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Title: Happy-Thought Hall
Author: Burnand, F. C. (Francis Cowley), Sir, 1836-1917
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  [ Transcriber's Note:

    Inconsistent hyphenation and spacing of abbreviations have been
    retained as in the original. Corrections of spelling and punctuation
    are listed at the end of this file.
  ]



                              HAPPY-THOUGHT
                                  HALL.


                                   BY

                             F. C. BURNAND,

           AUTHOR OF "HAPPY THOUGHTS," "MORE HAPPY THOUGHTS,"
                           "OUT OF TOWN," &c.



                             [Illustration]

                        ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHOR



                                 BOSTON:
                            ROBERTS BROTHERS.
                                  1872.



CONTENTS.


    CHAPTER I.

    THE IDEA--ADVICE--TITLE--PLAN--ON PAPER--SUGGESTION--COST--BOODELS
    --OLD FRIENDS--JENKYNS SOAMES--DESIGNS--STAIRCASES--BAYS--
    OBJECTIONS--ORDER OF ARCHITECTURE--STABLES--PRICE--GIVEN UP--
    CAZELL'S IDEA                                                         1


    CHAPTER II.

    NOTIONS--GUIDE WANTED--BLACKMEER--CHILVERN--HIS ELEMENT--VIEWS--
    OBSERVATIONS--DISCUSSIONS--FISHING--TROUT--SHROPSHIRE--THE LAKE--
    THE SOLITARY CASTLE--HERMITS--GAMES--DIFFERENCES--AT THE HOUSE       13


    CHAPTER III.

    WITHIN--THE HOUSEKEEPER--WINDOWS--INFORMATION--THE ORIEL--VIEW--
    FLOOR--MILBURD'S INQUIRY--TYPICAL DEVELOPMENT--MATERIAL--AN EXAMPLE
    --CRONE--POOR--MEDITATIONS--THE FRESCO--TAPESTRY--ARMOUR--MICE--
    RATS--THE GHOST                                                      19


    CHAPTER IV.

    ALONE--THE SECRET DOOR--UNSOCIABILITY--THE PICTURE--GRIM THOUGHTS--
    ONE CHEERFUL IDEA--MELON--HIDING--CRUEL JOKES--SPIRAL--ANGLES--
    ASSASSINS--WHITE LADY--A COMFORT--NERVES--THE DOOR--A GROWL--SNIFFS
    --A FOLLOWER--REASONING--SAD THOUGHTS--OUT AT LAST                   24


    CHAPTER V.

    ON THE ROOF--DOWN AGAIN--FURTHER INSPECTION--VARIETY--ELIZABETHAN--
    NORMAN--COLOUR--RAYS--FILTERED--CUI BONO?--SUGGESTION--PLAY IN
    STORE--THE STABLES--PREVIOUS TENANTS--GOOD INTENTIONS--NAME          31


    CHAPTER VI.

    CHOOSING A PARTY.

    ROOMS--DECISION--ODD MEN--RETURN--ARRANGEMENTS--THEORIES--
    OBJECTIONS--PROPOSITIONS--ELECTIONS--THE LADIES--WHO'S HOST?--
    GUESTS--HOSTESS--MORE PROPOSALS--GRANDMOTHERS--AUNTS--HALF-SISTERS
    --SISTERHOOD PROPOSED--GRAND IDEA--CHAPERONS--TERMS--IDEAL--A
    PROFESSION--A DEFECT--OR ADVANTAGE--ADDITIONAL ATTRACTIONS--OLD MAN
    --DULNESS--THEATRICAL--PLANS--THE PRESIDENT--EXPLANATION--IDEA       36


    CHAPTER VII.

    THE NEW ORDER.

    A BROTHERHOOD--SIMPLICITY--A DIFFICULTY MET--ILLUSTRATIONS--
    PROCEEDINGS--INTERVIEW--QUESTION--ANSWER--MODELS--PETITS FRÈRES--
    TERMS--RULES AND REGULATIONS--THE SCHEME DISMISSED--THE LIST
    SETTLED                                                              44


    CHAPTER VIII.

    A MORNING DISCUSSION.

    ON DEAFNESS--ESCAPES--BUTTONHOLED--A DISCUSSION--MORNING LOST--RAGE
    --DESPAIR                                                            53


    CHAPTER IX.

    A WET DAY.

    RAIN--THE MEDFORDS--CONVERSATION--A PROPOSAL--ACCEPTED--THE TRICK--
    THE LECTURE                                                          60


    CHAPTER X.

    OUT OF AN ALBUM--ON LOSS OF PATIENCE--MRS. FRIMMELY'S SUGGESTION--A
    DAY-DANCE                                                            71


    CHAPTER XI.

    A NIGHT SURPRISE                                                     78


    CHAPTER XII.

    OUR LIBRARY--BUSTS--DISTINGUISHED CHARACTERS--MELANCHOLY--GUESSES--
    SOAMES--MRS. BOODELS AGAIN--MILBURD--HIS JOKE--A NUISANCE            80


    CHAPTER XIII.

    MUSIC--MEDFORD--MILBURD'S SONG--CONSEQUENCE--OPINIONS--NOTE--
    COMPLIMENTS--EPIGRAM--THE DAMP FIREWORK                              84


    CHAPTER XIV.

    OUR POSTAL ARRANGEMENTS                                              88


    CHAPTER XV.

    MRS. BOODELS--BOODELS--HIS GRANDMOTHER'S OBSERVATION--HER FATE
    SEALED--THE COMEDY--HER DEPOSITION--NEW PROPOSAL--AWKWARD--
    MILBURD'S RELATION--INVITATION--THE DINNER HOUR--RECOMMENDATION--
    DECISION                                                             91


    CHAPTER XVI.

    FRESH ARRIVALS--DESCRIPTION--A HISTORY                               95


    CHAPTER XVII.

    SUNDAY--SUNDAY REASONS--A CHAMBER DIALOGUE                          108


    CHAPTER XVIII.

    MORE SUNDAY THOUGHTS--IN MY ROOM--A TELEGRAM--IMPOSSIBILITIES--
    INTERRUPTION                                                        116


    CHAPTER XIX.

    THE PROSAIC GENTLEMAN.

    A WALK WITH SIGNOR REGNIATI                                         120


    CHAPTER XX.

    A SUNDAY CONVERSATION                                               123


    CHAPTER XXI.

    COMMENCEMENT OF MY SAYINGS FOR SUNDAYS                              130


    CHAPTER XXII.

    THE PROGRAMME--THE FARCE                                            136


    CHAPTER XXIII.

    AFTER THE PERFORMANCE, CONVERSATION COMMENCES                       181


    CHAPTER XXIV.

    CHILVERN'S BALLAD--THE MORAL                                        191


    CHAPTER XXV.

    IN AND OUT--BEFORE THE FIRE--MEDITATIONS--SURPRISES--HAPPY THOUGHTS
    --AWAKENINGS--SLUMBERS--BELL-PULLS--BOOTS--VALET--DIFFICULTIES--
    MRS. REGNIATI--WHAT'S ON THE TAPIS?--MATCH-MAKING--CUPID            198


    CHAPTER XXVI.

    AT DINNER--WEIGHT--WATCHING--JOKES--PROTEST--AWKWARD SITUATION--AN
    ANNOUNCEMENT--INQUIRY--ARRIVAL--PRACTICAL JOKES                     206


    CHAPTER XXVII.

    FIFTH WEEK--DIFFICULTIES--HINTS--BOODELS' SECRET--ARRIVAL OF JIMMY
    LAYDER--A CHANGE--PRACTICAL JOKES--PLAYING THE FOOL--DRESSING UP--
    MORE JOKES--CHEMICAL LECTURE--EXPERIMENTS--RESULTS--OPEN WINDOWS--
    COLDS--DEPARTURES--SMALL BY DEGREES--BEAUTIFULLY LESS--THE SHILLING
    AND THE TUMBLER--BOODELS' LAST--TWO'S COMPANY--CONCLUSION           209



HAPPY THOUGHT HALL.



CHAPTER I.

    THE IDEA--ADVICE--TITLE--PLAN--ON PAPER--SUGGESTION--COST--BOODELS--
    OLD FRIENDS--JENKYNS SOAMES--DESIGNS--STAIRCASES--BAYS--OBJECTIONS--
    ORDER OF ARCHITECTURE--STABLES--PRICE--GIVEN UP--CAZELL'S IDEA.


_Happy Thought._--To get a country house for the winter. To fill it with
friends. To have one wing for bachelors. Another wing for maidens with
_chaperons_. To have the _Nave_, as it were, of the house, for the
married people.

"I'll tell you what you ought to do," says Cazell to me. "You ought to
build a nice little snuggery in the country."

I object to the cost.

"Cost? Bah! that's nothing. You can always get a Building Society," says
he, enthusiastically, "to advance you _any_ sum."

I ask how these Building Societies proceed.

                        [Illustration: CAZELL.]

"Simply enough," says Cazell, who invariably knows everything about
anything, only if you act on his information and go wrong, he generally
denies warmly afterwards that "he ever said such a thing." "Simply
enough," he continues. "You go to the Society, you give 'em some
security,--any security will do, and you could get _that_ easily
enough." I nod cheerfully, more to encourage him to proceed, than from
any feeling of certainty as to the means of obtaining the security.
Then, having, satisfactorily to himself, disposed of this difficulty, he
continues:--"Well, your security in this case would be your title-deeds
of the house and land."

_Happy Thought._--Title-deeds.

"Then," he goes on, as if he'd been accustomed to do this sort of thing
every day, "you say how much you want. Then they ask you" (it's becoming
quite dramatic), "where's your house? You say .... wherever it is, you
know." Cazell puts it in this way, as impressing upon me that before the
Building Society I _must_ tell the truth and not pretend to them that my
house is in Bedfordshire, for example, when it isn't. "Well," he
resumes, "then they ask you what sort of a house do you intend to build?
Then, you lay your plan before them."

_Happy Thought._--The Plan of my House.

"They examine it, that is, their architect does ... they inquire about
the land ... and then they decide, whether they'll buy it for you, or
not."

("_Not_" I should think, but I don't say so.)

"Then," he goes on. "You make the purchase, and hand over the
title-deeds. Pay them a rent and a per-centage every year until the
whole is paid off, when it becomes yours."

"In fact," I put it, bluffly, to him, "I can build a house without
having any money; I mean, by getting the money from the Building
Society?"

"Precisely. Any day."

I hesitate. It really is--if Cazell is correct--much better than hiring
a house ... or taking lodgings. And what does Cazell think the cost will
be?

"Well," says he, "put it at £2,000, the outside." I reflect that the
inside, too, will be a considerable expense. "A good, strong house. Why,
I knew a fellow build one for £1,500. Just what you want. Then, there's
the ground--say at another two. And there you are. Four thousand
altogether. Well, you'd pay 'em a mere rent for that, and so much tacked
on, which would, each time, reduce the principal. And when you pay your
last year of rent and interest, it ought to have come down to a
five-pound note."

This is admirable. What a glorious society is the Building Society ...
_if_ Cazell is only right.

I will draw out plans at once.

Will he come down with me, somewhere, and choose the land?

"Certainly. Why not try Kent?" he asks. I have no objection to Kent.
"But," I suggest, "wouldn't it be better, first, to settle the sort of
thing wanted?"

_Happy Thought._--Put it down on paper.

A billiard-room, _absolute necessity_.

Stables.          _Do._

"Bath-room," adds Milburd, to whom, on his accidentally looking in, we
appeal for assistance.

                        [Illustration: MILBURD.]

_Happy Thought._--"While I _am_ about it" (as Milburd says), "why not a
Turkish bath?" In the house. Excellent!

What after this?

Milburd suggests smoking-room, and library. Yes. That's all.

Not _all_: Milburd thinks that a Racquet Court wouldn't be bad, and
_while I am about it_, it would be scarcely any more expense, to have a
Tennis Court; and, by the way, a positive saving to utilise the outside
walls of both, for Fives.

_Query._ Won't this cost too much?

"The question is," says Boodels (he has been recently improving his own
house), "What is your limit?"

"No, I argue, let's see what an imaginary house will cost, and then
_I'll have so much of it as I want_. Say," I put it, "a house is to cost
two thousand----"

"Can't be done for the money," says Boodels, positively.

This is rather damping, but, on consideration, it's just what Boodels
_would_ say in anybody's case, except his own.

                  [Illustration: BOODELS OF BOODELS.]

I pass over his opinion and continue.

"For argument's sake, let's say the house costs four thousand----" (This
I feel sounds very pleasant, but what will the Building Society say, and
how about the security? These, however, are details for subsequent
consideration. One thing at a time: and these extras rather hamper one's
ideas. So I say £4,000, and leave it at that.)

"More," says Boodels, "but you _might_ do it for that."

I repeat "For argument's sake." Formula admitted.

Well then, I suppose it to cost four thousand, I can only spend two
thousand. Very good, I'll only have, as it were, two thousand pounds'
worth of house.

"Half a house, in fact," says Milburd.

This is not the way to put it, but I am, I feel, right, somehow.

I appeal to my friend Jenkyns Soames, who is writing a book on
Scientific Economy.

He replies that mine is correct, in theory, if taken from a certain
point of view. We admit that this is a sensible way of putting it. And
are, generally, satisfied.

"There's one thing I _must_ have," I remember, aloud, as I sit down to
draw a first plan, "my Study."

  [Illustration:
   A. Billiard Room.
   B. Tennis Court.
   C. Racquet Court.
   D. Library.
   E. Study.
   F. Dining Room.
   _a a a_ &c. all bay windows and lights high up, according to room.
   _d d d_ &c., doors.]

On this plan every room is _en suite_.

"How about your staircases," says Boodels, "and your kitchen, eh?"

I observe that this is only a commencement. That my object is to
remember everything gradually, and so omit nothing.

_Happy Thought._--Only one floor and one flight of stairs.

                             [Illustration]

Here I find the library has been forgotten.

Add on the library in dots; like a railway map.

"How do you get there from the study?" asks Milburd.

"Why, by doors, through the dining-room."

"Awkward," suggests Boodels.

"No; I don't think so."

"How do you light your study?" asks Cazell.

"Eh?..... Ah!..."

_Happy Thought._--From above.

"Then," says Milburd, as if there was an end of the whole thing, "you
lose a bed-room by that, and another over the billiard-room."

True.

_Happy Thought._--Bring study more forward and light it by big window in
front. (I do so in dots.)

Milburd says: "Throw out a bay."

This is his invariable resource.

I throw out a bay-window (also in dots) and then we survey it carefully.

_Happy Thought._--To have an In-door Amusement Hall for Wet Weather.

"Will your Amusement hall be _the_ Hall?"

"Well ... Yes."

"Then the front door will be ...?"

I indicate in dots the front door, and the drive.

"Precisely," says Boodels, "and just as you're in the middle of a game
of something, up comes a party to call; you can't say you're not at
home, and the servants can't open the door while the ball, or whatever
it is, is flying about."

True ... Then ... bring it more forward. Or make a new plan.

                             [Illustration]

"Then the bath-room's forgotten," says Milburd. Add it in dots to tennis
court.

Then over every room there'll be a bed-room and dressing-room. So
that'll be a good house.

"What style?" asks Cazell.

"Elizabethan, decidedly," I reply. They think not.

"Gothic's useful," says Boodels.

"Italian's better," observes Milburd.

"Something between the two," suggests Cazell.

Twelve rooms below, twelve above. Stables outside, added subsequently.

_Happy Thought._--Submit this to Chilvern, my architectural friend.

I say, Estimate it roughly.

He does it, after a day or so.

_Rough Estimate._ About £8,000.

"That," I say, a little staggered, "is rather _over_ the mark than under
it, eh?"

                       [Illustration: CHILVERN.]

"_Over?_ No," he replies, "_Under._ I mean, of course, to have
everything done well, thoroughly well. Of course," says he, "there are
men who will run you up a house in a few weeks and charge you about
£4,000. But what's the result? Why you're always repairing, and it costs
you, in the end, double what you'd have paid for having it thoroughly
well done at first."

I ask how long the building would take? Chilvern is of opinion that it
would be six months at the least.

Then I say I'll give it up. I wanted it for Christmas.

Then the notion of the party must be abandoned.

_Happy Thought._--An abandoned party! Dreadful character.

Boodels says he's sorry for that, as he can't go into his own house just
now, it being under repair.

Cazell suddenly exclaims, "I tell you what we ought to do!" We listen.
He goes on. "We ought to take a house for the Winter Season, the lot of
us together, and then ask our own friends."

Boodels observes, that, if we agree to this, he will supply some
servants, as _his_ are doing nothing. Chilvern can tell us where there's
a place to be let. Just what we want, about an hour's train from town.
Queer old mansion, a bit out of trim, he tells us, in fact he was going
to have had the job of restoring it, only the people suddenly left; but
he'd put that to rights. Would we go and look at it?

Carried nem. con.



CHAPTER II.

    NOTIONS--GUIDE WANTED--BLACKMEER--CHILVERN--HIS ELEMENT--VIEWS--
    OBSERVATIONS--DISCUSSIONS--FISHING--TROUT--SHROPSHIRE--THE LAKE--
    THE SOLITARY CASTLE--HERMITS--GAMES--DIFFERENCES--AT THE HOUSE.


We go down. Hertfordshire. I find on inquiry that there is no Guide to
this county. Black ignores it, Murray knows nothing about it, and
Bradshaw is silent on the subject.

_Happy Thought._--While at Our Mansion write a Guide to Hertfordshire.

Arrived at the station we inquire for Blackmeer Hall. Six or seven miles
to drive. I ask if this distance isn't against it? I am met by the
unanimous answer, "Not at all."

Chilvern points out the beauties of the road as we go along. We become
silent, not liking to have things perpetually pushed under our notice,
as if we couldn't see them for ourselves.

"There's a fine bit," he says, pointing to a gate. We nod. "Aren't the
colours of the trees lovely?" he asks. We agree with him. For the sake
of argument, I observe that I've seen finer. "Where?" he inquires. I
don't know at this moment _where_, but, being on my mettle, I am certain
that I _have_ seen finer.

_Happy Thought._--In Derbyshire.

He pooh-poohs the notion of Derbyshire. Then he continues giving us bits
of useful information, like a disjointed lecture.

"There's a tree for you!" he exclaims. Then, "There's a queer old roof,
eh?" No notice being taken of this, he continues, "Fine beech that!"
"Beautiful view, isn't it?" Presently, "Just look at the sky _now_!" and
so on.

Cazell begins to resent it, so does Boodels.

Chilvern says, pointing left and right, "Ah, these fields are the place
for mushrooms."

Boodels says that his own fields in Essex are better.

"Not better than this," says Chilvern.

Boodels returns that they are, and that _he_, Boodels, _ought_ to know.

Chilvern pauses to allow the subject to stand and cool, as it were; then
he begins again.

"That's a fine cow there. This is a great place for cows. It's where all
the celebrated cheeses are made."

"Ah, my dear fellow," cries Boodels, "you should see the cows in
Gloucestershire. They _are_ cows."

Cazell agrees with him, but caps it with, "Yes, but I'll tell you what
_you_ ought to do," to Chilvern: "you ought to go to the Scilly Islands,
and see the cows there."

Milburd says if it's a question of going to islands, why not to the Isle
of Wight and see Cowes there? I laugh, slightly; as it doesn't do to
encourage Milburd too much. The others, who are warming with their
conversation, treat the joke with silent contempt.

"There's a larch for you," cries Chilvern, in admiration of a gigantic
fir-tree.

"That!" exclaims Cazell. "My dear fellow"--whenever he is getting
nettled in discussion, he always becomes excessively affectionate in his
terms--"My dear fellow, you ought to go to Surrey to see the larches,
and the firs." Boodels observes in a chilly sort of way that he doesn't
care for larches, _or_ firs.

In order to divert the stream of their conversation, I remark that I
have no doubt there's some capital trout fishing about here. I say this
on crossing a bridge.

"Ah!" says Chilvern, "see the trout in Somersetshire. My! Why in some
places you could catch twenty, with as many flies, all at once."

Cazell tops this without a pause; he says, "Ah! if you want trout you
should go to Shropshire. I _never_ saw such a place for trout. You've
only got to put your hand down, and you can take them asleep in the
ditches."

Milburd exclaims incredulously, "Oh yes," meaning, "Oh no."

"My dear boy," says Cazell, emphatically, "I assure you it's a known
thing. Tell a Shropshire man about trout in any other county, and he'll
laugh in your face."

Except for politeness, we feel, all of us, a strong inclination to act
like the ideal Shropshire man, under the present circumstances.

We enter an avenue.

The driver tells us we are approaching the house. We pass a large pond
partially concealed by trees. In the centre there is an island with a
sort of small ruined castle on it. It is, as it were, a Castle for One.

_Happy Thought._--Sort of place where a Hermit could play Solitaire. And
get excited over it. Who invented Solitaire? If it was a Hermit, why
didn't the eminent ascetic continue the idea and write a book of games?

_Happy Thought._--To call it "Games for Hermits."

Milburd exclaims, "Stunning place for fireworks. We might do the
storming of the Fortress there."

_Happy Thought._--"Good place," say, "for a retired study."

Cazell says, "I tell you what we ought to do with that; make it into
spare rooms. A castle for single gentlemen. They could cross in a boat
at night."

Chilvern is of opinion it ought to be restored, and made a gem of
architectural design.

Boodels says, if anything, he should like it to be an observatory, or,
on second thoughts, a large aquarium.

Cazell says at once, "If you want to see an aquarium you should go to
Havre."

Chilvern returns that there's a better one at Boulogne.

Milburd caps this by quoting the one at the Crystal Palace.

Cazell observes quickly that _the_ place for curious marine specimens is
Bakstorf in Central Russia.

"_You've_ never been to Central Russia," says Milburd, superciliously.
Professing to have travelled considerably himself, he doesn't like the
idea of anyone having done the same.

"I wish," exclaims Cazell, using a formula of his own, "I wish I had as
many sovereigns as I've been in Central Russia."

This appears conclusive, and, if it isn't, here we are at the House.
Blackmeer Hall. Elizabethan, apparently.

         [Illustration: AN OLD WOMAN RECEIVES US AT THE DOOR.]



CHAPTER III.

    WITHIN--THE HOUSEKEEPER--WINDOWS--INFORMATION--THE ORIEL--VIEW--
    FLOOR--MILBURD'S INQUIRY--TYPICAL DEVELOPMENT--MATERIAL--AN EXAMPLE
    --CRONE--POOR--MEDITATIONS--THE FRESCO--TAPESTRY--ARMOUR--MICE--RATS
    --THE GHOST.


An old woman curtseys, and ushers our party into the Hall itself, which
is lofty and spacious, but in a mildewy condition.

The floor is partly stone partly tiles, as if the original designer had
been, in his day, uncertain whether to make a roof of it, or not.

A fine old chimney, with a hearth for logs, and dogs, is at one end, and
reminds me of retainers, deer hounds, oxen roasted whole, and Christmas
revels in the olden time.

The windows are diamond-paned. To open in compartments.

The old woman tells us that this was rebuilt in fifteen hundred and
fifty-two, and then she shows us into the drawing-room.

This is a fine apartment with an Oriel window, giving on to a lawn of
rank and tangled grass. Beyond this chaos of green, is a well timbered
covert, dense as a small black forest.

The distance between the trees becoming greater to the left of the
plantation, we obtain a glimpse of the lake which we passed on our road.

There is another grand fire-place in this room. The wainscot wants
patching up, and so does the parqueted floor.

The old woman tells us that "they say as Queen Elizabeth was once here."

Milburd asks seriously, "Do you recollect her, ma'am?"

The crone wags her head and replies "that it was afore her time."

Mentioning the word Crone to Boodels, I ask him what relation it bears
to 'Cronie.' "'Cronie,' almost obsolete now, means 'a familiar friend,'"
I explain to him. He says thank you, and supposes that the two words
have nothing in common except sound.

The notion being in fact part of my scheme for _Typical Developments_
(Vol. XIII. Part I. "_On sounds of words and their relation to one
another_"), I offer him my idea on the subject.

He asks, "What is it?"

_Happy Thought._--"Crone" is the feminine of "Cronie." "Cronie" is an
old friend, "Crone" is an old friend's old wife. Which sounds like a
sentence in one of my German Exercises. "The Old wife of the Old friend
met the Lion in the garden."

Boodels says "Pooh!" If he doesn't understand a thing at once he
dismisses it with "pooh." As I ascend the wide oak staircase, with room
enough for eight people abreast on every step, I reflect on the
foolishness of a man saying "pooh," hastily. How many great schemes
might anyone nip in the bud by one "pooh." What marvellous inventions,
apparently ridiculous in their commencing idea, would be at once knocked
on the head by a single "pooh." The rising Artist has an infant design
for some immense historical Fresco. He comes--I see him, as it were,
coming to Boodels to confide in him. "I mean," says he, "to show Peter
the Great in the right-hand corner, and Peter the Hermit in another,
with Peter Martyr somewhere else, ... in fact, I see an immense
historical subject of all the Celebrated Peters .... Then why not offer
it to St. Peter's at Rome, and why not ...?" "Pooh!" says Boodels, and
the artist perhaps goes off and drowns himself, or goes into business
and so is lost to the World. If I'd listened to Boodels' "Pooh," I
should never have got on so far as I have with my work on Typical
Developments. I hope to be remembered by this.

Milburd is calling me. Everyone in ecstasies. What wonderful old
chambers. Oak panels, diamond panes. Remains of tapestry, containing
probably a fine collection of moths. Old rusty armour on the walls.
Strange out-of-the-way staircases leading to postern-doors and offices.

Chilvern observes that it all wants doing up, and commences making plans
and notes in a book, which he takes from his pocket, in company with a
small ivory two-foot rule.

"Plenty of mice," says Cazell, looking at the old woman for
corroboration.

"Yes, in winter-time," she says.

"And rats?" inquires Milburd.

"I've met 'em on the stairs," replies the old lady, quite cheerfully.

"Ghosts, too?" suggests Boodels. [He has become somewhat melancholy of
late and says that he is studying the phenomena of "Unconscious
Cerebration," which Milburd explains is only a name for thinking of
nothing without knowing it. Boodels, in consequence, thinks Milburd a
mere buffoon.]

"Well, my husband," she answers in a matter-of-fact way, "my husband, he
see the Ghost... I think it were last Christmas twelvemonth."

"_The_ Ghost!" exclaims Boodels, much interested.

"Yes, the White Lady," says the old woman as pleasantly as possible.
"There's the marks on the floor of the stain where she was murdered.
There! that gentleman's standing on it."

Good gracious! so I am. A dull sort of mulberry-coloured stain. "It
won't wash out," she goes on. "I've tried it. And it won't plane out, as
they've tried _that_. And so," she finishes with a sniff, "there it is."

                             [Illustration]



CHAPTER IV.

    ALONE--THE SECRET DOOR--UNSOCIABILITY--THE PICTURE--GRIM THOUGHTS--
    ONE CHEERFUL IDEA--MELON--HIDING--CRUEL JOKES--SPIRAL--ANGLES--
    ASSASSINS--WHITE LADY--A COMFORT--NERVES--THE DOOR--A GROWL--SNIFFS
    --A FOLLOWER--REASONING--SAD THOUGHTS--OUT AT LAST.


Every one is silent for a minute, and then we smile at the absurd idea
of there being a ghost about. I linger for a few seconds after the
others. They go out on to the landing. When I leave the room I pass out
there too. They are all gone. I catch sight of a small door, in the
panelling, on my right at the end of this corridor, closing quickly.
They are gone evidently to visit some other quarter of the house. They
might have stopped for me. Very unsociable. One seems to hear every
footfall in this house. And even when you're not speaking, your thoughts
appear to find an echo, and to be repeated aloud. In this short narrow
gallery, there is an old picture of a man in a Spanish dress, holding a
melon in his hand. His eyes follow me. Curious effect. I stop for a
moment. They are fixed on me. Remember some story about this somewhere,
when it turned out that there was a man concealed, who came out to
murder people at night, living happily behind the picture in the
day-time. Cheer myself up by thinking that if Milburd had seen this
picture he'd have named it "The Meloncolic Man."

Odd. I don't hear their voices. They can't be playing me any trick, and
hiding. If there is a thing I detest, if there is one thing above
another absolutely and positively wicked and reprehensible, it is hiding
behind a door or a curtain ... or in fact behind anything ... and then
popping out on you suddenly. Heard of a boy to whom this was done, and
he remained an idiot for the rest of his life.

_Happy Thought._--To look cautiously _at_ the corners. To open the small
door quietly, and say, "Ah!" ... No. No one there. All gone down. A dark
narrow winding staircase (lighted only by loopholes), so that one is
perpetually going round angles and might come upon anyone, or anyone
upon you, without any sort of preparation. I can quite understand
assassins coming down on their victim, or up on their victim, or up and
down, simultaneously, on their victim, in one of these old places.
Assassins in the olden time. I wonder if it's true about the White Lady?
The old woman's husband was not a bit frightened of her, so she says.
Perhaps he had come home rather tipsy, and mistook some shadow in the
moonlight for a ghost.

My eyes are fast becoming accustomed to this obscurity.

_Happy Thought._--There are no such things as ghosts.

On the whole, I'd rather meet a ghost, than a rat, or a blackbeetle, or
a burglar.

The diminishing scale, of what I would rather _not_ meet in a narrow
staircase at night, is, the burglar, rat, blackbeetle, ghost.

I hear something moving... below or above...

I look cautiously back round the last corner...

Nothing.

_Happy Thought._--To shout out, "Hi! you fellows!" Shouting would
frighten a burglar, or a rat, but would have no effect on a blackbeetle,
or a ghost.

No answer. I descend a few more steps. Something seems to be coming down
behind me. Almost in my footsteps, and at my pace. Ah! of course, echo.
But why wasn't there an echo when I shouted?... I will go on quicker.
I'm not a bit nervous, only the sooner I'm out of this, the better. At
last a door. Thick, solid, iron-barred, and nail-studded door. Where's
the handle? None. Yes, an iron knob. It won't be turned. It won't be
twisted. It's locked; or, if not, fastened somehow. No; a faint light is
admitted through the keyhole, and by putting my eye to it, I can see a
stone passage on the other side. Perhaps the old woman has locked this
by accident. And perhaps they are not far off. I shake it. A deep, low
savage growl follows this, and I hear within two inches of my toes, a
series of jerky and inquisitive sniffs. The sniffs say, as it were,
"There's no doubt about it, I know you're there;" the growl adds, "Show
yourself, and I pin you."

_Happy Thought._--Go upstairs again and return by the other door.

Hope nobody, while I am mounting the steps again, will open the door and
let the dog up here for a run, or to "see who it is," in a professional
way.

No. Up--up--up. Excelsior. I seem to be climbing double the number of
steps, in going up, to what I did in coming down. My eyes too, after the
keyhole, have not yet become re-accustomed to the light. I pause. I
could almost swear that somebody, two steps lower down behind me,
stopped at the same instant.

Is there anyone playing the fool? Is it Milburd? I'll chance it, and
ask. I say, "Milburd?" cautiously. No. Not a sound. I own to being a
little nervous. Someone--Boodels, I think--once said that fine natures
were always nervous.

_Happy Thought._--When nervous, reason with yourself quietly.

I say, to myself, reasoning, this is not _fright_: this is not
_cowardice_: it's simply nervousness. You wouldn't (this addressed to
myself) be afraid of meeting a ... a ... for instance ... say ... a
ghost ... no. Why should you? You've never injured a ghost that you know
of, and why should a ghost hurt you? Besides ... nonsense ... there are
no ghosts ... and as to burglars ... the house doesn't belong to us yet,
and so if I meet one, there'd be no necessity to struggle ... on the
contrary, I might be jocosely polite; I might say, "Make yourself at
home; you've as much right here as I have." .... But, on second
thoughts, no one would, or could, come here to rob this place. It's
empty......

Odd. I cannot find the door I came in at. I thought that when I entered
by it, I stepped on to a landing, but I suppose that it is only a door
in the wall, and opens simply on to a step of the stairs.

Perhaps this is an unfrequented staircase. One might be locked up here,
and remain here, for anything that the old woman, or her husband, would
know about it.

If one was locked away here, or anywhere, for how long would it remain a
secret?

When one has been absent from town for instance, for months, and then
returns, nobody knows whether you've been in your own room all the time,
or in Kamschatka. They say, "Hallo! how d'ye do? How are you? Where have
you been this age?" They've never inquired. They've got on very well
without you. Important matters, too, which "absolutely demand your
presence," as the letter says, which you find on your table six months
afterwards, settle themselves without your interference.

The story of the Mistletoe Bough, where a young lady hides herself in an
oak chest, and is never heard of for years (in fact never at all until
her bones were found with her dress and wreath,) is not so very
improbable.

Suppose the old woman forgot this staircase, suppose my party went off
thinking that I was playing them some trick; supposing they stick to
that belief for four days, what should _I_ do?... I don't know. I could
howl, and shout. That's all.

What chance of being discovered have I, except by a tradesman wanting
his quarter's account settled very badly and being determined upon
hunting me up wherever I was.

A door at last! And light and fresh air through the chinks. It opens
easily, and I am on the leads of the roof.

With a [Illustration: BIRD'S-EYE VIEW] of the surrounding country. I
breathe freely once more. Now the question is how to get down again.

           [Illustration: "SICH A GITTIN' UP STAIRS MASSA."]



CHAPTER V.

    ON THE ROOF--DOWN AGAIN--FURTHER INSPECTION--VARIETY--ELIZABETHAN--
    NORMAN--COLOUR--RAYS--FILTERED--CUI BONO?--SUGGESTION--PLAY IN STORE
    --THE STABLES--PREVIOUS TENANTS--GOOD INTENTIONS--NAME.


Just as I am asking myself this, I meet Chilvern on the roof. He is
examining the chimneys. The others are below choosing their rooms. It
appears that no one has been up the narrow staircase except myself. He
shows me a different way down.

We take another turn over the house. This time more observantly. Various
orders of architecture. Chilvern, as an architect, makes a professional
joke. He says, "The best order of architecture is an order to build an
unlimited number of houses."

_Happy Thought._--Who was the first scientific builder?
_Answer._--Noah, when he invented arky-tecture. (N.B. This will do for a
Sunday conundrum.)

Part of it is very old, (the staircase and tower part where I've been),
and wall of the yard at the back, overgrown with ivy, shows the remains
of a genuine Norman arch.

Another quarter is decidedly Elizabethan, while a long and well
proportioned music room,--of which the walls and ceiling, once evidently
covered with paintings, are now dirty, damp, and exhibiting, here and
there, patches of colour not yet entirely faded,--is decidedly Italian.

Of this apartment, the crone can tell us nothing. She never recollects
it inhabited. We undo the huge shutters for ourselves, and bring down a
cloud of dust and cobwebs.

The rays of light, bursting violently, as it were, into the
darkness--become--after once passing the square panes, or where there
are no panes, the framework--suddenly impure, and in need of a patent
filter before they are fit for use.

Chilvern admires the proportions, and asks what we'll make, of this
room?

A pause.

_Happy Thought._--A Theatre. Nothing more evident; nothing easier.

I notice that both Boodels and Milburd catch at this idea. From which I
fancy, knowing from experience Boodels' turn for poetry, that they have
got, ready for production, what they will call, "little things of their
own that they've just knocked off."

Almost wish I hadn't suggested it. But if they've got something to act,
_so have I_. If they do _theirs_, they must let mine be done.

Settled, that it is to be a theatre.

Odd that no one part of the house seems finished. Saxons started it;
Normans got tired of it; Tudors touched it up; Annians added to it.

_Happy Thought._--(_Alliterative, on the plan of "A was an Apple pie."_)

    Saxons started it:
    Normans nurtured it:
    Tudors touched it up:
    Annians added to it;
    Georgians joiced it:
    Victorians vamped it.

"Joice," I explain, is a term derived from building; "to joice, _i. e._
to make joices to the floors." Chilvern says, "Pooh!" To "vamp" is
equal, in musical language, to "scamp" or to dodge up. The last owner
evidently has done this.

_Happy Thought._--Good name for a Spanish speculative builder--Don Vampa
di Scampo. Evidently an architect of _Châteaux d'Espagne_.

We visit the stables. The gates are magnificent, two lions sit on their
tails, and guard shields on two huge pillars. After this effort, the
owner seems to have got tired of the place and left it.

We notice this of every room, of various doors, of many windows.

     [Illustration: DON VAMPA DI SCAMPO IN AN ARCHITECTURAL OPERA.]

Successive tenants have commenced with great ideas, which have, so to
speak, vanished in perspective.

Boodels becomes melancholy. He says, "I should call this 'The House of
Good Intentions.'"

I point out that these we are going to perfect and utilise.

A brilliant idea strikes me. I say--

_Happy Thought._--Let us call it, "Happy-Thought Hall." I add that this
will look well on the top of note-paper.

                             [Illustration]



CHAPTER VI.

CHOOSING A PARTY.

    ROOMS--DECISION--ODD MEN--RETURN--ARRANGEMENTS--THEORIES--OBJECTION
    --PROPOSITIONS--ELECTIONS--THE LADIES--WHO'S HOST?--GUESTS--HOSTESS
    --MORE PROPOSALS--GRANDMOTHERS--AUNTS--HALFSISTERS--SISTERHOOD
    PROPOSED--GRAND IDEA--CHAPERONS--TERMS--IDEAL--A PROFESSION--A
    DEFECT--OR ADVANTAGE--ADDITIONAL ATTRACTIONS--OLD MAN--DULNESS--
    THEATRICAL--PLANS--THE PRESIDENT--EXPLANATION--IDEA.


There are, it appears, sixteen bed-rooms in the house, independently of
servants' rooms.

The question is, How shall we decide?

_Happy Thought._--Toss up.

We do so. The "odd man" to toss again, and so on. I am the last odd man.
Boodels chooses the room with the stain on the floor. He says he prefers
it.

We drive back to Station. Thoughtful and sleepy journey.

Chilvern is to arrange all details as to fitting up and furnishing.
This, he says, he can do, inexpensively and artistically, in a couple of
weeks' time.

Milburd points out clearly to us that the old woman in charge evidently
doesn't want to be turned out, and so invented the ghost. We all think
it highly probable, except Boodels, who says he doesn't see why there
shouldn't be a ghost. We don't dispute it.

The next thing is to make up a party. Cazell tells us "what we ought to
do." "We ought," he says, "to form ourselves into a committee, and ask
so many people."

         [Illustration: "I'LL TELL YOU WHAT YOU OUGHT TO DO."]

We meet in the evening to choose our party. Rather difficult to propose
personal friends, whom every one of us will like. We agree that we must
be outspoken, and if we don't like a guest proposed, we must say so,
and, as it were, blackball him.

Or _her_?--This remark leads to the question, Are there to be any
ladies? Boodels says decidedly, Yes.

Chilvern, putting it artistically, says, "We want a bit of colour in a
house like that."

Cazell wants to know who is to be the host. Boodels proposes me.

I accept the position; but what am I _exactly_? that's what I must
clearly understand.

Milburd explains--a sort of president of a Domestic Republic.

Very good. Then how about the ladies?

Chilvern says we must have a hostess. We all suppose, doubtfully, that
we must. I ask, Won't that interfere with our arrangements?

Boodels replies, that "we can't have any arrangements without a
hostess." He says, after some consideration, that he has got a
Grandmother who might be useful. Chilvern, deferentially, proposes an
Aunt of his own, but does not, as it were, press her upon us, on account
of some infirmities of temper. I've got a half-sister who was a widow
about the time I was born, and if she's not in India ....

On the whole we think that if Boodels would have no objection to his
grandmother coming.....

"Not in the least," says Boodels. "I think she can stand a fortnight of
it or so."

Carried nem. con. Boodels' grandmother to be lent for three weeks, and
to be returned safely.

_Happy Thought (to suggest to ladies)._--Why shouldn't there be a
sisterhood of chaperons? Let somebody start it. "Oh!" says a young lady,
"I can't go there wherever it is, because I can't go alone, and I
haven't got a chaperon."

Now carry out the idea. The young lady goes to The Home (this sort of
establishment is always a Home--possibly because people to be hired are
never _not_ at home),--well, she goes to the Home, sees the lady
superioress or manageress, who asks her what sort of a chaperon she
wants. She doesn't exactly know; but say, age about 50, cheerful
disposition, polished manners.

Good. Down comes photograph book.

Young lady inspects chaperons and selects one.

She comes downstairs. "Is she," asks the lady manageress, "to be dressed
for evening or for day, a fête or for what?"

Well then, that's all settled.

Terms, so much an hour, and something for herself. What the French call
a _pour boire_.

This is a genuinely good idea, and one to be adopted, I am sure. What an
excellent profession for ladies of good family and education, of a
certain age, and an uncertain income.

They might form a Social Beguinage, on the model of the one at Ghent. No
vows. All sorts of dresses. All sorts of feeding. Respectable address.
And a Home.

Boodels' grandmother, it turns out, is deaf.

Here again what a recommendation for a chaperon! and how very few
employments are open to deaf people. No harmless, bodily ailment would
disqualify, except a violent cold and sneezing.

A chaperon with a song: useful. Consider this idea in futuro. Put it
down and assist the others in our list.

We ought to make our company a good salad.

I propose my friend, Jenkyns Soames.

Jenkyns Soames is a scientific man.

"We mustn't be _dull_," says Boodels, which I feel is covertly an
objection to my friend.

                 [Illustration: JENKYNS SOAMES, ESQ.
                  (_Professor of Scientific Economy._)]

Chilvern says that he thinks we ought to have an old man.

What for?

Well, ... he hesitates, then says, politely, that with all young ones,
won't Mrs. Boodels be rather dull?

(_Happy Thought._--Old man for Mrs. Boodels, to talk to her through her
ear-trumpet.)

Boodels says, "Oh, no! his grandmother's never dull."

Milburd observes, that this choosing is like making up characters for a
play. He takes in a theatrical newspaper, and proposes that we should
set down what we want, after the style in which the managers frame their
advertisements.

  [Illustration: THE "LEADING HEAVY." "But--soft! I must dissemble!"]

_Wanted._--A First Old Man. Also A Leading Heavy.

He proposes "Byrton--Captain Byrton. He was in a dragoon regiment."

_Happy Thought._--Good for "Leading Heavy."

Milburd's man is Byrton. Mine is Soames. I have an instinctive dislike
to Byrton, I don't know why, perhaps because I perceive a certain amount
of feeling against Soames.

_Boodels' Proposal._--That we should meet once a week to determine whose
invitations should be renewed, and whose _congé_ should be given.

_As President_ I say, "Well, but I can't tell our guests that they must
go."

Cazell strikes in, "I tell you what we ought to do--only ask everyone
for a week, and then, if we like them, we can ask 'em to stop on."

_Agreed._--That we take these matters into weekly consideration.

Milburd wishes to know who is to order dinner every day.

_Happy Thought._--Take it in turn, and I'll begin as President.

Boodels, when this has been agreed to, says that we ought to have good
dogs about and outside a large house like that.

I tell them that there is one--a very fierce beast.

Boodels says he's sure I must be mistaken, as they went all over the
house, and there was only a little snarling, growling puppy making darts
at a mouse, or a rat, which he saw moving behind some door which was
locked.

[_Happy Thought._--Keep the facts to myself. Only a Puppy! and I thought
it was a mastiff! [Good name, by the way, for a novel--_Only a Puppy_.]
If I'd shaken that door again, then they could have let me out.]

We've all got dogs, except myself. I have, I say, my eye on a dog. I
remember some one promising me a clever poodle a year ago. Will think
who it was, and call on him.

Cazell is of opinion that we ought to wear some peculiar sort of dress,
and call ourselves by some name.

_Happy Thought._--Why not be an Order?

Someone is just going to speak, when I beg his pardon, and say, "Look
here!" I am

               [Illustration: STRUCK BY A HAPPY THOUGHT.]



CHAPTER VII.

THE NEW ORDER.

    A BROTHERHOOD--SIMPLICITY--A DIFFICULTY MET--ILLUSTRATIONS--
    PROCEEDINGS--INTERVIEW--QUESTION--ANSWER--MODELS--PETITS FRÈRES--
    TERMS--RULES AND REGULATIONS--THE SCHEME DISMISSED--THE LIST
    SETTLED.


Apropos of the Home for Chaperons.

_The Happy Thought._--Why not start a new Brotherhood?

A social and sociable one. An order.

"What do I mean?" asks Milburd.

Simplest thing possible.

Hosts are so often in want of some one to "fill up." A guest disappoints
them at the last hour, and where are they to get another?

"Well," says Boodles, "how _is_ another to be got?"

_Easily_: if, in a central situation, there were a House, a large House,
where male guests of all sorts could be obtained.

I explain myself more clearly.

A lady says, "Oh dear! Our ball will be overdone with ladies. I mean,
we've got plenty of gentlemen, but--I don't know what's the matter with
the young men now-a-days, hardly any of them _dance_."

If my Happy Thought is carried out, why here's her remedy.

Down she goes to the Home. Rings. Enters. Sees the Brother Superior, or
Manager.

"What sort of young men do you want?"

"Well, specially for dancing, and generally effective."

            [Illustration: THE EFFECTIVE "LITTLE BROTHER."]

           [Illustration: THE INTELLECTUAL "LITTLE BROTHER."]

Good. Here is the very thing to suit you. "We've got only three of
these in, as there's such a demand just now for this article, during the
season."

            [Illustration: THE SPRIGHTLY "LITTLE BROTHER."]

            [Illustration: THE THEATRICAL "LITTLE BROTHER."]

             [Illustration: THE SERIOUS "LITTLE BROTHER."]

             [Illustration: THE MUSICAL "LITTLE BROTHER."]

"Very well. Send them at ten."

"With pleasure, and if any of the dancing brothers come in, they shall
be forwarded to you later in the evening."

_Terms_, so much an hour. Supper _ad lib._ included. Breakages not
allowed as discount. Any complaints as to inebriety, serious and
compromising flirting, or of _laziness_, to be made to the manager or
brother superior.

I would call this Order,

                    THE LITTLE BROTHERS OF THE RICH.

There should be no vows, and the rules to be strictly observed should
be:--

1. To live in community, the House being supported by the labour of the
   Brothers, who shall receive a certain allowance, each one, per annum,
   out of the profits.

2. Always to be ready to fulfil engagements, whether for dancing
   parties, dinner parties, or other social gatherings.

3. The Serious Brothers will devote their time only to such literature
   as suits their professional duties.

4. The Sprightly, or dining-out Brothers, shall pass, monthly, an
   examination in good stories, anecdotes, and bons mots.

5. The Musical Brothers must be up in all new songs, and arrangements
   shall be made with publishers for Singing Brothers and Playing
   Brothers to receive a fair percentage on sale of pieces (indirectly).

6. The General Utility Brothers must be up in anecdotes and jokes, play
   a little, sing a little, sport a little, and do everything more or
   less, so as to make themselves _indispensable_ to country houses
   where there are large gatherings.

7. The Theatrical Brothers must be perfect companions for amateurs, and
   know all about charades and extempore costumes.

Any Brother found _dining, or doing anything, at his own expense, to be
immediately dismissed_.

                                 -----

I submit this scheme to the civilised world, hoping to meet a Want of
the 19th century.

                                 -----

Boodels says that, practically, a Cricketing Eleven means something of
this sort, being, generally speaking, merely a society organised for the
purpose of staying at other people's houses free of charge.

Cazell wishes to know if we are going to waste our time in talking
nonsense, or are we going to settle about our guests?

The question, I say, is whether my proposal _is_ nonsense or not.

Chilvern hopes we'll make out our list.

Jenkyns Soames settled. Byrton ditto. Old Mrs. Boodels.

            [Illustration: BYRTON, AN ETONIAN, IN TWO FORMS.
             _Upper Form._ _Lower Form._]

             [Illustration: BOODELS' GRANDMOTHER. (_Now._)]

      [Illustration: BOODELS' GRANDMOTHER AT EIGHTEEN. (_Then._)]

_Happy Thought (on seeing these pictures)._--To ask Boodels' grandmother
"_then_."

Milburd votes for asking the Chertons. Capital girls, he says, and
appeals to Boodels. Boodels opines that--yes, they are very nice girls.

"No humbug about them," says Milburd.

With this recommendation we put down the Chertons.

Miss Adelaide and Miss Bella.

 [Illustration: ADELAIDE CHERTON.  _Happy Thought._--Pine Apple Style.]

                     [Illustration: BELLA CHERTON.]

Boodels says that, as they often go on a visit to his grandmother, she
can bring them both.

Settled.

Boodels lends us a butler. Pious, with a turn for hymns in the pantry.
Milburd brings a valet. A sociable creature, with an inclination to be
affable, and join in the conversation round the dinner-table.

                      [Illustration: OUR BUTLER.]

Milburd presents us with a groom, whose wife cooks. The groom himself
has waited at table occasionally. At first he says "Woa" to the
vegetables and the sauces. He cannons against the butler, and tells the
dogs to "get out, carn't yer!" After a few days he is in good training.

                       [Illustration: OUR GROOM.]

Byrton brings a soldier-servant who will only attend to his master.

The Chertons have a ladies' maid, who affects the latest fashion, but is
a failure in gloves.

                  [Illustration: THE CHERTONS' MAID.]

Mrs. Boodels' maid is an elderly female. The vinegar in the kitchen
salad.

                  [Illustration: MRS. BOODELS' MAID.]

We engage, on her recommendation, a housemaid, and a charwoman of
irreproachable antecedents.

Chilvern, who gives himself a holiday, brings his clerk, a sharp little
fellow of sixteen, to clean the boots, and render himself generally
useful. The first day he was impudent to Mrs. Boodels' maid, and was
thrashed by Byrton's servant. He is now quiet and subservient.

                    [Illustration: OUR PRETTY PAGE.]



CHAPTER VIII.

A MORNING DISCUSSION.

    ON DEAFNESS--ESCAPES--BUTTONHOLED--A DISCUSSION--MORNING LOST--RAGE
    --DESPAIR.


"Deaf people are very happy," says Boodels, thoughtfully.

"Perhaps," replies the Professor of Scientific Economy; "a deaf person
can gain no information from conversation."

"Who does?" asks Bella, pertly.

"Who finds mushrooms in a field?" asks Chilvern, who has been engaged in
this lately.

"Give it up," says Milburd. That's the worst of Milburd, when a
conversation is beginning to promise some results, he nips it in the bud
with the frost of his nonsense.

Bella asks what Mr. Chilvern was going to say. He has nearly
forgotten, but recalls it to his mind, on Cazell repeating the word
mushrooms.

"Ah, yes," says Chilvern, evidently feeling that the brilliancy of his
simile has been taken off by the interruption. "I was going to say _à
propos_ of Miss Bella's remark about no one gaining any information from
conversation----"

"I didn't say _that_, Mr. Chilvern."

No, of course not. We all side with Miss Bella.

Chilvern nowhere. "Ah, well," he says, "I thought you did."

"And if I had?" asks Miss Bella, triumphantly.

"Eh!--well, if you _had_--" Chilvern meditates, and then answers, "--if
you had, why then I was going to say that ...." here he breaks off and
finishes, "--well, it doesn't matter now, but it _was_ very good when I
first thought of it."

He disappears, _i.e._, from a conversational point of view, in our
laughter. He is extinguished.

"What's he saying?" asks Mrs. Boodels.

Milburd takes up the trumpet. "He says," shouts Milburd, it being quite
unnecessary to shout, "that he's a very clever fellow."

"Ah," says Mrs. Boodels. "Mr. Chilvern's always joking."

"I never said anything of the sort," says the injured Chilvern to her,
defending himself through the ear-trumpet.

"Ah," observes Mrs. Boodels, perfectly satisfied. "I was sure he never
could have said that." Then she considers for a few seconds. After this
she remarks, "Cleverness, is not one of his strong points."

Whereupon she smiles amiably. Chilvern walks to the window.

"We were saying," says the Professor, who evidently has a whole
three-volume lecture ready for us, "that deaf people are happy. Now I
controvert that opinion. To be deaf, is not a blessing."

"Then," says Milburd, "a person who is deaf, is not a blessed old man,
or old woman, as the case may be."

"You misapprehend me, my dear Milburd. What I would say about deafness,
is this--" (_exit BELLA, quietly_,)--"is this--that the loss of the
sense of hearing----"

"Is seldom the loss of hearing sense," interrupts Boodels, at the door.

                                                        [_Exit BOODELS._

"To a certain extent," continues the Professor, who has Milburd, now, as
it were, in his grasp. "Boodels, although putting it lightly, was right.
Sense is uncommon--"

"'Specially common sense," I observe. Being my first remark for some
time. But I like the Professor; and his philosophic views have an
interest for me that they evidently do not possess for natures which
will be always butterflying about.

"You are right," says the Professor turning to me, whereupon Milburd
rises quietly, and gets to the door. (_Exit MILBURD._) "But common
sense, though, I admit, wrongly designated, does not convey to us a
positive pleasure. The question, which we are considering--namely,
whether to be deaf, is a happiness or not--should be treated in the
Socratic method, and the whole reasoning reduced to the simplest
syllogisms."

Through the window, I see Bella going out with Milburd. Adelaide is with
Boodels. Chilvern is pointing at me: they are all laughing. I smile _to_
them, and at them, as much as to say, "Bless you! I'm with you in
spirit, but the Professor has my body." Byrton I see meeting them. He
has his driving coat on. Hang it, they're going for some excursion
without me.

_Thoughts while the Professor is talking on the pleasures of
deafness._--Where are they going to? Why didn't they tell me? I think
Bella _might_ have given me some notion. If she's with Milburd, won't he
make fun of _me_? Is he trying to cut me out, or not? If "yes," it's
deuced unfair of him. Bella doesn't look back, or make any sign to me to
come. If I joined them now, should I be _de trop_? No. How can I? It's
all _our_ party generally. They disappear into the shrubbery.

Professor suddenly asks me, "That _you'll_ admit, I suppose."

_Happy Thought._--(As I haven't heard a single word of what he's been
saying, to reply guardedly), "Well, to a certain extent, perhaps--but--"
then I pause, and frown, as if considering it, whatever it is.

The Professor is lost in amazement. "But," he exclaims, "you _must_
admit _that_. By what theory of approximation can you show that we do
not attain to such perfectibility of number; unless you would say, as I
_have_ heard advanced by the Budengen school, that the expression is but
a formula adapted to our human experience."

I wonder to myself what point he is arguing with me. His subject was
Deafness.

_Happy Thought._--(In order to find out where he's got to in his
lecture, ask him). "Yes, but how does this tell upon Deafness."

"I will show you; but it is impossible to discuss conclusions unless we
settle our premisses." [I hear the trap in the stable yard and Byrton
woa-woaing. Bother!] "Will you bring some deep objection to a premiss
which is fundamental ...."

I beg his pardon, which premiss?

_Happy Thought._--Better find out what he _is_ talking about, then
differ from him point blank, and leave the room.

_Happy Thought._--Pair off. Same idea as that excellent parliamentary
arrangement, when you agree to differ with another member, for a whole
session, on every question, and then go away and enjoy yourself.

"The premiss," repeats the Professor, "that you would not admit just
now. I do not say," he adds--[I hear the wheels. Can I jump up and say,
"Excuse me!" and run out. I could if I was a young lady, or an elderly
one. But a man can't do it, specially as President, or Host, without
being rude]--"that you had not good grounds, but what are those
grounds?" Here he plants his _binocle_ on his nose, leans back and
stares at me.

Good Heavens! If I hadn't differed from him, or, I mean, if I'd only
understood what the----

_Happy Thought._--(_To ask seriously_), "Re-state, exactly, the premiss
I disputed." [I'm sure to catch a glimpse of the trap and horses as they
drive past the lake. Hang the Professor!]

"Simply," says he, "in putting the first premiss, I used the old
formula, viz., that the point in question was as clear as that two and
two make four."

"Good Heavens! have I been disputing _that_ with you?" I almost shout.

"What else?" he asks, astonished.

"Why ... I ..." I really cannot speak, I am so annoyed. I've lost a
whole morning, and whole day, perhaps, and a jolly party,
and--and--and--

"What's the matter?" asks Mrs. Boodels, handing her instrument of
torture to the Professor. "What does he say?"

"He says--" commences the Professor ....

_Je me sauve!_ (_Exit myself, hurriedly._) I rush to the stable.

"James! Where are they gone?"

"They said, sir, as they were gone to the meet. 'Ounds is out near
'ere."

                  [Illustration: "GONE TO THE MEET."]



CHAPTER IX.

A WET DAY.

    RAIN--THE MEDFORDS--CONVERSATION--A PROPOSAL--ACCEPTED--THE TRICK--
    THE LECTURE.


Provoking! "I do believe," says Miss Adelaide Cherton, "it's literally
set in for rain."

Mrs. Boodels, without troubling herself to raise her ear-trumpet, smiles
blandly and proceeds with her knitting.

_Happy Thought._ A deaf person can always talk to herself, and obtain a
hearing.

Miss Bella exclaims, "Oh, what shall we do if it rains?"

Whereupon Miss Medford observes that the gentlemen will amuse us.

[Miss Medford is an addition to our party. She was brought by Mrs. Orby
Frimmely, and Mr. Frimmely subsequently came down with her brother
Alfred Medford, a celebrated musical amateur, "of the nobility's
concerts." "A very interesting looking young man," Mrs. Boodels observes
aloud when he arrives, but she is a little afraid of him on finding that
he can do _a_ conjuring trick. He only has one.]

[Illustration: MISS MEDFORD.  _Happy Thought._--"Japanese Tommy" style.]

I continue reading the newspaper. I determine to withdraw presently to
my own room, where I shall lock myself in and ....

_Happy Thought for Wet Day._ Write letters. Jenkyns Soames observes that
he shall devote his day to correcting his great work on Scientific
Economy for the press. Mrs. Orby Frimmely says, that "it's wonderful to
_her_, how Mr. Soames thinks of all the clever things he writes."

[Illustration: MRS. ORBY FRIMMELY.  _Happy Thought._--The Anyhow style.]

Soames remarks upon this, modestly, that "he has made the one subject
his study, and all his thoughts are given to its development."

Mrs. Boodels requests that the Professor's last observation may be
repeated to her.

Solo on the Ear-trumpet by Miss Medford. Milburd strolls in, then
Boodels. Mrs. Boodels suddenly informs everyone that she is deeply
interested in Mr. Soames' work, and, as it is a wet day, will he read
some of it aloud to amuse us?

The ladies look at one another and smile. Mrs. Orby Frimmely exclaims,
"Oh do," and laughs.

Milburd says it's just the thing to while away a happy hour, and
instances the Polytechnic as being his favourite place of amusement in
London.

Mr. Soames replies to this that the Polytechnic and himself are
different institutions.

"All right," says Milburd; "go ahead!" Whereupon Milburd rushes into the
library. Silence during his absence. It is broken by Medford asking
Boodels if he's ever seen the trick with the shilling in the tumbler?
Boodels replies that he has, but would like to see it again. Medford is
just producing his shilling when the Professor returns. The Professor,
who has been searching for something in his note book, now asks if they
(the ladies) really wish to hear some of his new book.

"Oh! do!" enthusiastically everybody.

"I will fetch it down," says the Professor, much pleased, and leaves the
room.

Medford holds up the shilling and says, "You see this shilling." Boodels
begs his pardon for a minute, and, referring to the Professor, asks, "I
say, haven't we let ourselves into too much of a good thing?"

Mrs. Frimmely observes "that it'll be something to do."

Miss Adelaide says, "I hate lectures."

Miss Bella strikes in with, "Well, if he bores, we can ask him
questions."

It appears that he's going to have a lively time of it.

Milburd re-enters; he has arranged the library, and begs us to "Walk
up!" as if it were a show.

Medford observes that there will be time before the lecture begins to
show his conjuring trick with the shilling.

Cazell interrupts him with the gong from the hall, and Chilvern plays a
march on the piano. Medford pockets his shilling and observes that
"he'll do it afterwards."

The Professor appears on the scene. He requests that there may be no
Tomfoolery.

I say to him, "No, of course not," as I really do wish Milburd would
show some consideration, and treat the matter seriously.

Milburd apologises for his fun, and we attend the Professor to the
library. There we find a black board, a glass of water, and a piece of
chalk.

"I propose," commences the Professor, "dealing with the Pleasures of
Wealth." "Brayvo!" from Milburd. Immediately frowned down by everybody.

"I have reduced the calculation to a simple formula, intelligible to all
intellects of more or less cultivation."

Medford asks me in a whisper if I _do_ know his trick with a shilling. I
return "hush" and look serious.

Winks between Byrton and Chilvern.

Catching the Professor's eye, Chilvern looks suddenly solemn and deeply
interested. It _is_ a pity that they will go on being buffoons.

"The study of algebra suggests the mode of treatment."

Wry face made by Mrs. Frimmely.

Mrs. Boodels is seated, placidly, with her ear-trumpet raised and on her
lips a smile of calm contentment, from which we subsequently infer that
she doesn't catch one word.

"As the wealth so the Pleasure. [_Here he draws on his slate. Milburd
inquires, 'What's that?' but is hushed down._]

                          "As x : 2 :: b : 5.

"The product of the extremes equals the product of the Means, and as
long as this sum in proportion is observed, Ruin is impossible.

"* The key here is that b = £1,000,000.

"Then:--

                                5x = 2b

                               * x = 2b/5

                       = 2,000,000/5 = £400,000.

"Not a bad sum per annum," says the Professor, smiling, in order to
throw a little pleasantry into the matter, which is becoming a trifle
heavy. Mrs. Boodels asleep. "Though I thought it was more when I
commenced the equation.

"I will now," he says, "write down a text."

[_Watches out .... a yawn from Cazell .... ladies restless._]

"To _Give_ is a Wealthy Pleasure.

"And on this I make what I call 'suggestions.'

"The poor man has it in his power to cause the Rich great pleasure.

"Let =I= stand for me."

("Impossible," interrupts Milburd, _sotto voce_. Our Philosophic
Lecturer takes no notice. He is rising with his subject).

"Let us say '=I= is poor.'"

Miss Bella says, "Excuse me a moment," and vanishes. Wish I could get
out.

"Let all =I='s rich friends subscribe according to their means from £5
upwards.

"Result, easily attained, £5,000.

"Say that eighty people subscribed £62 10s. apiece. Are there not eighty
people in London, Manchester, and Liverpool who could do this and not
miss it so much as I should miss a farthing put by accident into a
Church plate--of course I mean by mistake for half a sovereign.

"But how could such a mistake arise? you would say."

(We wouldn't, but _he_ couldn't tell that.)

"Why simply because I never give less in Church than half a sovereign.
_Ergo_, I never give in Church unless I have half a sovereign in my
pocket. _But_ I _never_ have half a sovereign in my pocket."

    [Smiles from everyone, and applause from Milburd, towards whom the
    Professor looks appealingly, as much as to say, "There, I can be
    just as funny as _you_, only without Tomfoolery."]

"_Ergo ... cela va sans dire._

"So, you see, eighty people could make '=I=' happy.

    [Medford is practising his trick with a shilling by himself.]

"Which is equivalent to saying that eighty people could make _me_ happy.

"And '=I=' has it, you observe, in his power to make eighty people happy
by accepting the subscription."

_Note, which I suggest to the Professor._ Should this ever meet the eye
of Baron Rothschild, let him remember, that by his single act, he can
attain to the happiness of eighty people.

"If any of you, here present, happen to be acquainted with the Baron,
and will introduce me to him, it will be, I am sure, a step in the
interests of humanity generally, and not without its beneficial results
to individuals particularly." ("Hear! hear!")

                             . . . . . . .

With this bit of Practicality the lecture concludes.

He tells me, in confidence, that he finished quickly because he felt he
was "above his audience."

Milburd subsequently offers to introduce the Professor to Baron
Rothschild "for a consideration."

                           *       *       *

No one, as yet has found any of the pleasures of Poverty.

Some one says "Absence of Income-tax." This is met with Absence of
Income. Solution rejected.

                           *       *       *

We found afterwards on our Scientific Lecturer's table MSS. of

    _"Letters to Rothschild" by a Professor of Scientific Economy._

One commences thus:--

    Dear Baron,

    You will doubtless be surprised at hearing from an humble individual
    who has nothing but his Scheme of Personal Scientific Economy, and
    his unblemished character, to recommend him to your notice.

    I am getting up a subscription for myself. This sounds, put
    shortly, egotistical. On the contrary, it is Cosmopolitanly
    Philanthropical. If I am enabled to teach my doctrines for nothing,
    I shall, then, be slave to no man, no, not even to myself, as
    represented by my own necessities. May I head the list with a sum
    worthy your munificence and perfectly Oriental wealth? Yes. I hear
    you say 'yes.' I knew it. I shall put your Lordship down for
    £20,000, and will be careful to send you a receipt for the money.
    Business is business.

    Yrs., &c.

    J. SOAMES.

                           *       *       *

Perhaps one day the Professor of Scientific Economy will publish his
"_Letters to Baron Rothschild_." But I don't think there will ever
appear a very voluminous collection of "_Letters of Baron R. to Mr.
Jenkyns Soames_."

                                 -----

Milburd asks him "what he should say were the pleasures of poverty."

The Professor considers.

We all consider.

The Professor wishing to do everything methodically, writes on the slate
in large type THE PLEASURES OF POVERTY.

FIRST Pleasure ......

                   .       .       .       .       .
                       .       .       .       .

Then he pauses. Then he speaks. "On thorough consideration, I am
convinced that Poverty has no pleasures.

"If any, they are peculiar.

"They are Grim Pleasures.

"One grim Pleasure of Poverty is talking about ourselves."

"A very poor subject," observes Miss Medford.

After a silence, during which I am just on the point of saying
something, but don't, the Professor adds,

"No. We try very hard, but can _not_ see any pleasure in Poverty."

             [Illustration: PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH.]



CHAPTER X.

    OUT OF AN ALBUM--ON LOSS OF PATIENCE--MRS. FRIMMELY's SUGGESTION--A
    DAY-DANCE.


Query--What shall we do?

We lounge over the room undecidedly. Mrs. Boodels thinks it's still
raining. Pouring. Miss Bella says, "What a bother!" Miss Medford
remembers having heard a problem worthy the Professor's attention. We
pause in our indecision, and she reads from her album.

          _What circumstance most justifies loss of patience?_

_The Professor of Scientific Economy_ replies, a smoky chimney.

* He explains that he is thinking of a bitterly cold day in winter when
he wanted to sit in his study, and write a treatise on the _Amount of
change to be obtained out of a Roman Denarius_, B.C. 108. On this
occasion his chimney _would_ smoke, and he had to sit with the door and
window open. Then the smoke choked him; next, the draught gave him cold;
then his fingers became frozen; finally, his feet were like icicles in
refrigerating stockings. After standing this for about two hours, he
could not help saying.......

Evidently a case where the Recording Angel would not even chance a blot.

_Happy Thought._--What a mess that book _will_ be in. Perhaps
_illegible_!!

                                 *   *
                                   *

Miss Adelaide Cherton thinks that to find a wasp inside the only peach
on the wall was most provoking.

_Byrton's Opinion._ Hot coffee over your new cords on a "show-meet" day.

It strikes me that to come on shore after taking a swim in the river,
and not to be able to find your clothes, is a circumstance quite
justifying loss of patience.

Apropos of this, Chilvern says he recollects a fellow--Smith, a friend
of his--bathing, and when he came out he couldn't find his clothes. So,
as some people were coming along the bank, Smith retired to the stream,
and Chilvern went to search for the habiliments. The fact was, that
Smith had gone down _with the stream_, and his clothes had been
consequently left a mile behind.

Chilvern found the clothes, then returned, but couldn't find Smith.

The current had taken him down stream another mile.

So it might have gone on; had not the river been a tidal one (or worked
on some peculiar principles, which Chilvern doesn't explain)--and, the
stream changing, back brought Smith with it, and then he was
happy,--only with a cold for ever after.

Mrs. Boodels being informed of the discussion through her ear-trumpet,
said that losing a thimble was quite sufficient to justify any loss of
patience.

The gentlemen present observe, that they have no doubt it is so, but
they have had no experience.

Milburd thinks that the button off your collar, or, losing your stud,
_at the last moment_, is the most trying thing.

Bella Cherton, after walking to the window several times and seeing no
sign of fine weather, says, "I'll tell you what I consider most
justifies loss of patience."

"What?" we inquire.

"_Sitting here_!" she replied.

_Note._ This sort of reply rather throws a damper over efforts to be
genial. Mrs. Boodels wishes it to be repeated to her through the
trumpet. Damper through the ear trumpet.

Mrs. Orby Frimmely says, that trying to get through your favourite valse
with a bad partner... Ah!

_Mrs. O. F.'s Happy Thought._ "By the way, as it is so wet, why not have
a dance? Mr. Medford can play."

Seconded by Byrton, and supported by the ladies.

Adjournment to Drawing-Room. Odd. We suddenly fall into our ball-room
manners. Talking to partners quietly. Going out to get cool,--on the
stairs.

Byrton is dancing with Mrs. Orby Frimmely. Mr. Orby Frimmely being
engaged in town is not here.

Byrton is certainly very much struck, in fact he says so; and shows it.
However, he is always being struck, always saying so, always showing it,
and ... that's all.

Jenkyns Soames has retired to his room; probably to write to Rothschild.

Chilvern is Miss Cherton's partner.

Milburd is Miss Bella's.

_I don't dance._ I debate with myself whether I _can_ or not. I used to.
In a waltz for instance, I know two steps out of three. The third is
where I fail. Dances change so. My waltz is the _Deux temps_, for the
simple reason that the _Deux temps_ does also for the galop, that is, it
does for my galop.

I flatter myself on my galop. Here, so to speak, I am at home. If
Medford can only play a galop, and if Miss Bella will give up Milburd,
or Milburd give her up, why _je suis son homme_. I am her man.

Medford will do a galop, he says; and immediately before I have time to
ask if Bella--if Miss Bella ... he strikes into it and the dancers
change their step, and are whirling round and round, then up and down. I
can't stop them. As the opera books say, "Rage! Madness! Despair!"

I catch _her_ eye.

She understands, I am sure.

She will ...

If she does ...

She stops, making some excuse to Milburd and looking at me. (Aha!
Milburd! you think yourself such a lady killer, that a .. this to
myself, _thinkingly_).

_Happy Thought._--To go up to her and say, "You promised me."

I do it.

"Did I?" she says.

Milburd gives in, unexpectedly, and relinquishes her.

Aha! we are off! Round and round ... carpet rather bad to dance on ...
up and down ... I feel that we are just skirting chairs, and that
another inch will bring down the fire-irons----we put on the pace ... I
haven't danced for ... well, for some considerable time ... we nearly
come bang against the piano ... my fault .. beg pardon ... but we won't
stop ...

"Oh no!" says Bella ... and we don't stop.

A little quieter, just to, as it were, regain consciousness, for
everything is becoming blurred--(jerky sentences while dancing) ...
"It's more difficult ... to steer when ... there are a few ... than
when ..." "Yes," says Miss Bella, who quite understands. (_Myself
tenderly._) "Do you ... like dancing?" ... "Yes," ... (_whirl round, up
and down_ ... then) ... "This dance?" ... What? ... (_whirl round just
to get the steam up again for the question, and put it sotto voce,
finding myself close to her ear--such a pretty little ear--made to be
whispered into_). "Do you like this dance?" ... "Very much." (_My heart
is fluttering nervously, like a stray bird under a skylight_) ... "With
anyone?" ... (_No answer ... My question means do you prefer ME to dance
with, and not only to dance with, but ..._)

The music ceases. Medford is tired. We all thank him.

Gong. Luncheon.

If it hadn't been for the gong ...

But at all events the wet morning is over.

               [Illustration: "HOW DO YOU LIKE MY FIZZ"]



CHAPTER XI.

A NIGHT SURPRISE.


Boodels and Milburd knock at my door at 2.30 a.m., after I've been
asleep two hours, and wake me up to tell me that they had thought of a
Pleasure of Poverty: it was, Milburd said,

        _To think that you can't be worse off, while you hope that
        others may._

I say .. "_Oh_ ... don't bother--I mean--yes--capital ... go to ...
bed," and turning round, try to sleep again.

The Deputation thanks me and withdraws.

"What an idiotic thing to do," I say to myself .... "What a foolish
thing" .... getting more wakeful ... "What a cruel thing .... Hang it!
it's positively selfish ... it's" ... turning for the fifth time, and my
pillow becoming as hot as a blister ... "Confound Boodels ... and
Milburd ... it's all _his_ doing, I know" ... sitting up in bed.

It occurs to me that counting one hundred and forty backwards, and then
getting out and drinking a glass of water, is a capital way of inducing
sleep ...

Odd, but in Milburd and Boodels coming to rouse me at this time, I find
_a_ solution to the other question that we had occupied part of our
morning in discussing.

What circumstance justifies loss of patience?

Why, loss of sleep.

                      [Illustration: SOFT REPOSE.]



CHAPTER XII.

    OUR LIBRARY--BUSTS--DISTINGUISHED CHARACTERS--MELANCHOLY--GUESSES--
    SOAMES--MRS. BOODELS AGAIN--MILBURD--HIS JOKE--A NUISANCE.


Of all the melancholy objects of Art Busts are the most so.

Do you want a sensation of Miserable Melancholy?

Take, yourself----

Off to a dusty library of bookshelves, chiefly empty, and the remainder
having an occasional medical treatise in the original Latin, with
diagrams of the human frame, no fire, rain pouring, damp mist over the
landscape, no pens, ink, or even paper to tear up into fanciful shapes,
and nothing for company except busts of celebrated people, looking like
the upper part of the ghosts of half-washed chimney-sweepers.

After a time, they only resemble one thing, a collection of several
homicidal criminals.

Sit before a bust, any bust, under the above circumstances.

You wonder to what you would have condemned this hideous creature had he
been brought up, in his lifetime, before you, as a magistrate.

On every feature is stamped Ruffian. This man _must_ have been hung,
were there any justice in the world.

No. This bust is of the late venerable and excellent Archbishop
Snuffler.

Is it possible. And all these other savage-looking creatures?... "Are,"
says my informant in the damp library who only comes in for a minute,
"Archbishops, Bishops, celebrated Philanthropists, Doctors, and men of
science."

And here they are perched up aloft, like overgrown cherubs, whose wings
have been taken off by some surgical operation.

_Happy Thought._--If you want to be revenged on somebody, and don't mind
expense, have his portrait painted with all his defects glaringly
rendered, and present it, as a mark of esteem, to his family.

On his fiftieth birthday give him a bust of himself to be placed in his
hall. Depend upon it you've punished him.

Jenkyns Soames, our Professor of Scientific Economy, was talking of the
Zoological Gardens.

"I dispute," says he, "the fact of the Hyæna laughing."

"Why?"

"Why? Solvitur ambulando, or rather non ambulando, for I've stood in
front of his cage for half an hour, and I've never seen him laugh once."

This was repeated to Mrs. Boodels.

"Yes," says she, "that's very probable. But when Mr. Jenkyns _went
away_ * *"

Milburd tried to cap this by asking as a conundrum "why the Hyæna
wouldn't laugh in your face?"----

As Mrs. Boodels rose, the ladies had to go out too, so no one stopped
for the answer. He caught me alone in a corner and told me what it was.
I think he said that it was because the Hyæna was an _Hy-brid_ animal.
He explained that he meant "_high-bred_."

_Happy Thought._--To say, "Oh, that's very old." This has the same
effect on a conundrum-maker as the most brilliant repartee.

Unless it leads him to come to you three times a day ever afterwards,
with fresh ones, all hot as it were from the baker's, and ask you
perpetually, "Well, is _this_ old?"

    [Illustration: JO MILLER, (_Bringing more Material for Joke_).]



CHAPTER XIII.

    MUSIC--MEDFORD--MILBURD'S SONG--CONSEQUENCE--OPINIONS--NOTE--
    COMPLIMENTS--EPIGRAM--THE DAMP FIREWORK.


Milburd asks Medford to accompany him in a "little thing of his own."
The ladies have taken their turn at the piano, and Medford himself has
favoured us with half an hour's worth of his unpublished compositions.
Milburd announces his song as "A WAITING GAME."

    (_Suggested by "A Dreary Lot is Mine."_)

    A waiting game is mine,
                        Fair maid,
    A waiting game is mine;
    One day I shall not be afraid
      To ask, then hear "I'm thine!"
    And when that word I've spoo-ō-ken,
      Ere yet I am quite grey,
    Ne'er will it, dear, be bro-o-o-ken
      For ever and a day!

Mrs. Boodels wants to know if he won't kindly sing it to her through her
ear-trumpet. He promises to do so, one day when they are alone.

    SECOND VERSE.

    A waiting game is mine, fair maid,
      A waiting game is mine,
    I'll stay until my debts are paid,
      The contract _then_ I'll sign.
    Unless you've fifty thousand pounds,
      To bring me as a dower,
    If so .... those are sufficient grounds
      For wedding--now--this hour.

Nobody asks him to sing again. Mrs. Frimmely says, "She only cares for
French songs. English comic songs," she adds, "are _so vulgar_." Settler
for Milburd. Glad of it.

After this Milburd says he's got another; a better one.

We say, sing it to-morrow.

_Happy Thought (expressed in a complimentary manner)._--A good song,
like yours, is better for keeping.

                           _Note to Myself._

The age for compliments is gone. The courtly and polished Abbé, who
would have said the above epigrammatically when it would have been
considered remarkably witty, has passed away. No one believes in
compliment. It has no currency, except done in a most commonplace way.
But the epigrammatic compliment, the well-prepared impromptu, the
careful rehearsed inspiration, is out of date. Now-a-days there are no
wits, and no appreciation of The Wits. Conversation is damped by a
bon-mot. An awful silence follows the most brilliant _jeu de mot_, as
sombre as the darkness after a forked flash, or as the gardens at the
Crystal Palace after the last bouquet of fireworks.

                                 -----

Conversation is like a boot. When damped it loses its polish.

                                 -----

[The above remarks occasioned by no one having taken any notice of my
epigram, and Milburd only replying to it by saying, "Oh! bosh!"]

                             [Illustration]

I've just tried to draw a firework in my pocket-book. It doesn't exactly
express my idea. But is a very good sketch of a joke which has failed.

This evening I am melancholy.



CHAPTER XIV.

OUR POSTAL ARRANGEMENTS.


Knock at the door.

Complaints made to the President of Happy-Thought Hall of the
non-delivery or late delivery of letters, and newspapers.

I promise to see to it.

"George," I say to our servant, "let me see the postman when he comes."
George grins, says Yes. Exit George.

Why does he grin?

Half an hour after this I am in the yard. I hear a shrill piping voice.
It says, "It carnt b' elped n'ow. 'Taint no farlt o' mine. It's them at
th' office as is irregylar. I says to them, I do, allus; come now, I
says, you ain't to your time, I says, which you carnt say to me all the
years as I've been up-a-down on this road, summer nor winter, and no
one never lost nothin' nor complainin'. Tell the gendlemun fromme
as----" here I step in, and interrupt an old woman talking. I ask. "Has
the postman come?"

The old woman with a bag bobs a curtsey, and says,

                [Illustration: "I'M THE POSTMAN, SIR."]

And so she is; and has "carried the bag"--only without the dishonesty of
a Judas--for the last twenty years. Wonderful old lady. About seventy,
and walks twelve miles, at least, in all weathers, every day of her
life.

A little girl, her granddaughter, walks by her side, and a sharp terrier
accompanies the pair.

Poor old woman! blind.

I am disarmed.

The little girl informs me that "it's the folks at the post office as is
wrong."

Generally true.

"Good-bye old Martha, and here's a Christmas-box for you."

"Ar, thank'ee kindly, sir."

                             [Illustration]



CHAPTER XV.

    MRS. BOODELS--BOODELS--HIS GRANDMOTHER'S OBSERVATION--HER FATE
    SEALED--THE COMEDY--HER DEPOSITION--NEW PROPOSAL--AWKWARD--MILBURD'S
    RELATION--INVITATION--THE DINNER HOUR--RECOMMENDATION--DECISION.


Being deaf, Mrs. Boodels has, as our friend Captain Byrton expresses it,
six to four the best of us. Repartees through an ear-trumpet lose their
sting. And then you can't in politeness, and in all respect, sting an
old lady of seventy-five.

The other evening Boodels says, blushingly, that some of his friends
tell him that he is just the man to write a comedy.

This is repeated to his grandmother through the trumpet.

"Yes," she says, quietly; "I've heard John's friends say that he can
write a comedy, and I've heard 'em add that _they hope he won't_."

                                 *   *
                                   *

Since this we've not heard any more of Boodels' comedy. I rather think
that he's got it all ready to read to us.

Next morning after this observation of Mrs. Boodels, her grandson comes
with Milburd to my room.

Boodels says he thinks his grandmother's a little too old for the work.

I reply that we all like her, and that she's a charming old lady.

                   [Illustration: "OUT FOR THE DAY."]

Milburd agrees.

Boodels says, rather testily, of course she's all _that_, but we want
some one more sprightly, and having to repeat everything to her through
the trumpet is tedious.

We own that we should not have liked to have been the first to hazard
this objection, but as he _has_ made it himself, why we perhaps on the
whole agree with him rather than not.

Boodels is satisfied with this craftily qualified assent.

"The old girl," he says,--(odd, how she's suddenly come down in his
estimation--down to "old girl")--"has told me this morning that the late
hours are beginning to tell upon her, and she wants to dine earlier!"

Ah! there we _are_ touched nearly. Alter the dinner hour! Never!

"She's accustomed at home, you see," continues her grandfilial
relation, "to dine at one o'clock or thereabouts, and tea at six."

Nursery hours! we couldn't think of it.

"Of course not," returns Boodels; "so I said to her .... She was rather
huffed at the idea of my calling them 'nursery hours,' and wanted to
know if I meant that she was in her second childhood. In fact," says
Boodels, blurting it all out, "there's been a row, and the old girl
threatened to take away the Chertons."

"Pooh!" from both of us.

"But if she goes--" commences Boodels, who has a strict and severe sense
of propriety.

"If she does," cries Milburd, "look here! I've got it." He subdues his
excitement, and proceeds, "I've a letter from the Regniatis."

"Regniatis! let's see," considers Boodels. "They're relations of yours?"

"Yes. Count Regniati, an Italian, and the jolliest fellow in the
world"--he adds this as a set-off against his nationality, which may, he
evidently thinks, suggest secret societies, daggers, carbonari--"married
my Aunt. The Chertons are also some sort of distant connection. At least
they often stay with Madame. So that _she'll_ be their chaperone. I'm
sure you'll like 'em immensely," he adds, "and the Signor, my uncle, is
first-rate." We decide. Abdication of Mrs. Boodels and enthronement of
the Regniati dynasty.

"Good," exclaims Boodels. "Then I'll tell my grandmother to-day. I don't
want to do anything unpleasant"--we agree with him, such a feeling does
him honour--"and I'll take the opportunity of her wanting to go up to an
aurist to _congédier_ her. After all the old lady will be much happier
away, and I'll tell her that we shall be so glad to see her whenever she
likes to turn up again, that is, if the Hall is still going on."

We admit that nothing could be more courtly, more diplomatic than this.

Milburd is to invite his Uncle and Aunt. And that's settled.



CHAPTER XVI.

    FRESH ARRIVALS--DESCRIPTION--A HISTORY.


Mrs. Boodles is deposed and retires, _vice_ Madame Regniati promoted.

Madame Regniati arrives alone. "The Signor," as his nephew Milburd
always affectionately terms him, "has not come by the same train."

"It is just like Mr. Regniati," observes Madame, severely. "He said he'd
leave me to look after the luggage. Mr. Regniati has no notion of even
looking after himself. Probably he has lost himself. My luggage has come
with me. I have his ticket, and I know he has no money, as he has spent
his allowance this week. When Mr. Regniati has found himself once more,
I have no doubt he will appear."

                    [Illustration: SIGNOR REGNIATI.]

All this she delivers in disjointed sentences, with a little pause or a
cough between each. She speaks without any action, and generally
statuesquely. She prides herself evidently on her classicality. She is
more the antique Roman than the English dame. It was this, Milburd, in
smoking-room confidence, informs us, that first inspired her with a
liking for Mr. Regniati, whom she met in Rome. Mr. Regniati was then a
sculptor, and might have gained, ultimately, a considerable reputation,
if his good-natured indolence, and his social qualities, had not, in
the end, proved too much for his undoubted talent. Being possessed of
small private means, he would probably have remained an amateur, seeing,
not only without a particle of envy, but with a smile of positive
encouragement, others far less able than himself, pass him on the road
of art, and occupy pedestals which ought to have been his. One evening
meeting Miss Milburd at an artistic reunion, she overheard him express
his admiration of her classical lineaments. Being mistress of her own
fortunes, and of her own fortune, she simply determined to many Mr.
Regniati; and did so. She foresaw his future greatness. She looked
forward to his name being enrolled among those whom art has made
illustrious. She was doomed to disappointment.

             [Illustration: MADAME REGNIATI. (_From a
              Classical Portrait in her own possession._)]

              [Illustration: MADAME REGNIATI (_in fact_).]

Transplanted to British soil, the Signor found himself a gentleman at
large. He abandoned the chisel for the gun, and prided himself upon
becoming a sportsman and an agriculturist. From the moment of his being
thus thoroughly acclimatised, Madame Regniati gave him up, so to speak,
then and there, as a bad job. The Signor's private means were not
anything like enough to supply his peculiarly English tastes, and his
wife would not "fritter _her_ money away," she said, "in pigsties."

So she decided upon giving up their rural retreat which she had chosen
for the purpose of affording Mr. Regniati every opportunity of communing
with nature, and took him up to London. Here she obtained a small house,
with a studio, built out at the back by its previous artistic occupant,
where she fondly hoped Mr. Regniati would once more devote himself to
the study of the fine arts.

Her husband now appeared to be inclined towards her way of thinking. The
more, because his funds were in her hands, and she "allowanced" him.

He commenced a group, several sizes larger than life, of _The Judgment
of Paris_.

The process was slow, and, apparently, far from inexpensive. Moreover it
was excessively fatiguing, and Madame, proud of her husband's design,
and sanguine as to his future, willingly permitted the Signor to take
occasional relaxation in the country.

He was obliged to come to her from time to time for money. The allowance
was insufficient.

This gradually aroused her suspicions. She had permitted the
introduction of living models to the studio, out of regard for the
necessities of art, but it was her invariable custom to bring her work
thither, while Mr. Regniati was engaged in modelling from nature. He was
seldom out of her sight, nor did he, indeed, appear at all anxious to be
other than most eager for her companionship, except on the holiday
occasions, when he sought invigoration in the country. Then he
represented that he loved solitude, and generally selected a time when
Madame was too indisposed even to offer to join him in his excursion.

Madame became, in fact, jealous.

Being a woman of deeds, not words, she determined to ascertain the
truth, before she startled the Signor with the expression of a
suspicion.

The Signor asked her for money. She gave it to him cheerfully, regretted
that her rheumatism was so bad as to confine her to her room, begged him
to stay away until he felt quite restored and able to go on with
Minerva's toes (he had got so far with the three goddesses, but, having
commenced with the toes, this was not much as representing the labour of
nearly a year and a half), and wished him good-bye.

The Signor went to Dunby Dale, a small, out-of-the-way village in
Hampshire, totally unaware of being closely followed by Madame's maid,
who gave the information, and then by Madame herself.

The Signor was traced to a small farm-house, beautifully situated, and
in the most perfect order.

He was welcomed, respectfully, at the door by a fresh-looking, buxom
country wench.

The following conversation was overheard.

[The Signor's English is far from perfect.

He divides every syllable, _more Italiano_, and talks not unmusically in
rather a high key. Most of his conversation is, as it were, written for
a tenor, and he strains at it like a low baritone. _Figurez-vous_ a
portly gentleman, brown as walnut juice, dark black hair, moustache and
beard. Teeth flashing and brilliant, like a set of impromptu epigrams
in the mouth of a wit. Laughing lips, and eyes beaming with good-nature.
Height five feet seven. _Voilà le Signor Regniati._]

"Ah! Mar-ree!"--this was to Mary the maid who had received him. "You
look all rose and pink. And 'ow does my leet-tel Clo-teel-da? She is
vell, I 'ope?"

"She gets on beautiful, sir," was the answer. "She's thrivin'
wonderful."

"Oh!" exclaimed the Signor, lighting up, and evidently intensely
delighted. "I _am_ so glad. I come avays to see _'er_. Tell me," he
continued, becoming suddenly serious, "'ave she 'ad 'er bart?" [The
Signor almost sings his sentences. He went up the scale to the verb
"'ad," and took a turn down again three notes to the noun "bart," which,
by the way, was his way of pronouncing "bath."]

"Every day, sir," replied the maid, cheerfully, "and her skin looks as
white as a young infant's."

Again the Signor was in ecstasies.

"Come!" he cried, "let us go an' see 'er."

A good deal of the Signor's conversation resembles easy lessons in one
syllable for beginners. His "let us go and see 'er," was delivered with
a slight halt between each word, like a child in a state of doubt over
a column in a spelling book.

They went into the house, and out, by the back way.

Madame Regniati soon discovered the worst. When the Signor had gone, she
called at the house herself, and found that the Signor rented a lodging
of the farmer, and, _kept a pig_.

Though forced to give up the country, he could not deny himself this
agricultural pleasure. His first pig had won a prize, and the farmer
showed Mrs. Regniati the account of the Cattle Show in a local paper,
with Mr. Regniati exhibiting under the name of "Tomkins," and then, in
the fulness of his heart, he brought out a silver medal, tied to a blue
riband and preserved in a case of morocco leather, on which was
inscribed that this represented the second prize for pigs awarded by the
Judges to Mr. Regniati, as "Tomkins," for the sow Selina, and then
followed date, place, and other particulars.

After this discovery there was an arrangement. Mr. Regniati was allowed
a small farm-house in the country, on condition of his not _wasting_
money upon it, and only taking to it as a recreation, while the greater
portion of his time he would be, henceforth, in honour bound to dedicate
to his Art.

The Signor accepted these terms.

In six years' time he had got as far as the third pair of
knees,--Juno's,--and had obtained the first prize for pigs, and the
second for bullocks, at a County Show.

This success lured him on to his ruin. At the expiration of ten years,
Venus had a head on her shoulders, and he had almost lost his own. There
had been years of disease among the cattle, insects in the turnips, and
rottenness in the heart of his mangels; his expenses had become
enormous, the Inspector of Nuisances had complained of the state of the
drains round and about his farm, his oxen had strayed, two bulls had got
loose and had maimed several people for life, whom he had to pension as
long as they were unable to work,--and their inability to work appeared
to increase with the duration of the pension. In fact Mr. Regniati's
model farm promised to eventuate in a gigantic failure. At this crisis
Madame stepped in and saved the citadel.

She simply got rid, _sur-le-champ_, of the live-stock, man and beast.

Then she disposed of the house and outbuildings.

The Signor went down, and sat, like Marius, or rather like a second
Cincinnatus, when, on returning from the metropolis, he found that his
farm had gone utterly to the bad.

After this, Signor Regniati went hard to work on Juno. A year's toil
brought its reward. Madame his wife was pleased to sit as his model,
and, ultimately, to purchase for him a small game preserve, and a
shooting box in Bedfordshire, at an easy distance from town.

It was on his way to Budgeby Box that the Signor came to us at
Happy-Thought Hall, and brought Madame; or rather, that Madame came and
brought the Signor.

Milburd was now the Signor's constant companion. Madame trusted, she
said, Mr. Regniati to his nephew. Mr. Regniati, she adds, is a child. "I
expect no responsibility from him. I look to Richard for that. Richard
must take care of his uncle, and go out shooting with him, as I will
_not_ have," she says, emphatically "I will _not_ have Mr. Regniati
going out with a gun, _alone_."

If Mr. Regniati is present when these remarks are made, he merely
smiles, quite happily, stretches out his arms, and exclaims, in a tone
of the slightest remonstrance possible, "Oh, my dear! I can shoot! I am
quite safe."

"Yes," returns Madame, "and I mean you to keep so."

"I vas born for a sport-mans," Mr. Regniati observes to us.

I notice that he is fond of putting words into a sort of plural of his
own invention.

"You're lucky, Mr. Regniati," observes his wife, "to find _that_ out at
all events. For my part I can't make out why you were ever born at all."

Again the Signor smiles, and says in cheerful remonstrance, "Oh my
dear!" but he is too wise to continue a conversation which would only
involve an argument, and perhaps, the loss of his "lee-tel shoot-box at
Bod-ge-bee."

Dick, _i.e._ Milburd, benefits considerably by this arrangement. His
aunt pays all the expenses (trusting Mr. Regniati with no money), as
long as he and his uncle are together.

"Richard," she says, "is clever and careful. My husband is a schoolboy.
I can only trust a schoolboy with a tutor."

We are at dinner when the Signor arrives.

He enters in a state of great excitement.

"Ah!" he exclaims, "'Ow do you do?" this to everyone generally. "Ah
Deeck!" this to Milburd, reproachfully. "Vy you not meet me at ze
Rail-vays?"

"You'd better go and dress yourself, Mr. Regniati," remarks Madame,
drily, finishing her soup, "or you won't have any dinner."

"My dear!" he cries, "No din-ner! I am so 'ongry. I 'ave no-sing to eat
since my break-fast."

"You should have been here before," says Madame.

"My Jo!" he exclaims, in a very high key, almost between laughing and
crying. I find out that "My Jo," is _his_ rendering of "By Jove!"--a
very harmless oath--"My Jo! I could not!" Then he enters appealingly to
us into an explanation. "Madame Regniati vas in ze car-ri-age, and she
say to me, Mr. Regniati, she say, I did not see ze boxes-put-in,"--this
is all one word.--"I say my dear eet ees all right. She say No you go
see it, for I tinks not. Den I go. I say vere ees my box, but I see
no-sing, no veres, den ven I try to find my car-ri-age again ze train
goes off. I jomp into a carri-age and a man say you most not do zat, but
I tomble in. I do not know vere de train goes to, but it vas not to come
'ere and ven I stop--My Jo!--dey ask-a-me for my tee-kets. 'I 'ave not
zem,' I say, 'my vife 'as zem.' Zen zey say to me I most buy vun. My Jo!
I say I can-not! I 'ave no money. I vant I say to go to Blackmeer. Oh
zey say zat is on a-noser line, in a-noser contry. My Jo! I say to 'im
vot shall I do? Zen I meet a gentle-mans who know me and he say----"

"Nonsense, Mr. Regniati. I believe you stopped at the refreshment-room
in London----"

"Oh My Jo! my dear! I as-sure you," he commences, but Madame cuts him
short.

"Go and dress, Mr. Regniati," she says, "and don't be long. Dick, show
Mr. Regniati his room, and bring him down in five minutes. Don't let him
chatter."

Milburd takes his uncle out, and we hear him repeating his story to his
nephew, as he crosses the hall, and ascends the stairs.

                     [Illustration: "PIGGY WIGGY."]



CHAPTER XVII.

    SUNDAY--SUNDAY REASONS--A CHAMBER DIALOGUE.


_Sunday Meditations._--When we first saw this place we called it The
House of Good Intentions. It recurs to me forcibly at this moment, as I
look over my note-book.

Under the heading of "Operanda," or Works to be done, I find:--

    (a) _Continuation of Typical Developments. Vol. III._

    (b) _A Guide to Hertfordshire._

    (c) _A Lesser Dictionary of French words not generally found in
        other Lexicographical compilations._

    (d) Theories on Dew. Practical utilitarian results.

    (e) A Commentary on hitherto obscure portions of Shakespeare's
        plays, with a life of the Great Poet, gathered from _obiter
        dicta_, which nobody has, up to this time, noticed.

    (f) "All Law founded upon Common Sense," _being a few steps towards
        the abolition of technicalities and antique repetitions in our
        legal proceedings_.

    (g) _Pendant to the above, "Every man his own lawyer and somebody
        else's."_

    (h) _Studies in the Country._ I thought I should have been able to
        write a good deal in this line while at the country-house. This
        was to include botany, farming, agriculture generally, with a
        resumption of what I took up years ago, as a Happy Thought,
        namely, "Inquiries into, and Observations upon, the Insect
        World."

Nothing of all this have I done. Not a line. It is afternoon. We have
most of us been to Church in the morning, except Boodels and Chilvern.
Those who have not been, gave the following reasons for arriving at the
same conclusion.

_Boodels' reason._ That he had a nasty headache, and should not get up.
[This he sent down to say at breakfast.]

_Milburd's reason._ That the weather looked uncommonly like rain. That
to get wet _going_ to Church is a most dangerous thing, as you have to
sit in your damp clothes.

_My own statement on the subject._ Milburd has puzzled me by saying it's
going to rain. Is it? If it isn't, nothing I should enjoy more than
going to Church. Wouldn't miss it on any account, except of course out
of consideration for one's health.

_Happy Thought._--I don't feel very well this morning, and damp feet
might be followed by the most serious results.

Miss Adelaide and Miss Bella are going. Their chaperonship this morning
devolves upon Mrs. Frimmely, as Madame and the Signor are Catholics, and
have been to mass, early in the morning, at St. Romauldi's Missionary
College, near here. Madame is very strict, and the Signor is not partial
to early rising. The College Service being at half-past eight in the
morning, they have to rise at seven on Sundays, and then there is a
drive of four miles. The following dialogue is overheard:

    _Time, 7.15 A.M. Scene, _Signor_ and _Madame's_ room. _Madame_ is up
    and dressing rapidly. The _Signor_ is still under the bedclothes._

_Madame_ (_severely_). Mr. Regniati.

_The Signor_ (_pretending extra sleepiness_). My dear! (_He won't open
his eyes._)

_Madame._ It is exactly a quarter past seven.

_The Signor_ (_snuggling down into the pillow_). I vill not be two
me-neets. (_Disappears under bedclothes._)

_Madame_ (_before the looking-glass, with her head bent well forward,
her hands behind her back, lacing herself into determination_). Get up,
Mr. Regniati. (_No sign of life in the bed._) Don't pretend to have gone
to sleep again. (_Not a movement._) I know you haven't. I shan't wait
for you when I'm once dressed. It's twenty-five minutes. (_Sharply._) Do
you hear, Mr. Regniati?

_The Signor_ (_re-appearing as far as the tip of his nose. Both eyes
blinking_). My dear--oh! (_as if in sudden agony. Then plaintively_) I
'ave such a pain in my nose.

_Madame_ (_backhairing energetically_). Fiddlesticks.

_The Signor_ (_in an injured tone_). Oh! Vy you say zat? You know I do
sof-far from my nose--and my head ache all ...

_Madame_ (_coming to a dead stop in her toilette_). Mr. Regniati, you
eat and drink too much.

_The Signor_ (_as if horrified at lying under such an imputation, but
showing no disposition to rise with the occasion_). Oh! My Jo!
(_appealing to abstract justice in the bed-curtains._) Good-ness knows
(_he pronounces it 'Good-ness-knows'_) I eat no-sing at-all.

_Madame_ (_coming to the point_). Mr. Regniati, I can't finish my
dressing if you stop there.

_The Signor_ (_bestirring himself with as much dignity as is possible
under the circumstances_). I go. Vere is my leet-tel slip-pers?
(_Protesting_) I shall catch my dets of cold. (_He finds them._)

_Madame._ Now, Mr. Regniati, make haste, or we shall be late. (_Shuts
his dressing-room door on him._)

In about a quarter of an hour after this, the carriage is announced, and
the Signor is hurried down stairs.

_The Signor_ (_complaining_). Oh! I am so ongry. (_Procrastinating._) Ve
'ave time to take som-sing to eat, be-fore zat ve ...

_Madame_ (_cutting him short_). Nonsense, Mr. Regniati. If you wanted to
stuff, you should have got up earlier.

_Mr. Regniati._ Stoff! (_Protests._) My Jo! I do not stoff!
(_Unhappily._) I 'ave no-sing in ...

_Madame_ (_ascetically_). A little abstinence will do you good. Come.

_Exeunt Madame, attended by the Signor. Carriage drives off._

Mrs. Orby Frimmely, whose new things came down yesterday--latest
Parisian mode--the two Misses Cherton, Miss Medford, Captain Byrton,
Chilvern, Cazell, are the Church party.

Mr. Orby Frimmely, having been busy in the City all the week, is what he
calls "taking it out" in bed on Sunday morning. He emphatically asserts
his position (a horizontal one), and with religious fervour claims
Sunday as a day of rest.

Being uncertain of the weather I remain at home with Milburd.

Milburd shifts the responsibility on to my shoulders by saying, "I'll go
if you'll go."

Hesitation.

_Happy Thought._ Wait and see what the weather is like.

At a quarter to eleven (service is at eleven) the weather is like
nothing particular.

_10.50._ A gleam of sunshine. We watch it. The Signor, to whom the
weather is of consequence, as he intends walking to the nearest farm on
a visit of inspection to some rather fine pigs, remarks, "It vill
'old-up. Ven de sun shine now, it shine all day."

Milburd doesn't think so. My opinion is that these rays are treacherous.

_10.55._ First appearance of genuine blue sky. Peal of bells stopped,
and one only going now. The last call. More hesitation, I ask Milburd
what he thinks of it. Milburd, in an arm-chair before fire and the
"Field" newspaper in his hand, says "that he doesn't know what to make
of it." Further hesitation.

_Eleven._ Cessation of all bells. Sudden silence everywhere. Sky bright
and blue. Sun out.

_Happy Thought._--If we'd only known this we might have gone to church.

_Milburd_ (_from behind the "Field"_). "Yes. It's too late now."

The Signor has started with Jenkyns Soames (who is of some philosophic
form of religion, in which long walks and gymnastics play leading
parts), for the Piggeries.

Of Boodels nothing has been seen, or heard, since his first message.

Mr. Orby Frimmely, under the impression that the ladies have disappeared
from the scene, descends in his lounging coat, and breakfasts alone.
After this he lights a cigar, and makes himself useful in the
conservatory.

Madame is walking in the garden, enjoying the winter sun's warmth, and
reading.

From my room I can see her. She comes pacing majestically right
underneath my window. Her book is the _Meditations of Marcus Aurelius_.

I pause ....

Then .... My Pens!.... I write

                    [Illustration: CURRENTE CALAMO.]



CHAPTER XVIII.

    MORE SUNDAY THOUGHTS--IN MY ROOM--A TELEGRAM--IMPOSSIBILITIES--
    INTERRUPTION.


_Happy Thought for Sunday._--Write down meditations. Like Marcus
Aurelius did. Why not go in for _Sunday Books_? Telegraph to Popgood and
Groolly (my publishers, who have been in treaty with me for two years
about _Typ. Developments_), and say,

           FROM ME,               | Messrs. POPGOOD & GROOLLY,
         HAPPY THOUGHT HALL,      |     THE WORKS,
                 HERTFORDSHIRE.   |       BOOKMAKERS' WALK,
                                  |           FINSBURY, E.C.

Good notion for you. Sunday book. Nothing solemn. Lightly contemplative.
Will you? Wire back.

Forgot it's Sunday, and no telegrams can be sent. Very absurd. Why
shouldn't one want to send a telegram on Sunday equally as much as on
Monday? Telegraphic people might arrange for holidays easily enough, by
having small extra Sunday staff.

_Happy Thought._--Will commence my Meditations. Head them _Sunday
Sayings_. No, they're _not_ sayings. Prefer alliterative title. Try
_Sunday Sighs_. But they're not sighs. Try another, _Sunday Sermons_.
No, they won't be sermons. Put down a lot of titles and see which I
like. _Sunday Songs._ _Sobs for Sunday._ _Sunday Solids._ (This is
something more like it.) Or a double title. _Sunday Solids and Sunday
Suctions._ No; won't do.

_Happy Thought._--Write the meditations first, see what they come out
like, and then give them a name. This will, so to speak, "suit my book,"
as to-morrow, with a name and everything cut and dried, I can write
particulars to Popgood and Groolly.

For the nonce--(good word, by the way, "the nonce")--only it's always
given me the idea of sounding like a vague part of the body, where one
could be hit or knocked down. I mean it would never surprise me to hear
that some one had met a man and hit him on the nonce. Result fatal.

        _"He was not found for some days after, but there is no doubt
          that he was killed by a blow on the nonce."_

                               _Extract from local paper._

To resume:--

For the nonce, I will head them merely for my own personal information,
"Sayings for Sunday."

_Happy Thought._--Good Hebdomadal Alliterative Series.

Sayings for Sundays.   _1 Vol._

Mysteries for Mondays.    _do._

Tales for Tuesdays.       _do._

Wit for Wednesdays.

Themes for Thursdays.

Fun for Fridays.

Sonnets for Saturdays.

And then, all, in a monthly volume, as Medleys for the Month. I
distinctly see Popgood and Groolly's rapid and colossal fortune. Then
there'd be a quarterly. Why not _Quarterly Quips_? No, this is not
sufficiently general. [N.B. Joke by a man on a treadmill might be termed
a _Quip on a Crank_.]

_Happy Thought._--_Quantity and Quality, a Quarterly Quintessence._
_Quips, Quiddities, Quibbles, and Quirks_, by ... dear me, I want to say
"ready writers"--that's the style of _nom de plume_ required.

_Plume_ is suggestive. I have it.

_Happy Thought._--"_Quick Quills._" Popgood's advertisement will say,
"The above Quarterly by Quick Quills."

Now I'll begin.

Knock at the door. Mr. Orby Frimmely wants to know if I will stroll out
with him and meet the Signor returning.

With pleasure. Leave the sayings for another Sunday.

We stroll.

                         [Illustration: AWAY!]



CHAPTER XIX.

A WALK WITH SIGNOR REGNIATI.

_THE PROSAIC GENTLEMAN._


_Weather fine. We are out for a walk. Mr. Orby Frimmely, of the City,
represents the Prosaic. I put myself down as the Poetic, and the Signor
as the Enthusiastic. To us a small man in clerical black and Roman
collar._

_The Signor_ (_saluting cleric_). Ah, Father Cuthbert. 'Ow you do?
(_Introduces us._) You 'ave got beautiful flowers.

_Father C._ (_alluding to the bunch in his hand_). _Flores martyrum._
You have heard that we are ordered off for active service in China.

_Self._ China! (_We see in our "mind's eye, Horatio" the fearful
tortures recently practised upon Christians in China and are
speechless._)

_Frimmely_ (_the Prosaic_). Ah! You must take care what you're about
there. (_Surprise of the Reverend F. Cuthbert._) The Government won't
protect you, you know (_he says this as if the reverend gentleman was
going to China to rob an orchard_).

_Father C._ No. It will not. (_Nobly._) We go to suffer and to preach
the faith.

_Signor._ Oh, my Jo! I should not like to be eat. I 'ope you vill not
go. Let us know before you start.

_Father C._ (_cheerfully_). It is certain. I'm afraid I shan't be at the
College to see you next Sunday. Good-bye.

                                                       [_Exit Father C._

_We continue our walk._

_Myself_ (_the poetical_). Ah! What a grand lot! What a high and holy
calling. Here we are, striving for comfort, and perhaps for fame, there
the missioner goes forth, to die, perhaps in torments, unknown to the
world until the Day of Doom.

                                          [_I am impressed and silent._]

_Signor._ Oh, my Jo! I vould not go to be eat. (_Nobly, and in true
Christian spirit._) I vould say let me go, and I vill run a-vays.

_Frimmely_ (_the Prosaic_). Martyr!... Well, I wouldn't mind being a
martyr if I'd been brought up to it. I don't see why you should waste
sentiment on Father Cuthbert or anybody else whose profession it is.
(_Repeating incisively_) It's his profession, his business, to be
uncomfortable, and, finis coronat opus, martyrdom signifies in his line,
success. (_We are silent and he continues further to instruct us._) You
Catholics (_to the Signor_), you know, have colleges of Missioners in
training; I've seen 'em. As in a Law College there would be portraits of
Chief Justices and celebrated Q.C.'s in the costumes of their rank, so
in a Missioners' College you have pictures of Celebrated Martyrs in the
peculiar Costumes of their particular torments. It's a regular business,
with _you_ I mean, not so much with Protestants. We do it more
comfortably. With us it's rather a question of a foreign appointment,
with a good income.

_The Signor._ Vell--(_considering_). I am ongry. Let us go an' eat
some-sing.

              [Illustration: ÊTRE MARTYR .... SON MÉTIER.]



CHAPTER XX.

A SUNDAY CONVERSATION.


_Miss Adelaide_ (_warming her toes on the fender before sitting down to
luncheon_). Oh, how cold it was in Church.

_Captain Byrton._ Wasn't it. Upon my word if they expect people to go,
they ought to keep the place warm.

_Chilvern._ It was so cold I couldn't go to sleep during the sermon
(_knives and forks at work_).

_Cazell._ It wasn't such a very bad sermon. Pickles, please! Thanks.

_Myself_ (_showing some interest_). Who preached?

_Mrs. Frimmely._ I don't know his name. He wasn't here last Sunday.

_Boodels_ (_whose headache has entirely disappeared_). Ah, the Rector
perhaps. There are two Churches here, and he has two Curates.

_Miss Bella_ (_frowningly_). He preached in black.

_Milburd._ It _is_ the Rector. It's what they call 'Low Sunday' here.

_Chilvern._ What's that?

_Madame._ Not Low Sunday with us; that is after Easter Day.

_Medford_ (_explaining_). Ah yes, Boodels refers to the tone of their
Churchmanship. The Rector is Broad Church, Mr. Marveloe, the senior
Curate, is High Church, and Mr. Alpely, the junior Curate, is Low. This
just suits the parishioners, and they take it turn and turn about at the
two Churches, the Rector doing duty at both, accommodating himself to
either view as the case may be. One Sunday they're high, another they're
low, and the other Church is _vice versâ_.

_Miss Adelaide._ To-day it was the duett of parson and clerk.

_Miss Bella._ Oh, horrid! I'd rather stop at home than hear that. Why at
S. Phillips at home we have vestments, and incense, and everything is
done so well.

_Miss Medford_ (_quietly_). Well, I'd just as soon go to one as another.
May I trouble you for the salt, Signor Regniati?

_Signor._ My Jo! If zey do not preach I vould go--

_Madame_ (_severely_). Mr. Regniati, hand the salt.

_Mrs. Frimmely._ What an absurd cloak that Mrs. Tringmer had.

_Miss Bella._ I suppose she thought it was quite the fashion.

_Mrs. Frimmely._ Who was that lady--Captain Byrton, do _you_ know?--who
came in rustling all up the Church, and so scented! as if she'd stepped
out of a perfumer's.

_Byrton._ Don't know. Perhaps she _has_ stepped out of a perfumer's, and
is an advertisement.

_Happy Thought (for a perfumer)._--To send scented people about.
Questions asked, _e.g._ Stranger (_sniffing_) goes up politely and
inquires, "I beg a hundred pardons, but what scent--what delicious scent
are you wearing?" Then the lady replies, "Don't mention it, Ma'am. It's
(whatever the name is), and there's the card." And gives her the
perfumer's address.

_Miss Adelaide._ I thought Miss Vyner rather prettily dressed.

_Mrs. Frimmely._ Oh! but _did_ you see her gloves! Such a fit!

_Miss Bella._ And such a colour!

_Cazell._ I wonder who that bald-headed man in front of me was? There
was a collection, and he put a sovereign into the plate.

_Chilvern._ I'm always unlucky in that way. Whenever I go to Church
there's always a collection.

_Captain Byrton._ Yes. You kept the man waiting at the pew door for at
least two minutes, while you fumbled in all your pockets. Anyone have
any cheese?

_Chilvern._ I knew I'd got a shilling somewhere--but it was a
fourpenny-bit after all.

_Miss Medford._ How very disturbing it must be for the clergyman, when a
child persists in crying at intervals all through the sermon.

_Mrs. Frimmely._ Yes, little things like that oughtn't to be brought to
church; at least, not to sit out sermons.

_Boodels_ (_with some vague recollection of the baptismal service_). But
you forget, Mrs. Frimmely, godfathers and godmothers promise to bring
children to _hear_ sermons. That's one of the three things they vow in
the child's name.

_Mrs. Frimmely._ Really? (_seeing no help for it short of a second
reformation, or disestablishment_). Well it's a great pity.

_Milburd_ (_to Byrton_). I see by the _Field_ to-day, that _Lysander_ is
going up for the Derby.

_Byrton._ He's nowhere. _Corkscrew's_ at a hundred to fifteen.

_Mrs. Frimmely._ I was right last year. Wasn't I? (_To her husband._)

_Frimmely._ Yes: for once. (_Mrs. Frimmely tosses her head._)

_Soames_ (_the Professor of Scientific Economy_). Betting can be reduced
to the certainty of a mathematical calculation.

_Cazell_ (_to him_). I tell you what _you_ ought to do, then.

_Soames_ (_innocently_). What?

_Cazell._ Make your fortune. (_A titter. Pause._)

_Medford._ I see by the _Musical Times_ that we're to have the new prima
donna, Stellafanti, at Covent Garden.

_Madame._ We heard her years ago at Naples. (_Interest in her
diminishes._)

_Mrs. Frimmely._ We _must_ get up some theatricals here.

_Misses Adelaide and Bella._ Oh yes, _do let's_!

_Miss Medford._ I think they _are_ such fun.

_Medford._ We could do something musical, easily.

_The Signor_ (_while the others talk about theatricals_). My Jo! I
should like to get a leettel shoot vile I am here.

_Capt Byrton._ Birds very wild. Have you had good sport?

_Signor._ My Jo! at Bad-ge-bee zere are--oh--'eaps of birds! but ven zey
see me, zey go avays. I go out to shoot zem, an' I shoot no-sing.

Here the conversation becomes general, some are hot on theatricals and
musical matters, others on sporting. Mr. Frimmely and the Professor are
discussing finance. Miss Medford and Mrs. Regniati have got on an
ecclesiastical topic.

--"We might play an opera, with a part for--"

--"The Archbishop of Canterbury, he is a friend of our rector's and
says--"

--"My Jo! I 'ave such a pig! and I 'ave a bull that--"

--"With skates on! in a frost--"

--"Will win the Derby, I'll back him unless he's--"

--"Dressed as a brigand. Charming! or else as--"

--"A simple sum in arithmetic--"

--"With a red nose--"

--"In the organ-loft. But he objected to--"

--"Cold cream the only thing! put that on first, and then--"

--"You may get within a few yards of the birds, they won't hear you, and
when they're--"

--"Paying ten per cent. for your money. Why not leave it--"

--"On the top of your head with a feather--"

--"Or go up in the pulpit before the sermon, as the rector did--"

--"In a transparency; it's easily managed by--"

--"Another tax on the Spanish coupons--"

--"And a bath every evening with--"

--"My prize pig--"

--"And three or four fireworks--"

_Milburd_ (_decisively_). A capital effect! We'll do it!

                             [_The ladies rise. Conversation finishes._]

            [Illustration: ONE OF THE SURPLICE POPULATION.]



CHAPTER XXI.

COMMENCEMENT OF MY SAYINGS FOR SUNDAYS.


                             [Illustration]

_First._--Of the bee. If the bee could talk, he would always be boasting
of his business, and would do nothing.

_Moral._--Learn then from the bee, the lesson of silent perseverance.

(I think this _is_ the lesson to be learnt.)

_Second._--The wasp's sting is in its tail. So is a tale-bearer's.

_Moral._--Avoid wasps and tale-bearers.

(This would come among the quips. Still I think it would be a fair
Sunday quip, for even a serious circle.)

_Third._--Stand by Niagara Falls, and abuse them. The falls will go on
the same as ever. Throw mud at them. None will stick. The power of pure
water will wash it away.

_Moral._--A spotless character is protected by its own integrity, and
though men will try to defame it, yet it triumphs in the end.

(Don't care about this moral. Get something better out of it before
to-morrow. It will do for "_material_.")

_Fourth._--We are born for the sake of one another.

_Moral._--Find out for whom you were born, and stick to him, or her.

(Rather a frisky moral this. More for Mondays than Sundays, perhaps.
Marcus Aurelius was a great man. One begins to appreciate the greatness
of a maxim-maker or aphorist, when you try to do something in that line
yourself.)

_Fifth._--You yourself are often like those who offend you.

_Moral._--When you detect the resemblance to yourself in others, treat
them as you deserve to be treated. This may lead to difficulties.

(Something suggested here, by this last word.)

_Sixth._--Difficulties were made to be surmounted.

_Moral._--Go up Mount Ararat and down the other side.

_Seventhly._--The sum of social Christianity: Love your neighbour, and
hate your relations.

(This will do for Sunday. Irony for Sunday. Fun for Friday _à propos_ of
irony. Who ought to have been the best writer of _irony_? _Steele._)

_Eighthly._--In a woman's youth, coquetry is natural. It is the
expression of amiable indecision. At thirty, it is a science.

(Somehow I think, I've slid away from Sunday literature.)

_Ninthly._--A pretty woman well "made up" is an angel ... with false
wings.

(The mention of an angel, is something nearer to Sunday.)

_Tenthly._--'Tis curious that when the Jews finish, the Christians
begin. Their Sabbath is the last day of the week, our Sunday is the
first.

(This is more like what I wanted. Only in the last three instances,
there has been no moral.)

_À propos_ of a moral.

_Eleventhly._--A moral in a fable is like the hook in the bait.

_Moral_.--Take the bait ... and leave the hook.

_Twelfthly._--"The Devil," said Voltaire, "is at the bottom of
Christianity. Without the Devil Christianity would not be."

Ah, but the Devil little thought this when he tempted Eve.

There is no particular moral to this. It does not require one.

_Thirteenthly._--The bad man who attends to the convenances of religious
observance, only puts polish on muddy boots.

_Moral._--Clean your boots.

(Might add also, "take care of the puddles." Popgood and Groolly will
make a fortune of such a Sunday book as I am getting together. Only it
will take some time to compile two hundred pages of maxims and morals.)

_Fourteenthly._--Stars and pretty women at a ball don't show to
advantage by daylight.

_Moral._--Go to bed early.

_Fifteenthly._--(_A pendant_). The Moon is pale from being up all
night.

_Moral._--Same as preceding.

_Sixteenthly._--Marrying for Love is like digging for gold. It is to be
hoped the speculation will succeed.

_Moral._--Love in haste: marry at leisure.

(Altogether, I fancy, I'm wandering from Sunday Meditations. I don't
think these are the jottings of Marcus Aurelius.)

_Seventeenthly._--Here is something specially for Sunday:--

If you can't pay creditors, love them. It may not be exactly fulfilling
the law of your country, but the sentiment is sublime and thoroughly
Christian.

(This is a moral in itself. _Happy Thought._--Make a moral first and
invent the fable. Good.)

_Eighteenthly_.--We are all so vain that we can't imagine eternal
happiness too much for us. The reverse of the medal is unpalatable.

_Moral._--Be 'umble.

_Nineteenthly._--There are few men, if any, with whom it is possible to
reason concerning either Love or Religion.

_Moral._--Don't try.

_Twentiethly._--Theological discussion generally comes in after dinner
with the third bottle of wine.

_Moral._--Get to the fourth as quickly as possible.

_Twenty-onethly._--Life is a perpetual Epitaph.

_Moral._--Better than most epitaphs, because it's short. If you've got
to write one remember this.

The last is so melancholy that I can only sit down and think. At present
this will do for my Sunday Meditations.

                   [Illustration: THE MEDITATIONIST.]



CHAPTER XXII.

THE PROGRAMME--THE FARCE.


For some days Milburd, Mrs. Orby Frimmely, Cazell, Chilvern, and the
Medfords have been working hard at a new piece.

The order of the evening is dinner for a few, then theatricals to amuse
the many, then refreshments, then a dance, and finally supper.

The Signor is in great force.

"My dear," he says to his wife, "I shall do my lit-tel step. I shall
valse."

"Mr. Regniati," returns Madame, severely, "you will do nothing of the
sort."

This rather damps his ardour; and the fact of being unable to consult
his nephew on the best means of obtaining his chance of doing his
"lit-tel steps," still further depresses him.

He is perpetually looking into the theatre-room, and as often begging
pardon, and being turned out.

The night arrives. I receive the guests as president, and I take the
lady I don't want to in to dinner.

Dinner successful.

Madame rises at the proper moment; and after an hour, and the arrival of
several carriages full, the gong summons us to the theatre.

Here Medford and myself hand round the programmes, and Miss Medford
performs on the piano.

The programmes are in her writing too. Most neatly done.

      _This evening will be represented, for the first time on any
      stage, an entirely new and original Musical Farce, entitled_

                             PENELOPE ANNE.

                      WRITTEN BY R. MILBURD, ESQ.

                          _Dramatis Personæ._

DON JOSÉ JOHN BOXOS DE CABALLEROS Y          }
  CARVALHOS Y REGALIAS DI SALAMANCA,         }  S. CAZELL.
  generally known, and without familiarity   }
  mentioned, as "JOHN BOX"                   }

COUNT CORNELIUS DE COXO, Land-Margrave       }
  of Somewhere, with a Palazzo in Venice,    }  R. MILBURD.
  commonly known as "JAMES COX"              }

KARL, the German Waiter                         T. CHILVERN.

MRS. PENELOPE ANNE KNOX                         MRS. ORBY FRIMMELY.

MAJOR-GENERAL BOUNCER, B.L.H.                   CAPTAIN BYRTON.

                         ---------------------

      _The Scene is laid in Aix-la-Chapelle, at the Hotel known as
                    Die Schweine und die Pfeiffer._

_Time._--There being no time like The Present, we choose the present
time.

The Orchestra under the superintendence of MISS CATHERINE MEDFORD.

                                        Stage Manager, R. MILBURD.

                                        Prompter, GEORGE A. MEDFORD.

                       [Illustration: OUR STAGE.]


                             PENELOPE ANNE.

The Curtain being drawn up:--

    _The scene represents a public room in the small Hotel
    above-mentioned, at Aix-la-Chapelle._

    _Doors R.H. and L.H. Also a door C. leading on to a garden._

    _Time, late in Autumn._

    _On the table are various papers, books, &c._

_Enter COX._

    _Everybody applauds him. The Signor says, aloud, "_Oh 'ow good! eet
    is Deeck_," and looks about, proud of his penetration of his
    nephew's disguise, when Madame observes, "_Mr. Regniati, if you
    can't be quiet, you'd better go out_," whereupon the Signor
    confines himself to smiling and nodding to different people among
    the audience, intimating thereby his intense satisfaction with
    everything that is taking place on the stage._

                      [Illustration: COUNT COXO.]

    _COX is in full tourist style of the most recent fashion. Over this
    he wears a top-coat and round his throat a cache-nez. In one hand he
    holds a large glass of water._

    _He walks up and down on entering. Drinks a little. Takes off his
    coat, which he throws on the sofa. Then drinks again. Then walks.
    Then removes the cache-nez, which he throws on to coat, then he
    stands still and respires freely._

COX.

Phew! I'm only gradually cooling. This is the sixth day I've taken the
waters of Aix-la-Chapelle ... and I'm beginning to be so sulphurous all
over, that, if anybody was to rub against me suddenly, I should ignite
and go off with a bang. I've written to my friend Box an account of it.
I haven't seen Box for some years; but as I particularly wish him to
remain in England just now, I've commenced a correspondence with him.
I've told him that the doctor's orders here are very simple .... "Herr
Cox," says he to me--Herr's German--I must explain that to Box, because,
though Box is a good fellow, yet--he's--in fact--he's an ass. "Herr
Cox," says he, "you must drink a glass of sulphur wasser." Wasser's
German too; it didn't take long for my naturally fine intellect to
discover that it meant water. But Box doesn't know it ... for though
he's an excellent fellow, he is--in fact he's an ignoramus. "Herr Cox,"
says he to me, "you must take the sulphur wasser, and then walk about."
"What next, Herr Doctor?" says I. Note to Box. _Herr Doctor_ doesn't
mean that he's anything to do with a _Hair_-cutter. No, it's the
respectful German for Mister--must explain that to Box, for though he's
a tiptop chap, yet Box is--is--in fact, Box is a confounded idiot. "Herr
Doctor," says I, "what next?" "Well," says he "when you've taken the
sulphur water and walked about, then you must walk about and take the
sulphur water." Simple. The first glass ... ugh! I shan't forget it. I
never could have imagined, till that moment, what the taste of a summer
beverage made of curious old eggs ... a trifle over ripe ... beaten up
with a lucifer match, would be like ... now I know. But I was not to be
conquered. Glass number two was not so bad. Glass number three .... less
unpalatable than glass number two--glass number four ... um, between
number three and number four a considerable time was allowed to elapse,
as I found I had been going it too fast. But now my enfeebled health is
gradually being renovated, and they tell me that when I leave this, I
shall be "quite another man." I don't know what other man I shall be.
Yes I do. I am now a single man. I hope to leave here a double, I mean a
married man. Cox, my boy, that's what you've come here for. Cox, my boy,
that's why you want to keep, diplomatically, Box, my boy, in England,
and in ignorance of your proceedings. Herr Cox, you're a sly dog. If I
could give myself a dig in the ribs without any internal injury, I'd do
it. I came here for the rheumatism. By the way I needn't have come here
for _that_, as I'd got it pretty strongly. I caught it, without any sort
of trouble. I bathed, at Margate, in the rain. Before I could reach my
bathing machine, I was drenched through and through, I don't know where
to, but long beyond the skin. The injury was more than skin deep. No
amount of exterior scrubbings could cure me. Brandies and waters hot
internally, every day for two months, produced more than the desired
effect. I began to wander. I finished by travelling. And here I am. In
six more lessons on the sulphur spring, I shall be quite the Cure.
(_Dances and sings._) "The Cure, the Cure, the Cure, &c."

(_Great applause: from the Signor especially._)

_Enter WAITER._

(_More applause. An elderly lady with eye-glasses asks audibly if that
isn't _Captain Byrton_?_)

WAITER (_putting newspaper on table_).

Aachen Zeitung, Herr Cox.

(_More applause for his German accent._)

                      [Illustration: THE WAITER.]

COX.

Nein danky. I mean, no thank you. Nix--nein--don't want any.

WAITER.

Nein, Herr Cox, zis ees de baber--de daily baber at Aix. Beebels come.

                                                                [_Exit._

         (_The Signor here observes aloud, "_Eet is so like ven I----_"
           Madame says, sternly, "_Hush, Mr. Regniati_," and he contents
           himself by finishing with a wink privately to me._)

COX.

Ja. Goot. I flatter myself I'm getting on with my German. Here's the
arrival column .. English .. I look at this every day ... because ... um
(_reading it_) ... "Mr. and Mrs. Bloater, from Yarmouth, and all the
little Bloaters ... Major Bouncer" ... goodness gracious! how
extraordinary!... Major Bouncer ... Oh it can't be the same, it must be
one of his ancestors ... or his posterity ... "Major Bouncer of the
Royal Banbury Light Horse" ... pooh! fancy Bouncer on a light horse!

    Ride a cock horse
    To Banbury gorse
    To see Major Bouncer
    Upon a light horse;
    Rings on his fingers ....

Stop a minute ... Rings ... Ah! (_reads_) "accompanied by Mrs. Bouncer,
also of the Banbury Light Horse." Of course, that settles it. It is
_not_ old Bouncer. Next, "Mr. and Mrs. Winkle, from Pinner." Ah! at
last ... "Arrived at the Hotel, der Schwein und die Pfeife," that's
here--"Mrs. Penelope Anne Knox." I only heard it the other day at
Margate. There she sat. Radiant as ever. A widow for the second time.
Originally widow of William Wiggins, of Margate and Ramsgate, and now
widow of Nathaniel Knox, of the Docks, with a heap--a perfect heap--of
money. Then my old passion returned. I determined to propose to her. I
was about to do so, when on the very morning that I was going to throw
myself at her feet, I caught this infernal rheumatism, which laid me on
my back. When I recovered she was gone. "Where to?" says I. "Aix!" says
they. My spirits mounted. I took a vast amount of pains to get to Aix,
and here I am. I had heard of some property in Venice, which belonged to
the Coxes some hundreds of years ago, and so I thought I'd join pleasure
with business, and take Aix and Penelope Anne on the road. And now
_here_ she is. If Box had only known it, he'd have been after her. He's
a first-rate fellow, is Box, but abominably mercenary and mean. He'd
think nothing of proposing to Penelope Anne merely for her money. And
_I_ think nothing of a man who could do such a thing. So I've written to
Box telling him to go to the North, and I'll come and stay with him for
the shooting season. A little shooting Box in Scotland. Ha! ha! when I
_do_ go, it will be with Penelope Anne on my arm, as Mr. and Mrs. Cox.
Let me see, when the hour strikes again, it will be time for my third
tumbler--here it is--and the promenade. The Doctor says I must be
punctual in drinking the water, so I'll put myself straight, and then,
so to speak, lay myself out for the capture of Penelope Anne.

VERSES.

(_"Les Pompiers de Nanterre."_)

    I'm so very glad,
    Feel so very jolly,
    Like a little lad
    Who has come home to play.
    Now about I'll gad!
    Widow melancholy!
    She will be delighted
    When I my addresses pay.

      Tzing la la la! Tzing la la la!
        I'm an artful dodger!
      Tzing la la la! Tzing la la la!
        Hey! for Victory!

                                                [_Exit out of room R.H._

    (_Immense applause. The Signor insisting upon joining in the chorus,
    which he thinks he knows. MILBURD sings it again and then makes his
    exit._)

_Enter WAITER with portmanteau._

    _Applause. Then enter BOX as if from a long journey; he is wrapped
    up to the eyes, and above them. Questioning among audience, "_Who's
    that?_" WAITER points to room L.H. BOX inclines his head. Exit
    WAITER. BOX commences unbuttoning long foreign overcoat with hood.
    Then takes off hood, then takes off immense wrapper. When free of
    these he appears dressed in very foreign fashion._

                       [Illustration: DON BOXOS.]

_Re-enter WAITER._

WAITER (_puzzled_).

'Ave you zeen a Herr mit ein long code, ... long tail?

BOX.

A what? A hare with a long tail?

WAITER.

Ah! ah! (_laughing_). You are him I zee (_pointing to coat_). Dat vas
you dere. Zo ist goot.

BOX.

Oh, I see. Yes, that's me, I mean that was me, only now I've come out
like the butterfly out of a grub. (_Aside._) I forgot that this is
Germany. (_Aloud._) Ja.

WAITER.

Ach! der Herr sprech Deutsch?

(_Great applause._)

BOX.

Yah. (_Aside._) That's more like a nigger. (_Aloud._) On second
thoughts, nein.

WAITER.

Vill you your name in dese book write? (_Presenting visitors' book._)

BOX.

I will. (_Writes._) Don José John de Boxos Cazadores Regalias, Spain.

WAITER.

Dank you, milor!

                                                       [_Exit WAITER C._

BOX.

We know what we are, but we never know what we shall be. I am not quite
clear at present, by the way, what I am, let alone what I _shall_ be. If
anybody three months ago had said to me, "Box, my boy, you are a grandee
of Spain" ... I should have said that he was a ... in point of fact I
shouldn't have believed him. But still I am--that is, partially so--I'm
gradually becoming one. At present I'm only half a grandee. Three months
ago a friend, my legal adviser, a law stationer's senior clerk, near
Chancery Lane, said to me, "Box, my boy, you've got Spanish blood in
you." I said that I had suspected as much from my peculiar and extreme
partiality for the vegetable called a Spanish onion, and I was going to
a doctor, when my friend and legal adviser said to me, "Box, my boy, I
don't mean _that_. I mean that your great grandmother was of Spanish
extraction." I replied that I had heard that they had extracted my great
grandmother from that quarter, "I came across some papers," continued my
legal adviser, "which allude to her as Donna Isidora y Caballeros,
Carvalhos y Cazadores y Regalias, Salamanca, Spain, who married John
Box, trader, of Eliza Lane, St. Margaret's Wharf, Wapping. Date and all
correct. Go," says he--I mean my legal adviser--"go to Spain, and claim
your title, your estates, and your money, and I'll stand in with you,
and take half the profits." I was struck by this remarkably handsome
offer, and went down to Margate to cultivate a Spanish moustache and
think about it. Whenever I want to think about anything deeply, I go
down to Margate. Well, one morning as I was examining the progress of my
moustache, after shaving my chin and letting out some of the blue blood
of the Hidalgos in a most tremendous gash, judge of my astonishment,
when, walking on the beach, in among the donkeys and the Ethiopian
serenaders, I saw in widow's weeds, as majestic as ever, Penelope Anne!
(_Sings_) "I saw her for a moment, but methinks I see her now, with the
wreath of--something or other--upon her--something brow"----and then I
lost sight of her. But my Spanish blood was up. The extraction from the
sunny South boiled in my veins ... boiled over, when I learnt, on
referring to the visitors' list, that Penelope Anne was the relict of
the short-breath'd--I mean short-lived but virtuous--Knox, who had left
her his entire fortune. All my long-stifled passion returned--the
passion which the existence of a Wiggins, her first, had not quenched,
which the ephemeral life of a Knox had not extinguished, a passion which
I have felt for her before I knew that the blue ink--I mean the blue
blood, of the Hidalgos danced in my veins, and while she was only a
sweet village maiden eighteen years old, and known to all as Miss
Penelope Anne, of Park Place, Pimlico! I determined to go out and throw
myself at her feet, declare my passion, and take nothing for an answer
except "Box ... John ... I'm yours truly, Penelope!" I couldn't present
myself before her with a scrubbing-brush on my upper lip. So that
afternoon I sacrificed Mars to Venus--I mean I shaved off my moustache
for the sake of Penelope Anne. The next morning .... Toothache wasn't
the name for what I suffered. Face-ache fails to describe my agonies.
Neuralgia doesn't give the faintest idea of my tortures. The left side
of my face looked exactly as if I was holding a large dumpling in my
mouth, or a gigantic ribston-pippin which I couldn't swallow. Swallow!
Not a bit of food passed these lips, except slops, beef-tea, and tea
without the beef, for days. At the end of a week I was a shadow.
Penelope Anne had gone. Where, no one knew. Somebody said they thought
it was the Continent. I bought a map and looked out the Continent, but
it wasn't in that. I suppose it was an old edition--there have been so
many changes, and they're building everywhere--so I consulted my medical
man and my legal adviser. The first said, "Get change of air. Go
abroad!" The second said, "Seize the opportunity and go to Spain. And,"
he added, "come home by the Continent." That suited me down to the
ground. I should get my title, my lands, and my money, meeting Penelope
Anne on the Continent. As I was coming back I should be able to offer
her the hand and heart of either Don José John de Boxos y Cazadores y
Regalias y Caballeros y Carvalhos of Salamanca, Spain, or of plain John
Box, of Barnsbury. So here I am. I haven't got the whole title yet, as
the Spanish legal gentleman and I didn't hit it off exactly.... If I'd
only known what he was talking about, it would have shortened the
proceedings. However, as that remark applies to all legal business, I
couldn't quarrel with a foreigner on that point. Besides, if you quarrel
with a Spaniard, his southern blood can't stand it. He stabs you. He's
sorry for it afterwards, but that's his noble nature. So I've adopted
half the title, and the rest will be sent on to me if the suit is
gained. But up to this moment I've not met Penelope Anne. I've had so
much of the wines of Spain, that my medical man wrote and advised me to
try the waters of Germany. So here I am. (_Takes up paper_). What's
this? _Comic Journal_, um. "We are sorry to announce the death of ..."
um, um. (_reads_) "_Spain on the eve of a crisis._" ... There were three
while I was there. Nobody took any notice of them. What's this? "Hotel
der Schwein and die Pfeife"--that's here--"Mrs. Penelope Anne Knox." ....
Don José de Boxos, she's yours. You've only got to propose, and she's
yours. Tell her you're a Spanish grandee, and offer her a position as
Spanish grand_she_. Don Boxos, you've only got to give yourself a brush
up, and she's yours. (_Taking up COX'S glass of water which he has left
on table_) I wish myself every possible success! To my future happiness!
(_drinks._) Ugh! (_suddenly makes fearfully wry faces. The clock
strikes. Re-enter COX, R.H._)

COX.

Punctual to the moment. (_Seeing glass empty_) Confound it, dash
it--who's taken my sulphur wasser? I say who (_sees BOX who is slowly
recovering_)--Have you--(_starts_) Can I believe my eyes?

BOX.

I don't know.

COX.

It _must_ be--.

BOX.

If it _must_ be, then in that case (_opens his eyes and recognises
COX_). Ah!

COX.

Box!

BOX.

Cox!

              [_They are about to rush into each other's arms, when they
                think better of it, and shake hands rather coolly._

BOX.

How d'ye do?

COX.

How are you?

BOX.

Very well, sir.

COX.

Very well, sir! (_Aside_) I don't like the look of this.

BOX (_aside_).

I don't like the taste of _that_.

COX (_aside_).

What's Box here for?

BOX (_aside_).

Has Cox been trying to poison himself--and poisoned me?

COX (_aside_).

He mustn't stay here.

BOX (_aside_).

Cox must go. I don't think I feel as well as I did.

COX.

Ahem!

BOX.

Ahem!

COX.

I beg your pardon, you were going to say--

BOX.

On the contrary, I interrupted you--

COX.

No, you speak first. _Seniores priores._

BOX.

In that case you have the preference. Why, I'm quite a chicken by the
side of you.

COX.

Pooh, sir.

BOX.

Well, if you don't like "chicken" I'll say gosling.

COX.

Don't be absurd, sir. At what age were you born?

BOX.

What's that to you? I'm six years younger than you, whatever you are.

COX.

So am I. So you speak first.

BOX.

This is absurd. I'm only a visitor. You're a resident.

COX.

No I'm not. I'm only _ong parsong_.

BOX.

Ong Parsong? Why, you don't mean to say you've become a clergyman?
Archbishop Cox, I congratulate you.

(_Our two curates, who are among the audience, see the joke and laugh
sweetly._)

COX.

Don't be a fool. Are you stopping here?

BOX.

Well, that depends. Are _you_?

COX.

Well--(_shrugging his shoulders and stretching out his hands_).

BOX.

Ah! (_imitates action_) That's exactly my case.

COX.

It's time for me to go out and take the waters. You've taken mine for
me.

BOX.

If you don't feel any better after it than I do--What's the effect of
the waters?

COX (_aside_).

I'll frighten him. (_Aloud_) If you're unaccustomed to them--poisonous.

BOX.

Good gracious! The first draught then is--

COX.

Fatal. Deadly.

BOX.

Then you don't have much chance of getting accustomed to it. You look
very well.

COX.

Yes. I could have taken that glass with impunity. It was my eighteenth
tumbler.

BOX.

Then I'm safe. I began with the eighteenth. Aha! I shall smoke a cigar
and read the paper.

COX (_aside_).

The paper!

BOX.

Don't stop for me. (_Aside_) I wonder if he's seen the news.

COX (_aside_).

He mustn't know she's here. He's got it. (_Seeing BOX reading the
paper._) Would you allow me to look at the paper?

BOX.

There's nothing in it.

COX (_coming up to table and putting his hand suddenly down on it_).

Sir!

BOX (_taking no notice_).

Come in.

COX.

No, sir, I shall not come in. I'm going to come out, sir, and come out
pretty strongly too. (_Suddenly pathetic_) Box, my boy--

BOX (_the same_).

Cox, my boy. (_Turns and allows the smoke of his pipe to come under
COX'S nose just as COX is attempting to take the paper._)

COX (_sneezing_).

Excuse my emotion (_sneezes_).

BOX.

It does honour to your head and heart--specially to your head. (_Offers
his pocket-handkerchief._)

COX.

Thank you. I can't forget that we were once brothers.

BOX.

We were.

COX.

We had no secrets from each other. At least you had none from me, had
you?

BOX.

No, not unless you had any from me.

COX.

Then I will confide in you. I don't mind telling you--

BOX.

I have no objection to inform you--

COX.

That I am--

BOX.

So am I--

COX.

Here--

BOX.

Exactly my case--

COX.

To marry--

BOX.

Yes, to espouse--

COX.

Eh?

BOX.

It's the same thing.

COX.

Oh. To marry Penelope Anne.

BOX.

Penelope Anne! So am I!

COX.

You!

BOX.

I.

COX.

Then, Box, I'm sorry for you. You've no chance. Go.

BOX.

On the contrary, Cox, as there can't be the smallest possibility of your
being accepted, it's for you to retire. _Allez._

COX.

I shan't allez.

BOX.

No more shall I.

COX.

Mr. Box, since we last met, circumstances have changed. You no longer
speak to a gentleman--

BOX.

You needn't explain _that_--

COX.

I say, to a gentleman connected with the Hatting interest. _No_, my
family solicitor discovered that my great grandfather had been a
Venetian Count, or a Margrave, or a Hargrave, or a something of that
sort, and that therefore my proper title was Count Cox The Landgrave.

BOX.

The _Landgrave_--you might as well be a tombstone at once.

COX.

I am serious. I have come over to mix pleasure with business, and to
offer to Penelope Anne the hand of The Landgrave, or of the Venetian
Count. So yield to the aristocracy; and, Printer, withdraw.

BOX.

Excuse me, Cox, but since our parting I have discovered that in my veins
flows the blue blood of the Hidal_gos_--

COX.

How many "goes"?

BOX.

Don't be profane--of the Hidalgos of Spain. I have already assumed half
the title. The rest will be sent on to me in a few days, and I am here
to offer to Penelope Anne the hand and coronet of Don José John de Boxos
y Caballeros y Regalias de Salamanca. _Fuego_, as we say in Spain,
_Fuego_.

COX.

Never, while _I_ live, shall _you_ marry Penelope Anne.

BOX.

Never, while I marry Penelope Anne, shall you live. I've Spanish blood
in my veins. Pistols!

COX.

Swords!

BOX.

When?

COX.

Now. (_Clock strikes_). That's the second glass of water you have made
me lose. You are ruining my health.

BOX.

Then let me shoot you at once. By the way, I haven't got a pistol.

COX.

Paltry evasion! There's a shooting gallery here where they let 'em out
by the hour.

BOX.

How many hours shall we take 'em for?

COX.

Well--we've got to pay in advance.

BOX.

Well, you advance the money and I'll pay.

COX.

No. We'll borrow it from the waiter.

BOX.

Yes, and leave it to be paid by our executors out of the estate. Come.

BOTH.

                                 DUETT.

                         ("_Suoni la tromba._")

    Off to the tented field!
      Pistols! revolvers they shall be!
    Sooner than ever yield
      I'll fight for death or victore_e_!

BOX (_aside_).

    Yes! he must be my target.
        Must the unhappy Cox.

COX (_aside_).

    What will they say at Margate
        When I have shot poor Box.

BOTH.

Ah!

                ["Off to the tented," &c. _They repeat the duett and are
                  about to exit, when they stop at the door and return._

BOX.

Hem! I say, sir.

COX.

Well, sir?

BOX.

I intend to exterminate you.

COX.

I mean to blow you to atoms.

BOX.

But if we _don't_ exterminate each other it will be rather awkward.

COX.

Yes. I shouldn't like to be wounded. It hurts.

BOX.

Besides, if we both came off without our noses, or with only two eyes
between us, we should neither be able to marry Penelope Anne.

COX.

True. I have it.

BOX.

So have I.

COX.

The Lady shall decide.

BOX.

Just exactly what I was going to propose.

                       [_A female voice heard without, singing a jödel._

                   [* _This is MRS. FRIMMELY. She sings a Tyrolienne by
                       Offenbach, and in French. Every one delighted.
                       Being encored, she appears at the door, curtseys,
                       retires and sings again, "without."_]

COX.

'Tis she! What superb notes!

BOX.

It's a rich voice.

COX.

She's a rich widow.

BOTH.

She comes.

                            [_PENELOPE ANNE appears C. in ultra Parisian
                              watering-place toilette. They bring her
                              down between them, each taking a hand._

BOTH.

Penelope Anne!

                                               [_Both kneel R. and L.C._

                     [Illustration: PENELOPE ANNE.]

PENELOPE.

Mr. James Cox. Ah! (_starts_).

BOX.

You've frightened her. You're so ugly.

PENELOPE.

Mr. John Box. Oh! (_faints, and falls into a chair placed C._)

COX.

You've killed her. You Gorilla.

BOX.

Gorilla--(_they are about to fight, when she screams again_). What shall
we do?

COX (_excitedly_).

Cold key--Senna--no, I mean Salts.

BOX (_more excitedly_).

Pooh! Cold water .... with something in it.

COX.

Where's the sulphur water--throw it--

PENELOPE (_shrieking_).

Ah! (_rising_). How dare you! (_calls_). Husband!

BOX.

She said Husband. Dearest--

                                             [_PENELOPE slaps his face._

COX.

She means _me_. I knew it. Angel--

                               [_PENELOPE repeats the slap on HIS face._

BOX.

You _did_ say "Husband?" Surely you can't be blind to the fascination of
Don Boxos de Regalias Salamanca--

COX.

When you said "Husband" you must have been dreaming of Count Cornelius
Cox, Landgrave.

PENELOPE.

Gentlemen. Mr. Cox ... Mr. Box--if the truth must be told--

BOX.

It will be painful for Cox--but tell it, brave woman, tell it.

COX.

It will be harrowing for Box--but out with it, courageous Penelope, out
with it.

PENELOPE.

Well--when--I said--"Husband"--I meant ...

COX.

Me--

PENELOPE.

No--

BOX.

Ha! ha! hooray! Me--

PENELOPE.

No ....

BOTH.

Then whom _did_ you mean?

PENELOPE.

When I said "Husband" I meant--

_MAJOR BOUNCER, suddenly entering._

BOUNCER.

Me. (_Sings in military style_) "Rataplan! Rataplan!"

                  [Illustration: MAJOR-GEN. BOUNCER.]

    (_Immense applause._ "Why _that's_ Captain Byrton," _exclaims the
    elderly lady, who, up to that moment, has been under the impression
    that he was playing the waiter._)

BOTH.

Him! You! Bouncer!

BOUNCER.

Major Bouncer, of the Banbury Light Horse, at your service. We were
married this morning.

COX.

Stop! Virtuous but misguided Penelope. Bouncer is married already!

ALL.

Ah!

COX.

Behold! and tremble! Read it, Box (_giving newspaper_).

BOX (_reads_).

At the hotel So-and-so--um--Major and Mrs. Bouncer.

                                          [_PENELOPE and BOUNCER laugh._

COX.

They laugh! Horrible depravity.

BOUNCER.

Nonsense! Mrs. Bouncer mentioned there--

BOX.

Is not the Mrs. Bouncer we see here.

BOUNCER.

True. The Mrs. Bouncer _here_ is Mrs. Penelope Bouncer, _My_ Mrs.
Bouncer; but the Mrs. Bouncer there is your old landlady, your Mrs.
Bouncer, _now_, the Dowager Lady Bouncer.

BOX AND COX.

Good gracious!

BOX.

Has she any money?

COX.

Is she well off?

BOUNCER.

No. I support her entirely.

BOX.

Oh! Then bless you, Bouncer. Persevere. Go on supporting her.

COX.

I congratulate you, Bouncer. You may keep your Dowager to yourself.

PENELOPE.

And if you like to join us at the wedding-breakfast--

BOUNCER.

We shall be delighted--

PENELOPE.

Now, as always--

BOUNCER.

To see--

PENELOPE.

Two old friends.

BOUNCER.

Come, join hands. I'm an old soldier.

BOX.

You are.

BOUNCER.

I've stolen a march upon you.

COX.

You have.

BOUNCER.

But forgive and forget.

BOX.

I'll forget you with pleasure, but forgive--oh! Penelope Anne!

COX.

Well, I'll forgive you; but don't do it again.

BOUNCER.

I promise.

PENELOPE.

So do I.

BOX.

Do you? Then there's my hand, and when I've got my Castle in Spain you
shall come and stop with me. (_Aside_) I'll have old Bouncer up before
the Inquisition.

COX.

And when I've got my Palazzo di Coxo at Venice, you shall always find a
knife and fork at your service. (_Aside_) I'll take him out for a walk
by a canal and upset him.

                [_Enter WAITER with tray, which he puts down. Everything
                  is placed ready for déjeûner à la fourchette._

WAITER.

Das Frühstuck ist fertische.

                                                           (_Applause._)

ALL.

Eh?

WAITER.

Break-a-fast.

                                                            [_They sit._

BOX.

Permit me--

COX.

And me--

BOX.

To propose--

COX.

The health--

BOTH.

Of the Happy Pair. Major and Mrs. Bouncer. Hip! hip! hip! Hurrah!

BOX (_singing_).

It's a way we have in the army.

                                             [_They all join in chorus._

SOLOS AND CHORUS.

("_Ha, ha!_" "_Les Dames de la Halle._")

BOX.

    I drink the health of Madame Bouncer,
      And of the Major Bouncer, too!

SOPRANO ET TENOR.

    Too too too too too too too!

BASSI.

    Too too too too too too too!

COX.

    Of his foes he is a trouncer,
      Equal to any Horse Guard Blue.

ALL.

    Blue, &c. (_as before_).

BOX.

    All our jealousy we smother
      From this happy bridal day.

COX.

    We'll embrace him like a brother

BOX.

    And a sister--if I may!

PENELOPE ANNE.

Ah!

BOX AND COX (_together_).

      Viva, Viva Rataplan!
      Oh! Rataplan Penelope Anne,
    Oh! Rataplan Penelope-ĕlŏpĕ
                          Anne, Anne, Anne!

CHORUS (_including the WAITER, all at table standing up, glasses in hand
convivially_).

      Viva, viva Rataplan!
      Oh! Rataplan Penelope Anne!
    Oh! Rataplan Penelope-ĕlŏpĕ
                        Anne, Anne, Anne!

    Tableau.--_BOUNCER on chair, with dish-cover and carving-knife.
    WAITER at side, waving napkin. PENELOPE between COX and BOX in
    centre._

                          _Curtain descends._

                   [Illustration: "AUTHOR! AUTHOR!"]



CHAPTER XXIII.

AFTER THE PERFORMANCE, CONVERSATION COMMENCES.


"Your wife played charmingly, Mr. Frimmely."

Mr. Frimmely smiles, and tries to look as if the merit of her acting was
due entirely to his instruction.

_Madame Regniati._ I don't suppose you chose her dress for her.

_Mr. Orby Frimmely_ (_still as if he HAD done so, but allowed her the
credit of it_). No, no; Mrs. Frimmely has a great taste for theatricals.

_Miss Adelaide Cherton_ (_to Miss Medford_). Oh, I am sure we ought to
be so much obliged to you for playing.

_Miss Ada._ Oh, it was so good. I really wonder how you could manage to
accompany them as you did.

_Miss Medford_ (_quite unaffectedly_). I am so glad I was able to do it,
as I've only been accustomed to play to my brother's singing, that is
when he doesn't do it himself.

_The Signor_ (_delighted_). Oh, my Jo! I 'ave not laugh so much for a
long time.

_Milburd_ (_who has put on evening dress and joined us, is evidently
immensely pleased_.) No! (_Diffidently._) It seemed to go very well.

_Mrs. Frampton_ (_a middle-aged lady, coming up to him_). I really
_must_ congratulate you, Mr. Milburd. I'm a great play-goer, and I
haven't seen anything at any one of the London theatres equal to it. You
really ought to produce it in Town.

_Milburd_ (_foreseeing an extinguisher over Shakespeare_). Do you think
it good enough?

_Mrs. Frampton._ Good enough!--why--I was only saying to my
daughter--(Julia--Mr. Milburd (_introduction_))--wasn't I, Julia?

_Julia_ (_rather stupidly, but still exhibiting caution_). What, mamma?

_Mrs. Frampton._ Why about Mr. Milburd's capital little farce.

_Julia_ (_easily taking up her cue_). Oh, yes! (_ecstatically._) I was
_so_ delighted--and where _did_ you get that wonderful dress?

_Milburd_ (_carelessly_). Oh, I got it at the costumier's. I had it for
another part some time ago.

_Jovial Stout Gentleman_ (_refreshing himself, and seeing Captain
Byrton_). Hallo! Old Bouncer. By Jove! Capital, sir! Capital!

_Byrton_ (_much pleased_). Did you know me when I came on?

_Jovial Stout Person._ Know you? Ha! ha! (_Skilfully evading the
question, and pretending to quote._) "Rataplan, Ratalan!"--eh? Ha! ha!

                                                          [_They drink._

Mrs. Orby Frimmely appears, gentlemen and ladies crowd about her.

"Oh, charming! Such an admirable costume. You really must let me have a
sketch of it."

_Mr. Muntson_ (_an Elderly Beau, with a literary-club reputation_). My
dear Mrs. Frimmely, I've been saying to your husband, that the stage has
positively suffered a loss in your not being ... as they say ... on the
boards.

_Mrs. Orby Frimmely_ (_thinks that _his_ opinion, at all events, is
worth having, and says_) I'm so glad you liked it.

_Mr. Muntson_ (_sees that he has created a most favourable impression
and continues_). It was delightful. All the vivacity of the French
stage--of course you know the French stage well?--(_Mrs. Frimmely nods.
She has seen Schneider in "La Grande Duchesse," and takes in a French
illustrated paper_)--You have--you know the expression--_vous avez du
chic_. (_Mrs. Frimmely makes a little curtsey. Elderly Mr. Muntson
thinks that Mr. Frimmely is quite out of the race now that he has stept
in. He goes on._) We have no actresses now--and if you went on to the
stage it would simply be a triumph.

_Mrs. Frimmely_ (_gradually becoming convinced as to what _her_ vocation
in life certainly ought to be_). But this little part I played to-night
... it is nothing ... You can't judge from that.

_Muntson._ I can, perfectly. I have seen--let me see--I recollect Mrs.
Humby and ...

         [_Here he begins to be tedious. Mrs. Frimmely wants to talk
           about herself, not about other people. She welcomes Boodels._

_Boodels._ We have to thank you--most sincerely--for the great treat
you've given us.

_Mr. Muntson._ I've just been saying that it reminded me--

                                                  [_Begins an anecdote._

_Medford_ (_in a corner with Myself; he gives me his private opinion_).
The piece would never have gone down without the music.

_Myself_ (_rather pooh-poohing it all_). No ... of course not.

Having neither acted nor appeared in any way, except as representative
host to do the honours, which, I find, did themselves easily, I am a
little bitter. Nobody knew exactly who I was, nor seemed to take any
interest in me at all, except old Mrs. Frampton, who thought I was a
waiter, and asked me to order her carriage punctually.

_Medford._ Milburd is _so_ obstinate. You know at first he wouldn't
introduce those tunes.

_Myself._ (_Who want to go and talk to Ada Cherton._) Wouldn't he?

_Medford._ No. (_With the air of a genuine critic._) Milburd couldn't
touch Cox. Not his line at all. Between ourselves, Chilvern was best as
the Waiter.

_Myself_ (_decidedly_). Oh, a long way. (_This is because he was an
unimportant character comparatively. With very little to do, that little
he did as if it wasn't in a play at all, but merely a bit of fun with
the audience._)

_Cazell_ (_who is enthusiastic about theatricals after his performance
of Don Boxos,--comes up to Medford_). I say! I tell you what we ought to
do. We ought to get up a good big piece for all of us. (_He sees himself
in some particular character._)

_Medford._ Yes (_reflectively_), we might easily do--let me see--there's
the _Game of Speculation_.

_Myself._ Ah, yes! I remember. Charles Mathews played in it (_I add as a
hit at Medford_) admirably; and (_to crush him with a final blow_)
inimitably!

_Medford_ (_tolerantly_). Yes ... Charley (_he never met this excellent
comedian, of course; but this is Medford all over_) has got some good
"business" in the piece ... but (_diffidently_) I think I make some
points which would rather astonish him. For instance, when, &c. &c.

         [_Here Medford begins telling us how he is far in advance of
           every professional actor. Luckily the Signor comes up, and
           changes the conversation. After a few minutes, Medford shows
           the Signor his conjuring-trick of the shilling in the glass._

_The Signor_ (_entering the drawing-room_). O! my Jo! (_Everyone turns
expecting to hear some startling intelligence. Quite unaware of the
excitement he has caused, the Signor continues in his usual high
key--appealing to everyone._) O! have you seen de leet-tel shillings,
and (_smiling all over his face_) ze glass; eet ees so clev-ver
(_without a pause_), I nev-ver see so clev-ver ting-in my-life!

_Madame_ (_severely_). What _are_ you talking about, Mr. Regniati?

_The Signor._ O, my dear, eet ess Mees-ter-Med-for; he ees so clev-ver!
he put ze shillings in ze glass, an' zen he go avays.

_Milburd._ Do it, Medford.

_Medford_ (_his chance at last--modestly_). Oh, it's nothing. I dare say
most of you have seen it. I'll do it, with pleasure. Will anybody lend
me a shilling?

_The Signor_ (_delighted, exclaiming to everyone_). O, eet ees so
clev-ver! Dat leet-tel Medfor', he ees so clev-ver!

(_Dat leet-tel Med-for' is half a head, at least, taller than the
Signor._)

_Medford_ (_refusing a coin from Boodels_). No. I must ask the ladies.
Will any lady here, lend me a shilling?

_Enter our Butler._

_Our Butler._ Sir Thomas Bobyns's carriage.

_Lady Bobyns_ (_to Boodels. She ought to address _me_, as president, but
she doesn't_). We really must be going; we've got ten miles to drive,
you know; enjoyed themselves _so_ much, &c, &c.

                      [Illustration: LADY BOBYNS.]

General disturbance in consequence of Lady Bobyns being an uncommonly
fine woman, and not to be moved without a considerable amount of rustle.

The party now leaving, consists of Sir Thomas Bobyns, Lady Bobyns, and
Miss Bobyns. Milburd and Cazell are most assiduous in their attentions
to Miss Bobyns, in order that she may be '_quite warm_' before she
starts.

                      [Illustration: MISS BOBYNS.]

There is also a considerable amount of delay, in the hall, consequent
upon the ceremony of packing up Sir Thomas for his long journey--a
melancholy phrase--and Lady Bobyns' great fear lest her husband should
take cold.

Sir Thomas looks something between the diver at the Polytechnic in his
armour, an Esquimaux, an old Watchman, and a monk.

Here is the result.

                      [Illustration: SIR THOMAS.]

They have gone. But other carriages are waiting at the door, and there
is a general move. As the last person departs, we see Medford standing
at a table in the drawing-room, with a tumbler and a shilling.

             [Illustration: MEDFORD'S SONG AND SENTIMENT.]



CHAPTER XXIV.

CHILVERN'S BALLAD--THE MORAL.


Chilvern has got a Ballad which Medford sets to music. It is illustrated
by tableaux vivants, performed by Miss Adelaide Cherton, Cazell, and
Milburd.

              [Illustration: CORPORAL TIM AND FAIR MOLLY.]

                    "Farewell," cries Corporal Tim.
                    "Farewell," said Molly, to him;
                       "You're going," says she,
                       "I'm going," says he,
                    "To fight in Tartary Crim."
            (_Sadly._) "To fight in Tartary Crim!"

                    "I see," sobs Corporal Tim,
                    "You're eyes with weeping are dim."
                       "No, no," says she,
                       "Don't stop for me,
                     But go to Tartary Crim."
       (_More sadly._) "Oh! go to Tartary Crim!"

                    "One word," says Corporal Tim;
                    "I have a young friend called Jim,
                        He'll act to you,
                        Like a brother would do,
                     While I'm in Tartary Crim."
       (_Most sadly._) "While you're in Tartary Crim."

                    "The ship is off!" cried Tim.
                     He raised his hat by the brim;
                        He waved it about,
                        While she sobbed out,
                    "He's off to Tartary Crim."
      (_Frantically._) "He's off to Tartary Crim."

                             [Illustration]

                     Now this young man called Jim,
                     Was strong and not too slim;
                        He was a tar,
                        On a man-of-war,
                     Arrived from Tartary Crim.
        (_Cheerfully._) Arrived from Tartary Crim.

                     Now this young man called Jim,
                     He took a holiday whim;
                        Says he, to Molly,
                       "Oh, let's be jolly,
                     While _he's_ in Tartary Crim."
         (_Jovially._) "While he's in Tartary Crim."

                             [Illustration]

                     One day, said Jovial Jim,
                    "I've got some news of Tim;
                        His ship, three-decked,
                        Was smashed and wrecked,
                     On leaving Tartary Crim."
        (_Dubiously._) "On leaving Tartary Crim."

                    "He's drowned! poor Corporal Tim!"
                     Then Molly sang a hymn.
                       "Now, Jim," says she,
                       "You'll marry me,
                     And bother Tartary Crim."
        (_Decidedly._) "And bother Tartary Crim."

                     One night at home with Jim,
                     Appeared a figure grim.
                        Cries she, "'Tis T----!"
                       "It is," says he;
                    "I've come from Tartary Crim."
       (_Spectrally._) "I've come from Tartary Crim."

                    "You didn't think," says Tim,
                    "That corporals could swim
                        But ghosts know how
                        To swim--I'm now--
     (_Spectrally._) My ghost!--from Tartary Crim."

                     And then they saw that Tim
                     Had fins on every limb;
                        His feet went squish--
                        Cries Jim, "I wish
                     I was in Tartary Crim."
        (_Excitedly._) "Away to Tartary Crim!"

                     He took a jump, did Jim,
                     Right on to a vessel's rim;
                        She made a tack,
                        And he never came back,
                     To her or Tartary Crim.
    (_With certainty._) To her or Tartary Crim.

                     The ghost of Corporal Tim
                     Took Molly away with him,
                        And plunged in the sea,
                        And there they be,
                     Two ghosts in Tartary Crim.

MORAL (_sung by the ghost of MOLLY_).

                    "Oh, when you hear that Tim
                     Is drowned, don't marry Jim,
                        Or else, like me,
                        You'll have to be
                     A ghost in Tartary Crim."

                             [Illustration]



CHAPTER XXV.

    IN AND OUT.--BEFORE THE FIRE.--MEDITATIONS.--SURPRISES.--HAPPY
    THOUGHTS.--AWAKENINGS.--SLUMBERS.--BELL-PULLS.--BOOTS.--VALET.
    DIFFICULTIES.--MRS. REGNIATI.--WHAT'S ON THE TAPIS?--MATCH-MAKING.
    --CUPID.


                             [Illustration]

Captain Byrton is out hunting. The Signor and Milburd are out shooting.
Mrs. Frimmely is out walking with Medford and Cazell. Miss Adelaide
Cherton and her sister are in the garden with Chilvern and Boodels. Miss
Medford is trying some new music. Madame is seated by the drawing-room
fire, engaged upon some mysterious wool-work, which may eventuate in a
cigar-case, slippers, a banner fire-screen, or a pair of fancy-pattern'd
braces for the Signor. Jenkyns Soames is supposed to be in his room
writing something on "Numbers," but whether in refutation of Dr.
Colenso's later Pentateuchical views, or in support of his earlier
Arithmetical treatises, nobody has inquired, and nobody, particularly,
cares.

I am engaged very busily in thinking. It occurs to me that I will join
Miss Medford in the morning-room. There are some days when one finds it
very difficult to immediately follow thoughts with action. On such
occasions time doesn't fly, but slides noiselessly down an inclined
plane, and one is in a state of perpetual surprise.

_Surprise the first._--You wake and are surprised to find it so early.

_Happy Thought._--Go to sleep again.

You turn round, snuggle down, and snooze. A mere snooze until they call
you. It being their duty to call you, let 'em do it manfully, and you'll
do yours.

_Second Surprise._--To awake again. Later than you had expected. Must
get up.

_Happy Thought._--No use getting up, though, until you've been properly
called, and the hot water's there. Besides, you'll be the only one down.
Employ the time, until the servant comes, in _thinking_. Think what
you'll do to-day. Think what you'll do first. Put things in order in
your mind, then when you get up you'll only have to do them one after
the other, and there you are--or there you will be. Excellent plan,
this. These arrangements being satisfactorily made mentally, you
suddenly find yourself very warm, and then very wakeful, so much so that
it is a

_Third Surprise_--on looking at your watch again--to find that it's an
hour since you last consulted it. Odd. You _must_ have been to sleep
again. Very odd. And "it's too bad of them;" (of course) they've never
called you.

_Happy Thought._--Ring the bell for some one to come and call me.

If the bell is by the bed, this is simple. If it isn't, certain
arrangements are as necessary as if you were going to make a journey.
Inquiries, as it were, concerning the route from the bed to the
bell-pull have to be made. This ascertained, and the exact line you have
to travel being now clear before you, it is evident that you cannot be
so venturesome as to attempt the excursion without your slippers and
dressing-gown.

Here commence manœuvres to obtain both articles, while incurring the
smallest possible danger of catching the slightest possible cold, or
chill.

Then after a series of gymnastic efforts, during which you have nearly
begun your day out of bed on your head, you are successful. It is then
requisite to pause and take breath. This cessation of energy affords an
opportunity for the servant to appear with your hot water, without your
inconveniencing yourself any further.

However he doesn't come, and so you get out. Here the freshening breeze
which blows over the threshold, under the door, and across the carpet,
causes you, for one second, to hesitate, and then foreseeing that the
longer you stop out, _en deshabille_, the worse it would be, you take
precautions for the future, inspired by a

_Happy Thought._--"Cover the bed up carefully, so that it will be warm
when I come back again." Aha! Then to the bell-pull.

_Fourth Surprise._--Odd. You had never noticed before, that this, which
you thought was the bell-rope, is nothing of the sort; being a cord
attached to the old-fashioned catch on the door, and originally hung
within reach of the bed, which was of course in exactly the opposite
position to where it is now. Where _is_ the bell? You cannot see the
rope anywhere. Bother.

_Happy Thought._--To trace the wire running round the room at the top.

You _do_ trace it. It goes out at a hole and disappears. Trace it back
again. It goes all round, and as there is no sign of a bell-rope, this
article must be behind the bed.

It is. Struggle with heavy bedstead. Dust. There at last is the
bell-rope. You pull it. You pull it again. You hear it ring. This is
satisfactory.

_Happy Thought._--Get into bed again. Do so. Warm. Arrange mentally for
reprimanding the servant severely. Such a waste of time. Here you have
been awake since, goodness knows when, and no hot water, no clothes,
nothing! And you may add, you put 'em outside the door so carefully last
night, _on purpose_ that they shouldn't be forgotten.

Knock at door. "Come in." Door shaken.

_Fifth Surprise._--Why doesn't he come in?----Door shaken again.
Angrily, "Come in!"

Answer from outside, like the voice in a ventriloquist's entertainment,
"I can't come in, sir; the door's locked."

_Yourself_ (in bed).--"No, it isn't. Push it."

Answer from without, as before, "No, sir, you've let down the latch. If
you pull the string, I can come in."

Nuisance. Out of bed again. Pull up latch-string. Into bed again. Less
warm now.

_Yourself_ (_or myself, severely, from bed_).--"You didn't call me this
morning. And where are my things?"

_Valet._--"They've been standing houtside, sir, this 'our and a 'arf. I
knocked twice, sir, but the latch was down, and so I couldn't get in.
'Ot water, sir, 's cold as hice. Better bring you some fresh."

                                                                [_Exit._

There's still an entr'acte between his bringing the hot water and my
getting up.

_Happy Thought._--Well, I dare say it's all the better for me that I've
overslept myself a little this morning. If Nature sleeps, depend upon it
Nature knows what she's about.

                   *       *       *       *       *

This is in fact how it has happened that all the others, except the
three mentioned, are out of doors. They've breakfasted hours ago. I
haven't.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Madame Regniati puts down her work, looks towards the window, through
which we can see the garden-party, and then refers to me inquisitively.
Presently she asks mysteriously,

"Do you see anything going on here?"

I can't help returning with, "Here, Madame Regniati! where?"

"Oh," she replies, in her short way, "_you_ see it, I know you do. Even
Mr. Regniati has noticed it to me. For my part," she adds, rubbing her
nose with the tip of a long knitting-pin, "I think it's a case."

I begin to understand.

"Miss Adelaide----" I venture.

                             [Illustration]

"Yes. And with whom, eh?" she asks, with her head a little on one side,
and her thin lips compressed, as if she had got the information on the
tip of her tongue, and was preventing its escape by sheer force.

"Well," I begin, thinking to myself it's very odd I haven't noticed it,
"well, I should say"--really, I shouldn't say anything.

Madame nods at me. "Come," she says; "I know you've got penetration.
You're an observer of character. You're a thinker. My nephew has told me
you're writing a philosophical work. Now, I want you to lend me your
sagacity, and confirm my suspicions."

_Happy Thought._--Look sagacious. Smile in deprecation of too much
sagacity. I feel that, being right as far as mentioning Miss Adelaide
goes, my next guess will probably be wrong. Risk it.

I say, "Miss Adelaide and Cazell, eh?" (They are walking together.)

Madame shakes her head. I have gone down in her estimation, evidently.

_Happy Thought._--To assume my own penetration. Say to Madame, "Ah,
well, you'll see"--meaning, you'll find I'm right and you're wrong.

"No, no," she replies. "Mr. Cazell and Miss Bella, Mr. Chilvern and Miss
Adelaide."

"H'm," I say, dubiously. Madame Regniati, classical, lover of high art
as she is, is, when occasion offers, is simply a match-maker. I believe
it's a feminine instinct.

"They've both got money," she adds. She has summed it all up, and
arranged it.

                             [Illustration]



CHAPTER XXVI.

    AT DINNER.--WEIGHT.--WATCHING.--JOKES.--PROTEST.--AWKWARD SITUATION.
    --AN ANNOUNCEMENT.--INQUIRY.--ARRIVAL.--PRACTICAL JOKES.


                             [Illustration]

This weighs on my mind. I can't help looking from one to the other--from
Chilvern to Miss Adelaide, from Miss Bella to Cazell.

Milburd is more attentive to the latter than Chilvern, who seems to me
to be making up to Miss Medford, if to anyone; while Byrton sits next
to Miss Bella at dinner, and monopolizes her entirely.

Sly things _are_ passing; I notice _that_. As President, I have to sit
at the head of the table, and can't join in any of the fun. They have
got a joke among them that I can't make out. The joke flies about, like
an invisible shuttlecock, between Cazell, Miss Adelaide, Chilvern, Miss
Bella, and Byrton.

Jenkyns Soames sits on my right, and _will_ talk arithmetic and science
to me.

The Medfords and the Frimmelys make another joke-party as it were, and I
cannot understand what's going on.

_Happy Thought._--Look as if I did. Smile, nod, say "I know." Milburd
asks, almost rudely, "_Do_ you? What is it?" As I don't, I merely smile
again, and say "Yes" to Jenkyns Soames, who is giving me his reasons for
supposing, by calculation, that vegetables have had a pre-adamite
existence, and that even a turnip may have a glorious future before it,
when man has disappeared from the face of the earth.

[I shall protest against my term of office being protracted beyond the
five weeks, after Christmas, that I undertook to stop here. Three have
expired. I begin to hate Jenkyns Soames.]

A servant brings in a card for Mr. Milburd.

                          +------------------+
                          | Baron Booteljak. |
                          +------------------+

"By Jove!" exclaims Milburd, "I _am_ so glad. That's capital."

Everyone puzzled.

_The Signor_ (_after reading the card_).--"O! eet ees a fonny name. I
nev-ver 'ear soch an-name-bef-fore. Deeek! eet ees your non-sense."

Milburd returns. He has shown the new guest to his room. He will join us
directly. He explains that sending in his card "Baron Booteljak" is "his
fun." "Such an amusing chap," says Milburd; "he has cards of all sorts
of names, printed to leave on his friends, and puzzle 'em. He tells me
that he's brought down a box of practical jokes with him, all labelled,
numbered, and ready for use."

This intelligence is not received with that warmth which Milburd
evidently had thought it would have elicited.

Further discussion is stopped by the entrance of

                     [Illustration: JIMMY LAYDER.]



CHAPTER XXVII.

    FIFTH WEEK--DIFFICULTIES--HINTS--BOODELS' SECRET--ARRIVAL OF JIMMY
    LAYDER--A CHANGE--PRACTICAL JOKES--PLAYING THE FOOL--DRESSING UP--
    MORE JOKES--CHEMICAL LECTURE--EXPERIMENTS--RESULTS--OPEN WINDOWS--
    COLDS--DEPARTURES--SMALL BY DEGREES--BEAUTIFULLY LESS--THE SHILLING
    AND THE TUMBLER--BOODELS' LAST--TWO'S COMPANY--CONCLUSION.


_Note._ Fifth week of our being here.

Very happy generally, Miss Medford remarkably nice. Misses Adelaide and
Bella are always out with Cazell, Milburd and Chilvern. We've given
Jenkyns Soames several hints to go. He won't.

If I wasn't President--I should like to--but Byrton's always out with
Miss Medford. I wonder that a girl with brains, as she evidently has,
can be taken by a fellow, who really seems to think of nothing but
riding, driving, and--

"_Her_," says Boodels, to whom I utter secretly my complaint. I admit
the truth of this. Boodels informs me that he's going to be married. I
congratulate him. When? When his house is done up. Do I know the lady?
Yes. Anyone here?--Ah, he won't say, and begs me to consider this
communication strictly confidential.

Jimmy Layder is becoming a nuisance. He is perpetually practically
joking. Once and away it's very good fun--when he performs on somebody
else, not me. He comes down-stairs quietly (this is one of his favourite
tricks--so stupid, too!) and slaps you on the back suddenly, immediately
afterwards begging your pardon, and explaining that he mistook you for
somebody else.

Then the second day he was here, he changed all the boots. The third day
I could not find a single thing in its place when I went to dress in a
hurry. On my complaining to him, he pretends to be the Clown in the
Pantomime (whom he emulates in everything--and really, most dangerously,
with a genuine hot poker--so childish, and worse), and putting his hand
on his heart he declares "on his honour he didn't do it." I know, that,
when I turn, he sets them all (Miss Medford, too) laughing by making
some grotesque face, and, if I face about suddenly, he is staring at
nothing on the ceiling, or pretending to catch a fly. He puts oranges
in boots, spoons and corkscrews in people's pockets--generally mine--and
has an irritating trick of calling out "Hi!" and beckoning; then, when
you come, he asks you what you want?

_Happy Thought._--To speak to him quietly, alone. He listens. He owns
that his exuberance of animal spirits often leads him away. [Happy
Thought.--Wish they'd take him away altogether.] He says he thinks it's
owing to the bracing air; adding, that I take a joke so well, he is sure
I shan't be angry. I tell him that I don't speak _on my own account_,
but for the sake of others. He promises he will be quiet and serious.

At night he keeps his word by coming down dressed like the proverbial
methodist Mawworm. An enormous white tie, doubled. His hair combed sadly
straight. A high black waistcoat, his trousers shortened, white
stockings and shoes.

They encourage him by laughing. He addresses everyone as "My Christian
Brother," or "Sister," and informs them that the Head of the
Establishment has requested him to be serious.

He insists upon a serious evening, and tells us that Mr. Jenkyns Soames
has consented to give a Chemical Lecture "with," he adds impressively,
"experiments."

It appears that Layder and Milburd have undertaken to assist the
Professor.

After dinner, Layder announces that he has an entertainment to commence
with. He takes me on one side. We go into the library, which he has
prepared as a sort of dressing-room.

_Happy Thought._--Humour him, and then he'll play practical jokes on
somebody else--not me.

He says, "Look here, you and I will dress up, and be the lecturer's
servants." Very harmless and funny, seeing that the dresses (which he
has brought with him) are a mantle spangled, two or three pairs of
tights and Cavalier boots, and a cocked hat. He says he's got a charade,
and Milburd will dress up too, and we'll have it before the Lecture.

He offers to do my face for me; and does it at once with burnt cork, red
and white.

Then he goes to dress.

I am alone. It is a good idea enlisting under, as it were, his banner,
then he won't annoy _me_. The fire's out here, and changing my dress at
this time has made me cold.

_Meditations by myself when in a costume something between a naval
officer, a Spanish grandee, and Richard the Third._--What _can_ be the
fun of dressing up? It is so much more comfortable in your own things.
And a charade's a bore. At least, it bores the audience, I'm sure. And
if there are people acting who say all sorts of nonsense, and do
anything, there's no art in it... Nine o'clock. I wish he'd brought a
longer candle, and would be quicker in dressing. He's gone to his own
room, perhaps, to dress, or is arranging the performance........ It's a
melancholy thing to be in these clothes. I wonder if they were made for
some great actor, or whether they were once the real thing? No, that's
impossible..... I wish Miss Medford was going to take a part--perhaps
she is.... unless that's her touch on the piano. The overture
probably..... It's so cold in here, I must walk about..... The candle is
burning down.

_Happy Thought._--Ring and ask for another candle, and for Mr. Layder.

Maid servant enters ... gives a shriek and a start, and then--poor
girl!.... faints.

There is no water at hand....

I don't like to touch her.

I've got an idea that people in that state bite, scratch, and kick, if
touched.

_Happy Thought._--Let ill alone.

I ring violently.

Enter Butler. Fortunately Madame Regniati's maid passes, with salts.
The girl recovers consciousness. She revives and says I frightened her.
I ask the butler to look for Mr. Layder.

Butler thinks they're all in the theatre-room hearing some lecture. 10
o'clock.

I wait a quarter of an hour.

It's too bad. I'll take these stupid things off.

Enter Boodels. "Hallo!" he cries. "What on earth are you got up like
this for?"

I say, testily, "I don't know."

Boodels continues. "Miss Cherton's maid 's been complaining, and says
you've been playing tricks on her. Come! _Do_ take off those things."

_Do!_ I don't want pressing. I have been for an hour and a half dressed
up here, with my face painted like a Red Indian, and as cold as ice.

Layder enters. "Oh, my dear fellow, a thousand pardons. I quite forgot
you were here; and we suddenly--I mean the ladies, suddenly altered the
programme and wanted me to sing and do some nonsense, so I could not
refuse."

_Happy Thought._--(I'll vote against his invitation being renewed after
this week). Say nothing.

I find that Jenkyns Soames, induced to put on a sort of Conjuror's
dress, has been waiting to deliver his lecture the same time that I
have; he is equally cold, but not cross, as he anticipates being a means
of instruction to the party.

                             [Illustration]

Milburd and Layder have arranged the Professor's glass bottles, glass
jars, retorts, and all the other articles requisite for a Chemical
Lecture.

He informs us, that, owing to his friend Mr. Layder's kindness, and to
the accident of his having brought with him a few chemicals, he (the
Professor) will be enabled to give us an amusing and instructive
discourse.

"With experiments," adds Layder gravely, from his seat.

_Happy Thought._--Get as far away from the lecturer as possible. Near
the door.

The ladies being nervous, are re-assured by Milburd and Layder, who say
(in answer to Madame Regniati,) that, "there is to be no firing," and
further, that "there is no experiment on the table which can _hurt the
audience_." This latter observation is added _sotto voce_, and is
evidently not intended for the Professor's ears.

Jenkyns Soames commences he says with Hydrogen. (_Hear! hear!_ from
Milburd and Layder.)

"Hydrogen," he goes on, "is a most powerful refractor."

"O my Jo!" exclaims the Signor in the front row, which he evidently
thinks is too near. "It vill go off, and 'urt some-bod-dy."

The Professor informs him, that Hydrogen mixed with Atmospheric air, in
the proportion of two to five, will explode; but he does not mean to
exhibit this peculiarity of Hydrogen. He shows us how the lime-light is
obtained, and requests that the room may be darkened. Milburd and
Layder, turn down the gas, and remove the candles.

This is done too suddenly for the Professor, who has some trouble in
finding the right materials in the dark.

At last he has them. "I will now," he says, "show you the lime-light. A
light of such steadiness and intensity, that it appears to us quite
blinding in its power."

The immediate result is a fizz, a spark, and then we are in total
darkness once more. The Professor tries again, another fizz, no spark.

Madame Regniati begs that the lights may be restored, and asks him to
try something else.

Apologising for the lime-light (I see Milburd and Layder exchanging
winks). The Professor passes on to Oxygen.

He shows us a jar of Oxygen. Experiments with an incandescent piece of
wood. (_Applause._)

Another with phosphorus, and another with charcoal. (_Great applause,
and nothing having happened, we feel ourselves in comparative safety.
Madame observes, that she doesn't like anybody playing with fire._)

His next theme is "Inexplosive Gases."

_Professor._--I will now proceed to mix two colourless bodies which,
explosive in themselves, neutralize each other's qualities on
combination. You will observe that the same process is used in pouring
one gas out of one jar into another, as in pouring water, and it is
equally harmless. Here, for instance, is an empty jar, and here is a
glass jar full of water. I wish to pour the water from the glass jar
into the earthen one. (_Hear, hear!_ from Milburd.) I proceed to do so,
and can assure you that the experiment with the gases, is not more
harmless and simple than this, with the water.

He pours the water out of the glass jar into the earthenware one. In one
second follows a series of sharp reports from inside the jar, which
seems suddenly to have become filled with highly combustible crackers.
The Professor drops the jar as if he had burnt his fingers, and the
cracking and popping go on inside. Ladies rise frightened. Layder
suddenly addresses them:

"There's no sort of danger," he says; "the jar won't burst. I dropped an
explosive pellet into it some time ago, and it hasn't been taken out,
that's all. The explosive pellets," he adds, modestly, "are my own
invention, and chemically prepared, only to burn in water."

The cracking has ceased. Layder goes out, ostensibly to see if he can
procure another jar.

In his absence the ladies observe that the 'cracking thing,' whatever it
was, has left a nasty smell in the room.

The Professor, with a smile, thinks that he can obviate this
unpleasantness. He has come across a fluid among the chemicals labelled
"_Parfum du Paradis_." The direction upon it is simply, "_Pour it out
into a saucer, and everyone will be delighted at the refreshing and
delicious odour which will instantaneously pervade even the largest
apartment._"

The Professor, after uncorking and putting his nose to it, pronounces
his opinion that the liquid is inodorous, and must have been kept too
long in bottle.

"However," says he, "I will follow the direction."

Forthwith he pours it out.

The next minute we are all cramming our handkerchiefs to our faces, and
making for the door.

"Open the windows!" cries Medford, in a fit of coughing.

"O my"--cough--"Jo!" exclaims the Signor. "I shall be,"--cough and
sneeze, "so ill,"--cough, "eet ees in my nose."

                       [Illustration: "BUST UP."]

As for the Professor, being just over the horrible compound, he has
nearly fainted.

                   *       *       *       *       *

The room is cleared.

Servants sent to open windows. Sneezing, coughing, and a suffocating,
nauseating sensation, experienced by everyone except Layder, who now
enters the drawing-room with a jar.

_Happy Thought._--To speak with an air of authority as President, and
tell him that it is really too bad of him to carry such a liquid about.
He exculpates himself by saying that the Professor didn't know how to
use it, and that he oughtn't to have taken the things out of his
Practical Joke Box.

"His _what_ box?" we ask.

"My practical joke box," he replies, quite calmly. "I've got a box full
of practical jokes in chemicals. They're very amusing," he adds, "if
used properly."

The horrid smell is gradually spreading itself throughout the lower part
of the house. It is stealing into the drawing-room, it is getting into
the morning-room, into the hall, into the passages.

"You can't get rid of it," Layder informs us, "for two or three days.
But it's first-rate for killing all insects."

There is, we find, only one room in the house which the nuisance has not
reached. The smoking-room. Here we all congregate. Everybody glum.
Windows all over the place open.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Next morning.

_Happy Thought._--Layder gone. Early.

He leaves us a note bequeathing us his box of Practical Jokes, and a
paper of 'directions for use,' with 'hints for further practical jokes,
being jottings for a manual with a practical joke for every day in the
year.'

In consequence of the draughts last night, everyone has caught violent
colds.

The Chertons won't leave their room. Madame Regniati doesn't come down
until dinner. Mr. and Mrs. Frimmely pretend to have received a telegram,
and say they must go to-morrow. Miss Medford accompanies them; her
brother stays.

The Signor suddenly remembers that he must proceed to his leet-tel
shoot-box at Bodge-bee.

Jenkyns Soames writes me a letter from his bedroom, commencing "Sir,"
and, considering himself insulted, leaves without saying good-bye to
anybody.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Committee meeting. Complaints. Examination of accounts. Row in
consequence. Amount divided into shares. Chilvern says he's sorry he's
left his cheque-book in town.

_Happy Thought._--Write it on a piece of paper or telegraph for it.

Chilvern genially says he's going up to town to-morrow, and will get it
then. Will I pay for him now?

Cazell says to me, "I tell you what you ought to do as President. You
ought to draw one cheque for the whole expenses, and we'll pay you back.
That's the most simple way of doing it."

Put to the vote and the plan carried, with a minority of one (myself).

                   *       *       *       *       *

The party gradually broken up. This evening Adelaide Cherton and Madame
appear with apologies for leaving us soon after dinner. The smell not
nearly evaporated. Byrton and Milburd are gone to join the Signor for
some sport. Medford offers to show us his trick with a shilling, and
Milburd, being asked to sing, refuses. Boodels (who is melancholy, and
in love), asks Medford to play a tune, but Medford says he'd rather not,
because nobody will attend to his trick with a shilling, whereupon
Chilvern sits down to what he calls "try something" on the piano. What
he _does_ try is our temper. Gradually we leave the room and meet to
smoke.

                   *       *       *       *       *

_Next Morning._ Violent cold.

_Happy Thought._--Stay in bed.

When I come down-stairs at one o'clock, I notice the desolate appearance
of the Hall. Hats, coats, rugs, sticks and whips, all gone. Nothing
lying about. Letters on table--"Sorry you are not up--spent a very
pleasant time, &c," from Madame and the Chertons, with whom have also
departed Chilvern and Cazell.

The only three in the house are Boodels, Medford, and myself.

I say, genially, "Well, a little quiet will be pleasant."

Boodels replies, "Yes," and adds that he's going off this afternoon. I
press him to stay. He won't, because, as he tells me privately, that
fellow Medford is so confoundedly insulting. They've had a row.

Boodels _will_ go. He promises to write to me about his going to be
married. At present I'm not to mention it. He takes the butler and cook
with him. He says he's very sorry but he'll want them at home now.

The housemaid and charwoman officiate.

No other servants in the house.

Medford and I dine alone.

Somebody's taken the keys away by mistake, and we have to break into the
cellar to get out the wine. Very little left.

As host or president, I must stop and attend to Medford who is our
guest.

After dinner he says, "You heard me talking to Cazell about the shilling
and the glass." I did. I know what's coming, "It's a capital trick," he
goes on; "I'll show it you. Look here." He shows it me. I am not at all
interested. He offers to teach it me. Declined with thanks. He then
explains it to me.

_Happy Thought._--Having done all this once, he'll never try it again
with me.

Getting comfortable in the smoking-room. We commence talking over all
our friends. The difficulty appears to consist in finding any good
qualities in them. Medford depreciates everybody, specially if they can
do anything in music or theatricals. Getting more comfortable and
confidential, I tell Medford that Boodels is going to be married, but
doesn't want anyone to know it just yet. Medford says, "Pooh! Boodels is
an ass." Subject dropped.

_Last Morning._--Charwoman and housemaid hearing that I am going away
with Medford, say they can't live alone in this big place. They'd be
frightened.

_Happy Thought._--Opportunity to get rid of them. Do it. Send for old
woman and her husband to keep house while we're all away. Intend to
return in the spring, if the others agree, if not we shall sell or let

                          HAPPY-THOUGHT HALL.

       [Illustration: _HAPPY THOUGHT._--RIGHT THROUGH THE BOOK.]



[ Transcriber's Note:

  The following is a list of corrections made to the original. The first
  line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

("Impossible," interrupts Milburn, _sotto voce_. Our Philosophic
("Impossible," interrupts Milburd, _sotto voce_. Our Philosophic

when ..." "Yes," says Miss Bella, who quite undertands. (_Myself
when ..." "Yes," says Miss Bella, who quite understands. (_Myself

               [Illustration: "HOW DO YOU LIKE MY FIZZ]
               [Illustration: "HOW DO YOU LIKE MY FIZZ"]

"Yes," says she, "that's very probable." But when Mr. Jenkyns _went
"Yes," says she, "that's very probable. But when Mr. Jenkyns _went

Again the Signor was in esctasies.
Again the Signor was in ecstasies.

Cox must go. I don't think I feel as well as I did
Cox must go. I don't think I feel as well as I did.

immensely pleased_. No! (_Diffidently._) It seemed to go very well.
immensely pleased_.) No! (_Diffidently._) It seemed to go very well.

                       You'll marry me,
                       "You'll marry me,

_Second Surprise._--To awake again. Later than you had had expected. Must
_Second Surprise._--To awake again. Later than you had expected. Must

]





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