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Title: Scally - The Story of a Perfect Gentleman
Author: Hay, Ian, 1876-1952
Language: English
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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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SCALLY

The Story of a Perfect Gentleman

by

IAN HAY

       *       *       *       *       *

By Ian Hay

          SCALLY: THE STORY OF A PERFECT GENTLEMAN. With Frontispiece.
          A KNIGHT ON WHEELS.
          HAPPY-GO-LUCKY. Illustrated by Charles E. Brock.
          A SAFETY MATCH. With frontispiece.
          A MAN'S MAN. With frontispiece.
          THE RIGHT STUFF. With frontispiece.

          HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
          BOSTON AND NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: THE LEADING OBJECT PROVED TO BE A SMALL, WET, SHIVERING,
WHIMPERING PUPPY]


SCALLY

The Story of a Perfect Gentleman

by

IAN HAY



[Illustration]


Boston and New York
Houghton Mifflin Company
MDCCCCXV

Copyright, 1914, by the Curtis Publishing Company
Copyright, 1915, by Ian Hay Beith
All Rights Reserved

Published November 1915



SCALLY



SCALLY

THE STORY OF A PERFECT GENTLEMAN



I


"BETTERSEA trem? Right, miss!" My wife, who has been married long
enough to feel deeply gratified at being mistaken for a maiden lady,
smiled seraphically at the conductor, and allowed herself to be hoisted
up the steps of the majestic vehicle provided by a paternal county
council to convey passengers--at a loss to the ratepayers, I
understand--from the Embankment to Battersea.

Presently we ground our way round a curve and began to cross Westminster
Bridge. The conductor, whose innate cockney bonhomie his high official
position had failed to eradicate, presented himself before us and
collected our fares.

"What part of Bettersea did you require, sir?" he asked of me.

I coughed and answered evasively:--

"Oh, about the middle."

"We haven't been there before," added my wife, quite gratuitously.

The conductor smiled indulgently and punched our tickets.

"I'll tell you when to get down," he said, and left us.

For some months we had been considering the question of buying a dog,
and a good deal of our spare time--or perhaps I should say of my spare
time, for a woman's time is naturally all her own--had been pleasantly
occupied in discussing the matter. Having at length committed ourselves
to the purchase of the animal, we proceeded to consider such details as
breed, sex, and age.

My wife vacillated between a bloodhound, because bloodhounds are so
aristocratic in appearance, and a Pekinese, because they are _dernier
cri_. We like to be _dernier cri_ even in Much Moreham. Her younger
sister, Eileen, who spends a good deal of time with us, having no
parents of her own, suggested an Old English sheep dog, explaining that
it would be company for my wife when I was away from home. I coldly
recommended a mastiff.

Our son John, aged three, on being consulted, expressed a preference for
twelve tigers in a box, and was not again invited to participate in the
debate.

Finally we decided on an Aberdeen terrier, of an age and sex to be
settled by circumstances, and I was instructed to communicate with a
gentleman in the North who advertised in our morning paper that Aberdeen
terriers were his specialty. In due course we received a reply. The
advertiser recommended two animals--namely, Celtic Chief, aged four
months, and Scotia's Pride, aged one year. Pedigrees were inclosed, each
about as complicated as the family tree of the House of Hapsburg; and
the favor of an early reply was requested, as both dogs were being hotly
bid for by an anonymous client in Constantinople.

The price of Celtic Chief was twenty guineas; that of Scotia's Pride,
for reasons heavily underlined in the pedigree, was twenty-seven. The
advertiser, who resided in Aberdeen, added that these prices did not
cover cost of carriage. We decided not to stand in the way of the
gentleman in Constantinople, and having sent back the pedigrees by
return of post, resumed the debate.

Finally Stella, my wife, said:--

"We don't really want a dog with a pedigree. We only want something that
will bark at beggars and be gentle with baby. Why not go to the Home for
Lost Dogs at Battersea? I believe you can get any dog you like there for
five shillings. We will run up to town next Wednesday and see about
it--and I might get some clothes as well."

Hence our presence on the tram.

Presently the conductor, who had kindly pointed out to us such objects
of local interest as the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament,
stopped the tram in a crowded thoroughfare and announced that we were in
Battersea.

"Alight here," he announced facetiously, "for 'Ome for Lost Dawgs!"

Guiltily realizing that there is many a true word spoken in jest, we
obeyed him, and the tram went rocking and whizzing out of sight. We had
eschewed a cab.

"When you are only going to pay five shillings for a dog," my wife had
pointed out, with convincing logic, "it is silly to go and pay perhaps
another five shillings for a cab. It doubles the price of the dog at
once. If we had been buying an expensive dog we might have taken a cab;
but not for a five-shilling one."

"Now," I inquired briskly, "how are we going to find this place?"

"Haven't you any idea where it is?"

"No. I have a sort of vague notion that it is on an island in the middle
of the river, called the Isle of Dogs, or Barking Reach, or something
like that. However, I have no doubt--"

"Hadn't we better ask some one?" suggested Stella.

I demurred.

"If there is one thing I dislike," I said, "it is accosting total
strangers and badgering them for information they don't possess--not
that that will prevent them from giving it. If we start asking the way
we shall find ourselves in Putney or Woolwich in no time!"

"Yes, dear," said Stella soothingly.

"Now I suggest--" My hand went to my pocket.

"No, darling," interposed my wife, hastily; "not a map, please!" It is a
curious psychological fact that women have a constitutional aversion to
maps and railroad time-tables. They would rather consult a half-witted
errand boy or a deaf railroad porter. "Do not let us make a spectacle of
ourselves in the public streets again! I have not yet forgotten the day
when you tried to find the Crystal Palace. Besides, it will only blow
away. Ask that dear little boy there. He is looking at us so wistfully."

Yes; I admit it was criminal folly. A man who asks a London street boy
to be so kind as to direct him to a Home for Lost Dogs has only himself
to thank for the consequence.

The wistful little boy smiled up at us. He had a pinched face and large
eyes.

"Lost Dogs' 'Ome, sir?" he said courteously. "It's a good long way. Do
you want to get there quick?"

"Yes."

"Then if I was you, sir," replied the infant, edging to the mouth of an
alleyway, "I should bite a policeman!" And, with an ear-splitting yell,
he vanished.

We walked on, hot-faced.

"Little wretch!" said Stella.

"We simply asked for it," I rejoined. "What are we going to do next?"

My question was answered in a most incredible fashion, for at this
moment a man emerged from a shop on our right and set off down the
street before us. He wore a species of uniform; and emblazoned on the
front of his hat was the information that he was an official of the
Battersea Home for Lost and Starving Dogs.

"Wait a minute and I will ask him," I said, starting forward.

But my wife would not hear of it.

"Certainly not," she replied. "If we ask him he will simply offer to
show us the way. Then we shall have to talk to him--about hydrophobia,
and lethal chambers, and distemper--and it may be for miles. I simply
couldn't bear it! We shall have to tip him, too. Let us follow him
quietly."

To those who have never attempted to track a fellow creature
surreptitiously through the streets of London on a hot day, the feat may
appear simple. It is in reality a most exhausting, dilatory, and
humiliating exercise. Our difficulty lay not so much in keeping our
friend in sight as in avoiding frequent and unexpected collisions with
him. The general idea, as they say on field days, was to keep about
twenty yards behind him; but under certain circumstances distance has an
uncanny habit of annihilating itself. The man himself was no hustler.
Once or twice he stopped to light his pipe or converse with a friend.

During these interludes Stella and I loafed guiltily on the pavement,
pointing out to one another objects of local interest with the fatuous
officiousness of people in the foreground of hotel advertisements.
Occasionally he paused to contemplate the contents of a shop window. We
gazed industriously into the window next door. Our first window, I
recollect, was an undertaker's, with ready-printed expressions of grief
for sale on white porcelain disks. We had time to read them all. The
next was a butcher's. Here we stayed, perforce, so long that the
proprietor, who was of the tribe that disposes of its wares almost
entirely by personal canvass, came out into the street and endeavored to
sell us a bullock's heart.

Our quarry's next proceeding was to dive into a public house. We turned
and surveyed one another.

"What are we to do now?" inquired my wife.

"Go inside, too," I replied with more enthusiasm than I had hitherto
displayed. "At least, I think I ought to. You can please yourself."

"I will not be left in the street," said Stella firmly. "We must just
wait here together until he comes out."

"There may be another exit," I objected. "We had better go in. I shall
take something, just to keep up appearances; and you must sit down in
the ladies' bar, or the snug, or whatever they call it."

"Certainly not!" said Stella.

We had arrived at this _impasse_ when the man suddenly reappeared,
wiping his mouth. Instantly and silently we fell in behind him.

For the first time the man appeared to notice our presence. He regarded
us curiously, with a faint gleam of recognition in his eyes, and then
set off down the street at a good pace. We followed, panting. Once or
twice he looked back over his shoulder a little apprehensively, I
thought. But we ploughed on.

"We ought to get there soon at this pace," I gasped. "Hello! He's gone
again!"

"He turned down to the right," said Stella excitedly.

The lust of the chase was fairly on us now. We swung eagerly round the
corner into a quiet by-street. Our man was nowhere to be seen and the
street was almost empty.

"Come on!" said Stella. "He may have turned in somewhere."

We hurried down the street. Suddenly, warned by a newly awakened and
primitive instinct, I looked back. We had overrun our quarry. He had
just emerged from some hiding place and was heading back toward the main
street, looking fearfully over his shoulder. Once more we were in full
cry.

For the next five minutes we practically ran--all three of us. The man
was obviously frightened out of his wits, and kept making frenzied and
spasmodic spurts, from which we surmised that he was getting to the end
of his powers of endurance.

"If only we could overtake him," I said, hauling my exhausted spouse
along by the arm, "we could explain that--"

"He's gone again!" exclaimed Stella.

She was right. The man had turned another corner. We followed him round
hotfoot, and found ourselves in a prim little _cul-de-sac_, with villas
on each side. Across the end of the street ran a high wall, obviously
screening a railroad track.

"We've got him!" I exclaimed.

I felt as Moltke must have felt when he closed the circle at Sedan.

"But where is the Dogs' Home, dear?" inquired Stella.

The question was never answered, for at this moment the man ran up the
steps of the fourth villa on the left and slipped a latchkey into the
lock. The door closed behind him with a venomous snap and we were left
alone in the street, guideless and dogless.

A minute later the man appeared at the ground-floor window, accompanied
by a female of commanding appearance. He pointed us out to her. Behind
them we could dimly descry a white tablecloth, a tea cozy and covered
dishes.

The commanding female, after a prolonged and withering glare, plucked a
hairpin from her head and ostentatiously proceeded to skewer together
the starchy white curtains that framed the window. Privacy secured and
the sanctity of the English home thus pointedly vindicated, she and her
husband disappeared into the murky background, where they doubtless sat
down to an excellent high tea. Exhausted and discomfited, we drifted
away.

"I am going home," said Stella in a hollow voice. "And I think," she
added bitterly, "that it might have occurred to you to suggest that the
creature might possibly be going from the Dogs' Home and not to it."

I apologized. It is the simplest plan, really.



II


IT was almost dark when the train arrived at our little country
station. We set out to walk home by the short cut across the golf
course.

"Anyhow, we have saved five shillings," remarked Stella.

"We paid half a crown for that taxi which took us back to Victoria
Station," I reminded her.

"Do not argue to-night, darling," responded my wife. "I simply cannot
endure anything more."

Plainly she was a little unstrung. Very considerately, I selected
another topic.

"I think our best plan," I said cheerfully, "would be to advertise for a
dog."

"I never wish to see a dog again," replied Stella.

I surveyed her with some concern and said gently:--

"I am afraid you are tired, dear."

"No; I'm not."

"A little shaken, perhaps?"

"Nothing of the kind. Joe, what is that?"

Stella's fingers bit deep into my biceps muscle, causing me considerable
pain. We were passing a small sheet of water which guards the thirteenth
green on the golf course. It is a stagnant and unclean pool, but we make
rather a fuss of it. We call it the pond; and if you play a ball into it
you send a blasphemous caddie in after it and count one stroke.

A young moon was struggling up over the trees, dismally illuminating
the scene. On the slimy shores of the pond we beheld a small moving
object.

A yard behind it was another object, a little smaller, moving at exactly
the same pace. One of the objects was emitting sounds of distress.

Abandoning my quaking consort I advanced to the edge of the pond and
leaned down to investigate the mystery.

The leading object proved to be a small, wet, shivering, whimpering
puppy. The satellite was a brick. The two were connected by a string.
The puppy had just emerged from the depths of the pond, towing the brick
behind it.

"What is it, dear?" repeated Stella fearfully.

"Your dog!" I replied, and cut the string.



III


WE spent three days deciding on a name for him. Stella suggested
Tiny, on account of his size. I pointed out that time might stultify
this selection of a title.

"I don't think so," said Eileen, supporting her sister. "That kind of
dog does not grow very big."

"What kind of dog is he?" I inquired swiftly.

Eileen said no more. There are problems that even girls of twenty cannot
solve.

A warm bath had revealed to us the fact that the puppy was of a dingy
yellow hue. I suggested that we should call him Mustard. Our son John,
on being consulted--against my advice--by his mother, addressed the
animal as Pussy. Stella continued to favor Tiny. Finally Eileen, who was
at the romantic age, produced a copy of Tennyson and suggested
Excalibur, alleging in support of her preposterous proposition that

          It rose from out the bosom of the lake.

"The darling rose from out the bosom of the lake, too, just like the
sword Excalibur," she said; "so I think it would make a lovely name for
him."

"The little brute waded out of a muddy pond towing a brick," I replied.
"I see no parallel. He was not the product of the pond. Some one must
have thrown him in, and he came out."

"That is just what some one must have done with the sword," retorted
Eileen. "So we'll call you Excalibur, won't we, darling little Scally?"

She embraced the puppy warmly and the unsuspecting animal replied by
frantically licking her face.

However, the name stuck, with variations. When the puppy was big enough
he was presented with a collar, engraved with the name Excalibur,
together with my name and address. Among ourselves we usually addressed
him as Scally. The children in the village called him the Scalawag.

His time during his first year in our household was fully occupied in
growing up. Stella declared that if one could have persuaded him to
stand still for five minutes it would have been actually possible to
see him grow. He grew at the rate of about an inch a week for the best
part of a year. When he had finished he looked like nothing on earth. At
one time we cherished a brief but illusory hope that he was going to
turn into some sort of an imitation of a St. Bernard; but the symptoms
rapidly passed off, and his final and permanent aspect was that of a
rather badly stuffed lion.

Like most overgrown creatures he was top-heavy and lethargic and very
humble-minded. Still, there was a kind of respectful pertinacity about
him. It requires some strength of character, for instance, to wade along
the bottom of a pond to dry land, accompanied by a brick as big as
yourself. It was quite impossible, too, short of locking him up, to
prevent him from accompanying us when we took our walks abroad, if he
had made up his mind to do so.

The first time this happened I was going to shoot with my neighbors, the
Hoods. It was only a mile to the first covert and I set off after
breakfast to walk. I was hardly out on the road when Excalibur was
beside me, ambling uncertainly on his weedy legs and smiling up into my
face with an air of imbecile affection.

"You have many qualities, old friend," I said, "but I don't think you
are a sporting dog. Go home!"

Excalibur sat down on the road with a dejected air. Then, having given
me fifty yards start, he rose and crawled sheepishly after me. I
stopped, called him up, pointed him with some difficulty in the
required direction, gave him a resounding spank and bade him begone. He
responded by collapsing like a camp bedstead, and I left him.

Two minutes later I looked round. Excalibur was ten yards behind me,
propelling himself along on his stomach. This time I thrashed him
severely. After he began to howl I let him go, and he lumbered away
homeward, the picture of misery.

In due course I reached the crossroads where I had arranged to meet the
rest of the party. They had not arrived, but Excalibur had. He had made
a détour and headed me off. Not certain which route I would take after
reaching the crossroads, he was sitting very sensibly under the
signpost, awaiting my arrival. On seeing me he immediately came
forward, wagging his tail, and placed himself at my feet in the position
most convenient to me for inflicting chastisement.

I wonder how many of our human friends would be willing to pay such a
price for the pleasure of our company.

As time went on Excalibur filled out into one of the most terrifying
spectacles I have ever beheld. In one respect, though, he lived up to
his knightly name. His manners were of the most courtly description and
he had an affectionate greeting for all, beggars included. He was
particularly fond of children. If he saw children in the distance he
would canter up and offer to play with them. If the children had not met
him before they would run shrieking to their nurses. If they had they
would fall on Excalibur in a body and roll him over and pull him about.

On wet afternoons, in the nursery, my own family used to play at dentist
with him, assigning to Excalibur the rôle of patient. Gas was
administered with a bicycle pump, and a shoehorn and buttonhook were
employed in place of the ordinary instruments of torture; but Excalibur
did not mind. He lay on his back on the hearth rug, with the principal
dentist sitting astride his ribs, as happy as a king.

He was particularly attracted by babies; and being able by reason of his
stature to look right down into perambulators, he was accustomed
whenever he met one of those vehicles to amble alongside and peer
inquiringly into the face of its occupant. Most of the babies in the
district got to know him in time, but until they did we had a good deal
of correspondence to attend to on the subject.

Excalibur's intellect may have been lofty, but his memory was
treacherous. Our household will never forget the day on which he was
given the shoulder of mutton.

One morning after breakfast Eileen, accompanied by Excalibur,
intercepted the kitchen maid hastening in the direction of the potting
shed, carrying the joint in question at arm's length. The damsel
explained that its premature maturity was due to the recent warm weather
and that she was even now in search of the gardener's boy, who would be
commissioned to perform the duties of sexton.

"It seems a waste, miss," observed the kitchen maid; "but cook says it
can't be ate nohow now."

Loud but respectful snuffings from Excalibur moved a direct negative to
this statement. Eileen and the kitchen maid, who were both criminally
weak where Excalibur was concerned, saw a way to gratify their
economical instincts and their natural affection simultaneously. The
next moment Excalibur was lurching contentedly down the gravel path with
a presentation shoulder of mutton in his mouth.

Then Joy Day began. Excalibur took his prize into the middle of the
tennis lawn. It was a very large shoulder of mutton, but Excalibur
finished it in ten minutes. After that, distended to his utmost limits,
he went to sleep in the sun, with the bone between his paws.
Occasionally he woke up and, raising his head, stared solemnly into
space, in the attitude of a Trafalgar Square lion.

The bone now lay white and gleaming on the grass beside him. Then he
fell asleep again. About four o'clock he roused himself and began to
look for a suitable place of interment for the bone. By four-thirty the
deed was done and he went to sleep once more. At five he woke up and
pandemonium began. He could not remember where he had buried the bone!

He started systematically with the rose beds, but met with no success.
After that he tried two or three shrubberies without avail, and then
embarked on a frantic but thorough excavation of the tennis lawn. We
were taking tea on the lawn at the time, and our attention was first
drawn to Excalibur's bereavement by a temporary but unshakable
conviction on his part that the bone was buried immediately underneath
the tea table.

As the tennis lawn was fast beginning to resemble a golf course we
locked Excalibur up in the washhouse, where his hyena-like howls rent
the air for the rest of the evening, penetrating even to the
dining-room. This was particularly unfortunate, because we were having a
dinner party in honor of a neighbor who had recently come to the
district, no less a personage, in fact, than the new lord-lieutenant of
the county and his lady. Stella was naturally anxious that there should
be no embarrassments on such an occasion, and it distressed her to think
that these people should imagine that we kept a private torture chamber
on the premises.

However, dinner passed off quite successfully and we adjourned to the
drawing-room. It was a chilly September evening and Lady Wickham was
accommodated with a seat by the fire in a large armchair, with a cushion
at her back. When the gentlemen came in Eileen sang to us. Fortunately
the drawing-room is out of range of the washhouse.

During Eileen's first song I sat by Lady Wickham. Her expression was one
of patrician calm and well-bred repose, but it seemed to me she was not
looking quite comfortable. I was not feeling quite comfortable myself.
The atmosphere seemed a trifle oppressive: perhaps we had done wrong in
having a fire after all. Lady Wickham appeared to notice it too. She sat
very upright, fanning herself mechanically, and seemed disinclined to
lean back in her chair.

After the song was finished I said:

"I am afraid you are not quite comfortable, Lady Wickham. Let me get you
a larger cushion."

"Thank you," said Lady Wickham, "the cushion I have is delightfully
comfortable; but I think there is something hard behind it."

Apologetically I plucked away the cushion. Lady Wickham was right; there
was something behind it.

It was Excalibur's bone!



IV


A WALK along the village street was always a great event for
Excalibur. Still, it must have contained many humiliating moments for
one of his sensitive disposition; for he was always pathetically anxious
to make friends with other dogs, but was rarely successful. Little dogs
merely bit his legs and big dogs cut him dead.

I think this was why he usually commenced his morning round by calling
on a rabbit. The rabbit lived in a hutch in a yard at the end of a
passage between two cottages, the first turning on the right after you
entered the village, and Excalibur always dived down this at the
earliest opportunity. It was no use for Eileen, who usually took him
out on these occasions, to endeavor to hold him back. Either Excalibur
called on the rabbit by himself or Eileen went with him; there was no
other alternative.

Arrived at the hutch, Excalibur wagged his tail and contemplated the
rabbit with his usual air of vacuous benevolence. The rabbit made not
the faintest response, but continued to munch green feed, twitching its
nose in a superior manner. Finally, when it could endure Excalibur's
admiring inspection and hard breathing no longer, it turned its back and
retired into its bedroom.

Excalibur's next call was usually at the butcher's shop, where he was
presented with a specially selected and quite unsalable fragment of
meat. He then crossed the road to the baker's, where he purchased a
halfpenny bun, for which his escort was expected to pay. After that he
walked from shop to shop, wherever he was taken, with great docility and
enjoyment; for he was a gregarious animal and had a friend behind or
underneath almost every counter in the village. Men, women, babies,
kittens, even ducks--they were all one to him.

At one time Eileen had endeavored to teach him a few simple
accomplishments, such as begging for food, dying for his country, and
carrying parcels. She was unsuccessful in all three instances. Excalibur
on his hind legs stood about five feet six, and when he fell from that
eminence, as he invariably did when he tried to beg, he usually broke
something. He was hampered, too, by inability to distinguish one order
from another. More than once he narrowly escaped with his life through
mistaking an urgent appeal to come to heel out of the way of an
approaching automobile for a command to die for his country in the
middle of the road.

As for educating him to carry parcels, a single attempt was sufficient.
The parcel in question contained a miscellaneous assortment of articles
from the grocer's, including lard, soap, and safety matches. It was
securely tied up, and the grocer kindly attached it by a short length of
string to a wooden clothespin, in order to make it easier for Excalibur
to carry. They set off home.

Excalibur was most apologetic about it afterward, besides being
extremely unwell; but he had no idea, he explained to Eileen, that
anything put into his mouth was not meant to be eaten. He then tendered
the clothespin and some mangled brown paper, with an air of profound
abasement. After that no further attempts at compulsory education were
undertaken.

It was his daily walk with Eileen, however, which introduced Excalibur
to life--life in its broadest and most romantic sense. As I was not
privileged to be present at the opening incident of this episode, or at
most of its subsequent developments, the direct conduct of this
narrative here passes out of my hands.

One sunny morning in July a young man in clerical attire sat
breakfasting in his rooms at Mrs. Tice's. Mrs. Tice's establishment was
situated on the village street and Mrs. Tice was in the habit of letting
her ground floor to lodgers of impeccable respectability.

It was half-past eleven, which is a late hour for the clergy to
breakfast; but this young man appeared to be suffering from no qualms of
conscience on the subject. He was making an excellent breakfast and
reading the Henley results with a mixture of rapture and longing.

He had just removed the "Sportsman" from the convenient buttress of the
teapot and substituted "Punch" when he became aware that day had turned
to night. Looking up he perceived that his open window, which was rather
small and of the casement variety, was completely blocked by a huge,
shapeless, and opaque mass. Next moment the mass resolved itself into an
animal of enormous size and surprising appearance, which fell heavily
into the room, and

          Like a stream that, spouting from a cliff,
          Fails in mid-air, but, gathering at the base,
          Remakes itself,

rose to its feet and, advancing to the table, laid a heavy head on the
white cloth and lovingly passed its tongue--which resembled that of the
great anteater--round a cold chicken conveniently adjacent.

Five minutes later the window framed another picture--this time a girl
of twenty, white-clad and wearing a powder-blue felt hat, caught up on
one side by a silver buckle which twinkled in the hot morning sun. The
curate started to his feet. Excalibur, who was now lying on the
hearthrug dismembering the chicken, thumped his tail guiltily on the
floor, but made no attempt to rise.

"I am very sorry," said Eileen, "but I am afraid my dog is trespassing.
May I call him out?"

"Certainly!" said the curate. "But"--he racked his brains to devise some
means of delaying the departure of this radiant, fragrant vision--"he is
not the least in the way. I am very glad of his company; it was most
neighborly of him to call. After all, I suppose he is one of my
parishioners. And--and"--he blushed--"I hope you are, too."

Eileen gave him her most entrancing smile, and from that hour the curate
ceased to be his own master.

"I suppose you are Mr. Gilmore," said Eileen.

"Yes. I have been here only three weeks and I have not met every one
yet."

"I have been away for two months," Eileen mentioned.

"I thought you must have been," said the curate, rather subtly for him.

"I think my brother-in-law called on you a few days ago," continued
Eileen, on whom the curate's last remark had made a most favorable
impression. She mentioned my name.

"I was going to return the call this very afternoon," said the curate.
And he firmly believed that he was speaking the truth. "Won't you come
in? We have an excellent chaperon," indicating Excalibur. "I will come
and open the door."

"Well, he certainly won't come out unless I come and fetch him,"
admitted Eileen thoughtfully.

A moment later the curate was at the front door and led his visitor
across the little hall into the sitting-room. He had not been absent
more than thirty seconds, but during that time a plateful of sausages
had mysteriously disappeared; and, as they entered, Excalibur was
apologetically settling down on the hearthrug with a cottage loaf
between his paws.

Eileen uttered cries of dismay and apology, but the curate would have
none of them.

"My fault entirely!" he insisted. "I have no right to be breakfasting at
this hour; but this is my day off. You see I take early Service every
morning at seven; but on Wednesdays we cut it out--omit it and have
full Matins at ten. So I get up at half-past nine, take Service at ten,
and come back to my rooms at eleven and have breakfast. It is my weekly
treat."

"You deserve it," said Eileen feelingly. Her religious exercises were
limited to going to church on Sunday morning and coming out, if
possible, after the Litany. "And how do you like Much Moreham?"

"I did not like it at all when I came," said the curate, "but recently I
have begun to enjoy myself immensely." He did not say how recently.

"Were you in London before?"

"Yes--in the East End. It was pretty hard work, but a useful experience.
I feel rather lost here during my spare time. I get so little exercise.
In London I used to slip away for an occasional outing in a Leander
scratch eight, and that kept me fit. I am inclined," he added ruefully,
"to put on flesh."

"Leander? Are you a Blue?"

The curate nodded.

"You know about rowing, I see," he said appreciatively. "The worst of
rowing," he continued, "is that it takes up so much of a man's time that
he has no opportunity of practicing anything else--cricket, for
instance. All curates ought to be able to play cricket. I do my best;
but there isn't a single boy in the Sunday School who can't bowl me.
It's humiliating!"

"Do you play tennis at all?" asked Eileen.

"Yes, in a way."

"I am sure my sister will be pleased if you come and have a game with us
some afternoon."

The enraptured curate had already opened his mouth to accept this demure
invitation when Excalibur, rising from the hearthrug, stretched himself
luxuriously and wagged his tail, thereby removing three pipes, an
inkstand, a tobacco jar, and a half-completed sermon from the writing
table.



V


EXCALIBUR was heavily overworked in his new rôle of chaperon during
the next three or four weeks, and any dog less ready to oblige than
himself might have felt a little aggrieved at the treatment to which he
was subjected.

There was the case of the tennis lawn, for instance. He had always
regarded this as his own particular sanctuary, dedicated to reflection
and repose; but now the net was stretched across it and Eileen and the
curate performed antics all over the court with rackets and small white
balls which, though they did not hurt Excalibur, kept him awake. It did
not occur to him to convey himself elsewhere, for his mind moved
slowly; and the united blandishments of the players failed to bring the
desirability of such a course home to him. He continued to lie in his
favorite spot on the sunny side of the court, looking injured but
forgiving, or slumbering perseveringly amid the storm that raged round
him.

It was quite impossible to move Excalibur once he had decided to remain
where he was; so Eileen and the curate agreed to regard him as a sort of
artificial excrescence, like the buttress in a fives court. If the ball
hit him, as it frequently did, the player waiting for it was at liberty
either to play it or claim a let. This arrangement added a piquant and
pleasing variety to what is too often--especially when indulged in by
mediocre players--a very dull game.

Worse was to follow, however. One day Eileen and the curate conducted
Excalibur to a neighboring mountain range--at least, so it appeared to
Excalibur--and played another ball game. This time they employed long
sticks with iron heads, and two balls, which, though they were much
smaller than tennis balls, were incredibly hard and painful. Excalibur,
though willing to help and anxious to please, could not supervise both
the balls at once. As sure as he ran to retrieve one the other came
after him and took him unfairly in the rear. Excalibur was the gentlest
of creatures, but the most perfect gentleman has his dignity to
consider.

After having been struck for the third time by one of these balls he
whipped round, picked it up in his mouth and gave it a tiny pinch, just
as a warning. At least, he thought it was a tiny pinch. The ball
retaliated with unexpected ferocity. It twisted and turned. It emitted
long, snaky spirals of some elastic substance, which clogged his teeth
and tickled his throat and wound themselves round his tongue and nearly
choked him. Panic-stricken, he ran to his mistress, who, with weeping
and with laughter, removed the writhing horror from his jaws and
comforted him with fair words.

After that Excalibur realized that it is wiser to walk behind golfers
than in front of them. It was a boring business, though, and very
exhausting, for he loathed exercise of every kind; and his only periods
of repose were the occasions on which the expedition came to a halt on
certain small, flat lawns, each of which contained a hole with a flag in
it.

Here Excalibur would lie down, with the contented sigh of a tired child,
and go to sleep. As he almost invariably lay down between the hole and
the ball, the players agreed to regard him as a bunker. Eileen putted
round him; but the curate--who had little regard for the humbler works
of creation, Excalibur thought--used to take his mashie and attempt a
lofting shot, an enterprise in which he almost invariably failed, to
Excalibur's great inconvenience.

Country walks were more tolerable, for Eileen's supervision of his
movements, which was usually marked by an officious severity, was
sensibly relaxed on these days and Excalibur found himself at liberty to
range abroad amid the heath and through the coppices, engaged in a
pastime that he imagined was hunting.

One hot afternoon, wandering into a clearing, he encountered a hare. The
hare, which was suffering from extreme panic, owing to a terrifying
noise behind it,--the blast of the newest and most vulgar motor horn, to
be precise,--was bolting right across the clearing. After the manner of
hares where objects directly in front of them are concerned, the
fugitive entirely failed to perceive Excalibur and, indeed, ran right
underneath him on its way to cover. Excalibur was so unstrung by this
adventure that he ran back to where he had left Eileen and the curate.

They were sitting side by side on the grass and the curate was holding
Eileen's hand.

Excalibur advanced on them thankfully and indicated by an ingratiating
smile that a friendly remark or other recognition of his presence would
be gratefully received; but neither took the slightest notice of him.
They continued to gaze straight before them in a mournful and abstracted
fashion. They looked not so much at Excalibur as through him. First the
hare, then Eileen and the curate! Excalibur began to fear that he had
become invisible, or at least transparent. Greatly agitated he drifted
away into a neighboring plantation full of young pheasants. Here he
encountered a keeper, who was able to dissipate his gloomy suspicions
for him without any difficulty whatsoever. But Eileen and the curate sat
on.

"A hundred pounds a year!" repeated the curate. "A pass degree and no
influence! I can't preach and I have no money of my own. Dearest, I
ought never to have told you."

"Told me what?" inquired Eileen softly. She knew quite well; but she was
a woman, and a woman can never let well enough alone.

The curate, turning to Eileen, delivered himself of a statement of three
words. Eileen's reply was a softly whispered _Tu quoque!_

"It had to happen, dear," she added cheerfully, for she did not share
the curate's burden of responsibility in the matter. "If you had not
told me we should have been miserable separately. Now that you have told
me, we can be miserable together. And when two people who--who--" She
hesitated.

The curate supplied the relative sentence. Eileen nodded her head in
acknowledgment.

"Yes; who are--like you and me--are miserable together, they are happy!
See?"

"I see," said the curate gravely. "Yes, you are right there; but we
can't go on living on a diet of joint misery. We shall have to face the
future. What are we going to do about it?"

Then Eileen spoke up boldly for the first time.

"Gerald," she said, "we shall simply have to manage on a hundred a
year."

But the curate shook his head.

"Dearest, I should be an utter cad if I allowed you to do such a thing,"
he said. "A hundred a year is less than two pounds a week!"

"A lot of people live on less than two pounds a week," Eileen pointed
out longingly.

"Yes; I know. If we could rent a three-shilling cottage and I could go
about with a spotted handkerchief round my neck, and you could scrub the
doorsteps _coram populo_, we might be very comfortable; but the clergy
belong to the black-coated class, and people in the lower ranks of the
black-coated class are the poorest people in the whole wide world. They
have to spend money on luxuries--collars and charwomen, and so
on--which a workingman can spend entirely on necessities. It wouldn't
merely mean no pretty dresses and a lot of hard work for you, Eileen. It
would mean starvation! Believe me--I know! Some of my friends have tried
it--and I know!"

"What happened to them?" asked Eileen fearfully.

"They all had to come down in the end--some soon, some late, but all in
time--to taking parish relief."

"Parish relief?"

"Yes; not official, regulation, rate-aided charity, but the infinitely
more humiliating charity of their well-to-do neighbors--quiet checks,
second-hand dresses, and things like that. No, little girl; you and I
are too proud--too proud of the cloth--for that. We will never give a
handle to the people who are always waiting to have a fling at the
improvident clergy--not if it breaks our hearts, we won't!"

"You are quite right, dear," said Eileen quietly. "We must wait."

Then the curate said the most difficult thing he had said yet:--

"I shall have to go away from here."

Eileen's hand turned cold in his.

"Why?" she whispered; but she knew.

"Because if we wait here we shall wait forever. The last curate in Much
Moreham--what happened to him?"

"He died."

"Yes--at fifty-five; and he had been here for thirty years. Preferment
does not come in sleepy villages. I must go back to London."

"The East End?"

"East or south or north--it doesn't signify. Anywhere but west. In the
east and south and north there is always work to be done--hard work. And
if a parson has no money and no brains and no influence, and can only
work--run clothing clubs and soup kitchens, and reclaim
drunkards--London is the place for him. So off I go to London, my
beloved, to lay the foundations of Paradise for you and me--for you and
me!"

There was a long silence. Then the pair rose to their feet and smiled on
each other extremely cheerfully, because each suspected the
other--rightly--of low spirits.

"Shall we tell people?" asked the curate.

Eileen thought, and shook her head.

"No," she said; "nicer not. It will make a splendid secret."

"Just between us two, eh?" said the curate, kindling at the thought.

"Just between us two," agreed Eileen. And the curate kissed her very
solemnly. A secret is a comfortable thing to lovers, especially when
they are young and about to be lonely.

At this moment a leonine head, supported on a lumbering and ill-balanced
body, was thrust in between them. It was Excalibur, taking sanctuary
with the Church from the vengeance of the Law.

"We might tell Scally, I think," said Eileen.

"Rather!" assented the curate. "He introduced us."

So Eileen communicated the great news to Excalibur.

"You do approve, dear--don't you?" she said.

Excalibur, instinctively realizing that this was an occasion when
liberties might be taken, stood up on his hind legs and placed his
forepaws on his mistress's shoulders. The curate supported them both.

"And you will use your influence to get us a living wage from
somewhere--won't you, old man?" added the curate.

Excalibur tried to lick both their faces at once--and succeeded.



VI


SO the curate went away, but not to London. He was sent instead to a
great manufacturing town in the north, where the work was equally hard,
and where Anglican and Roman and Salvationist fought grimly side by side
against the powers of drink and disease and crime. During these days,
which ultimately rolled into years, the curate lost his boyish freshness
and his unfortunate tendency to put on flesh. He grew thin and lathy;
and, though his smile was as ready and as magnetic as ever, he seldom
laughed.

He never failed, however, to write a cheerful letter to Eileen every
Monday morning. He was getting a hundred and twenty pounds a year now;
so his chances of becoming a millionaire had increased by twenty per
cent.

Meantime his two confederates, Excalibur and Eileen, continued to reside
at Much Moreham. Eileen was still the recognized beauty of the district,
but she spread her net less promiscuously than of yore. Girl friends she
always had in plenty, but it was noticed that she avoided intimacy with
all eligible males of over twenty and under forty-five years of age. No
one knew the reason for this except Excalibur. Eileen used to read
Gerald's letters aloud to him every Tuesday morning; sometimes the
letter contained a friendly message to Excalibur himself.

In acknowledgment of this courtesy Excalibur always sent his love to
the curate--Eileen wrote every Friday--and he and Eileen walked
together, rain or shine, on Friday afternoons to post the letter in the
next village. Much Moreham's post office was too small to remain
oblivious to such a regular correspondence.

The curate was seen no more in his old parish. Railroad journeys are
costly things and curates' holidays rare. Besides, he had no overt
excuse for coming. And so life went on for five years. The curate and
Eileen may have met during that period, for Eileen sometimes went away
visiting. As Excalibur was not privileged to accompany her on these
occasions he had no means of checking her movements; but the chances are
that she never saw the curate, or I think she would have told Excalibur
about it. We simply have to tell some one.

Then, quite suddenly, came a tremendous change in Excalibur's life.
Eileen's brother-in-law--he was Excalibur's master no longer, for
Excalibur had been transferred to Eileen by deed of gift, at her own
request, on her first birthday after the curate's departure--fell ill.
There was an operation and a crisis, and a deal of unhappiness at Much
Moreham; then came convalescence, followed by directions for a sea
voyage of six months. It was arranged that the house should be shut up
and the children sent to their grandmother at Bath.

"That settles everything and everybody," said the gaunt man on the
sofa, "except you, Eileen? What about you?"

"What about Scally?" inquired Eileen.

Her brother-in-law apologetically admitted that he had forgotten Scally.

"Not quite myself at present," he mentioned in extenuation.

"I am going to Aunt Phoebe," announced Eileen.

"You are never going to introduce Scally into Aunt Phoebe's
establishment!" cried Eileen's sister.

"No," said Eileen, "I am not." She rubbed Excalibur's matted head
affectionately. "But I have arranged for the dear man's future. He is
going to visit friends in the north. Aren't you, darling?"

Excalibur, to whom this arrangement had been privately communicated
some days before, wagged his tail and endeavored to look as intelligent
and knowing as possible. He was not going to put his beloved mistress to
shame by admitting to her relatives that he had not the faintest idea
what she was talking about.

However, he was soon to understand. The next day Eileen took him up to
London by train. This in itself was a tremendous adventure, though
alarming at first. He traveled in the guard's van, it having been found
quite impossible to get him into an ordinary compartment--or, rather, to
get any one else into the compartment after he lay down on the floor. So
he traveled with the guard, chained to the vacuum brake, and shared that
kindly official's dinner.

When they reached the terminus there was much bustle and confusion. The
door of the van was thrown open and porters dragged out the luggage and
submitted samples thereof to overheated passengers, who invariably
failed to recognize their own property and claimed someone else's.

Finally, when the luggage was all cleared out, the guard took off
Excalibur's chain and facetiously invited him to alight for London Town.
Excalibur, lumbering delicately across the ribbed floor of the van,
arrived at the open doorway. Outside on the platform he espied Eileen.
Beside her stood a tall figure in black.

With one tremendous roar of rapturous recognition, Excalibur leaped
straight out of the van and launched himself fairly and squarely at the
curate's chest. Luckily the curate saw him coming.

"He knows you, all right," said Eileen with satisfaction.

"He appears to," replied the curate. "Afraid I don't dance the tango,
Scally, old man; but thanks for the invitation, all the same!"

Excalibur spent the rest of the day in London, where it must be admitted
he caused a genuine sensation--no mean feat in such a blasé place.

In Bond Street the traffic had to be held up both ways by benevolent
policemen, because Excalibur, feeling pleasantly tired, lay down to
rest.

When evening came they all dined together in a cheap little restaurant
in Soho and were very gay, with the gayety of people who are whistling
to keep their courage up. After dinner Eileen said good-bye, first to
Excalibur and then to the curate. She was much more demonstrative toward
the former than toward the latter, which is the way of women.

Then the curate put Eileen into a taxi and, having with the aid of the
commissionaire extracted Excalibur from underneath--he had gone there
under some confused impression that it was the guard's van again--said
good-bye for the last time; and Eileen, smiling bravely, was whirled
away out of sight.

As the taxi turned a distant corner and disappeared from view, it
suddenly occurred to Excalibur that he had been left behind. Accordingly
he set off in pursuit.

The curate finally ran him to earth in Buckingham Palace Road, which is
a long chase from Soho, where he was sitting on the pavement, to the
grave inconvenience of the inhabitants of Pimlico, and refusing to be
comforted. It took his new master the best part of an hour to get him to
Euston Road, where it was discovered they had missed the night mail to
the north. Accordingly they walked to a rival station and took another
train.

In all this Excalibur was the instrument of Destiny, as you shall hear.



VII


THE coroner's jury was inclined at the time to blame the signalman,
but the Board of Trade inquiry established the fact that the accident
was due to the engine-driver's neglect to keep a proper lookout.
However, as the driver was dead and his fireman with him, the law very
leniently took no further action in the matter.

About three o'clock in the morning, as the train was crossing a bleak
Yorkshire moor seven miles from Tetley Junction, the curate suddenly
left the seat on which he lay stretched dreaming of Eileen and flew
across the compartment on to the recumbent form of a stout commercial
traveler. Then he rebounded to the floor and woke up--unhurt.

"'Tis an accident, lad!" gasped the commercial traveler as he got his
wind.

"So it seems," said the curate. "Hold tight! She's rocking!"

The commercial traveler, who was mechanically groping under the seat for
his boots,--commercial travelers always remove their boots in
third-class railroad compartments when on night journeys,--followed the
curate's advice and braced himself with his feet against the opposite
seat for the coming _bouleversement_.

After the first shock the train had gathered way again--the light engine
into which it had charged had been thrown clear off the track--but only
for a moment. Suddenly the reeling engine of the express left the rails
and staggered drunkenly along the ballast. A moment later it turned
over, taking the guard's van and the first four coaches with it, and the
whole train came to a standstill.

It was a corridor train, and unfortunately for Gerald Gilmore and the
commercial traveler their coach fell over corridor side downward. There
was no door on the other side of the compartment--only three windows,
crossed by a stout brass bar. These windows had suddenly become
sky-lights.

They fought their way out at last. Once he got the window open, the
curate experienced little difficulty in getting through; but the
commercial traveler was corpulent and tenacious of his boots, which he
held persistently in one hand while Gerald tugged at the other. Still,
he was hauled up at last, and the two slid down the perpendicular roof
of the coach to the permanent way.

"That's done, anyway!" panted the drummer; and sitting down he began to
put on his boots.

"There's plenty more to do," said the curate grimly, pulling off his
coat. "The front of the train is on fire. Come!"

He turned and ran. Almost at his first step he cannoned into a heavy
body in rapid motion. It was Excalibur.

"That you, old friend?" observed the curate. "I was on my way to see
about you. Now that you are out, you may as well come and bear a hand."

The pair sprinted along the line toward the blazing coaches.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was dawn--gray, weeping, and cheerless--on Tetley Moor. Another
engine had come up from behind to take what was left of the train back
to the Junction. Seven coaches, including the lordly sleeping saloon,
stood intact; four, with the engine and tender, lay where they had
fallen, a mass of charred wood and twisted metal.

A motor car belonging to a doctor stood in the roadway a hundred yards
off, and its owner, with a brother of the craft who had been a passenger
on the train, was attending to the injured. There were fourteen of these
altogether, mostly suffering from burns. These were made as comfortable
as possible in sleeping berths their owners had vacated.

"Take your seats, please!" said the surviving guard in a subdued voice.
He spoke at the direction of a big man in a heavy overcoat, who appeared
to have taken charge of the salvage operations. The passengers clambered
up into the train.

Only one hesitated. He was a long, lean young man, black from head to
foot with soot and oil. His left arm was badly burned; and seeing a
doctor disengaged at last, he came forward to have it dressed.

The big man in the heavy overcoat approached him.

"My name is Caversham," he said. "I happen to be a director of the
company. If you will give me your name and address I will see to it
that your services to-night are suitably recognized. The way you got
those two children out of the first coach was splendid, if I may be
allowed to say so. We did not even know they were there."

The young man's teeth suddenly flashed out into a white smile against
the blackness of his face.

"Neither did I, sir," he said. "Let me introduce you to the responsible
party."

He whistled. Out of the gray dawn loomed an eerie monster, badly singed,
wagging its tail.

"Scally, old man," said the curate, "this gentleman wants to present you
with an illuminated address. Thank him prettily!" Then, to the doctor:
"I'm ever so much obliged to you; it's quite comfortable now."

He began stiffly to pull on his coat and waistcoat. Lord Caversham,
lending a hand, noted the waistcoat and said quickly:--

"Will you travel in my compartment? I should like to have a word with
you if I may."

"I think I had better go and have a look at those poor folks in the
sleeper first," replied the curate. "They may require my services
professionally."

"At the Junction, then, perhaps?" suggested Lord Caversham.

At the Junction, however, the curate found a special waiting to proceed
north by a loop line; and, being in no mind to receive compliments or
waste his substance on a hotel, he departed forthwith, taking his
charred confederate, Excalibur, with him.



VIII


Fortune, once she takes a fancy to you, is not readily shaken off,
however, as most successful men are always trying to forget. A fortnight
later Lord Caversham, leaving his hotel in a great northern town,
encountered an acquaintance he had no difficulty whatever in
recognizing.

It was Excalibur, jammed fast between two stationary tramcars--he had
not yet shaken down to town life--submitting to a painful but effective
process of extraction at the hands of a posse of policemen and tram
conductors, shrilly directed by a small but commanding girl of the
lodging-house-drudge variety.

When this enterprise had been brought to a successful conclusion and
the congested traffic moved on by the overheated policemen, Lord
Caversham crossed the street and tapped the damsel on the shoulder.

"Can you kindly inform me where the owner of that dog may be found?" he
inquired politely.

"Yas. Se'nty-one Pilgrim Street. But 'e won't sell him."

"Should I be likely to find him at home if I called now?"

"Yas. Bin in bed since the accident. Got a nasty arm."

"Perhaps you would not mind accompanying me back to Pilgrim Street in my
car?"

After that Mary Ellen's mind became an incoherent blur. A stately
limousine glided up; Mary Ellen was handed in by a footman and
Excalibur was stuffed in after her in installments. The grand gentleman
entered by the opposite door and sat down beside her; but Mary Ellen was
much too dazed to converse with him.

The arrival of the equipage in Pilgrim Street was the greatest moment of
Mary Ellen's life.

Meantime upstairs in the first-floor front the curate, lying in his
uncomfortable flock bed, was saying:--

"If you really mean it, sir--"

"I do mean it. If those two children had been burned to death unnoticed
I should never have forgiven myself, and the public would never have
forgiven the company."

"Well, sir, since you say that, you--well, you could do me a service.
Could you possibly use your influence to get me a billet--I'm not
asking for an incumbency; any old curacy would do--a billet I could
marry on?" He flushed scarlet. "I--we have been waiting a long time
now."

There was a long silence, and the curate wondered whether he had been
too mercenary in his request. Then Lord Caversham asked:--

"What are you getting at present?"

"A hundred and twenty a year."

This was about two thirds of the salary Lord Caversham paid his
chauffeur. He asked another question in his curious, abrupt staccato
manner:--

"How much do you want?"

"We could make both ends meet on two hundred; but another fifty would
enable me to make her a lot more comfortable," said the curate
wistfully.

The great man surveyed him silently--wonderingly, too, if the curate had
known. Presently he asked:

"Afraid of hard work?"

"No work is hard to a man with a wife and a home of his own," replied
the curate with simple fervor.

Lord Caversham smiled grimly. He had more homes of his own than he could
conveniently live in, and he had been married three times; but even he
found work hard now and then.

"I wonder!" he said. "Well, good-afternoon. I should like to be
introduced to your fiancée some day."



IX


A TRAMP opened the rectory gate and shambled up the neat gravel walk
toward the house. Taking a short cut through the shrubbery he emerged
suddenly on a little lawn.

On the lawn a lady was sitting in a basket chair beside a perambulator,
the occupant of which was slumbering peacefully. A small but intensely
capable nursemaid, prone on the grass in a curvilinear attitude, was
acting as tunnel to a young gentleman of three who was impersonating a
locomotive.

The tramp approached the group and asked huskily for alms. He was a
burly and unpleasant specimen of his class--a class all too numerous on
the outskirts of the great industrial parish of Smeltingborough. The
lady in the basket chair looked up.

"The rector is out," she said. "If you go into the town you will find
him at the Church Hall and he will investigate your case."

"Oh, the rector is out, is he?" repeated the tramp in tones of distinct
satisfaction.

"Yes," said Eileen.

The tramp advanced another pace.

"Give us half a crown!" he said. "I haven't had a bite of food since
yesterday, lady--nor a drink neither," he added humorously.

"Please go away!" said the lady. "You know where to find the rector."

The tramp smiled unpleasantly, but made no attempt to move.

"You refuse to go away?" the lady said.

"I'll go for half a crown," replied the tramp with the gracious air of
one anxious to oblige a lady.

"Watch baby for a moment, Mary Ellen," said Eileen.

She rose and disappeared into the house, followed by the gratified smile
of the tramp. He was a reasonable man and knew that ladies did not wear
pockets.

"Thirsty weather," he remarked affably.

Mary Ellen, keeping one hand on the shoulder of Master Gerald Caversham
Gilmore and the other on the edge of the baby's perambulator, merely
chuckled sardonically.

The next moment there were footsteps round the corner of the house and
Eileen reappeared. She was clinging with both hands to the collar of an
enormous dog. Its tongue lolled from its great jaws; its tail waved
menacingly from side to side; its great limbs were bent as though for a
spring. Its eyes were half closed as though to focus the exact distance.

"Run!" cried Eileen to the tramp. "I can't hold him in much longer!"

This was true enough, except that when Eileen said "in" she meant "up."
But the tramp did not linger to discuss grammar. There was a scurry of
feet, the gate banged and he was gone.

With a sigh of relief Eileen let go of Excalibur's collar. Excalibur
promptly collapsed on the grass and went to sleep again.





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