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Title: A Holiday in Bed and Other Sketches
Author: Barrie, J. M. (James Matthew), 1860-1937
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Holiday in Bed and Other Sketches" ***


And other Sketches.




The Little Minister. A Window in Thrums.
Auld Licht Idylls, etc.



[Illustration: J. M. Barrie.]




JAMES MATTHEW BARRIE,                    15

A HOLIDAY IN BED,                        23

LIFE IN A COUNTRY MANSE,                 37

  A SMIDDY,                              49

A POWERFUL DRUG,                         61

EVERY MAN HIS OWN DOCTOR,                73

GRETNA GREEN REVISITED,                  87

MY FAVORITE AUTHORESS,                  111

THE CAPTAIN OF THE SCHOOL,              121


IT,                                     145

TO THE INFLUENZA,                       153

FOUR-IN-HAND NOVELISTS,                 161

RULES ON CARVING,                       173

ON RUNNING AFTER A HAT,                 179


James Matthew Barrie was born at Kirriemuir, Forfarshire, on May 9,
1860. Kirriemuir, as soberly stated by the _Encyclopædia Britannica_, is
"a borough of barony and a market town of Forfarshire, Scotland,
beautifully situated on an eminence above the glen through which the
Gairie flows. It lies about five miles northwest of Forfar, and about
sixty-two miles north of Edinburgh. The special industry of the town is
linen weaving, for which large power-loom factories have recently been
built." Mr. Barrie has made his birthplace famous as Thrums, after
hesitating for a little between that name and Whins, which is the word
used in the earliest Auld Licht sketches.

Only a part of Mr. Barrie's boyhood was spent in Kirriemuir. At an early
age he went to Dumfries, where his brother was inspector of schools. He
was a pupil in the Dumfries Academy. At that time Thomas Carlyle was a
not unfrequent visitor to the town, where his sister, Mrs. Aitken, and
his friend, the venerable poet editor Thomas Aird, were then living.

Carlyle is the only author by whom Mr. Barrie thinks he has been
influenced. The Carlyle fever did not last very long, but was acute for
a time. He fervently defended his master against the innumerable critics
called into activity by Mr. Froude's biography. Apart from this,
Dumfries seems to have left no very definite mark on his mind. The only
one of his teachers who impressed him was Dr. Cranstoun, the
accomplished translator from the Latin poets, and he rather indirectly
than directly. In the Dumfries papers Mr. Barrie inaugurated his
literary career by contributing accounts of cricket matches and letters,
signed "Paterfamilias," urging the desirability of pupils having longer
holidays. He was the idlest of schoolboys, and seldom opened his books
except to draw pictures on them.

At the age of eighteen, Mr. Barrie entered Edinburgh University. His
brother had studied in Aberdeen with another famous native of
Kirriemuir, Dr. Alexander Whyte, of Free St. George's, Edinburgh. At
Aberdeen you could live much more cheaply, also it was easier there to
get a bursary, enough to keep soul and body together till an income
could be earned. The struggles and triumphs of Aberdeen students greatly
impressed Mr. Barrie, who has often repeated the story thus told in the
_Nottingham Journal_:--

"I knew three undergraduates who lodged together in a dreary house at
the top of a dreary street, two of whom used to study until two in the
morning, while the third slept. When they shut up their books they woke
number three, who arose, dressed, and studied till breakfast time. Among
the many advantages of this arrangement, the chief was that, as they
were dreadfully poor, one bed did for the three. Two of them occupied it
at one time, and the third at another. Terrible privations? Frightful
destitution? Not a bit of it. The Millennium was in those days. If life
was at the top of a hundred steps, if students occasionally died of
hunger and hard work combined, if the midnight oil only burned to show a
ghastly face 'weary and worn,' if lodgings were cheap and dirty, and
dinners few and far between, life was still real and earnest, in many
cases it did not turn out an empty dream."

In 1882 he graduated, and was for some months in Edinburgh doing
nothing in particular. In the meantime he saw an advertisement asking
for a leader writer to an English provincial paper. The salary offered
was three guineas a week. He made application for this, and found
himself, in February, 1883, installed as leader writer to the
_Nottingham Journal_. He was not editor, the work of arranging the paper
being in other hands; but he was allowed to write as much as he pleased,
and practically what he pleased.

During the last months of his stay in Nottingham, Mr. Barrie had begun
to send articles to the London papers. The first of these was published
by Mr. Stead, then editing the _Pall Mall Gazette_.

In March, 1888, a much more important book, "Auld Licht Idyls," was
published. When Mr. Barrie came up to London he had letters of
introduction from Professor Masson to an eminent publisher, and to Mr.
John Morley. He took his "Auld Licht Idyls" to the publisher, and was
told that, although they were pleasant reading, they would never be
successful as a book. Mr. Morley, then editor of _Macmillan_, asked him
to send a list of subjects on which he was willing to write. The
request was complied with, but the subjects were returned by Mr. Morley
with the singularly uncharacteristic comment that they were not
sufficiently up to date. Mr. Morley, who has since read with great
admiration all Mr. Barrie's works, was much astonished at having this
brought to his remembrance the other day.

"When a Man's Single" was published in September, 1888, dedicated to W.
Robertson Nicoll. The story was originally published in _The British
Weekly_, but, as his manner is, Mr. Barrie made great changes in
revising it for publication. It was well received, and was pronounced by
the _Daily News_ as "Perhaps the best single volume novel of the year."
It is not at all autobiographical, though it gives the author's
impressions of journalistic life in Nottingham and London. Perhaps the
best parts of it are those devoted to Thrums, of which George Meredith
expressed special admiration.

Mr. Barrie's greatest book, however, was yet to come. "A Window in
Thrums" was published in May, 1889. It contained articles contributed to
the _National Observer_, _The British Weekly_, and the _St. James's
Gazette_, along with new matter. It is not too much to say that it was
received with one burst of acclamation. It has been the most popular of
the author's works, and it is hard to conceive how he can surpass
certain parts of it. It has found admirers among all classes.

"My Lady Nicotine," reprinted from the _St. James's Gazette_, was
published in April, 1890, and a second edition appeared in September,
1890, and although issued later than "A Window in Thrums," it is really
in point of time almost the first of the author's books.

In January, 1891, Mr. Barrie commenced a story in _Good Words_, entitled
"The Little Minister," which has since been issued in book form, and is
acknowledged to be his best book.


Now is the time for a real holiday. Take it in bed, if you are wise.

People have tried a holiday in bed before now, and found it a failure,
but that was because they were ignorant of the rules. They went to bed
with the open intention of staying there, say, three days, and found to
their surprise that each morning they wanted to get up. This was a novel
experience to them, they flung about restlessly, and probably shortened
their holiday. The proper thing is to take your holiday in bed with a
vague intention of getting up in another quarter of an hour. The real
pleasure of lying in bed after you are awake is largely due to the
feeling that you ought to get up. To take another quarter of an hour
then becomes a luxury. You are, in short, in the position of the man who
dined on larks. Had he seen the hundreds that were ready for him, all
set out on one monster dish, they would have turned his stomach; but
getting them two at a time, he went on eating till all the larks were
exhausted. His feeling of uncertainty as to whether these might not be
his last two larks is your feeling that, perhaps, you will have to get
up in a quarter of an hour. Deceive yourself in this way, and your
holiday in bed will pass only too quickly.

Sympathy is what all the world is craving for, and sympathy is what the
ordinary holiday-maker never gets. How can we be expected to sympathize
with you when we know you are off to Perthshire to fish? No; we say we
wish we were you, and forget that your holiday is sure to be a hollow
mockery; that your child will jam her finger in the railway carriage,
and scream to the end of the journey; that you will lose your luggage;
that the guard will notice your dog beneath the seat, and insist on its
being paid for; that you will be caught in a Scotch mist on the top of a
mountain, and be put on gruel for a fortnight; that your wife will fret
herself into a fever about the way the servant, who has been left at
home, is carrying on with her cousins, the milkman and the policeman;
and that you will be had up for trespassing. Yet, when you tell us you
are off to-morrow, we have never the sympathy to say, "Poor fellow, I
hope you'll pull through somehow." If it is an exhibition you go to
gape at, we never picture you dragging your weary legs from one
department to another, and wondering why your back is so sore. Should it
be the seaside, we talk heartlessly to you about the "briny," though we
must know, if we would stop to think, that if there is one holiday more
miserable than all the others, it is that spent at the seaside, when you
wander the weary beach and fling pebbles at the sea, and wonder how long
it will be till dinner time. Were we to come down to see you, we would
probably find you, not on the beach, but moving slowly through the
village, looking in at the one milliner's window, or laboriously reading
what the one grocer's labels say on the subject of pale ale, compressed
beef, or vinegar. There was never an object that called aloud for
sympathy more than you do, but you get not a jot of it. You should take
the first train home and go to bed for three days.

To enjoy your holiday in bed to the full, you should let it be vaguely
understood that there is something amiss with you. Don't go into
details, for they are not necessary; and, besides, you want to be dreamy
more or less, and the dreamy state is not consistent with a definite
ailment. The moment one takes to bed he gets sympathy. He may be
suffering from a tearing headache or a tooth that makes him cry out; but
if he goes about his business, or even flops in a chair, true sympathy
is denied him. Let him take to bed with one of those illnesses of which
he can say with accuracy that he is not quite certain what is the matter
with him, and his wife, for instance, will want to bathe his brow. She
must not be made too anxious. That would not only be cruel to her, but
it would wake you from the dreamy state. She must simply see that you
are "not yourself." Women have an idea that unless men are "not
themselves" they will not take to bed, and as a consequence your wife is
tenderly thoughtful of you. Every little while she will ask you if you
are feeling any better now, and you can reply, with the old regard for
truth, that you are "much about it." You may even (for your own
pleasure) talk of getting up now, when she will earnestly urge you to
stay in bed until you feel easier. You consent; indeed, you are ready to
do anything to please her.

The ideal holiday in bed does not require the presence of a ministering
angel in the room all day. You frequently prefer to be alone, and point
out to your wife that you cannot have her trifling with her health for
your sake, and so she must go out for a walk. She is reluctant, but
finally goes, protesting that you are the most unselfish of men, and
only too good for her. This leaves a pleasant aroma behind it, for even
when lying in bed, we like to feel that we are uncommonly fine fellows.
After she has gone you get up cautiously, and, walking stealthily to the
wardrobe, produce from the pocket of your great coat a good novel. A
holiday in bed must be arranged for beforehand. With a gleam in your eye
you slip back to bed, double your pillow to make it higher, and begin to
read. You have only got to the fourth page, when you make a horrible
discovery--namely, that the book is not cut. An experienced
holiday-maker would have had it cut the night before, but this is your
first real holiday, or perhaps you have been thoughtless. In any case
you have now matter to think of. You are torn in two different ways.
There is your coat on the floor with a knife in it, but you cannot reach
the coat without getting up again. Ought you to get the knife or to give
up reading? Perhaps it takes a quarter of an hour to decide this
question, and you decide it by discovering a third course. Being a sort
of an invalid, you have certain privileges which would be denied you if
you were merely sitting in a chair in the agonies of neuralgia. One of
the glorious privileges of a holiday in bed is that you are entitled to
cut books with your fingers. So you cut the novel in this way, and read

Those who have never tried it may fancy that there is a lack of incident
in a holiday in bed. There could not be a more monstrous mistake. You
are in the middle of a chapter, when suddenly you hear a step upon the
stair. Your loving ears tell you that your wife has returned, and is
hastening to you. Now, what happens? The book disappears beneath the
pillow, and when she enters the room softly you are lying there with
your eyes shut. This is not merely incident; it is drama.

What happens next depends on circumstances. She says in a low voice--

"Are you feeling any easier now, John?"

No answer.

"Oh, I believe he is sleeping."

Then she steals from the room, and you begin to read again.

During a holiday in bed one never thinks, of course, of analyzing his
actions. If you had done so in this instance, you would have seen that
you pretended sleep because you had got to an exciting passage. You love
your wife, but, wife or no wife, you must see how the passage ends.

Possibly the little scene plays differently, as thus--

"John, are you feeling any easier now?"

No answer.

"Are you asleep?"

No answer.

"What a pity! I don't want to waken him, and yet the fowl will be

"Is that you back, Marion?"

"Yes, dear; I thought you were asleep."

"No, only thinking."

"You think too much, dear. I have cooked a chicken for you."

"I have no appetite."

"I'm so sorry, but I can give it to the children."

"Oh, as it's cooked, you may as well bring it up."

In that case the reason of your change of action is obvious. But why do
you not let your wife know that you have been reading? This is another
matter that you never reason about. Perhaps, it is because of your
craving for sympathy, and you fear that if you were seen enjoying a
novel the sympathy would go. Or, perhaps, it is that a holiday in bed is
never perfect without a secret. Monotony must be guarded against, and so
long as you keep the book to yourself your holiday in bed is a healthy
excitement. A stolen book (as we may call it) is like stolen fruit,
sweeter than what you can devour openly. The boy enjoys his stolen
apple, because at any moment he may have to slip it down the leg of his
trousers, and pretend that he has merely climbed the tree to enjoy the
scenery. You enjoy your book doubly because you feel that it is a
forbidden pleasure. Or, do you conceal the book from your wife lest she
should think that you are over-exerting yourself? She must not be made
anxious on your account. Ah, that is it.

People who pretend (for it must be pretence) that they enjoy their
holiday in the country, explain that the hills or the sea gave them such
an appetite. I could never myself feel the delight of being able to
manage an extra herring for breakfast, but it should be pointed out that
neither mountains nor oceans give you such an appetite as a holiday in
bed. What makes people eat more anywhere is that they have nothing else
to do, and in bed you have lots of time for meals. As for the quality of
the food supplied, there is no comparison. In the Highlands it is ham
and eggs all day till you sicken. At the seaside it is fish till the
bones stick in your mouth. But in bed--oh, there you get something worth
eating. You don't take three big meals a day, but twelve little ones,
and each time it is something different from the last. There are
delicacies for breakfast, for your four luncheons and your five dinners.
You explain to your wife that you have lost your appetite, and she
believes you, but at the same time she has the sense to hurry on your
dinner. At the clatter of dishes (for which you have been lying
listening) you raise your poor head, and say faintly:

"Really, Marion, I can't touch food."

"But this is nothing," she says, "only the wing of a partridge."

You take a side glance at it, and see that there is also the other wing
and the body and two legs. Your alarm thus dispelled, you say--

"I really can't."

"But, dear, it is so beautifully cooked."

"Yes; but I have no appetite."

"But try to take it, John, for my sake."

Then for her sake you say she can leave it on the chair, and perhaps you
will just taste it. As soon as she has gone you devour that partridge,
and when she comes back she has the sense to say--

"Why, you have scarcely eaten anything. What could you take for supper?"

You say you can take nothing, but if she likes she can cook a large
sole, only you won't be able to touch it.

"Poor dear!" she says, "your appetite has completely gone," and then she
rushes to the kitchen to cook the sole with her own hands. In
half-an-hour she steals into your room with it, and then you (who have
been wondering why she is such a time) start up protesting,

"I hope, Marion, this is nothing for me."

"Only the least little bit of a sole, dear."

"But I told you I could eat nothing."

"Well, this is nothing, it is so small."

You look again, and see with relief that it is a large sole.

"I would much rather that you took it away."

"But, dear----"

"I tell you I have no appetite."

"Of course I know that; but how can you hope to preserve your strength
if you eat so little? You have had nothing all day."

You glance at her face to see if she is in earnest, for you can remember
three breakfasts, four luncheons, two dinners, and sandwiches between;
but evidently she is not jesting. Then you yield.

"Oh, well, to keep my health up I may just put a fork into it."

"Do, dear; it will do you good, though you have no caring for it."

Take a holiday in bed, if only to discover what an angel your wife is.

There is only one thing to guard against. Never call it a holiday.
Continue not to feel sure what is wrong with you, and to talk vaguely of
getting up presently. Your wife will suggest calling in the doctor, but
pooh-pooh him. Be firm on that point. The chances are that he won't
understand your case.


Up here among the heather (or nearly so) we are, in the opinion of
tourists, a mere hamlet, though to ourselves we are at least a village.
Englishmen call us a "clachan"--though, truth to tell, we are not sure
what that is. Just as Gulliver could not see the Liliputians without
stooping, these tourists may be looking for the clachan when they are in
the middle of it, and knocking at one of its doors to ask how far they
have yet to go till they reach it. To be honest, we are only five houses
in a row (including the smiddy), with a Free Church Manse and a few
farms here and there on the hillsides.

So far as the rest of the world is concerned, we are blotted out with
the first fall of snow. I suppose tourists scarcely give us a thought,
save when they are here. I have heard them admiring our glen in August,
and adding:

"But what a place it must be in winter!"

To this their friends reply, shivering:

"A hard life, indeed!"

And the conversation ends with the comment:

"Don't call it life; it is merely existence."

Well, it would be dull, no doubt, for tourists up here in January, say,
but I find the winter a pleasant change from summer. I am the minister,
and though my heart sank when I was "called," I rather enjoy the life
now. I am the man whom the tourists pity most.

"The others drawl through their lives," these tourists say, "to the
manner born; but think of an educated man who has seen life spending his
winters in such a place!"

"He can have no society."

"Let us hope the poor fellow is married."

"Oh, he is sure to be. But married or single, I am certain I would go
mad if I were in his shoes."

Their comparison is thrown away. I am strong and hale. I enjoy the
biting air, and I seldom carry an umbrella. I should perhaps go mad if I
were in the Englishmen's shoes, glued to a stool all day, and feeling my
road home through fog at night. And there is many an educated man who
envies me. Did not three times as many probationers apply for a hearing
when the church was vacant as could possibly be heard?

But how did I occupy my time? the English gentlemen would say, if they
had not forgotten me. What do the people do in winter?

No, I don't lie long in the mornings and doze on a sofa in the
afternoon, and go to bed at 9 o'clock. When I was at college, where
there is so much "life," I breakfasted frequently at ten; but here,
where time must (they say) hang heavy on my hands, I am up at seven.
Though I am not a married man, no one has said openly that I am insane.
Janet, my housekeeper and servant, has my breakfast of porridge and tea
and ham ready by half-past seven sharp. You see the mornings are keen,
and so, as I have no bed-room fire nor hot water, I dress much more
quickly than I dressed at college. Six minutes I give myself, then Janet
and I have prayers, and then follows my breakfast. What an appetite I
have! I am amazed to recall the student days, when I "could not look at
porridge," and thought a half-penny roll sufficient for two of us.

Dreary pleasure, you say, breakfasting alone in a half-furnished house,
with the snow lying some feet deep outside and still monotonously
falling. Do I forget the sound of my own voice between Monday and
Saturday? I should think not. Nor do I forget Janet's voice. I have read
somewhere that the Scotch are a very taciturn race, but Janet is far
more Scotch than the haggis that is passed around at some London
dinners, and Janet is not a silent woman. The difficulty with some
servants is to get them to answer your summons, but my difficulty with
Janet is to get her back to the kitchen. Her favorite position is at the
door, which she keeps half open. One of her feet she twists round it,
and there she stands, half out of the room and half in it. She has a
good deal of gossip to tell me about those five houses that lie low, two
hundred yards from the manse, and it must be admitted that I listen. Why
not? If one is interested in people he must gossip about them. You, in
London, may not care in the least who your next door neighbor is, but
you gossip about your brothers and sisters and aunts. Well, my people
are as familiar to me as your brothers are to you, and, therefore, I
say, "Ah, indeed," when told that the smith is busy with the wheel of a
certain farmer's cart, and "Dear me, is that so?" when Janet explains
that William, the ploughman, has got Meggy, his wife, to cut his hair.
Meggy has cut my own hair. She puts a bowl on my head and clips away
everything that it does not cover. So I would miss Janet if she were
gone, and her tongue is as enlivening as a strong ticking clock. No
doubt there are times when, if I were not a minister, I might fling
something soft at her. She shows to least advantage when I have
visitors, and even in winter I have a man to dinner now and again. Then
I realize that Janet does not know her place. While we are dining she
hovers in the vicinity. If she is not pretending to put the room to
rights, she is in her fortified position at the door; and if she is not
at the door she is immediately behind it. Her passion is to help in the
conversation. As she brings in the potatoes she answers the last remark
my guest addressed to me, and if I am too quick for her she explains
away my answer, or modifies it, or signifies her approval of it. Then I
try to be dignified and to show Janet her place. If I catch her eye I
frown, but such opportunities are rare, for it is the guest on whom she
concentrates herself. She even tells him, in my presence, little things
about myself which I would prefer to keep to myself. The impression
conveyed by her is that I confide everything to her. When my guest
remarks that I am becoming a hardened bachelor, and I hint that it is
because the ladies do not give me a chance, Janet breaks in with--

"Oh, deed it's a wonder he wasn't married long since, but the one he
wanted wouldn't have him, and the ones that want him he won't take. He's
an ill man to please."

"Ah, Janet," the guest may say (for he enjoys her interference more than
I do), "you make him so comfortable that you spoil him."

"Maybe," says Janet, "but it took me years to learn how to manage him."

"Does he need to be managed?"

"I never knew a man that didna."

Then they get Janet to tell them all my little "tantrums" (as she calls
them), and she holds forth on my habit of mislaying my hat and then
blaming her, or on how I hate rice pudding, or on the way I have worn
the carpet by walking up and down the floor when I would be more
comfortable in a chair. Now and again I have wound myself up to the
point of reproving Janet when the guest had gone, but the result is that
she tells her select friends how "quick in the temper" I am. So Janet
must remain as she has grown and it is gratifying to me (though don't
let on) to know that she turns up her nose at every other minister who
preaches in my church. Janet is always afraid when I go off for a
holiday that the congregations in the big towns will "snap me up." It is
pleasant to feel that she has this opinion of me, though I know that the
large congregations do not share it.

Who are my winter visitors? The chief of them is the doctor. We have no
doctor, of course, up here, and this one has to come twelve miles to us.
He is rather melancholy when we send for him; but he wastes no time in
coming, though he may not have had his clothes off for twenty-four
hours, and is well aware that we cannot pay big fees. Several times he
has had to remain with me all night, and once he was snowed up here for
a week. At times, too, he drives so far on his way to us and then has to
turn back because the gig sticks on the heavy roads. He is only a doctor
in a small country town, but I am elated when I see him, for he can tell
me whether the Government is still in power. Then I have the school
inspector once a year. The school inspector is always threatening to
change the date of inspection to summer, but he takes the town from
which the doctor comes in early spring, and finds it convenient to come
from there to here. Early spring is often winter with us, so that the
school inspector comes when there is usually snow on the ground or
threatening. The school is a mile away at another "clachan," but the
inspector dines with me, and so does the schoolmaster. On these
occasions the schoolmaster is not such good company as at other times,
for he is anxious about his passes, and explains (as I think) more than
is necessary that regular attendance is out of the question in a place
like this. The inspector's visit is the time of my great annual
political debate, for the doctor calls politics "fudge." The inspector
and I are on different sides, however, and we go at each other hammer
and tongs, while the schoolmaster signs to me with his foot not to anger
the inspector.

Of course, outsiders will look incredulous when I assure them that a
good deal of time is passed in preparing my sermons. I have only one
Sabbath service, but two sermons, the one beginning as soon as the
other is finished. In such a little church, you will say they must be
easily pleased; but they are not. Some of them tramp long distances to
church in weather that would keep you, reader, in the house, though your
church is round the corner and there is pavement all the way to it. I
can preach old sermons? Indeed I cannot. Many of my hearers adjourn to
one of the five houses when the service is over, and there I am picked
pretty clean. They would detect an old sermon at once, and resent it. I
do not "talk" to them from the pulpit. I write my sermons in the manse,
and though I use "paper," the less I use it the better they are pleased.

The visits of the doctor are pleasant to me in one sense, but painful in
others, for I need not say that when he is called I am required too. To
wade through miles of snow is no great hardship to those who are
accustomed to it; but the heavy heart comes when one of my people is
seriously ill. Up here we have few slight illnesses. The doctor cannot
be summoned to attend them, and we usually "fight away" until the malady
has a heavy hold. Then the doctor comes, and though we are so scattered,
his judgment is soon known all through the glens. When the tourists
come back in summer they will not see all the "natives" of the year

It is said by those who know nothing of our lives that we have no social
events worth speaking of, and no amusements. This is what ignorance
brings outsiders to. I had a marriage last week that was probably more
exciting than many of your grand affairs in London. And as for
amusements, you should see us gathered together in the smiddy, and
sometimes in the school-house. But I must break off here for the reason
that I have used up all my spare sermon paper--a serious matter. I shall
send the editor something about our social gatherings presently, for he
says he wants it. Janet, I may add, has discovered that this is not a
sermon and is very curious about it.



I promised to take the world at large into my confidence on the subject
of our wedding at the smiddy. You in London, no doubt, dress more
gorgeously for marriages than we do--though we can present a fine show
of color--and you do not make your own wedding-cake, as Lizzie did. But
what is your excitement to ours? I suppose you have many scores of
marriages for our one, but you only know of those from the newspapers.
"At so-and-so, by the Rev. Mr. Such-a-one, John to Elizabeth, eldest
daughter of Thomas." That is all you know of the couple who were married
round the corner, and therefore, I say, a hundred such weddings are less
eventful in your community than one wedding in ours.

Lizzie is off to Southampton with her husband. As the carriage drove off
behind two horses that could with difficulty pull it through the snow,
Janet suddenly appeared at my elbow and remarked:

"Well, well, she has him now, and may she have her joy of him."

"Ah, Janet," I said, "you see you were wrong. You said he would never
come for her."

"No, no," answered Janet. "I just said Lizzie made too sure about him,
seeing as he was at the other side of the world. These sailors are
scarce to be trusted."

"But you see this one has turned up a trump."

"That remains to be seen. Anybody that's single can marry a woman, but
it's no so easy to keep her comfortable."

I suppose Janet is really glad that the sailor did turn up and claim
Lizzie, but she is annoyed in a way too. The fact is that Janet was
skeptical about the sailor. I never saw Janet reading anything but the
_Free Church Monthly_, yet she must have obtained her wide knowledge of
sailors from books. She considers them very bad characters, but is too
shrewd to give her reasons.

"We all ken what sailors are," is her dark way of denouncing those who
go down to the sea in ships, and then she shakes her head and purses up
her mouth as if she could tell things about sailors that would make our
hair rise.

I think it was in Glasgow that Lizzie met the sailor--three years ago.
She had gone there to be a servant, but the size of the place (according
to her father) frightened her, and in a few months she was back at the
clachan. We were all quite excited to see her again in the church, and
the general impression was that Glasgow had "made her a deal more
lady-like." In Janet's opinion she was just a little too lady-like to be

In a week's time there was a wild rumor through the glen that Lizzie was
to be married.

"Not she," said Janet, uneasily.

Soon, however, Janet had to admit that there was truth in the story, for
"the way Lizzie wandered up the road looking for the post showed she had
a man on her mind."

Lizzie, I think, wanted to keep her wonderful secret to herself, but
that could not be done.

"I canna sleep at nights for wondering who Lizzie is to get," Janet
admitted to me. So in order to preserve her health Janet studied the
affair, reflected on the kind of people Lizzie was likely to meet in
Glasgow, asked Lizzie to the manse to tea (with no result), and then
asked Lizzie's mother (victory). Lizzie was to be married to a sailor.

"I'm cheated," said Janet, "if she ever sets eyes on him again. Oh, we
all ken what sailors are."

You must not think Janet too spiteful. Marriages were always too much
for her, but after the wedding is over she becomes good-natured again.
She is a strange mixture, and, I rather think, very romantic, despite
her cynical talk.

Well, I confess now, that for a time I was somewhat afraid of Lizzie's
sailor myself. His letters became few in number, and often I saw Lizzie
with red eyes after the post had passed. She had too much work to do to
allow her to mope, but she became unhappy and showed a want of spirit
that alarmed her father, who liked to shout at his relatives and have
them shout back at him.

"I wish she had never set eyes on that sailor," he said to me one day
when Lizzie was troubling him.

"She could have had William Simpson," her mother said to Janet.

"I question that," said Janet, in repeating the remark to me.

But though all the clachan shook its head at the sailor, and repeated
Janet's aphorism about sailors as a class, Lizzie refused to believe
her lover untrue.

"The only way to get her to flare up at me," her father said, "is to say
a word against her lad. She will not stand that."

And, after all, we were wrong and Lizzie was right. In the beginning of
the winter Janet walked into my study and parlor (she never knocks) and

"He's come!"

"Who?" I asked.

"The sailor. Lizzie's sailor. It's a perfect disgrace."

"Hoots, Janet, it's the very reverse. I'm delighted; and so, I suppose,
are you in your heart."

"I'm not grudging her the man if she wants him," said Janet, flinging up
her head, "but the disgrace is in the public way he marched past me with
his arm round her. It affronted me."

Janet gave me the details. She had been to a farm for the milk and
passed Lizzie, who had wandered out to meet the post as usual.

"I've no letter for ye, Lizzie," the post said, and Lizzie sighed.

"No, my lass," the post continued, "but I've something better."

Lizzie was wondering what it could be, when a man jumped out from
behind a hedge, at the sight of whom Lizzie screamed with joy. It was
her sailor.

"I would never have let on I was so fond of him," said Janet.

"But did he not seem fond of her?" I asked.

"That was the disgrace," said Janet. "He marched off to her father's
house with his arm around her; yes, passed me and a wheen other folk,
and looked as if he neither kent nor cared how public he was making
himself. She did not care either."

I addressed some remarks to Janet on the subject of meddling with other
people's affairs, pointing out that she was now half an hour late with
my tea; but I, too, was interested to see the sailor. I shall never
forget what a change had come over Lizzie when I saw her next. The life
was back in her face, she bustled about the house as busy as a bee, and
her walk was springy.

"This is him," she said to me, and then the sailor came forward and
grinned. He was usually grinning when I saw him, but he had an honest,
open face, if a very youthful one.

The sailor stayed on at the clachan till the marriage, and continued to
scandalize Janet by strutting "past the very manse gate" with his arm
round the happy Lizzie.

"He has no notion of the solemnity of marriage," Janet informed me, "or
he would look less jolly. I would not like a man that joked about his

The sailor undoubtedly did joke. He seemed to look on the coming event
as the most comical affair in the world's history, and when he spoke of
it he slapped his knees and roared. But there was daily fresh evidence
that he was devoted to Lizzie.

The wedding took place in the smiddy, because it is a big place, and all
the glen was invited. Lizzie would have had the company comparatively
select, but the sailor asked every one to come whom he fell in with, and
he had few refusals. He was wonderfully "flush" of money, too, and had
not Lizzie taken control of it, would have given it all away before the
marriage took place.

"It's a mercy Lizzie kens the worth of a bawbee," her mother said, "for
he would scatter his siller among the very bairns as if it was corn and
he was feeding hens."

All the chairs in the five houses were not sufficient to seat the
guests, but the smith is a handy man, and he made forms by crossing
planks on tubs. The smiddy was an amazing sight, lit up with two big
lamps, and the bride, let me inform those who tend to scoff, was dressed
in white. As for the sailor, we have perhaps never had so showily
dressed a gentleman in our parts. For this occasion he discarded his
seafaring "rig out" (as he called it), and appeared resplendent in a
black frock coat (tight at the neck), a light blue waistcoat (richly
ornamented), and gray trousers with a green stripe. His boots were new
and so genteel that as the evening wore on he had to kick them off and
dance in his stocking soles.

Janet tells me that Lizzie had gone through the ceremony in private with
her sailor a number of times, so that he might make no mistake. The
smith, asked to take my place at these rehearsals, declined on the
ground that he forgot how the knot was tied: but his wife had a better
memory, and I understand that she even mimicked me--for which I must
take her to task one of these days.

However, despite all these precautions, the sailor was a little
demonstrative during the ceremony, and slipped his arm around the bride
"to steady her." Janet wonders that Lizzie did not fling his arm from
her, but Lizzie was too nervous now to know what her swain was about.

Then came the supper and the songs and the speeches. The tourists who
picture us shivering, silent and depressed all through the winter should
have been in the smiddy that night.

I proposed the health of the young couple, and when I called Lizzie by
her new name, "Mrs. Fairweather," the sailor flung back his head and
roared with glee till he choked, and Lizzie's first duty as a wife was
to hit him hard between the shoulder blades. When he was sufficiently
composed to reply, he rose to his feet and grinned round the room.

"Mrs. Fairweather," he cried in an ecstacy of delight, and again choked.

The smith induced him to make another attempt, and this time he got as
far as "Ladies and gentlemen, me and my wife----" when the speech ended
prematurely in resounding chuckles. The last we saw of him, when the
carriage drove away, he was still grinning; but that, as he explained,
was because "he had got Lizzie at last." "You'll be a good husband to
her, I hope," I said.

"Will I not," he cried, and his arm went round his wife again.



All respectable chemists, Montgomery assures me, keep the cio-root. That
is the name of the drug, and Montgomery is the man who ought to write
its testimonials. This is a testimonial to the efficacy of the cio-root,
and I write it the more willingly, because, until the case of Montgomery
cropped up, I had no faith in patent medicines. Seeing, however, is,
they say, believing; and I have seen what the cio-root did for
Montgomery. I can well believe now that it can do anything, from
removing grease-spots to making your child cry out in the night.

Montgomery, who was married years ago, is subject to headaches, and
formerly his only way of treating them was to lie in bed and read a
light novel. By the time the novel was finished, so, as a rule, was the
headache. This treatment rather interfered with his work, however, and
he tried various medicines which were guaranteed to cure rapidly. None
of them had the least result, until one day, some two months ago, good
fortune made him run against an old friend in Chambers street.
Montgomery having a headache, mentioned it, and his friend asked him if
he had tried the cio-root. The name even was unfamiliar to Montgomery,
but his friend spoke so enthusiastically of it that the headachy man
took a note of it. He was told that it had never been known to fail, and
the particular merit of it was that it drove the headache away in five
minutes. The proper dose to take was half an inch of the root, which was
to be sucked and eventually swallowed. Montgomery tried several chemists
in vain, for they had not heard of it, but at last he got it on George
IV. Bridge. He had so often carried home in triumph a "certain cure,"
which was subsequently flung out at the window in disgust, that his wife
shook her head at the cio-root, and advised him not to be too hopeful.
However, the cio-root surpassed the fondest expectations. It completely
cured Montgomery in less than the five minutes. Several times he tried
it, and always with the same triumphant result. Having at last got a
drug to make an idol of, it is not perhaps to be wondered at that
Montgomery was full of gratitude. He kept a three pound tin of the
cio-root on his library-table, and the moment he felt a headache coming
on he said, "Excuse me for one moment," and bit off half an inch of

The headaches never had a chance. It was, therefore, natural, though
none the less annoying, that his one topic of conversation should become
the properties of this remarkable drug. You would drop in on him,
glowing over the prospect of a delightful two hours' wrangle over the
crofter question, but he pushed the subject away with a wave of his
hand, and begged to introduce to our notice the cio-root. Sitting there
smoking, his somewhat dull countenance would suddenly light up as his
eyes came to rest on the three-pound tin. He was always advising us to
try the cio-root, and when we said we did not have a headache he got
sulky. The first thing he asked us when we met was whether we had a
headache, and often he clipped off an inch or two of the cio-root and
gave it us in a piece of paper, so that a headache might not take us
unawares. I believe he rather enjoyed waking with a headache, for he
knew that it would not have a chance. If his wife had been a jealous
woman, she would not have liked the way he talked of the cio-root.

Some of us did try the drug, either to please him or because we were
really curious about it. Whatever the reason, none of us, I think, were
prejudiced. We tested it on its merits, and came unanimously to the
conclusion that they were negative. The cio-root did us no harm. The
taste was what one may imagine to be the taste of the root of any rotten
tree dipped in tar, which was subsequently allowed to dry. As we were
all of one mind on the subject, we insisted with Montgomery that the
cio-root was a fraud. Frequently we had such altercations with him on
the subject that we parted in sneers, and ultimately we said that it
would be best not to goad him too far; so we arranged merely to chaff
him about his faith in the root, and never went farther than insisting,
in a pleasant way, that he was cured, not by the cio-root, but by his
believing in it. Montgomery rejected this theory with indignation, but
we stuck to it and never doubted it. Events, nevertheless, will show you
that Montgomery was right and that we were wrong.

The triumph of cio-root came as recently as yesterday. Montgomery, his
wife, and myself, had arranged to go into Glasgow for the day. I called
for them in the forenoon and had to wait, as Montgomery had gone along
to the office to see if there were any letters. He arrived soon after
me, saying that he had a headache, but saying it in a cheery way, for he
knew that the root was in the next room. He disappeared into the library
to nibble half an inch of the cio-root, and shortly afterwards we set
off. The headache had been dispelled as usual. In the train he and I had
another argument about the one great drug, and he ridiculed my notion
about its being faith that drove his headache away. I may hurry over the
next two hours, up to the time when we wandered into Buchanan street.
There Montgomery met a friend, to whom he introduced me. The gentleman
was in a hurry, so we only spoke for a moment, but after he had left us
he turned back.

"Montgomery," he said, "do you remember that day I met you in Chambers
street, Edinburgh?"

"I have good reason for remembering the occasion," said Montgomery,
meaning to begin the story of his wonderful cure; but his friend who had
to catch a 'bus, cut him short.

"I told you at that time," he said, "about a new drug called the
cio-root, which had a great reputation for curing headaches."

"Yes," said Montgomery; "I always wanted to thank you----"

His friend, however, broke in again--

"I have been troubled in my mind since then," he said, "because I was
told afterwards that I had made a mistake about the proper dose. If you
try the cio-root, don't take half an inch, as I recommended, but quarter
of an inch. Don't forget. It is of vital importance."

Then he jumped into his 'bus, but I called after him, "What would be the
effect of half an inch?"

"Certain death!" he shouted back, and was gone. I turned to look at
Montgomery and his wife. She let her umbrella fall and he had turned
white. "Of course, there is nothing to be alarmed about," I said, in a
reassuring way. "Montgomery has taken half an inch scores of times; you
say it always cured you."

"Yes, yes," Montgomery answered; but his voice sounded hollow.

Up to this point the snow had kept off, but now it began to fall in a
soaking drizzle. If you are superstitious you can take this as an omen.
For the rest of the day, certainly, we had a miserable time of it. I had
to do all the talking, and while I laughed and jested, I noticed that
Mrs. Montgomery was looking anxiously from time to time at her husband.
She was afraid to ask him if he felt unwell, and he kept up, not wanting
to alarm her. But he walked like a man who knew that he had come to his
last page. At my suggestion we went to the Enoch's Station Hotel to have
dinner. I had dinner, Mrs. Montgomery pretended to have dinner, but
Montgomery himself did not even make the pretense. He sat with his
elbows on the table and his face buried in his hands. At last he said
with a groan that he was feeling very ill. He looked so doleful that his
wife began to cry.

Montgomery admitted that he blamed the cio-root for his sufferings. He
had taken an overdose of it, he said, tragically, and must abide the
consequences. I could have shaken him, for reasoning was quite flung
away on him. Of course, I repeated what I had said previously about an
overdose having done him no harm before, but he only shook his head
sadly. I said that his behavior now proved my contention that he only
believed in the cio-root because he was told that it had wonderful
properties; otherwise he would have laughed at what his friend had just
told him. Undoubtedly, I said, his sufferings to-day were purely
imaginary. Montgomery did not have sufficient spirits to argue with me,
but he murmured in a die-away voice that he had felt strange symptoms
ever since we set out from Edinburgh. Now, this was as absurd as
anything in Euclid, for he had been boasting of the wonderful cure the
drug had effected again most of the way between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
He insisted that he had a splitting headache, and that he was very sick.
In the end, as his wife was now in a frenzy, I sent out for a doctor.
The doctor came, said "yes" and "quite so" to himself, and pronounced
Montgomery feverish. That he was feverish by this time, I do not
question. He had worked himself into a fever. There was some talk of
putting him to bed in the hotel, but he insisted on going home. Though
he did not put it so plainly, he gave us to understand that he wanted to
die in his own bed.

Never was there a more miserable trio than we in a railway carriage. We
got a compartment to ourselves, for though several passengers opened
the door to come in, they shrank back as soon as they saw Montgomery's
ghastly face. He lay in a corner of the carriage, with his head done up
in flannel, procured at the hotel. He had the rugs and my great coat
over his legs, but he shivered despite them, and when he spoke at all,
except to say that he was feeling worse every minute, it was to talk of
men cut off in their prime and widows left destitute. At Mrs.
Montgomery's wish, I telegraphed from a station at which the train
stopped to the family doctor in Edinburgh, asking him to meet us at the
house. He did so; indeed, he was on the steps to help Montgomery up
them. We took an arm of the invalid apiece, and dragged him into the

It was a fortunate thing that we went into the library, for the first
thing Montgomery saw on the table was the half inch of cio-root which he
thought had killed him. He had forgotten to take it.

In ten minutes he was all right. Just as we were sitting down to supper,
we heard a cat squalling outside. Montgomery flung a three-pound tin of
the cio-root at it.


Statistics showing the number of persons who yearly meet their death in
our great cities by the fall of telegraph wires are published from time
to time. As our cities grow, and the need of telegraphic communication
is more generally felt, this danger will become even more conspicuous.
Persons who value their lives are earnestly advised not to walk under
telegraph wires.

Is it generally realized that every day at least one fatal accident
occurs in our streets? So many of these take place at crossings that we
would strongly urge the public never to venture across a busy street
until all the vehicles have passed.

We find prevalent among our readers an impression that country life is
comparatively safe. This mistake has cost Great Britain many lives. The
country is so full of hidden dangers that one may be said to risk his
health every time he ventures into it.

We feel it our duty to remind holiday-makers that when in the country
in the open air, they should never sit down. Many a man, aye, and woman
too, has been done to death by neglecting this simple precaution. The
recklessness of the public, indeed, in such matters is incomprehensible.
The day is hot, they see an inviting grassy bank, and down they sit.
Need we repeat that despite the sun (which is ever treacherous) they
should continue walking at a smart pace? Yes, bitter experience has
taught us that we must repeat such warnings.

When walking in the country holiday-makers should avoid over-heating
themselves. Nothing is so conducive to disease. We have no hesitation in
saying that nine-tenths of the colds that prove fatal are caught through
neglect of this simple rule.

Beware of walking on grass. Though it may be dry to the touch, damp is
ever present, and cold caught in this way is always difficult to cure.

Avoid high roads in the country. They are, for the most part,
unsheltered, and on hot days the sun beats upon them unmercifully. The
perspiration that ensues is the beginning of many a troublesome illness.

Country lanes are stuffy and unhealthy, owing to the sun not getting
free ingress into them. They should, therefore, be avoided by all who
value their health.

In a magazine we observe an article extolling the pleasures of walking
in a wood. That walking in a wood may be pleasant we do not deny, but
for our own part we avoid woods. More draughty places could not well be
imagined and many a person who has walked in a wood has had cause to
repent it for the rest of his life.

It is every doctor's experience that there is a large public which
breaks down in health simply because it does not take sufficient
exercise in the open air. Once more we would remind our readers that
every man, woman or child who does not spend at least two hours daily in
the open air is slowly committing suicide.

How pitiful it is to hear a business man say, as business men so often
say, "Really I cannot take a holiday this summer; my business ties me so
to my desk, and, besides, I am feeling quite well. No, I shall send my
wife and children to the seaside, and content myself with a
Saturday-to-Monday now and again." We solemnly warn all such foolish
persons that they are digging their own graves. Change is absolutely
essential to health.

Asked the other day why coughs were so prevalent in the autumn, we
replied without hesitation, "Because during the past month or two so
many persons have changed their beds." City people rush to the seaside
in their thousands, and here is the result. A change of beds is
dangerous to all, but perhaps chiefly to persons of middle age. We have
so often warned the public of this that we can only add now, "If they
continue to disregard our warning, their blood be on their own heads."
This we say not in anger, but in sorrow.

A case has come to our knowledge of a penny causing death. It had passed
through the hands of a person suffering from infectious fever into those
of a child, who got it as change from a shop. The child took the fever
and died in about a fortnight. We would not have mentioned this case had
we not known it to be but an instance of what is happening daily.
Infection is frequently spread by money, and we would strongly urge no
one to take change (especially coppers), from another without seeing it
first dipped in warm water. Who can tell where the penny he gets in
change from the newspaper-boy has come from?

If ladies, who are ever purchasing new clothes, were aware that disease
often lurks in these, they would be less anxious to enter dressmakers'
shops. The saleswoman who "fits" them may come daily from a home where
her sister lies sick of a fever, or the dress may have been made in some
East End den, where infection is rampant. Cases of the kind frequently
come to our knowledge, and we would warn the public against this danger
that is ever present among us.

Must we again enter a protest against insufficient clothing? We never
take a walk along any of our fashionable thoroughfares without seeing
scores of persons, especially ladies, insufficiently clad. The same
spectacle, alas! may be witnessed in the East End, but for a different
reason. Fashionable ladies have a horror of seeming stout, and to retain
a slim appearance they will suffer agonies of cold. The world would be
appalled if it knew how many of these women die before their fortieth

We dress far too heavily. The fact is, that we would be a much healthier
people if we wore less clothing. Ladies especially wrap themselves up
too much, with the result that their blood does not circulate freely.
Coats, ulsters, and other wraps, cause far more colds than they prevent.

Why have our ladies not the smattering of scientific knowledge that
would tell them to vary the thickness of their clothing with the
weather? New garments, indeed, they do don for winter, but how many of
them put on extra flannels?

We are far too frightened of the weather, treating it as our enemy when
it is ready to be our friend. With the first appearance of frost we fly
to extra flannel, and thus dangerously overheat ourselves.

Though there has been a great improvement in this matter in recent
years, it would be idle to pretend that we are yet a cleanly nation. To
speak bluntly, we do not change our undergarments with sufficient
frequency. This may be owing to various reasons, but none of them is an
excuse. Frequent change of underclothing is a necessity for the
preservation of health, and woe to those who neglect this simple

Owing to the carelessness of servants and others it is not going too far
to say that four times in five undergarments are put on in a state of
semi-dampness. What a fearful danger is here. We do not hesitate to say
that every time a person changes his linen he does it at his peril.

This is such an age of bustle that comparatively few persons take time
to digest their food. They swallow it, and run. Yet they complain of not
being in good health. The wonder rather is that they do not fall dead in
the street, as, indeed, many of them do.

How often have doctors been called in to patients whom they find
crouching by the fireside and complaining of indigestion! Too many
medical men pamper such patients, though it is their plain duty to tell
the truth. And what is the truth? Why, simply this, that after dinner
the patient is in the habit of spending his evening in an arm-chair,
when he ought to be out in the open air, walking off the effects of his
heavy meal.

Those who work hard ought to eat plentifully, or they will find that
they are burning the candle at both ends. Surely no science is required
to prove this. Work is, so to speak, a furnace, and the brighter the
fire the more coals it ought to be fed with, or it will go out. Yet we
are a people who let our systems go down by disregarding this most
elementary and obvious rule of health.

If doctors could afford to be outspoken, they would twenty times a day
tell patients that they are simply suffering from over-eating
themselves. Every foreigner who visits this country is struck by this
propensity of ours to eat too much.

Very heart-breaking are the statistics now to hand from America about
the increase in smoking. That this fatal habit is also growing in favor
in this country every man who uses his eyes must see. What will be the
end of it we shudder to think, but we warn those in high places that if
tobacco smoking is not checked, it will sap the very vitals of this
country. Why is it that nearly every young man one meets in the streets
is haggard and pale? No one will deny that it is due to tobacco. As for
the miserable wretch himself, his troubles will soon be over.

We have felt it our duty from time to time to protest against what is
known as the anti-tobacco campaign. We are, we believe, under the mark
in saying that nine doctors in every ten smoke, which is sufficient
disproof of the absurd theory that the medical profession, as a whole,
are against smoking. As a disinfectant, we are aware that tobacco has
saved many lives. In these days of wear and tear, it is specially
useful as a sedative; indeed, many times a day, as we pass pale young
men in the streets, whose pallor is obviously due to over-excitement
about their businesses, we have thought of stopping them, and ordering a
pipe as the medicine they chiefly require.

Even were it not a destroyer of health, smoking could be condemned for
the good and sufficient reason that it makes man selfish. It takes away
from his interest in conversation, gives him a liking for solitude, and
deprives the family circle of his presence.

Not only is smoking excellent for the health, but it makes the smoker a
better man. It ties him down more to the domestic circle, and loosens
his tongue. In short, it makes him less selfish.

No one will deny that smoking and drinking go together. The one provokes
a taste for the other, and many a man who has died a drunkard had
tobacco to thank for giving him the taste for drink.

Every one is aware that heavy smokers are seldom heavy drinkers. When
asked, as we often are, for a cure for the drink madness, we have never
any hesitation in advising the application of tobacco in larger

Finally, smoking stupefies the intellect.

In conclusion, we would remind our readers that our deepest thinkers
have almost invariably been heavy smokers. Some of them have gone so far
as to say that they owe their intellects to their pipes.

The clerical profession is so poorly paid that we would not advise any
parent to send his son into it. Poverty means insufficiency in many
ways, and that means physical disease.

Not only is the medical profession overstocked (like all the others),
but medical work is terribly trying to the constitution. Doctors are a
short-lived race.

The law is such a sedentary calling, that parents who care for their
sons' health should advise them against it.

Most literary people die of starvation.

Trades are very trying to the young; indeed, every one of them has its
dangers. Painters die from blood poisoning, for instance, and masons
from the inclemency of the weather. The commercial life on 'Change is so
exciting that for a man without a specially strong heart to venture into
it is to court death.

There is, perhaps, no such enemy to health as want of occupation. We
would entreat all young men, therefore, whether of private means or not,
to attach themselves to some healthy calling.


The one bumpy street of Springfield, despite its sparse crop of grass,
presents to this day a depressed appearance, a relic of the time when it
doubled up under a weight of thundering chariots. At the
well-remembered, notorious Queen's Head I stood in the gathering
gloaming, watching the road run yellow, until the last draggled hen had
spluttered through the pools to roost, and the mean row of whitewashed,
shrunken houses across the way had sunk into the sloppy ground, as they
have been doing slowly for half a century, or were carried away in a
rush of rain. Soaking weeds hung in lifeless bunches over the hedges of
spears that line the roads from Gretna; on sodden Canobie Lea, where
Lochinvar's steed would to-day have had to wade through yielding slush,
dirty piles of congealed snow were still reluctant to be gone; and
gnarled tree trunks, equally with palings that would have come out of
the ground with a sloppy gluck, showed a dank and cheerless green.
Yesterday the rooks dinned the air, and the parish of Gretna witnessed
such a marrying and giving in marriage as might have flung it back fifty
years. Elsewhere such a solemn cawing round the pulpit on the tree tops
would denote a court of justice, but in the vicinity of Springfield, it
may be presumed, the thoughts of the very rooks run on matrimony.

A little while ago Willum Lang, a postman's empty letter-bag on his
back, and a glittering drop trembling from his nose, picked his way
through the puddles, his lips pursed into a portentous frown, and his
grey head bowed professionally in contemplation of a pair of
knock-knee'd but serviceable shanks. A noteworthy man Willum, son of
Simon, son of David, grandson by marriage of Joseph Paisley, all famous
"blacksmiths" of Gretna Green. For nigh a century Springfield has marked
time by the Langs, and still finds "In David Lang's days" as forcible as
"when Plancus was consul." Willum's predecessors in office reserved
themselves for carriage runaways, and would shake the lids from their
coffins if they knew that Willum had to marry the once despised
"pedestrians." "Even Elliot," David Lang would say, "could join couples
who came on foot," and that, of course, was very hard on the poor
pedestrian, for greater contempt no man ever had for rival than David
for Elliot, unless, indeed, it was Elliot's for David. But those were
the great clattering days, when there were four famous marrying shops:
the two rival inns of Springfield, that washed their hands of each other
across the street, Mr. Linton's aristocratic quarters at Gretna Hall,
and the toll-bar on the right side of the Sark. A gentleman who had
requisitioned the services of the toll-keeper many years ago recently
made a journey across the border to shake his fist at the bar, and no
one in Gretna Green can at all guess why. Far-seeing Murray, the
sometime priest of Gretna Hall, informed me, succeeded Beattie at the
toll-house in 1843, and mighty convenient friends in need they both
proved for the couples who dashed across the border with foaming fathers
at their coaches' wheels. The stone bridge flashed fire to rushing
hoofs, the exulting pursuers, knowing that a half-mile brae still barred
the way to Springfield, saw themselves tearing romantic maidens from
adventurers' arms, when Beattie's lamp gleamed in the night, the horses
stopped as if an invisible sword had cleft them in twain, the maid was
whisked like a bundle of stolen goods into the toll-bar, and her father
flung himself in at the door in time to be introduced to his son-in-law.
Oh, Beattie knew how to do his work expeditiously, and fat he waxed on
the proceeds. In his later days marrying became the passion of his life,
and he never saw a man and a maid together without creeping up behind
them and beginning the marriage service. In Springfield there still are
men and women who have fled from him for their celibacy, marriage in
Scotland being such an easy matter that you never know when they may not
have you. In joining couples for the mere pleasure of the thing, Simon
brought high fees into disrepute, and was no favorite with the rest of
the priesthood. That half-mile nearer the border, Jardine admits, gave
the toll-bar a big advantage, but for runaways who could risk another
ten minutes, Gretna Hall was the place to be married at.

Willum Lang's puckered face means business. He has been sent for by a
millworker from Langholm, who, having an hour to spare, thinks he may as
well drop in at the priest's and get spliced; or by an innocent visitor
wandering through the village in search of the mythical smithy; or by a
lawyer who shakes his finger threateningly at Willum (and might as well
have stayed at home with his mother). From the most distant shores
letters reach him regarding Gretna marriages, and if Willum dislikes
monotony he must be getting rather sick of the stereotyped beginning "I
think your charges very extortionate." The stereotyped ending "but the
sum you asked for is enclosed," is another matter. It is generally about
midnight that the rustics of the county rattle Willum's door off its
snib and, bending over his bed, tell him to arise and marry them. His
hand is crossed with silver coin, for gone are the bridegrooms whose
gold dribbled in a glittering cascade from fat purses to a horny palm;
and then, with a sleepy neighbor, a cold hearth, and a rattling cynic of
a window for witnesses, he does the deed. Elsewhere I have used these
words to describe the scene:--"The room in which the Gretna Green
marriages have been celebrated for many years is a large rude kitchen,
but dimly lighted by a small 'bole' window of lumpy glass that faces an
ill-fitting back door. The draught generated between the two cuts the
spot where the couples stand, and must prove a godsend to flushed and
flurried bridegrooms. A bed--wooden and solid, ornamented with divers
shaped and divers colored clothes dependent from its woodwork like linen
hung on a line to dry--fills a lordly space. The monster fireplace
retreats bashfully before it into the opposite wall, and a grimy cracked
ceiling looks on a bumpy stone floor, from which a cleanly man could eat
his porridge. One shabby wall is happily hid by the drawers in which
Lang keeps his books; and against the head of the bed an apoplectic Mrs.
Langtry in a blue dress and yellow stockings, reminding the public that
Simon Lang's teas are the best, shudders at her reflection in the
looking-glass that dangles opposite her from a string." The signboard
over a snuffy tavern that attempted to enter into rivalry with the
Queen's Head depicts the priest on his knees going through the church
marriage services, but the Langs have always kept their method of
performing the ceremony a secret between themselves and the interested
persons, and the artist in this case was doubtless drawing on his
imagination. The picture is discredited by the scene of the wedding
being made in a smithy, when it is notorious that the "blacksmith" has
cut the tobacco plug, and caught fish in the Solway, and worked at the
loom, the last, and the toll-bar, but never wielded Vulcan's hammer. The
popular term is thus a mystery, though a witness once explained, in a
trial, to Brougham, that Gretna marriages were a welding of heat. Now
the welding of heat is part of a blacksmith's functions.

It is not for Willum Lang to censure the Langholm millworkers, without
whose patronage he would be as a priest superannuated, but if they could
be got to remember whom they are married to, it would greatly relieve
his mind. When standing before him they are given to wabbling unsteadily
on their feet, and to taking his inquiry whether the maiden on their
right is goodly in their sight for an offer of another "mutchkin:" and
next morning they sometimes mistake somebody else's maiden for their
own. When one of the youth of the neighborhood takes to him a helpmate
at Springfield his friend often whiles away the time by courting
another, and when they return to Langholm things are sometimes a littled
mixed up. The priest, knowing what is expected of him, is generally able
when appealed to, to "assign to each bridegroom his own;" but one
shudders to think what complications may arise when Willum's eyes and
memory go. These weddings are, of course, as legal as though Lang were
Archbishop of Canterbury, but the clergymen shake their heads, and
sometimes--as indeed was the case even in the great days--a second
marriage by a minister is not thought amiss.

About the year 1826, the high road to Scotland ran away from
Springfield. Weeds soon afterwards sprouted in the street, and though
the place's reputation died hard, its back had been broken. Runaways
skurried by oblivious of its existence, and at a convenient point on the
new road shrewd John Linton dropped Gretna Hall. Springfield's
convenient situation had been its sole recommendation, and when it lost
that it was stranded. The first entry in the Langs' books dates back to
1771, when Joseph Paisley represented the priesthood, but the impetus to
Gretna marriages had been given by the passing of Lord Hardwicke's act,
a score of years before. Legend speaks of a Solway fisherman who taught
tobacconist Paisley the business. Prior to 1754, when the law put its
foot down on all unions not celebrated by ministers of the Church of
England, there had been no need to resort to Scotland, for the chaplains
of the fleet were anticipating the priests of Gretna Green, and doing a
roaring trade. Broadly speaking, it was as easy between the Reformation
and 1745 to get married in the one country as in the other. The Marriage
Act changed all that. It did a real injustice to non-members of the
Established Church, and only cured the disease in one place to let it
break out in another. Lord Hardwicke might have been a local member of
Parliament, pushing a bill through the House "for the promotion of
Larceny and Rowdyism at Gretna Green." For the greater part of a
century, there was a whirling of coaches and a clattering of horses
across the border, after which came marriage in England before a
registrar, and an amendment of the Scotch law that required residence
north of the Sark, on the part of one of the parties, for twenty-one
days before the ceremony took place. After that the romance of Gretna
Green was as a tale that was told. The latter half of the last century,
and the first twenty years of this, were thus the palmy days of
Springfield, for after Gretna Hall hung out its signboard, the Langs
were oftener seen at the "big house" than in the double-windowed parlor
of the Queen's Head.

The present landlord of this hostelry, a lightsome host, troubled with
corns, who passes much of his time with a knife in one hand and his big
toe in the other, is nephew of that Beattie who saw his way to bed by
the gleam of post-boy's lamps, and spent his days unsnibbing the Queen's
Head door to let runaways in, and barring it to keep their pursuers out.
Much depends on habit, and Beattie slept most soundly to the drone of
the priest in his parlor, and the rub-a-dub of baffled parents on his
window-sills. His nephew, also a Beattie, brings his knife with him into
the immortal room, where peers of the realm have mated with country
wenches, and fine ladies have promised to obey their father's
stable-boys, and two lord chancellors of England with a hundred others
have blossomed into husbands, and one wedding was celebrated of which
neither Beattie nor the world takes any account. There are half a dozen
tongues in the inn--itself a corpse now that wearily awaits
interment--to show you where Lord Erskine gambolled in a tablecloth,
while David Lang united him in the bonds of matrimony with his
housekeeper, Sarah Buck. There is the table at which he composed some
Latin doggerel in honor of the event, and the doubtful signature on a
cracked pane of glass. A strange group they must have made--the gaping
landlord at the door, Mrs. Buck, the superstitious, with all her
children in her arms, David Lang rebuking the lord chancellor for posing
in the lady's bonnet, Erskine in his tablecloth skipping around the
low-roofed room in answer, and Christina Johnstone, the female witness,
thinking sadly that his lordship might have known better. Here, too,
Lord Eldon galloped one day with his "beloved Bessy;" and it is not
uninteresting to note that though he came into the world eighteen months
after Lord Erskine, he paid Gretna Green a business visit nearly fifty
years before him. Lang's books are a veritable magic-lantern, and the
Queen's Head the sheet on which he casts his figures. The slides change.
Joseph Paisley sees his shrewd assistant, David Lang, marry his
granddaughter, and dies characteristically across the way. David has his
day, and Simon, his son, succeeds him; and in the meantime many a
memorable figure glides shadow-like across the screen. The youth with
his heart in his mouth is Lord George Lambton. It is an Earl of
Westmoreland that plants his shoulders against the door, and tells the
priest to hurry. The foot that drums on the floor is Lady Alicia
Parson's. A son of Lord Chief Justice Ellenborough makes way for his own
son; a daughter follows in the very footsteps of her father, only a few
hours between them. A daughter of Archdeacon Philpot arrives at four
o'clock in the morning, and her companion forgets to grease the
landlord's hand. The Hon. Charles Law just misses Lord Deerhurst. There
are ghosts in cocked hats, and naval and military uniform, in muslin,
broadcloth, tweed and velvet, gold lace and pigskin; swords flash,
pistols smoke, steaming horses bear bleeding riders out of sight, and a
thousand forms flit weird and shadowy through the stifling room.

The dinner of the only surviving priest of Gretna Hall frizzled under
the deft knife of his spouse as he rubbed his hands recently over the
reminiscences of his youth. Willum Lang never officiated at the Hall.
Intelligent Jardine, full of years and honors, now enjoys his ease, not
without a priestly dignity, on a kitchen sofa, in his pocket edition of
a home at Springfield, and it is perhaps out of respect to his visitor
that he crowns his hoary head with a still whiter hat. His arms
outstretched to the fire, he looks, by the flashes of light, in his
ingle-nook a Shakespearian spirit crouching over an unholy pot, but his
genial laugh betrays him, and his comely wife does not scruple to recall
him to himself when he threatens to go off in an eternal chuckle. A
stalwart border-woman she, in short petticoats and delightful cap, such
as in the killing times of the past bred the Johnny Armstrongs and the
terrible moss-troopers of the border. A storehouse of old ballads, and a
Scotchwoman after Scott's own heart.

The day that Gretna Hall became an inn, its landlord felt himself called
to the priesthood, and as long as he and his son remained above ground,
marriage was the heaviest item in their bills. But when Gretna knew them
no more, Jardine's chance had come. Even at Springfield the line has
always been drawn at female priests, and from the "big house" used to
come frequent messages to the shoemaker with its mistress's compliments
and would he step up at once. The old gentleman is a bit of a dandy in
his way, and it is pleasant to know that Nature herself gave him on
those occasions a hint when it was time to dress. The rush for him down
dark fields and across the Headless Cross was in a flurry of haste, but
in the still night the rumble of a distant coach had been borne to him
over the howes and meadows, and Jardine knew what that meant as well as
the marriage service. Sometimes the coaches came round by Springfield,
when the hall was full, and there was a tumbling out and in again by
trembling runaways at the rival inns. Even the taverns have run couples,
and up and down the sleety street horses pranced and panted in search of
an idle priest. Jardine remembers one such nightmare time when the
clatter of a pursuing vehicle came nearer and nearer, and a sweet young
lady in the Queen's Head flung up her hands to heaven. Crash went her
true lovers' fist through a pane of glass to awaken the street (which
always slept with one eye open) with the hoarse wail, "A hundred pounds
to the man that marries me!" But big as was the bribe, the speed of the
pursuers was greater, and the maiden's father looking in at the inn at
an inconvenient moment called her away to fulfill another engagement.
The Solway lies white from Gretna Hall like a sheet of mourning paper,
between edges of black trees and hills. The famous long, low room still
looks out on an ageing park, but they are only ghosts that join hands
in it now, and it is a clinging to old days that makes the curious moon
peep beneath the blind. The priest and the unbidden witness still are,
but brides and bridegrooms come no more. To the days of his youth
Jardine had to fling back his memory to recall the gravel springing from
the wheels of Wakefield's flying chariot. The story is told in
Hutchinson's _Chronicles of Gretna Green_, the first volume of which
leads up to but does not broach the subject, and is common property at
Springfield. The adventurer's dupe was an affectionate school-girl on
whose feelings he worked by representing himself as the one friend who
could save her father from ruin and disgrace. The supposed bankrupt was
said to have taken flight to Scotland, and the girl of fifteen, jumping
into Wakefield's coach at Liverpool, started with him in pursuit. A more
graceless rascal never was, for at Carlisle the adventurer swore that he
had talked with Miss Turner's father in an hotel where he was lying
hidden from the sheriff's officers, and that the fugitive's wish was
that she should, without delay, accept Mr. Wakefield's hand. The poor
lassie, frantic with anxiety, was completely gulled, and on the eighth
of March, 1826, Wakefield's coach drew up at Gretna Hall. Too late came
the pursuit to stop the marriage, but the runaways were traced to
France, and the law soon had the husband of a week by the heels. He had
trusted, like all his brotherhood, to the lady's father making the best
of it; and so, perhaps, he did; for the adventurer's address for the
next three years was--Newgate, London.

Spiders of both sexes kept their nets at Gretna Green, but a tragedy was
only enacted at the hall between a score of comedies; and they were
generally love-sick youths and maidens who interrupted the priest to ask
if that was not the "so--sound of wh--wheels on the gravel walk?" A
couple whom it would almost have been a satisfaction to marry without a
fee (for the mere example of the thing) was that which raced from the
south of England with the lady's father. When they reached the top of a
hill his arms were gesticulating at the bottom, and they never turned
one corner without seeing his steaming horse take another. Poor was the
fond lover (dark his prospects at Gretna Green in consequence) but brave
the maid, to whom her friends would insist on leaving money, which was
the cause of the whole to-do. The father, looking on the swain with
suspicious eye, took to dreaming of postillions, high-roads, blacksmiths
and Gretna Green. He would not suffer his daughter to move from his
sight, and even to dances he escorted her in his private carriage,
returning for her (for he was a busy man) at night. Quick of invention
were the infuriated lovers. Threading the mazes of a dance, the girl was
one evening snatched from her partner's arms by the announcement that
her father's carriage barred the way below. A hurried explanation of why
he had come so soon, a tripping down the stairs with trembling limbs
into a close coach, a maiden in white in her lover's arms, and hey-ho
for Gretna Green. Jardine is mellowed with a gentle cynicism, and
sometimes he breaks off in his reminiscences to wonder what people want
to be married for. The Springfield priest, he chuckles, is a blacksmith
at whom love cannot afford to laugh. Ay, friend Jardine, but what about
the blacksmith who laughs at love?

Half a century ago Mr. McDiarmid, a Scotch journalist of repute,
loosened the tongue of a Springfield priest with a bowl of toddy. The
result was as if the sluice had been lifted bodily from a dam, and
stories (like the whisky) flowed like water. One over-curious
_paterfamilias_ there was who excused his visit to the village of
weddings on the ground that he wished to introduce to the priest a
daughter who might one day require his services. "And sure enough," old
Elliot, who entered into partnership with Simon Lang, crowed to his
toddy-ladle, "I had her back with a younger man in the matter of three
months!" There lives, too, in Springfield's memory the tale of the
father who bolted with an elderly spinster, and returning to England
passed his daughter and her lover on the way. Dark and wintry was the
night, the two coaches rattled by, and next morning four persons who had
gone wrong opened the eyes of astonishment.

When David Lang was asked during Wakefield's trial how much he had been
paid for discharging the duties of priest, he replied pleasantly, "£20
or £30, or perhaps £40; I cannot say to a few pounds." This was pretty
well, but there are authenticated cases in which £100 was paid. The
priests had no fixed fee, and charged according to circumstances. If
business was slack and the bridegroom not pressing, they lowered their
charges, but where the bribed post-boys told them of high rank, hot
pursuit, and heavy purses, they squeezed their dupes remorselessly. It
is told of Joseph Paisley that when on his death-bed he heard the
familiar rumble of coaches into the village, he shook death from him,
ordered the runaways to approach his presence, married three couples
from his bed, and gave up the ghost with three hundred pounds in his
palsied hands. Beattie at the toll-bar, on the other hand, did not scorn
silver fees, and as occasion warranted the priests have doubtless ranged
in their charges from half-a-crown and a glass of whisky to a hundred

Though the toll-bar only at rare intervals got wealthy pairs into its
clutches, Murray had not been long installed in office when pockets
crammed with fees made him waddle as heavily as a duck. Fifty marriages
a month was no uncommon occurrence at Gretna at that time, and it was
then that the mansion was built which still stands about a hundred yards
on the English side of the Sark. The toll-keeper, to whom it owes its
existence, erected it for a hotel that would rival Gretna Hall, and
prove irresistible to the couples who, on getting married on the Scotch
side, would have to pass it on their return journey. But the
alterations in the Marriage Laws marred the new hotel's chances, and
Murray found that he had over-reached himself. Perhaps one reason why he
no longer prospered was because he pursued a niggardly policy with the
postillions, ostlers, and other rapscallions who demanded a share of the
booty. The Langs knew what they were about far too well to quarrel with
the post-boys, and stories are still current in Springfield of these
faithful youths tumbling their employers into the road rather than take
them to a "blacksmith" with whom they did not deal.

There is no hope for Gretna. Springfield was and is the great glory of
its inhabitants. Here ran the great wall of Adrian, the scene of many a
tough fight in the days of stone weapons and skin-clad Picts. The
Debatable Land, sung by Trouvere and Troubadour, is to-day but a sodden
moss, in which no King Arthur strides fearfully away from the "grim
lady" of the bogs; and moss-troopers, grim and gaunt and terrible, no
longer whirl with lighted firebrands into England. With a thousand stars
the placid moon lies long drawn out and drowned at the bottom of the
Solway, without a lovesick maid to shed a tear; the chariots that once
rattled and flashed along the now silent road were turned into firewood
decades ago, and the runaways, from a Prince of Capua to a beggar-maid,
are rotten and forgotten.


Just out of the four-mile radius--to give the cabby his chance--is a
sleepy lane, lent by the country to the town, and we have only to open a
little gate off it to find ourselves in an old-fashioned garden. The
house, with its many quaint windows, across which evergreens spread
their open fingers as a child makes believe to shroud his eyes, has a
literary look--at least, so it seems to me, but perhaps this is because
I know the authoress who is at this moment advancing down the walk to
meet me.

She has hastily laid aside her hoop, and crosses the grass with the
dignity that becomes a woman of letters. Her hair falls over her
forehead in an attractive way, and she is just the proper height for an
authoress. The face, so open that one can watch the process of thinking
out a new novel in it, from start to finish, is at times a little
careworn, as if it found the world weighty, but at present there is a
gracious smile on it, and she greets me heartily with one hand, while
the other strays to her neck, to make sure that her lace collar is lying
nicely. It would be idle to pretend that she is much more than eight
years old, "but then Maurice is only six."

Like most literary people who put their friends into books, she is very
modest, and it never seems to strike her that I would come all this way
to see her.

"Mamma is out," she says simply, "but she will be back soon; and papa is
at a meeting, but he will be back soon, too."

I know what meeting her papa is at. He is crazed with admiration for
Stanley, and can speak of nothing but the Emin Relief Expedition. While
he is away proposing that Stanley should get the freedom of Hampstead,
now is my opportunity to interview the authoress.

"Won't you come into the house?"

I accompany the authoress to the house, while we chat pleasantly on
literary topics.

"Oh, there is Maurice, silly boy!"

Maurice is too busy shooting arrows into the next garden to pay much
attention to me; and the authoress smiles at him good-naturedly.

"I hope you'll stay to dinner," he says to me, "because then we'll have
two kinds of pudding."

The authoress and I give each other a look which means that children
will be children, and then we go indoors.

"Are you not going to play any more?" cries Maurice to the authoress.

She blushes a little.

"I was playing with him," she explains, "to keep him out of mischief
till mamma comes back."

In the drawing-room we talk for a time of ordinary matters--of the
allowances one must make for a child like Maurice, for instance--and
gradually we drift to the subject of literature. I know literary people
sufficiently well to be aware that they will talk freely--almost too
freely--of their work if approached in the proper spirit.

"Are you busy just now?" I ask, with assumed carelessness, and as if I
had not been preparing the question since I heard papa was out.

She looks at me, suspiciously, as authors usually do when asked such a
question. They are not certain whether you are really sympathetic.
However, she reads honesty in my eyes.

"Oh, well, I am doing a little thing." (They always say this.)

"A story or an article?"

"A story."

"I hope it will be good."

"I don't know. I don't like it much." (This is another thing they say,
and then they wait for you to express incredulity.)

"I have no doubt it will be a fine thing. Have you given it a name?"

"Oh, yes; I always write the name. Sometimes I don't write any more."

As she was in a confidential mood this seemed an excellent chance for
getting her views on some of the vexed literary questions of the day.
For instance, everybody seems to be more interested in hearing during
what hours of the day an author writes than in reading his book.

"Do you work best in the early part of the day or at night?"

"I write my stories just before tea."

"That surprises me. Most writers, I have been told, get through a good
deal of work in the morning."

"Oh, but I go to school as soon as breakfast is over."

"And you don't write at night?"

"No; nurse always turns the gas down."

I had read somewhere that among the novelist's greatest difficulties is
that of sustaining his own interest in a novel day by day until it is

"Until your new work is completed do you fling your whole heart and soul
into it? I mean, do you work straight on at it, so to speak, until you
have finished the last chapter?"

"Oh, yes."

The novelists were lately reproved in a review for working too quickly,
and it was said that one wrote a whole novel in two months.

"How long does it take you to write a novel?"

"Do you mean a long novel?"


"It takes me nearly an hour."

"For a really long novel?"

"Yes, in three volumes. I write in three exercise-books--a volume in

"You write very quickly."

"Of course, a volume doesn't fill a whole exercise-book. They are penny
exercise-books. I have a great many three-volume stories in the three

"But are they really three-volume novels?"

"Yes, for they are in chapters, and one of them has twenty chapters."

"And how many chapters are there in a page?"

"Not very many."

Some authors admit that they take their characters from real life, while
others declare that they draw entirely upon their imagination.

"Do you put real people into your novels?"

"Yes, Maurice and other people, but generally Maurice."

"I have heard that some people are angry with authors for putting them
into books."

"Sometimes Maurice is angry, but I can't always make him an
engine-driver, can I?"

"No. I think it is quite unreasonable on his part to expect it. I
suppose he likes to be made an engine-driver?"

"He is to be an engine-driver when he grows up, he says. He is a silly
boy, but I love him."

"What else do you make him in your books?"

"To-day I made him like Stanley, because I think that is what papa would
like him to be; and yesterday he was papa, and I was his coachman."

"He would like that?"

"No, he wanted me to be papa and him the coachman. Sometimes I make him
a pirate, and he likes that, and once I made him a girl."

"He would be proud?"

"That was the day he hit me. He is awfully angry if I make him a girl,
silly boy. Of course he doesn't understand."

"Obviously not. But did you not punish him for being so cruel as to hit

"Yes, I turned him into a cat, but he said he would rather be a cat than
a girl. You see he's not much more than a baby--though I was writing
books at his age."

"Were you ever charged with plagiarism? I mean with copying your books
out of other people's books."

"Yes, often."

"I suppose that is the fate of all authors. I am told that literary
people write best in an old coat----."

"Oh, I like to be nicely dressed when I am writing. Here is papa, and I
do believe he has another portrait of Stanley in his hand. Mamma will be
so annoyed."


When Peterkin, who is twelve, wrote to us that there was a possibility
("but don't count on it," he said) of his bringing the captain of the
school home with him for a holiday, we had little conception what it
meant. The captain we only knew by report as the "man" who lifted
leg-balls over the pavilion and was said to have made a joke to the
head-master's wife. By-and-by we understood the distinction that was to
be conferred on us. Peterkin instructed his mother to send the captain a
formal invitation addressed "J. Rawlins, Esq." This was done, but in
such a way that Peterkin feared we might lose our distinguished visitor.
"You shouldn't have asked him for all the holidays," Peterkin wrote, "as
he has promised a heap of fellows." Then came a condescending note from
the captain, saying that if he could manage it he would give us a few
days. In this letter he referred to Peterkin as his young friend.
Peterkin wrote shortly afterwards asking his sister Grizel to send him
her photograph. "If you haven't one," he added, "what is the color of
your eyes?" Grizel is eighteen, which is also, I believe, the age of J.
Rawlins. We concluded that the captain had been sounding Peterkin about
the attractions that our home could offer him; but Grizel neither sent
her brother a photograph nor any account of her personal appearance. "It
doesn't matter," Peterkin wrote back; "I told him you were dark." Grizel
is rather fair, but Peterkin had not noticed that.

Up to the very last he was in an agony lest the captain should
disappoint him. "Don't tell anybody he is coming," he advised us, "for,
of course, there is no saying what may turn up." Nevertheless the
captain came and we sent the dog-cart to the station to meet him and
Peterkin. On all previous occasions one of us had gone to the station
with the cart; but Peterkin wrote asking us not to do so this time.
"Rawlins hates any fuss," he said.

Somewhat to our relief, we found the captain more modest than it would
have been reasonable to expect. "This is Rawlins," was Peterkin's simple
introduction; but it could not have been done with more pride had the
guest been Mr. W. G. Grace himself. One thing I liked in Rawlins from
the first: his consideration for others. When Peterkin's mother and
sister embraced that boy on the doorstep, Rawlins pretended not to see.
Peterkin frowned, however, at this show of affection, and with a red
face looked at the captain to see how he took it. With much good taste,
Peterkin said nothing about this "fuss" on the doorstep, and I concluded
that he would let it slide. It has so far been a characteristic of that
boy that he can let anything which is disagreeable escape his memory.
This time, however, as I subsequently learned he had only bottled up his
wrath to pour it out upon his sister. Finding her alone in the course of
the day, he opened his mind by remarking that this was a nice sort of
thing she had done, making a fool of him before another fellow. Asked
boldly--for Grizel can be freezing on occasion not only to her own
brother, but to other people's brothers--what he meant, Peterkin
inquired hotly if she was going to pretend that she had not kissed him
in Rawlins' presence. Grizel replied that if Rawlins thought anything of
that he was a nasty boy; at which Peterkin echoed "boy" with a grim
laugh, and said he only hoped she would see the captain some day when
the ground suited his style of bowling. Grizel replied contemptuously
that the time would come when both Peterkin and his disagreeable friend
would be glad to be kissed; upon which her brother flung out of the
room, warmly protesting that she had no right to bring such charges
against fellows.

Though Grizel was thus a little prejudiced against the captain, he had
not been a day in the house when we began to feel the honor that his
visit conferred on us. He was modest almost to the verge of shyness; but
it was the modesty that is worn by a man who knows he can afford it.
While Peterkin was there Rawlins had no need to boast, for Peterkin did
the boasting for him. When, however, the captain exerted himself to
talk, Peterkin was contented to retire into the shade and gaze at him.
He would look at all of us from his seat in the background, and note how
Rawlins was striking us. Peterkin's face as he gazed upon that of the
captain went far beyond the rapture of a lover singing to his mistress's
eyebrow. He fetched and carried for him, anticipated his wants as if
Rawlins were an invalid, and bore his rebukes meekly. When Rawlins
thought that Peterkin was speaking too much, he had merely to tell him
to shut up, when Peterkin instantly collapsed. We noticed one great
change in Peterkin. Formerly, when he came home for the holidays he had
strongly objected to making what he called drawing-room calls, but all
that was changed. Now he went from house to house, showing the captain
off. "This is Rawlins," remained his favorite form of introduction. He
is a boy who can never feel comfortable in a drawing-room, and so the
visits were generally of short duration. They had to go because they
were due in another house in a quarter of an hour, or he had promised to
let Jemmy Clinker, who is our local cobbler and a great cricketer, see
Rawlins. When a lady engaged the captain in conversation, Peterkin did
not scruple to sign to her not to bother him too much; and if they were
asked to call again, Peterkin said he couldn't promise. There was a
remarkable thing the captain could do to a walking stick, which Peterkin
wanted him to do everywhere. It consisted in lying flat on the floor and
then raising yourself in an extraordinary way by means of the stick. I
believe it is a very difficult feat, and the only time I saw our guest
prevailed upon to perform it he looked rather apoplectic. Sometimes he
would not do it, apparently because he was not certain whether it was a
dignified proceeding. He found it very hard, nevertheless, to resist the
temptation, and it was the glory of Peterkin to see him yield to it.
From certain noises heard in Peterkin's bedroom it is believed that he
is practicing the feat himself.

Peterkin, you must be told, is an affectionate boy, and almost
demonstrative to his relatives if no one is looking. He was consequently
very anxious to know what the captain thought of us all, and brought us
our testimonials as proudly as if they were medals awarded for saving
life at sea. It is pleasant to me to know that I am the kind of governor
Rawlins would have liked himself, had he required one. Peterkin's
mother, however, is the captain's favorite. She pretended to take the
young man's preference as a joke when her son informed her of it, but in
reality I am sure she felt greatly relieved. If Rawlins had objected to
us it would have put Peterkin in a very awkward position. As for Grizel,
the captain thinks her a very nice little girl, but "for choice," he
says (according to Peterkin) "give him a bigger woman." Grizel was
greatly annoyed when he told her this, which much surprised him, for he
thought it quite as much as she had any right to expect. On the whole,
we were perhaps rather glad when Rawlins left, for it was somewhat
trying to live up to him. Peterkin's mother, too, has discovered that
her boy has become round-shouldered. It is believed that this is the
result of a habit he acquired when in Rawlins's company of leaning
forward to catch what people were saying about the captain.


Urquhart is a boy who lives in fear that his friends and relations will
send him the wrong birthday presents. Before his birthday came round
this year, he dropped them pretty broad hints as to the kind of gift he
would prefer, supposing they meant to remember the occasion. He worked
his people differently, according to the relationship that existed
between him and them. Thus to his mother he simply wrote, "A fishing-rod
is what I want;" but to an uncle, from whom there was only the
possibility of the present, he said, "By the way, next Monday week is my
birthday, and my mother is going to send me a fishing-rod. Wouldn't it
be jolly rot if any other body sent me a fishing-rod?--Your affectionate
and studious nephew, Thomas Urquhart." To an elderly lady, with whom he
had once spent part of his summer holiday, he wrote, "By-the-bye" (he
always came to the point with by-the-bye), "next Monday week is my
birthday. I am wondering if anybody will send me a cake like the ones
you bake so beautifully."

That lady should, of course, figuratively have punched Urquhart's head,
but his communication charmed her. She did not, however, send him a
cake. He had a letter from her in a few days, in which, without
referring to his insinuating remarks about his birthday and her cakes,
she expressed a hope that he was working hard. Urquhart thought this
very promising, and sent a reply that undid him. "I am sweating," he
said, "no end; and I think there is no pleasure like perusing books.
When the other chaps go away to play, I stay at the school and peruse
books." After that Urquhart counted the old lady among his certainties,
and so she was, after a manner. On his birthday he received a gift from
her, and also a letter, in which she said that her original intention
had been to send him a cake. "But your nice letter," she went on, "in
which you say you are fond of reading, reminds me that you are getting
to be a big boy, so I send you a book instead," Urquhart anxiously undid
the brown paper in which the book was wrapped. It was a volume of mild
biographies, entitled, "Thoughtful Boys Make Thoughtful Men."

From its first appearance among us, this book caused a certain amount of
ill-feeling. I learned by accident that Urquhart, on the strength of the
lady's letter, had stated for a fact to his comrades that she was going
to send him a cake. He had also taken Fleming Secundus to a
pastry-cook's in the vicinity of the school, and asked him to turn his
eyes upon a cake which had the place of honor in the centre of the
window. Secundus admitted with a sigh that it was a beauty. Without
comment Urquhart led him to our local confectioner's, and pointed out
another cake. Secundus again passed favorable criticism, the words he
used, I have reason to believe, being "Oh, Crikey!" By this time
Urquhart had exhausted the shops of an interesting kind in our
neighborhood, and he and his companion returned to the school. For a
time Urquhart said nothing, but at last he broke the silence. "You saw
yon two cakes?" he asked Secundus, who replied, with a smack of the
lips, in the affirmative. "Then let me tell you," said Urquhart,
solemnly, "that the two of them rolled together don't come within five
miles of the cake I'm to get on my birthday." Tremendous news like this
spreads through a school like smoke, and Urquhart was courted as he had
never been before. One of the most pitiful cases of toadyism known to me
was witnessed that very day in the foot-ball field. I was playing in a
school match on the same side as Urquhart and a boy called Cocky Jones
by his associates because of his sublime impertinence to his master.
While Urquhart was playing his shoelace became loosened, and he stooped
to tie it. "I say, Urquhart," cried Cocky, "let me do that for you!" It
will thus be seen, taking one thing with another, that Urquhart's
confidence in the old lady had raised high hopes. "Is this the day
Urquhart gets his cake?" the "fellows" asked each other. Consider their
indignation when he got, instead, "Thoughtful Boys Make Thoughtful Men."
Secundus refused to speak to him; Williamson, Green, Robbins, Tosh and
others scowled as if he had stolen their cake; Cocky Jones kicked him
and bolted.

The boy who felt the disappointment most was, however, Urquhart himself.
He has never been a shining light in his classes, but that day he
stumbled over the Latin grammar at every step. From nine to ten he was
quiet and sullen, like one felled by the blow. It is, I believe,
notorious that in a fair fight Cocky Jones could not stand up before
Urquhart for a moment; yet, when Cocky kicked, Urquhart did not pursue
him. Between ten and eleven, Urquhart had a cynical countenance, which
implied that his faith in humanity was gone. By twelve he looked fierce,
as if he meant to write his benefactress, and give her a piece of his
mind. I saw him during the dinner-hour in hot controversy with Green and
Tosh, who were evidently saying that he had deceived them. From this
time he was pugnacious, like one determined to have it out with
somebody, and as he can use his fists, this mood made his companions
more respectful. Fleming Secundus is his particular chum, and after the
first bitterness of disappointment, Secundus returned to his allegiance.
He offered to mark Cocky Jones' face, I fancy, for I saw him in full
pursuit of Cocky in the playground. Having made it up, he and Urquhart
then discussed the matter calmly in a corner. They had several schemes
before them. One was to send the book back, saying that Urquhart had
already a copy of it.

"But, I haven't," said Urquhart.

"Williamson has read it, though," said Secundus, as if that was much
the same thing.

"But though we did send it back," Urquhart remonstrated, "the chances
are that she would send me another book in its place."

His faith, you see, had quite gone.

"You could tell her you had got such a lot of books that you would
prefer a cake for a change?"

Urquhart said that would be putting it too plain.

"Well, then," said Secundus, "even though she did send you another book,
it would perhaps be a better one than that. Tell her to send 'The Boy
Crusoes.' I haven't read it."

"I have, though," said Urquhart.

"Well, she could send 'The Prairie Hunters.'"

"She's not the kind," said Urquhart. "It's always these improving books
she buys."

Ultimately the two boys agreed upon a line of action which was hardly
what the reader might expect. Urquhart wrote letters of thanks to all
those who had remembered his birthday, and to the old lady the letter
which passed through my hands read as follows:

     "DEAR MISS ----:

     I sit down to thank you very faithfully for your favor, namely, the
     book entitled 'Thoughtful Boys Make Thoughtful Men.' It is a jolly
     book, and I like it no end better than a cake, which would soon be
     ate up, and then nothing to show for it. I am reading your
     beautiful present regular, and hoping it will make me a thoughtful
     boy so as I may be a thoughtful man, no more at present,

     I am, Dear Miss ----,
     Your very sincere friend,


Our boys generally end up their letters in some such way as that, it
being a method of making their epistles cover a little more paper. As I
feared, Urquhart's letter was merely diplomatic. He had not come round
to the opinion that after all a book was better than the cake, but he
had seen the point of Fleming's sudden suggestion, that the best plan
would be to "keep in" with his benefactress. Secundus had shown that if
Miss M---- was bothered about this year's present, she would be less
likely to send anything next year, and this sank into Urquhart's mind.
Hence the tone of his letter of thanks.

It remains to follow the inglorious career of this copy of "Thoughtful
Boys make Thoughtful Men." First, Urquhart was openly contemptuous of
it, and there seemed a probability of its only being used as a missile.
Soon, however, he dropped hints that it was a deeply interesting story,
following these hints up with the remark that he was open to offers. He
and Fleming Secundus had quite a tiff about it, though they are again
good friends. Secundus, it appears, had gone the length of saying that
it was worth a shilling, and had taken it to his bed to make sure of
this. Urquhart considered it as good as bought, but Secundus returned it
to him next day. Examination of the book roused the suspicions of
Urquhart, who charged Secundus with having read it by peeping between
the pages, which, to enhance its commercial value, had remained uncut.
This Secundus denied, but he had left the mark of his thumb on it.
Eventually the book was purchased by Cocky Jones, but not without a row.
Cocky went up to Urquhart one day and held out a shilling, saying that
he would give it for "Thoughtful Boys Make Thoughtful Men." The owner
wanted to take the shilling at once, and give up the book later in the
day, but Cocky insisted on its being put into his hands immediately.
That Jones should be anxious to become the possessor of an improving
book surprised Urquhart, but in his haste to make sure of the shilling,
he handed over "Thoughtful Boys Make Thoughtful Men." Within an hour of
the striking of this bargain a rumor reached Urquhart's ears that Cocky
had resold the work for one and sixpence. Inquiries were instituted,
which led to a discovery. At our school there is a youth called Dicky
Jenkinson, who, though not exactly a thoughtful boy, has occasional
aspirations in that direction. Being for the moment wealthy, Jenkinson
had remarked, in the presence of Cocky, that one and sixpence would not
be too much to give for Urquhart's copy of "Thoughtful Boys Make
Thoughtful Men." Feeling his way cautiously, Cocky asked whether he
meant that the book would be cheap at one and sixpence to anybody who
wanted it, or whether he (Dicky) was willing and able to expend that sum
on it. Thus brought to bay, Jenkinson solemnly declared that he meant to
make Urquhart an offer that very day. Cocky made off to think this
matter over, for he was aware that the book had been already offered to
Fleming Secundus for a shilling. He saw that by taking prompt action he
might clear sixpence before bedtime. Unfortunately, he was not able to
buy the book from Urquhart, for he was destitute of means, and he knew
it would be mere folly to ask Urquhart for credit. In these painful
circumstances he took Robbins into his confidence. At first he merely
asked Robbins to lend him a shilling, and Robbins merely replied that he
would do no such thing. To show that the money would be returned
promptly, Cocky then made a clean breast of it, after which Robbins was
ready to lend him an ear. Robbins, however, stipulated that he should
get half of the spoils.

Cocky, as has been seen, got the book from Urquhart, but when it came to
the point, Jenkinson was reluctant to part with the one and sixpence. In
this extremity Cocky appealed to Robbins, who at once got hold of Dicky
and threatened to slaughter him if he did not keep to his bargain. Thus
frightened, Jenkinson bought the book.

On hearing of this, Urquhart considered that he had been swindled, and
set off in quest of Cocky. That boy was not to be found, however, until
his threepence had disappeared in tarts. I got to know of this affair
through Robbins' backing up of Cocky, and telling Urquhart that nobody
was afraid of him. A ring was immediately formed round Urquhart and
Robbins, which I had the pleasure of breaking up.

Since I sat down to write the adventures of "Thoughtful Boys Make
Thoughtful Men," I have looked through the book. Jenkinson read several
chapters of it, and then offered it for next to nothing to anybody who
had a fancy for being thoughtful. As no bidder was forthcoming, he in
the end lost heart and presented it to the school library. A gentleman
who visited us lately, and looked through the library, picked it up, and
said that he was delighted to observe that the boys kept their books so
clean. Yet not so long ago he was a boy at our school himself.


As they were my friends, I don't care to say how it came about that I
had this strange and, I believe unique, experience. They considered it a
practical joke, though it nearly unhinged my reason. Suffice it that
last Wednesday, when I called on them at their new house, I was taken up
stairs and shown into a large room with a pictorial wall paper. There
was a pop-gun on the table and a horse with three legs on the floor. In
a moment it flashed through my mind that I must be in a nursery. I
started back, and then, with a sinking at the heart, I heard the key
turn in the lock. From the corner came a strange uncanny moan. Slowly I
forced my head round and looked, and a lump rose in my throat, and I
realized that I was alone with It.

I cannot say how long I stood there motionless. As soon as I came to
myself I realized that my only chance was to keep quiet. I tried to
think. The probability was that they were not far away, and if they
heard nothing for a quarter of an hour or so they might open the door
and let me out. So I stood still, with my eyes riveted on the thing
where It lay. It did not cry out again, and I hoped against hope that It
had not seen me. As I became accustomed to the room I heard It breathing
quite like a human being. This reassured me to some extent, for I saw
that It must be asleep. The question was--Might not the sleep be
disturbed at any moment, and in that case, what should I do? I
remembered the story of the man who met a wild beast in the jungle and
subjugated it by the power of the human eye. I thought I would try that.
All the time I kept glaring at It's lair (for I could not distinguish
itself), and the two things mixed themselves up in my mind till I
thought I was trying the experiment at that moment. Next it struck me
that the whole thing was perhaps a mistake. The servant had merely shown
me into the wrong room. Yes; but why had the door been locked? After
all, was I sure that it was locked? I crept closer to the door, and with
my eyes still fixed on the corner, put my hand gently--oh, so
gently!--on the handle. Softly I turned it round. I felt like a burglar.
The door would not open. Losing all self-control, I shook it; and then
again came that unnatural cry. I stood as if turned to stone, still
clutching the door handle, lest it should squeak if I let it go. Then I
listened for the breathing. In a few moments I heard It. Before It had
horrified me; now It was like sweet music, and I resumed breathing
myself. I kept close to the wall, ready for anything; and then I had a
strange notion. As It was asleep, why should I not creep forward and
have a look at It? I yielded to this impulse.

Of course I had often seen Them before, but always with some responsible
person present, and never such a young one. I thought It would be done
up in clothes, but no, It lay loose, and without much on. I saw Its
hands and arms, and It had hair. It was sound asleep to all appearances,
but there was a queer smile upon Its face that I did not like. It
crossed my mind that It might be only shamming, so I looked away and
then turned sharply around to catch It. The smile was still there, but
It moved one of Its hands in a suspicious way. The more I looked the
more uncomfortable did that smile make me. There was something saturnine
about It, and It kept it up too long. I felt in my pocket hurriedly for
my watch, in case It should wake; but, with my usual ill-luck, I had
left it at the watchmaker's. If It had been older I should not have
minded so much, for I would have kept on asking what Its name was. But
this was such a very young one that It could not even have a name yet.
Presently I began to feel that It was lying too quietly. It is not Their
nature to be quiet for any length of time, and, for aught I knew, this
one might be ill. I believe I should have felt relieved if It had cried
out again. After thinking it over for some time I touched It to see if
It would move. It drew up one leg and pushed out a hand. Then I bit my
lips at my folly, for there was no saying what It might do next. I got
behind the curtain, and watched It anxiously through a chink. Except
that the smile became wickeder than ever, nothing happened. I was
wondering whether I should not risk pinching It, so as to make It scream
and bring somebody, when I heard an awful sound. Though I am only
twenty, I have had considerable experience of life, and I can safely say
that I never heard such a chuckle. It had wakened up and was laughing.

I gazed at It from behind the curtain; Its eyes were wide open, and you
could see quite well that It was reflecting what It ought to do next. As
long as It did not come out I felt safe, for It could not see me.
Something funny seemed to strike It, and It laughed heartily. After a
time It tried to sit up. Fortunately Its head was so heavy that It
always lost its balance just as It seemed on the point of succeeding.
When It saw that It could not rise, It reflected again, and then all of
a sudden It put Its fist into Its mouth. I gazed in horror; soon only
the wrist was to be seen, and I saw that It would choke in another
minute. Just for a second I thought that I would let It do as It liked.
Then I cried out, "Don't do that!" and came out from behind the curtain.
Slowly It moved Its fist and there we were, looking at each other.

I retreated to the door, but It followed me with Its eyes. It had not
had time to scream yet, and I glared at It to imply that I would stand
no nonsense. But, difficult though this may be to believe, It didn't
scream when It had the chance. It chuckled instead and made signs for me
to come nearer. This was even more alarming than my worst fears. I shook
my head and then my fist at It, but It only laughed the more. In the end
I got so fearful that I went down on my hands and knees, to get out of
Its sight. Then It began to scream. However, I did not get up. When they
opened the door they say I was beneath the table, and no wonder. But I
certainly was astonished to discover that I had only been alone with It
for seven minutes.


The time has come for you to leave this house. Seventeen days ago you
foisted yourself upon me, and since then we have been together night and
day. You were unwelcome and uninvited, and you made yourself intensely
disagreeable. We wrestled, you and I, but you attacked me unawares in
the back, and you threw me. Then, like the ungenerous foe that you are,
you struck me while I was down. However, your designs have failed. I
struggle to my feet and order you to withdraw. Nay, withdraw is too
polite a word. Your cab is at the door; get out. But, stop, a word with
you before you go.

Most of your hosts, I fancy, run you out of their houses without first
saying what they think of you. Their one desire is to be rid of you.
Perhaps they are afraid to denounce you to your face. I want, however,
to tell you that I have been looking forward to this moment ever since
you put me to bed. I said little while I was there, but I thought a
good deal, and most of my thoughts were of you. You fancied yourself
invisible, but I saw you glaring at me, and I clenched my fists beneath
the blankets. I could paint your portrait. You are very tall and stout,
with a black beard, and a cruel, unsteady eye, and you have a way of
crackling your fingers while you exult in your power. I used to lie
watching you as you lolled in my cane-chair. At first it was empty, but
I felt that you were in it, and gradually you took shape. I could hear
your fingers crackling, and the chair creak as you moved in it. If I sat
up in fear, you disappeared, but as soon as I lay back, there you were
again. I know now that in a sense you were a creature of my imagination.
I have discovered something more. I know why you seemed tall and stout
and bearded, and why I heard your fingers crackling.

Fever--one of your dastard weapons--was no doubt what set me drawing
portraits, but why did I see you a big man with a black beard? Because
long ago, when the world was young, I had a schoolmaster of that
appearance. He crackled his fingers too. I had forgotten him utterly. He
had gone from me with the love of climbing for crows' nests--which I
once thought would never die--but during some of these seventeen days
of thirty-six hours each I suppose I have been a boy again. Yet I had
many schoolmasters, all sure at first that they could make something of
me, all doleful when they found that I had conscientious scruples
against learning. Why do I merge you into him of the crackling fingers?
I know. It is because in mediæval times I hated him as I hate you. No
others have I loathed with any intensity, but he alone of my masters
refused to be reconciled to my favorite method of study, which
consisted, I remember (without shame) in glancing at my tasks, as I
hopped and skipped to school. Sometimes I hopped and skipped, but did
not arrive at school in time to take solid part in lessons, and this
grieved the soul of him who wanted to be my instructor. So we differed,
as Gladstonian and Conservative on the result of the Parnell Commission,
and my teacher, being in office, troubled me not a little. I confess I
hated him, and while I sat glumly in his room, whence the better boys
had retired, much solace I found in wondering how I would slay him,
supposing I had a loaded pistol, a sword, and a hatchet, and he had only
one life. I schemed to be a dark, morose pirate of fourteen, so that I
might capture him, even at his black-board, and make him walk the plank.
I was Judge Lynch, and he was the man at the end of the rope. I charged
upon him on horseback, and cut him down. I challenged him to single
combat, and then I was Ivanhoe. I even found pleasure in conceiving
myself shouting "Crackle-fingers" after him, and then bolting round a
corner. You must see now why I pictured you heavy, and dark, and
bearded. You are the schoolmaster of my later years. I lay in bed and
gloried in the thought that presently I would be up, and fall upon you
like a body of cavalry.

What did you think of my doctor? You need not answer, for I know that
you disliked him. You and I were foes, and I was getting the worst of it
when he walked in and separated the combatants. His entrance was
pleasant to me. He showed a contempt for you that perhaps he did not
feel, and he used to take your chair. There were days when I wondered at
his audacity in doing that, but I liked it, too, and by and by I may
tell him why I often asked him to sit there. He was your doctor as well
as mine, and every time he said that I was a little better, I knew he
meant that you were a little weaker. You knew it, too, for I saw you
scowling after he had gone. My doctor is also my friend, and so, when I
am well, I say things against him behind his back. Then I see his
weaknesses and smile comfortably at them with his other friends--whom I
also discuss with him. But while you had me down he was another man. He
became, as it were, a foot taller, and I felt that he alone of men had
anything to say that was worth listening to. Other friends came to look
curiously at me and talk of politics, or Stanley, or on other frivolous
topics, but he spoke of my case, which was the great affair. I was not,
in my own mind, a patient for whom he was merely doing his best; I was
entirely in his hands. I was a business, and it rested with him whether
I was to be wound up or carried on as usual. I daresay I tried to be
pleasant to him--which is not my way--took his prescriptions as if I
rather enjoyed them, and held his thermometer in my mouth as though it
were a new kind of pipe. This was diplomacy. I have no real pleasure in
being fed with a spoon, nor do I intend in the future to smoke
thermometers. But I knew that I must pander to my doctor's weakness if
he was to take my side against you. Now that I am able to snap my
fingers at you I am looking forward to sneering once more at him. Just
at this moment, however, I would prefer to lay a sword flat upon his
shoulders, and say gratefully, "Arise, Sir James." He has altered the
faces of the various visitors who whispered to each other in my
presence, and nodded at me and said aloud that I would soon be right
again, and then said something else on the other side of the door. He
has opened my windows and set the sparrows a-chirping again, and he has
turned on the sunshine. Lastly, he has enabled me to call your cab. I am
done. Get out.


The following is a word-puzzle. It narrates the adventures of a
four-in-hand novelist while trying to lose his reputation. Competitors
do not require to be told that a four-in-hand novelist is a writer of
fiction who keeps four serial tales running abreast in the magazines.
The names of specimen four-in-hand novelists will recur readily to every
one. The puzzle is to discover who this particular novelist is; the
description, as will be observed, answering to quite a number of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few years ago, if any one in Fleet street had said that the day would
come when I would devote my time to trying to lose my reputation, I
would have smiled incredulously. That was before I had a reputation. To
be as statistical as time will allow--for before I go to bed I have
seven and a half yards of fiction to write--it took me fifteen years'
hard work to acquire a reputation. For two years after that I worked as
diligently to retain it, not being quite certain whether it was really
there, and for the last five years I have done my best to get rid of it.
Mr. R. L. Stevenson has a story of a dynamiter who tried in vain to
leave an infernal machine anywhere. It was always returned to him as
soon as he dropped it, or just as he was making off. My reputation is as
difficult to lose. I have not given up the attempt yet, but I am already
of opinion that it is even harder to lose a reputation in letters than
to make one. My colleagues will bear me out in this.

If I recollect aright--for I have published so much that my works are
now rather mixed up in my mind, and I have no time to verify
anything--the first place I thought to leave my reputation in was a
volume of pot-boilers, which I wrote many years ago for an obscure
publication. At that time I was working hard for a reputation elsewhere,
and these short stories were only scribbled off for a livelihood. My
publisher heard of them recently, and offered me a hundred pounds for
liberty to republish them in book form. I pointed out to him that they
were very poor stuff, but he said that that had nothing to do with it; I
had a reputation now, and they would sell. With certain misgivings--for
I was not hardened yet--I accepted my publisher's terms, and the book
was soon out. The first book I published, which was much the best thing
I ever wrote, was only reviewed by three journals, of which two were
provincial weeklies. They said it showed signs of haste, though every
sentence in it was a labor. I sent copies of it to six or seven
distinguished literary men--some of whom are four-in-hand now--and two
of them acknowledged receipt of it, though neither said he had read it.
My pot-boilers, however, had not been out many weeks before the first
edition was exhausted. The book was reviewed everywhere, and, in nine
cases out of ten, enthusiastically lauded. It showed a distinct advance
on all my previous efforts. They were model stories of their kind. They
showed a mature hand. The wit was sparkling. There were pages in the
book that no one could read without emotion. In the old days I was paid
for these stories at the rate of five shillings the thousand words; but
they would make a reputation in themselves now. It has been thus all
along. I drop my reputation into every book I write now, but there is no
getting rid of it. The critics and the public return it to me,
remarking that it grows bigger.

I tried to lose my reputation in several other books of the same kind,
and always with the same result. Barnacles are nothing to a literary
reputation. Then I tried driving four-in-hand. There are now only five
or six of us who are four-in-hand novelists, but there are also
four-in-hand essayists, four-in-hand critics, etc., and we all work on
the same principle. Every one of us is trying to shake himself free of
his reputation. We novelists have, perhaps, the best chance, for there
are so few writers of fiction who have a reputation to lose that all the
magazine editors come to us for a serial tale. Next year I expect to be
six-in-hand, for the provincial weeklies want me as well as the
magazines. Any mere outsider would say I was safe to get rid of my
reputation this year, for I am almost beating the record in the effort.
A novelist of repute, who did not want to lose his reputation, would not
think of writing more than one story at a time, and he would take twelve
months, at least, to do it. That is not my way. Hitherto, though I have
been a member of the literary four-in-hand club, I have always been some
way ahead with at least two of my tales before they begin to appear in
serial form. You may give up the attempt to lose your reputation,
however, if you do not set about it more thoroughly than that; and the
four novels which I began in January in two English magazines, one
American magazine, and an illustrated paper, were all commenced in the
second week of December. (I had finished two novels in the last week of
November.) My original plan was to take them day about, doing about four
chapters of each a month; but to give my reputation a still better
chance of absconding, I now write them at any time. Now-a-days I would
never think of working out my plot beforehand. My thinking begins when I
take up my pen to write, and ends when I lay it down, or even before
that. In one of my stories this year I made my hero save the heroine
from a burning house. Had I done that in the old days they would have
ridiculed me, but now they say I reveal fresh talent in the delightful
way in which I re-tell a story that has no doubt been told before. The
beaten tracks, it is remarked, are the best to tread when the public has
such a charming guide as myself. My second novel opens with a shipwreck,
and I am nearly three chapters in getting my principal characters into
the boats. In my first books I used to guard carefully against the
introduction of material that did not advance the story, yet at that
time I was charged with "padding." In this story of the shipwreck there
is so much padding that I could blush--if I had not given all that
up--to think of it. Instead of confining myself to my own characters, I
describe all the passengers in the vessel--telling what they were like
in appearance, and what was their occupation, and what they were doing
there. Then, when the shipwreck comes, I drown them one by one. By one
means or another, I contrive to get six chapters out of that shipwreck,
which is followed by two chapters of agony in an open boat, which I
treat as if it were a novelty in fiction, and that, again, leads up to a
chapter on the uncertainty of life. Most flagrant padding of all is the
conversation. It always takes my characters at least two pages to say
anything. They approach the point in this fashion:

Tom walked excitedly into the room, in which Peter was awaiting him. The
two men looked at each other.

"You wanted to see me," Tom said at last.

"Yes," said Peter slowly, "I wanted to see you."

Tom looked at the other uneasily.

"Why did you want to see me?" he asked after a pause.

"I shall tell you," replied Peter, pointing to a chair.

Tom sat down, and seemed about to speak. But he changed his mind. Peter
looked at him curiously.

"Perhaps," Peter said at last, "you know my reasons for requesting an
interview with you here?"

"I cannot say that I do," answered Tom.

There was another pause, during which the ticking of the clock could be
distinctly heard.

"You have no idea?" inquired Peter.

"I have no idea," replied Tom.

"Do you remember," asked the older man, a little nervously, "that when
old John Vansittart disappeared so suddenly from the Grange there were
some persons who believed that he had been foully murdered?"

Tom passed his hand through his hair. "John Vansittart," he muttered to

"The affair," continued Peter, "was never cleared up."

"It was never cleared up," said Tom. "But why," he added, "do you return
to this subject?"

"You may well ask," said Peter, "why I return to it."

And so on. There is so much of this kind of thing in my recent novels
that if all the lines of it were placed on end I daresay they would
reach round the world. Yet I am never charged with padding now. My
writing is said to be beautifully lucid. My shipwreck has made several
intelligent critics ask if I have ever been a sailor, though I don't
mind saying here, that like Douglas Jerrold, I only dote upon the sea
from the beach. I have been to Dover, but no further, and you will find
my shipwreck told (more briefly) in Marryatt. I dashed it off less than
two months ago, but for the life of me I could not say whether my ship
was scuttled, or went on fire, or sprang a leak. Henceforth I shall only
refer to it as the shipwreck, and my memory will do all that is required
of it if it prevents my mistaking the novel that contains the shipwreck.
Even if I did that, however, I know from experience that my reputation
would be as safe as the lives of my leading characters. I began my
third novel, meaning to make my hero something of a coward, but though I
worked him out after that patter for a time, I have changed my plan. He
is to be peculiarly heroic henceforth. This will not lose me my
reputation. It will be said of my hero that he is drawn with no ordinary
skill, and that the author sees the two-sideness of every man's
character. As for the fourth story, it is the second one over again,
with the shipwreck omitted. One night when I did not have a chapter to
write--a rare thing with me--I read over the first part of this fourth
tale--another rare thing--and found it so slip-shod as to be
ungrammatical. The second chapter is entirely taken up with a
disquisition on bald heads, but the humor of it will be said to increase
my reputation. Sometimes when I become despondent of ever losing my
reputation, I think of taking a whole year to write one novel in, just
to see what I really could do. I wonder whether the indulgent public
would notice any difference? Perhaps I could not write carefully now if
I tried. The small section of the public that guesses which of the
four-in-hand writers I am may think for a moment that this story of how
I tried in vain to lose my reputation will help me toward the goal.
They are wrong, however. The public will stand anything from us now--or
they would get something better.


_Rule I._--_It is not good form to climb onto the table._ There is no
doubt a great temptation to this. When you are struggling with a duck,
and he wobbles over just as you think you have him, you forget yourself.
The common plan is not to leap upon the table all at once. This is the
more usual process: The carver begins to carve sitting. By-and-by he is
on his feet, and his brow is contracted. His face approaches the fowl,
as if he wanted to inquire within about everything except that the duck
is reluctant to yield any of its portions. One of his feet climbs onto
his chair, then the other. His knees are now resting against the table,
and, in his excitement, he, so to speak, flings himself upon the fowl.
This brings us to

_Rule II._--_Carving should not be made a matter of brute force._ It
ought from the outset to be kept in mind that you and the duck are not
pitted against each other in mortal combat. Never wrestle with any dish
whatever; in other words, keep your head, and if you find yourself
becoming excited, stop and count a hundred. This will calm you, when you
can begin again.

_Rule III._--_It will not assist you to call the fowl names._ This rule
is most frequently broken by a gentleman carving for his own family
circle. If there are other persons present, he generally manages to
preserve a comparatively calm exterior, just as the felon on the
scaffold does; but in privacy he breaks out in a storm of invective. If
of a sarcastic turn of mind, he says that he has seen many a duck in his
day, but never a duck like this. It is double-jointed. It is so tough
that it might have come over to England with the Conqueror.

_Rule IV._--_Don't boast when it is all over._ You must not call the
attention of the company to the fact that you have succeeded. Don't
exclaim exultingly, "I knew I would manage it," or "I never yet knew a
duck that I couldn't conquer somehow." Don't exclaim in a loud gratified
voice how you did it, nor demonstrate your way of doing it by pointing
to the _débris_ with the carving knife. Don't even be mock-modest, and
tell everybody that carving is the simplest thing in the world. Don't
wipe your face repeatedly with your napkin, as if you were in a state
of perspiration, nor talk excitedly, as if your success had gone to your
head. Don't ask your neighbors what they think of your carving. Your
great object is to convince them that you look upon carving as the
merest bagatelle, as something that you do every day and rather enjoy.


Some don't run. They pretend to smile when they see their hat borne
along on the breeze, and glance at the laughing faces around in a way
implying, "Yes, it is funny, and I enjoy the joke, although the hat is
mine." Nobody believes you, but if this does you good, you should do it.
You don't attempt to catch your hat as it were on the wing. You walk
after it, smiling, as if you liked the joke the more you think of it,
and confident that the hat will come to rest presently. You are not the
sort of man to make a fuss over a hat. You won't give the hat the
satisfaction of thinking that it can annoy you. Strange though it may
seem, there are idiots who will join you in pursuit of the hat. One will
hook it with a stick, and almost get it, only not quite. Another will
manage to hit it hard with an umbrella. A third will get his foot into
it or on it. This does not improve the hat, but it shows that there is a
good deal of the milk of human kindness flowing in the street as well
as water, and is perhaps pleasant to think of afterwards. Several times
you almost have the hat in your possession. It lies motionless, just
where it has dropped after coming in contact with a hansom. Were you to
make a sudden rush at it you could have it, but we have agreed that you
are not that sort of man. You walk forward, stoop, and----. One reads
how the explorer thinks he has shot a buffalo dead, and advances to put
his foot proudly on the carcass, how the buffalo then rises, and how the
explorer then rises also. I have never seen an explorer running after
his hat (though I should like to), but your experience is similar to his
with the buffalo. As your hand approaches the hat, the latter turns over
like a giant refreshed, and waddles out of your reach. Once more your
hand is within an inch of it, when it makes off again. There are ringing
cheers from the audience on the pavement, some of them meant for the
hat, and the others as an encouragement to you. Before you get your hat
you have begun to realize what deer-stalking is, and how important a
factor is the wind.

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