-house that had 
been turned Into a Nursing TTome for badly infctttiotui cawsL 
not hare Smallpox, if the end of it was to be a atre«im of inomi 
aunligbt on an imitatii>n Chincst; rbintx a hitndriNl yrnrH old, and 
wallpaper to match with pheaeante n>]ieati-d at intervals, but 
showing any gauche contteioiisncss of their own sameness? An' 
btnlruom china of the very same data. unchipiM-d, yi-t authentic 
BO beautiful t.hnt Charles's funny friend Mr. iIcrryihouKht would 
have bid for tlie merest soap-diah i For tbnt waa how Alice thought 
of Jeff — as a being whose sole joy was the aulhentictt; of hia col- 
lection of early Georgian. 

Jeff might have used his favourite exprcaaion, "Grandmother !" 
in a new sense about the authenticities at Ghelverhuret. ami with 
a greater ap])0«iti-n<ta3. For the liuiiiSR as it stood wah rxaetly what 
it. was when the present owner's Grandmother died; and tery nearly 
whnt it huci bcx-n when !>lie married, say a hnndred years a^ 
Mrs. WiQiringhaiu. when her mother and huabaud and foar chil- 






ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



sw 



difd of SmsIIpox, inbcritMl it nnd turni^cl it into n Xuniuff 
Utimt'. But we har* uolhiiiR to do with tliie, any more than we 
have with niij of the appalling trngwJirn whoiw' mirvimrs pasi us 
in the vtroiit every <Uy, We onlj- meotion it to account for the 
intense antbenticity of the ewer and hnxin, thp chintz and the wall- 
pnp<:T, which AUoe can see the auQ-made window ou. and is feeling i 
glad of. How heavenly it in in thin dc-nr tilttc dui^k of s room sh«1 
waa moved into yesterday after all that dreadful fever and madden- 
inn akin-torture in the real scrvico ward of the institution in the 
new building in the garden, a little way off! For tlii» was one o£j 
two or tbrr* choice retreats in the "ilothcr Superior's" own hous 
whic^h Hbc kii>t in n-iM-rv<' for cniivnliiiccnlK in Kpecial eases. Alic 
eoon became a special case, even when the fever was on her. It was^ 
a way she had with her. 

In the middle of the sun-made window was a cast shadow of Ivy- 
leaf. It moved with n •iiddcn movement that was not wind. Ali™> 
lay and watched it drowsily, delightfully. She wua watfbing for 
the little dicky-bird tbiit rfic knew was causing that ninveracnt, 
aomcwbere out of night. She knew tlint by piilliuf; ut n flufty bell- 
rope handle close to her hand she could have milk or lueat'jL-lly 
or anytliiiig »he liked to n&mo. But she preferred to watch for 
the shadow of the little dicky-bird. Would it bn u swallow, or a 
tomtit, or a little wren, or only a common house-eparrow i And 
would she know it by it« shadow! . . . 

Yea — there it was, sure enough! An<! Alice would have guesacd. 
up to oockn«r'point of bird-knowUdgc. if only the little character 
would have stood still, or aaid something. But be only got involved 
in bimsnlf, and became a ripple of feathers, and a flick, and dis- 
appeared without rt'TTiark. Alitv^ wntclu'd f<ir him again, viMcd at 
his silimce. She watched ell the while the ivy-spray travelled 
•cross a Chintvc phcamint. Then the little bird's shadow <!aino 
again, and Alice decided he waa only a sparrow. He said some- 
thing very lout! twice over — something out of all proportion to bis 
size — and Bew away. Then Alice suddenly went to sleep again, 
quite Clonlruriwim' to her espeotBtions, 

She heard through her sleep, without seeing any need to wake for 
it, the mmtid of music. Ii was that Ave Unria of Arcadelt. Most 
likely you know the ont? I mean — one often hears it. Il is juat like 
Heaven under ordinary circumstances; but when it is the firat 
music heard after a bud illnettH. liow thcu) Almost worth the ill- 
nea* Ui bmr it, with th« life comins back to one's veins, in the sweet 
air and the dean white sheets, and what would <^ae— but for it— bb 
kUcooc 



luua 



MO 



ALICE-FOR-SUORT 




So A)i<« ihousrht as she came slowljr, slowlr, from the eleop 
liateiicd to the St*t<m' mctinit in tim liltle dinpd tfacr hw) mai 
tfaemselres iu the gsnJeD. So she ns still thinkine when 
Wintrin^hnm. who wa« ugly but goml. cbidc in to {My her n mo 
tng Tisit, and briue her iier I«tten. What did U matter bow niu^ 
row-minilr^ shn was? 

"Three Miss Kavanagha," wya the good ladj-; "Miss KaraDaf;] 
UiM Knmnnsh— MiM Kavanagh.*' Sh« hands the thnw to Ali< 
"And vnn for Hi^ Alice Kavansirh." wliivh abe psnea on 
lately, that then may be no decvptioo — like a conacienttous 
jurer, 

"Thftt's Mr. Charky. I know." says the patient; "he a! 
liliNH-AlicrcH me." But slii- duesn't seem in any hurry to 
them. It's such fun lookiiif: at Uie outside of a letter, abe 
sidrrn. 

"Have your own way. my denr." Mys (he Mother Superior, m 
Alice group" the four cnrelopea on the counterpane in front of her; 
"you'w to be .ipoiled. you know." She is a little chuekly rather 
woman of tifty-odd; you would not describe her as teroptiiig, 
what we bare heard called coddlcioinc- But Alice wnnW to kiss 
(or all that. Perhnjis Aim sees siruiglil throujth to tiie soul tl 
pawed throuffh the Vnlley of that Shndow of Death, and was sa 
frotn wreck b.v it* ihuuglit f<ir tnivclltrra to come. Anyhow, el 
fceta at the ugly face somehow, and kisses it. "Vou Kare been 
darlins to mc," say* »ho; '*«o hn* cvprj-hmiy." 

"You're a pleasant one to do with, luy dear! There'* the diffi 
oncp." And pwiwntly the Uotber Superior gor* awoy, after 
specting Alice's face carefully. But she Icares Sieter Alethea 
attend to her further spoilinii. 

It v/ui a lucky whim of thv patieut'a that made ber leave 
letters unopened. Diet, even aocordinit to a regimt, is noun: 
inff — and wi- are uot nure the rrttin^'^ in thiit cane wann'l wlintr 
Uie patient felt inclined for. Anyhow. »he wait the better for it, a. 
refection had rvachnd the utagc of two tuhleiipounful* <!T<-ry f 
hount before she ;;;at her finger Inside Charles's envelope, and beg: 
to rip without raisftiviDK, . . . 

''Wliat's ihe matter. d<uir Mias Kavanagbf said Sister Aletfa< 
alarmed, as Alice dropped the letter with a half -cry. half-gasp. 
fell back on her pillow, spccchlcMi. Howercr, ahc soon recore: 
her Toieo. 

"Mr. Charles Heath has found out I'to Imd it. And I wan 
him not to know!" 

"Ob, is that all! 1 thought Eomcthiii« was the mattarr 8: 



1 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



SSI 



WM At] imiKirtiirbiiblo Sister. Imperturbability is a verr 
I ^aliiy. in a Hoopital. 

"I wish jroti wou)d read it all tbrou^ for me. Sister, while I 
dhut mj eyes." You st«. Ali(« vaa no grateful to tbe»i> i-xL-ellent 
ladiM that she got pleasure from KivinK them her unreserved con- 
fifknfii!. Tlioiigb. indn'ii, if tbi> Ictti-r huii bc<'n from Mr. Selwyn- 
Kerr or Sir Tbomss Urabazon, the would uever hare lei another 
•Dul M.T it. Kx(-irpt of roiirse Miss Pc^gy or Mr. Charlc]r. Poople 
took their chance of that, if ihe.v wrote letters to her. 

Siatnr .Alcihcii wn* nothing loth to rt-ad the lettir* for Alirc. 
When :fou have reuounccil the world it's fun to gel a read at other 
people'* letters and «* what's going on in it- Bt-nidrx, nhe had 
just aaid her prayera in (be Chapel. But would Mr. Charles Henth 
not mind her seeing his letter I 

"Oh. no! Wliy *lioiil,i he! As if I didn't Itnow Mr. Clinrlerl 
Cut avTAy." And Alice lay back on the pillow and listened. The 
really wnn an dirment of phy^ioal trciikiic« in thist. Alice wa» glad 
to haTe anything done for her; for all she fell so well aud happy 
it coiild not be relied on to last if she tried to do aoythiiig beyond 
extating. 

"Fire away. Sister Thca dear," aaid she. Sister Alethea hesi- 
tatwl a moment, (hen proceeded : 

" 'You most dear aud darling little ^irl, there is nothing like you 
anywben^ in all this world. Yes, I know. I've beard oil about it. 
Alice-for-fJiorl I — only thiuk of it.* — Is that whal he means?" The 
reader hung lire for n moment, doubtfully. 

"Is what whal he nieanst . . . 'Alict-for-nhorl?' oh, ye«! — il'a , 
enly Mr. Cliaricy. That's all right. I understand. Go ahead P 

"'And inHli-ud of (hut. tlierc wait I climbing the Alps. . . .' Are-- 
you aure I'm reading right, Misa Kavanagh ! Because it doesn't 
socm to make sense." 

"Oh dear, yeel It's all right. Don't you know about 'Instead 
of that you go and Kteal turkeys' t You don't understand UrTj 
Charley. Qo atratght on." Tbi? Sister wvmed unconvinced, buC 
continued : 

" 'Wlijitpip-er can I say to my dear little girl for thia? What ia 
there to be said except that I !' . . ." 

"Can't you make out his handwriting f" 

"Ob yee— it's quite legible. Only - . ." 

"Only what J" 

"Are you really sure he wouldn't mind other people reading altl 
ihisf Aliee Inughivl oloud, iinle cheerfully. Why on eatth ^fcft'O.^A 
}Aj. Charley mLnd auybodj- n:iiding itl 01 eotim^Nitb WMCnV \'^- 



• 



363 ALICE-FOR-SHOBT 

Siatvr Alcthcn glanced on to the D«xt pa««. seemed still to besitai 
then fiuaU.v resumed: 

" 'Whnl in them to be tnid t^xcept ibnt I lore you ami Ahull alvAjV 
love yoti. RL>ail,v when you Gome to think it over, Aticc-for-ehort, 
dsrlinR. you'll find that ihnt nhsufls tlic BiibiiMTt. Further than 
that ihcn- is nothiug — only just this — that if that dear 8w«?t face 
of yniin is disfifpired 1 shall nerrr be happy ngnin. It's thr Mimpla 
truth. But whst I can't gut OTcr Iv liiat there was I, cUmhioK all 
those Alps all the white 1' 

"'Now, my dwir — look here! I kiiiiw you're not fit to move jwt, 
snd can't be for a day or two. But I know you're in icood hand& 
So I'll pill up with not seeing you for a fuw days more — though 
I tell you plainly 1 don't above half like il — and then I'll come and 
fi-tch yon. That's something to look forward to, unyliowl Good- 
bye for now, darling.' 

•"Signpd— Mr. Charley.'" 

"Itn't il a uic« letl«r?" said Alice, with her eyc« closed anil het 
head back on the pillow. She seemed very happy over it, now that 
the fir»t shock of finding Charles kni-w the whole truth watt orcr. 

"Oh, a verj- niue letter I" The hewilth-rment on the imperturbable 
face of the Nursing E^ister was just as risible as if Ilcaven had 
given hiT one capable of expression. But Alie<> didn't see it; w 
that didn't matter. 

"I .lon'l think I shall write back 1o Mr. Charley yet. not tiUj^ 
know belter about iiij- luarka. Dr. Pitt said he thought be 
bf able lo roakc a good gwss in a day or two." 

"Uo you think this gentleman wouUl miad!" Sister Thea frft 
it would be too familiar to say "Mr. Charley." lint lOie knew no 
other aauie. "I mean." she continued, "that I fancy it won't moke 
any difference at all to him." 

Alict? ofieni'd her ews to full astonislinient point, and I 
round at ihe Sister. "You don't tnoiu Mr. Charley !" she sai 
" 'Not make any difference to him 1' — wliy, hell ju.it bn-nk hia licnrt 
ubout it! I don't believe he ever reaHv wilt be happy — just as Iw 
says. I'm sur« bo'U l>c always thinking about me, all day 1 
And as far as that goes. I shouldn't care twopence if 1 was 
picturesque cottages outside all over, provided it did him any 
What's it called ( . . . rough-cast. Or Pierre's compaasco — I ntcon 
the box. . . ." Alice was gettinir tired with talkinic. and said so. 
8he wouldn't be able to read her utlier letters, and she wanted to 
read them all to herself. So Sister Thea took srvcrol things in the 
room as point* of order, and when they were iliHpostHl wf, carri 
awa; an exttnot tray, to come back in du« course. 



moke 

ooklH 
said^ 

licnrt 

as 1)9 I 
lon^^ 

Roonn 



A, carriij^i 



ALICE-FORSHORT 



afts 



It vaa AUce *I1 over to hand bcr letter from Clurles to the Nun- 
ins Siit«r to rood, nnd to hnv« rc»rnT« nbout Peggy'*. Her ab 
lute coii6dence in her relaliona wilb Charles prereiitcd her ever 
kmkinK at them critically, much less nnnlysiiiK them. It com- 
pletely iKlntjnri) lier in this cxm- iutu whnt tevint^d to SiMcr Thea.J 
a most pcrplcxiiiK Inck of common-eonec and common insi(|:h^ Per-f 
hap* tfaiH wiis pnrtty »wiii|c to iiiT wi-nk nnd hnxj; ctinditiaii of mind>l 
At another time she nuRhl have done otherwisf-, Thia time ahtt 
felt no miagtvinga as the doxcd off — fvcn in the act of opening 
Pfgey"^ letter — after tlie Sister went awa.v. 

Tbo sunlight had dewrtcd tbo Chinese pheaMnts on the wall, and 
was down on tho curiiet under the window whi^n *he next tliought 
of waking. She felt the envelope Mill on her finger as she laj 
there not quite sure wlictlicr to wake or not. Thi« reminded herj 
she liad not read the kiter. and roused her to do eo. It waa writt 
tlw! day afw^r ChnrU-s'ii— hut had come by the same post. Alic 
wasn't to he the It^ast uncomfortahle. diflTli-H had taken tho newt^ 
Terj; »CDiiihiy, and had promised not to fidiret about her. Fe^:gy 
told all al)0ut luiw the atory hiul oome out. "It was such a picoc of 
luck," said the writer, "that your letter thoee wicked little mookeya 
had got at and Irft i>licking out of the ciirpni wnn juKt the sheet 
about what Ura. WiDtringliam and Dr. Pilt said about the mark 
Just think if it had bcrn that about the guf you looked in thi 
glaiat Cltarlcy went to look under tlie carpcrt for tlie reat of 
letter, but I had been beforehand wilh him, and pretended it wa 
lout." Sbo went on to naj- that Chnrlt-s liad conM-iitod to reniain all 
Sbellaconibe for the present, and not go tearing off lilce a maniac to 
CLdverhurFi, where he couldn't do any good and would only catcb 
some new infection. Rupert was coming down on Saturdar >ii 
would keep him (|uiet, 'thi» afternoon he and Pierre bed walkt 
over to Siirge Point. Ui mit^ wher« Aunty I.isay nearly wi^nt over tiin 
oliff. Did Alice remember .\ndrew O'Kourke — perhaps she hardly 
could — Ur*. O'Roiirkv'ii aon at tlu; LighthouM' t Poor fellow 1 h« 
bad volunteered to go over the chip's stem in a gale, to find what 
had fouW the ncn-w, an<l was drownc^l. Alice could quite vtAl 
retnemher the strong man that had come behind ber on tbe cliff, 
and then carri«d her bomc. When Sister Thui come in with her 
becf-tca, tetn were running down Alice's cheeka for the strong 
man. and the Sister was promised the whole storf of the rescue : 
soon ai* the p4iti<;iit might talk more. For Alice waa weakneaa iUeb 
the moment afae spoke or moved. 

What WW© the other two li'ttcw! One from Pwtt«, •S«j«rWi'Mt 
tbe glorious Clieuucal Chest Aunt Fegg^ b&Oi gv^n Vua, 's'Vi^:^ % 




ALICE-FOR^EORT 

book full of oxp«rinient« it would bo scientific to tiy. Only 
only . . . onJ.v. there was caiikm- in thn fruit. ^1 in the necKr 
cup! Thr ttift WHS saddled with the condition that its recipient 
should not makf gunpowder!! . . . Pierrp, who wii» den^oping 
milliard and destructive iiintincte, felt that science, so handicapped, 
was u tncrv Drud-Sr?n iipplc. And thi-rc wrn," thi- (luantitioji givrn 
in tbe booli. sud evcrythtnfEl Alice tumod from the con lein pint ion 
of this enormity with a feeling of Krntiliidc thnt lliv tjcicntific 
lieoreatioQ of blowing himself to piecee had been forbtddeu lu 
Pierre. 

And the other letter — who was tlml ! Alice didn't at once recog;- 
ni»n the handwritinir- Instead of rcferrinB to the cncIoBure. nho 
preferred to rtinuiti out of its conruli-iicc. and wonder. Thi-n shtf 
wild, suddenly, "Oh, I know — of coursel" and opened it. Which 
was ahHiird. 

She looked very much amused at the first pafce. and her amuse- 
ment grew lut slu: n^ad. By the time she got, to the Iimt shnct — ^it 
was a lonit letter— ahe was fuirlj' lelued to and eiiBrossed with the 
contents, bcr fitcc sparklitiK with a forecast of tlic lough thnt was 
ffdiiig to come ut thi- end. WhiMi it came ithe used up her lad 
re^rve of ritrour to enjoy it, and fell back ou the pillow cxbausWtL 
and drying the leiirs her laugh liiid l^ft liiJiind. 

"There now !" she said to space, as soon as sbe thought she would 
be audible. "What will Mr. Charley eay to Ihali Shan't I catch 
it ! Howct-vr, I don't care what hi- says. I'm not responsible." 

She beRan to frame the wording of her letter to Charley, in 
which elie would giro all particulars of what had amused her so, 
llut when one does this sort of thing on a pillow, one goes to sleep 
again. Alice did, and actually stppt till Mrs. WintriD^ham and 
Dr. Pitt came, who found her asleep under envelopes and band- 
writings. 

"Better not try getting up to-day, but " And that is as much 

B« Dr. I'itt need say. in ibis story. It was a good fonicaat of next 
day, as Alice did then gi^t up, and netually lay in a hammock oo 
the lawn in the sun, and talked to the ugly little Mother Superior 
about the old days before the Snuillpox wlum tbe "Homo" was 
another sort of liome, and her children played on the lawn there. 
Aliee felt so narrow-minded for always cjitcliing hcntelf forsiving 
this little womnti for being iiarrow-mindeiL Sbe wat so. no doubt. 
But after all. what do we know, the wisest of iis'i Presently. Alio* 
found herself repeating old Mr. Heath's "Well ! — we're all mighty 
fine i>«>ple!" 

Sbe just managed a short note in a shaky hand to Mr. Charley. 




ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



355 



promiaintir him another aIiiio§t dlrectlj, with somethintt v^r; amuv 
ing in it. And next dny shn was better utill, and wrote it. But, 
after all. sht- pualpouttl lbi> fioinelhttuc very autusiDic. Conva- 
Icwence tbcD bctrao to prognr^ rnpidljr and the <U.t whs SxeA for 
her reraoral. But Mrs. Wintriufcham didn't nant this patient to 
go, «iul got it tmide as lotir as possible. 

A word of compliment i« due to I'oggy at this jtincturv. For 
fifae kept bur nattiral eagenicss to see Alicf hack in llnrlr-y Strc«t 
in check, and absented to the convalescent going for a while to her 
mothcr'M villa un Wimbledon Common hcfoiti returning to tha 
bouae that she always regarded as her home. Poor Peggy I — ^just 
think! Thrrp had been scarcely any Alice for her nincc that day 
in May whun tlie iwwa came of Charles's wife's dealli. And htrro 
we were almost in September! But Peggy was all the readier tO^H 
give way on thii^t point liecuuae tlie drire from Clielrvrhtmt to 0«k^| 
Villa was shorter, and it had been settled that a loiin carriage drivfl^f 
wo* bftller than a ruilwiiy-journi--y witli two etiuiigi^n. ami a drivo at^B 
OBcli end. Aud Grandmamma'^ carringir cotihl rith<^r bu shut or 
open. But as a reirard for her self-restraint in the matter o£^ 
Alice'ii return, she insiirted on Charle-s remaining at Shollacombl^l 
until the lime was quite ripe for biui to go and bring Alice airoy^ 
froxa Ch<-l«Thun«t. So Mr, Charley had to keep his curiosity in 
«faeck for another week u)>out the some-thing n-ry amusing. At thn 
end of that time he returned to London with his son. whom he 
fortbwitJt deHpaiehed to finish his tioHdnys at his Omndmrithrra, 
and get as much cricket as was compatible with a small amount 
of oocaaiunal nttciition to his hoslr!>3. He would eomo on himself 
io a day or two. and bring the convalesceut witli him. 

This remindii n* that we have qoile lost sight of old Mr*. Ilejith. 
After the break up of "the OurdKiis" she rctin-d to a villa on Wim- 
bledon Common, always attended by her faithful Partridge. Her 
itttitude towuriU maukind wus, bridly, that it^ woll-bcing suffi^ned^ 
from its neglect of her behests. This could only be conveyed b^fl 
implication, a* an abstract moral principli*. in lurh cases (fi>fV 
instance) as an earthquake in Japan or a misprint in Bradabaw;fl 
but in nil family matti'ri^ it was a conerele reality. No rea8ona'*S 
Me person could doubt that tlu; <I<-aUi of bcr htisbund, the di.iperaal^ 
of ber sons and daughters with other people's daughters and sons, 
and the opportunities nf liinisting themiietvit< into tlu^ family circle 
ibus given to intrusire babies, were alike due to inattention to 
her guidance. Combinations of a paradoxical nature w\to!\^\vqk* 
vcoufKd; SB in the case of ber exocwiivc ioiidiiK«« iot ^'wtTc 'VvC^a 



JM 



368 



ALICE-FOR-SHOET 



noun^^ 



raigbt, in x-rrrc In^cul M)aM8tcii«3-. luive led to a Mitiin amoiur 
of foririvcuess lowards the boy'a mother. Uts Gwinny (whow 
<Jcr(iti(m hp ontircly rrtiimifl) wiw not pivpered to ito IbU len^ffJi. 
HUt] a modui viluptrandi had to be (Iieco?ered which should bit iIk* 
mothrr and mixH the eon. The one thnt nH>amni<-n<lc(l it^tf to Itlr*. 
Heath was that of treating Pierre as exactly the very jrrandson sh a 
would horo hAd in nny cAse — a *ort of fiiixlnincntnl pritioiiilc id^| 
Nature — and his mother aa an interloper who had had the impertl'^^ 
nenoo to b««r him. Of coutk idio never »*i<l nnytliinK of this to 
poor Pierre himself, whose ideas about hia mother were of the 
hazif^ sort. Uc was jiirt alire to the fact that jJie bad "eot away" 
from bis Governor; but owing to llw latttr's chivalrous on<l gi>ntle 
manner in the few cases in which he alluded to her, he grew up witb 
a curititis idi-ti tJiat 'tM niolbcr'H cutting away vim not a* 
boys' mothers' euttinfc away; and be once had a deadly battle vrl 
a nchool-ff'Ilow trlioH; father haii cut awny from hit mother, a 
who bad presumed to compare the two cases. We are referring 
olil Mm. fleutb and her relationi" with Pierre, now, to ftive so 
stance and reality (o hia frequent absence from home. Tlu> fai 
in that during his holidays bis Graimy simply got him down 
Wimbledon whcni'ver iibc oould, and possibilities of cricket in 
neighbourhoo<! added to its attractions, 

Now on thi? occasion of Charles's return from Shcllacombe ne«r 
ibree niontbn bad elap-ied since Pierre had paid a visit to Oak 
Villa, and his Granny bad been neglected. So bis father sent him 
off ibe day aftrr tlieir arrival, eomewhat crestfallen nt not bci. 
allowed to take his Chemieal Chest with bim. and inaugurate 
search vritb dc-stnictivo acida and enustic nlknlics all over hi 
Grandmamma's flpotless ehiutees and irreproachable caipeta. 
had to be eontj^ntcd with Cricket, and defer Chemixtry for 
present. Hie father waa positive uu tliu point, and Pierre bad 
giTc it up. 

After packing bim off, Cburles went straight to bis Studio, 
saw his way now to a little quiet painting. Seeing his way to it 
was a common frnmc of mind of his. But K^eiiig what it would 
be when be got to it was tjuite another matter. It was curious that 
the fact that what he was looking forvi-ard to with pleasure was not 
the clothing of some image in his mind witli a Rrality, but iha 
reinstatement of the contents of a neglected colour-box, the open- 
ing of a partvl of new hog-hnir and snble brushtw and »o forth, and 
the arrival of a new double-primed canvas; and that this fact gave 
bim no miNgivingn about his capacities for making uite of tbem 
ecductt^v uateriala when -he bad got tbem. But so it was. Aa 



^ 



L 



W ALICE-FOR-SHORT W» 

he walked down to bio Studio noxt moming hi> wn* ahxoIutcl.T with- 
out anj purpose oa to what he vaa going to put on the <!anva3 be 
had ordered in Long-Acre jceterday on his vny from Waterloo. 
But tliin {nmf. of miad WHnnnd to him conipiitible with a rerjr de- a 
fined purpose indeed — a moral one. wliich lie des<rribed to himsetCH 
m* making up for lo»t time. lie Ksid to himw-If rrp<intndl,v thnt 
tbi^ would never do and everytbtiig was leetting bebtndband. But 
he shut his eyw to the fnct thai this hBeltwnr*lnes» of hi* work wns 
a pure abstracttoa. and waa aveonipuiiied by no imiigir of a point 
of arrested profrreas of an; particulnr picture, or of definite sicps 
toward* the iRBiigunttion of nnotlior. All \ic know was hv would 
go to work in earnest owd make up for lost lime. That was the 
correct Mcpn-sKion, Of courne Ik- mui>t get a littlo order ut the 
Studio, and find out wbetber Slariuccla Ooldoni could come and sit. 
If you tr>' to begin right off, before your materinU are in order and 
you've got your modi:l. you only gi"t into confusion. 

So when Charles got to the Studio he got a little order there with 
the aiwistfinor of Mrs. Cnrrigiin. Ami llirn hn wroti- a numroonH to 
3iCartucciu with u new J pen, and poitt«<l it oil whi-ti hv went to 
liineh. And when he came back he found thnt hie brushes and 
cnnvn? hud comn. Which being unpacked, nil was ready for a 
start. And the intense reality of the bruabes and canvaa imposed 
upon him, Hnd convinced him thnt he really knew what he was 
going to painL Or if tbi?y didn't <juitc do that, tbey prevented bia 
raising any doubts about the genuineness of hie voeation. But 
for tbcm, il may l>« it would have croMicd hi* inin'l thut in nil thia 
past five weeks no seed of a pictorial concept bad germinated in 
the noil of bin imagination. An it wan, (he only way in which ho 
rc^iaterMl a suspicion to that effect was in the iudulgi-nce of an 
idea that the ml had tnin fallow to advantage and that the harvest 
when it came would be all iIil- more pU-ntiful ibercfore. It wo* a 
kind of apology for finding himself at n loose end. It always took 
a little time to got to work; only, wlien yoii did gi't to work, you 
found the advantage of the rest. And theu — you made up for 
lost tiniR ! 

Still, there must have been an undercurrent of discontent at the 
kKMe end. Klse why did he feel it to be such a welcome relief to 
something undefined that Mr. Poi>e Kbould come into hia Studio 
with a Nnall commission that had to be executed immediately! 
That was what Charley ft^lt »o grateful for.. Mr. Pope wanted a 
dcetch for a five-light window that was to illustrate the Decalogue. 

Or. at Icott, half of it. For it wa« one of two windnw*. » s«i«". 
aod the proposal was that each wiudow shKniU V\\utf.iii.Vb %ct^ cMmr 



3S8 



AIJCE-FORSHORT 



[ 



mandmoRls. But a difficull^r had arisen. An ndioun iitoR>n tranc 
^ri)«»-(l tb)- middle of tmdi lisht. making twenty medaUion-ii|: 
ill all. Pope & Chappell propowd to allow two mpdallioriK to eat 
common dfnenl- — one to illtixtratit itj> bn^rh, tlw? oUitr its obstrr 
»uee. But this vt-ry reasonable idea had failed to procure tb 
appixiral of the R<mMot of W««t Eastlcifih, more oo the iworw 
•one details in tlin way of currying it out than on that of 
principle involved. 

Charlcii hud bt^Tn a purty to the originul Auggcations of treat- 
ment; BO the aSair was not new to him, and no iniroductira yia^^ 
nceckMTT. AftiT u ftrw wanlx of cbnt and congruliilntioiu froi^| 
Mr. Pope on his robust appearance. — "You'll hare lo 'elp OB 
through lliin job after ull, Mr. 'Cutli.'' xaid hr. "Ten characktcn 
illustrative of observance of a Commandment — ten conlrairiwi 
Twipr 

"Has the Parson ehanged his tnindt" 

"That, Mr. 'Entb, I havo no means of knowin'. He haa <|i 
tbtB life, and hia aueoesaor, who orkupim tbi- plaee be han raca 
is a man of a different relijrioHB kidney, Aa Mr. ('beppell 
wlwnwer he getn u chance 'Sijiiol homincB, tot sententiae' — it'a 
only Lulin be knows; so we mnBtn'l liegrudgt^ it him. / don't v 
know il, mjnelf. But my young sou haa tranalated it." 

"They want the window then'f All right, 1 can do it at <in< 
Just a lueky <Jiunce while I wait for u toorlel I pjirtii^iilurly wi 
Am I lo stick to figures of Potiphar's Wife and Batbsheba 
number awrn?" 

"The present Incumbent baa pointed out that these Sgurea m 
lie reversK-d with ndvantagc. and cither will do for either. J 
you think it owr — it works out," 

"All right! Only I don't sec why BnthKheba shouldn't do duty 
as an offt-nder. Ami aa for the olht-r ont— well! it wua no merit 
of hers, certainly, but she did not break the Commandmenl." 

"Ha <loLibt <iwin' to the other party ijuotin' it in time. I tbougl 
the idea pleasin'. But that's not the pint of view. The p: 
inciimt)cnt i* nnxiouH not to compromise Havid." 

"But haven't we given David a light oil to himself aa no 
BCTvancet In mimbor four!" 

"Certainly, Ou the grouiit) that be <iid not raurder Uriah 
Hittile. The enemy did that job for him. If that wnim't obserr- 
ing of the Comma mlim-nt, pwiplr ain't cany to aatjafy." 

"Weill — if the parson is content, of course I'm game, 
say I BW tbougli why Buthiihcha xhoiild come in ax an obwcrvaiUN;' 

'"That, Mr. 'Eath, is obvious to the meaueet capadtjr, 





ALICEFORSHORT 



369 



nlhi^n'," Baid Mr. Pope, modestly, "to 



We have to look 



V own. 

fit tiie nuillt-r from thi- point ni v'lcvt of the Psalmist'ii cimswirntiinw 
scruple?. lie felt that he had placed himself aiid Buthsheba in a 
falde pOBttioQ ma long M her Itiwful husband was still livinK. and 
'alslened to remedyit. H* u-i^d to ubaerrc number nevi^ii witli- 
nut diarrgnnlin' number four, and acted accordingly." 

"I see. Be^tiiT luli^ tliuii ncvc^r! Clvarly an instance of ohndicnco 
to (he Commandment. Cain remains, 1 suppose f 

"Subject (o poiisibic alteration. Fartic* hnve objected that there 
was no Commandmeut iu Cai»'s days, and he maje have acted in 
ignorance. Extcniintin' circumstances. ]iut the principle U the 
same. Get it done Thursday, if you can." 

So Charles worked peacefully on the traced windon-Ufchts Mr. 
Pope had brought him, till (tarkncvt i<topped him. And all the 
while believed that he was beinK curbed ami n-atraini-d, by on 
unkind choncc, from the vinorou" prosecution of a well-defined idea 
oa his new cauvaa. If any <^)ruer of bis brain faurbouri'd a dormant 
mm>i<^on that be had welcomed a let-off, be wasu't ^tug to 
«ncour>Kn it to become active Sot he I 

He put in the &iisbia{; (ouches and iuscriptions on Tburaday 
morniDg, tvo days later; and started for Chelvcrhurst at one 
o'clock, after a hurried sandwich at Walcrloa im tho way to tbn 
train. The Nursing Home was an hour's walk from the station, 
nnd Iw- bad arranged to come down, to nccompnny Alice to Oak 
Villa. Sister Eulalie was to be driven over iu Graiulmaiiuna's 
two-horse carriage that could be open or nbiit, and tlmn tlic tlircc 
were to drive back to Wimbledon in lime for tea. It was only a 
t«R>iDilc drive, and Charles tyire"rd ibc proupcct of it in his imag- 
ination as he walked quick!}' along the cross-cut of byroaiU be 
bad to ask his way so often on; and where, for all be was within 
tw^-nty tniirs of five millions of I^iondonnn. be so often had to knock 
at a cottage to make hi»eD(tuiry. for want of a passer-by. 

Ti!ii!^lhnt waa sometliing to look forward to. Alice-f or-sbort 1 
Think of itl 

Thi» lookfd very like Chclverhurst So tljiught Chartt-s to him- 
celf as lie walked into u little viUa^re a motlier of twins at a road- 
aide cottage bad spoken confidently of his finding in something 
rather better tluin five minutes' walk on, provided he didn't turn 
neither to the right nor yet to the left. So he had left those twins 
where be had found tJictn, penned by a timber barriOT inside a 
cottage, after sympalhtsiug with tbeir mother about family res)M>u- 
eibilities; and bad identified a poomp by the ro-ad as a certain l&w^- 
mark, and found a martul easy cool auToaa VW tWT(iv^iw\ Vi 'Jiaa 



M 




L 



AUOE-FOR-SHORT 

mnRor-houM*, (tn<l in lime tbc nmnor-hoiiEi* itself. And there, 
enuuieb, bIooi) Grandmamma'E carrisRe waiting at th« door. Which 
was opened to him by Sinter Theu, whu euppoa^d ho was ihe gcntli-- 
mun, and acoepiod his own belief lo that eSvct as conclusive, and 
showed him in through a grc<-:ihouse iiltDospbcre of womt l«avc« 
and fl»wi^r3. and a cfaorua of eiuging birds who eurol.v must hare 
been recently vaccinated and taken, so confident did tlwy wccm of 
tlx-ir Mxiirity fruni infection. It wasn't at all like a boapitat. 
thought Charles. But then bis condiictrruK explained that the nurs- 
ing-wards were "over there." and added that Mrs, Wintrlti^bani 
had never had so much as a boolc iDovi^d in the hcin»o tdncc the 
dajrs when her calamity chan^-d her from the head of a healthy 
family to the Mother Superior of a Nursing Sisterhood. Ono 
might have thought thu children that hnd died were atill in the 
air of the place, and that he miftht have heard the voices of ihera, 
anir moment. But ChiirleH w«a too full of tbo tbouglit of what 
Alice was going to look like to do much with passiniE ideas of this 
iiort — dismiss them or acetyl tlit-m. 

Alice was in the garden, and no doubt it wae some sympatfaelio 
apprehension by Sister Tbea of his anxious misgivings on this 
point that matlc her dim;ovcr some excuHe to go bui-k into the 
house for a moment, iind leave him lo meet Alice alone. .-Vt least, 
no other motive occurriJ to Charles, He never even speculated on 
the possibility of one, and thought that hie concept of his relatioB_ 
to Alicc-for-short murt of cotirHe be every one el»e'a. 

"Now. Mr. Charley dear, you're not to be a goose and make] 
seriouM matter of it. It really doc-xn't dignify one acrapt" 
ie a little crying, a little laughing, in Alice's voiee. 

"Take that heaiitly thing away, darling, and let mo see. 
And Charles pulls away the end of tlie woollen neck-wrap Al 
used for a m<imentary concealment, and knows the worst, 
been piling up such borrora. in llio lUilmeB-gTater line, that be is" 
really immensely relieved. But ho breaks down a little over it, for 
all that, a:id the signs of it are on bira aa he goes back to th« bouM 
with Alice hanging on his arm. Sister Thea and the Uotber 
Superior have decided — they were eavesdropping, you aee! — that 
the way Charles kissed Miss Kavanagh as soon as he had taken a 
good look at hrr face, all over, left no doubt of tbi; natiiro of the 
position. But had they l;eeii near enough to hear the way he called 
ber hia "dearest child," the phmsr and doinething in th* tone would 
have puzzled them. 

"You should have seen me when I was dcxquamnting, a fortoi|tfat 
ago," says Alice, with pride, "and then you wouid have said I was 





V AUOE-FOK-SHORT 371 

^bMttdit to tlie cstabltsbtnenL You see, I'm itotbin^ to look at, 

Chitrl('« muk<!tt nn HTort to ImU in witli thin wa.v of treattug iha 
position, and nets m far &s to mj, "Ob, no I — ^you're « vcrry poor 
Cudr, indeed. AliiM^for-sbort." But a fault in lib voiw stop* him; 
au<i h« enda up, "No — I can't Uugb, dearest I it waa all me and m7 
boy." 

So Alice gets him oS the subject, and telU him nbat o dclifihtful 
tinK tihe has hnd *inci' xlu^ came out of tbu fLi'iT-uunl into the 
bouse. "It's perfectly absurd to have goae on hero so lonjt," she 
aafs. "Only Mrs. Wintrtnghiim ban ticen no kind, and Si^trr Tbca. 
It's almost worth beiu^ a case of diecTelc smallpox to be so spoiled 
and ooesettxl up aftorwnrdf." 

She makes liim turn back wIkd tbey g«t to tlie bouse and go onc« 
lound the tride gravel path and sec tbc strawberry beds. In which 
connection she lelk the Htorj- of Mm. Wiiitriii^bani. 

"And ob. ilr, Charley," she says at the end, "tbe poor lady told 
mo it was always ou hiT mind liow iihc liad puuiohud her boy for 
goiufir uii (he^e very U^» uuil gathering the strawbemee. and thai 
afternoon he corajilainod of a headache and was sick. And sbo 
told him it scrred him right for gobbling uuripo strawberriw — and 
all the while it was rr that was coming. Poor thiogl — she can't 
forgire herself, now. They nil died, you know!" 

Alice's eyes were full of tears as she stood telling this to Ur. 
Charltry on the gravel path. But Mr. Charley was only giving half 
attention. He was absorbed in Alice's marks. He wanted first- 
hand medieiil authority that they would absorb or dixappear. Wax 
Dr. Pin eomingi No-^e wasn't. Dr. Pitl liad just gone. But 
really Alice was <iuite smooth alraaiiy. Feci if she wasn't! There 
now! 

Id caKe you should feel alarmed about Charles, remember that 
Alice had really been n wuek out of <tuurantine. Everything had 
medical sanction. 

Charles thought tliat if the Ilospital-staff felt the parting as 
much with all their patients, tliey must be iu a state of constant 
laccrnlion. AIho that if all tlieir patients promised tn writ?, as 
Aliire did. and kept their promises, tlw postman was to bo pitied. 

However, fnrewcll* sn<i benediction* came to an end, and (^rl« 
found himself being driven away in his mother's earrioge— opni. 
because it was so warm — with Alice and Hisler Rulalie. who had 
been all this whil« with her old friend the Mother Superior. Don't 
be frightened — she hadn't boon near any dangerous cases. 

"^ow, Ur. Charley, I liavti got a aurprbu ioi jQ^ fc^iuo& v^*^ 



S79 



ALIOE-FOE-SHOBT 



duced a letter — Jrasic FmKh'a of oourae. But she didn't open it, 
yet a nbile. 

*^s that tfae fomething mr «mti«ing}" 

"Yea." Alioe nodded. "Now gneas who's goiog to marrj who," 

"I can HPT by tlie rnvclopc, Miw Frectb . . ." Alice hid thu 
eoT«lope, abruptly, too Ute. 

"You saw ihe Conicrbury postmark 1" 

'*1 did. I alway« do, on bcr letters. I used to find one in the 
box for you every other day. . . .'' 

"Well ! — id) a great whame. You spoilt half my surpriae. But 
who's flbo ongaged to t — that's the point I" 

"Roeer Selwyn-Kerr — H you aak me!'' 

"Well now! — I declare. That is a gbamel Now oonfcae, Mr. 
Charity, you ku(>w all along. , . ."' 

"Certainly I did. I told vou eot On the table— don't y<m recol- 
lect!" 

"^ea — but that's not what I mean. You know what I ueaik 
Mother Peg told you. Now didn't AwV 

"Let m« see! — yee-s-e-sl She did say eometbing about it 
I'd forgotten that. . . ." 

"Ob. th<? nieaunese! To make believe you could forget 
acrogs the middle of anything in ihat way ! Isn't he mean, Sisterl 

"^cv<T nuw anything like it in my life," aaya Sister Eulali^ 
From which trivial conrcrsation you may sec that the party were 
in the bighcit spirits and wen.- enjoying their drive along 
dusty road thoroughly. That is why we bare r^ortod it, 

Cliarles's unliiippiness at being brought faee to faee, cloae 
it were, with all that Alice had suffered for him, and at 
the ri-cnrd of it on her face — (however much ItdH emphatic ft one 
than he e^^pected) — was giving way before the ahecr pleasure of 
having her back again. To see bcr tinxbi:ig out at him for bia evt- 
Hiona and paradoxical uonseinse was altc^cether too good to be tme. 
It wan nn exhilarating dream. And when the airriage got involmd 
in nbeep in a Une. be wuh g1u<l. because it went slow and that made 
the drive longer, in spite of the fact that tho monotiiiiQiui remark* 
of tlw aheop quite pivveiited him hearing Uias Frvetb'a letter read 
aloud. 

Alic« didn't read it all tlirongb aloud. She watm't going to ba 
dialoyab But nhe read, under pledges of secrecy, a good deal mOK 
than ilia writer ever meant for the geu<Tal putilic. And it laatcd— 
the letter and couuneul« thereon — very nearly all the way to Oak 
Villa; the main poiota of the diHcumiun turning cm bow far Aiiflt. 
had be«n reaponsible for the results it narrated. 




ty were , 

ng amd 




AUCE-FOR-SHORT 



>;s 



"Well," Mid Chai'Iw as a nxrvdcscmce of the convcrution 
brouglit them in sigbt of ifae hoiu«, iu repljr to Alice's fifticili dis- 
claimer of responsibility, "sU I can say is, Uistrrss Alice, that if 
jroti call yoiirMlf a diiicri-ct cnM of miullpox, I dou'L Here vc arc, 
and there's Pierre watchioR for us." 



L 



In after yean Sister Eulalio need often to talb about that de- 
lightful drive wo hod from Chclvcrhurirt to Wimbledon nnd tho 
pleaaoDt vveuinff that followed. But ahe felt under an obligation 
to use the powers, somehow trHditlonall; vested in bcr, of a pro- 
feaitonal Diirxe over a reiNint patient, to induce Alice to p> to bed 
eArl7. Uenoe, when ten o'ctoek came, ibrco bedroom candlesticks 
out of fiv(! witrn Iigbt<.-d ; and Charlci and hia mutlicr wiirc left to 
recapitulate life gone by, or forestall the future, at pleasure. 

Un. Heath was not unlike niiy other old Indy well on in tho 
Bffventiea in preferrintf the former. Uut die had ber own way of 
treating rwapitulstion. It may be diwcribed an dcAlins with two 
IMrallels of event; one of them a potential (lolden Age. wliit^h 
wotUd hare come about if she had been attended to, the other com- 
mon Ifintoiy— 'tho chaotic oousequencc of u wilful Era's neglect 
of her powers of foresight. 

"Yoa, m; dear Charles, put the shado down n little — it dazales my 
ejee . . . that's right! What was I sayinnf About Pierre, of 
eouTte. What I mi-nn is, that however tliuiikful wo ma.y be that 
by the merey of (lod we have eseaped a great danger, we ought not 
to loso night of the faet that, hnH wi«r cmmwU prtnrailed, it need 
never have been incurreii. Had I Letn listened to, Pierre would 
have been re-vaccinaled two year" ago. . ■ ■" 

"My <l«ar Mother, the boy was re-vacoiualed two year* ago." 

"Let me finish, my dear, lie was vaccinated, but it Is more than 
doubtful if ho ever look. Wlint I nnid at tlut time wan. 'I.iiiten to , 
Dr. ProJgett,' end you did not listen. And now you see tho con* 

"Hut .Shaw, who did it, said we might re-vaccinate fifty times and 
he mightn't uke. . . ." 

"My dear, do let taa finiab. and then you aball speak. J>r. Prod- 
gett'a view wna, 'go on till it lakc»— no matter how often.' And 
now wo see how right he waa." 

"But it wasn't certain he didn't take, slightly." 

"Wy dcarl how uould tlutnf be a K^lti-r pniof that he did nol tafie 
than the fact that he afterwards showed himself liable to infection. 
To Tt>jccl ao eoneluMve a proof is to mioim to learn bj cj 
Perhaps another time I shall be lieteDed to." 



dta 



^ 



374 



AUCE-FOR-BHORT 




"Well, Orondmamina deur, Pierre ahal! be re-vaeciiiated ngAinl 
soon as be U v^H cnou^li. I'rixigctt shall do it, and go on till ha 
tRkM." 

"My dear CharleB, you know perfectly well that notbiDg I haw 
sii!d would wurrnnt such an absurd mistni*! of Providence. Be- 
aides, it would be merely ghulliiie the stable-door after thu stwil 
had broken Iookc. But you are your father's own son." 

This dida't seem relevant, but commeut iniphi have been inter- 
preted as eontroTcrfial. Chnrlen folt that he was not the person to 
question its trulh. eBp(--cial)y eoDHidtfring who tiiiid it. So he heU 
bis tongue, and Mrs. ileatb continued: "We may be thaukful tlul 
your boy has bei-n siiumi to u«, and no doubt Dr. Prwlgi^tt would 
agree with tue that re- vaeci nation would be quite superfiuoux, for 
the present nt least." 

Charles ubalaiuud from Haying "Blow Dr. Prodgettl" partly fron 
a sub-consciouenefs that hie doing so would not be due only t» 
impalifjicc about viic<:inuliDn. He was really a httJn nettled at tho 
thankfulness to Providence not having had a more deSnite refn- 
ene» to Alico. It wnv only fuir-phty he wu« asking for: there wat 
no trace of a clniin fcir inon: tliau ecguality for Alice Besides, be 
bad been breathing free about Pierre for more tbuu a month, aad 
Alice's deliverance was quite recent. So Charles didn't blow Dr. 
Prodgett. in order to show no impntifnce about Alice. He only 
Miid. rather drily, "No doubt ho would." and left the field to h^ 
mother. After all, she was well on in the m-vinitit^i, uiid if she did 
half -forget Alice, wa» it not through her devotiou to Pierre! 

"Remember too, my dear Charles — only it is a subject t>ainful to 
refer to and prrhape I do wrong to refer to it. , . ." 

"There can be nothing to — to not talk about, between you and 
mo. dear mother. . . ." 

*'Quile so, my dear. Tou arc right to say so, T was going to 
say (onl,r I remember tliat painful news we had) that it is not •» 
though the darling boy had the constitution to which hi» birth ad an 
EngUahmBQ entitles him. I eaii never forget that Lavtnia Straker 
was. on one side nt leaet, n Frenchwoman." 

'O^at can him mother's nationality have to do with Plcm not 
taking when vaccinated !" 

*')Iy dear Churles. if you would not be so impatient with nw I 
would tell you. 1 should never have alluded to I.uvinia Strtker, 
knowing nil I do. (!XCl^pt to lay strests on the fact thai she need not 
be referred to between ua. Thai is indisputable." Hen: CharW 
made up his mind to dinputc nothing, aad leaw the old lady mrtB- 
blanche. She coDttnued: "But I may speak of Pierre's par«Qta^ 



ALICE-FORSHORT 



Stff 






ftit Abstraction. Hail he had iLo ^'ood fortune to hare an 
lish mother, — I bnvc Dr, Prodgelt's word for thi«, — it wouM huve 
been much eaaier lo pronotincc in hiia case. I cannot blaine you,] 
my dear bor. for this — nor would I if I could. But neither cnn I 
blame mytAt. M7 worst enemy eouM not say tbftt I did uut point 
out the dangirrs of my dear son's nnhnppy mdrriage. . . ." Here 
Charles felt thai oarte-blancbe was being taken too much advan- 
tajie of, and withdrew it. 

"Surrly, Mother, there is no need to go hnek to that now." There 
is a &hade of suppressed asperity iu his voice. The old lady int«ii- 
eificd her nierknes.s, but maininint^ her dignity. 

"My dear, have I not been careful Ut say that I have only referred 
to this subject sh one that it i» not neccs«iiry for iis to go back tol 
Do roe Juatice. I only usk for justice. No one who knowsi — (and 
who should know, if not yourself? — nay own sou! — how painful that 
unhapp.v uffair wus to mt — however little I wiid tit the timt-l) — 
can possibly imagine that it is any plea§ure to me to speak of it." 
Here a disposition to tears. "But I failed to make myself hunrd^ 
then, and now it wit) be the same." 

Charles saw conciliation would be the better part of discussion, 
and mid, good -bnmou redly, ''I don't see. Grandmamma dear, how 
poor Lav eomes into the matter." The name tlrandmamma haa 
always a propitiatory effeel. and the old lady softens. Logically the 
rcveriM? sliould bme be»-n tlie cam-, but we have explained that she 
Kfrarded "Lavinia Straker" as an intruder into the realm of parent* 
agr, who had uHiirped the function of Pierre's real parent, an Eng- 
Uahwoman still at larg^. 

"That iK <'xiietly the point, my dear. She does ii<)t come in, and 
we need not talk about what is painful to both of us." 

Charles got up from hia chair, throwing away a cigarctU pcr-\ 
mi»0 — as the windows were open to the warm ni([bt-air — and went ' 
aeron to his mother and kissed her. lie would have liked to talk 
about Alice, and hoped "Laviniu Strnker" wan clear out of 
eonrersotion. But he was premature. The kisa proved only 
Hteppiug-stone (o a new Irt-atinenl of tlip subjet^t. 

"That is my dear hoy. I know, dear Charles, that you are alwaya 
good at heart, if it Httle unrtTasonable. . . . Well, my dear — you 
ar^ a little unreasonable. Because it is impossible and absurd 
to pretend tliat Larinia" — concession here; Strakcr omitted — '"was 
not on one side fc Frenchwoman. Tou have thrown half your 
ciffarettc away. Now you may smoke another.'' More conceseioa, 

"Anyhow." aa>-s Cbarlea. determined to make matters pleae&iW, 
"lav's Jfrcnch parentage was better than hei £.Tt^^ ^jiirT 



ALIOE-FOR-SHORT 



I 



^ 



"My dear. I am not mentioning I^vinU, M I promised you just 
now. I am fti>c-iikiui; of ibi- mw na a race. Ko one can deny tliat 
FreDChwomen, as a racp, are frivolous und uafaithful to their 
huRband*. . . ." 

Charles kept hU temper. "Come, I eay, iTother," t^id he, "not all 
of them!" 

"So, my dear Charles, not <tU! I am wiUinjt to admit that there 
an exceptions. But tho osccptioos provp the rule, am! tl«! more 
numerous and eniiapieuoua thi> exceptions, the more firmly the rule 
holds good. If your father wqw ben he would aay »o. Ask any 
ooe. . . . What's ihut. Partridge T 

Actually our old friend PartridjW, com^ to i^^ if her mistresa if 
ripr for a niglit'n rest. No — she isn't, but will V- the raomvint Mr. 
Charles has tinished his cisaretle. Partridge is sixteen years older 
than nhe via* when she first cstah)ii>hed n Nort of proprietorship 
over Aliee. She is not iiielined to relinquish it allofrether now, 
for all the Hosiiital-niirsrs in Ctirirtfndom. Hrnw oupproMed 
ructions between herself and SialtT Euklie— a usurper I It il 
rather hard, you ««e, when you have been rp-voccinatcd on purpose 
to give an unqualifiiHl widcomn to an ex-amnll pox -patient, to hatv 
an unexi^eeted Sister thrust herself in and keep you o9. 

"Never mind. PiirtridKi-.'' snyH Charlcn. "To-morrow rfic'II go, 
and you'll have Aliee all to yourself." 

So now, n* Alioe in cnmforljihly located for a complete conrv 
leaeence, the particulars of which arc not want<rd for thin ctnry, wc 
nay leave her to enjoy it, and you ntay faney for yourself how 
Obarl<-H wi-nt biiek to work and made up for lost time. lie drew* 
ten cartoons of Breaches of Commandments and ten 01)«WTnn<*». 
And »!>«> bcffnn a picture to be called, "The Shirt of Nessua" — the 
dyinjc centaur giving; Pi-jiinira his funic as a IcKiicy. 

Whether it was a mere accident that made tlie bride qf Heraclsf 
much more like I.nvinis Rtrnkcr thnn ctit wn« fti-jran, wp do not 
kuow. But she turned out like enough to make Charles's ititimate 
friend*, on analysing the story, sec in it a trace of the leniency with 
which be always spoke an<l thoujrht of his wife's desertiun. Jeff 
remarked that it was a good job Charles hadn't a poisoned arrow to 
aend after hin Kcssus. He n^'er re^rarded tlic disappearance of 
Mra. Charles Heath as an unmixed evil. In fact he expressed sar- 
priw (to Mr. Popi') tlmt Cliarle» had lost an opportunity of immor- 
—ligtwp liJH late wife in a "Breach" med&lliou of the second winduw 
for Weet Eastleigh. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 



A SUDDK:! Qtn or CATALepflV. THE ilAUK WAS TERBniDeR. BOW SOI 
fttTFEBT ADVOCATED TBBPMIMXQ OLD JlkKK. WAS Tliti OLD OAK- 
VIIEST WUUKCr WHY VKICIUNI>CK WATCH&D BF.ULAU. HOW aURLES 
BEL0N<;ED to the aBNeuTIOIC op PBK-VtPEBS 

"If I couM only get some iorl of coolnetw between thorn, so that 
they would qunrrri nnd make it up ii^tn, like rcj^ukr lovers, 
ibt-Te would be ftoiue chitnc e " 

Pfggj ix sp^akinn to hpr faushond three monUut after the end ot 
luet cJiupti--r. L(!t her go on : — 

"Bui it's perfcctJv uk^Icss. If 1 try talkinR to each of them about 
the olbi;rV tittle iiffnir* — imiijfitiary onea you luidcrxtuiKi ( . . ." 

"1 underataud." 

". . . it only cndo in Charles iiiT(«tiffating through alt Alice's 
upplicunU an<] rayiii}; they're nut half good enough, and Alice 
rakins up Lady Anstruther I'astoQ-Forbea.'' 

""Wliy, iJii-'it niHirics] a curate 1" 

"1 darcaar the haa. Tm sick of her, aiiyhowr' Peftuy pauaea a 
few iwoosdi^ prctnmably to allow of her ladyship's dom-nt iutirrntcnt 
in a eountr; pariah, uuil tli<-ti gvpn on: "I auppo^e now Ali(.-e will 
loolc up aoDio oUicr daizling niebcor for Charley, and turn her on. 
Il*B all Bo unaatiiifnctoiy ! " 

"Let 'wn alone, wife, let 'em alone. 'Over rocka that are ateepeat,* 
don't you knowT' Sir Hupt-rt is makinK ontries in his Diary in hiw 
own room, and hie voioe heard through the opcm door between it 
and hi» wife'* bcdroonj givrs a hint of proocciipation. 

"You're Dot lisi^'ning. Dr. Jomson," — For this is the fumilr 
nanve. par txcelUnee, for its head. It is a tribute to Alice's statua 
in it from childhood. 

"Fire away, darling I I'm listening now." — And Feggy bears 
the Diary slapped to. Shu hopes he won't bc^in gtropping a razor 
next. But sufficient unto the day ia the evil thereof. She oon- 
tinues. seriously: 

"If I dared, I would do as you imid — tpeak Rlraigbt to Charley, 
and tttll him I don*t believe Alice will ever be really happy with 
any one else. But Ju^t think — if I were to make a bluudiuT — ^ 
it aU wrong I I might just spoil aU." 

S77 



37B AUCE-FOB-SUORT 



. 



dfc^ 



"Don't do it if you feel afraid. But I don't tliink I should 
much afraid, if I wlti- a wonmu." 

'■Wh.v don't you do it nowf 

"Because a man gpeukiug to a man qd tlie Bubject always baa a 
flavour of a morul lecture." 

"Why hadn't a woman »" 

"Because a woman muy be undertaking a ronfessioa for a friend. 
A man would be supposed to act in consequcnou of Momttthing 
noliee<i in lielioviour; atteiitions--thal sort of game!" 

"Charley wouldn't mind anything from you." 

"Ho wouldn't bv aiiKry with atv, I know. But would the end he 
jKiinedt I doubt it. It's ticklish, anyhow I I'm bound to My I 
had mudi wioni^r U-t it alonv." 

Sir Kupcrt comes out of hia room, dress iiig*KOwned, PesKy i* 
in liku plight, silting Ix-fori.- the 6re. The wind is norlli. and ne 
dmll have snow, and poor Kobiii will very soon bo fitting in a bam. 
Pires art! welnomt-, and Sir Rupert isn't sorry to roast himMlf a 
little before goinic to bed. 

"Don't fret nliout it, dear lovel" ho says; "it will all turn out 
right, left to itself. You see if it doesn't!" — But Peggy's unxioui 
beauty only clears a little; the cloud hangs. Still, the hand thai 
comes caresiiingly round her head has reassiiranct- in iL It U like 
her husband's voice. Both make matters better than they find them. 

"I won't fret, dear!" aaya Peggy, and rneann not to. But ab« 
isn't sure what she ought to do, and she remains as one who con- 
Bidets, Ro talks of something else, to clear the cobweb*. 

"Talking of love-affairs. 1 went to Bedlam lo-doy. They're all 
against me about that case except Paisley." 

"Let's see! What ease was that? The girl that eats tbs 
noedlcsr 

"No — no! She's at the Hospital. I mean Uie very old womsD 
who never speaks ; has been fed with a spoon for fifty yearu — ffou 
know t" 

"I think I remember. She moves about though, doesn't sbet" 

"Ilardly that! Still site do<;s move and takes nourishmmt, to 
that there is uo difficulty in dealing with the ease, iiom the nur«c<' 
point of ricw. But it is all like an automaton. In a certain sense 
her lufulth is wonderful She must he nearly niociy, but » 
extraordinarily well preserved." 

"Well i — you were going to say !" 

"I was going to say that they had a consultation orer thu com nt 
my suggestion, and that thi-y won't have it — except Paisley — that 
she's a caee of traumatic insanity. I'm sure she is. It waa not 



^ 



ALIOE-FOR-SHORT 



Sf« 



found out at the Iwginniiiff — tta junn iifsrly before she came into 
the Hospital, ami thi'ii ehc was badly diafiaosed, 1 >iiispcct- And 
I bclicvp there would V* n posaiHlity — it'w only ii possibility, miiull 
— tbot if she were Irepaiined some mental revival miitlit take place. 
But I'm the only person it has ever ocoiirn^d to tint it might be a 
c«M) for operating. It would be rcry intereetiiiK to try, at any 
rate." 

"WoiiW it be right !" M 

"Perhaps. Possibly even a release from a long agony — an incoii>f 
ccivable release. Baron Trenck would be a triflr by coinparison. 
Anyway, it wouldn't be wrong becaute it was intensely inter- 
esting." M 

"No. darling! I didn't mean that— you know!" " 

"1 don't want to slice people up for a lark. But there arc casta — 
and I think tbis is one " 

"What is known of how it began t" Peggj-'a thoughts have got 
frw of her perplexity, and she is (tetling interested in the Case. 

"Tbe description in the Register Ht the Asylum^l's fifty years 
old now! — just fancy! it was standing there near ten years before 
ve were bom " 

Peggy shudders. It i> too appalling to besr flunking of. Rupert 
continues : — 

" says she was found one day by her husband seated at tJie 

fvoX of the stairs, in the atflle in which she rejoains now. She waa 
not brought into the Atrium for a long time after. There was then 
DO trnei* of n lo-sjon on the bend or Epiiie. My own belief is thatS 
if she had been properly examined at first something would have-f 
been fountL But the huebund doenn't aeem to have been very 
Aharp about it." 

"Didn't earn, perhaps!" 

"On the contrary, he was heartbroken, hived for thirty years 
in a place close by, that he might be at hand if a lucid interval 
cftine. None ever came. He's been dead a long time." 

What stranRc tricks memory plnya us when she has the field to 
herself! A good honest weneh. und sen'icffsble, is she when any 
check is at hand, to keep her in order and ronke her do her duty. 
She only wants the slightest reinind«. and there she is. ready at 
her post to act when called on, or candidly to eonfess to fnilure. 
But Icjivc her in <-mpty space (we ought lo say empty time, in her 
case) without a monitor of any sort in sight, and behold t — in tho 
twinkling of an eye she changes to a diirarderly slattern ilint will 
do nothing; and then, in the twinkling of another eye. into an im^ 
of the activity of a wildest nnd the niendacil.^ ol «l Js.^'^J -NKaVi^^ 



L 



dS&i 



ii&l 



380 



AXICE-FOR-SIJORT 



a 



Don't sa? that it is impo«>iblR that Peggy and h«r husband can 
have forgotten Vurriuder and Charles's report of bU death, and 
^IM! ou with their conversation lui thougli iiivy had ut^rer beard 
of it. Taktt a(!ixiu»t of sixleeu mortal years, and recollect thai 
j/ou read it yesterday. Wc will sti«wcr for it that nnitltcr of thoo 
at thr tnonicnt connecti^d Verrinder with this case of catale^isy. 

"What a terrible story! What in her nanacT 

"Do you know? — now it's very fuxiuy — but eilber Fve never b©sn 
told, or Fve forgotten. The name was on tho roffister too- — llac- 
farlane— Brindlcy — whnt was it? — V«ry funny!" 

"But what do they eali her at the Ass[}itaf" 

"Oh — they catl licr Old Jane. I don't know if Iter nanu! is 
Juno. It doesn't follow." 

Old Jane I Sixty yoara of torpor! And the man that lorod 
that ah(! loved, waiting — wailing — a stone's throw off. for a l 
interval that ni^Tor came. Oh, but it was grialyl P«gKr M^ quit? 
siek to think of il. Rhe .iliut her eyue tight, tried lo grasp wbal 
it would have been, had it been herself and Rupert. And it iniflfat 
ham biTun, for lluit matter. Just n knock (in thn head. «iK>ugli to 
d^ltresa tli(* akiill (if Rupert was right) hut not enough to came 
aierciful death.— and then sixty years of life — such life! How- 
CT«r, of cnurse it wna quite possible that Old Jane was inMnc 
constitutionally, and that accident liad uotliing to do with it. That 
would he much loss allocking, aoinchow. i'ou say wits, jwrhapa! 
But is it not true that a life all warped and twisted. l>y a trivial 
miscarriage, is more shocking thun when it bears the Knilmark of 
an unseen mystery — eometblngr that looks like the well-considered 
fiat of n malignnnt Destiny, not an uninttmtional slab of Chanoet 
The higher metaph.vsic will no doubt point out that then ia roally 
no such thing ns Chance. Rnt it won't point out what constitatei 
the strange thing. Chance, that there ia no such thing aa. 

Peggy and her husband talked so long and ao late about Old 
Jane, that Lucy their eldeat daughter (we hare not senn hvr, ao 
far), who alc^t overhead, wondered what on earth papa and m«nima 
wetK going on about. And juat on the point of dropping asleap^ 
Mammn suddenly half-roused up and asked (somewhat in the man- 
lutr of an inquiititinr domionai' in January) whether the naoM 
wasn't Verrinder. But papa had quite stopped goiii^ off, and had 
gone off, paNt rvcall. 



"What, on, earth," said Mias T.uey, wliea she appcan-d next aora- 
inf: — ahe waa Misa Johnson, please you, and going to he fifti-cn very 
soon. — ^"What — on — earth, were you and mamma lalkiuc about 



ALICE-FORSHOBT 



S61 



late Ifirt nijrht? Talk— talk— ulk—ta!k— talk— talk! I thought 
you wcrp never going lo stop and go U> •Iwpu" 

*'We wen talkiiig," replita hor father, menduviously. "about Utile 
pussy cats, and how tbey ought to klss'thcir father oa both sides, 
inHtend of only onn." 

"yonsfnae. puppy I" — But ibp broad hint was taken for all that. 
"Do come and bolp me ti> tnunagp him, Aunty l.isay. Tou know 
you can alvrays make hitn r«aw)uabl«." Lui^.v'a uiotber u»ed to say 
sho reminded hrr strongly of hrr Aunt Ellen when sh--. ws» a girl. 

Alice U making tea at (his momt-nt in the story. When yoitJ 
•re makina tea you don't answer cbits. But wbpu you have filled' 
the pot qiiitft up to till! top, then you answer the child, mid ti^ll them 
to kiss you on both eidee, as veil as papa. At least Alice did so. 
in this MISC. 

"And there m no bad side, and T don't «are what you say. Aunt; 
Ltssy. Vou can't feel it with your lips, if you try ever "o." Tha 
chit tries ever so. Otlwrs trj- <)ver bo too, and our old Alioe bids 
fair to be suffocated under this course of experimental rc^e-arch. 
On« hM to pay penalties for extreme popularity. 

As Peggy appears, rather later thun the world (tenerally, we 
ont help beinji reminded of that other break fast-table, year* ago. 
at Hyde Park GanJeiM. W<! aee that Peyrgy iii on her way to her 
toother's majesty of form (suppose we call it) and it can't l>o 
helped. If nhe could only achieve a certain pomposity — ("poor 
Grandmamma I") — we eboidd feel that she was on the rnnd to gin'* 
era] identification. But she doesn't cork; up Ui tho murk. We aee 
the likeness of tlie confidence and youth of now to that of old; that 
Lucy is ns cocksure of everything in Ilcnvcn and Eartli im her 
Aunt Ellen was before her; that poor little drowned Dan's posthu* 
mous namesake (given the chance) would g" on the ice in diitiance 
of pai4(-keepera, even a^ he did. Lvt us hope no such thinjc may 
happen, and that Luey may not many a reprobate in the face of 
every warning, and be left a young widow dependent on relations 
after payiuR all her dear husband's debts, gambling and othcrwiiw. 

We Mt uU ibi-ai- tilings, and then we sec there is a tiling we miaa.J 
It is Alice-for-sborl. There are midgets and poppets in this hous 
too, but if tlw-y wen- down.itairs now and not in tlic nunery, wo 
should see they belonged to another typo of midget and poppet. 
We arc glad to find that the young woman who is eornv*ling tho 
«ffectB of what amounted to a scrimmage, before atttiug down to 
brrflkfavt, actually reminds us of what Alice-for>short was then. 

"Well, children. I hope you're satisfied. Aunty Liaay is goint; 
to liave lea, lliank you 1 And you may pout \l om\, Iwt N»«, \\i\'^i 



L 




\0 DC 

rer tfe^ 



d^r. and sAret her ibc trouble. And you boys tna; baud ber die 
hot roUo from tlic fender; only don't fight for which it's to be" 
Juic;r is of cour«i.' Ltic^, who proceeds to predominate over 
«cr\'in£ out of tra and coBre. 

"1 tfll ,vou what. Aunty Lissy" — it is Rupert »bi> speaks 
you don't look alirp Bnd ecttle up about vho he's to be, you won't 

f^l thi! bt-tic'lit iif your morks " Two or tltree denuindit an 

made for explanation. 

"Why ! — wMsn't your epidermis going to ketT> Yforthless, shnllow, 
thingummy 'hobs, nud were tiomelhin^-oT'Olhers ot a diataocel 
Brilcd rnsherl yes— pnss your Atinty the mustard along with 
Dan. and don't spill it over the lableeloth." 

"You've given me the whole dish fnU. No, Dr. Jomson— como 
now — be ri-usouablel It wnen't me said that. It was mannDO." — 
This is the name Peggy is known by whenever there is a quorum 
of childr<-n. 

"Was it me) I hope not. It's too much like a book for a good 
boy." 

"All I can say is," Alice goes on, "that if Mr. Charley's n«it 
(treat find for me comes and says: — 'See how I love you !u spito 
of your rcpwlrrive phyiiiognomy,* I shall just " But she in inter- 
rupted by Dan, who wants to know what pkjtsiotjnom)/ means. 

"It'll long for mug." And Don retin.'!i for the time to reflect. 
"Thero nowt tlial boy's made me foritet what I was f;oii;g to suij!" 

"Do you know." interposes the grent physician, "last night 
mammn nHked me quite sudd<.-iily whiit iin old womun's name witf, 
and I knew it, I know; nnd her asking knocked it clean out of my 
head, and I haven't luT'n iible to get il back since." 

"Of c<nirs<^ you didl" says Peggy, looking up, "and I reooileded 
it afterwards, and you were a«l«!pr — Sir Rupert tn^Cf^ix bewil- 
derment by ruSliug his hair, and glaring. "Well, that u a little 
incximpn^K'neible. I admit. Rut I reeolleeted what the name must 
be. Of course it w«.t Verrinder. And llinl poor fellow Charley 
knew, that died — oht before ever we were married, must have htta 
ber husband f 

Rupert sits Ktill with an animated face, letting memory revive 
ami lake ponM-ssiou. "Of courm-l I recollwM it all now. Foney my 
never putting two and two together I" 

One of Time* odd revenges, or pnredoxc«, i* that AMcc shovs no 
interest at all in this reminiscence. But is it really odd. aecing 
abe wa« aix when it hujipfTnedl She certainly shows none, and white 
P^BT "nd *"<■' hn*l«»d talk about Verrinder. she explain* to Dan 
the meaning of the word mug, metapboricoUy uacd. Dan bas come 



I 




ALICE-FOR-SHOBX 



389 



out of his maxe of thought, anJ demanded lijrht, more light. But 
Peggy brings Alice back into her section of the cunvcrBation. say- 
ing. "Alice <lear, do listen to thia. You ought to be interested in 
it because it*3 nil mixed up with your ring." On which Alice does 
one of the little illoincal thiiip one tio often dovs, in reality and 
out of fiction, and immediately looks at her ring, with her pretty 
fingers stretched out for its l)cst adranlage. "Why my ring?'' sba 
asks. 

"Because, MJss EaTanegh, this Verrinder was tlie queer old 
artist Charles knew, that had the portrait Phillips was called aft«r, 
that was supposed to have Iwen painted at No. 40. And was sup- 
posed to have beeu connected with your ghoat. Aiid was eupposed 
to hare had to do with the murder in the cellar." 

"Oh. I remember! Thi-\v dug up bones." — Thus far Alice, id 
responge to explanation as above, given mixcdly by Peggy and her 
huaband. We have to keep on recollecting Alice's age sixteen 
years ago, to account for the way she accepts the story as a passing 
intc-rest, nowise vital. The ring had always been to her a rin^ 
with au o<l(l association, half- forgotten, lliut had as it were wanted 
to spbU Phyllis and failed. There had been some talk of the story 
Bince; as when Phillips was christened Phyllin Cnrtwright Johu- 
80n, in a freak, at the time CharleB hud the old picture out andM 
won discussing if it should be cleaned or not. But even about her^ 
oim ghost. Alice was, as Charles said, a wi^ak-kiiivd wituexB. tf 
yon are about twenty-three, turn To and try recollections of sis aud 
MCven, and you won't wonder at Alice. 

However, she on reflection acquired a strong vicarious iQt«reat 
in the eubject. She recollected how interesting it would bo to Mr. 
Charley to bear all about it when he came in the evening. Also. 
OS noon as fhe full.v assimilated the story of Old Jane, she felt 
excited to Bee how the experiment would turn out, if it were ever 
tried. 

There were a good many difficulties in the way of this. .\11 the 
Asylum was against it. except Dr. Paisley, mentioned by Rupert as 
bi« only supportirr. Its strongest opponent was Dr. Fludyer, whom 
we recollect at the time of Verrinder's death, and who was in fact 
the only person who could be considered to be his rep rvseutn tire. 
He bad what Rupert called a strong inverse interest in the life of 
Old Jane, because a sum of money left with him an trustee for 
bor, was to come to him at her death. This made him morbidly 
sensitive about any departure from the routine of fifty years. So 
loDg oa no changi- was made, he was Hiife from iniputiitv<% (li u^\ 
vnpleasant Borl. He certain!^ would aol conaenx, \a wo. wxj^iviaKoS' 



WW B 



L 



S$4 ALICE-FOR^HOKT 

which cou]d at 1>est onh frive me cbanoe in a thousand of 
benefit to the pntimt ; nnd, which, ten chanoM to mui, might end 
in hn- di-ath duriun; the operation. Sir Kup«rt. who was a Tery old 
friend of hie, ^aid to him ; ''You know, Fliid^^r, I have only a 
acientifie iiitt^rest in the case. And I have no toctu tlanAi. For 
I am not even nttachcd to the Iloepilal. All I say is, that if Old 
Jane wcrr m.v inolh(!T, I wouhl make the trial." Fl»drer ntplitd: 
"So wtiuld I, oii the stTentelh of an opinion like yours, if ebe wcM 
ffiir molbor. But she isn't, and at her thiuth I should come into t 
tbouaand poundci iu consok. I would rather she di«d a perfi 
natural dratb.^ 

'^ou admit thon." said Sir Rupert, "that you are grudgins 
poor old rc-mnnnt a dinner you voidd sive ^our mother, la order tA 
aruid an iroputaiion no man who luicw anj-thing about you wooU 
attach the »lif^tC'Ht wriaht to." 

"Would yuu (I'uaraDtn; her ourviving the op<;nition, Johnaaaf 

"No — 1 wouldn't 1 Nor your mother's either, caltri* paributJ' 

"You don't undcrKtand. What I mean i* that nobody would 
impute mere selfish ncicnlific interest — nor t^vaa a wiith for a than- 
eaud ])ounds — as a motive in the ease of a son and nioUier." 

"Quite a mistake I Thcrv ia a large and inlhiential public which 
belieT«>s lluit the Faculty of Kedidne ia only restrained by Law 
from vivisecting its vitm and daughters under ansetheties; and 
a «liil lar^r one that cretUta it with r4.-adinefs to do Hw iiamo with- 
out amtatlieties for a thousand pounds — mother, father, anybody, 
vvm la the third and fourth generation. Nercr mind M«>n/ Oi' 
the old woman a ehaucc. If you do kill her she'll bo gratef uh" 

"You don't know that." 

"Don't It Weill abe'a not altogellier iu her right mind 
baps I don't !" 

A tibort timer after this couveraation Sir Rupert got a not« from 
Dr. Ftudycr, as follows: — 

"I have inanage<I to aaaign my tnial«ealiip to tho Iloiipital, 
well as the interest in the reversion. Uy colleagues know why I 
have done this. I ttliouldn't at all wonder if a good maity chang^^^ 
of opinion came about in the matter of Old Jane. I fancy tl^| 
Opposition was a good di.-al my <loing. . . ." ^^ 

"I do hope you're rigbt, deareet." said Pegry, when ha iT«d her 
this letter. 

"I ahal) have no doubt I am if ihei,- all oome round. Bnt I i 
say nothing further to influence tbcm. I totd them m.v opi 
bceauMc it wnn and in tny opinion. But the ease tti theirs, 
thej- mutt take the reepouaibilily of doc' " ** 



>odv, 

I 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



3dS 



"Well now— I rait that m*an !" 

"Not a bit nf it! If tlipy iMrttlc to do it, I tiball back tli«iii 
op. But I ehati't ea.v more tliau I have done. They know what 
I think." And thi?n hi» wife frit certain thnt Mooiter or later tlie 
trial would be made. 



L 



Meannbile. Old Jane— that was jouag Jane once — wan a eaae 
in a ward. She was foiinic Jaoo once, young and actire Jane, 
with u life before her to live, witli another young life (*> it trans- 
pired afterwards) to come and to be lived for later, when that 
atrange unforeseen mistchance cu»xign«d tier ti> a living death, 
with the husband she had loved watching by the tomb, waiting for 
news that the corpw had mored, for a glentn of hope that he might 
see the disjnanlliH] bonie repleuiflhed. aud the firea burning a^uin 
upon the hearths. Think how bo raunt have started at every step 
upon tht- itiiin, how he inttst buvi- said to biin-ti-U a thousand times, 
''It may be — at last !" — ond liow it was a mistake, or a parcel, or a 
letter witli notJiing in it. Think hctw. one by one, the friend.i be 
had hnil died away, and he had no heart for more, even hud he had 
the power to draw them to him. But the rpring^ grew brackish in 
that deJKrt. and liven dried up. And the canker of hia loncUnes:* 
crept into his heart, and hi* life grew to be a blank, a long drawn- 
out paufc. nn awaiting »f a thing tliat enme not; a silence with a 
liKteoer in it — a listener for a word that was still as possible — so 
diey anid who Khould know — as nn tlie day whiii he found bit wife 
Bpeecbleee at the stairfool, at the beginning of the eilenoe, and 
wondered why (he ilid not uprnk. 

Poor old Jane, that was young Jane oucel That was ulive. and 
Gpokc and breathed and moved in the days before the battle of 
Waterloo: the days before any railway with trains worth men- 
tionins on it, or any paddleboat on the Atlantic, with its trium- 
phant reeord of nine mih-s un hour all tin- way from Brintol lo 
Mew York; the days before the Twopenny Post and Winsor'a 
Patent Cus. In ihoae days her awful burnt! of hnlf-a-i-entury wan 
unbuilt; and the l^eldH were tcrcen near where it stands; and milir- 
vtonea to!<l the fout-travL-!l<-r on ih<- Lnmbeth Rnnd that he was one 
from Westminster and two from I^ndou. For then Betlilehem 
fioapital wan in M<iorfi(!ld», far enough away, and "The Magdalen" 
Btood where it stands now; and Its patients were under trimtmcnt, 
in those day«, with leg-locks and surprise -baths, and rotatory diaira. 
Lucky for Jane that while thin Syatcm wtm in vugiio nbe was still 
young Jane, and the daughter of a fashionable portrait- vuvXei 
who waa having a high old lime at No. A/i, ooi o\^ Vu:>m»6 vd> %>^aA\ 



I 



see 



AUCB-FOR-SHOET 



i 



wher« she was requitiii^ the passion of bis f ounie assistant. «4ww 
rmplofmcnt wan to put his tabU-cJoth, hi* chair-hark, bis bit «f 
(Irapet?, his Inndacupp backgrouud. intu hh faaluomibI« portrait. 
Thi* fnthrr of hers had a very good slanding io his day; and erco 
now llie fortitiititc owiior of o:ip of his works will nay to you, "Tbat'i 
a Slecjilp,'' with conBdciKw that you will be au fail of Slevxle^ 
That wasn't his rwJ :umi<r, niul we are not going to tell it, for the 
»ime reason we have kept Becw?t the name of the street he Ureii in. 
He was there, name or no, and paintet! the fanhionnlili- |iortniit> 
iu the room where Charles is now at this tuomeut, with Alice, vbo 
has lx!en sliopping in Oxfonl Stre«>t and ho3 looked in to pay him « 
visit, telling him that Dr. Jouifloii is quite excited because, owintr 
to bis advice, (bey are going to trfTiau the old lady of nearly ninety 
at Bethltheni Hospital. 

"And she was old Verrinder'fl wife! Poor old chap! Sixty 
yeiire!" — Charles, who says tliis. is, wc perceive, going to leave oS 
bringing bis picture tugethor (that i« what he was doing) and to til! 
a pipe. One would really think, from the amount of bringing 
together tliey r«ijiiire, that Charles's ])ittures were painted iu scg- 
menla. each in a ditTerent European capital. He deserts some piM* 
of it (so to speak) on its way from Itoda-Pesth (for inrtance) 
sits down on one of tliose boxes witli an S perforated in them, ini 
which valuables get and rattle for ever and never eome out. 
lights the }>ipe and sits faeing Alice, and the gloi>m we know was 
on bis face before she came in has vanished. She has thrown her- 
self into the choir M>s« Straker sat in us llinH Tliiscltou. read) 
about the Octopus. Her hands are on the arms, and her face 
bright and animated, and fluslicd with walking in tlie cold, cli 
weather. And you really can only just see any mark, bar ibat hi 
place round the corner where pcoplr kiss you. That, it sorms, wi 
on tlic next page of that letter- What did it matter, as long ae 
kissed you I That was her selfish view. 

Alice keeps her parcels oh her knee, to express the full nwmeo- 
tariuess of the proceeding. "I am in the lop of a bird of paamgc," 
they Efem to say. She vtry often pays Charley a flying visit of this 
£iort, but always defines the po«iti.-iii to hernelf. no doubt aa an 
apology for interrupting business. This time she has come 
to tell him about Rupert's announcement the night before It 
quite true he will tw- nt Harley Street in the evening, but then' 
you see— Alice was absolutely passing the door. 

"Dr. Fludyer wbh at dinner la^t night, and HJr. Lionel 
who's to do it," Alice continues thus: "We wvn »o sony 
weren't there." 









ALICEFORSHORT 



387 



L 



"It vu Mm. Jeff's birtiiday. nnd T couldn't bo off going. Did 
Flud^r aaj if lie's fotmd out any more about Old JnncT' 

"Oh y<«. Hi- tiilkiMi n Rood dciil ubotit h(-r. oiid told us lots of 
tliiii«s. But I thought it was the twins' birthday — or tho twinsca*— 
which ought it to bc(" 

"I prefer twinseB'. But it was moat of their birthdaye. They 
take them nil in a lump now, on the samp djiy. Wc Ii«d a most 
turbulent eveuiug. But telJ me what Fludyer said he'd found 
out." 

'•Well — bo hadn't found out auything now. But when Mies 
Peggj- and I (tot at him. of course we made him talk about whnt 
Verrinder bad told tiiiii — bi-apit mon- tliaii Lord Rupert ever did." 
This was another sobriquet of Rupert, used in this case as a »ng- 
Bc^stion that its owni-r ne<!dn't be so high niid mighty and give him- 
self airs, because we could collect evidence much better than he. 
V<>rrind<!r had told nt odd times a good drul about his wcdiliiig. 
"It was a retiular Orelna-Oreeu bueiness. They actually went all 
tiler way to Scotlntid, nnd were pursut-d, nnd got a couple of people 
tltcir own Aite to put on tlieir clothes and go on instead of iheia 
in the coach to York, and they stayed at the Inn and took another 
<:oHch laiiT. Tlien her father was i:i such a rage be never would 
speak to her or see her after. Dr. Fludyer says he never saw Vcr- 
rindrr really smile except that time he told about the Htage-coadi 
trick." 

"Did Fluyder moJte out there had ever been a reconcilia- 
tion T 

"Oh yes — there was no reconciliation. He never told Dr. Flud- 
yer the father's name. But they mtver mudt- it up. He :nad<' a 
little by illustrations to books — they were always done from hi^ 
wife." 

"I think I've seen one. It was called Uelesinda. She waa bein^ 
» Beauty, and goggling at you." 

"I know ! Well — poor Jane, or Meleainda, used to ^ve singinfr 
lessons m help thing« out. And they were awfully poor and the 
father never would help," 

"And did Fludyer »ny he told him how tho catalepsy, or whatever 
it waa. began)" 

"Yes — only he says he didn't tell him much. Only he told it 
ovitr and over again; so he recollecls it. Ther« was a very old lady 
Uelesinda knew, whom he caUed her father's landlady — but Dr. 
Fludyer never made out why, or what she wns. Either abe had 
epeut the evening at their house, or they at hers, Dr, Fludyec 
wafin't sure which, and she had been tellioe t^bcYci (A& i^tv«». ^ 



386 



AlICE-FOR-SHORT 



L 



nhra the was a girl, and inthsr Molcsinda — that's Old Jane, 
knuw ■• 

"I know. Go ahead P' 

"EiUutr dbo wrat opMairs to bring the old lady's thiofrs down for 
her to iro, or went up to get on her own, one or the othcr- 

"Docttn't mn««T which! And «he tumbled downstairs I" 

"Jiiat that! Oril.v .von might have let me do tlie climax, Ur. 
Chflrlcy d<?nr! Spoiling my story I Wv\\ — thc.v benrd n cry and • 
lumbk and went out and found her eilliug at the foot of ihe 
stairs. And h^ snid to her, 'My darling— are joii burl f— And 
nwer an*wiT«l. und n<!Ter spoke e^ain." 

Alice's Toice breaks as »he finishes T)t. Fludyvr's rnmini: 
"Poor old JaneP uja Charles. And both eit ailent for a spaa. 
Then Alice speaks. 

"I think tlir Old Oak Chest was worse." tihe sajiL 

"Do you? I don't! Young Lovell's bride was dead outriiill' 
And ns for young Lovell, I ex[icct he married tlic- prcttitwt bridn- 
moid. Oh nol This was worse. But did he never tell Fludyer 
bow he came to have th« father's pictures f 

"Oh yes — Dr. Fluityi^ did aay something about tbaL Wlutt mi 
it ( Oh, / remember. He — the father — died a year or so after th* 
daughter was pieced in the Hospital. At) his bclnngineit \r«at to a 
nepliew, who wasn't u bad fellow and allowed Verrinder to chooM 
a dozen of the pictures provided be only saw the backs. So Ver- 
rinder chose from tlinn with their fneea to the wall." 

"lie made a lucky choice, Bauerstein hsis just sold the Turner 
ior e:)|[ht hiindml, 1 suppose that wax when he miliccd the tunne 
Phyllis Carlwrieht." But Charles didn't say the last two words. 
Bo only thought tliem, end Alice wasn't on the alert, and didn't 
ask what name. 

"Why did he never tiy to sell them T 

"I can understand that. There whs uothinin; to be gmued thi 
by withdrawing her from the .Anylum. I'robably she was better 
cared for there than she would haw been eWwhere, Beaid^yt, he 
knew the value of the pictures would go up. ile kept on hoping— 
poor devil ! — for iiewa of u uleam of liirfil,'' 

"I suppose it was what they Kold for that made up most of 
tlioui4ind jiounds Dr. Fludyt-r talked about.*' 

"I was told they fetched two hundred. But be iniut have h 
aomethtng of bis own, or what did he live on i" 

"Dr. Fludyer supposes he ran throtiRb most of it tryinfc to k 
np bis home, and nurse her. And llicn wWd ho was beaten at 
he got her into the Hospital and lived oa a akilliag a duty. 



a t I 

M 



ALICE-FOR-SHORT 



389 



irpMit at Diueb of hi* life ah hn could at the Ro.val Aoa(I«niy RcfaooU. 
Tbe landlord of the house sa^B bie used to pa^ whutt bour^ outaide 
on thi! roof, looking nt the dome of the Aayhim." 

Charles's face clouds orer sUfrhtly — "That's bow 1 ahall end up," 
eaid be "I don't mean nittitiK on a rnof lookiofc at Bedlam. I 
mean meaainfr about at llie Schools. Only I haven't a Lif<!-Sta- 
dcntehip, by-the-byel Not even an A<*adeniy medallist 1" 

"Oh. Hr. Cliurley! ^V)lat affcclntion and nouiWDHc! Yo;i know 
you'i* only fishing for compliments. Wly,' — 'The Shirt of Neesus' 
ie tlte b«Mt thins you've ever painted, and it's to be done by April 
and hunfi on the line." 

"It gniinda exactly like the Wash," says Chnrli-s. "I wonder 
whether NeeanVs ahirt was sent home starched, and pinned to- 
gether without ca»«r, and Nesaiis conldn't net the pin» out and 
used an expression." Alice laughs with pleasure at a relaxation in 
the tone of the convcraation. 

"I like yon now!" she says, "You've come out of the dumps. 
But you know what 1 think, Mr. Charley, and what Mother P^ 
tiiink« (" Tct another nicknajnc;, for Peggy, thU time. M 

"No— what {" 1 

"Why, wc both think ,vou would sucwed in the other as well." 

"Which other ! I haven't succeedi-ci in this one yet," 

"Now. that's mere affectation. Don't be so jnvcnile, Mr. Charley 
dear I Why, of courac. Literature — Fiction — I ought to know t Vm 
m literary lady." 

"I darpJtny you would know, Alice, if I had ever written any- 
thins." 

"That's aupprcseio veri and suggeatio fnl»i! Besides, it's fibs!" — 
The blue eyes jret more serious as Alice goes on — "No^Mr. Char- 
ley dearest! I'll deal candidly with you. I stole a manuscript of 
jours and read it.'' 

"HuOo!" 

"Tm, I did. And it n'cnt away with me and my germs to the 
Kursjiut Home, and when the raeh had come out I began reading 
it. Th<'n I got awfully bad again and 1 hud to finish it after." 

"Here's a pretty confession. Alice- for-ahort ! Well— I never T' 
Charles's face, ns he xitc pufiing at his pipe and gazing nt the 
penitent, is full of love and a<lmirat)on for her. If the former 
is crossed by a hnlf -thought ihst the love of a reel father, brother, 
uncle — whateviT be counts himself— -docs not call for keeping 
under; he thruets it aside, fortified by the confidence that »h* has 
no auch line of tlinught; and if it is so, so long as he keeps it under. 
it can't matter what it is. Alioe-for-sbort is to \]fc \i^»^^ «A «. 



BUi 



390 



AltCE-FOR-SnORT 




Banctioncd Romen. n*!)!! nover n blood -f):ii<I between the fsniilis* — 
a highly Midowetl Lovell whose old oak chest* don't hasp. Prob- 
sbiv what nniild bo r<;htctAii<« to lose Alioe take« the form of : 
jjoslerous ilemaiids on the powers of the Creator in connection 
Mr. A\i<if. Bill his ndmiration is unqualified, cvm bjr that «i 
mark just round tho ooruer, where they ktaa you, Howerer, 
Alice go on with her utory. 

"Tin not much nslinniwl, Mr. Churiey Heath; m yflti needn't lo 
eo reproachful. I finished it after, when I was Ketlinjc better, AnJ 
J thought it was beuause I was so weak and used-up that I 
over it as I did." 

"Probably it was. A sufficiently large Public of conn 
from Siuallitox would be a boon to sentimental publishers." 

"No — it wax nothing of tlio sort. Sister Thc-a got it after 




"The Smnllpnxt" 

"Nol The manuscript. And she cried and sniffed all one nij 
And then the Mother Superior got it and crird and nniffi^d too," 

"And which was this raluuhle and aSectiner work that you 
Hiss Thief, dear) And where did you steal iti" 

*'Chit of the drawer in tlie old tabli;. If Fd known there 
others, I'd have turned the whole place out." 

"What was this one!" 

"About Cicely Smith " 

"Oh yes. I remember her. She lived in b MmH irtnffy 
detached rilla on some land that was ripe for bnlldlDg, and nob 
built any more villas " 

"Yae, and her father called hiruaelf an A^ent. on a faraw platu. 
and nobody knew what he was Agent for. And she bad a stut^ 
mother, and a stufty aunt, and there were scarl<-t geraniums and 
daudelions in the front garden. And,— oh, my gracious me^ — i»0» 
Study it nil was!" 

"I remember Sia'ly Smith. She wanted to marry anybody to 
get away from home, and propo!>cd to a cabman. She proposed hf 
letter, and directed to his number, ami he wasn't driving Iiia en 
cab. and the wrong cabman wrote that he was a married man or 
nothing would hum suited him belter." 

"Oh, indeed, Mr. Charley t Then there's anotiier one for me tt 
read. Hand over tlitt manuncript 1" 

"Wasn't that Sisly Smith ( Then it was Sis'ly Brown. There 
were three of them, I know, all Sis'ly- Which wa« Sis'ly SmitbT 

'■How funny you don't remember! Don't you remember the 
yoaog man who used to go every morning to the City piast Cicely 



AUCB-FOR-SHORT 



391 



Sn!th*8 bouse? And hov he asked if the umbrella wa« hen, and 
tbcn after thnt thi-y «nid good-inoming iilwa.vH^ And Imw tiha 
uaed to look out for hiiu every day, and one day he didn't comet" 

"Allow mo to nrmark, Miss Kavanngh," nays Charles, spCAking 
exactly in the same vay as he »poke to Alice a3 she hujcged Tlio 
ingtttentK nf her brolwn becr-jiig in the street, years ngo. "that thn 
British noTeliat would have an easy task before him if he <y>uld 
command a public ready to shed teeirs on such very small provoca- 
tion. The tale, so fur. strikes me aa neither novel nor exciting." 

"You old Mtipid ! It wan the way it was told. It «iuitc made ono 
amdl thi- Jx>ndon suburb — the May loixiner with the burnt ballast — 
and tben when the heap wa» burned nnd got cold, how tlic mallows 
burst out nil over it. And th-* inexpliealjle steam-boiler that bud 
got Wt in the fields and seemed to belong to nobody.'" 

But Charles slinkos a slow iiicri^dulous head. "There is nothing 
in that boiler beyond the powers of the humblest aspirant to 
literary fame," he says, and Alice thereon itayii if lie means to be 
aggravating', she shall go. So he draws in his horns. 

"No — darling child! It's only my nomH-nscI I remember the 
story quite well. Sie'lj- beard the young bt'ggar was dtrod. and 
cooked tip a rniunncc about bim. And the Ktuffy home went nn, and 
Sis'ly got old<T aud older and older, and htr fnther look to drink- 
ing and had a strr.ke. nnd tlic stuffiness got BtuSicr." 

"Of courst-, you n^membcr all about it! Bui whnt I thought 
to good was tho growth of the ghastly suburb, and then the end. 
Only I don't think y<iu should have madt- thir old man tell her he 
Hhouffht be recollected coming along that road every morning 
when be vaa a boy. l)cfore tliey made the short-cut to the station,' 
and never recognise her." 

"What would you have had me do. Mistress Alice? Marry 'em 

upr 

''Certainly. It would have been such a relief!" 

"And him sixty!" 

"How oft*n am I to tell you, Mr. Charley, that Ag^ has nolh- 
ino — nothing whatever! — to do with ill" — Alice is quite Hushed 
and excited, because, you see, it is this rubbish about age that is 
standing in the way of some most happy arrangement for Charles. 
Her eyrjs are this much morp open than bis, that she bin: wonder^ 
whether, if he married again, she would misbehave herself as aha 
did on the w; of hi* first marriage. She acknowledges the wrench, 
but is blind to ever^.- happiness except bia. What would she liava 
been, but for him) 

Her rooted belief in the lerma of his oflcctioa foi Idsx Sk Vao* 



393 



ALI0E-F0R-8H0RT 




foM; one phase of it aesures her that be doesn't love her 
that"; the other that their rolation (connmiucntly) nrvd _ 
ch«iig« if bp marrie* fifty wives — nil of whom Alioe would 1ot« 
too if he did. 

But Altcu will be late for lunch, and tlio tnunjiliitg of Pope i 
Chappell's men icoiug upstairs says ono oclock. So she cools down 
and finjr* «lic m\wt nin, and kIh- and tho parMltt, which have awuit^ 
this moment with coufldeuce, are consigned to a UaDSom. whidi 
promises to look ^arp, aud nearly runs over a butcher's boj, who 
defies it with ytAU. 

Charles ^oea away to lunoh at Crcmundni's. with a bapfir stow 
at heart, wfatch will have to last him till senD o'clock, vrhcu be ml) 
bare Alice again in Harlej- Slrttct. Ho bnitds a few extra pe^ 
foctioos into Bomeo. or Lovell, without the dimmest overt idea ei 
any aelf-defenaive motive in «o doing. 

Parenthetically, wo may ask you to note that there was nothing 
in the forceuiiiK interview to &x Alice's sttentMo on VerrindBr's 
connection with No. 40. She knew of it, but vairuely. The wbok 
of hi.t trugrily could be dwelt on without the old bouso cominiB! into 
the story at all. You wilt see later why we ooU jmtr attoatloa ts 
this. 




CHAPTER xxxvn 



now Snt RUPERT IJOT IJI8 WAT, AKD PCOOY AND AUCC WENT TO BEDLUE. 
WIIEBE WEBC THE PATIENTM? A V»a.E»» VIUIL 

In spite of Dr. Fludyer's chnngr of opinion, there wna a goad 
deal of delay before the operation waa decided on. All the officials 
of the HriHpituI Mfmcd to fc**l onnfidont that if Old June wns care- 
fully fed she worild last indefinitely. After sixty years, three 
month* rountcd f<ir little. It woi* February before the final deci- 
BJon waa arrived ut and the <luy fixed. 

Thrn, one morning iiiddcnly. Sir Kupert said to his wife. "Tho 
operation nu Old Jnnc i« fixed for Thurndiij'." He spoke ne if it 
was quite an everyday affair, 

"Oh, Rupert, darling I Uow anxious you will beT* But he 
appeared quit« unmoved. 

"Not the least r' eaid he, Tve given my opioion for what it'a 
worth, and tlu'y think it worth acting on," 

"I should run away and hide my eyea and hold my ears till it 
WB» over, if I wm- you 1" 

"No — you wouldn't! If you were me you would do oa I mean 
to do. I nhall be on the spot the whole time, 1 shan't bp of any 
nee, but Isaacson saya he would like me to be there, He'a twenty 
timoi the operator I am. But he would like my moral support, ho 
suys." 

"I'm thankful I'm not going to be there." 

"I want you lo tome, Yoi: and Alice," 

"Good heavens, Kupert ! What neitt t" Peggy exclaims. 

An<i thrn the voice of Alice ironies through Uie door from thb 
little puS-rooni where she is seribbUng: '"What's that about mef 

"Come in here and well tell you." Both say thin togtithcr, and 
Alice rustles, and udjtiats papers, and ehuta an inkpot, and comes. 
She wttles on a sofa, with her chin on her hands, as we linve Mcen 
ber before. Tire away!" she says, and Die blue tye* stand open 
lo receive information. Sir Rupert eite down beeide hia wlfo oppo- 
site to her. 

"Didn't you hear what Dr. Jomeon said I" 

-No-I didn't I" 

393 




• 



tor M 

4 



394 ALICE-FOR-SHORT 

"He wants mo and jou to go to Bedlam and sec that i>oot old 
woman trepanned." 

"Well! I don't think I can M«nd it." 

"Xo more could I. But if Dr. Jomson liLes nw to go, and 
dowii and have hyaterica. I'm game," 

"I don't want you to see anything of the openlioo." He i* 
tpuve und serious and (luilv iu earnest "What I n-ant in to ban 
one or more ([ood obeervcrs, preferably women, at hand when ibn 
ri:viviil of coniw!ousneaa oonics. if it cumcit. !^[,v own imprrauioa 
is limt it will, to a certain extent. Only there may be a complete 
nrliipsc nf trr, and I want evurylhiiig to h- otifHTn-ud and ns-ollcctcd." 

"Why won't the people — nurses — aitcndants — at the Aaj-lum do( 
Why u» (" It is Peggy wlio nflkit. 

'•Bcfause." answers her husband, "they've got a Iheorj- api<«e 
about everything, and nono of them will recollect anything ihai 
don't n^ree with it. I want raw. live human creatures, of good 
average iniplligence," 

"(id iiii<l s!up your wifki-il pnpa, Alwy dnrling.'' Big Alice is i 
speaking to little Alee, who was present, and look an e«u-ly opp«^j 
tunily of climbing up her when site eat down. ^^M 

"Tbiu you'll come, you and Alice i" ^B 

*Tio, tfaat'e not fair ! We nevtr promised." Both join In tfai* 
atateuienl, more or leaa. 

"I muKt tell you, I don't the Icnst sntioipato anything like a 
resurrection from the grave. It would be ulnuxtt like that if the 
showed any consecutive intelligence. But what I want to have 
very t-arefuUy noted, is whether she tI;row8 any light on how far she 
has been <?onscioiie in all this enormous period of apparent mental 
torpor. la absolute suspL*nsion of the n)in<l for so long oompuiiUle 
with maintenance of the ctrinilation and all the bodily functional 
If it was so. in this case, o good many scientific conclu«ona wiU 
have to be reconsidered." Sir Rupert i>auae(i. Perhaps bo ia tOBh 
uing too much into anticipation of the lecture on the subject faa 
will certainty give at some future time, at the Tloiipital, or else- 
where. He pulla out hia watch and looks at it. "Thai man'* late," 
he says, showing that his present moment of idlcnoM is not part 
of a programme, though a rewnt cup of tea was. But there comes 
a knock nt the door. "There we are." he nay*. And Ilandsworih 
comes in and says he has shown the gentleman into Sir Rupert'* 
room. "Very good thcnl Three o'clock on Thursday." And be 
hurries away, looking back to sdiy, "K'ow mind you neither of you 
nwki^ any other Migagemcnt," 



AXICE-FOB-SnOET 



9Wt 



"A wilful man will bare his way." says Peggy, laughing, to Alice. 
And Aliov n-plwa; "Never miiidl He reuU.v waiila us; »o let's 
go I" 

The day had come for Alio© and Peggy to risit the Kloomy 
myctMy. Bedlam, which had brcii hitherto, to both of tliMn, only 
the name of n nt(ihliiiare. u Daiitoaijuo Hell of horrors, ibot went 
on existing somewhere, but that no one had ever come acToss. To 
have Bedluii) sprung upou tlieni as an actuality, tu a modern time 
and in the metropolitan area, was an experience in itself, quite apart 
from what it was going to Ix.' when tlicy got there. Pi-'ggy looked 
forward to this with shrinking, in which anticipated pity of the 
nnliappT inmates allowed of no nlleviotiim from curiosity. Alicvj 
felt the same, but the vital activity of her laquisillveness about 
the unknown palliated it, and now that she had made up her mind 
to the adrt^uturc nhe would not liavt! given it up an any account. 

Ucr imagination, ninnintc ahead of her eompanion'a, 6Uicge8ted| 
that it would be safe to forget medijcval Bedlam, and prepare 
I mind for somelbing not much wor^e than a Workhouse. To thtl 
end, the mind would clearly be easier, if the convtrwution on 
way down took the form of a general rfeiunC of recorded horrorfi ' 
It would be like Onrrick's performance of Maebefh, when he showed 
his dread of Banquo'e ghost by going nearer to it with outstretched 
proleeting hnnds and averted head. Besides, so much stress eould 
be laid on jiastncssea, and the general advantages of being Uodcm 
eould be exhibited by force of contrast. 

"All the time I was going ofi last night," said Alice, in Saint 
Hartin's Lane, "that song Madge Wildfire sings was running in 



my head : — 



"Id lb« bonny cells <>f Bcrllam 
When I wiui inu^ail-titvuty 
I tud hempen bracelet! ilrODg 
Anil invrTT whip* iliii|{-<1<iii|; 
And prafer xad tailing plealj." 



p And Lady Johnson said she remembered it well and bow it lined 
to make her shudder when she was a girL "Oh, Alice, think of it!" 
she naid, "one and inenty !" 

"It i* gnpleasant," said Alioe; which was bravado. She con- 
tinued, piling up the agony. "They used to be put to sleep on 
wooden pallets in the middle of big rooms with the floors covonM] all 
over with pin-points sticking up. And e."diiV>ited to the p\i\A\R *». «, 
^low, and spun round rapidl)- on chairs, &nd con&oe^ 'N\.\WiMt. Vc^A 



396 ALICE-FOB-SBOBT 



jfii^ff 



i 



ID underiTound duD)cean& And the; weie rstiOs sane, ta of 

Dot. How nice it m thnt it's now, aowl And tluit it'o Cbarios 

Cross, with the fouutaina playing." 

It wos CharinK Cross, and th« sun hnd jtut como out «ft«r a 
abuwu-r, and a very small street Arab was ioduljpng in an cacapaiila 
in the foil tit si n*. For in defiance of all decency, he had fluni; ofi 
bia [hiu^ and gone into the water, end was deriding tbc ciril 
authority. Peggy wanted to stop and adopt him on the spot — he 
was so tempting in bis well-knit nudity — but tlio other appoint* 
mont could not be trifled with. They had to go on. 

Everytbinii; ihey passed und saw insisted on bc-ing looked at 
and neighed in its relation to Old Jane. Even the juvenile r«be], 
Blnppitig bi.i aliiniug tmnniy contentedly in the nunKbino, with a 
subdivision of Police threatening bim, but unable lo act, nuida 
tbera conlrnsl hi* uplcndid liberty, and glorious outlook of future 
defiance of authority, witli In-r cancelled and torpid life. The 
window iif Whitehall from which King Charles stepped out into the 
sun, and thi--ncc tuto his grave, suggestiid that his fate wn« an 
enviable one by comparison. The Horsiiguards. however much they 
were making believe that they were cut off from sympathy with 
human life, its struggles and passions, wore only doing so ofiicially, 
and were really taking notice of everything and meaning (o con- 
vi^rse intelligently with one iintillier about it as soon as they irett 
at libi-rly to speak. No surgical relief to the brain would be 
necessary there. Even when Peggy and Alice said nothing ti> 
one onoiber about iinpreasioiis of tliis sort, they felt iheni. one or 
both. And both probably expericncc<I, without defining, a feeling 
of the ouUousuess and self-absorptiun of tlie vast crowd in its con- 
stant ebb and fiaw, and contented ignorance of old Jane's sixty 
yiMTB of silence and oblivion. This was unroasonabic ; for wen 
they themselves giving her a thought, six months agoi 

"I must say," said Alice to Peggy, ns they turned round towards 
the bridge, "the poor old wotnau's was a mui^ nioer eort of insan- 
ity than that other one's Dr. Fludycr told us of, who talked inces- 
santly for aeven years. I hope lo goodnewt w(> shan't ^ec a case of 
that sort." 

"I hope not," aaid Pegay, fervently. She was fw-ling very un- 
easy about possible horrors. Alice wasn't unfeeling, but in lier 
tetiipiiriimcnt active curiosity outflanked unennine«s. She tber^ 
fore talked and speculated for herself and hi-r companion. 

"Wliat a goo<l tiling it would be if people that talk too mucfa 
could be vaccinated off Old Jim^l What art? all those men oa tbo 
terrace there over the riv. r ■: M> mbcrs of Parliament, are tbeyl" 




ALICE-FOR-SnORT 



»n 



Alice stopped and b(>came> reScctirc. We have no means of 
knotring whctlicr her UigtightK wrre disrespectful or otherwise. 
They most hare lasted over the bridge, as it waa abreast of KU 
Thomas's Hospital thnt nhc drew n long breath of n-licf. and Mid. 
"We're not goiu^ to bear a debate — that's one comfort 1" 

Pferhapa you who read tliU lure been a prowler about London, 
like our«eIf. If so, you will know the huge building with the 
portico and dome, and its plecsiiul open grounds all round, and ita 
beautiful oval lawn in front. But. if a languid pn;>w)er — liko 
oiirself — content to look at many thingH and woudi:r, and make 
□o enquiries, you may hare sauntered by this huge building and 
nciTcr iLSkL-d it-H Dame; nt^vcr known tlmt. as an institution, it 
records and represents three hundred years at least of the most 
appalling miscrry tliat cttn full on man. You may huvi: phkwkI it 
over and dismissed it; as. if one is lazy and pronls. one is apt 
to do with Inrgp building* thnt look a» if they hnd bonrdn nnd funds 
and annual reports. No doubt they are all riitht. and really have a 
purpose if one could only find it out. If they were merely Insti- 
tutioDS p*r «e, without qualifieatioiiH. wf- must survly (if n-e think 
seriously) wonder that any one should hare been at Uie trouble and 
expense of eomitructing tli«n! If, however, after you got homo it 
came to your knowledge that the huge building was Bethlehem 
Hospital, nud that BrrthlcluTm Hofpilnl was actually Bedlam- 
Bedlam itself, no other 1 — you must then have felt sorry you did 
not know it ut the limr. itnd pay n litlli' more attention. 

For though it is no longer in Moorlields. but Saint Cleorge's. even 
a* when in Mo'irfit-!d,» it wa« no longer in Bishopsgate-, it is still 
the Uospital of St. Mary Bethlehem. Kveii aa ihc Cuaes that , 
were in the home of the old thirteenth-century monastery, whoso] 
property had been "redistributed," were shiftetl through the air 
and light from their prison to the new one of Uoorditcfa. so when 
the latter gave up its nienlully dead, this waB the new tomb to 
which the still animated bodies were transferred. The tradition 
of horror haa never paused, sinoe the Srtt poor creature, auppoaed 
(groundcdiy or not) to be possessed by an evil spirit, was t^ea 
diarge of by the pious frati-niily of Saint Mar>-. nnd judiciuualyi 
imiwlvd on spikes, burned, lashed, or put in cragiping iroDs. as ft- 
practical stop towards the ejection of a Devil who made light o£ 
Kxorciam. 

And if Alice and Charles, as a result of slight nnd unskilful 
investigation, had bit upon tlie right records of the treatment of 
this iait exodus of woe, it was little bettct lUan l]tu.X i>l ^btb ^i\«.t%. 



I 

L 




398 



AUCE-FOR-SHORT 



^ 



If tl)e m^rrj whips ding-dong had been hung up out of tbe way, i 
hcmpni br(iccl<-l¥ strong coiiliniied in evidenw — iiml iJid eo till 
few ji-art later. But it is all long ago now, for except as an expe- 
dient of rclatiw* — a check on obnoxious brothers and sisters, 
wivea or husbands — probably there baa never been a fetter on a 
lunatic for more than 6{tf years pn^l. Maybe it makce let* diSer- 
enec! Ibuu ono thinks! But it ia pleasant to kui>w, pleasant onir 
to believe, that nowadays SJadnc«« is all the lunatic baa to suffer 
from, and tliat be hiia not to eiidurt Medievalism into the Imrgatn. 
!^till. insanity is what it is! What the Latin poet called it 1\to 
tiiciiiHaiid jt-iira ogo it remains now — the greatdit of crils, that 
knows not the name of the ^lave that boyhood knew, nor the face cf ' 
thii friuiid who culU im. in vain, by our own. 

"Bat I can't hoar any palientH." said Peggy to lier htisband, 
when he met them under tbe great porch, with Dr. fludyer. Ha 
had come early to he present at tbo operation, and had sctit tha 
carriage back for them. "What did you expect!" said be. 

"Wliy, of course, I>r. Jomson dear !*' answcn-d Alice, for 
her. "Mother Peg expected to hear the patit-ntu howl antl 
gibber." 

They passed up two flights of slaira into a loofc galler7-Uke 
ward — quite a hundred and fifty feet long. But it wasn't liko 
P<¥*.v's idea of Bedlam at all, nor Alice's. It was furnished from 
end to end as luxuriously as a fir«t-class hotel. There were ptctuiee 
on the walls and flowers on the tables. A lady was playing a 
piano. Others sat about reading, or looking at picture books, or 
doing needlework. One aaw notbiiij; wrouK. "*« for. 

"Bill we shall see some of tbe patients 1" said Peggy. The norao 
who accoinpunied tliem answered: j 

"These are sU patients. This is a patient" She laid her batxl 1 
on the sliouliler of a girl who £tat eto«c by, counting her fingnx.] 
"Ob, no! she doesn't know I'm speaking about her. She doesn't | 
know anytliing." This was in aittiwcr to a half-expression of pro- 
tect or apology from Peggy. Then she addressed tbe girl herself 
by name, nu(J the girl replietl, ''Directly I" But she went on count- 
ing her fingers. 

''It loolcs so reasonable for a moment," said the nurse, "hut she | 
has been like that for three months. She'll become chronic, motl 
liki-ly. But she's perfectly itufi- by herself. That other one isn'L" 
Tbe other one was a placid rcs)>ee1abte lady, who looked quite fit 
to be left in charge "f the ward single-handed. Peggy said ao, end 
the nurse replied: "Yeel Rcspousible sort of person, to look otl 



f ALICE-FOR-SnORT 399 

But abe'a i>ot safe witli a knife. It came quite 8udidei)l]r tbougli; 
it mav gn &wnjr a« quickly as it came." ^H 

"How diiiit comer ^ 

"She »rn( a Icir nf mutton fl.ving at h^r husband's head one daj 
nt <!iiini-r. Somfrihiiifc he aaid annoyed h<-r, an<l that brought it 
out. This is the ward." 

They hii<) got to the ent) of the long ward, and went into a 
passniie that nuide a lobby to another. Alice would so much hare 
liknl to know tvhy the girt counted her fingers, and what it was the 
husband had said to exasperate hia wife. Did not many husbands 
tir.irrve to hare legs of mutton thrown at theint Also a group she 
had noticed, near the piano, had puziled her. A young man on m 
sofa with hia face in his hands, oceming to be either in pain, or 
Hreat trouble. Over him. with pity on her face, «(omi a comiily 
pleasant eirl. Her right hand was on his shoulder; her left 
Stroked his head. "It's her huisbaiul." said the nurac. But then — 
this was a Women's Ward I However, there waa no time for ques- 
tioning — Alice would adt after. They passed on into n nnall ward, 
with beds, wher« they were to find the object of thia journey — iha 
old chronic patient of a lifetime. 

You know, perfectlj- wkU, how when the image of anrthing you 
anticipate seeing has taken op apace in your mind, you (ixpcd 
llie tiling, wbi-n it conieH, to fill up as large a space in the room (or, 
for that matter, the district) in which you find it. Old Jane had 
filled up so much of Alice's and La