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Title: Upsidonia
Author: Marshall, Archibald
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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UPSIDONIA



BY THE SAME AUTHOR


  THE HOUSE OF MERRILEES
  EXTON MANOR
  THE ELDEST SON
  THE SQUIRE'S DAUGHTER
  THE HONOUR OF THE CLINTONS
  THE GREATEST OF THESE
  THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH
  WATERMEADS
  UPSIDONIA
  ABINGTON ABBEY
  THE GRAFTONS
  RICHARD BALDOCK
  THE CLINTONS AND OTHERS



UPSIDONIA


BY
ARCHIBALD MARSHALL

Author of "Exton Manor," "The Honour of the Clintons,"
"Watermeads," etc.


[Illustration]


NEW YORK
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
1919



TO THE THREE
COMIC CHARACTERS,
K, M, & N.



UPSIDONIA



CHAPTER I


I had been walking for many days, carrying my pack, enjoying myself
hugely and spending next to nothing. I had got into a wild hilly
country, where habitation was very sparse, and had walked for hours that
morning along a rough road without meeting a single human being.

In the middle of the day I came to a moor-side hamlet, where I got
something of a meal, and set out again almost immediately, meaning to
find some place where I could enjoy an hour's sleep. For it was very
hot, and I had already walked over twenty miles.

But as I left the village, I was joined by a gentleman of obliging
manners but somewhat unkempt appearance, who invited me to turn aside
and visit the old jet caves, which had once been famous in this
locality, though long since disused.

For anything but a cave, I should have done my best to shake him off,
but I have a great love of caves, especially of those which go
mysteriously back into the bowels of the earth, and no one knows their
ending. They are full of romance, and call up all sorts of delightful
visions. From Eastern tales of magic and treasure to brisk tales of
smugglers, the entrance to a cave has always been the entrance to
regions of mystery, in which anything may happen. So I immediately
accepted the invitation to visit these caves, which were only a few
hundred yards away from the main road.

At first sight they were a trifle disappointing. There were three of
them, at the foot of a high bank of shale, almost hidden by trees and
shrubs. The shale had nearly closed the entrances, and one looked over a
bank of it, which left a hole hardly more than big enough to creep
through. Still, they were undoubtedly caves, and not mere holes in the
hillside. The largest one was full of water, and little ferns grew
luxuriantly on the sides and roof, which dripped continuously. One of
the others was choked by a fall of earth a little way from the entrance,
and my guide told me that this had happened quite recently, after a very
wet spell. The third was comparatively dry, and he said that he had
himself penetrated more than a mile into it, with no signs of its
ending.

Whether this was true or not, I could not resist trying it. I had an
electric torch, fully charged, in my pack, and it was a great chance to
have a cave to explore with it. My friend demurred a little at
accompanying me. He said that if the other cave had fallen in, after so
many years, this one was not unlikely to fall in now at any time, and we
should find ourselves in an awkward fix if it should fall in while we
were exploring, and cut off our retreat. I had no wish for his company,
and did not press him; but when I got out the torch, and flashed it, he
thought he would come after all. I think he had at heart the same sort
of feeling about caves and electric torches that I had.

We got over the mound on to the muddy floor of the cave. The roof was
high enough to enable us to walk upright, and we went forward singly,
straight ahead into the darkness.

We had got in perhaps thirty or forty yards, and I had just switched on
the torch, when a stone or something fell in front of us with a noisy
plump. My companion clutched me by the arm. "I believe there's going to
be a fall," he said.

I shook him off and continued, and again something fell, that made
still more noise. "Come back!" he shouted. "Come back!"

I turned round to see him running towards the patch of sunlight, and
then there was a load roar in my ears, which, however, instantly became
dead silence.

For a moment I was confused, but went on, forgetting all about my late
companion. When I turned round again he had disappeared, and the patch
of sunlight also. So I continued on my way, and seemed to be always
mounting upwards, with the ground quite dry, and the roof of the cave
still some way above my head.

I had certainly now walked a mile when, to my surprise, I saw a point of
light in front of me, which increased as I approached it, and presently
showed itself as a wide opening.

I came out into a place much like that at which I had entered, except
that it was still more masked by shrubs, and found myself in the
clearing of a wood. It seemed to me that I had come quite straight along
the underground passage, so that I must be on the way in which I
intended to go. The cave, as a cave, had been disappointing, and there
was nothing to be gained by going back. I would take my nap, and then
find the road again.

I looked about for a place to lie down in, and as I did so saw a very
ragged dirty man coming towards me.

I was rather annoyed at this. Having shaken off one uninvited companion,
I did not want to be troubled with another.

There was something rather striking about his face, in spite of his
unkempt hair and beard--a look of self-possession, even of pride, and,
as he kept his eyes on me approaching him, almost of arrogance.

However, he was poor enough, to all appearances, and I thought that if I
gave him some money he would probably want to go away at once and spend
it. So I accosted him cheerfully and offered him a sixpence.

I had made no mistake about his arrogance. He drew himself up, and his
eyes flashed at me.

"How dare you?" he began. "I will----"; and he looked round as if to
summon someone to aid him in resenting an insult.

"Oh, all right," I said, pocketing the coin; "if you are as proud as all
that----! But I meant no harm, and I'm almost as poor as you are."

"The more shame to you for behaving like that," he said hotly. "I could
forgive it, perhaps, in one who was richer. I will not take your money;
and if you use your superior strength to force it on me, I warn you that
you will not hear the last of it."

I felt sorry for the poor creature. I took the sixpence out of my pocket
again, and held it out to him.

"Come now, take it," I said. "Go and get yourself a good meal, or a
drink if you like. You look as if it wouldn't do you any harm."

He was still more enraged. "You impudent scoundrel!" he cried. "I'll
have you arrested for this." And he stalked off with his head in the
air, wrapping his rags around him.

He looked such an absurd figure that I sent an involuntary laugh after
him, which caused him to turn round and shake his fist at me. I had not
meant him to hear, for I was sorry for him; but I reflected before I had
chosen my mossy resting-place under a spreading oak, that with so great
a contempt for money and what money represented in the way of bodily
comfort, he was not so much in want of pity as he seemed to be. Then I
took off my knapsack, and pillowing my head upon it was soon in a deep
sleep.

As, after a long time, I began to regain consciousness, I became aware
of a touch on my body about the region of my waist. It could only have
been a second or two before the actuality disengaged itself from the
stuff of my dreams, and I suddenly awoke, and sprang up into a sitting
posture, to see a figure disappearing among the trees. Feeling in my
waistcoat pocket, I found that my watch had disappeared.

I jumped up, and seizing my knapsack in one hand and my stout
walking-stick in the other, gave chase.

I had not very far to go. When I got round the tree behind which the
thief had disappeared, I saw to my surprise that he was an elderly, if
not an old man, dressed in a frock coat and a tall hat. He was stout,
and appeared to be grossly fed, for as I came up to him he turned and
put up his hands to warn me off--my watch was in one of them; but he was
so winded by his few yards' run that he was not able to speak. In his
mouth was a large and expensive-smelling cigar, and he formed the oddest
figure of a watch-snatcher that could well be imagined.

I seized my watch out of his hand, and he found breath enough to bleat
out: "What are you doing? They're after you. Give me all your money
quickly, before they come."

"You old rascal!" I cried, and was going on to give him a piece of my
mind, when my attention was distracted by a hullabaloo from the road,
which was only a few yards off, and from which we could be plainly seen.

"There's the rascal! That's him!" I heard shouted, and saw a
considerable concourse of people advancing towards me, headed by a
policeman, and the ragged man to whom I had tendered the coin.

The presence of a policeman in that, as I had thought, lonely spot, was
a better piece of fortune than I could have hoped for. "Yes, here he
is," I said. "He stole my watch while I was asleep, and ran off with it.
Constable, I give him in charge."

The policeman had leapt the ditch which divided the wood from the road,
and now came straight towards me with a look of determination on his
face.

"Take him!" shouted the ragged man; and, to my utter astonishment, he
seized me by the collar, and said: "Now you come along with me quietly,
or it will be the worse for you."

I shook him off roughly. I was young and strong, and he was neither.

"What are you doing?" I asked angrily. "Here's the thief! Take hold of
him."

The fat man turned away with a shrug of the shoulders. "I wash my hands
of it," he said. "You can do what you like with him."

I was so infuriated with his impudence that I made a dash for him. But
the policeman was on me again, and with him several others from the
crowd. In spite of my struggles I was soon overpowered.

"Are you all mad?" I cried. "There's the thief! Why don't you take him?
I've done nothing."

They paid not the slightest attention to my protestations. The ragged
man had taken no part in my capture, but stood aside, and directed the
others with an air of authority. This was the more remarkable, because
the greater part of them were not like the ordinary crowd that follows
the police on an errand of duty, but were well-dressed, and had all the
air of being well-to-do or even rich.

I appealed to them. "Do give a fellow a chance," I said. "I'm on a
walking-tour, and I dare say I look like a tramp. But I'm quite
respectable."

They cut me short by dragging me towards the road, where a smart
Victoria was standing, at a point towards which other carriages were now
driving.

The policeman said: "You're charged with trying to force money on this
gentleman; and I warn you that anything you now say will be used in
evidence against you."

I saw it was no use protesting further. I was either asleep and
dreaming, in which case I should presently awake; or I was in the hands
of a set of lunatics, and must wait until I got again into the company
of sensible men.

But it annoyed me to see the smug old thief retiring with all the
honours of war, while I was being led off in ignominious captivity. He
was actually now stepping into the Victoria, and the cockaded coachman
on the box was touching his hat to him.

"I warn you that you will be sorry for this," I said to my captors.
"But, at any rate, take that man too. I tell you that he stole my watch,
and wanted to take all my money before you came up."

They took no notice of this appeal, except that one of two ill-dressed
men amongst the well-dressed ones said to the other: "Old Perry is
really rather overdoing it. He'll be had up for tampering with justice
if he's not careful."

"Then why don't you get him taken up now?" I asked.

But they looked at me coldly and turned away.

"Mr. Perry," said the ragged man, "this is a dangerous criminal. Will
you let the constable drive him to the police station, and walk back
with us?"

The old humbug of whom this remarkable request was made turned up a
sanctimonious face, and replied: "I am in my proper place amongst the
low and degraded. Let the prisoner drive with me."

There were murmurs of astonishment at this, and one of the poor-looking
men said to my ragged one: "Oh, let him alone! He'll get tired of it by
and by."

I was then ordered into the carriage, and we drove off at a foot's pace,
the other carriages turning back to accompany us, and the crowd walking
behind and on either side.

I was surprised to see that the country was very different from what I
had imagined it to be when I had come through the cave. Before that, as
I have said, there had been few signs of human habitation; but now I had
suddenly come into a populous country-side, and seemed to be not far
from a town of some size.

For we were passing large houses in large gardens, villas, and cottages;
and the road, which had been of the roughest, was wide and smooth, and
there was a good deal of traffic on it.

I could not make out in the least where I had come to. I had known that
I could not be many miles off the village of Eppington, but could think
of no considerable town within a radius of fifty miles of where I had
spent the night; and I knew I could not have walked that distance. I
might have put a question to my companion; but I was so annoyed that I
could not bring myself to address him.

It was he who first addressed me. He was still ostentatiously smoking
his rich cigar, and looked at me out of a bilious, but impudently
benevolent eye, and said: "Young man, I would have saved you if I could.
I think you must now be convinced of that. It may be that in the
exercise of my charity I have overstepped the mark, and have done wrong.
It now only remains for you to show your gratitude by keeping what has
passed to yourself. If a charge is brought against me, I look to you to
shield my good name, or my sphere of influence may be much diminished."

My reply to this preposterous piece of cant was a somewhat violent
assurance that I should see that he got the punishment he deserved. He
held up his fat hands in pained astonishment, and thereafter kept
silence.



CHAPTER II


By and by we came to a tramway terminus, where an electric car was
standing. The policeman, who had been walking by the side of the
carriage, the ragged man, and many of our other followers, jumped on to
it. The fat rascal in whose carriage I was seated ordered the coachman
to drive on faster, and I was not sorry to be relieved of most of our
escort. But the other carriages, of which there were perhaps half a
dozen, and some of them very splendid equipages indeed, continued with
us, and my appearance was still rather more public than I could have
wished.

We presently passed into a busy street of shops. I could not for the
life of me imagine what town it was that I had come to. It was evidently
a place of considerable importance and a large population, which crowded
the streets, and frequently jeered at our little procession.

Everything around me seemed usual. The shops and buildings were like
those of any other large town, and the people much the same--a mixture
of old and young, rich and poor.

But there was just one thing that struck me as a little strange. The
poor people--even the very poorest, like the man at whose hands I had
been so remarkably arrested--walked amongst the rest with an air far
more assured than was customary; and the well-dressed people seemed to
have rather a hang-dog sort of look. I might not have noticed this but
for the predicament in which I found myself; but my attention being
fixed upon the point it was impossible to ignore it.

We drew up at the door of a police station, and I was taken inside,
where I lost no time in making a somewhat violent protest to the
sergeant in charge, and again invited him to take the preposterous Mr.
Perry into custody.

As before, not the smallest notice was taken of my indignant speech. I
was told sharply to hold my tongue, and the charge against me was
repeated in the same ridiculous form in which it had first been made,
and entered in the sergeant's ledger. The ragged man appeared before the
formalities were concluded, and, to my now painful bewilderment, was
treated with marked respect by the police, whom he addressed with calm
authority. His name was entered as my accuser, and, upon the charge
being read over to me, I discovered him to be "Lord Potter."

Well, if he was really a nobleman in disguise, that perhaps accounted
for the absurd subserviency with which he was treated. But the disguise
was so complete that my indignation was redoubled, and I made one more
very strong protest before I was led away.

"What place is this?" I asked, when I saw that no more notice was going
to be taken of my protest than before.

Lord Potter stared at me with high disdain on his dirty face, and Mr.
Perry with a most irritating air of grieved sympathy.

"Perhaps," I said, "I can find someone I know, who will come to my
assistance. I don't know in the least what town I am in."

"Come along," said the constable who had arrested me. "You'll only make
it worse by being impudent. You know well enough what place you're in.
Now are you coming quietly, or shall I have to take you?"

I thought it best to go quietly. I was taken through a door opposite to
the one by which we had entered, and rather to my surprise found myself
in a carpeted passage. We passed several other doors on either side,
until we came to one which the policeman unlocked.

"By the look of your clothes," he said, as he fumbled with the key, "you
ought to be better treated; but we're pretty full up, and you'll only be
here till to-morrow morning. You must make the best of it. Here, take
this."

He pushed half a crown into my hand, and me through the door, which he
immediately shut and locked after me, leaving me for the first time in
my life in a prison cell.

My surprise, at the extraordinary action of a policeman in pressing a
tip upon a prisoner, was overcome by the fierce anger I felt at being
locked up in a pitch dark cell, which could not have been more than five
or six feet square; for as I put out my hands I found I could touch the
walls on all sides. What mad piece of inhumanity was this, to add to the
burlesque charge on which I was to be tried! There was not even a stool
to sit down on. Was I really to be confined in this dark hole until I
could be taken before a magistrate on the following morning? I turned,
and banged and kicked on the door in uncontrollable rage, and shouted at
the top of my voice.

But there was no answer, and presently I desisted, determined to make
the best of my situation.

I began to feel round the walls, and immediately came to a little
obstacle, which with an immense lift of relief I recognized as an
electric switch. I turned it, and the place was flooded with light. Then
I discovered that I was not in a cell at all, but in a little lobby, in
all four walls of which were doors.

I opened one, and found a deep cupboard, with hooks in it, but nothing
else. I shut it and opened the next, and found myself on the threshold
of a small but comfortably furnished parlour.

Opposite to the door was a window looking on to a strip of garden gay
with flowers; but the window, which was of ordinary size, was guarded by
thick iron bars. It was this fact that brought it home to me that,
incredible as it might appear, this room, with a comfortable armchair by
the window, with books on a shelf, and pictures on the prettily papered
walls, was my prison cell, and not the narrow lobby into which I had
first come.

The third door in the lobby led into a well-appointed bathroom, and
leading out of the parlour was a little bedroom, with the sheets turned
down on the bed, and a suit of pink pyjamas laid out all ready for its
occupant.

It may be imagined that all this, following on what had already
happened, puzzled me not a little; but since this convenient little
self-contained flat was mine to make myself at home in until the
following morning, I could, at any rate, take advantage of its
amenities.

I was dusty and footsore, and very glad of a hot bath. As I lay steaming
in it, I recalled the words of the policeman, before he had pressed the
half-crown into my hand and shut me into the lobby: "By the look of your
clothes you ought to be better treated."

Well, as for my clothes, they had certainly been made by a good tailor,
but they were of well-nigh immemorial age, and were covered with dust
and travel-stains. I wore also an aged green hat of soft felt, and a
flannel shirt with a low collar and a whisp of an old tie; and my boots,
white with dust, were an easy but unlovely pair that I kept for these
expeditions. No, my clothes could not possibly have indicated any
exalted station in life, nor even the moderate degree of gentility that
was mine by birth and education. The man must have been sneering at me.

But then, what could he have meant by referring to better treatment? I
was lodged like a coronation guest. Was it the habit of the authorities
of this extraordinary town, whose identity puzzled me more and more, to
house their prisoners like potentates, since my quarters were considered
only fit to be apologized for? I could only give up the problem, and
wait for what should happen next.

When I had had my bath, brushed the dust off my clothes, and put on a
clean shirt and clean socks out of my pack, I began to feel hungry; and
such was the effect upon me of my surroundings that I looked around me,
almost without intention, for a bell. There was one by the mantelpiece,
which I rang, and then waited with some curiosity for what should
happen.

Within a very short time I heard the outer door being opened, and there
came into the room a waiter with a napkin over his shoulder. Except that
his clothes were seedy, and his shirt-front rather crumpled, he had the
appearance of a servant at a would-be smart restaurant, ready to do what
was wanted of him, but having no very high opinion of the person from
whom he received his orders. However, he seemed to have anticipated my
wants, for without a word he held out to me a bill of fare, and I
accepted it with equal unconcern and looked over it.

It was of a fairly elaborate description, and as a precautionary
measure, before making any selection, I said: "I suppose I don't have to
pay for any of this?"

His lip curled as he replied: "Of course not. Choose whatever you like
and put a tick against it."

Thus encouraged, I ordered a nice little dinner of clear soup,
_truite-au-bleu_, lamb cutlets with new potatoes, a slice of ham with
madeira sauce and spinach, a _péche Melba_, angels on horseback, and
some strawberries to finish up with. He took the order without
flinching, and asked: "Do you want any wine?"

"Well, yes," I said, "if there's nothing to pay for it."

He flushed angrily. "I don't want any of your impudence," he said. "You
will pay nothing at all for anything you have as long as you are here,
and if you are not very careful you will be here a good deal longer than
you bargain for."

"I don't know that I should altogether object to that," I said, and
took the wine list from him.

It was an excellent list, and under the circumstances I made excellent
use of it. I allowed myself a glass of white Tokay, and another of
Chateau d'Yquem, a pint of Pommery, 1900, and a bottle of '68 port to
sit with later on. He looked more contemptuous than ever as he took the
order, and asked disdainfully: "Don't you want a liqueur with your
coffee?"

"I had forgotten that for the moment," I said. "Have you any very old
brandy?"

"We have some eighteen-fifteen," he said; "but I need scarcely say we
are very seldom asked for it."

"Well, on the terms that you have indicated, you are asked for it now,"
I said. "And I should like one or two really good cigars, fairly
strong--something like the one that Mr. Perry was smoking this
afternoon, if you can get them."

He went out of the room without a word, and carefully locked the outer
door behind him. However inexplicable my treatment, I was not, at any
rate, to forget that I was a prisoner.

Tired with my long walk, and the somewhat disturbing experiences I had
been through, I fell fast asleep in the easy chair by the open window,
through which came sweet wafts from a patch of night-scented stock in
the garden outside.

I only awoke when the waiter brought in the first course of my dinner.
He had laid the table without disturbing me, and had put a vase of roses
in the middle and four tall candles at the corners, with rose-coloured
shades.

"I'm sorry I haven't brought my evening clothes," I said, as I took my
seat.

He made no reply to this pleasantry, and his air of high superiority
began to annoy me.

"Do you generally wait upon prisoners in this way?" I asked him, when he
brought in the fish.

"We do in the case of prisoners who look like gentlemen and behave like
pigs," was his surprising reply, which I turned over in my mind before I
said: "This seems a topsy-turvy place altogether, but I should really
like to know how I have behaved like a pig."

"You can wallow in your hoggishness as much as you like," he said
acidly, "but if you have the impudence to address any more remarks to
me, I'll punch your head for you."

I looked round at him, standing attentively behind my chair. He was a
frail man, and looked hungry.

"You might find that two could play at that game," I said, with my eye
on him; and he flushed, but did not flinch.

"Is that a threat?" he asked. "Because if it is----;" and he turned as
if to leave the room.

As I didn't know what, in the general reversal of things, might be the
punishment here for threatening to retaliate on a waiter who proposed to
punch one's head, and I wanted to finish my dinner, I said: "If you're
disinclined for conversation you can have your own way."

We went through the rest of the _ménu_ in silence, I enjoying the good
things provided for me, and he serving me with the readiest attention to
the matter in hand. We did not address another word to each other until
he had carefully poured out from its basket-cradle a glass of the
wonderful port.

I sipped it, and thought it just in the very least touched, and told him
so. He took the glass, sniffed at the wine, and tasted it. "It's
absolutely right," he said, "but of course you can have another bottle
if you like."

"Thank you," I said, and began to wonder, rather uneasily, as he was
away fetching it, if in some way I was not to pay pretty dearly for the
remarkable treatment I was undergoing.

The second bottle of port was beyond criticism. When I had expressed my
approval, the waiter put it on a little table by the side of the
extremely easy chair, and indicated, but without saying so, that he
wished to clear away. This he did, in complete silence; but before he
finally left the room came over to where I was standing, and, holding
out half a sovereign, said, still with the same inflection of contempt:
"That's for yourself."

I took the coin in my hand, and said, somewhat after the manner of a
cabman who has been offered twopence for a _pour boire_: "What do you
call this?"

He flushed again, took it back, gave me half a crown instead, and then
left the room.

My evening in prison had so far brought me a dinner such as I seldom
enjoyed, and five shillings in money. Why, but for my last question, it
would have brought me seven and sixpence more, I was quite unable to
imagine.



CHAPTER III


The cigars provided for me, if not of the exact brand as those smoked by
Mr. Perry, were very good, and I had been enjoying one of them for some
little time when I heard the outside door again being unlocked.

"Now," I thought, "I may get some explanation of this extraordinary
state of affairs, and may possibly find myself wishing that my
entertainment had not cost the ratepayers of this town quite so much
money."

But I was in a state of such complete bodily satisfaction that I did not
much care what should happen, and sat still until the door of my room
was opened and a young man dressed in evening clothes came in.

He seemed to be under the influence of some agitation, and as the reek
of my cigar met his nostrils, and his eyes fell upon my bottle of port
resting in its cradle, his jaw dropped.

He raised his eyes to mine, and said: "I have come to make an appeal to
you, sir."

"Well, sit down and make it," I said, indicating a chair. "Will you have
a glass of wine--I can recommend it--or a cigar?"

He looked at me sternly. "I have brought myself to come and ask a
favour of you," he said. "You look like a gentleman; you can at least
try to behave as such."

I was in that comfortable state in which the idiosyncrasies of other
people occasion one more amusement than surprise. I was also a little
inclined to loquacity. I smiled at him.

"I don't pretend to understand you," I said; "but I am glad you think I
look like a gentleman. I am one. My great-grandfather ruined himself at
Crockford's, and although one of my great-uncles set up a shop, he never
sold anything, and died poor. I am poor myself, but none the less
deserving."

His face brightened a little. "I _thought_ you were a gentleman," he
said, "in spite of your behaviour. So am I, and of course my father too,
although you might not think it from our appearance. Possibly you are
engaged in the same good work as we are."

"I am not engaged in any good work at present," I said, "except that of
making myself as comfortable as circumstances will permit. As for you, I
think you look very gentlemanlike; I don't think I have had the pleasure
of meeting your father."

"He is Mr. Perry," he said, "who tried his utmost to save you from the
results of your jest--I don't believe it meant more than that--with Lord
Potter. As far as my father was concerned it was an unfortunate jest;
and I might say the same as far as you are concerned, to judge from your
present serious situation. In spite of his noble and self-sacrificing
life, my father is misunderstood by a good many people; and Lord Potter,
for one, would like to see his career of usefulness stopped. Now he has
a handle against him. He is to be called as a witness when you come up
before the magistrate to-morrow morning; and it rests with you whether
that kind and good old man, whose life is a lesson to us all, shall be
arrested himself and suffer the disgrace of a criminal trial. Surely you
cannot be so lost to all sense of gratitude as to bring that about!"

I did not know in the least what he was talking about. His ideas seemed
to be as topsy-turvy as those of the rest of the people I had so far met
in this curious place. But I was in too lazy a mood to make much effort
to get at the bottom of all that was puzzling me.

"I should hate to get your father into trouble," I said. "I don't
understand why a prosperous-looking elderly gentleman should pinch my
watch and demand all my cash; but I dare say he did it all for the best,
and as he didn't get anything, I am prepared to be lenient with him.
I'll do what I can."

He thanked me profusely. "You have only to stand on your dignity and
refuse to answer questions, and they can prove nothing against him," he
said.

"All right! Anything to oblige. You might tell me what all this means,
though; and to begin with, what town this is; for I haven't the
slightest idea where I am."

At this quite ordinary question, he seemed to be even more puzzled than
I was. "I can't understand you," he said, and it was plain by the
expression on his face that he spoke the truth. "Where do you come
from?"

"I come from a little place called London," I said. "I don't know
whether you have ever heard of it."

"No, never," he replied. "What part of the country is it in?"

"Do you ever happen to have heard of England?" I asked; and again he
said: "No, never."

"Well, what country are we in now?" I asked, willing to humour him.

"Why, in Upsidonia, of course."

"In what?"

"Upsidonia. Look here, I'm not what I seem to be. Surely you can tell
that from the way I speak! Stop trying to play with me, and explain
yourself."

"Tell me first what town this is."

"Culbut."

He said it in much the same tone as I might have answered "Manchester"
or "Birmingham," to anyone who should have asked me the same question in
either of those cities--with a look of surprise and enquiry.

"Oh, Culbut!" I said. "Yes, of course. And Culbut is in Upsidonia. I
see. Well, in London, England, where I come from, they don't lock a
person up for offering sixpence to a tramp, even when the tramp turns
out to be a lord; and if they do lock them up, it isn't in a place like
this."

He looked round the cosy little room with some disgust.

"It is disgraceful," he said. "My father ought to know about it. I
didn't know there were any such places left. You've a perfect right to
make trouble about this. It is a clear case for the Prisoners' Aid
Society, and I'm sure, if you act properly, as you promised to, for my
father, he will take up the case."

"Thanks very much," I said. "I have no particular complaint to make. The
manners and customs of--what's the name of the place?--Culbut--are
different from those I've been accustomed to, but they don't seem to be
entirely objectionable. Can you tell me what they will do, by the by,
supposing I am found guilty of the charge brought against me--whatever
it is--to-morrow!"

"Oh, we'll try and get you off. Your appearance is in your favour."

"Thank you. But tell me what they will do if I _am_ found guilty."

"Well, there has been a good deal of it lately, and the police are
determined to stamp it out. And Potter is rather high game to fly at,
you must admit. He is determined to get you a month, which is the limit
without bodily assault."

"Oh, a month!" I said, somewhat taken aback. "With hard labour?"

"I think we ought to be able to manage that. We'll try our best."

"That is very good of you indeed; but I shouldn't like you to put
yourselves out at all."

"I'll tell you what," he said, with a laugh, "we will tell them that in
the country you come from it isn't a crime to give your money away.
Could you remember to stick to that story?"

"I dare say I might," I said, "if I tie a knot in my handkerchief. By
the way, isn't it a crime here to take money from people, and watches,
and so on?"

"A crime! Of course not. We should call that philanthropy."

"Oh, I see. Then your father is a philanthropist."

"Of course he is; one of the best known in Culbut. You don't really
suppose he is the rich man he appears to be, do you?"

"I should have thought he might be fairly well off, if he has been
practising philanthropy for any length of time."

"For a lifetime," he said reverentially. "I will tell you my father's
story."

"Do!" I encouraged him. "I should like to hear it."

I lit another cigar. He cleared his throat and began.



CHAPTER IV


"Our family," said young Perry, "has held a good position in Culbut for
many generations. My great-grandfather is said to have come here as a
boy with ten thousand pounds in his pocket; but by diligence and
sobriety he managed to get rid of nearly all of it while he was still a
young man."

"How did he do it?" I asked.

"He got into the warehouse of a poor cloth-merchant. He stuck to his
work night and day, and lost his employers so much money, that they took
him into partnership when he was only twenty-one. Then he redoubled his
efforts, bought in the dearest markets and sold in the cheapest, and
decreased the trade of the firm by leaps and bounds. He married his
master's daughter, and she brought him a considerable number of debts.
Before he was thirty he had retired from business a very poor man, and
spent the rest of his life serving his fellow citizens. He was Lord
Mayor of Culbut three times, and was offered a baronetcy, which he
refused.

"My great-grandfather and my grandfather were both poor men, and my
father was brought up in the lap of indigence. But when he was quite a
boy, he saw a sight that affected his whole life.

"He was walking along the poor street in which he lived, when he saw a
carriage with four horses and postillions coming along. In it was seated
a miserably rich-looking old man swathed in furs, who was being taken
off to prison. My father hung on to the back of the carriage--he was but
a child--and was carried inside the prison gates. There he saw the
treatment that was then considered good enough for rich malefactors.
They drove through a large garden to a fine-looking house, and when the
carriage stopped at the door a groom of the chambers came out, followed
by two footmen in powdered wigs and silk stockings. The wretched
creature was taken inside, and before he went away my father learnt that
he would be treated with every refinement of luxury. And what do you
think his crime was?"

"I haven't the least idea," I replied. "Probably making somebody a
present of a fortune."

"No. His crime was that he had thrown a pot of caviare into a provision
shop."

"And you're not allowed to do that here?"

"You must remember that he was an old man, in the last stages of
opulence, and actually surfeited with food. As my father went back to
his happy home, which had always lacked all but the barest necessities
of life, the contrast between his lot and that of this unfortunate
creature, bred from his earliest years to the burdens of wealth, took
strong hold of his youthful imagination. Then and there he vowed his
life to the service of the unhappy rich, and especially to the
alleviation of the lot of prisoners; and nothing ever turned him from
his purpose. When he grew up, he left home, much against the wishes of
his parents, and went to live in one of the richest parts of the town,
so as to get to know the wealthy thoroughly, and to be able to help them
when the time came for him to do so. He even took their money, and, so
far as a man of education could, became like them. Of course, there are
many who follow in his footsteps now, but most of them live in
settlements, and only come into actual contact with the people they are
trying to help by going in and out amongst them in their own homes. But
he was the first; and he really lived with them, in a house with twenty
bedrooms, luxuriously furnished, and with a _chef_ and a great many
servants. I believe he did actually nothing for himself for two whole
years, and, of course, he broke down under the strain."

"Poor fellow!" I murmured sympathetically.

"He went back for a time to the life of poverty in which he had been
brought up. But even then, he refused to live like the rest of his
family, and, as far as his enfeebled state of health would permit,
practised secret indulgences, and never lost sight of his great purpose
in life.

"He made a convert of my mother, who was the daughter of a
farm-labourer, and of one of the proudest and poorest families in
Upsidonia. They started their married life in a comfortable villa, with
four indoor servants and two out--my father could not, of course, expect
his young wife to take the extreme plunge that he had himself--and he
has told me that she acted like a heroine, and never grumbled at the
life of strict affluence they laid down for themselves. I was born in
that house, and it was my mother's own wish that we then moved to a
larger one, where we have lived ever since. We have all been brought up
to think nothing of wealth, and each of us in our several ways does his
or her utmost to help our parents in their noble work. My eldest sister
has even married a stockbroker, and a very good fellow he is, and it is
wonderful how he has overcome the defects of his upbringing.

"Well, I have been talking for a long time; but I wanted to show you how
dreadful it would be if a man like my father should suffer disgrace for
committing an error which only arose from his eager desire to serve one
whom he saw to be in an unfortunate position."

"Oh, you need not fear anything of that sort after what you have told
me," I assured him. "I would rather go to prison myself--even such a
prison as I am in now--than that he should."

"It is very good of you indeed to say so," he said gratefully. "But you
need have no fear of this sort of prison. My father would exert his
influence to have you sent to Pankhurst, where, chiefly by his efforts,
everything is as it should be, and a real attempt is made to raise
prisoners. Even in the first division, you would be permitted to do
something useful, such as breaking stones, and you would not be expected
to eat more than two meals a day, and those quite meagre ones."

"Well, to tell you the truth," I said, "one of my hobbies is to study
conditions of prison life in the various countries I visit. I am very
glad to have had the opportunity of judging for myself in this way, and
though I don't want to go to prison myself any longer, if it can be
avoided, you would be conferring a real benefit upon me if you could get
me sent to the most luxurious penal establishment you possess, supposing
I am found guilty."

"Do you really mean that?" he asked.

"Yes, I really do. I know it must seem odd to you, but I am like that."

He rose and shook hands with me. "I can't tell you how I admire your
spirit," he said.

I drank half a glass of port and rose to still greater heights of
self-abnegation. I was anxious to show myself worthy of his praise. "As
long as I remain in Upsidonia," I said, "I should like to live entirely
amongst the very rich, and just as if I were rich myself. Could you
manage that for me, do you think, in return for what I am going to do
for your father?"

He laughed. "If you really mean it," he said, "there won't be the
slightest difficulty. And we are the right people to help you. They
might not show themselves as they really are to a stranger, for they
stick to one another wonderfully, and the more respectable among them
hide their riches as much as possible. Some of the tragedies of wealth
one comes across are heart-breaking. But I mustn't begin on that
subject, or I should never end. If you can see your way to relieving a
few of the rich in Culbut of a little of their load of misery, you will
be doing a great work."

"I shall quite hope to be able to do that," I said. "I might be able to
take away a considerable sum of money."

Again he shook hands with me, but his emotion did not permit of much
speech. "You will have your reward," he said simply.

"I quite hope so," I replied. "What, must you be going? Are you sure you
won't take--I mean are you sure you are quite wrapped up enough? The
night air is a little chilly."

"Thank you, I shall walk home," he said. "Well, I am very much obliged
to you for what you have promised to do. We shan't forget it, and
anything we can do for you in return, as long as you remain in
Upsidonia, you may be sure we _shall_ do."



CHAPTER V


They seemed to keep early hours in Upsidonia.[1] A cup of tea was
brought to me at half-past seven, and I was told that I must breakfast
not later than a quarter-past eight, for the court sat at nine.

It was not unlike what a police court in London might have been, but the
magistrate sat in his shirt-sleeves, for it was a hot day, and wore
corduroy trousers. There was a crowd of well-dressed loafers at the back
of the court, and amongst them some richly attired women. Lord Potter,
looking as if he had not washed or taken off his clothes since the day
before, occupied a seat on the bench. Mr. Perry and his son were in the
well of the court.

I gave my name, which I had withheld the night before, as John Howard,
but refused to say where I came from or what my occupation was.
Apparently, this was not unusual, for I was not pressed in any way.[2]

The policeman who had arrested me deposed that from information received
he had proceeded to a certain place and taken me into custody, not
without difficulty, for I had shown violence and had tried to get him to
arrest another person instead.

Asked whether he saw that person in that court, he indicated Mr. Perry,
who looked very uncomfortable, and I said at once: "That was all a
mistake, your worship. I had been fast asleep, and hardly knew what I
was doing. I mistook that gentleman for somebody else."

My interruption rather scandalised the court, but I managed to get it
out before I was stopped, and I could see that the magistrate was
relieved at my having spoken.

"There is no charge against our respected fellow-townsman," he said,
bowing towards Mr. Perry; and there were murmurs of approbation from the
back of the court.

Lord Potter looked black. "The prisoner accused him of taking away his
watch," he said, "and trying to get his money. Of course, if nothing had
been found on the prisoner the charge would have fallen through. It is
quite evident that Mr. Perry wanted to make it appear that I was lying
when I said that this man had tried to press money on me."[3]

He spoke with great indignation, but the magistrate said firmly: "There
is no charge against Mr. Perry," and added: "He could not have taken
away the prisoner's watch, because it was found on him when he came to
the police station, and his money too. He would hardly have taken it
back, if someone had been kind enough to relieve him of it, would he?"

This was said with a smile to Lord Potter, who grunted angrily, but said
no more until he was asked to tell his story, which he did quite
truthfully, except that he gave the impression of my having acted
violently towards him, and pressed money on him with threats.

Then I was asked if I had anything to say in my defence.

I said that the whole episode had been an ill-timed joke, which I now
much regretted. I cross-examined Lord Potter as to his implication of
violence, and made him admit that I had used none, and threatened none.

"And didn't I tell you I was almost as poor as you were?" I asked.

This he also admitted. I treated him with somewhat exaggerated respect,
and ended up by saying that I acknowledged it was a foolish prank to
play on a man of his eminence, and that, whatever the result of the
charge, I begged to apologise for it. This softened him a little, though
not much, but when the magistrate and his clerk had conferred with him
in whispers, he seemed to give way, and the magistrate then turned to me
and addressed me thus:

"John Howard, although you have refused to give any information about
yourself, it is evident from your general appearance that you are a
young man of good if not exalted station. But you must not go away with
the impression that there is one law for the poor and another for the
rich here. It is not on account of your appearance of poverty that I
shall deal leniently with you. I believe that you have committed this
gross offence against a distinguished man out of mere youthful folly and
bravado, and you may consider yourself fortunate that I have decided not
to send you to prison for it. You have been confined for the night in
surroundings that have probably caused you considerable distress, and I
have taken that into account. I shall fine you ten pounds, with the
option of a month's imprisonment, and let this be a lesson to you to
leave off playing practical jokes that are likely to bring you within
the reach of the law. Next case."

I left the dock in some perturbation, for I had not got ten pounds on
me. But I was immediately led to the clerk's table, and he said in a
business-like way: "Sign that, please," and handed me a little pile of
sovereigns and a form of receipt.

I signed the receipt and put the money into my pocket, and was now free.
Mr. Perry and his son joined me, and wringing me warmly by the hand led
me out into the open air. They were both dressed in shabby suits, I
suppose out of respect to the court, and, although the young man did not
look any the worse, I thought that his father seemed more of an oily old
humbug than before.

But there seemed to be no doubt about the reality of his gratitude to
me, and his son was equally cordial. They both pressed me to come at
once to their house, and to stay as long as I could.

"If you can put up with our way of living," said Mr. Perry, "which is
the reverse of simple, we shall be very pleased indeed to have you so
long as you care to stay. Or, if you are afraid of luxury, as so many
young men are nowadays, we could recommend you to an hotel where you
could be as uncomfortable as you please, and we will still do all we can
to help you in your social studies, which, I am glad to hear from my
son, you are anxious to pursue."

"If you will be good enough to put me up," I said, "nothing could suit
me better; and as for luxury, I assure you I shan't grumble at anything.
As I told your son, I should like to pass as a rich man as long as I
stay here."

This reply pleased Mr. Perry, and he proposed that we should go to his
house at once. "I shall take a tram," he said; "but I dare say you and
Edward would prefer to walk."

At this point Lord Potter came out of the police court. Two young men in
smart clothes, with silk hats and patent leather boots, were standing on
the steps smoking cigarettes, and did not notice him. He stopped at the
top of the steps, and said in a tone of contempt: "Will you kindly get
out of my way?"

The two young men looked round hurriedly and slunk aside, taking off
their hats as Lord Potter walked down the steps, ostentatiously holding
his rags together to avoid contact with them.

"It is that spirit," said Mr. Perry, who had observed the scene, "that
is responsible for so much of the class-hatred that is now rife. You can
hardly wonder at the rich hating the poor, when they are treated in that
way."

Lord Potter passed on with his nose in the air, but when he had gone
another two or three steps, turned round and said to Mr. Perry: "You
have had a lucky escape, sir. Your method of life is bringing you down
pretty low, and if you are wise you will give up all this nonsense, and
return to the quite respectable class in which you were born."

Then he turned to me. "As for you, young man," he said, "I shall make it
my business to know more about you. I don't believe you are what you
pretend to be."

As he walked away with his dirty head in the air, Mr. Perry spluttered
indignantly: "The _respectable_ class in which I was born! He knows very
well that I am of a good family--as good as his own. Really, the
arrogance of the dirty set is getting past all bearing!"

"He makes you feel as if your clothes fitted you," said young Perry.
"But never mind him, father. He can't touch us."

FOOTNOTES:

[1] A Daylight Saving Bill had been passed some years before, by which
an hour was borrowed in April to be paid back in October. The necessity,
however, of getting up an hour earlier than usual had made the whole
populace so cross that the Government which had passed the Bill was
forced to resign, and the next Government repealed the law immediately
upon coming into office. They omitted, however, to allow for the
repayment of the borrowed hour, and as no Government had since cared to
touch the question, Upsidonian time had remained an hour earlier ever
since.

[2] It was held in Upsidonia that private knowledge of any fact was the
possessor's own property, and, as no one was willing to acquire property
if they could help it, questions of this sort were never pressed. It had
even been laid down in the courts that a person too ready with
information could be indicted for forcing property on his hearers. Vide
Cope on "The Bore in Law."

[3] I might also have been arrested for sleeping out with visible means
of substance, which had been in Mr. Perry's mind when he had imperilled
himself by his kindly action, as he told me afterwards.



CHAPTER VI


We saw Mr. Perry into his tram, and started to walk through the town.

My observation as to the behaviour and appearance of the well-dressed
people was confirmed. The men slouched along with their hands in their
pockets, and the women, although they wore fine clothes, had a very
ungraceful bearing. The most expensively dressed were the worst in this
respect, and the poorer sort of people hustled them off the pavements
and treated them with every mark of contempt.

As we were going through a narrow street between two wide ones, a stout
old lady, covered with jewels, and dressed in heliotrope velvet, with
some beautiful lace on her gown and enormous ostrich feathers in her
hat, walked in the gutter by my side, and said in the hoarse whine of a
beggar: "Do take a sovereign from a rich woman, kind gentleman. I
'aven't lef' off eating for two days, and the larder's full at 'ome."

I was about to comply with her request, for I have no prejudices against
indiscriminate charity, but young Perry told her to be off, or he'd give
her in charge. She slunk away to where a carriage with two fine horses
and a coachman and footman was standing at the end of the street, and
drove off.

"These beggars are becoming a regular pest," said Perry. "It is because
we have old clothes on. There are _some_ compensations in going about
like a rich man."

"Could I buy a few clothes cheap?" I asked him. "I want to do the thing
thoroughly while I am with you."

He laughed at me. "I don't know why you should want to buy them
_cheap_," he said. "But, of course, you can get what you want. Do you
really mean you would like to be dressed like a rich man?"

"Yes, I should," I said. "I should like to have quite a large new
wardrobe."

"I think you're splendid!" he said admiringly. "I only hope you won't
regret it when you come to experience actual wealth."

"I hope not," I said modestly. "But whatever it costs me I am prepared
to carry it through, and I should like to begin at once."

"Well, you might get what you want to play your part at the Stores.
Then, if you want to do the thing thoroughly, later on you can go to a
good tailor and bootmaker, and so on, and have things made for you."

I said the Stores would do for the present. I was not quite clear in my
mind as yet how the question of payment would work out, but it did not
seem to be difficult to get hold of money in Culbut.

However, as a precautionary measure, I asked the price of the first
article shown me, which was a ready-made flannel suit--dark green with a
purple stripe in it, quite smart-looking.

The shopman looked at a secret mark on the label, and said: "Three
pounds."

"Oh, come now!" said Perry at once. "We're not paupers, you know. You
can't treat us in that way."

The man explained that the material wore exceptionally badly for that
class of goods; but to us he would make it three pounds ten.

"Not a penny less than four pounds," said Perry, and I confounded his
officiousness.

"I'll pay his price," I said. "I hate haggling."

"No," said Perry. "I'm not going to see you bestowed upon. He'll have to
let you pay four pounds for it."

The man said he would go and see the manager, and when he had left the
counter Perry said: "Don't you give way to him. These people are always
open to a bargain, although they profess to sell dear. Why, that suit
would last you for ever so long! If we hadn't come in like this he would
have let us pay six pounds for it."

"Do they give credit?" I asked.

"They think themselves very lucky if they're allowed to," he said, with
a laugh. "I shouldn't trust them too far, if I were you; they might
forget to send in their bill."[4]

"Oh, I'll see to that all right," I said. "I think I'll get a lot of
things. What would happen if I didn't pay for them at all?"

"Well, you would be conferring a benefit on the shareholders of this
company which they would thank you for pretty heartily. The business
lost only ten per cent last year, and it used to lose twenty when it
first started. This new manager is no good. You'll see, he'll give way
about this."

He was right. I was allowed to owe four pounds for the flannel suit, and
when I had been through all the departments, and set myself up
thoroughly, with several suits, and with hats, boots, hosiery, and
everything I could possibly want for some time to come, I was in debt to
the Stores for something considerably over a hundred pounds. But under
the circumstances that did not trouble me, and I determined to do a
little more shopping on credit in Culbut, but without young Perry, who
was always trying to beat things up, and telling me that I didn't need
this, and could do quite well without that.

We each took a parcel, and left the rest to be forwarded to Mr. Perry's
house.

As we walked on through the streets I asked Perry to point me out any
people of note whom we might meet, and as I spoke he lifted his hat to a
woman who passed us.

"That is Lady Rumborough, a cousin of my mother's," he said.

I should not have picked out Lady Rumborough from a crowd as being
anyone in particular, although she was a good-looking woman, and held
herself well. She was dressed in a print gown, and wore a hat of plain
black straw. She carried a string bag bulging with packages, and had a
large lettuce under her arm.

"Is Lady Rumborough a leader of society?" I asked.

"Well, she is in a way," he said, "although she is not very poor. Lord
Rumborough is a greengrocer in a fair way of business, and they hate the
dirty set and all their ways."

He then explained that the dirty set was inclined to usurp the lead in
the aristocratic society of Culbut. Aristocrats of extreme poverty, such
as Lord Potter, belonged to it, but it was largely recruited from
amongst those who were nobodies by birth and had not infrequently risen
from the opulent and leisured classes. They made a parade of their
poverty, and were ashamed to be thought to possess the smallest thing,
even a cake of soap.

We next passed a cheerful active young man in an old but well-cut serge
suit who went by in a great hurry.

"That," said Perry, "is Albert White, the great newspaper proprietor. He
has made himself a most extraordinary career."

It seemed that Mr. Albert White was the son of a man of good family, but
one possessing considerable wealth. At an early age, when other young
men in his position were preparing for a life of dull idleness, he
decided that he would raise himself to a high position amongst the
workers. He started a weekly paper which few people could read, and lost
a good deal of money over it. Using this as a stepping-stone, he started
other papers, each more unreadable than the last. He developed a
positive genius for discovering what the people didn't want, and in a
very few years had lost more than any other newspaper proprietor had
dropped in a lifetime. Now he was one of the poorest men in Upsidonia,
and had made his family, and many others whom he had picked out to help
him, poor too.

"Others have since followed in his footsteps," said Perry, "but none
have had the success that he has. His daily paper has by far the
smallest circulation of any in Upsidonia. People refuse to read it in
enormous numbers, and it is the worst advertising medium in journalism."

"Why?" I asked. "What is its character?"

"It is mostly written by very learned men. White does not mind how
little he pays to get the right people. He makes a frank appeal to the
literate, and, of course, there are fewer of them than of any class. The
odd thing is that nobody ever seems to have realised before what a great
field for newspaper enterprise there is amongst those who _will_ have
the best and nothing but it. White has taught us that you can drop more
money over it, and in a shorter time, than with almost anything else."

"I suppose your learned men are amongst the poor?" I asked.

"Yes. Aren't yours?"

"We keep them fairly poor as a rule."

"It is the only possible way. The mind is of much more importance than
the body, and it cannot do fullest justice to itself if it is hampered
by the distractions of wealth, or clogged by luxury. For that reason, I
take it, in both countries, we keep our learned men poor, and strive
after what knowledge we can."

"I can't say that in my country we _all_ strive after it," I said. "We
don't like to let our learned men feel that we are cutting them out."

"Ah, I think that is a mistake; but perhaps it is not a bad one. If
there is one thing that our upper classes lack, it is humility. I
suppose, though, that all your people _do_ earnestly desire the best
gifts in life--knowledge, high character, and so on!"

"Most of us, of course. But there are some who seem to prefer to be
merely well off."

"Ah, I'm afraid that there will always be those; but I rather gather
from things that you have let fall that you don't despise them quite as
much as we do."

"Possibly a shade less. We are charitable in that respect."

"Then you are always ready to relieve a rich man of his wealth, I
suppose?"

"There are quite a large number of people amongst us who are anxious to
do so."

"My dear Howard, what a happy state of things! Your country must be a
Utopia. Do you see that man over there? That is John De Montmorency, the
popular actor-manager."

He pointed to a very seedy-looking unkempt man who, however, held his
head high, and gazed around him as he walked for admiring looks, which
he got in plenty, especially from the young girls.

"They say," said Perry, "that his dresser once pressed a crease into the
trousers in which he was to play a lord, out of revenge for some slight,
and he went on to the stage in them without noticing. It took him a long
time to recover from the blow."

"Am I to believe," I asked when Mr. De Montmorency had passed us, "that
in Upsidonia the chief things that are desired are, as you say, high
character and knowledge and poverty?"

"There can be no difficulty in believing that, can there? Those are the
best things in life, and everyone naturally desires the best things.
Well, of course, poverty in itself isn't one of the best things; it is
only a means to an end. Still, we are none of us perfect, and I don't
deny that there are many who desire poverty for its own sake. I am
interested to learn that among you there is not the fierce race for it
that we have here."

"Why should anybody desire it for itself?" I asked.

"My dear fellow, if you had seen as much of the grinding bitterness of
wealth as I have," he said, "you would not ask that question. To be at
the mercy of your possessions, never to be free from the deadening
weight of idleness, never----"

"But surely," I interrupted, "your rich people can amuse themselves.
They needn't be idle. Don't they play games, for instance?"

"Yes, the young do. We make them. But how terrible to _have_ to kill
time with cricket and golf and lawn-tennis, and when the game is
finished to feel that nothing has been done to further the good of
mankind!"

"Why do you make them play, then?"

"To keep them in health. We have the Upsidonian race to think of. We
can't afford to deteriorate bodily as a nation."

"And do you mean to say that the rich and healthy young man really
dislikes exercising his body and amusing his mind by playing games,
simply because nothing comes of it?"

"Not, perhaps, when he is quite young. But to look forward to a life of
it--! Besides, he can seldom afford to do even that for long."

"Can't afford it?"

"No. It isn't expensive enough. He has to set about his business of
spending money, sometimes--if his parents are very rich--at an early
age, and the desire for healthy exercise soon leaves him. Why, after a
day of idleness it is sometimes as much as he can do to drag himself to
bed, and then very often he can't sleep."

"But surely there is nothing very difficult about spending money, if you
really set out to do it! In my country rich men buy fine pictures, and
things of that sort."

"Well, unless the fine pictures in your country cost more than the poor
ones, I don't see how that's to help them."

"They do cost more. They cost enormous sums."

"Yours seems a very funny sort of country, and I shouldn't say too much
about it if I were you, or people will think you are romancing.
Everything here that is worth having is cheap, and everything that isn't
is dear. The rich aren't educated up to appreciating the good things."

"What do they learn in their schools?"[5]

"The education is good as far as it goes. In fact, some old-fashioned
people say it is too good, and unfits the rich for the serious business
of their lives, which is to spend money that the poor earn; although, of
course, they would not put it in that way. There was a good deal of
grumbling when the last government permitted science to be taught in the
public schools. It was felt that the children of rich parents would be
much better employed in learning expensive habits, so as to fit them for
their station in life. But I, for one, should certainly not give in to
that view."

"Well then, couldn't the rich get rid of some of their wealth by
building hospitals, or endowing research, or something of that sort?"

"Endowing research?" he repeated in a puzzled way. "How could they do
that? Only the poor can endow research--by relieving suitable men of
the wealth that might hamper them in their work."

"Well then, building hospitals, or picture galleries, public
works--anything?"

"But the state does all that. Of course, the rich contribute their share
of the rates and taxes, and there is a good deal of grumbling amongst
them at present, because the party that was lately elected to bring
about profusion has turned out more economical than the party it
defeated. No; it is the overplus of wealth that makes the social
difficulty. It _must_ be used, of course, and there _must_, unless we
limit supply,[6] be a submerged class on whose shoulders rests the
burden of using it."

"I still don't see why it shouldn't be wasted, or merely hoarded. Don't
the rich men hoard their wealth?"

"How could they? The Government auditors would be down on them at once."

"How would they know?"

"Well, everybody has to keep accounts, and the auditors are quite sharp
enough to stop any serious defalcation."[7]

"But why take all this trouble to see that wealth isn't wasted! It _is_
wasted if it keeps a large class of people in idle luxury, when the
state has made up its mind that idle luxury is a bad thing for mankind."

"Ah, my dear Howard! There you sum up the selfishness of human nature.
As long as the poor have power they will put their burdens on the rich."

"Yes, the burdens of wealth. But why should they object to the rich
getting rid of the overplus of wealth in any way they please? It
wouldn't make any difference to their own enjoyment of work and
poverty."

"It ought not to, perhaps, considering what an evil riches are. But what
is it that makes the chief satisfaction of work? Surely, that you are
producing something--something useful to mankind. If you knew that a
considerable proportion of what you produced would be thrown away, why
you might just as well work a treadmill, or play golf, instead of
ploughing or sowing, or making useful things, such as clothes or
furniture. The dignity of labour would disappear."

"Still, if the overplus of food, for instance, makes eating and drinking
hateful, as it seems to do here, and the overplus of other things
becomes a burden to a large proportion of the people, the result would
seem to be about the same as actual waste."[8]

"Well, it is worse, of course, for the rich. But, unfortunately, the
poor do not consider that enough. In your happy country, where the upper
classes, from what you tell me, act as much for the benefit of the lower
classes as for themselves, you escape these problems.

"But we will discuss these things further, and you shall see for
yourself. Here we are at Magnolia Hall; allow me to give you a warm
welcome to our rich abode."

FOOTNOTES:

[4] They did not forget to send in their bill, but I forgot to pay it.

[5] The public schools, of which there were a good number in Upsidonia,
were attended exclusively by the rich, as were the two older
universities. Luxurious habits were encouraged in these establishments,
and learning was at a discount, although this was never acknowledged.
The poor attended council schools, and the newer universities. But even
from a school like Seton, where the sons of the worst families were
educated, there was a ladder to the more serious seats of learning, and
many rich scholars had raised themselves by their own efforts to a
position from which they could look down on the families from which they
had sprung.

[6] There were two schools of economic reformers in Upsidonia. The one
which was supported by the Perrys wished to limit production by law, but
I am inclined to think that Mr. Perry did not wish it very much. Edward,
however, was strongly in favour of legislation. He thought that the many
would benefit at the expense of the few, or so he said.

The other school believed in freedom of consumption, or rather of
non-consumption. I never met any of its adherents while in Upsidonia,
and only heard them called names.

[7] There was said to be a good deal of corruption in this service. The
Government auditors were too well paid to make them altogether
trustworthy. Edward was going to see that this was altered when he had
time.

[8] This was well said on my part, and I do not regard Edward's reply as
convincing.



CHAPTER VII


We had long since left the business streets of the city behind, and had
come, first through a district of mean-looking houses occupied chiefly,
as Perry told me, by the aristocrats of Culbut, then through a more
spacious suburb of large and small villas, where he said those of a
decent degree of poverty resided. The tram-line had borne us company to
the edge of this quarter, and we had walked for the best part of a mile
along a country road, bordered by walls or fences enclosing the gardens
of larger houses.

We now turned in at a pair of gates flanked by a pretty lodge, and went
along a winding drive banked on either side with rhododendrons, now in
full flower, until we came out into a beautiful and open garden, whose
verdant lawns were ringed by a great variety of flowering shrubs and
trees. This charming garden seemed a suitable setting for the long
two-storied white-painted house, with its deep eaves, old-fashioned bow
windows, and creeper-grown verandah. A giant magnolia, delicately
flushed with pink, was in full flower over the front of the house. The
still summer air brooded peacefully over all, and the tinkle of water
from a fountain in a yew-enclosed rose-garden opening out of the drive
fell gratefully on the ear.

"And this," I exclaimed, "your educated classes despise, and prefer to
coop themselves up in those wretched little houses we passed!"

He looked at me in surprise. "Oh, you don't understand in the least," he
said.

There was no time for further explanation, for we had now reached the
front door, which stood hospitably open, affording a glimpse beyond the
lobby of a cool spacious hall, paved with black and white marble.

We did not, however, enter at once. Perry rang the bell, and we waited
until a butler and a footman in livery[9] appeared, who relieved us of
the parcels we carried and showed us into a pleasant morning-room,
beautifully furnished and full of flowers.

"Mr. John Howard and Mr. Edward Perry," said my friend to the butler,
and we were left to ourselves.

"Excuse my asking," I said, "but do you have to observe strict
formalities in your own house?"

"Oh, yes," he said. "No good servants would engage us unless we
undertook to give them plenty of work. It is one of the many penalties
of wealth."

At this point Mr. Perry came into the room, dressed as I had first seen
him, and having shaved since we had parted. He renewed his welcome
warmly, and introduced me to his wife, a comely grey-haired lady with
agreeable manners, who said that she was delighted to see me, and to
hear that I was ready to take them as I found them. I was also
introduced to Miss Miriam Perry, whom I took to at once, as she was
exceptionally pretty, and had a very frank and pleasing way with her.
There was also a younger sister, Mollie, a pretty child of thirteen or
so, and Tom, a boy of about a year older, who alone of the family was
dressed in old and shabby clothes. But he had a merry freckled face and
excellent manners.

"Here," said Mr. Perry, "you see us all, except my married daughter; and
I hope you will like us."

I liked them already, with one exception, and I thought it possible that
I might even come to like Mr. Perry himself in time, for he showed to
better advantage surrounded by his family and in his own beautiful home
than he had done outside.

"Mr. Howard," said Edward, "wants to live as we do while he is with us,
and to study the conditions of wealth from the inside. He has even
bought a great many clothes, and perhaps he would like to put some of
them on before luncheon."

This announcement, I could see, brought gratification to my hosts, but
Tom looked rather disgusted. He was being educated at a day school, I
learnt afterwards, where many of his companions were the sons of very
poor men, and he was not yet of an age to sympathise deeply with the
family taste for philanthropy.

Edward took me up to my room, and apologised for its air of comfort. The
footman was unpacking the parcels we had brought, and it was possibly
for his benefit that Edward said: "We keep one or two barely furnished
attics for people like yourself who come to see us; but I thought that
as you wanted to live for a time as the rich do, you would put up with
this. We can always move you."

I said that certainly under the circumstances I preferred this room to
an attic. It had a wide view of the largest slope of lawn and a
well-wooded landscape beyond. There was a big bed in it, a
well-furnished writing-table, and an easy chair by the window, through
which the open flowers of the magnolia outside wafted a sweet perfume.

"Well then, I will go and change my clothes," said Edward. "Lord Arthur
will show you the bathroom, and where my room is, if you want to come in
to me at any time."

He went out, and I took a closer look at the footman, who seemed to have
been indicated as Lord Arthur.

He was a handsome, rather disdainful-looking young man, and when Edward
had left the room he said familiarly: "Then you're one of us, eh? Why do
you want to rig yourself out in this sort of kit! Which will you wear? I
should recommend the white flannel, if you want to do the thing
thoroughly."

"The white flannel will do very well," I said. "I am studying social
conditions, and, as you say, want to do it thoroughly."

"Well, I think you're rather a fool," he said. "You can see all you want
of the rich by taking service with them as I have done. You needn't live
like them."

"I rather like making myself comfortable," I said tentatively.

His lip curled. "Is your mind comfortable when your body is
comfortable?" he asked.

"It is more likely to be so," I replied.

"There are a good many people with low tastes in the world," he said,
"but they don't generally acknowledge them in that unblushing way. If
you want a life of comfort because you like it, why don't you say so?
You'll find plenty of swabs[10] in your own class to join in with, who
don't pretend to be social students."

"I was only chaffing," I said. "Have you got a good place here?"

"Well, it's rather a bore to have to mix socially with your employers,
although the Perrys are very nice people really, and if it weren't for
all this philanthropic nonsense as good as anybody. Still, you can't
treat them exactly as you would other rich people, and we often have to
do ourselves a good deal better than we want to in the servants' hall,
simply because we can't foist all the best food on to them and see that
they get through it themselves. We're really helping them all the time
in their silly experiment, and although the between maid and the head
coachman and one or two more are reformers, most of us aren't, and
simply want to be let alone to live a hard life, as we should anywhere
else."

"Yes, I see. I suppose most of you are of good family and that sort of
thing?"

"One of the undergardeners is a baronet, but he's got more hard work to
do than you can get indoors. I'm the only other fellow with a title, but
I was never very strong. All my brothers are navvies, and it's hard luck
that I was pilled in my medical examination. Oh, yes, we're a pretty
good lot on the whole. Still, domestic service isn't what it used to be.
It is so crowded as a profession that it's difficult to get a place
where there's enough work to do. The women are better off, because they
can go out as generals. But for men it is getting more and more
difficult, owing to the spread of education amongst the lower classes.
The masters and mistresses are often so independent that if you don't
let them live as poorly as you do yourselves they'll just give you
notice. Well, I think that's all. The bathroom is just opposite. I'll go
and turn on the water."

"Thanks," I said. "Quite cold, please."

An indulgent smile illumined Lord Arthur's aristocratic features. "It's
plain that you've never learnt how to treat servants," he said. "If you
weren't a gentleman, I should turn you on a stewing hot one for that,
and see that you got into it."



CHAPTER VIII


The luncheon to which we presently sat down was everything that it
should have been from my point of view. It is true that Mrs. Perry had
thoughtfully provided some large hunks of bread and cold bacon, with
some beer in a tin can, for my especial benefit; but I made it quite
clear that I wanted no difference made on my account. My request to be
treated as one of themselves made an excellent impression on all of them
except Tom, who made a frugal meal of bread and cheese, and went off to
school before we were halfway through. I thought it rather remarkable
that a boy of his age should be able to refuse all the delicacies
provided, apparently without flinching, but there was no mistaking his
look of pained disgust when I refused the cold bacon.[11]

I noticed that all the rest of the family ate sparingly, except Mr.
Perry, who asked for second supplies of omelette, asparagus, and
strawberries, on the ground that he must do his duty. They left a good
deal on their plates, while making it look as little as possible, and
for every fruit that was not quite perfect they rejected at least three,
saying that they were bad. This was done with an eye on the servants,
who took their share in the conversation, and whose business it appeared
to be to see that everyone ate and drank as much as possible. I was
hungry, and did what I could to oblige them. But I could see that I was
not really pleasing them, for both butler and footman treated my
handsome appetite as an indelicate thing, while doing all they could to
satisfy it.

Towards the end of luncheon, the butler, whose name was Blother, said to
Mrs. Perry: "Duff has sent in to say that the carriage horses want
exercise, and you had better pay a good long round of calls this
afternoon."

Mrs. Perry's face fell. "I rather wanted to stay at home this
afternoon," she said. "It is very hot, and I thought I would read a book
in the garden. Can't Mr. Duff have the horses exercised by one of the
grooms this afternoon?"

"I'm afraid not, Mrs. Perry," said Blother. "He says he gave you an
afternoon off yesterday, and two last week. It is not fair to refuse him
employment. He is in rather an excited state about it. I should go if I
were you."

"I suppose I must," she said with a sigh. "What are you going to do,
Samuel?"

"I thought of having a little nap," said Mr. Perry piously. "One must
not let one's little luxuries drop, or one loses sympathy with the rich.
At half-past three I have a committee meeting of the Society for the
Belief of Company Promoters, and at five o'clock I am to introduce a
deputation of brewers[12] to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I shall
go to the club after that for an hour, and I thought, perhaps, Mr.
Howard would like to join me there."

I said I should like to do so, and it was settled that I should be
driven into Culbut to join Mr. Perry at half-past five.

"That will make three carriages then, Blother," said Mr. Perry. "There
needn't be any grumbling in the stables this afternoon, at any rate."

Mrs. Perry retired to dress for her afternoon's occupation, Mr. Perry
sought the seclusion of the library, and Mollie went off to her
governess. This left Edward and Miss Miriam, and I rather hoped that
Edward might have some work to do.

My hopes were realised. He had a strenuous programme marked out. He was
to instruct a class of millionaires' sons in the principles of breeding
and running race-horses for loss, to audit the accounts of the
Orchid-Growers' Defence Association, and to prepare a lecture he had
undertaken to deliver at a meeting of the Young Poker-Players' Mutual
Improvement Society on "A Good Prose Style." This would take him all the
afternoon, and I begged him earnestly not to vary his plans on my
account.

He seemed obviously relieved. "If I had known you would be here," he
said, "I should not have set myself so much to do; but you will find
plenty of improving books in the library, and some uncomfortable chairs,
and I am sure that Miriam will talk to you if you wish to converse, or
play lawn-tennis with you if you would like to do that."

Miriam then offered, with a charming frankness, to make herself
responsible for my entertainment for the afternoon, and I was quite
pleased to have it so.[13]

"Would you like to play tennis?" she asked me, "or shall we talk on the
verandah? If you really want to suit yourself to your surroundings you
can smoke."

"We might sit on the verandah for a bit," I said, "and I will certainly
smoke. After that I should like to see the garden, if you will show me
round. And then I shall be quite ready for lawn-tennis."

For some reason, which I did not understand, she blushed when I asked
her to show me the garden, and turned her head away; but she only said:
"Come along, then," and led the way on to the shady verandah, from the
roof of which hung long trusses of wistaria, and from which the
beautiful garden could be seen spread in front of us with all its colour
and cool verdure.

FOOTNOTES:

[9] Buff with canary facings.

[10] Upsidonian word of unknown derivation, signifying a degraded being;
one who had lost caste.

[11] I learnt afterwards that it was a matter of "form" and that those
amongst Tom's schoolfellows who betrayed a liking for good things were
designated "Guts."

[12] A Bill was then before Parliament which would have burdened brewers
in perpetuity with the licences of the public-houses owned by them. Mr.
Perry regarded this proposal as an intolerable oppression of a deserving
body of men. The Bill was afterwards amended, and the brewers relieved
of a great anxiety.

[13] I had already taken a fancy to her. See page 66.



CHAPTER IX


There were basket chairs on the verandah, and I took the most
comfortable of them, after Miriam had chosen hers, which I should have
said was the least comfortable of all.

"This is very delightful," I said. "After all, there are some
compensations in being rich."

I cast a glance at her as I said this. In her pretty cool white dress,
which fitted her beautifully, and with her abundant fair hair, carefully
and becomingly braided, she looked just like any other girl, the
daughter of well-to-do parents, who had been brought up to a life of
wealth and ease. For my part I like to see young girls having a good
time, and am not averse to sharing it with them. I was inclined to
wonder how far this very charming young girl was permitted to enjoy
naturally the good things provided for her, and how far she was affected
by the economic curiosities that surrounded her.

She did not reply directly to my endeavours to draw her out. "It is very
kind of you to make the best of us," she said a little coldly.

"Please don't be offended at my ignorance of the way things go here," I
said. "I have lived all my life in different surroundings, and it is all
quite new to me."

This speech did nothing to alter her slight air of coolness. "We don't
live in this way for fun," she said; and I made haste to explain
further.

"I don't mean that at all," I said. "I mean that the whole life of
Upsidonia is new to me, poor as well as rich. In my country things are
different altogether."

"How do you mean--in your country?" she asked with a puzzled air.

"I come from England," I said. "It is very much like Upsidonia in some
ways; in others it is quite different."

She received my information in the same way as Edward had done.
"England!" she repeated. "Where is that? I thought I was rather good at
geography; I took a prize in it at school. But I have never heard of
England. What direction is it in, and how did you come here?"

"I walked over the moors," I said. "I have been walking for some days. I
found myself yesterday evening in a wood just the other side of Culbut."

A light seemed to break in on her. "Oh, I see!" she exclaimed. "You came
over the hills. You are a Highlander! That is very interesting. No
wonder you look down a little on us Culbutians! But what made you leave
that paradise to come here? And why didn't you tell us before that you
were a Highlander? I am sure my father and mother would have been very
flattered."

She seemed quite excited, and regarded me with curiosity not unmixed
with reverence.[14]

"Well, I have never called myself a Highlander, exactly," I said. "In
England we call the Scotch Highlanders."

"England! Scotch!" she repeated. "How extraordinary it is! I must get
you to show it to me on a map."

"Yes, I should like to see a map," I said. "You see, everything is very
different with us."

"Oh, I know it is. You are the most fortunate people in the world. All
this must seem very extraordinary to you, and I'm afraid rather painful.
I wonder you take it all as naturally as you do. I suppose you have
never seen a house like this before?"

"It is certainly a very charming house," I said, "but it is not
altogether unlike the one I was brought up in near London."

Her air of bewilderment returned. "London!" she said. "I have never
heard of any of the places you mention. Is England a district?"

"Yes; a pretty large one."

"There are many districts in the Highlands that we know very little of,
but I had no idea that there were houses like this anywhere. I thought
you all lived so very simply, and were spared all the difficulties that
our rich have to undergo."

"In some parts of the Highlands that may be so. But in England it is
different. People who lived in a house like this would be considered
very fortunate, and they would certainly prefer it to a little house in
a street."

"How very extraordinary!" she said again. "But wouldn't they be looked
down upon?"

"Not at all. The people who live in the little houses are apt to be
looked down upon."

"But don't the upper classes all live in little houses?"

"No, they live mostly in the bigger ones, some of them in much bigger
ones than this; and the bigger they are the better they like them."

She became more and more interested. "I never heard anything like that
before," she said. "I should think it must be rather nice, if all of
them do it. Does the dirty set live in big houses? Oh, but I forgot, you
don't have a dirty set in the Highlands."

"We do in England," I said. "But we don't kow-tow to them as people seem
to do here. If Lord Potter were to show his face there he would be
liable to be locked up. We consider dirt a disgrace."

"Oh, so do we," she said hastily. "My aunt, Lady Blueberry, who is
_really_ a great lady, won't have anything to do with the dirty set. My
Uncle Blueberry says that the old tradition of Upsidonia was not even
extreme poverty, but only just so much as to escape the horrible burdens
of wealth."

"Is your uncle----?"

"He is the Earl of Blueberry. He is a postman."

"Well, in England he would not be likely to be that. At least, he might
be Postmaster-General. Our nobility is for the most part rich, and they
live in the finest houses, although some of them are obliged to work for
their living."

"Obliged!" she echoed. "Don't they all exercise their right to work?"

"It is a right that has somewhat fallen into abeyance, but some of them
do. Others prefer to amuse themselves. In fact, to make a clean breast
of it, we all like to have plenty of money in England, so that we can
live in nice houses, and go about and enjoy ourselves, and wear nice
clothes, and eat and drink nice things."

A shade of disgust crossed her face. "How very different it all is to
what I have been told!" she said. "But I am glad you told me about the
eating and drinking. I thought you did what you did at lunch to please
Mrs. Lemon, our cook."

I was a trifle disturbed at this speech. "Well, of course, that was
partly the reason," I said. "And you mustn't run away with the idea that
we encourage greediness. But surely, now, you must like living in a
pretty house like this, with this lovely garden, better than being
cooped up in a street!"

"Perhaps, if all one's friends did it," she said thoughtfully. "Don't
your upper classes live in towns at all? Oh, but I forgot, there are no
towns in the Highlands."

"There are in England. There is London. It is rather a big town. Our
upper classes live there part of the year, if they can afford it. Some
of them have country houses and town houses as well."

"At what time of the year do they go to their town houses?"

"Late spring and early summer are the times when things are at their
gayest."

"But that is when the country is at its loveliest. What do they do with
their country houses?"

"They shut them up--leave a few servants in them."

"Ah! I suppose they have to consider their servants. Otherwise it seems
absurd for people who like the country to leave it when it is at its
best."

"There are very pretty parks in London."

"So there are here. So we are not so very different in our tastes, you
see."

"Tell me truthfully," I said, leaving this point; "don't you like
wearing pretty clothes?"

She blushed, and laughed. "Perhaps I should if all my friends did," she
said, but added a little primly: "You can be prettily dressed when you
are poor, and you don't have to change your clothes two or three times a
day to please your maid."

"You wouldn't have to please your maid in England," I said. "She would
have to please you, and if she didn't you would get rid of her and have
another one."

She looked at me incredulously. "That is the most extraordinary thing
you have told me yet," she said. "Servants here are the greatest
nuisance in the world. They won't let you do a thing for yourself if
they can possibly stop you, and you can't call your life your own. How
I envy my cousins sometimes, who can go where they like and do what they
like without for ever being obliged to think of finding work for a lot
of disagreeable superior servants!"

"But can't you do what you like?" I asked. "Aren't you and I going to do
what we like this afternoon? Your servants haven't bothered us much so
far."

"Our servants are very kind to us. Of course it is not as though we
really belonged to the rich. But I must say that I am rather surprised
at their having left us alone for so long."

As if in answer to her, the butler, Mr. Blother, and the footman, Lord
Arthur, came out of the house at that moment, carrying a tray on which
was a large jug of iced cup of some sort, and a dish of strawberries and
cream.

"Oh, Mr. Blother!" exclaimed Miriam. "You can't be so cruel as to expect
us to eat and drink any more now!"

"My dear Miriam," said Mr. Blother, in a fatherly manner, "you must eat
a few strawberries, or what is the good of the gardener picking them? I
will let you off the hock cup until you have had a set or two; but I
thought that both you and Mr. Howard would be able to drink it after you
had got hot. It is quite time you began to play. Arthur and I are ready
to field the balls now, and we want some exercise out of doors badly."

He and the footman bustled away to put up the net, and I went upstairs
to put on a pair of tennis shoes. When I came down again the net was up
and the racquets and balls were ready for us.

Lord Arthur looked at me with some displeasure. "I don't know why you
couldn't have asked me to fetch your shoes," he said. "You and I will
fall out if you bring your airs of poverty and independence here."

"I'll give you some work to do, if that is what you want," I said. "I'm
not very good at this game, and I am a hard and rather wild hitter."

But it was Mr. Blother who fielded the balls behind Miriam, and it
pleased me to see him running about here and there in his swallowtail
coat, and getting into a terrible state of perspiration and
breathlessness.

When we had played a couple of sets it was Mr. Blother who stopped us.

"I think you have done enough for the present," he said, wiping his
heated brow. "Thank you very much, Mr. Howard, for playing so badly. I
have seldom enjoyed a game more. Now I think you can both manage to
polish off some of that hock cup."

I was quite ready to do so. I rather spoilt the good impression I had
made on Mr. Blother by asking if he did not feel inclined for a drink
himself. He withered me with his eye, and stalked off indoors, followed
by the indignant Lord Arthur, who said to me as he passed:

"You seem to have brought very queer ideas of behaviour with you,
wherever you have come from."

Miriam too looked at me doubtfully when we were once more left alone
together. "I know you only meant it for fun," she said, "but Mr. Blother
is so kind and good that it is a shame to tease him."

"But don't you think he would like a drink?" I asked. "You saw how
awfully hot he was."

"Of course he would like it," she said. "That is why I think it is too
bad to tease him."

I enjoyed my own drink a good deal. Mr. Blother was a king of
cup-makers.

Miriam sipped only half a glass, and I was careful not to press her to
drink any more. I was quite capable of emptying the rest of the jug
myself, and poured out a second glass, with the remark that I had not
meant to offend Mr. Blother, and I would now try to make it up to him.

This pleased her, and she said, with her delightful frank and friendly
smile: "You are really awfully good, and I am sure the servants will
adore you. We do our best to treat them well, but I am afraid we do
grumble a lot, and you seem to do things to please them quite
naturally."

"We are brought up to be unselfish in England," I said modestly, and
filled a third glass, emptying the jug.

"Are you ready to play again?" Miriam asked. "We might get two of the
maids to field the balls. They would be pleased if we were to ask them."

"I have had a good deal of exercise lately," I said, "and it is very
hot. What I should really like to do would be to sit here a little
longer, and then have a wander round the garden. I am very fond of
gardens, and I should like to see this one, which looks lovely."

Again, to my great surprise, Miriam blushed deeply. She rose from her
chair, and said, looking away from me: "I am going in now. Mollie will
be out in a minute, and she will take you round the garden if you want
to see it."

Then she went indoors, leaving me to wonder what on earth I had said to
cause her such confusion.

FOOTNOTES:

[14] The Highlanders were much looked up to by dwellers in other parts
of Upsidonia. They were a thrifty hard-living race of fine physique, who
had kept very much to themselves, owing largely to the inaccessibility
of the country they inhabited; they seldom visited any other part of
Upsidonia, or welcomed visitors to their own. They had no rich among
them, and seemed to have solved all the economic problems that were so
disturbing in and around Culbut, for instance. There were no towns in
the Highlands; everybody lived on the land, and as the soil was very
poor they had a hard struggle for existence, which brought out the best
that was in them. Luxury was absolutely unknown amongst them, but
learning flourished. Living so far north, they had long dark winters,
which they spent in close study. Their chief form of relaxation was the
holding of competitive examinations, for which they all entered. Those
who came out first were examiners next time.



CHAPTER X


I was not left alone long. Mollie came out of the house, and greeted me
in friendly childish fashion.

"Lessons over for the day," she said, throwing herself into a chair. "I
suppose you will be awfully shocked if I say that I am glad of it."

She shook her thick mass of curls at me, with a challenging laugh.

"I am not shocked in the least," I said. "I think lessons on a hot
afternoon must be a great bore for little girls."

"What an awful thing to say! I am afraid you are a very wicked man, but,
of course, you don't mean it. Miriam is rather tired of talking to you,
and asked me to come and take her place. What shall we do?"

I was rather disturbed at the information so frankly delivered, and said
boldly: "I want to see the garden. Will you take me round?"

The request, which had driven Miriam away, seemed to make no
disagreeable impression on Mollie. She jumped up at once and said: "Yes,
come along; and after that we will play tennis, unless you're too tired.
Tom won't play with me,[15] and I hardly ever get a game."

We went round the garden, which was beautifully laid out and beautifully
kept. We came across three or four gardeners, all toiling as if for
their lives, and one of them, I supposed, was the baronet of whom Lord
Arthur had told me, although none of them looked in the least like a
baronet.

There was a lovely rose-garden, in a corner by itself, and as roses
were rather a hobby of mine I examined each of the beds with some care.
In one of them I stooped down to pick up a weed. It was the first I had
seen anywhere.

"Oh, you mustn't do that," said Mollie, with round eyes expressive of
horror. "Thank goodness none of the gardeners saw you! Can't you plant
it again to look as if it had not been pulled up?"

I replanted the weed as if it had been something rare.

"That looks all right," said Mollie, with her head on one side. "Let's
go and find Mr. Hobbs and tell him."

We went in search of the head gardener, whom we found digging in a
corner of the vegetable garden. He was an austere man, and drew himself
up with displeasure when Mollie told him that we had found a weed in the
bed of white roses.

"White roses!" he repeated. "What white roses?"

"The big ones," said Mollie. "I don't know their name."

"Don't know their name!" exclaimed Mr. Hobbs in a withering tone.
"That's a nice thing to acknowledge! What is your brain for unless you
learn the names of things? The big white rose is a Frau Karl Druschki,
and don't you forget it. But you are a good girl to come and tell me
about the weed. What weed was it now?"

"It was a dandelion," said Mollie promptly.

But as we went away she confided to me that she only _hoped_ it was a
dandelion.[16] "I don't know anything about flowers," she said, "and
don't want to. I shan't have to bother about all that sort of thing
until I get older, and have to have a garden of my own."

"Haven't you got a garden of your own?" I asked her.

She looked at me with eyes full of surprise. "Why, I'm only twelve," she
said.

Something in her expression, and the memory of Miriam's look when I had
mentioned the garden, warned me not to pursue the subject. There was
some mystery here--it would almost seem some mystery of sex. I must
reserve my enquiries for Edward.

We came to a large pool in the lower part of the garden. It was bordered
with irises and reeds and other water-loving plants.

"I say!" exclaimed Mollie, "would you like to fish?"

I thought the suggestion a good one. I wanted to get some information
out of Mollie, and I could not expect a child of her age to sit down in
a chair and talk, even if the servants should permit us to do so
undisturbed.

"I'll go and ask Sir Herbert to get us some worms and rods," she said,
and ran off on her active black-stockinged legs.

She came back presently with the under-gardener, who carried a couple of
rods and a tin of bait, and looked at me a little suspiciously as he
said: "Now, Mollie, if you catch anything, you've got to eat it. There's
to be no throwing back of fish into the pond."

Mollie promised that we would eat anything that we might catch, and Sir
Herbert went back to his work.

When we were fairly settled, watching our floats, I said: "This is
rather jolly, isn't it? Do your cousins, who are poor, have such a good
time as you do?"

"Oh, much better," she replied. "They can go and fish in the parks if
they want to, with their schoolfellows. I wish mother would let me go to
school. Tom does, and I don't see why I shouldn't."

"But you can have your friends to play with you here, can't you?"

"I do sometimes. But they are not allowed to come very often; their
mothers don't like it."

"Why not?"

"Oh, they think they might get to like _luxury_!"

She said this with an air of scorn, such as children use towards ideas
of their elders which strike them as absurd.

"But they don't get to like luxury," I hazarded.

"As if they would! Fancy liking to be always changing your clothes, and
having to keep them clean![17] Why, they tease me about it, and offer to
take away my toys!"

"Take away your toys!"

"Just as if I were really the child of rich parents, and they had to be
_charitable_ to me!"

"But don't you like having toys of your own, Mollie?"

"Not too many of them. Think of the rich little children whose nurses
make them play with hundreds of dolls, when they only want to play with
one! and are always telling them how sad the doll-makers would be if
they saw them crying at having to play with the dolls they had taken
such pains to make!"

She said this in imitation of a nurse's rebuke, of which she had
evidently had experience.

"But I'm sure little girls like to have something of their very own," I
said. "And they like new toys sometimes."

"Perhaps they may when they are very young. But they soon get tired of
it when they know what it means. Why, Cynthia,[18] my cousin, once said
that she would like to be rich, and have as many toys as she wanted, and
her mother simply filled the house with expensive toys, and she had to
play with them all. By the time she had worn them out she was jolly glad
to get back to her old wooden doll, which she could dress just as she
liked, and always take to bed with her. She was very careful not to say
anything more about wanting to be rich after that."

So that was the system! Children were shown the satiety that comes from
wealth, and taught early to shun it.

"It's such a bore having to be charitable," Mollie went on to confide in
me. "When I go visiting with mother I always have to bring home
something that some rich child or other has got tired of. Still, if it
pleases them----! Oh, look! I've got a bite!"

But it was only a nibble.

I tried again. "Have you got a pony?" I asked.

"Yes; he's a dapple-grey; his name is Bobby. I will show him to you."

"Thank you. I like looking at ponies. I suppose your cousins haven't got
ponies to ride."

"They can ride in butchers' and bakers' carts. That's much more fun.
Besides, they have ponies in the parks for poor children.

"Of course I love Bobby," she went on, as I digested this piece of
information. "But it is rather hard not to be allowed to ride the park
ponies, or to go and play in the parks at all, just because you have a
garden and a pony of your own."

"Oh, you are not allowed to go into the parks?"[19]

"Not unless I go to tea with somebody. I do wish mother and father would
leave off pretending to be rich."

"Then you would have to leave this pretty house and garden and go and
live in a street."

"I should like that. There would be lots of other girls and boys to play
with. I say, what time is it?"

When I looked at my watch and told her it was ten minutes past five, she
jumped up in consternation, and exclaimed: "Oh, come along quickly. I
didn't know it was five yet."

We hurried up through the garden, and met Mr. Hobbs, who stopped us, and
said severely: "Didn't you hear the clock strike?"

"No," said Mollie. "We were busy talking. I'm so sorry, Mr. Hobbs, I
won't be late again."

"You said that yesterday," said Mr. Hobbs. "And last week I caught you
out here when it was nearly six. The next time it happens I'll give you
a great big box of chocolate creams, and see that you eat them all."

The explanation of this awful threat, as I learnt later, was that the
gardens of the rich were given up to those who looked after them, and
their friends, after certain hours, and it was not permitted to their
owners to enter them.

As we went across the lawn, Sir Herbert was stringing up the tennis net,
and two of the maids were standing talking to him. All three of them
looked at us with displeasure as we scuttled by, and Mollie said: "I
shall catch it for this when I get in."

FOOTNOTES:

[15] He said that he didn't like playing with girls.

[16] It was a plantain.

[17] The contempt for pretty clothes amongst the girl children of Culbut
was a question of form. See page 52.

[18] The Lady Cynthia Maxted, younger daughter of the Earl of Blueberry
by his marriage with Sarah, daughter of Giles Ploughshare, Esq.

[19] The public parks of Culbut, as well as the semi-private ones (see
chapter xiv), were entirely closed to the rich. This had not always been
so, but an agitation had been made by the mothers of the poor children
who played there some years before, and the Municipality had legislated
in their favour. Edward Perry considered this a very bad business.



CHAPTER XI


It was quite time for me to go and get ready to join Mr. Perry. Indeed,
it was more than time, as I found when I went upstairs, and was greeted
by Lord Arthur with the remark that if I wasn't in the hall ready for
the carriage when it came round I should hear about it.

But I found him a good deal more anxious to be friendly than before, and
presently discovered that the reason for this was that it had got about
in the household that I was a "Highlander." I did not contradict the
report, but refrained from giving him any information about where I
really had come from, for one thing because I didn't think he would
believe me, and for another because I thought it might not be a bad
thing to be looked upon as the altogether superior being which the
dwellers in that remote part of Upsidonia were evidently considered to
be.

Fortunately, I was just ready to step into the carriage when it came
round, and thus escaped an expression of censure from the coachman, who
drove off quickly towards Culbut.

We picked up Mr. Perry, and as we drove on to his club I managed to
bring into the conversation a reference to the Highlands. He expressed
considerable surprise to hear that I was an inhabitant of that region,
which was not altogether gratifying. But he explained that, having first
met me on the opposite side of the city, it had not occurred to him that
I was a Highlander, otherwise he would certainly have guessed it from my
perfect manners.

We arrived at the club very well pleased with one another. It was a
large building, luxuriously furnished, but in very bad taste. There were
some atrocious pictures on the walls, and the decorations were garish.

The big room into which we first went was full of opulent-looking
gentlemen, lounging in easy chairs, drinking and smoking and talking to
one another. We joined a group of them, and Mr. Perry introduced me to
one or two, addressing them in a genially patronising manner. He did not
tell them that I was a Highlander, and I suppose they took me for one of
themselves, for their greeting was not ceremonious.

However, one of them was good enough to ask me what I would take, and I
said a small whisky and soda. This was brought by a haughty-looking
servant in a powdered wig and crimson plush breeches, who held out his
salver, not to my entertainer but to me, and I paid for my drink and his
as well, as it seemed to be expected of me.

The talk was all about money. One gentleman with thick lips and a hooked
nose said that he had done good business that afternoon. He had bought
ten thousand Northern Railways, having received private information that
the men had decided to strike for an all-round decrease in wages, and
they had fallen three points when the news had become public. He had
dropped quite a tidy little sum.

Another man said that that sort of business was too risky for him. He
believed in doing a steady safe business. If he lost fifteen per cent on
his capital every year he was quite satisfied.

Another said he had been looking all his life for a safe investment that
would lose ten per cent without your having to worry about it, and he
didn't believe it was to be found.

All these men talked in quite an uneducated way, and their manners were
not attractive. They wore a good deal of heavy jewellery, and clothes
that looked as if they were new, but not one of them looked or spoke
like a gentleman.

Mr. Perry, who had taken his part in the conversation, and had been
treated with some deference, drew me away towards another group, saying
as we crossed the room that he wanted me to see all sorts, and I must
try to make myself as much one of them as possible. I should now be
introduced to some racing men.

But before we reached them, Mr. Perry was hailed in a cheery but
somewhat vinous voice by a man who was reclining in the depths of an
easy chair by an open window, with a table at his side on which was a
bottle of Maraschino half empty, and a good-sized glass of the same half
full. His appearance was not markedly different from that of dozens of
elderly men whom you may see after lunch at any London club, taking
their ease, and perhaps their little nap, and never far removed in point
of time or space from refreshment of a spirituous nature. He was sleek
and well-groomed, and the tint of his face was only a trifle more
plum-coloured than might betoken abstemious living.

"Well, old Perry," said this cheerful gentleman in his mellow voice, but
without shifting his semi-recumbent position, "what are you going to do
to raise us this afternoon? Come and help me buzz this bottle, and show
your sympathy with the rich."

Mr. Perry seemed to look at the speaker, the bottle, and me, all at the
same time, but with a different expression for each.

"Allow me," he said, "to introduce my young friend, John Howard, who
comes from the Highlands--Lord Charles Delagrange. He is anxious to see
something of life amongst the rich, and I am showing him round.
Naturally, he has never been in a place like this before, and----"

"And we must behave ourselves, eh?" interrupted Lord Charles. "Come now,
old Perry, don't pretend to be above your company. You don't like
poverty any more than I do. Sit down and make yourself comfortable, and
touch that bell for another glass--two more glasses, if Mr. Howard will
join us."

Mr. Perry touched the bell, as requested, and said with an agreeable
smile: "You will have your little joke, Lord Charles. You know very well
that all self-indulgence is extremely distasteful to me; but in this
place I do not wish to put myself on a pedestal."

"You put yourself in that chair, old Perry," said Lord Charles,
indicating one only a little less deep and easy than his own, "and don't
be a humbug. Well, Mr. Howard, this must be an agreeable change to you
from the Highlands. You live on porridge and Plato there, I believe. You
did well to put yourself into the hands of old Perry. He'll do you top
notch--nobody knows how to better than he--and send you home to spread
the gospel of high living and plain thinking among the benighted toilers
with whom you have been brought up."

"I hope," said Mr. Perry, "that Mr. Howard will go back with no such
lesson. If you are going to try to persuade him that my efforts to
uplift the wealthy classes are a cloak for vicious desires of my own,
Lord Charles, I shall not shrink from holding you up to him as an
example of what to avoid."

Lord Charles hoisted himself up in his seat to pour out three glasses of
the liqueur. "Fire away, old Perry," he said. "Tell him my awful story.
But get outside this first; it will do you a world of good."

Mr. Perry got outside it, and began:

"Lord Charles is a younger son of the late Duke of Trumps, a man
respected and beloved for his many virtues."

"A fine old boy, my governor," Lord Charles agreed, "and the best hedger
and ditcher to be found in Upsidonia. But he liked his glass of beer,
old Perry; don't forget that. Don't forget that he liked his glass of
beer."

"I have no doubt that his Grace permitted himself moderate relaxation
after the labours of the day were over," said Mr. Perry. "But it would
have shocked him deeply to know that a son of his would ever sink to
the level of glorying in a life of ease and sloth."

"I dare say it would," said Lord Charles indulgently. "I dare say it
would. You're not smoking, old Perry. Try one of these weeds; they're in
very good condition. I'll do the same by you some day."

Mr. Perry accepted a cigar, lit it, and continued:

"Lord Charles, here, was brought up to an agricultural career, which is
a tradition in his family. There are no better farm-labourers in
Upsidonia than the Delagranges, and his brother, the present Duke of
Trumps, who is a carter, has several times taken the first prize at the
May Day parade of cart-horses. But Lord Charles grew tired of that
simple, uplifting life."

"Have you ever tried uplifting hay on to a stack all through a long
summer day?" asked Lord Charles, "or getting up at five o'clock on a
winter's morning to look after somebody else's horses? Yes, I got tired
of it."

"His temptation came," said Mr. Perry, "when he went on to a farm on the
Downs, near Pepsom, and attended his first race-meeting."

"Never touched a winner all day," said Lord Charles, "and came away with
a pot of money."

"Which, of course, he had to spend," said Mr. Perry. "It is often the
beginning of such a downfall as his. He allowed himself to take a
pleasure in surreptitious spending, and when his father, the duke, died,
he threw up his situation and became a man about town."

"Haven't a care in the world," said Lord Charles, "except the confounded
inspectors. But they are never hard on a man of my birth, and I manage
to escape accumulating more than I can conveniently spend. The fact is,
Mr. Howard, I hate work, and I like making myself comfortable. There are
plenty of others like me. Old Perry is one of them, but, of course, he
has a family, and must keep up appearances."

"Mr. Howard already knows me too well not to believe that all I do is
dictated by humanitarianism," said Mr. Perry. "Lord Charles is cut off
from the society of his equals. His family has disowned him. At first
they combined to take small sums of money from him, and tried to help
him out of the morass into which he had sunk. But they have long since
given it up. He now, as you see, wallows--absolutely wallows--in his
degradation, and I fear he is past all hope."

"Not a bit," said Lord Charles, again hoisting himself in his chair. "I
am hoping to have a very good dinner to-night, and another one
to-morrow. Now I am going to play bridge. I don't know whether you would
care for a rubber, Mr. Howard?"

For some reason Mr. Perry seemed to desire me to accept this invitation.
He said he had some important business to think over, and we might leave
him where he was.

"Old Perry can't put away the liquor he used to," said Lord Charles, as
we went out of the room. "He's had too much of it. He wants a little nap
now. He's a nice old fellow, and you'll have a good time at Magnolia
Hall as long as you stay there."



CHAPTER XII


The card-room was well occupied. We cut into a table with two other men,
one of whom was the stockbroker who had made the lucky _coup_ that
afternoon, and the other was a disagreeable sort of fellow who, I
learnt afterwards, had inherited a great deal of money and had done
little all his life to diminish it. His name was Brummer; he had the
manners of a costermonger, and not of one in the higher walks of that
calling, if there are such.

Lord Charles treated both of them with a careless good-nature which
seemed to subdue somewhat the exuberance of their vulgarity; but I
thought that before we made up our table they looked about as if they
would rather have joined another one. And it was evident that they
suspected me of being what Brummer called contemptuously "a ----
philanthropist," when the stockbroker told him I had come into the club
with Mr. Perry.

Lord Charles was my partner, and I took the precaution of asking him
what the points were to be, before we began.

"Oh, club points--a sovereign," he said, in an off-hand manner, and I
could only hope that my luck would stand good, for they were much higher
than I was accustomed to.

However, I had over ten pounds in my pocket and did not suppose that
there would be much difficulty in getting more in Upsidonia if I wanted
it. So I sat down with no particular uneasiness.

It was a long rubber, but it ended in Lord Charles leaving the
declaration to me, and my declaring "no trumps," with four aces and a
long suit of diamonds.

When he had expressed his satisfaction, and Brummer had sworn heavily at
our luck, I leant back in my chair to watch him play the hand.

He was just about to begin, when there was some commotion in the room,
and I looked up to see two men in blue uniforms coming towards us with
notebooks in their hands.

Brummer let out a violent oath, and muttered something about the ----
inspectors. Lord Charles looked up at them and said: "Hullo! Come for a
drink?"

They ignored this pleasantry, and the superior of them asked what stakes
we were playing for.

"Club stakes, of course," said Brummer. "Pound points, and a hundred on
the rubber."

This was a most unpleasant shock to me, until I reflected that the
rubber was certainly ours by the cards on the table, and I need not play
another one. So I was enabled to give my attention to the inspector, who
enquired if I was a member of the club, and, when I said that I was a
visitor, asked the name of my introducer.

Then he looked at the table and said: "None of you are drinking
anything. When did you last imbibe?"

"A good idea!" said Lord Charles. "Let's have drinks all round. What's
yours, Inspector?"

The inspector smiled indulgently, and went away to another table.
Brummer and the other man immediately became violently abusive.

"They wouldn't dare put their noses into a poor man's club," said
Brummer; and the other man asked: "Why should we be forced to drink, if
we don't want to?"

"I always do want to," said Lord Charles. "I want a whisky and soda now
as much as I ever wanted anything in my life. You'll join me, Mr.
Howard?"

But I declined. There were limits.

"Why do they insist upon your drinking?" I asked.

"Oh, because it's a club, and the wine-merchants have been kicking up a
row lately. They say the supply is beginning to exceed the demand;[20]
that we're getting abstemious, but I'm sure I don't know where they get
their information from. Now then--you've led a spade, Brummer. Very
good. I put on the ace. I play out Dummy's seven diamonds and his two
other aces; put myself in with a small club, and make my king, queen,
and knave--grand slam."

He put his cards down on the table, and Brummer and his partner, after
looking at them suspiciously, accepted the inevitable, and proceeded to
add up the score.

We had won two hundred and thirty-four points, and quite a pleasant
feeling came over me as I contemplated receiving that number of pounds.

But my satisfaction was short-lived. To my unspeakable horror, I saw
Lord Charles cheerfully handing over bank notes and gold to the
stockbroker, and realised that I was expected to do the same to the
odious Brummer. I ought to have anticipated it. If you won at anything
in Upsidonia, of course, you paid out money; if you lost, you received
it.

What was I to do? In my distress I mumbled something about having
thought that the points were a pound a hundred, and then a gleam of
relief came to me when it struck me that Brummer would be better pleased
than anything at my omitting to pay him, especially as he had bitterly
complained at his want of luck in losing the rubber, as ill-bred players
always do, and had made himself intensely disagreeable to his partner
for losing a possible trick at an earlier point of the game.

But unfortunately, Brummer took my evident unwillingness to pay up as an
offensive mark of patronage.

"We don't want none of your blooming charity here," he said. "'Oo the
something, something are you, to come 'ere crowing over us? If you win a
rubber in this 'ere club, you fork out same as if you was playing with
the nobs."

"Oh, yes, Howard," said Lord Charles, "you needn't be shy. Brummer don't
mind taking it a bit. Why, it's a fleabite to him. He's got a hundred
thousand sitting on his chest at home."

"But I tell you I haven't got it," I said. "I've only got about fifteen
pounds in the world."

"Well, then, what do you want to come poking yourself in 'ere for in
that rig out?" enquired Brummer with more oaths. "We ain't a wild beast
show, are we? I thought there was something fishy about you when Perry
first brought you in."

"What's this? What's this?" exclaimed a voice at my elbow. "I say,
Brummer, my man, don't forget yourself, you know. No language! It's one
of the rules of the club, to which we have all subscribed."

I looked round to see standing behind me an athletic-looking young man
in the dress of a curate.[21]

"Ah, Thompson!" said Lord Charles. "Come to see we're all behaving
ourselves, eh? It's all right. Brummer was just going to write out a
U. O. Me to give to Mr. Howard. Here's a fountain pen, Brummer. You can
write it on the back of the score."

Brummer scrawled "U. O. Me £234" and signed his name to it in an
execrable fist, and I put it in my pocket, wondering what I was to do
about it. Then Brummer and the stockbroker got up and left the table.

Lord Charles introduced me to Mr. Thompson, and then drifted off
himself, with a sort of determined carelessness.

Somewhat to my surprise, Mr. Thompson gripped me affectionately by the
arm just above the elbow, and led me out of the room. "Very pleased to
make your acquaintance, old fellow," he said heartily. "You and I must
get to know each other better. Some night, when you've got nothing
better to do, you must come round to my digs and have a yarn, and a cup
of coffee. Now, what have you been doing with yourself all day?"

I was led into the big room again, and deposited in a chair, from which
I could see Mr. Perry slumbering by the window in the evening sunlight,
while the curate took one next to me, in which he sat upright, with his
legs crossed, and his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat.

"After all," he said, looking at me with manly but somewhat embarrassing
tenderness, "smoking and drinking and playing cards aren't everything in
the world, are they! You feel that yourself, I know. It's so jolly to
feel you've done something with your day--something to raise a pal."

I muttered something to the effect that it _was_ rather jolly; but he
did not seem to want me particularly to help in the conversation.

"Do you take any interest in Coleoptera?" he asked, and proceeded,
clasping his hands and cracking their joints: "Coleoptera is larks. A
few fellows come round to me every Tuesday evening, and we teach each
other something about the beggars. How would you like to join us
to-night?"

"I don't know where it is," I said.

He gave me the address of his rooms, with a half-concealed air of
eagerness.

"I mean I don't know where Coleoptera is," I said. "I never could tackle
geography."

"Oh, I see!" he said, not turning a hair, for which I respected him.
"No, you've got it wrong, old chap. Coleoptera is beetles, you know. The
fact is that I wanted to get up some subject that would give fellows
like you a taste for science. There's a good deal to be lost over it,
you know. Have you ever heard of Professor Gregory? He began just like
that, reading with a parson fellow who took an interest in him--I mean,
took an interest in science. Gregory was the son of a ground landlord,
you know, and if _he_ could raise himself to what he is now, anybody
could. Why don't you try it, old chap? I'm sure you look intelligent
enough."

I looked as modest as possible under the circumstances, and he seemed to
regard me more closely. "What's your line?" he asked. "What are you
doing to scare off the oof-bird?"[22]

I don't know what I should have replied to this question, but at that
moment Mr. Perry, whom I had observed gradually waking up, came over to
us and said: "Ah, Howard, I see you're in good hands, but I think we
must be going off now. The carriage is at the door, and my good Thomas
won't like to be kept waiting."

The curate looked at me again, with a slightly different expression, and
Mr. Perry said to him: "We don't often get a Highlander here, do we,
Thompson? Mr. Howard is making social enquiries. I dare say he has
learnt quite a lot from you."

The curate suddenly laughed. "I am afraid I have put my foot in it,
sir," he said. "If you come among us disguised as a rich man, you can't
complain of being treated like one."[23]

He was a good fellow, and we shook hands warmly as we parted.

FOOTNOTES:

[20] When I discussed this with Edward, he asked indignantly why those
in the liquor trade should be assisted in this way, when other traders
in a like predicament would get no help from the Government, but would
have to put up prices. I could give him no answer.

[21] The club to which Mr. Perry had introduced me would have
corresponded to a working man's club with us, and was under some sort of
clerical control. Its members set this, along with the annual
subscription, as against advantages enjoyed.

[22] Upsidonian expression for getting rid of your money.

[23] The clergy in Upsidonia were accustomed to treat the rich in a
slightly different manner from that in which they treated the poor.



CHAPTER XIII


We arrived home in time to dress for dinner. Lord Arthur had laid out my
evening clothes, and was still in the room, evidently ready for a little
conversation.

"Well, I suppose you met some pretty low-down swabs at old Perry's
club," he began "What did you do there?"

"I played bridge," I said, "and lost--I mean won--two hundred and
thirty-four pounds. I have accepted a U. O. Me for it. What do you do if
you haven't got the money?"

"Why, wait till you get landed with some, and swop it off. You're jolly
lucky! It's a dangerous game. Why, you might have had to receive it! Who
did you play with?"

"Lord Charles Delagrange was my partner. Do you know him?"

His face changed. "He's my uncle, I'm sorry to say," he said stiffly.
"But if I were to meet him in the street I should look the other way.
He's a swab of the first water."

"He seems cheerful enough," I said, "and enjoys his life thoroughly, to
all appearances."

"I dare say he does. But there must be times when he asks himself
whether the company he keeps is worth the price he pays for it. He can't
get any other. I shouldn't think there's a servants' hall in the country
that would be open to him now."

"I suppose the best society in the place is to be found in the servants'
hall."

"Of course it is--the best female society. You must come and dine with
us one night here. We'll give you a very poor dinner."

"Thank you. You are very kind."

"Not at all. Of course, it's a little different in this house. We have
to keep up the farce, and we don't like to put people like the Perrys
out. We generally choose a night for our parties when they are dining
out. In other houses you can just tell them upstairs that there won't be
any regular dinner for them, when you think of having guests of your
own."

At that moment Edward came into the room, and Lord Arthur left us,
saying that he must go and help Mr. Blother with the table.

Edward seemed a trifle disturbed. "I say," he said, "what is all this
about your being a Highlander?"

"Well, Miss Miriam and I settled it between ourselves that England must
be in the Highlands somewhere," I explained.

He looked at me with some suspicion. "It's all very well to have a
joke," he said, "and the story you made up to me was certainly very
ingenious and amusing, though highly absurd. But I don't think you ought
to want to keep it up any longer. It amused Miriam, but there's always
the danger, where a young girl lives in such surroundings as these, that
she may get a taste for luxury. You ought not to make it out to her that
people could live anywhere in the way you pretend without disgrace. It
is apt to confound right and wrong."

"My dear fellow," I said, "I quite see your point. But Miss Miriam is so
level-headed that I am sure she would never be affected in that way."

"Perhaps not," he said. "Still, I think it is time you dropped it. Of
course, I shouldn't dream of asking you where you really do come from,
if you don't want to tell me. It is quite obvious that you are well-born
and well-educated, and that is enough for me."

"My dear Edward, if you will let me call you so, I appreciate your
delicacy. All I have told you is true, but I have not the slightest wish
to publish it abroad if you think it would be better that I shouldn't."

"I think it is _much_ better that you shouldn't, unless you wish to lie
under the suspicion of being touched in the head."

"No, I don't wish that at all. As I am already supposed to be a
Highlander, suppose we keep to that."

"Well, if you like," he said unwillingly. "But if you are supposed to
have come from the Highlands, you ought to be more than a little
learned. I wonder you haven't already been asked what your subject is.
Is there any branch of learning in which you are an expert?"

"I took a First Class in the Classical Schools of my university, and am
a Fellow of my College, if you know what that means."

His face brightened.[24] "Of course, you _are_ a Highlander," he said,
with a smile. "I don't know why you want to make such a mystery of it; I
suppose it is out of modesty. Well, I won't bother you any more; I must
go and dress. My married sister, by the by, is coming to dine with her
husband. He is a very good fellow, and I am sure you will get on with
him. He is striving hard to overcome the defects of his birth. You
remember that I told you my sister had married into the Stock Exchange."


I found the family assembled in the drawing-room. I was quite pleased to
see Miriam again. I thought she looked very sweet in her white frock.
She had a lovely neck and shoulders, and her hair was very soft and
fair. She smiled at me as I came in, in a friendly fashion, and seemed
quite to have forgotten that a slight cloud had hung over us when we had
last parted. I remembered that I had not yet pumped Edward about the
mystery of the garden.

I was introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Eppstein. Mr. Perry's eldest daughter
must have been some years older than Miriam. She was good-looking, but
wore a prim pinched-up expression. Her husband looked nervous. He was a
youngish dark man, with a small moustache and hot hands. He said: "I am
very pleased to make your acquaintance, sir," when we were introduced.

I took in Mrs. Perry, and had Miriam on the other side of me. Owing to
the smallness of the party, Mr. and Mrs. Eppstein sat next to one
another, on the other side of the table.

Curiously enough, the question I had been meaning to ask of Edward was
answered for me during the conversation with which we began.

"I have a piece of news for you," said Mrs. Eppstein, to the company
generally. "They say that Lady Grace Perkins has asked Sir Hugo Merton
into her garden."

Everyone expressed that sort of interest with which the news of an
unexpected engagement is received.

"Hugo Merton!" exclaimed Lord Arthur, who was handing round the soup.
"Why, I thought he was always hanging round little Rosie Fletcher's
gate."

"She wouldn't give him the invitation he wanted," said Mr. Blother, "and
I suppose he got tired of waiting for it. A glass of sherry, Edward?"

"No thank you," said Edward. "Didn't Lady Grace ask John Hardy into her
garden last summer?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Eppstein; "it was he who told Herman." She turned to
her husband. "The _large_ spoon, pet," she whispered, and then asked
aloud: "Didn't he say that her garden was very badly kept, dear?"

Mr. Eppstein blushed awkwardly. "He said it wasn't so tyesty as some
he'd been in," he said.

This reply caused some slight embarrassment, which Mr. Perry sought to
dissipate by saying: "John Hardy has certainly received invitations from
a good many ladies. No doubt he has a way with him."

"It is quite time he asked for a key," said Mrs. Perry somewhat
severely. "It is not fair on nice girls that he should go from one
garden to another as he does. And it is very ill-bred to talk about them
to others."

"I didn't arst 'im abaht it," said Mr. Eppstein.

"'Ask,' pet, not 'arst,'" whispered his wife.

Mr. Eppstein accepted the correction. "I didn't ask him," he said. "I
fancy he was upset like at getting the chuck, and wanted to sye
somethink narsty."

"Very likely that was it," said Mr. Perry, covering Mrs. Eppstein's
further corrections. "Well, I am sure I hope Lady Grace and Sir Hugo
will be happy together, and that it will end in his asking her for a
key. He wants a wife, and a home of his own. Our friend, Sir Hugo, is
employed in a large drapery establishment, Mr. Howard, where they have
the system of living in. You don't know anything about that over the
mountains."

"And you don't know anything about my lady's garden, either," said
Edward, leaning forward to address me across his sister. "I suppose you
hardly understand what we have been talking about?"

"I have gathered something of what it means," I said, glad to be able to
avow my ignorance, for Miriam's benefit, "but I didn't know before. I
suppose if a lady asks a man into her garden, it means that she--she
likes him?"

"She would not do it," said Mrs. Perry, "unless he had first shown that
he liked _her_, and would be glad to have the invitation."

"Rather a delicate subject for conversation at the dinner-table, isn't
it?" put in Mr. Blother, from the carving-table, where he was slicing
the salmon. "Why not let the men explain it when the ladies have left
the room?"

This suggestion was acceded to, and we talked on other subjects as long
as the ladies were with us.

Mrs. Eppstein seemed anxious that I should understand that, although she
had married beneath her, she had not done it for fun, so to speak. She
talked a great deal about lifting the richer classes, and her husband
seemed quite to fall in with her views upon the subject. I noticed that
as dinner progressed he drank considerably more wine than Edward did,
though not so much as Mr. Perry, and was inclined to take a larger share
in the conversation than at the beginning.

The subject of the servants[25] was introduced over dessert, and
Eppstein waxed eloquent and indignant at being expected to give up the
use of his library after dinner, because the house-maid was reading up
for matriculation at the Culbut University, and wanted a quiet room to
work in.

"Well, of course, we _can_ sit in the drawing-room," said Mrs. Eppstein.
"I don't mind that so much. But what I really had to put down my foot
about the other day was the new parlour-maid objecting to Herman and me
talking together at meals. I said, 'It may be quite reasonable to impose
silence upon the usual rich and vulgar family, but I should never think
of submitting to such a rule myself.' And then she had the impudence to
say that she didn't mind _my_ talking, and I could talk to her if I
liked, but the master's accent was so disagreeable that it unfitted her
for her work. I told her that my husband and I were one, and that if I
could put up with it _she_ could."

"Domestic servants are not what they were," said Mrs. Perry. "There used
to be something like friendship between them and their mistresses. I
know many ladies, who went out to service as girls, who still visit
their old mistresses, and even ask them to their own houses. But that
kindly feeling is getting rare nowadays. I do not think it is all the
fault of the mistresses, either, although with the spread of education,
they are certainly getting very uppish."

"I think that it is entirely the fault of the servants," said Edward.
"The rich are not content now to be mere drudges, and to spend their
lives on being waited on hand and foot. And it is not right that they
should be. Servants are really a parasitical class, and it is unfair
that the burden of providing them with work should be put upon the rich,
when they are so over-burdened already with having to consume more than
their fair share of the produce of the country."

"There'll be a strike some day," said Eppstein rather excitedly. "You
mark my words. If the rich was to combine together and say they wouldn't
eat no more than they wanted to, and all was to agree to chuck the food
they didn't want away, p'raps the poor would think twice about piling it
up on them."

"That would be a serious day for the country," said Mr. Perry. "We must
work by legitimate means, not anarchy. The solution of the problem of
over-production can only come, I feel sure, by more individual members
of the community sympathising with the rich, and sharing their lives, as
we try to do here. It is not easy, I know. I have spent my own time in a
humble endeavour to lead the way, but sometimes I am rather inclined to
sink under the burden. I have my moments of dejection. There are times
when I feel as if I positively cannot face the prospect of another rich
meal."

He sat at the foot of the table with his shirt-front crumpled and eyes
slightly glazed, and it was not difficult to believe that this was one
of the moments he had so feelingly alluded to, in which his
philanthropic efforts sat heavily on him.

But Edward, who had been as abstemious as had been permitted him, leant
forward and put his hand on his father's. "Cheer up, dad," he said. "You
are doing a noble work; you must not faint under it."

"I do feel rather faint," said Mr. Perry. "I wish Blother would bring
the brandy."

The ladies left us at this point, and Edward, who was in a mood of
harangue, went into this question of food, which counted for so much in
the economic problems of Upsidonia.

"You see, it must all come down to that in the end," he said.
"Agricultural and pastoral pursuits are so much sought after that the
over-production of food is the most serious item in the general
over-production of the country. The cry of 'back to the towns' is all
very well, but people won't live in artificial surroundings if they have
once tasted the pleasure and excitement of hard bodily toil; and you
can't make them."

"Well, you wouldn't like it yourself for long," said Eppstein, "not if
you know when you're well off. 'Ow did you get 'ere from the 'Ighlands?
Walk? Tell us abaht it."

"We were going to tell Howard about my lady's garden," said Edward. "You
see, Howard, in the country there is room for everybody, and the young
men and young girls can go courting in a natural way, in lanes with
briar hedges and nightingales and the moon, and all that sort of thing.
They can secure the necessary privacy. But in towns there is so little
privacy. It is the one thing in which the rich are really better off
than the poor, because they have large houses and gardens of their own."

"Which seem to belong more to their servants than to them," I said.

"Well, of course, the servants have to be considered. I am not an
extremist, and I do not advocate, as some do, that property should carry
no disadvantages other than those obviously inherent in it. If the rich,
for instance, were allowed to surround themselves with the gracious
things of life--space, freedom, flowers, art, leisure for study and
self-improvement--without the checks that a wise State has imposed upon
the abuse of those things, the incentive to break loose from the bonds
of property would be lessened. Don't you agree with me, Herman?"

"It's a bore, sometimes, to 'ave to eat too much," Eppstein corroborated
him.

"Quite so!" said Mr. Perry, awakening suddenly out of a species of
trance. "Quite so, Herman! Then why eat too much? I ask you--_why_ eat
too much?"

"'Cos the State makes you," said Eppstein.

"Ah!" said Mr. Perry, wagging his head with an expression of deep
wisdom. "But now you're talking politics." He then relapsed into his
former air of aloofness.

"Well, to come back to my lady's garden," said Edward. "It is generally
acknowledged that it is a good thing for young girls to be alone
sometimes, and in beautiful surroundings, so that they may feed their
minds on beautiful thoughts. So every girl in the towns, when she
reaches a certain age, has a garden of her own given to her, which she
has to look after entirely herself. She can retire into it whenever she
pleases, and nobody may break in on her privacy. When she accepts the
attentions of a man, she invites him into her garden, and if the
intimacy between them stands the test, by and by he asks her for a key.
If she consents to give him one, he has the right to enter her garden
whenever he pleases."

"A very pretty notion," I said, thinking all the time how dreadfully
forward I must have seemed to Miriam in asking her to show me the
garden--which she must naturally have taken to mean _her_ garden--after
about an hour's acquaintance, and wondering how soon I could get her to
ask me to see it of her own accord.

Eppstein laughed rather vulgarly. "You should see the old maids standing
with their garden gates wide open," he said.

"Oh, not all of them, Herman," expostulated Edward. "And some of the old
maids' gardens are as beautifully kept as any young girl's, and it is
quite a privilege to be invited into them. You are not expected to ask
for a key, and if you did they wouldn't give you one."

"Oh, wouldn't they!" exclaimed Eppstein. "You try, my boy. Now look
'ere, I'll tell you. When I was courtin' Amelia----"

But he did not continue his reminiscences, for Mr. Perry, suddenly
emerging from his gloomy trance, sang with a happy smile:

"When I married A-me-li-ar, Rum-ti tumti tum,"--and then laughed
consumedly.

We all shared in his hilarity, and when he had relapsed once more into
his solemn and even dejected mood, with the same suddenness as he had
emerged from it, I asked: "Do they give up their gardens when they
marry?"

"Seldom at once," said Edward. "They need not give them up at all, and
there are cases of old men and women still keeping up the gardens in
which they first made love to one another, and retiring to them
frequently. But in practice they are generally given up within a year or
so. They haven't the time to look after them."

At this point Mr. Perry said that he felt rather giddy. He thought he
had done rather too much during the day, and would be better in bed. So
Mr. Blother was summoned to help him upstairs, and we went into the
drawing-room without him.

We talked, and Miriam played to us. It was delightful to sit by the
open window, looking out on to the lovely garden, which lay mysterious
under a sky of spangled velvet, and listen to the sweet music she made.

By and by I felt that I did not want to talk any more, and fortunately I
was left to myself for a time, where I could see the garden, and by
turning my head could also see Miriam, her fair hair irradiated by the
shaded lamp that stood by the piano.

Soft thoughts began to steal over me--very soft thoughts, and very sweet
ones. I thought how delightful it would be to sit every evening like
this and listen to Miriam playing; and still more delightful if there
should come a time when she would shut the piano and come across the
room and put her hand on my shoulder, and look out on to the moonlight
lawn and the dark shrubs and the starry sky with me; and neither of us
would want to speak, but only to feel that the other was there.

And the night before I had spent in prison, and had not even known that
there was such a girl as Miriam!

FOOTNOTES:

[24] They possessed all the Greek and Latin Classics in Upsidonia, but
had not learnt to treat them as living languages. Their greatest
scholars had decided that although they were made up of words, or what
looked like words, they had not, and never had had, any consecutive
meaning. At one time a school had arisen which held them to be
mathematical symbols, and a certain Professor Pottinger had claimed to
have proved that they referred to the movements of the heavenly bodies.
He had predicted, out of Propertius, the arrival of a hitherto unknown
comet, but the comet had failed to make its appearance, and the
influence of his school had dwindled.

Another advanced school, led by a Professor of a Highland University,
taught that the words did have an actual meaning. By picking out all
those that are known to-day, such as "omnibus," "miles," "tandem,"
"[Greek: hêkista]," and the like, and rearranging them, this school
professed to have translated a good deal. But as each student rearranged
them differently, the results were not altogether satisfactory, even to
themselves.

I was told of a don in the University of Culbut who had been struck with
the number of words which did not seem to correspond with any
pronunciation, however corrupt, with which Upsidonians were acquainted;
and who even went so far as to say that classical words that were not
known might not be those words themselves, but symbolical, as it were,
of quite different words. The word "hoc," for instance, he did not
believe to be a mis-spelling of the wine of that name, or even to stand
for "hook," as some scholars maintained. And there had always been a
dispute as to whether the word "et," which occurred so frequently in
both languages, should be read as "ate," or as "Et," with a capital,
short for "Etta," or "Henrietta." This man boldly proclaimed that it was
neither, but from the frequency of its occurrence, was probably intended
to represent the word "and." He was, however, unable to explain why
people who wished to write "and" should prefer to write "et"; and
although his views had aroused some interest in learned circles, he was
commonly regarded as a crank.

The great mass of Upsidonian classical scholars were content to employ
themselves usefully in examining the different collocations of words in
various authors, and in the schools a great deal was learnt by heart.
The classics were considered a most valuable exercise of the faculties,
and the conservative teachers and men of learning held that it would be
a thousand pities to drop them, simply because they did not help the
learner to lose money.

[25] This was a favourite subject of conversation with ladies in
Upsidonia.



CHAPTER XIV


It was about a week after I had been welcomed into the Perry family that
we were all asked to take high tea at the house of Mrs. Perry's sister,
the Countess of Blueberry.

The most important thing that had happened in the meantime was that I
had fallen deeply in love with Miriam. We had been much together, and
our conversations had largely concerned themselves with the curious
state of things obtaining in the country from which I had come. Miriam
was deeply interested in what I told her, but I had to be very careful.
In some respects she became more and more inclined to approve of a
country in which wealth might be used to lessen care, instead of
increasing it, and in which even the richest were under no cloud of
inferiority. The pictures I painted of English life under conditions of
monetary ease appealed alike to her natural tastes, of which in
Upsidonia she had to be ashamed, if she were to show right feeling, and
to the philanthropic ideals in which she had been brought up. She could
never get it out of her mind that we showed great nobility of behaviour
in treating rich people with a total absence of contempt, and I did not
desire that she should, although I insisted upon the fact itself.

But every now and again I came up against a painful shrinking. I had to
be extraordinarily careful how I dealt with the subject of food, for
instance, and I think that if I had ever described to her a city
banquet, or even a college feast, I should have wiped out at a stroke
all the admiration she was inclined to show for the habits and customs
of my beloved country.

But short as had been the time since I had come to Magnolia Hall, I had
already adapted myself somewhat to the Upsidonian point of view--indeed,
a good deal more than I should have thought possible.

In the matter of food and drink, I was now inclined to despise the
delicate living that I had at first taken such pleasure in. I can only
say on my own behalf--if I have seemed to represent myself as greedier
than I will confess to being--that I had been living a hard active life
for some weeks past, and was in the most abounding physical health; also
that Mrs. Lemon, the Perrys' cook, was a supreme artist.[26] After all,
my usual life was necessarily abstemious, and it had happened to me
before to get very tired of luxurious living, when I had been staying
with friends accustomed to it, and to go back to my own moderate habits
with relief.

So I now ate and drank sparingly at Magnolia Hall, and was inclined to
feel the same disgust towards those who did neither as was commonly
expressed around me. And it did not any longer seem curious to me that
contempt for luxury should be a general and genuine feeling in
Upsidonia. It was encouraged by constant expression, and those who might
be temperamentally inclined towards what is called "doing themselves
well," were ashamed of indulging their inclinations out of respect for
public opinion.[27]

In the matter of clothes I had also somewhat changed my point of view.
It is gratifying to feel one's self well-dressed, if everyone is
well-dressed around one; but if one is not suitably dressed as well, the
gratification disappears. It was not long before I began to feel,
walking about the streets of Culbut, in the excellent clothes for which
I still owed money to the Universal Stores, that I was not in the
fashion. It was rather as if I had turned out to shoot, amongst a crowd
of men in tweeds and woollens, wearing a shiny silk hat, varnished
boots, and striped trousers with creases down them. I discovered that it
was only in the most exclusive set, of which Lord Potter was one of the
leaders, that it was the fashion to go ragged and dirty. The ordinary
members of the educated classes were as clean as we are. But they liked
old clothes, and didn't want to be bothered with large collections of
them, or of anything else. Those who spent the day in bodily toil always
changed in the evening, wearing the newer of their two suits, which took
the place of the other one when that was entirely worn out.

The mention of Lord Potter reminds me of an encounter I had with that
nobleman a few days after I had hoped I had seen the last of him, in the
police court.

I was walking along the road from Culbut to Magnolia Hall, and had
reached the point at which the villas were beginning to get larger and
to stand in gardens of some extent, when I saw a filthy-looking tramp
crossing the road from one gate to the other, and recognised him as I
passed as Lord Potter.

He did not look at me, but when I had gone on a few yards, he called
out: "Hi, you fellow!" in an authoritative voice.

I took no notice, and he called out again more loudly, so I turned round
to see what he wanted.

"Didn't you hear me call?" he asked angrily. "Which is Hoggenschlick's
house?"

"I don't know," I said.

"Well, just run in and ask if Hoggenschlick lives here, and tell him
that Lord Potter wants to see him. I think this is the house. If it
isn't, it is the one across the road."

"Don't you think you might find out which it is for yourself?" I asked.
"I'm not your servant."

His face changed as he recognised me. "Oh, it's you!" he exclaimed
disagreeably; "and dressed like the cad I knew you were when I first saw
you. If you give me any of your impudence you'll find yourself in
trouble again, and I'll take care you don't get off this time. I shall
keep my eye on you. Where are you living?"

"Where I can get a wash sometimes," I replied. "You don't seem to be so
fortunate."

Then I turned round and walked on, leaving him very angry.

But to return to Miriam. England, and English life, was a little secret
between us; I did not talk about them to anybody else, and asked her not
to do so. The fact that she entered willingly into this understanding,
which I found so agreeable, being in that state of mind in which _any_
understanding with her would have pleased me, was very gratifying, as
tending to show that she had something of the same feeling about it as I
had. Oh, we were getting on very well! But she had not yet invited me
into her garden.

FOOTNOTES:

[26] She was also an extremely nice woman--the widow of a well-known
musician, and herself no mean performer, on the harp.

[27] The same sort of thing holds amongst us, in matters of art, for
instance. Perhaps the majority of us prefer chatty pictures with a
strong love interest to the works of Holbein and Rembrandt; but we would
not make the same fuss if there were a danger of their being taken out
of the country.



CHAPTER XV


The Earl of Blueberry was, as I have said, a suburban postman, and as it
was his month for making an evening round he was not present at Lady
Blueberry's tea-party. And their only son, the Young Viscount Sandpits,
had just been commissioned to one of the smart gangs of navvies in which
the aristocratic youth of Culbut were delighted to serve, if they were
of good enough physique. He, also, was on a night shift, and I did not
see him at that time. But the young Ladies Susan and Cynthia Maxted were
there, and extremely nice and well-mannered children they were, and very
pretty too. They wore clean print frocks, hand-knitted worsted
stockings, and serviceable shoes.

Mrs. Perry, Miriam, and Mollie also wore clothes suitable for the
occasion. Edward had on a suit of threadbare serge, which he had told
me, coming along, that he reserved for such occasions as this; and I
wore again the clothes in which I had come into Upsidonia.

We were the only men of the party. Tom was playing cricket, and Mr.
Perry had said that he was not feeling very well, and would dine quietly
at his club.

Lady Blueberry received us most graciously in her charming kitchen, from
which we went into the parlour, where the table was spread.

Blueberry House was typical of those in the aristocratic quarters of
Culbut. You entered by way of the scullery and kitchen, which, with a
small yard, were in front of the house. But immediately behind these was
a large room occupying the whole breadth of the house, and looking out
on to a peaceful park.[28]

We were left for a few minutes in the parlour, while Lady Blueberry took
the scones out of the oven and made the tea, and the Ladies Susan and
Cynthia, with Mollie's help, brought plates and the teapot to the table.

The parlour was cool and airy, with well-polished floor-boards, but no
carpet. The walls were whitewashed and hung with family portraits, some
of which seemed to me to be very fine. There was an equestrian portrait
of the first Earl of Blueberry in the dress of a royal stableman, that
looked to me like a Vandyke, which, of course, it could not have been;
and another of an eighteenth century countess carrying a milkpail, which
I should have sworn was a Sir Joshua if I had seen it anywhere else. A
charming group of Lady Blueberry and her two daughters, with their own
kitchen as a background, was by the famous Upsidonian artist, Corporal,
who had also painted Lord Blueberry with his letter-bag, and the gallant
young Sandpits, in corduroys, with his pick and shovel.

Lord Blueberry was a dignified figure of a man in this picture, and I
thought as I looked at it that I should have felt some hesitation in
offering him a tip at Christmas time. But if I had been a resident in
Culbut, he, no doubt, would have given me one, and I should not have
dared to refuse. Young Lord Sandpits was extremely handsome, and stood
up boldly, with his muscular arms bare to the elbows, the picture of
virile youth. The artist had got some wonderful lines into this picture,
especially in the hang of the trousers, which were strapped below the
knee.

The furniture in Lady Blueberry's parlour all seemed to be old, but
there was very little of it. There were no easy chairs, and, indeed, no
upholstery at all, or anything that detracted from the air of severe
simplicity that was the note of the room, and attracted strongly by its
restfulness. With the exception of the family portraits, there was no
ornament whatever. The tea-table was set with crockery of the cheapest
description, but all the shapes were good, and the colour was pleasing.
A grand piano in a corner of the room seemed a somewhat incongruous
feature, but Miriam told me as I looked at it that her cousin Susan was
exceptionally gifted musically, and she would get her to play for me
after tea.[29]

Lady Blueberry presided most graciously at the tea-table. She had that
perfectly natural air of courtesy combined with dignity which is the
mark of a great lady anywhere. She was formed in a classical mould,
which the severe lines of her afternoon-gown of black alpaca, relieved
with touches of white at the neck and wrists, suited admirably. Her
abundant hair was brushed back from her broad and placid brow, and
knotted simply on the nape of her neck. There were marks of toil on her
beautifully shaped hands, which, according to Upsidonian ideas, became
them better than jewels.

We talked about a step-sister of Lord Blueberry's--a Mrs. Claude
Chanticleer--who was a prominent member of the dirty set. Mrs. Perry had
asked about her, and Lady Blueberry's calm face had been somewhat
overshadowed as she told us that Tricky, as they called her, had been
causing her family considerable anxiety.

"She is always going in for some new extravagance," she said. "She and
Claudie gave up their two rooms, as you know, about a year ago, when
Mrs. Chetwynd-Jones died of pneumonia, and took possession of her
railway arch."

"But they only use that for a town residence, don't they?" asked Mrs.
Perry.

"Well, of course they went out of town for the hop-picking, and went
from one barn party to another through the rest of the autumn; but they
were in town for the whole of the winter, and I am quite sure that
Tricky must have suffered a good deal from exposure."

"She leads such a rackety life, too," said Edward. "I was coming home
from my Lads' Club very late one night in January, and I saw Claudie and
Mrs. Claudie and a lot of others round a watchman's shelter. None of
them were speaking a word, and they all looked as if they would die of
cold before the morning."

"And they call that pleasure!" said Lady Blueberry.

"Do they really persuade themselves that it is pleasure?" I asked.

"They say that endurance is the highest form of pleasure," said Lady
Blueberry. "And of course it is so in a way. At least, no sensible
person would leave endurance of hardships out of their life altogether.
But the dirty set, as they call them, are so eager for new sensations
that they never use any method of life moderately, and would just as
soon throw it over altogether, whether it was helpful or not, if anybody
started some new craze."

"Susan and I saw Auntie Tricky in the gallery of the opera," said Lady
Cynthia, "the night that Aunt Maude took us. Uncle Claudie wasn't there.
Auntie Tricky was with Lord Hebron. And we saw them supping together at
the whelk stall in Paradise Row when we were coming home."

"That will do, dear," said Lady Blueberry, with calm authority. "Lord
Hebron is an old friend of Uncle Claudie's, and no doubt he had asked
him to look after Auntie Tricky for the evening."

"It is a good thing, at any rate," said Edward, "that they got through
the winter in their railway arch. It would not be so bad now. And I
suppose they will soon be off to the strawberry fields?"

"I am not sure," said Lady Blueberry. "Tricky came to see me the other
day, and told me she thought of going in for the complicated life this
summer. It seems to me a perfectly insane idea. After the privations she
has gone through her digestion will not stand it. But there it is! It is
a new idea; others are taking it up, and, of course, Tricky must be in
the movement."

"Besides," said Edward, "the complicated life, as it is practised by the
dirty set, is such a sham. If they lived it seriously, as we do, year in
and year out, and really did live it with all its drawbacks, they would
very soon get tired of it."

"Of course they would," said Lady Blueberry. "It is not the same thing
at all."

"How do they live it?" I enquired.

"They make up a party," said Lady Blueberry, "and descend upon some
large house in the country, where they live a life of ease and luxury as
long as it amuses them. I think myself that to play at being rich in
that way is extremely immoral. It has already been known to give some of
the younger people who have practised it a taste for luxury that has led
them into a life of degradation. I believe young Bertie Pilliner has
been quite ruined by it. I heard the other day that he had acquired a
motor-car, and joined a golf club. And he used to be such a nice boy. He
was in Sandpit's gang, but, of course, he had to be requested to go."

"What becomes of the people whose houses they descend upon?" I enquired.
"Do they live with them as their guests?"

Lady Blueberry laughed pleasantly. "That would not suit them at all,"
she said. "They choose their house--generally the most elaborate one
they can find--and write and tell the owners that they are to leave it
by a certain date. Then they take possession of it, and live just as if
they were rich themselves, but, as Edward says, they suffer none of the
inconveniences. They refuse to do the least little thing that the
servants tell them, and as they are not among their own possessions they
do not feel the burden of them. It is only because the servants like to
have people they can associate with, instead of their masters and
mistresses, and the owners of the houses are glad to have somebody to
consume their stores while they can go away for a holiday, that the
system is possible at all."

"It is a very dangerous game to play at," said Edward, "and goes
directly against all our work. If the movement spreads to any extent it
will prove to be an immense temptation to those whose principles are not
firmly fixed. They will see the complicated life in an entirely false
aspect, and think that it is always like that, and, perhaps, even that
it is preferable to the simple life. Then the very foundations of
society will be undermined, and we shall have such a revolution as it
makes me tremble to think of."

He spoke so earnestly that the young Lady Cynthia, who was of a
sympathetic disposition, burst into tears, and implored her mother not
to let Auntie Tricky lead the complicated life any more.

Lady Blueberry soothed her tenderly, and said that she would do what she
could to prevent it, and soon afterwards we rose from the table.

Mrs. Perry stayed in the house to help her sister wash up, and, no
doubt, to have a little intimate conversation with her; and Edward went
off with apologies, to some engagement in the way of self-improvement.
The rest of us adjourned to the park, and when we had seen the children
happily amusing themselves in the pony paddocks, where there were
hurdles, and a little water-jump, I had the delight, which I had hoped
all along might come to me, of wandering alone with Miriam through the
bosky shades of that beautiful pleasance.

Miriam seemed at first a little nervous, but we soon fell into easy
converse, which gradually drifted, with possibly a little urging on my
part, into one of a more confidential nature. I will not repeat any of
it; perhaps it is not worth repeating. I said things that come easily to
the lips of any lover, and she received them with a sweet modesty that
made me think them almost inspired.

It was a lovely quiet evening; the retired walks in which we strolled
amongst the trees and flowers might have been deep in the country,
instead of in the heart of a city; and if we met, as we did sometimes,
other pairs of lovers, who had fled to these comparative solitudes, they
only seemed to justify our own emotional condition. It soon became
wooing in dead earnest with me, but I knew that I must not pass a
certain point in my declarations until Miriam gave me to understand that
I had leave to do so.

At last, when once or twice she had turned from me, twisting her
handkerchief in her little ungloved hands, and pausing as if about to
say something which she could not make up her mind to say, I cried: "Oh,
this heavenly garden! I shall never forget walking here with you this
evening as long as I live."

Then she turned towards me, and smiled and blushed and dropped her eyes
again, and said: "Would you like to walk with me in _my_ garden?"

At these words I forgot all about Upsidonia, and the possibility of
shocking her by accelerating its etiquette. Hang etiquette at so sweet a
moment! I took her in my arms and kissed her.

And apparently etiquette was the same at this stage in Upsidonia as
everywhere else. Or else she forgot all about it too.

FOOTNOTES:

[28] This park was one of the most beautiful of the many in Culbut, and
of something like twenty acres in extent. It was not really a public
park, although it was called so, and was kept up with public money. It
was used exclusively by the inhabitants of the houses abutting on to it;
the Ladies Susan and Cynthia might play all over it without any risk of
infection, mental or physical, from rich children; and if Lord and Lady
Blueberry took a walk there in the cool of the evening they would meet
none but those whom it might be agreeable to them to meet.

[29] Genuine aristocrats, like the Blueberrys and the Rumboroughs, never
hesitated to acquire such possessions as seemed necessary for a
well-balanced life, or for legitimate pleasure. In the matter of music,
all poor children were taught some instrument at first, but only those
who showed considerable aptitude for it were allowed to go beyond a
certain point. And they were never allowed to practise at home, even
where there was a piano. But on reaching the age of fourteen, if they
could pass a rather stiff examination, their parents submitted to the
annoyance of acquiring another piece of property, such as a piano, or a
violin, for the sake of the pleasure they could gain from their
children's performance.

As a consequence of these wise provisions, there were no girls to be
found in Upsidonian homes, at least among the poor, who, as the result
of a long and expensive education, could play one piece and three hymn
tunes indifferently, and did so whenever they felt inclined.



CHAPTER XVI


I am not going to describe Miriam's garden. I will only say that of all
the gardens I have ever seen, large or small, it remains in my memory as
the quietest, the most retired and the most beautiful. It was not long
before I asked for a key, and Miriam gave me one; and I was free of that
enchanted spot, and of all the sweet intercourse it brought me.

When, on that evening, we hurried away from the comparative solitude of
the park, to enfence ourselves in the complete solitude of Miriam's
garden, and left Mrs. Perry and Mollie to come home by themselves, the
only excuse that we could offer was the true one. Before the evening was
out it was known to all the occupants of Magnolia Hall that Miriam had
asked me into her garden.

Dear Mrs. Perry smiled on us and kissed us both. She was an unworldly
woman, and only desired her daughter's happiness. Mollie showed a
gratifying excitement at the unexpected news; Tom eyed me rather
suspiciously, and, while not witholding his congratulations, said
enigmatically that it was my white flannel suit, but he supposed he
should get used to it in time. Edward expressed some doubts. I had to
have it out with Edward. But that was later. When he came home that
night I had already interviewed Mr. Perry.

Mr. Perry was as kind as possible, but, as was only natural, wanted to
know something about my circumstances.

"You are aware," he said, "of the great work in which my life is spent.
I am not able to do as much for my daughters as I should look to doing,
if I lived as my neighbours do. But I will do what I can. You shall
allow me three hundred pounds a year, and I will get rid of it as best I
can. At five per cent interest, that would be tantamount to a settlement
of six thousand pounds; and I should charge my estate with it, so that
you would not suffer in the event of my death."

I thanked him suitably, and, gathering my wits about me, offered to
settle upon Miriam Mr. Brummer's U. O. Me for two hundred and
thirty-four pounds, and my account with the Universal Stores of a
hundred pounds odd.

"I am sorry to say that those are the only debts I have in the world," I
said, "but on the other hand I do not earn much money."

"Excuse my asking the question," said Mr. Perry diffidently, "but what
is your occupation?"

"I will make a clean breast of it to you," I said. "I am a University
Extension lecturer, and am also employed in editing educational works."

"A very honourable occupation," said Mr. Perry. "A scholar is always a
respectable person, and his calling is not a lucrative one."

"I hope," I said, "that there will never be any doubt about my being
able to support Miriam in the poor way in which a daughter of yours
ought to live."

Mr. Perry sighed pensively. "I will not deny," he said, "that I should
have liked a larger settlement. I have already sacrificed one daughter
to my passion for the amelioration of mankind, and although Herman
Eppstein's character is irreproachable I suffer somewhat from the
remarks of my friends as to that marriage. I should have liked Miriam to
make what the world calls a good match, and to be placed beyond all risk
of wealth. Still, with what I can do for you, you will start your
married life in embarrassed circumstances, and we must hope that no
unforeseen accidents will occur. If you keep to your comparatively
ill-paid work, and avoid the temptation that so many young men fall
into, of trying to get poor quick, all will go well. It is something, at
any rate, to have a daughter marrying into a Highland family, and my
friends can hardly reproach me with another misalliance in that
respect."

He said this with an agreeable smile, and I left him, feeling that I had
got through the interview more easily than I could have hoped for.

I had the congratulations of Lord Arthur. He himself was in the stage of
walking out, or rather of walking in her garden, with a house-maid from
a neighbouring establishment--one of the prettiest of the débutantes of
the season--and was inclined towards sympathy with my state of mind. He
said that the earlier a fellow settled down in life the better it was
for him, and directly he and his fiancée could find a situation as
butler and housekeeper to an amenable married couple without
encumbrances, their wedding would take place. He talked more about his
own love affair than about mine, and made it plain--although I am sure
that he did not intend to--that my engagement was but a moderate affair
beside his. His father was a Marquis, and would largely decrease his
younger son's allowance upon his marriage; and his prospective
father-in-law was a Dean of aristocratic lineage, who was prepared to
settle on his daughter the whole debt for repairing the West front of
his cathedral.

Edward's attitude was a mixture of pleasure and anxiety. He said he
liked me personally, and there was no one to whom he would rather see
his sister married if he saw no difficulties in the way. "You won't tell
us where you come from," he said rather peevishly. "No one can call me
curious about my neighbours' affairs--I have far too many and important
ones of my own to occupy me--but if you are going to marry my sister I
_should_ like to know something more about you. How _did_ you come here?
If you walked from the Highlands, you couldn't have come into Culbut on
the side on which my father first saw you."

"I have already told you how I came," I said. "I walked over the moors,
and came through an underground passage into the wood where your father
found me. I don't profess to understand it; but that is exactly how it
happened."

He looked at me suspiciously. "My dear fellow," he said, "you are
playing with me. My father found you asleep in a little copse that you
have to pass through to get to the Female Penitentiary, which he was
visiting that afternoon. Beyond that there is at least a mile of suburb;
it is on the high-road to the town of Somersault, and the country is
well populated all the way."

"I am not surprised to hear it," I said. "I told you that I did not
understand what had happened. But I have given you the facts as I
remember them."

"Then it is very plain," said Edward, "that you must have suffered in
your brain, and have escaped from some lunatic asylum. Your behaviour
when we first met would seem to point to that; and the wildness of the
ideas which you disclosed to me was more like what one would expect to
exist in the brain of a maniac than anything else. I think it is very
likely that you do come from the Highlands; or why should you have
mentioned that region at all? Your appearance is good, and it is evident
that you have come from some place where you have filled a position of
dignity."

"I am glad that it strikes you like that," I said. "But I don't feel in
the least like a lunatic. In fact, I am quite sure that I am as sane as
you are."

"I think you are, _now_," said Edward; "and I don't see any reason why
you shouldn't remain so. If that is really the solution of your
eccentricities, then all my difficulties are done away with, and I can
welcome you, my dear fellow, cordially as a brother-in-law."

"Oh!" I said, somewhat taken aback. "You don't think that I might break
out again?"

"I should think it is unlikely; but if you did, we could easily have you
put away for a time. The great advantage would be that Miriam could
always get a divorce on the ground of insanity of partner, whenever she
wished it."

"Is that a ground for divorce in Upsidonia?"

"Yes; the passing of that law has been a great boon. People under
suspicion of weak intellect have become much more marriageable than they
were before."

"I shouldn't like to begin married life with the idea of a divorce
hanging over me."

"I don't say that Miriam would allow herself to count on a divorce at
present; and if I were you I should not tell her that you have suffered
from brain trouble."

"I won't," I said.

"No; and I won't, either. But one never knows what may happen in married
life, and it would be a comfort to know that Miriam would not be tied to
you for life if you turned out badly."

"Well, supposing we leave it at that," I said. "I think you're wrong
about my brain trouble, but if your idea comforts you at all, keep it by
all means; but keep it to yourself."



CHAPTER XVII


It is not customary, at least in England, to undertake the
responsibilities of married life without a probability of being able to
carry them out, and at the time I had come into Upsidonia I had not been
in what is called a position to marry. In that country my position was
quite satisfactory in this respect, but I did not propose to spend the
rest of my life in Upsidonia.

So I now had to think seriously about acquiring that independence which
would sweeten the existence that I looked forward to, with dear Miriam
as my life-long companion. I was as happy as a king in her garden, but
having achieved the step of being invited into it, I now looked forward
eagerly to the next step, which was to get out of Upsidonia by the way I
had come, and to take her with me.

She was quite ready to go, after our marriage. Indeed, the Highlands,
where it was supposed that we should settle down, was so cut off from
communication with the rest of Upsidonia that a separation was taken
for granted, both by herself and her family.[30]

"Tell me about the sort of house we shall live in," said Miriam, as we
sat together on a seat in her garden, under the shade of a
sweet-smelling lime.

"My dear," I said, "we shall be able to live in any sort of house we
want to. It is delightful to think of. All the beautiful places in the
world are open to us, and we need be tied to none of them."

"I don't want more than one house," said Miriam. "I can't get it out of
my head, in spite of everything you have told me, that more than one
would be a bother. Besides, you wouldn't know which to call your home."

"Quite right," I said. "Even with us, more than one house might quite
well be a bother; and to enjoy your possessions you want to have them
all around you."

"I suppose I _shall_ get to enjoy possessions," she said dubiously. "But
I don't want too many of them, John dear."

"You shall have just as many, or just as few, as you please. We shall
enjoy ourselves immensely in acquiring them."

"Do you think we shall? I shall try and like what you like. But it is a
little difficult."

"You shall have some beautiful frocks, Miriam. I know you will like
that."

She laughed. "How wicked it sounds!" she said. "Don't tell mother that I
shall like having beautiful frocks. Are you _sure_ that other
girls--other married women--won't look down on me if I am well-dressed?
I shouldn't like to be looked down upon, for _your_ sake."

"My dear, get all that out of your head. The more you spend the less
likely you are to be looked down upon."

"It sounds so funny. But it sounds rather nice too. Of course, it isn't
really _wrong_ to like spending money, rather, if everybody else does
it."

"Not a bit. Not if you've got it to spend. And we _shall_ have. I am
going to see about that. Well, shall we live in the country?"

"That would be rather nice, John. In a dear little house with a pretty
garden, and no labour-saving appliances."

"I don't think you will want to live in a little house when you get to
England. I thought, perhaps, we might find some very delightful
old-fashioned country house, in a beautiful part of the country, with a
few thousand acres of land, good shooting, and a model home farm, which
I could tackle myself."

"Do you know anything about farming?"

"Not much; but I should rather like to try it."

"Isn't it rather dangerous? Mightn't you make a lot of money over it?"

"I think I could escape the danger. How would you like an old red-brick
house, with a moat, and beautiful carving and plastering and all that
sort of thing inside? I know of one near where I was born that we might
be able to get."

"Is it in a village, with nice people in it?"

"It is near a charming village, which would belong to us. There aren't
any other big houses very near."

"Would the other people call on us, and be friendly?"

"Oh, yes. There are a lot of good houses all about. The neighbours would
all call on us."

"Yes, the rich neighbours. But the people in the village? Would the
vicar's wife call on us, if we lived in a house like that?"

"I expect she would, if the vicar has a wife, of which I am not sure."

"And the labourers' wives--would they call?"

"Probably not. No, I don't think the labourers' wives would call."

"Then shouldn't we feel rather out of it?"

"You could call on them if you wanted to. They would be very pleased to
see you. _Any_ body would be pleased to see you."

"Dear old boy!" she said affectionately. "You think far too much of me.
But I like you to. Somehow I don't think I should like to live in a
house like that, John. For one thing, I shouldn't like to be always
going to see people who wouldn't come and see me. Couldn't we live
somewhere among our own sort of people--the people who are well-off, and
_yet_ well-educated, that you told me about--well, like _we_ should be?"

"You don't want to live in London, do you?"

"That's where you live, isn't it?"

"Only because my work makes it convenient."

"But you wouldn't give up your work?"

"I should give up some of it, that I do at present. I don't say I should
give up _all_ work."

"Oh no, you couldn't do that."

"But I shouldn't have to live in London in order to work. I would much
rather live out of it, and have it to go to."

"That is what I really feel about Culbut. If we could live here, just as
we do, without feeling that we were different from other people, I
should like it better than living in Culbut itself. Do they look down on
the rich people living in the suburbs near London, as they do here?"

"There is a tendency that way," I admitted. "How would you like to live
at Cambridge? I should be amongst friends, and there would be plenty to
do there."

"I think it would be delightful from what you have told me about it. You
could do your work there, couldn't you?"

"Yes, I could do a lot of work, if I wanted to; and I could always get a
game of some sort."

"I thought it was only the undergraduates who played games. You couldn't
row in the boat, could you?"

"I could row _you_ in a boat. We could get a lot of fun in Cambridge,
and we could always go to London when we wanted to."

"And we could get a pretty house there--not too big?"

"Yes, we could get that. I think perhaps you're right about the big
house. Whoever loves the golden mean will avoid a palace as much as a
hovel. Horace says that, or something like it, and what is good enough
for Horace is good enough for me, also for my sweet Upsidonian bride.
Miriam, I adore you, and it is at least a quarter of an hour since I had
a kiss."

So we settled to live in Cambridge when we got to England, in the
prettiest house we could find, with the prettiest garden, and I prided
myself greatly on the moderation of my desires, while Miriam wondered
whether we were not laying up trouble for ourselves, when I said that we
should want at least four servants in the sort of house I had in my
mind.

FOOTNOTES:

[30] Even in the case of a marriage between families living respectively
in town and country the separation was more complete than with us. There
were few railways in Upsidonia, and even motor-cars were looked upon
with suspicion, and only used by the rich. The poor preferred to drive,
or still more to walk. But as the population of Upsidonia was divided
between those who liked to live in the country and those who liked to
live in towns, there was not so much going and coming as with us.



CHAPTER XVIII


A day or two after Miriam had first invited me into her garden the
invitation was made public in the fashionable intelligence of the Culbut
newspapers, and she and I were the recipients of many congratulations
from the numerous friends and relations of the Perrys.

We were entertained by not a few of them. We went to Sunday mid-day
dinner with the Earl and Countess of Rumborough, in the parlour behind
their shop, over which an aroma of jaded cauliflower lay more in
evidence than is customary in the mansions of the great. We drank tea
again with the Earl and Countess of Blueberry, and this time the head of
the house was present, and treated me with a stately courtesy that
impressed me a good deal with the dignity of the family with which I was
about to connect myself. I also dined with the Viscount Sandpits, at the
mess of his gang, sitting on a plank in the middle of one of the busiest
streets in Culbut, and drinking beer out of a tin can.[31] A married
sister of Mr. Perry's, not bitten with philanthropic ideas, gave a
theatre party for us, and we sat in the front row of the pit, after an
agreeable wait of an hour outside the door, and ate oranges between the
acts. And we conferred a much-appreciated honour on a rich relation of
Mr. Perry's by accepting an invitation to a dinner-party at her house.
Her husband had been unfortunate in the coal business, and had sunk from
a clerkship in a colliery company to owning the whole concern. Most of
our fellow guests were melancholy and rather subservient people who had
made a similar mess of their lives, and were pathetically envious of the
bright prospects that were opening out before Miriam and me.

And finally, Mrs. Claudie Chanticleer, who had turned up one morning at
Magnolia Hall, in a bedraggled and hectic state, to take away a few
scraps from the dustbin, invited us to a picnic in the country, to meet
all that was smartest and dirtiest in the exclusive set of which she was
an ornament.

We were a little doubtful about accepting this invitation, gratifying as
it was. It was Mr. Perry who pressed us to do so. He said that he hated
the dirty set and all their ways. It was not through such as they that
the regeneration of Upsidonian society would come. At the same time,
they included amongst them some of the most aristocratic families in the
country, and it would give us a _cachet_ to have our names in the papers
as having taken part in one of their entertainments. When we still
demurred, he pointed out that my social investigations could not be
considered complete unless I mixed with all classes of the community. So
at last we accepted the invitation.

Mr. Perry refused it for himself, as he said he had a touch of
rheumatism and was afraid of the damp grass; but Edward accepted, saying
that he had been working very hard lately and wanted recreation; and
Mrs. Perry went to chaperon Miriam. Mrs. Eppstein, who had seen the
announcement of the coming function in the papers, came round to hear
all about it, and said that she had not for a moment expected that
Tricky Chanticleer would have asked _her_, although they had been at
school together, and in those days nobody thought anything of Tricky,
who had always had a red nose.

Most of us walked to the place appointed for the picnic, which was on a
stretch of grass beside a high-road; and we were the dirtiest and most
disreputable-looking company I have ever been in. But Mrs. Perry, and
some of the older ladies, went in the Duchess of Somersault's caravan,
which was hung round with baskets and brooms and wicker chairs; and
there were a few donkey carts as well, and an organ barrow for the
younger children who could not be left behind. Mrs. Claudie brought what
was necessary for the picnic in an old perambulator, which she wheeled
herself.

We were accompanied all the way by a crowd of rich sightseers, and a
favourite amusement of the younger and sprightlier members of our party
was to get a ride behind the carriages, and for the others to cry "Whip
behind!" and to shriek with laughter at them.

The food consisted of scraps wrapped up in pieces of newspaper, but tea
was made in an old tin pot over a fire of sticks, and everyone had
brought what they wanted in the way of mugs and utensils for themselves.
I must confess that if one didn't eat, or only ate the eggs and fruit
which some of the young bloods had raided from the farmhouses that we
passed on the way, the entertainment was amusing enough. It was rather
annoying to be surrounded by a crowd of gaping sightseers, but the
company seemed to be used to it, and, indeed, to prefer it to seclusion,
or they would not have fixed upon so public a spot. Newspaper reporters
were a good deal in evidence, and cameras were directed on us from all
sides, as we sat on the grass and enjoyed ourselves.

There were many quite intelligent people there. The company, ragged and
filthy as it was, was superior to that which I had met in Mr. Perry's
club, or to the people I had come across in the large houses in which I
had gone slumming with Mrs. Perry.

I happened to sit on the grass next to a travelling tinker, who told me
that he had been Master of a college at Coxford, but had given it up
because he wanted to see more of life.

"I have often been accused of being a snob," he said, "especially by
those who are envious of the fine company I keep. It is true that my
birth would not entitle me to a place in this brilliant society, but I
consider that my learning ought to gain me an entrance into any society,
and it has as a matter of fact gained me an entrance into this. I
consider that this is the best society that can be had, not because it
is aristocratic and exclusive, but because it opens up larger vistas of
life. Purely learned society does not do that, and after spending over
thirty years of my life in Coxford, I grew tired of it, and set out to
play my part in the great world."

Finding himself possessed of a sympathetic listener, he expatiated
further on the advantages of his present life. He had not seen his way
to denuding himself of all property. He had acquired his tinker's outfit
because his previous life had unfitted him for the purest form of
idleness. "One has to be born and brought up to that," he said, "and, as
I told you, I do not pretend to have had the advantages of some of our
friends about us here."

"But isn't work a good thing?" I asked; for here he seemed to be denying
one of the basic principles of Upsidonian philosophy.

"It is not one of the best things in itself," he said, "although for the
great mass of mankind it is necessary. Freedom and knowledge are the
best things; and freedom is even better than knowledge."

"I shouldn't have thought that all the people about us here were
remarkable for their love of knowledge," I said.

"Not perhaps of knowledge to be learnt from books," he said, "though a
good many of them are not lacking in that. But in knowledge that comes
from going about in the world, and seeing human nature denuded of all
its trappings, there is hardly any one of those you see around you who
is not superior to the most learned scholars of the universities. They
know the simple facts of life, as none who do not enjoy the freedom of
extreme poverty can possibly know them; and the simple facts of life are
the great facts of life."

"Do you consider poverty to be an end in itself?" I asked, mindful of
the criticisms I had heard directed against the dirty set.

"It is so near to being an end," he said, "that there is no harm in
considering it so. It is only by denuding yourself of everything that
you can possess everything--beginning with yourself, which is the only
possession really worth anything, and the only one which those foolish
people who cannot make up their minds to do without _some_ form of
property never can attain to. Why should I want more than the whole
earth? It is mine, if I do not shut myself up in one little corner of it
and put a fence round me. The moment I do that I lose all the rest. I
have exchanged the world for a building plot. With every possession I
permit myself, I gouge out a weak place in my armour; I am vulnerable at
that point. Possessing nothing, I am impervious to attack."

"You can't possess absolutely no thing," I said. "You must have clothes,
for instance."

"You must, as society is at present constituted; and you are vulnerable,
as I said, at that point. If anybody takes away my clothes, I lose my
freedom. I cannot go about till I have found some more. And if anybody
takes away my tinker's barrow, I lose the work that my training has
unfitted me to be without. It is not, strictly speaking, the barrow that
I am vulnerable over, because if I could do without it I should have
practically my only burden removed; it is the habits I have acquired
that are the unfortunate possession there. And that is why book-learning
would be considered an evil in a purer state of society. Books
themselves are, of course, the most odious form of bondage, and even in
my tied-down days I never would acquire them for myself, but borrowed
those I could not do without, and committed what was necessary to
memory."

"Why should book-learning be considered an evil?" I asked.

"Because it is an acquisition. You are vulnerable in your memory, in
which you have stored it. The only knowledge that is worth having is
that which impresses itself on the collective mind of mankind. Nobody
can take that away from you, because you share it with all the rest. It
is all about you."

"Excuse my touching upon a possibly delicate subject," I said, "but do
you object to the name that is commonly fastened on to you?"

"The dirty set? Not at all. Why should I? Cleanliness is only a habit,
and a very binding and inconvenient one. If you can break yourself of
that one habit alone, you are well on the way to realise what freedom
means. You have broken the chain that keeps you circling round in the
narrow orbit of the soap-dish and the water-jug, and can wander where
the spirit leads you. I have not taken a bath since I left Coxford, and
all desire to do so has now left me."

The fact had obtruded itself upon me to such an extent that the desire
on my part to leave _him_ now became insistent, and as there came a
general movement at the moment towards the cocoanut shies, put up by Sir
Sigismund Rosenbaum, I withdrew myself from his society. But he was an
interesting man, and had given me something to think over.

FOOTNOTES:

[31] Sandpit's Gang was a very smart one. Its members could shift more
stuff in an hour than ordinary gangs in two. It was one of the sights of
the town to see them running to and fro with heavily loaded barrows,
over a plank so narrow that it seemed as if they _must_ fall off and
hurt themselves.



CHAPTER XIX


It was at this point that Lord Potter came upon the scene. He had, I
believe, refused Mrs. Claudie's invitation, but whether he could not
bear to be left out of any important society function, or whether he had
made up his mind to take this opportunity of making himself publicly
unpleasant to me, he came shuffling along the road, with his toes
sticking out of his boots, and was greeted with acclamations by the
distinguished company.

I happened to be standing next to Mrs. Claudie when he came up to her,
and he favoured me with an indignant and contemptuous glare before he
showed me his shoulder, shook hands with her, and said in a loud voice:
"And where is the fortunate gentleman from the Highlands? I should like
to be introduced to him."

Mrs. Claudie indicated me. "This is Mr. Howard," she said. "Let me
introduce you to Lord Potter."

Lord Potter affected an air of intense astonishment. "This fellow!" he
exclaimed. "My dear lady, you have been victimised. This is an impudent
adventurer, who spent his first night in Culbut in a gaol. He may be
good enough company for Mr. Perry, but I am more surprised than I can
say to find him here."

There was an awkward silence, which I broke by saying: "I am just as
surprised to see Lord Potter here as he can be to see me. He knew
perfectly well who I was. He could have stopped away if he didn't want
to meet me."

Lord Potter ignored this speech. "I am very sorry to have to cast a
cloud over your pleasant party, Mrs. Chanticleer," he said, "but this
fellow is not what he pretends to be. He is no more a Highlander than I
am. When I get back to town I shall put the police on to him. I expect
it will be found that he has absconded from some big house and has left
a lot of money behind him. He is masquerading as a poor man, but he will
certainly get into trouble over it. I should advise you to pack him off,
and have no more to do with him."

Fortunately, Miriam was not near us at the time, but I saw Edward
shouldering his way through the group of puzzled and rather scandalised
people who surrounded us. Nobody seemed inclined to say anything, and I
had had time during Lord Potter's speech to reflect that he could not
know that I was not a Highlander, and that he had put a weapon into my
hands by his affectation of not knowing who I was.

"I will certainly leave your party if you wish me to, Mrs. Chanticleer,"
I said. "Lord Potter and I have come up against one another before. It
is true that when I first came into Culbut he managed to get me arrested
for playing rather a foolish practical joke upon him, which he does not
seem able to forget. But when he tells you he is sorry to disturb your
party, he is not speaking the truth, because he can't have come here for
any other purpose. He knew that he would find me here, and has not
scrupled to break in on your brilliant and memorable gathering, with the
object of ruining its success by his absurd charges."

There were murmurs among the aristocratic dames who were gathered about
us. Although Lord Potter was the dirtiest of the dirty, and held a high
position among the men of the set, I heard afterwards that he was not
popular among the ladies, not only because of his arrogance, but
because, being a most eligible bachelor, he had omitted to marry so many
of their daughters. Besides, Mrs. Claudie's party had gone with such a
swing so far that it was felt to be too bad of him to come in in this
way and try to spoil it.

But Mrs. Claudie showed herself full of tact and resource. She laughed
lightly. "I really can't be expected to settle a silly quarrel between
two men," she said. "I have all my own quarrels to settle, and most of
my women friends' besides. Come and have a shy at Siggy Rosenbaum's
nuts, Lord Potter; and, Mr. Howard, you go and find Miriam and take her
to have a few s'rimps."

Perhaps Lord Potter would have allowed himself to hold over his account
with me for the time being, and I certainly had no wish to carry it on
then or at any time. But unfortunately Edward had by this time arrived
fully on the scene, and with all his excellent qualities he was a trifle
too weighty for a situation that wanted delicate handling.

"Mr. Howard is a guest in my father's house," he said, his face pale and
determined from the stress of the moment, "and I cannot allow him to be
insulted."

"Oh, my dear Edward, nobody wants to insult anybody," said Mrs. Claudie.
"Please let us go to the cocoanuts."

But Lord Potter's temper had been aroused by the challenge. "I have
nothing to do with you or your father," he said disagreeably. "You have
both unclassed yourselves. You can keep what company you please, as far
as I am concerned. But when you take into your house a highly suspicious
character, you ought to keep him to yourselves, and not foist him on to
respectable company."

Edward was about to reply hotly, but I didn't want to leave my case in
his hands; he knew too much about me, and might give it away in his
unthinking annoyance.

"How do you know I am staying with Mr. Perry?" I asked quickly. "You
pretended just now to be surprised to find I was _that_ Howard. And yet
you heard my name when we first met, and you saw me go away with Mr.
Perry."

"I will settle with you later, sir," he said furiously. "You have been
going about in expensive clothes, and I have reason to believe you are
an impostor, and are wanted by the police."

"Oh, do leave off and come to the cocoanuts," cried poor Mrs. Claudie,
desolated at the prospect of a disturbance. But the situation was now
beyond her.

"Perhaps you will say that my father and I are impostors, because we go
about in clean clothes," said Edward angrily. "Mr. Howard is studying
social conditions, as we are. He is a gentleman, as anyone can see,
whatever he chooses to wear."

Perhaps it is rather conceited of me to mention it, but there were
murmurs of approval here. In my old Norfolk jacket and weather-beaten
hat, I must have appeared all that was desirable in the matter of
fashionable attire, according to Upsidonian standards.

Encouraged by these murmurs, I stuck to my point with Lord Potter. "Will
you answer a plain question?" I asked him. "Did you know who I was when
you came and tried to break up this delightful party, or did you tell
Mrs. Chanticleer a lie?"

It was not much of a point, but it settled him. There were more murmurs,
and Mrs. Claudie said reproachfully: "You know you did refuse my
invitation, Lord Potter. And if you did know who Mr. Howard was, it is
not very friendly of you to come after all, and try to spoil our fun."

The Duchess of Somersault, who was a great enough lady not to stand in
awe of anybody, and had already married off all her daughters, now
intervened:

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Hezekiah Potter," she said in a
loud clear voice. "Anybody would think this was a reception by the wife
of a millionaire by the way you poke yourself in on it and try to start
a vulgar brawl. I shall be very pleased to welcome Mr. Howard at any
time to my van, and I am not in the habit of receiving adventurers
there."

Such a bold, and, to me, almost overwhelming, offer of recognition from
so great a lady naturally turned the tables completely in my favour.
Lord Potter shrugged his shoulders, one of which could be plainly seen
through the discoloured cloth of his filthy jacket, muttered something
into his ragged beard, and shuffled off in the dust towards Culbut. Mrs.
Claudie instantly collected a party of young people to throw at Sir
Sigismund's cocoanuts; and the incident appeared to be completely at an
end.

But I could see that people were talking about it for the rest of the
afternoon, and as we made our way homewards later on, and I very much
fear that Mrs. Claudie Chanticleer wept tears of disappointment when she
retired to her railway arch that night, over this unfortunate
interruption of what would otherwise have been the most talked-of
assembly of the now waning season.

As far as I was concerned, I was made to feel that I had come out of my
engagement with Lord Potter with credit. I had stood up to a great man,
and he had been driven off the field by a great lady. I was even
something of a lion for the rest of the afternoon, and if I had wished
could have taken my place then and there as a popular addition to the
dirty set, and enjoyed all the advantages of that enviable condition.

But Edward's gloomy brow, as he ranged apart with his hands in his
pockets, warned me that there was trouble ahead, and I had not been too
busily engaged with Lord Potter to miss the spectacle of excited
newspaper reporters edging in amongst the spectators and busily taking
down all that was said in their notebooks.

What was quite certain was that I could no longer expect to be able to
hide such light as I might give forth under a bushel. It would be known
all over the country to-morrow that I had been denounced as an
adventurer, and accused of representing myself as coming from a place
which I had never seen.

A nice young reporter, more enterprising than the rest, who had hurried
off on their bicycles to hand in their copy, did try to interview me,
and I wished I had been in a position to give him the information for
his paper that he asked for. It was only for my address in the
Highlands, and a statement of why and how I had come to Culbut, and
would have settled the matter for me, if I had really been the
completely misunderstood person that I was supposed to be.

But I had to send him away empty, and I am sorry to say that he was
annoyed with me, and hinted in his account of the fracas that there was
more in Lord Potter's charges than appeared on the surface.

I was also somewhat disturbed by a conversation I had with the Duchess
of Somersault, sitting proudly on the tail-board of her van, in sight of
everybody.

She said that she had never crossed the mountains in her wanderings, but
had been pretty close to them, and she mentioned the names of several
members of the Highland aristocracy with whom she was acquainted. She
seemed a little disappointed when I showed myself ignorant of all of
them, but was not, I think, suspicious, as she might have been. She
talked, during most of my visit to her, in a full-bodied voice that was
evidently music in her own ears, and though she plied me with questions
she provided most of the answers to them herself. She wore a magenta
gown, a violently checked shawl, and an enormous feathered hat, and sat
with her knees wide apart and her elbows on them, smoking a clay pipe,
while she talked to me. She was of massive form and highly equiline
features, and looked every inch of her a _grandame_.

"I met Lord McGillicuddy the last time the Duke and I were up north,"
she said. "Of course you know him. A grand old man, is he not? The
Master of McGillicuddy is on his way to Culbut now, with a flock of
sheep, and if he arrives before we go out of town I shall ask a few
friends to meet him, and I hope you will make one of the party, Mr.
Howard. And, of course, dear Miriam too. If he does not arrive in time
we shall no doubt meet him, for we take the north road this summer, I am
happy to say. There is always a great demand for wicker cradles on it;
in the north they are more prolific than we are--as of course you know.
I shall certainly tell him what a pleasure it has been to meet you, and
get him to look you up. He will be able to support you if you have any
more trouble with that tiresome Hezekiah Potter, who seems to think he
can behave exactly as he pleases, and must, I am afraid, have given you
a poor opinion of our pleasant little society here."

I assured her Grace, as seemed to be expected of me, that she herself
had dissipated any unfortunate ideas I might have formed on that
subject. She dismissed me with an agreeable smile, and an assurance of
her continued support, for whatever it might be worth.

Miriam returned in the Duchess' van. She was a favourite with the Duke,
who asked her to sit up beside him, while he drove his old toastrack of
a horse.

I walked with Edward, who was much disturbed in his mind over what had
happened. He said that Potter's insolence was beyond all bearing, and he
had been seriously considering whether it was not his filial duty to
seek him out with a horsewhip and give him a sound thrashing.

"To think that my dear good old father should be subjected to the foul
insults of such a man as that!" he said. "It positively makes my blood
boil. On the one side you have a man whose whole being radiates
self-sacrifice and benevolence, and on the other a wretched cur snarling
at his heels. What am I to do, Howard? I don't want to be sent to
prison, but upon my word I feel inclined to risk it for the pleasure of
assaulting that scoundrel."

"I should treat him with the contempt he deserves," I said. "It is a
case of dignity and impudence. Surely, your father's noble life speaks
for itself! Nothing that you could do to such a contemptible person as
Potter would make it shine with brighter effulgence."

He turned to me and wrung me warmly by the hand. The tears were in his
eyes, and he was too much moved to speak for the moment. "Thank you for
those words," he said presently, in a low voice. "I am sure they were
spoken from the heart, and I shall not forget them. There are few who
are blessed with such fathers as mine, and I have the pleasure of
feeling that he will soon be your father too, and that you will revere
him as he deserves. Tell me, Howard, didn't that count with you, when
you made up your mind to propose to my sister?"

"Well, perhaps I was thinking more about _her_ at the time," I said.
"But naturally I congratulate myself on the prospect of having such a
father-in-law."

Edward was so taken up with the insult offered to his father that he did
not notice as we came to the tramway terminus, from which the road to
Magnolia Hall branched off, a newspaper placard on which were displayed
the lines:

  DISGRACEFUL BRAWL AT SOCIETY GATHERING.

  WELL-KNOWN NAMES INVOLVED.

  WHO IS MR. JOHN HOWARD?

Well, if that question was going to interest the inhabitants of
Upsidonia, it seemed about time for me to be making arrangements for the
modest competency that would enable me to leave the country.



CHAPTER XX


I woke up the next morning without that sense of something delightful
about to happen to me to which I had grown accustomed since my arrival
in Upsidonia, but soon brightened again as I laid my plans for acquiring
an easy and immediate fortune. I knew that a rich man in Upsidonia would
present me with twenty or thirty thousand pounds as readily as a poor
man in England would allow me to present him with it, and would thank
his lucky stars at finding a fool big enough to take it. I only had to
find the rich man.

It seemed to me that I already knew who to apply to. I had made the
acquaintance of a very rich man indeed, when I had gone district
visiting with Mrs. Perry. His name was Hobson, and he had not always
been as rich as he was at present. Mining speculations had ruined him.
He could not touch a thing that turned out right. So sure as he bought
shares in a mine that was supposed to have no gold in it, it turned out
to be one of the richest ever heard of. And even silver played him
false; he had come his biggest cropper over a worked-out silver mine, in
which antimony or some such metal was discovered the moment the shares
seemed to be worth nothing, with the consequence that they had jumped up
again to unheard-of altitudes.

When the crash had come Mr. Hobson had put a bold face on it, and his
wife had behaved nobly. She had given up the confined home in which she
had been so happy without a murmur, and had bought every stick of
furniture that she could cram into a large house. She had bought silks
and laces, furs and jewels, for herself, and clothed her young children
in the richest attire; and she had given up without flinching the
household work in which she had taken such a delight, and engaged a
large staff of servants. All Mr. Hobson's debtors had been allowed to
pay him in full, and he and his family had retired to their mansion,
with a name free of all reproach, it is true, but to such misery as only
people of refinement could experience from such a change in their
surroundings.

And that was not the worst. Mr. Hobson was a kind husband and an
affectionate father. But he had the gambler's fever in his blood, and
the hard lesson he had received had not sufficed to purge him of it.
Since his downfall he had continued to speculate, but with no greater
success than before, and it was much to be feared that unless some help
came to him, not only he, but his blameless wife and his innocent young
children, would sink into yet deeper depths of degradation, and be
obliged at last to go to the playhouse.

Mrs. Perry had come home one afternoon from a round of her district,
full of the troubles of the Hobsons. Mr. Hobson had broken out again,
and had risked a small fortune, not this time in mining, but in a patent
for increasing the amount of petrol to be used in motor-cars. His excuse
was that he had some mechanical knowledge, and had spotted an error in
the invention which he thought would make it useless. But,
unfortunately, he had mentioned his discovery to others, the errors had
been pointed out to the patentees, and they had succeeded in putting
them right. Or, as was darkly hinted, there had been no error at all,
and Mr. Hobson had fallen into a trap. But, in any case, he had had to
realise at a high figure, and had come out of the deal more overloaded
with wealth than ever.

We had all sympathised deeply over the picture of misery that Mrs. Perry
had drawn. Mr. Hobson, she said, was overcome with remorse, and like a
man distracted. He had sat in his overfurnished dining-room with his
head in his hands, while his wife, scintillating with diamonds, though
it was early in the afternoon, had tried to comfort him, her face pale
but full of courage. It had been almost insupportable to hear the
children crying at the table loaded with provisions, and to think that
the father, the bread-loser of the family, was powerless to help them.

"Cannot we do something for them, Samuel?" Mrs. Perry cried.

But her husband shook his head sadly, and said he was afraid not.
"Hobson has himself to thank for it," he said, "and I fear he is
incorrigible. If we were to take the burden of this mistake on our
shoulders he would only make another one. The fact is, he is unfitted
for business affairs. You can lose more money in the city than anywhere
else, but you have to get up very early in the morning to do it, and the
men who are successful at it, and lose large fortunes, are a good deal
cleverer than poor Hobson."

I had offered then and there to look into the case and see if I could do
anything to help. But although everybody said that it was very generous
of me, they all tried to dissuade me from risking the small number of
debts I already possessed. Edward did more. He rather annoyed me by
taking me aside and telling me that my duty was now towards Miriam, and
that it would not be right for me to be charitable at her expense, which
was what it would come to if I tried to straighten out the Hobsons'
badly involved affairs.

But I had now made up my mind that nothing should stand in the way of my
charitable instincts. I was not in a position to do much. I could not
set the unfortunate Hobson on his feet again as a poor man. But I could
go and see him, and come away leaving him a good deal poorer than he was
before.

My heart glowed as I thought of the blessings I should call down upon my
head from him and his sorely tried family. I should be almost in the
position of a walking miracle, bringing relief that must have been
despaired of. The warm gratitude of that unfortunate family would follow
me wherever I went, even if I went out of Upsidonia, as I fully intended
to do, after having relieved Mr. Hobson of part of his burden.

As I jumped out of bed I had already made up my mind. I would go and see
him that very morning. When one has decided upon an errand of mercy one
should lose no time in setting about it.



CHAPTER XXI


I got downstairs earlier than usual, and found Tom roaming about, with
ten minutes or so on his hands before he went off to school.

He greeted me affably, for we were now very good friends. I had taught
him to bowl "googlies," which were unknown in Upsidonian cricket before
my arrival, and he had got into the first eleven of his school on the
strength of it. He was properly grateful to me, and had quite forgiven
me for my white flannel suit.

"I say, old boy," he said, "you've been going it! Biffed old Potter in
the eye yesterday, didn't you?"

"I didn't biff him in the eye, Tom," I replied. "I rather wish I had.
How do you know about it?"

"I read it in the paper. I can't show it to you because old Blother has
taken it off into his pantry. But it said that Potter and you had had a
scrap, and he said you were a fraud; and they don't think you come from
the Highlands at all."

"Where _do_ they think I come from?"

"They don't know, but they're going to find out. They think it may have
been you who committed the burglary."

"The burglary! What burglary?"

"Why, it was at Muffin's Rents, about a fortnight ago, just before you
came. The people woke up and found a lot of family plate in the
dining-room. A burglar had broken in in the night and left it there. A
cheeky beggar he was too, for he had left them a bottle of Bass and half
a game pie as well. I thought it was just the sort of sporting thing
that you would have done."

"My dear Tom, I assure you I didn't. Why did they think it might have
been me?"

"Well, they seemed to think you might have cleared out from some big
house or other, because you were fed up with it, and got rid of your
plate in that way."

"What a ridiculous idea!"

"Yes, it is rather. But I say, old boy, I wonder where you do come
from."

I stared at him.

"Of course, I know you were a bit barmy before you came here, and don't
remember anything about it," he went on to say. "It's a rummy thing
altogether."

It seemed to me a very rummy thing that Tom should have any idea that I
was supposed to have been what he called barmy.

"Who told you that?" I asked him.

"Oh, I heard them talking about it."

"Heard who talking about it?"

"Edward and old Blother. Old Blother said you seemed to be a very
respectable young fellow, but he wasn't quite easy in his mind about
your marrying Miriam, and he wanted to know more about you. He said you
didn't talk like a Johnny from the Highlands. So then Edward said you
didn't really remember where you had come from, and told him that you
had been a bit touched in the upper story, but you were all right now."

"Well, I hope that satisfied Mr. Blother," I said, mentally confounding
his impudence, and furious with Edward for publishing his silly idea,
which I had only allowed him to hold because I thought he would keep it
to himself.

"Oh, yes," said Tom. "He said if that was it, he supposed it was all
right, and he shouldn't interfere unless he saw any further reason."

"Very kind of him indeed! Does anybody else know about this ridiculous
idea of Edward's?"

"Oh, yes, everybody knows."

"What, Miriam?"

"Yes, she knows all right. I don't think she minds. I expect she thinks
it's rather a lark. But, I say, I must be getting off. Good-bye, old
boy! don't forget you promised to bowl to me this afternoon."

When I went into breakfast Miriam greeted me as usual, and showed none
of that shrinking that might have been expected from a girl in the face
of a lover whom she had discovered to have been at one time what Tom
called barmy; I was greatly relieved at this, though determined to have
it out with Edward at the first opportunity.

When Mr. Blother had shaken hands with us all, and asked us how we had
slept--little attentions which he never omitted--he expressed himself
with great indignation at the line taken by the newspaper over the
occurrence of the day before.

Apparently, Edward's explanation of any eccentricities of mine that had
disturbed him had been quite satisfactory. Mr. Blother and I had always
got on well together, and I was pleased to remember that only a few days
before I had demanded of him a handsome tip, saying that I had been in
the house for some time and was afraid that I had not given him much
trouble. He was quite on my side, and expressed himself strongly about
the impertinence of the newspaper in throwing doubt upon me.

"We shall have to announce the truth," he said, as he bustled about
while the rest of the family took their seats. "Our young friend here
set out to walk to Culbut, and either had a touch of sunstroke, or else
forgot himself and became intoxicated--which would be reprehensible, but
not altogether inexcusable in one of his youth--and cannot give an
account of himself. No doubt his memory will come back, but until it
does we must all stand together and protect him from these suspicions.
If there is one thing that is quite clear, it is that he has never been
a rich man. Although his accent is not quite what one would expect from
a Highlander, I believe myself that he _is_ one, because it was quite
plain from the first that he had never seen a servant in his life, and
had no idea of how to treat them. Now if you are all sure that you have
everything that you want, I will go and get on with my work. Don't leave
quite so much on your plates as you did yesterday, please--I don't mean
you, Perry. And it is quite time that this ham showed more signs of
wear."

With a cheery laugh Mr. Blother left the room, and Edward came in as he
did so. He was generally up early, and had already been in to Culbut
that morning.

He was in a state of considerable excitement, but not over the affair
that was in all our minds, which he put aside as of no account.

"Oh, that will all blow over," he said. "There is something far more
serious now to engage people's attention."

We all looked at him expectantly. He was much agitated, and seemed at
first incapable of speech. But when he had gulped down a little tea, he
said in a voice vibrant with emotion: "This day will never be forgotten
in Upsidonia. The social revolution has commenced."

We all looked towards Mr. Perry. It rested with him--the head of the
family, and a man with a whole life of benevolent wisdom behind him--to
indicate the line to be taken in face of this startling intelligence.

He kept his eyes fixed on his plate, but looked very grave, and shook
his head slowly.

There was a moment's silence, and then he said: "It is an extraordinary
thing that with all the improvements in communication we never can get
our fish perfectly fresh. Mollie, will you take this away and give me
some kidneys and bacon. I beg your pardon, Edward--you were saying--?"

Edward launched himself into an almost violent flood of speech. "I have
felt it coming for a long time," he said. "I have done what I could to
stem the tide, and to confine it in safe channels, such as I knew you,
dear father, would approve of. But the torrent has been too strong. It
has broken through all the puny obstacles I have set up. We are now
launched on its full flood, and heaven help those who are not to be
found on the right side."

"My dear Edward, tell us what has happened," said Mrs. Perry. "You are
keeping us on tenterhooks."

Edward calmed himself a little and said: "It is Mr. and Mrs. Bolster who
have put the match to the powder. I am proud to call them friends of
mine. The name of Bolster will ring through the ages as that of people
who did not shrink from taking a foremost place in the battle of
freedom. And I trust that the name of Perry will go down with it."

"Bolster is a very respectable fellow," said Mr. Perry. "I have nothing
whatever to say against Bolster, except that he has always been rather a
grumbler. But I do not want our name to ring through the ages with his,
Edward. Bolster and Perry! It would not sound well."

"What have they done, Edward?" asked Mrs. Perry. "Nothing foolish, I
hope."

"Last night," said Edward, consenting at last to be drawn into a plain
story, "Bolster came home to find that the inspectors had paid his house
a visit. It seems that the cook had given information that the
housekeeping bills had not been kept up to the level that the Bolsters
are assessed upon. They made a scene with Mrs. Bolster, and refused to
accept her explanation that her son, to whom she chiefly looked to help
them in their meals, was away at Coxford, and the servants had all along
refused to consume their proper share. The inspectors went away, and
directed all the Bolsters' tradespeople to supply the house with double
the quantity of goods ordered until further notice."

"They had no right to do that," said Mr. Perry. "They ought to have told
Mrs. Bolster to do it, and left an inspector there to see that the goods
were consumed. They have acted against the law."

"What do they care about the law?" exclaimed Edward bitterly. "The law
in Upsidonia is for the poor, not for the rich. Bolster has taken the
law into his own hands, and I am glad of it. I respect and honour him
for his noble stand. When he came home and learnt what had happened, he
threw every ounce of food in the house out into the garden. He did more
than that. He is a big man, as you know, and he forced his butler to get
up all the wine out of his cellar and pour it down the stable drains.
The servants were in a terrible state of anger, but they could do
nothing with him. He turned them out of the house neck and crop, and
told them they could go and complain to the police. He didn't care where
they went or what they did. He stood up to them all, men and women. Then
he barricaded all the doors and windows; but before he did so he threw
out all the money in the house and all the plate. He is now shut up with
Mrs. Bolster and quite prepared to stand a siege. I hope that thousands
will follow his example. It will be the end of this stifling tyranny.
The rich will be able to breathe once more, and the selfish poor will
have to shoulder their burdens and learn what misery they have inflicted
so callously on their unfortunate fellow creatures."

"I am afraid Bolster will get into trouble," said Mr. Perry calmly. "I
should not mix myself up with it, Edward, if I were you. We must go on
quietly in our own way, without setting class against class. The methods
of anarchy are not for such as us. My dear, another cup of tea, if you
please."

Edward choked down his emotion, and succeeded in making a fair
breakfast. But I thought that in this matter he did not see eye to eye
with his father. In his opinion the time for anarchy _had_ come, and he
was nerving himself to take a more prominent part in the struggle he saw
coming than the more cautious and experienced Mr. Perry would approve
of.

However, he gave us no hint of any intentions he may have formed while
we were together, and directly he had finished his meal left the room.



CHAPTER XXII


I followed Edward as soon as I could, for I had a crow of my own to pick
with him.

But I found him quite unable to discuss anything but the startling and
courageous behaviour of his friend, Mr. Bolster. He was going to his
house at once, and I said that I would go with him.

Mr. Bolster lived in a large house not far from Magnolia Hall, and as we
walked there I insisted upon Edward listening to my complaint.

"Well, what do you want me to do?" he asked impatiently. "You don't know
where you come from, and I don't know either. My explanation is almost
certainly the right one, and you _must_ have some explanation of
yourself ready. What are you complaining about?"

"I'm complaining of your having told Miriam that I am an escaped
lunatic."

"My dear fellow, I'm pretty certain she suspected it. It was the
nonsense you talked to her when you first came that made me tell her the
truth. Now that she has the explanation she doesn't mind. No sensible
girl would. She knows you are all right at present, and she'll see that
you don't go wrong again."

I had to leave it at that. There was no satisfaction to be got out of
the officious Edward.

Mr. Bolster's house was a pretentious building in the Italianate Gothic
style, with Byzantine and other features. It stood in an extremely ugly
garden, with asphalt paths, and stretches of grass cut up into beds of
the shape of crescents, triangles, starfishes, Prince of Wales'
feathers, interrogation marks, all elaborately planted to imitate
carpets or rugs of the worst possible design. Wherever there was room
for it, there was a large glass-house, and apparently Mr. Bolster had
employed some of the hours of his self-imposed incarceration in throwing
things at them; for there was hardly a pane within range that was left
intact, and the ground about them was littered with lumps of coal and
with the smaller articles of household furnishing, with which he, and
possibly Mrs. Bolster, had missed their aim. The things with which they
had been more fortunate were inside the glass-houses, which presented a
picture of destruction that showed the seriousness of the battle now
being waged.

Scattered about on the flower-beds, and on the grass near the house, was
a curious assortment of articles, which included joints of meat, silver
épergnes, brocaded cushions, cooking utensils, wearing apparel,
pictures, clocks, and indeed every article of luxury that such a house
as this might contain.

We were not the only people who had come to gaze at this extraordinary
scene. There was a well-dressed ill-mannered crowd hanging about and
looking up at the shuttered windows; and more were driving up every
minute. Many of them gathered round Edward, who was generally
recognized, and gave him such items of news as they thought might
interest him.

"You'll see 'im in a minute," said one excited gentleman. "'E put 'is
'ead out of that window just now. 'Ad a cock-shy at one of the bobbies,
wiv a boot-tree. There it is."

"Have the police been here?" asked Edward. "Where are they now?"

"Gorn off to git some more. Lor lumme! it ain't 'arf a circus, is it?"

The opulent-looking overfed ladies and gentlemen around us seemed more
amused than impressed with what was going on. But Edward's face was very
grave. "Poor creatures!" he said aside to me. "They are hardly capable
of taking anything seriously. They lead such terrible lives that
anything is a distraction to them. When a chance of emancipation comes,
they are too sunk in misery to take it."

They did not appear to me to be precisely sunk in misery, and but for
their fine clothes and the smart-looking equipages in which they had
arrived, and which were now gathered round the gates waiting to take
them away again, they were exactly like a careless, rather noisy London
crowd, come out to see some fun.

As Edward was speaking there was a shout, and, looking up at a sort of
Florentine balcony stuck on to a crenellated tower, I saw the now
notorious Mr. Bolster, standing with his arms folded, surveying the
crowd. He was in shirt-sleeves, and had not brushed his hair. Possibly
he had thrown all the brushes in the house at the conservatories.

The crowd cheered him, and he bowed repeatedly with an air of
self-satisfaction, but presently held up his hand to command silence,
and then made a short speech.

"Fellow men and fellow women," he said. "I've begun, and now it's for
you to carry on. Down with servants! Down with luckshry! Down with the
pore!"

The renewed cheers with which this stirring address was received caused
Edward's eyes to brighten. "Their hearts are in the right place," he
said. "They only want a leader." Then he raised his voice and shouted:
"Three cheers for Bolster and his noble wife!"

The cheers were given, and Mrs. Bolster, attired in what I believe is
called a peignoir, appeared by the side of her husband and acknowledged
them with him. Then both of them retired from the balcony.

Edward now set himself to turn the enthusiasm of the crowd in a
practical direction. He did not address them collectively, but spoke to
one here and there, and presently had round him a number of people who
showed that they also recognized that Mr. Bolster's demonstration had
sprung from a state of affairs intolerable to them as well as to him.

"Look 'ere, what do yer think of this?" asked one man. "Me and the
missus was going to the theaytre, and my second coachman was adrivin' of
us. Well, 'e took us round to where a old aunt of the cook's lived, and
there we 'ad to set in the kerridge for 'alf an hour, while 'e yarned
with 'er ladyship about a dinner-party they were giving in the servants'
'all, and 'oo was to be invited, and all such things as them. And 'er
taking no more notice of us than if we wasn't there!"

"Yuss, it's just like 'em," said another. "My groom of the chambers
'auled me over the coals the other day for not usin' up the stationery
quicker. Blarst 'im and 'is stationery, I sez, and I'd a good mind to
tell 'im so."

"Why didn't you?" asked Edward. "If you were all to make a stand against
this tyranny to which you are subjected, you could end it to-morrow. See
what Bolster has done! It isn't all talk with him; it's action."

But, much as they no doubt approved of Bolster's bold stand, they seemed
to shrink from taking any steps to follow his lead. Edward, who now
began to go round among them with a note-book to take the names of those
who were ready for concerted action, got more refusals than promises of
support.

"What's the good?" asked one man. "They'll git 'old of Bolster all
right, you'll see, and 'e'll be worse off than 'e was before. I ain't
agoing to risk my luxurious 'ome, and run myself into trouble, not till
I see a lot more of 'em chucking things about. It's all very well for
Bolster. 'E ain't got a lot o' kids depending on 'im. A pretty thing if
I was to leave mine to get through all the grub by themselves, while I
was sent to chokey! 'Cos they don't let you order in no less. I've got a
good appetite so far, and I can stand it better nor what they can."

That was the trouble with most of these long-suffering people. They were
fighting their daily battle against profusion, not for themselves
alone, but for dear ones dependent on them; and I could not find it in
my heart to blame them for shrinking from throwing themselves into
Edward's campaign.

But now there came a diversion. A butcher's cart drove up to the house,
driven by an aristocratic-looking young man in a blue coat. Mr. Bolster
appeared again on the Florentine balcony, and let down a basket, into
which was put a large assortment of fleshy delicacies. These he hauled
up. When he had collected them all around him, he held up four lamb
cutlets for us to see, and handed them to his wife. Then he began to
bombard the butcher with the rest of the lamb cutlets, sweetbreads,
lumps of suet, and everything else that he had so carefully taken from
him; and so accurate was his aim that the young man swung off down the
drive, shielding his well-greased head with his arm, and exhibiting
every sign of resentment. When he was out of range, he pulled up and
addressed Mr. Bolster most injuriously, threatening him with all sorts
of penalties. But the crowd, heartened by the exhibition, jeered at him,
and presently he drove away.

He had no sooner gone than the performance was repeated with a grocer,
then with a poulterer, and at intervals with other tradespeople. Mr.
Bolster kept the minimum of sustenance for himself and his wife, and
used everything else as a projectile; and I think he must have gone
rather short afterwards, for he was evidently enjoying himself, and
seemed to keep back very little.

Whilst the various tradespeople were thus being ignominiously driven off
the field, the coachmen and footmen and chauffeurs, who were waiting in
full view of what was happening, not only took no part in the fray, but
affected to ignore it completely.[32] They showed, however, a mild
degree of interest, and there was a considerable stir amongst the now
rapidly increasing crowd, as a squad of police marched on to the ground,
and with them seven or eight men and women in the dress of indoor
servants. It presently appeared that these had come, not to insist upon
being taken back again, or to demand their wages, which, no doubt, they
were pleased to go without, but to get such clothes as they wanted from
the house.

But Mr. Bolster was ready for them. Whenever they congregated somewhere
to make an entrance, he appeared at a window above them, and poured down
water on their heads. And the police, who had evidently come to put an
end to the whole business, were no more successful in forcing a way into
the house. The lower part was built to resemble a mediæval prison, and
stout iron bars and massive oak met them everywhere and defied their
efforts.

At last they marched off, drenched to the skins to get reinforcements;
but the inspector in charge of them remained, and in an authoritative
voice ordered the crowd to disperse.

The crowd, now greatly encouraged by Mr. Bolster's determined
resistance, refused to do so, though it showed a disposition to avoid
the inspector's eye; and he got angry, and threatened to make arrests
when his men returned.

He came up to Edward and said: "I would advise you not to mix yourself
up in this, Mr. Perry. I mean business, and if you are here when my men
come back, it will be my duty to arrest you first of all."

Edward hesitated a moment, and then turned abruptly on his heel and
walked off. I followed him, and he said as we went down the drive: "I
shan't shirk being arrested when the time comes, but it will be for
something more serious than refusing to move on when I am told to."

As we left the garden I turned back and saw Mr. Bolster showering from
an upper window articles of feminine apparel, which, floating amply down
the breeze, roused the crowd to renewed merriment.

FOOTNOTES:

[32] It would not have been etiquette for them to show any interest
whatever in the doings of their masters and mistresses, or to unbend in
any way while on duty. The second coachman whom we had just heard about
was behaving unprofessionally in talking to his own friends from the
box, although his fellow-servants would not blame him for
inconveniencing his master and mistress by so doing.



CHAPTER XXIII


As we walked away, Edward said contemptuously: "Isn't that just like the
race of servants all over? To come back for their _things_! Despicable
race of parasitical humbugs! If I were ever so poor I should be ashamed
of going out to service. I would sooner be the man who can hardly rise
from his chair through over-feeding, than the man who busies himself in
seeing that he consumes more than his share. The one is at any rate
trying to do his duty, with all the forces of poverty and oppression
ranged against him; the other merely wants to live in rich surroundings
without undergoing any of the disadvantages."

"I have rather suspected that," I said. "Still, they do live simply, as
far as I have observed. They are not like Lord Charles Delagrange, and
that sort of person, who likes luxury for its own sake."

"I am not at all sure that some of them don't," said Edward. "But, at
any rate, they all enjoy the contrast between their state and that of
their masters and mistresses. You have no idea what servants are,
Howard, by only knowing them at Magnolia Hall. Would you like to come
with me to a few houses where, I think, I may get recruits for this
movement? You will see then what the servants of the rich are really
like."

It was still early in the morning, and I did not want to call on Mr.
Hobson until later, so I accepted Edward's invitation. "But I hope you
are not going to run yourself up against the law," I said. "Your father
won't like that, nor any of your family."

"My dear Howard," said Edward obstinately, "I am a reformer. Now the
opportunity has come I must not be found wanting."

The first house we called at was a smaller one than either Magnolia Hall
or Mr. Bolster's palace-prison-fortress. Edward told me that it was the
home of a Mr. and Mrs. Slabb, who suffered much under the tyranny of a
houseful of female servants. He had strong hopes that they could be
worked up to revolt.

As we walked up the garden path, we observed some of the furniture
grouped awkwardly round the front door, and had to pick our way through
a barricade of chairs before we reached it, and rang the bell.

It was answered by an elderly maid, with her head tied up in a duster,
and a broom in her hand. She did not look at all pleased to see us, and
said at once: "We can't admit any callers to-day. The downstairs rooms
are being turned out."

Then she recognized Edward, and said more amiably: "Oh, it's you, Mr.
Perry! If you have come district-visiting, I don't so much mind. They're
in bed. We can't have them about when we are busy. Perhaps you and your
friend would like to go up and sit with them for half an hour. Poor
things, they'll be glad of a little company. We can't expect them to
enjoy these turning-out days as much as we do."

She led the way upstairs, and Edward threw an expressive look at me as
we were shown into a large bedroom, where Mr. and Mrs. Slabb were lying
side by side in a large bed, with a breakfast tray on a table by their
side.

"Here is Mr. Perry come to see you, with a friend," said the maid.
"You'll be glad to have a little chat. We're getting on very well
downstairs, but I'm afraid you won't be able to get up to-day, as we
have decided to have all the carpets beaten, and I'm not certain we
shan't have the sweep in to-morrow. But I mustn't stand here talking."

She took the breakfast tray and went out of the room, and the old lady
and gentleman brightened up a good deal as Edward sat down and began to
talk to them.

"We do so 'ate these days in bed," said Mrs. Slabb pathetically, "and
they won't even let us 'ave no books to read, because Augusta likes to
arrange them all in colours on the shelves downstairs, and she won't
'ave 'em took out. It do seem rather 'ard, don't it?"

When I heard of this "turning-out" process taking place regularly twice
a week--once for the downstairs rooms and once for the upstairs--and
that each floor took one whole day, and sometimes more, I thought it
_was_ rather hard. Mr. and Mrs. Slabb kept four maids, all demons for
cleanliness and order. Sunday was the only day on which they could
count, with certainty, on not being kept in bed or confined to one room
downstairs; and even then they were only allowed to sit on certain
chairs, and might not amuse themselves in any way, for the four maids
were strict Sabbatarians.

But in spite of their much-hampered life neither Mr. nor Mrs. Slabb
received with any favour Edward's invitation to them to dismiss the
whole of their household and join the revolt of the masters and
mistresses. Their faces grew longer and longer as he described the
battle already joined.

"They are very good to us on the 'ole," said Mrs. Slabb. "We are more
like friends than mistress and servants--not like some. Sometimes they
even asks us to sit with them in the kitchen on Sunday evenings and sing
'ymns. I shouldn't like to do nothink to offend them. And Augusta's 'ad
trouble, too. Her 'usband took and run off with 'is master's daughter,
when they was butler and cook together in a big 'ouse. No, Mr. Perry, I
shouldn't like to seem ungrateful to them. And, after all, it _is_ nice
to 'ave your 'ouse lookin' as clean as a new pin, always, ain't it? It's
worth givin' up somethink for."

"P'raps they'll let us get up for a little this afternoon and 'ave a
walk in the garden," said Mr. Slabb hopefully. "The carpets was beat
only las' week, and they can't take so long. We'd be careful not to get
in the way."

As Edward said afterwards, what could you do with people like that? They
hugged their chains.

In one of the houses we visited we came across a man who had suffered a
great disappointment. He had seen an advertisement of somebody's
self-digesting food, and had ordered in a large supply of it. But his
idea that it would digest itself if you left it alone long enough had
turned out to be erroneous, and his servants were forcing him to go
through the preliminary process of swallowing it.

He joined Edward's league.

It was in the larger houses that Edward gained the few adherents that
were the meagre result of the morning's visiting. Most of these houses
were so crammed with furniture and foolish and tasteless ornaments that
it was almost impossible to move in them, for their owners were
compelled to go on buying. I noticed that Edward's mention of Mr.
Bolster's glorious breaking of glass had more effect than any of his
arguments. I would mark the eyes of the man--it was nearly always a man
to whom he was speaking--brighten, as he looked furtively round the
room, and fed his imagination on one glorious crowded ten minutes, in
which he would demolish every detested article around him. And indeed
one gentleman, in a vast saloon containing several hundreds of China and
glass ornaments, began then and there. We left him whooping with joy as
he made a determined onslaught on them with a poker.

Edward was frankly disappointed at the result of his campaign. "What is
the good of trying to help them?" he asked. "They will not help
themselves. I sometimes ask myself if most of them really desire to be
poor, and to gain all the benefits of character that come from
poverty."

"Probably not," I replied. "If you were to take away the obligation of
over-stuffing themselves with food and their houses with furniture, and
give them servants they could order about, I should think they would
consider themselves well-off."

"I am afraid you are right," said Edward, with a sigh. "I verily believe
that if we had offered to take money from all the people we have
visited, instead of asking them to bestir themselves to gain their own
freedom, our morning would have been a triumphant success."

"Well, shall we try?" I suggested. "There is still time."

But Edward scoffed at the idea of mere indiscriminate charity. "It would
only be tinkering at the disease," he said. "I want to cure it."



CHAPTER XXIV


Edward now announced his intention of going in to Culbut to call on a
Cabinet Minister of advanced Radical views.

"I have great hopes of him," he said. "The poor hate him, because they
say he is trying to foist property on to them by removing their taxes
one after the other, and piling them on the rich, and that if he goes on
in this way much longer he will wreck the Constitution, and that that is
really what he wishes to do. They say he is on the side of capital
because he has none himself; but, as a matter of fact, he has sprung
from the rich, and has a very tender heart for their sufferings; I have
often heard him say so. If he will put himself at the head of this
movement its success will be assured."

I wished Edward good luck, and when I had seen him safely round the
corner set out to find Mr. Hobson's house.

According to Upsidonian ideas, this unfortunate man had certainly been
brought to a pass of great misery. He lived in a large and handsome
mansion surrounded by some acres of ground, and kept up an imposing
establishment.

I was shown into a library very richly furnished, but in far better
taste than any of the rooms I had been in on my visits that morning. The
effect was somewhat spoiled to my eye by a plain deal-topped table and
three or four Windsor chairs, which were mixed up with the rest of the
furniture; but tears came into my eyes--or should have done--when I
reflected that these were probably the few articles that Mr. Hobson had
been able to save from the wreck of his fortunes, and must be very dear
to him as reminders of his former simple and happy life. Probably they
would have to go soon, for he would not be able to take up room with
them which might be filled with more expensive articles.

I was sitting in one of the Windsor chairs when Mr. Hobson came into the
room. He was a dejected-looking man of middle age, with refined features
and courteous manners, and my heart leapt as I thought of the solace I
was about to bring to his over-burdened mind.

"Mr. Hobson," I said, coming at once to the point, "I have heard your
sad story, and I have come to offer you some small relief. I am prepared
to accept from you the sum of twenty thousand pounds, and I hope that
with this assistance you will be able to make a fresh start and get free
of your difficulties."

His thin face, already beginning to fill out from the course of high
feeding to which he had been brought, flushed eagerly, and his eyes
brightened, but sank immediately to their previous unhappy dullness.

"You are very kind, Mr. Howard," he said, "but I am beyond help, I fear.
I could not hold out any hope of asking you to repay me. My spirit is
broken. Nothing goes right with me. A week ago I might have accepted
such relief, and promised to take back the money when times were
brighter. But they will never be brighter for me. I could not even use
the interest you would pay me for a sum of twenty thousand pounds."

"But I don't want to pay the money back, and I don't want to pay any
interest," I assured him. "I am not a money borrower. I have a good deal
less than I know what to do with, and nothing will give me greater
pleasure than to receive twenty thousand pounds, or even thirty
thousand, as a free gift from you. We should keep the transaction
entirely to ourselves, and nobody outside need know anything about it at
all."

He stared at me in amazement, and then suddenly broke down altogether,
and sobbed. "Oh, it is too much!" he cried. "Who are you, that you come
as a messenger of hope, when nothing but ruin and darkness seemed to
surround me? And why do you do it?"

These were rather awkward questions. "Never mind that," I said.
"Everybody has his own axe to grind, and I assure you that you will
oblige me as much as I shall oblige you by presenting me with twenty
thousand pounds, or even thirty thousand, as I said. Yes, we will make
it thirty thousand. You shall write me a cheque at once--to bearer--and
I will go straight to the bank and get the money."

When I had overcome his resistance, which wasted a lot of time, he told
me that he could not write me a cheque as every penny that came in was
reinvested at once, in a mad effort to lose it. "But if you are really
serious," he said, "I can give you stocks and shares to the amount you
so generously mention, and you can realize on them, or keep them on the
chance of going down if you like, which they might do for you but will
never do for me."

I was a little disappointed, but it made it easier for me in one way,
for I could pretend that I hoped the securities would show a downward
movement; and it also made it easier for him. Before we had completed
our business, Mr. Hobson had almost persuaded himself that he was doing
me a good turn in presenting me with the shares, which he said were
bound to lose me a large fortune if I could hold on to them long enough;
and I encouraged him to believe that I _should_ hold on to them with
that end in view.

It ended in my accepting thirty-five thousand one pound shares in the
Mount Lebanon gold mine, the purchase of which had been the chief cause
of Mr. Hobson's downfall.

"I bought them at a low figure," he said. "I had been told that the reef
would peter out immediately. But I had no sooner bought them than they
found another still richer one, and they have been paying forty per cent
ever since. They now stand at about eighty shillings, but I do believe
that the end is in sight, and they may come down with a run any day. If
only I could have stuck to them! But, oh, Mr. Howard, how can I ever
thank you? With this burden removed, I shall be able to right myself by
degrees. I shall be a new man."

He looked it already. His eyes sparkled, and he held his head erect. But
when he suggested calling his wife to thank me for all I had done, I
rose and said I must be going.

"Now it is understood that nobody knows about this," I said. "And please
don't thank me any more. I know what I am doing, and I assure you I am
very pleased to have these Mount Lebanons."

I shook hands with him, and got out of the house as quickly as he and
the servants would let me.

I was a little frightened by what I had done. After intending to accept
only twenty thousand pounds, I had promised to take over shares worth
about seven times that amount, if I realised on them at their present
figure; and I knew that I should be considered to have committed an act
of sheer lunacy if it came to the ears of Mr. Perry or Edward. Besides,
I could hardly get used to the idea all at once that I had suddenly
become a rich man, and feared some stroke of fate that would, after all,
deprive me of my well-gotten wealth.

I had had to give Herman Eppstein's name as the stockbroker who would
arrange the transfer, as he was the only one I knew. There was some risk
that he would give me away, but I thought I should be able to impose
secrecy on him, as he had not struck me as a man of much independence of
character. At any rate, I must risk it. I decided to call on him that
afternoon, and now made my way back to Magnolia Hall for luncheon.



CHAPTER XXV


An unpleasant surprise awaited me. I was informed by Mr. Blother, who
came in answer to my ring at the bell, while I waited by the open
door,[33] that Lord Potter had called while I was out, with an inspector
of police, for the purpose of taking my finger-prints, and would return
sometime in the afternoon.

"What infernal impudence!" I said, as Mr. Blother showed me into the
morning-room, preparatory to informing Mrs. Perry that I had returned.
"I certainly shan't stay in."

"Oh, but you must," he said, "or they can have you up. Potter is dying
to get at you. I gave him a piece of my mind this morning, but I can't
say that it made much impression on him. I know Potter of old; we were
at the university together. He is arrogance personified. He pretended
not to know me this morning, and asked me a lot of questions about my
master and mistress--as to how they spent their money, and whether there
was any difficulty about keeping up the household bills to the proper
figure. I told him plainly that if he had taken on the job of an
inspector he had no right to come without his uniform, and if he hadn't
the accounts of this house were no affair of his. The impudence of his
pretending that he thought the Perrys were ordinary rich people whose
house he could go in and out of just as it pleased him! I would not even
take his name into them, and he went away without having got much change
out of _me_. You stand up to him when he comes this afternoon. Satisfy
the police that you had nothing to do with the burglary, and don't let
him see that you are annoyed with him for putting them on to you. You
will score off him best if you ignore him altogether. Well, I will tell
Mrs. Perry that you are here. Mr. Howard, is it not? I don't think you
gave me a card."

When the necessary formalities had been gone through, and I had taken my
place at the luncheon-table, I asked what right Lord Potter had to
accompany the police in their duties, and to make himself obnoxious to
anyone whom he happened to dislike.

"None," said Mr. Perry emphatically.

But Mrs. Perry said: "Well, he is a member of the House of Lords. As
such, he might consider it his duty to look into anything that he
thought was going wrong."

"As a member of the House of Lords," said Mr. Perry didactically, "he
has a share in making laws which we all have to obey. It is not part of
his duty to administer them."

"I beg your pardon," said Lord Arthur. "I don't like Potter, but I must
stand up for him there. It _is_ his duty as a member of the ruling class
to interest himself in public behaviour. The House of Lords has been
shorn of much of its powers, but the influence of its members remains."

"As the son of a peer, my dear Arthur," said Mr. Perry, "you are quite
right to stand up for your order, and if every peer were like your
father there would be no objection to their claiming such rights as Lord
Potter, for instance, claims--to have free entry into every house, in
order that he may satisfy himself that its occupants are behaving
themselves as they should do. But we are a democratic country, and, as
things stand now, such a claim as that must be resisted, however
reasonable it may have been a hundred years ago."

"I don't know that I altogether agree with you there, Perry," said Mr.
Blother. "I admit that it is intolerable that such a man as Potter
should force an entrance into _your_ house, however you may choose to
live. But you would hardly object to a peer entering the establishment
of a man, let us say, like Bolster--an admitted member of the lower
classes."

"Edward would," said Tom. "He said the other day that however rich a man
was he ought to be free from interference in his own house."

"Oh, but Edward is an advanced Socialist," said Lord Arthur. "He would
deny that a peer was any better than anybody else."

"You would not go so far as to say, I suppose," said Mr. Blother, still
addressing Mr. Perry, and at the same time handing him a mayonnaise of
salmon, "that the House of Lords did not know what was good for the
people--the common people, I mean--better than they know themselves?"

"I should deny," said Mr. Perry, "that each member of the peerage knew
better than each member of the proletariat what was best for him."

"If that is the case," said Lord Arthur, in some excitement, "I beg to
give you a month's notice, Mr. Perry. I can cope with Edward, but if
_you_ are going to preach revolutionary views it is time I looked out
for another situation. I only took service here because my father said
that your political views were sound at bottom, although you went
farther than he approved of in many ways."

"Oh, dear Lord Arthur!" said Mrs. Perry in her pleasant sensible voice,
"you know that you mustn't take everything that my husband says
literally. I am sure that he only means that peers who have no official
position should be careful how they exercise their rights over other
people."

"Quite so," said Mr. Perry, and went on to explain that noblemen like
Lord Blueberry, who accepted a post under Government, even if it were
not actually one of inspection, were going the right way to work.

"As a postman," he said, "Victor Blueberry gains entrance to all the
houses on his round in a way that cannot upset anybody, and none of
those whom he visits can object to his making any investigations that he
may wish to make, in the course of his duty, on their way of living. And
the same is true of Hugh Rumborough, when he takes round their greens,
although he is not in so strong a position because he is not an
official. I only say that with the onward march of democracy it is no
longer wise for a peer to pursue his investigations harshly."

This seemed to satisfy Lord Arthur, who withdrew his notice, and left
the room for a time to compose himself.

Later on, when Mr. Blother had also left us to ourselves, Mr. Perry
said: "Of course one has to be careful how one expresses one's self
before Arthur. He doesn't see that what may be unobjectionable in
certain cases would be indefensible if it were acted upon everywhere. At
one time a peer of the realm had the right to make his will prevail over
everybody beneath his own rank; but the right has fallen into disuse,
and is now only exercised in the case of those who are not in a position
to resent it. Arthur would, no doubt, admit that it would be an
intolerable state of affairs if _any_ peer took to interfering with
_any_ commoner, whatever position he might hold; and that if it were
done to any extent, the right would have to be taken away. It is only by
exercising it carefully, and, as I say, on those who are not in a
position to resent it, that the peers can expect to keep it at all."

"Then I understand," I said, "that Lord Potter, as a peer, really has
the right to come and interfere with me, although he holds no official
position."

"If you refuse to acknowledge his right," said Mr. Perry, "as _I_
certainly do, if he tries to force himself into this house he will not
find any tribunal in the country that will punish you for it."

Miriam and I went into her garden after luncheon. When we had shut the
gate and were alone together in that green and shady retreat, I took her
sweet face between my hands and kissed it.

"They have been saying all sorts of things about me," I said. "Do you
believe them?"

She looked me straight in the eyes, and laughed. "What, that you are not
quite right in your head?" she asked.

"Well, that was Edward's idea. Blother inclines to the opinion that I
was drunk."

"Mr. Blother is a very silly old man," said Miriam, "and dear old Edward
is so taken up with his own affairs that one need never pay much
attention to what _he_ says. But, John--truly now--you are not teasing
me about England? You _can_ find your way there and it _is_ as nice as
you say it is?"

"Of course I can find my way there. I only wish I could go and find it
now, this minute, and take you with me."

She sighed. We were now sitting on the garden-seat. "I almost wish you
could," she said. "I should like to get off all the bother of the
wedding. I dread that more than anything."

"Why?" I asked, in some surprise. "I thought everything was going to be
as simple as possible."

"Well, father says now that he thinks we _must_ have a rich wedding, and
ask all our friends amongst the lower classes. I should like them to
come, of course, because a lot of them are real friends; but I do hate
the idea of a regular rich wedding."

"Why does your father think we ought to have one?" I asked. "He seemed
to be pleased that I wasn't a man like Eppstein, and that you were
marrying into your own class."

"Yes, but he says there will be such a lot of talk if we only have our
poor friends. People are always saying that he isn't really in sympathy
with the rich at all. Of course it isn't true, but if we had a rich
wedding, and invited all the rich people and gave them presents, it
would show that he does think more of them than just of pleasing our
poor relations."

"Should we have to give them presents--expensive ones?"

"Yes. They are awfully good. Lots of the women in mother's district have
promised to take jewels. They are quite excited about my marriage, and
would like to see me settled as poorly provided for as possible. Perhaps
it wouldn't be fair to disappoint them. But I do hate it so."

"Well, so do I," I said. "And I should hate to give away a lot of
presents to people who had never done me any harm."

"Dear old boy!" she said affectionately. "Mother rather hates the idea
of it too. But she feels, perhaps, that we _ought_ to think of our rich
friends at a time like this."

"Miriam," I said boldly, "we can't face it. Let us go away together and
get married quietly when we get to England."

The idea seemed to strike her as something rather dreadful and rather
pleasing at the same time. She blushed, but her eyes were bright.

"Oh, we couldn't," she said.

"Yes, we could. Let us go away in a week's time, before all the fuss
begins, and escape it."

"It really would be rather fun!" She was half joking, half in earnest,
but, at any rate, she had admitted the idea into her mind, and gradually
as I pressed her, making light of all difficulties, she began to waver
towards acquiescence, in earnest. What her mother would think was the
chief obstacle.

"I am sure she would be just as relieved as we should at escaping all
the bother," I said. "You could leave her a letter."

"I could come back and see her after we were married."

"Yes, of course. We would come back to Upsidonia whenever we wanted some
more--I mean whenever you wanted to. Oh, Miriam, say yes!"

She did not say yes at once, but she did a little later. She had a great
sense of adventure, and became even excited at the prospect, when she
had once consented to it. We decided to go away together very early in
the morning in a week's time.

FOOTNOTES:

[33] See page 65.



CHAPTER XXVI


As long as I remained in Miriam's garden, I was safe from interruption.
If the police had been waiting to arrest me for a crime, they could not
have got at me, or even summoned me from outside, but must have waited
until I chose to appear.

But when we had made our plans together, I thought I had better go and
see if they had called again, and, if they had, give them my
finger-prints and get it over.

When Miriam and I left her garden and shut the gate behind us, the first
thing we saw was the ragged figure of Lord Potter, who was shuffling
about with his shoulders hunched up and his hands in his pockets,
looking at the flower-beds. Hovering about at some little distance from
him was Mollie, who made excited signs in our direction when she saw us.

Lord Potter saw us at the same time, and came across the lawn with a
very disagreeable expression on his dirty face. "The police are waiting
for you up at the house, sir," he said. "It is just like you to take
refuge in a lady's garden. But if you think you are going to escape me
this time you are much mistaken. Off with you at once! I am not in a
mood to be kept waiting any longer."

He held out his hand towards the house with a commanding gesture, and I
was just about to reply to him, not altogether pacifically, when
Miriam's clear young voice broke in.

"Mollie!" she called, and when Mollie came to her, she said: "Run at
once and fetch Mr. Hobbs and Sir Herbert. Tell them that there is
someone in the garden who has no right to be here."

Mollie ran off, and Lord Potter's face darkened. "Do you know who I am,
Miss Perry?" he asked haughtily. "But of course you do. What is the
meaning of this strange behaviour?"

Miriam turned her shoulder to him, and taking my arm led me towards the
house.

Lord Potter shuffled after us, and said angrily: "Answer me, please!
What do you mean by treating me in this way?"

He was on the other side of Miriam, and his unsavoury presence was
nearer to her than I cared for. I let go of her arm, and pushed in
between them.

"Keep your distance," I said, and trod by mistake--at least--well, trod
will do--on his toe.

My boots were new and strong, and his were in the last stages of
consumption. With a cry of rage and agony, he took the damaged foot in
his hand, and hopped about on the other, while he vented on me a flood
of violent abuse.

At that moment Mr. Hobbs and Sir Herbert appeared on the scene. Miriam
stopped and said: "My father has refused to have this man in the house,
and we have just found him walking about in the garden. Will you please
put him outside the gate?"

Lord Potter faced them. "If you dare lay a finger on me," he began----

But Mr. Hobbs, who thought there was nobody in the world like Miriam,
and would have turned an emperor out of the garden if she had asked him,
laid a large hand on his shoulder, and said: "I don't know who you are,
but you get out of my garden."

Sir Herbert laid his hand on the other shoulder, and between them they
shifted Lord Potter towards the drive, faster than was altogether
convenient to him.

He was so taken aback by this treatment that at first he could only
expostulate violently. But as it continued he began to resist, and then
Sir Herbert, who was an athletic young man, took him by the collar with
one hand and the seat of his trousers with the other, and ran him
forcibly across the lawn.

The sight was so comic that I burst out laughing. Mollie did the same,
jumping and clapping her hands with delight, and Miriam was not long in
following suit. I was delighted to think that Lord Potter could not
possibly help hearing us. The crowning point of the scene was when Tom,
who had a half-holiday that afternoon, ran out of the house with a hand
camera, and succeeded in taking two snapshots of the progression before
it ended at the gate.

Sir Herbert came back grinning, and said: "I have owed his lordship one
for a long time. When I was a boy at school, he got me a swishing for
pea-shooting at him."

As for Lord Potter, he went off down the Culbut Road, without once
turning back; and if ever a man looked like making mischief, he did.

The affair with the police was soon over. I put on a dignified air, and
did all that they asked me to do without making any difficulty about it.
They were actually apologetic before they left, and I was not surprised
when they told me that they had already found and arrested the man who
had committed the burglary, and that it was only because Lord Potter had
insisted that they had worried me over the matter at all. They had been
quite sure all along that I could have had nothing to do with it.

"Lord Potter knew that as well as you did," I said. "I rather wonder--if
I may be permitted to say so--that you should have lent yourselves to
pay off his scores."

They looked a little foolish at that, and one of them said: "We shall
not act on his instructions again. Lord Potter is, no doubt, a very
important personage, but he must not think that he can make use of our
service for his private ends."

"I have just seen him doing the frog's march out of the garden," I said,
"and I expect when you get back you will find him there, wanting to have
some arrests made for assault. He looked like that, as far as I could
judge from his back. You might tell him that photographs were taken of
him, in a position not calculated to add lustre to his name, if they
came to be published. It might be worth his while not to take any
further steps."

The policemen laughed and went away. Whether they gave Lord Potter the
hint or not, neither Mr. Hobbs nor Sir Herbert heard anything further of
their treatment of him.

Later in the afternoon I called on Herman Eppstein at his office, and
arranged for the transfer of the Mount Lebanon shares. He looked grave
when I told him what a large block of them I had taken over, and said
that there had been a distinct upward movement in Mount Lebanons during
the last few days.

"I'm afraid you have bought at a very bad time," he said. "I wish you
had consulted me first. I could 'ave put you on to a better spec than
that. You may get badly 'it. And whatever made you take all your eggs
out of one basket? Why, you'll make a fortune if these 'ere shares do go
up, and what'll the family say to that, eh?"

"I know what I'm doing," I said stiffly.

"And I'll ask you to remember that I'm consulting you professionally,
and in confidence. I should naturally not have come to you if I had had
any fear that you would so far forget yourself as to blab of business
outside your office. No gentleman would allow himself to do such a
thing."

That touched him. "Well, I 'ope I know 'ow to be'ave like a gentleman,"
he said in an injured voice. "Nothing that's said in this room by a
client goes outside it."

"Oh, I knew I was safe enough with you, really," I said carelessly. "I
have proved that by coming here."

Then I gave him my instructions about selling the shares on a certain
date, speaking as if I had information as to some favourable movement
likely to take place before then; and impressed him somewhat with my air
of inside knowledge. I left him fairly confident that he would not give
me away.

The day I had fixed on for selling was the day before Miriam and I had
arranged to leave the country together. I should realise my comfortable
fortune, and Herman Eppstein might say what he liked about it
afterwards.



CHAPTER XXVII


We sat down to dinner that evening without Edward, but nobody expressed
any anxiety about him, as his philanthropic enterprises often detached
him from the family circle. I said nothing about our visits of the
morning, as I thought that Mr. and Mrs. Perry would be disturbed if they
knew that he was taking part in fanning the agitation amongst the
masters and mistresses of Culbut.

The evening papers were full of it. Mr. and Mrs. Bolster were still in a
state of siege, and it seemed unlikely that they would be dislodged
unless the authorities prevailed on their various tradespeople to stop
their supplies. Considering Mr. Bolster's treatment of them, I should
have thought this would not be difficult, but it was explained to me
that if they did not supply a customer with goods ordered by him, they
not only had those goods left on their hands, but had to receive payment
for them as well. Consequently, they would not consent to starve out Mr.
and Mrs. Bolster unless they were indemnified against gain by the
police; but probably that would be done in a day or two. In the
meantime, Mr. Bolster was having the time of his life, and providing
splendid copy for the papers.

I learnt, from the papers that Mr. Perry had brought home, and from his
reports of what he had heard, that the movement had gathered a good deal
more way than I should have thought possible from my experiences of the
morning. Quite a number of rich people had followed Mr. Bolster's
example, had turned out their servants, shut themselves up in their
houses, and thrown things out of the windows. In some cases the servants
had successfully resisted them, and had turned them out of their own
houses. But it was doubtful whether this was altogether a wise step on
their part, because, in the first place, it was an illegal action, and
gave the masters and mistresses a legitimate grievance, and in the
second it left them free to go about and stir up further trouble.

Mr. Perry shook his head over the whole business. "It is the result," he
said, "of last year's phenomenal harvest. There has been great distress
amongst the rich ever since. Food has dropped in price, and many
families are feeling the pinch of prosperity who have got along very
well so far. Unfortunately, this year seems likely to be an even more
prosperous one than last. I much fear that we are at the commencement of
a prolonged period of social unrest. But it is a bad look-out if it is
going to be met in this way. The people who are taking the law into
their own hands will not really better themselves in the long run, and
they will get many more into trouble who are innocent of all offence."

"I cannot find it in my heart to blame them much," said Mrs. Perry. "No
one who has not gone about amongst them as I have can form any idea of
what they have to suffer. One would have to have a hard heart not to
wish to help them."

"There are many of us who are trying to help them," said Mr. Perry. "If
everybody in the country would live only half as well as we do, there
would be no problem of wealth at all."

"And you have proved," I said boldly, "that one can live in easy
surroundings without losing anything in character, and without depriving
one's self of any legitimate pleasure in life."

But this statement was received well by nobody. Mr. Perry said that I
had probably been deceived by the cheerfulness with which he confronted
the trials of his life, and asked me if I really thought he enjoyed the
luxuries to which he subjected himself. Mrs. Perry said quietly that I
did not know how much their way of living cut them off from their
friends. Miriam said nothing, but looked at me warningly, as if I were
in danger of letting out our secret. Mr. Blother said that I didn't know
what I was talking about. And Lord Arthur said pointedly that when
people stayed in rich houses, and were always trying to sneak their work
from the servants by doing things for themselves, it was only natural
that they should hold silly views on the question.

"This preposterous movement," said Mr. Blother, "ought to have been
nipped in the bud. I think, before we see the end of it, Perry, you will
be rather sorry that you have taken such pains to improve the treatment
of prisoners. Give all these lunatics a year or two's dose of such
luxury as they have never dreamt of, and they will be glad enough to get
back to their own homes, and settle down quietly to do what their
servants tell them."

"If you were to shoot a few of them it would be more to the point," said
Lord Arthur vindictively. "Brutes!"

Edward did not return until late that night, and came into my room to
tell me what had happened. He was so exalted that he could not sleep
without unburdening himself, and what he had to tell was interesting
enough to keep me awake for as long as he liked to stay talking.

The movement was fairly launched. The Cabinet Minister upon whom he had
called had told Edward that he was then and always on the side of the
rich, but there were reasons, which he would not waste valuable time by
recounting, why he could not put himself at their head in the present
revolt. So they had had to do without him, but had been so successful
that his leadership would hardly be missed.

"He will come in all right by and by, when he sees how strong the
agitation is," said Edward, "but not as leader. He has missed _that_
chance, and will be sorry for it. We have done an immense amount of
work already. We have formed a Masters' and Mistresses' Union, and have
already got a surprising number of adherents. To-morrow we expect to
more than double our figures, and before the week is out I believe we
shall be strong enough to resort to peaceful picketing. Some of the
younger men, who have not yet lost their muscle through luxurious
living, will be told off for that purpose, and it will be surprising if
they cannot induce many to join us who are still timidly holding off."

"Are the servants going to take united action?" I asked.

"They look to the Government to help them," said Edward. "It came in a
year ago on the cry of 'Work for All,' and their view is that it is
bound to see that they get work. They are at present merely scandalised
at finding that their victims are determined to throw off the yoke, and,
moreover, are strong enough to do it. They will be more scandalised
still, to-morrow, and very soon there will be so many of them without
situations that they will be forced to take some steps. But in the
meantime we shall organise--organise; and by the time they wake up to
do the same we shall be too strong for them. My dear fellow, you have
come to Culbut at a glorious moment. The vile structure of tyranny is
tottering to its base, and before you are many days older you will see
it topple over and sink into the dust, never more to be revived."

"That will be very interesting," I said. "You don't think that the
police will be strong enough to scotch the movement, before it grows?"

"It has grown beyond that already. They can't even get at Bolster. If
they had been able to arrest him at the start, they might have
intimidated the rest. But there must be some scores of people who have
barricaded themselves into their houses to-night, and thrown all their
surplus goods out of the window. They can't deal with them all; there
aren't enough of them to do it. No; we have already got to the point at
which we can make terms. Very soon we shall be strong enough to dictate
them. Oh, my dear Howard, I can't tell you what I feel about it. I feel
inclined now, at this moment, to throw every article of value in this
room out of the window."

"Oh, I shouldn't do that if I were you," I said, with an eye on the
silver-backed brushes I had acquired at the Universal Stores. "There is
nothing to complain of in this house."

"Not much, perhaps, but there is the principle. Still, our servants here
are our friends. Blother often spanked me as a child, and Arthur and I
played fives together at school. I don't want to make trouble here. I
think, considering what we have done to help the rich, nobody can call
us disloyal for standing outside."

"I am sure your father would much prefer it."

"Has he talked about it at all?" Edward asked a little anxiously. "What
are his views of the movement?"

"I think he feels that it is a little too upsetting altogether. He
showed no disposition to throw his dinner out of the window this
evening."

"That would, perhaps, be too much to expect of him," said Edward.
"Twenty years ago I am sure he would have been the first to do it."

"I am not so sure about that," I said. "He seems to have taken his own
quiet line from the beginning. He has forced himself rigidly into a life
of luxury, and, as far as I have observed, has never flinched from it."

"No," said Edward. "He has led a noble and beautiful life of
self-sacrifice, and it sometimes crosses my mind that it has rewarded
him by making him happier living as a rich man than as a poor man."

"The same idea has occasionally crossed _my_ mind," I said. "I shouldn't
drag him into it, if I were you."

"I think perhaps you are right. I should not like to distract his mind
by trying to persuade him to take a leading part in this great fight for
freedom. Let him go on in his quiet unselfish way. He has really been
fighting for us, and preparing the way for this all his life."

When Edward had told me all that had happened, and a great deal of what
he hoped would happen, he became rather pensive.

"Do you know," he said, "I believe this is the last night I may sleep in
my own peaceful home, which, for all its drawbacks of wealth and ease,
is still very dear to me. It may be weeks, or even years, before I may
come back to it."

"Why do you think that?" I asked.

"To-morrow we demonstrate. We march through the streets of Culbut with
banners. I shall be at the head of the procession, with others, of
course, but at any rate in a prominent position. I shall be a marked
man."

Legitimate pride in the thought of this distinction seemed to be
struggling in Edward's mind with the melancholy that was fast stealing
over him. He paused, and then added with a sigh: "Very likely I shall be
arrested."

"Oh, well," I said, "if you put your head in the lion's mouth you must
be prepared for his biting. I wish to goodness you would take it out
before it is too late--for the sake of your family, if not for your
own."

But Edward would not do that; he said that he must go on with his work,
wherever it led him. The only encouragement I could give him was that
they would probably treat his as a political offence, for which they
would only imprison him in the first division, in which, as he had once
assured me, they would give him plenty of manual labour, and feed him
chiefly on bread and water.

This cheered him somewhat, and he left me to prepare himself for the
morrow.



CHAPTER XXVIII


The parade of the newly formed Masters' and Mistresses' Union duly took
place, and was attended by no immediately unpleasant results as far as
Edward or the other leaders were concerned.

It was quite an orderly demonstration, and its organisers had been
astute enough to disassociate themselves from the anarchical proceedings
of Mr. Bolster, and those who had followed his lead. I discovered that
Edward had given me an over-coloured account of the importance that
these outbreaks had had in the movement, and possibly of his own share
in directing it. He carried a banner in the procession, on which had
been emblazoned, rather hurriedly, the words: "We Want to Make our own
Beds," and marched, surrounded by the mistresses, about halfway down the
line. If the police had made any arrests, I doubt if they would have
picked him out, or even if they would have noticed him.

All would have gone well if Edward had now been content to work on
these safe and constitutional lines. There were stronger heads than his
directing affairs, and with such success that they were able to throw
over those who had been responsible for quickening the unrest into life.
They even encouraged the police to take active steps against those who
had put themselves into a stage of siege. The tradespeople were forced
to stop their supplies, and they were all starved out within a week.
When they got them under lock and key they dealt leniently with them,
for public opinion was largely on their side. But Edward was so furious
with the cynical way in which his fellow progressives had repudiated
these noble-spirited pioneers that there was no holding him, and at last
he achieved that crown of martyrdom for which he had thirsted, and was
arrested, as he was leaving a meeting of the Super-Assessed Employers'
Protest League.

I went to the court to hear him tried, and met one of the policemen who
had come to take my finger-prints. He told me that I had nearly been
arrested too, as I had been seen with Edward in Mr. Bolster's garden
when he had been persuading people to throw things out of their own
windows, in imitation of that hero, but the authorities had refused to
prosecute me. Without actually saying so he gave me to understand that
Lord Potter was at the bottom of it, but that the case against Edward
was so strong that they could not refuse to take it up when once the
information had been laid.

Lord Potter pushed his way into the court as we were speaking together,
and when he saw me glared with fury, but said nothing, not even when I
asked him politely if he would like any more prints of Tom's
photographs.

These had turned out well, and created much amusement in the family
circle. Unknown to Mr. Perry, who might have objected, a print of each
had been sent to Lord Potter, and had probably pleased him less than the
rest of us:

Edward stood up in the dock like a man, acknowledged all that was
alleged against him, glorified in it, and made a speech to the effect
that a day would come.

The magistrate listened to him indulgently, and said he was sorry to see
a young man of his character and parentage in such a position. He would
not be doing his duty if he overlooked the offence, but on account of
Edward's hitherto blameless record, and the purity of his intentions,
would sentence him to a month's imprisonment in the first division. He
hoped that this very lenient punishment, for an offence that was graver
than he seemed to recognise, would encourage him for the future to
confine his efforts for the amelioration of the rich to more legitimate
channels.

I shook Edward by the hand as he was led away to undergo his punishment,
and he told me to tell his family not to grieve for him. Nothing would
daunt his spirit, and, if he survived his punishment, he should come out
of prison more determined to carry on his work than when he went in.

Edward's conviction cast a gloom over us at Magnolia Hall. Mr. Perry was
particularly cast down by it, and did not seem to be able to take any
comfort from the fact that Edward was to be treated as a prisoner of the
first class.

"They are sending them to work underground in the coal mines now," he
said, "and they feed them chiefly on skilly. These were reforms that
were long since overdue, and I have perhaps had more to do with them
than anybody. But, even with those alleviations, imprisonment is a
terrible thing, and it goes to my heart that a son of mine should be
treated in this way, after all I have done. I sometimes wonder whether
it has been worth it, and whether I should not have done better for
those dear to me if I had kept to the life to which I was born."

Mrs. Perry and Miriam both assured him that he would not, and presently
managed to assuage the sharpness of his grief.

"You are one and all of you wonderful supports to a man who has taken up
a thankless and difficult task," he said. "When I see you so cheerfully
ready to bear your share of the burden, I must not shrink from doing my
part. I am still whole-hearted in my sympathy with the rich. Blother,
old friend, bring up a bottle of champagne--two bottles. I must not
falter. I cannot go to prison, but I can and will continue to play my
part in the great work."

Blother brought the champagne. He was much moved, and put all the
trouble down to the malignity of Lord Potter.

"No one would have taken any notice of Edward's foolish little game if
Potter hadn't forced them to," he said. "It is well known that Edward is
a quite harmless crank, and for your sake, Perry, they ought to have
left him alone. But don't take on about it. You won't find yourself any
the less regarded because of this, and when young Edward comes back to
us, we must try to keep him in better order."

Mr. Blother was right in saying that no one thought the worse of Mr.
Perry for the blow that had been dealt him. He received many tokens of
sympathy from both public and private sources, and soon came to regard
Edward's imprisonment with complete equanimity.

"I think this trial must have been sent to me for my good," he said to
me two days later. "I am experiencing a wonderful calm of spirit in
spite of it. I shall use the period of my poor Edward's incarceration as
a breathing space, and shall give up as many of my activities as
possible for the next month. When he returns to us, I think I shall
persuade him to travel for a time, and after that we shall be able to
return to our work together with renewed zest."



CHAPTER XXIX


Two days after Edward's conviction, when we were all getting a little
accustomed to his loss, Miriam and I had spent an hour of the afternoon
in her garden, laying plans for our now fast-approaching elopement, and
had just left it when Mollie came running towards us with the news that
Herman and Amelia had come to tea, and wanted to see us both.

I always felt a little uneasy at the thought of Herman Eppstein, and as
in two days' time he was to sell my holding in Mount Lebanons, I thought
that he might have come to say something to me about them.

I was determined, however, that he should not say it in the
drawing-room, if I could possibly help it. Directly we went in, I began
to talk about Edward, and about the exciting things that were happening
generally, and so infected the rest with my loquacity that they all
became loquacious too, and we made an animated party. Mr. Perry was
there, which was somewhat unusual, but since Edward's departure he had
been about the house a good deal, and seemed to find it restful.

I saw very plainly, though, that Eppstein was dying to bring out some
news, and only awaited a lull in the conversation to do so. I was also
doubtful whether his wife did not know as much about Mount Lebanons as
he did, for her eye was often fixed upon me with a curious expression.
She took her full share in the conversation, but I could see that she
would make no effort to prolong it if it flagged of its own accord. I
tried to make signs to Eppstein, but he either couldn't or wouldn't
understand them, and presently I had to resign myself to some ultimate
revelation.

Just as I thought, and the Eppsteins must also have thought, that this
time had come, there was a diversion. I heard a ring at the front door
bell, and heard Blother and Lord Arthur go across the hall to answer it.
I exerted myself to give the talk another fillip, until the caller, if
there was one, should arrive, and breathed again when the door was
flung open and Mr. Blother's sonorous voice announced a name. But when I
heard that name my spirit sank again.

The visitor was Mr. Hobson, and he came into the room with a wild and
disordered air, which changed to one of menace as, without even greeting
Mrs. Perry, he pointed at me and cried: "Deceiver! You are not what you
pretend to be!"

Few deceivers are; and my conscience was not wholly clear. But I was, at
any rate, unconscious of having done Mr. Hobson any harm, and asked him,
in some surprise, what complaint he had against me.

It was Herman Eppstein who took up the question, and dealt with it with
a resource which I should hardly have expected of him.

"I know all about it, Mr. 'Obson," he said, "and you 'aven't nothing to
grumble at. Mr. 'Oward took over your shares at market price, and did
you a very good turn. If you'd a knowed you could do better by 'anging
on to them, why did you let 'em go?"

Mr. Hobson sank into a chair, and buried his face in his hands, rocking
his body to and fro.

"I might have known it," he said. "Nothing I ever do goes right. If I
had kept those shares, I should have been a poor man once more. And I
_should_ have kept them, if he hadn't come and pretended to be doing me
a good turn."

He lifted up his head, and hissed the word "Viper!" at me, and then
subsided once more into his state of misery.

"What is it all about, Herman? What has happened?" asked Mr. Perry.

I also wanted to know what had happened. I was not feeling at all
comfortable, and no longer wished to prevent Eppstein from telling his
story.

"Mr. 'Oward took over thirty-five thousand Mount Lebanon shares from Mr.
'Obson. It was all in order, and Mr. 'Obson must 'ave been precious glad
to get rid of them. Mr. 'Oward 'olds them now, and I take this
opportunity of congratulating him. Still, I do think, as 'e is almost a
member of this family and you might say, 'e might 'ave let some of the
rest of us into the know, instead of keeping all the good luck to
'imself."

"What has happened?" asked Mr. Perry again.

"Arst 'im. 'E'll tell you," said Eppstein.

"I would rather you did," I said. "You can put it more lucidly."

"Well, they've been rocky for a long time," explained Eppstein, "but
they bulled them up, and never let on that they'd come to the end of
their lode. But this afternoon the news come that there's been no gold
for a long time, and they've been paying interest out of capital. And
that ain't all. There's never been more than five shillings a share paid
on them. They're calling up another five shillings at the end of a
month, and they'll call up the rest at three months' intervals, and then
they'll wind up. 'Oward, I don't bear no malice--you've got the bulge on
all of us this time--and I should like to shake 'ands with you."

I shook hands with him, my brain in a tumult, then with his wife, and
finally with Mr. Perry, who had by this time taken in the full meaning
of Eppstein's announcement, which was a good deal more than I had.

It was Hobson who brought home to me the appalling reality.

"He came to me," he said accusingly, "and offered to take twenty or
thirty thousand pounds from me as a free gift. He led me up to offering
him all my holding in Mount Lebanons. If I had kept them I should have
stood to lose over £140,000 now, and should have been entitled to pay up
another £26,000 in calls--nearly £170,000 in all. And now _he_ has lost
all that, and I say it isn't fair. He has swindled me."

There followed an altercation between him and Eppstein and Mr. Perry.
Mr. Perry rebuked him for the unfounded accusations he had made against
me, and Eppstein told him that _he_ was the swindler if he expected to
lose it both ways. But still, he kept on repeating his reproaches, and
finally I took a bold resolution, and generously offered to let him have
his shares back again.

But neither Eppstein nor Mr. Perry would hear of this, and I was not in
a position to press it. After all, Hobson had already lost the full
value of his shares, and could only stand to gain by the amount he would
have had to pay up on the calls.

When this was pointed out to him, he acknowledged that he had never been
much of a business man, apologised to me for his behaviour, and went
away somewhat comforted, leaving me to the congratulations of the
family.

I accepted them, I hope, modestly. I was almost paralysed by the blow.
Instead of being able to leave Upsidonia with a comfortable fortune, I
should leave it under an appalling burden of debt. I had lost a hundred
and seventy thousand pounds, and could only comfort myself with the
resolution never again as long as I lived to put my finger in the Stock
Exchange pie. But it was cold comfort enough, and I broke away as soon
as I could from the delight of Mr. Perry, who now saw in me a most
eligible son-in-law, and from the ill-concealed jealousy of Mrs.
Eppstein. I took Eppstein into the library with me on the plea of
business. I wanted time to think before I had another talk with Miriam,
who, I could see, had been deeply puzzled by the foregoing conversation,
and whose due it was to have all the explanation I could offer.



CHAPTER XXX


"My dear," I said, when Miriam and I had once more sought the seclusion
of her garden, and she had asked me what it all meant, "you don't
understand English ways yet. It is not to be expected that you should,
with your upbringing. But it is absolutely necessary to have _some_
money in England, when you marry, and I thought I would do Hobson a good
turn by getting what I wanted from him. It is most unfortunate that it
has turned out as it has."

But she could not bring herself to this view. "I am sure that however
you may try to hide it," she said, "you really only did it because you
were sorry for the poor Hobsons. I love and honour you for it, and I am
glad you have been rewarded as you have, though I do hope you won't do
it again, because now you have _me_ to think of, you know, and, after
all, it is very risky."

"Miriam," I said, "I am not going to sail under false colours with you.
I wanted Hobson's money, and I don't know what on earth to do now I
haven't got it."

"Why, do just what we had arranged to do," she said. "I am ready to come
with you, and if it means that we shan't have to live in the rich way we
have talked about, I shall be all the better pleased. It has always been
rather a weight on my spirits, and I am very relieved to think that we
shall be poor after all."

"My dearest of girls, I am afraid you won't like being poor in England."

"I should like it anywhere. And I believe you have only been making up
all that you have told me, so as to test me."

"Test you? What do you mean?"

She took my arm, and laid her fair head on my shoulder. "I think you
must have been a little doubtful about me," she said, "always seeing me
in these unnatural surroundings. You must have thought that I couldn't
be brought up in a place like this all my life without being affected
by it. You wanted to see how much I cared for luxury for its own sake.
Truly, John, I don't want it at all. I only want you."

What was I to say to this touching confession?

What I did say caused her to continue: "The picture you drew of liking
to have things for the sake of having them was rather like a nightmare
to me. Think of a life in which one could never belong to one's self, or
to one another, because one was always bowed down by the weight of
possessions! And as we got older they would accumulate more and more,
until we became stifled by them. Why, one might even come to take no
pleasure in any beautiful things that didn't belong to one. One might
even envy other people what they had. Why should anybody _want_ to
burden themselves in that way?"

"Well, of course," I said, "one _can_ do all right without a lot of
things around one."

"Oh, yes; one would be so much happier. Beatrice Coghill, a friend of
mine, married about a year ago, and they took a little farm in the
country. I went to stay with them there. It was just large enough for
them to do all the work themselves. They live in the open air all day
long, and work hard, and never have a care in the world. She makes her
little home so sweet for her husband, and she told me she was always
thinking about it, and about him when he is out working in the fields.
In the evenings they read, and she plays to him. They don't mind the
long winters because they are always together, and do what they like
doing indoors. And in the summer they have their garden, and their walks
about the quiet fields. Sometimes they take a little holiday, and come
into Culbut to see their friends, and to hear some music, but they are
always glad to get back to their happy little home. They never have any
of the annoyances that we go through here every day of our lives, and
they can look forward to growing old together, and keeping all their
simple happiness to the end."

"My darling," I said. "That is a very pretty picture."

And, indeed, it seemed to me, as painted by Miriam, the prettiest sort
of picture. If I could make her happy, and myself happy with her, by
living a life of bodily toil in the open air, which is the best sort of
toil, and feeding the demands of the brain in the hours that seem set
apart by nature for such pursuits, then a little farm, by all means.

But a farm in England, however little, wants money to buy, money to
stock, and not infrequently money to carry on. It was only in Upsidonia
that one could acquire it, stock it, work it without any previous
experience, and live off it without any anxiety, as well as contribute
three hundred pounds a year towards the income of somebody else, with no
capital behind one. No English Parliament Act that I am aware of holds
out any such prospects to the small holder. It did cross my mind that it
might be worth while considering whether it would not be better to give
up all idea of leaving Upsidonia now or at any time. One could live more
comfortably in that country owing a hundred and seventy thousand pounds
than in any other that I know of. But I was already getting a little
tired of Upsidonia, and was looking forward keenly to taking Miriam away
with me. Besides, there was always that question of the newspaper
placard--"Who is Mr. John Howard?"--hanging over me. If I stayed in
Upsidonia, that would have to be answered sooner or later, and for all I
knew might be ripe for an answer at that very moment. No; curiosity
about me seemed to have died down for the time, but I was not in the
safest of positions; and the sooner I got out of the country, with
Miriam, the better.

"We can't very well live on a farm in England," I said. "There are many
reasons against it. But would you be content to live with me in the
simplest possible kind of way, while I worked for you in the way I have
learnt? I _could_ just manage it, and _I_ don't want anything more than
a tiny little house, with you in it, if _you_ don't."

She said that she didn't--that she loved the idea of being poor with me,
and that if I had really been used to living in luxury, although this
she could hardly believe, then she would show me how little luxury made
for happiness. She removed all my unworthy fears, and made me quite
ashamed of having had designs on Upsidonian pockets. I would leave the
country not a penny richer than when I came into it, except for the few
items I have already mentioned. I felt much more comfortable in mind
when I had taken this decision, and if along with it there went the
prospect of also freeing myself from the immense load of debt I had
contracted, by leaving it behind me, I can hardly be blamed for that
under prevailing conditions.

Miriam and I left her garden that evening in the most complete accord
with one another, both rather excited by our fast-approaching
departure, but both convinced that we should lead a life of such
happiness together as had never yet fallen to the lot of a married
couple.



CHAPTER XXXI


On the last evening but one, before Miriam and I were to go away
together, we were sitting round the tea-table in the verandah. Mrs.
Eppstein was with us, and Mr. Perry had said that he would be home at
five o'clock, but had not yet appeared. But we heard the wheels of the
carriage just as Mr. Blother had brought out the kettle, with the
intimation that we had better begin now; and Mr. Perry came out to us
directly, still wearing his tall hat, which Lord Arthur usually relieved
him of in the hall.

It was evident that he had news for us, and to judge by his face, on
which sat an expression combined of jubilance and modesty, it was good
news.

"Blother, old friend," said Mr. Perry, "don't go. I have something to
tell you."

Then he went up to Mrs. Perry, took her hand in his, kissed it, and
said: "Good evening, my lady."

Mrs. Perry exclaimed at this form of address, and after a short pause,
during which Mr. Perry removed his hat and looked rather sheepish, Mr.
Blother said joyfully: "Ah, I see. At last they have recognised your
value, and have knighted you. Three cheers for Sir Samuel and Lady
Perry!"

Mr. Perry held up his hand, and the cheers died on our lips. "You are on
the right track, Blother," he said, "but you have not gone far enough.
You should have said: 'Three cheers for Lord and Lady Magnolia!' which
is the title I have decided to adopt, subject to her ladyship's
approval. My dear, a great and unexpected honour has been conferred on
me. They have offered me a peerage, contingent on my accepting or
refusing it at once. I have accepted, thinking you would wish it for the
sake of the children, and my patent was handed to me this afternoon."

We all congratulated the new peer heartily, concealing our surprise at
the honour having been conferred on him, and saying that it was only
what ought to have been done long ago.

When Mr. Blother had left us to carry the news into the servants'
quarters, Mr. Perry, or rather Lord Magnolia, told us all about it.

"It is the reward of my life-long service in the cause of the
downtrodden," he said, "and dear Edward will be gratified to know that
the punishment so harshly inflicted upon him has had something to do
with it. I was given to understand that the Government much regrets the
necessity of having had to prosecute him, and, as a good deal of feeling
has been aroused against them in consequence of that action, they hoped
that this honour, conferred upon me so promptly, might remove some of
that feeling, as showing that, whatever may be thought of them, they are
really on our side. Therefore, in one way, I may be said to be doing as
much for them as they are doing for me, which made it, perhaps, easier
to accept the unlooked-for honour. I did not do so without some demur. I
said that I should not consent to be a mere puppet peer,[34] and they
assured me that nothing of the sort was intended. They also assured me
in the handsomest way that the offer of a peerage to me had long been
under consideration, and the only difficulty about it had been that my
way of living might bring ridicule on the nobility generally. I told
them at once that my work was far too dear to me to be given up, and
that if the stipulation was that I should leave my friends amongst the
rich, and go back to live amongst the poor, I could not consent to it.
They said that no such stipulation would be made, and that removed my
last objection."

What his other objections had been, Lord Magnolia did not tell us. It
was obvious that he had not had the least idea of such an honour ever
being conferred on him, and was quite agreeably stirred by it.

"I only wish that dear Edward were here to share our gratification," he
said, "but it will not be long now before we have him with us again. My
dear, I think you might write him a note to tell him what has happened.
To-morrow will be his day for receiving letters, and do not forget to
address him as the Honourable Edward Perry."

"I must go home at once and tell Herman," said Mrs. Eppstein. "It was a
step up for him to marry me, but he little thought that he would be
marrying into the peerage."

"Shall I be Lady Mollie, like Susan and Cynthia?" enquired Lord
Magnolia's younger daughter.

"You will be the Honourable Mollie, my love," replied that nobleman.
"You are all now the Honourable. But you must not think too much of
that. These distinctions are nothing in themselves, and you must not
forget that it is worth that counts, and that titles are usually given
as a reward to those who are the last to desire them for themselves. It
is so in this case. Nothing will be changed here, and we shall still go
on in our quiet way, trying to live for our fellow creatures, continuing
to share in their joys and in their sorrows, and living like the richest
and humblest of them."

At this moment, all the household, led by Mr. Blother and Mrs. Lemon,
came filing out on to the verandah, to congratulate their master on the
honour that had been conferred upon him.

Lord Magnolia received their felicitations with heartfelt gratitude, and
then Mr. Blother made a little speech.

"It is quite a new situation," he said, "for a domestic staff to find
themselves in the service of a peer of the realm, and it is a matter of
congratulation to one and all of us that the already unusual
circumstances under which we have all lived together here--some of us
for a number of years--have been so happy that no awkwardness has been
felt anywhere. Perhaps we, in the servants' hall, can take some of the
credit for that, for I think we can all say that we have borne some of
the burdens of wealth, and have not let them fall entirely upon the
shoulders of the excellent master and mistress with whom we have lived
in such friendly relations. If any of us have ever seemed to press too
hardly upon the younger members of the family, it has only been because
we did not wish them to succumb to the temptations of wealth, as they
might have done if they had been allowed to forget that servants are
usually in a far superior position to those whom they serve. For it
would never do for them to grow up thinking that life amongst the rich
was so pleasant as I think we servants may pride ourselves on having
made it at Magnolia Hall.

"However, I need say no more about that. What I _am_ going to say, on
behalf of myself and all my colleagues, is that we wish to mark this
happy occasion by an act of self-sacrifice. However my old friend, Lord
Magnolia, may wish to conduct his life in the future, we feel that for
this evening, at least, we should not like to see him and her ladyship
occupying an inferior situation to our own. We propose that the
household staff should take their places at the dinner-table, and be
waited upon by Lord Magnolia and his family, who will also cook the
dinner, and wash up afterwards."

It would be impossible to describe the emotion with which Lord Magnolia
met this touching offer of self-surrender, so handsomely acquiesced in
by the whole company before him. He said a great many things in reply,
but what he said most insistently, and repeated so that it could not
possibly be misunderstood, was that nothing would induce him to accept
it. Nothing was to be changed, he said. It would take away all his
gratification in the honour that had been done to him, if it was to be
thought that it would for a moment put him on the level of those whom he
had always been glad to call his friends. Let them keep their proud
position, and let those who thought and acted with him keep their humble
one. If they would do him that honour, let them all come in after dinner
and drink a glass of wine--such of them as were not teetotallers--with
him and his family. More than that he could not accept from them, if
they begged him on their bended knees.

So it was settled. Lord Magnolia drank several glasses of wine that
evening, and went up to bed in as happy a frame of mind as that of any
peer in Upsidonia.

FOOTNOTES:

[34] In one sense, all the members of the Upsidonian Upper House were
puppet peers. Their chamber was the oldest building in Culbut, and one
of which the inhabitants of that city were justly proud. But it lacked
accommodation. It had been built at a time when there were only twelve
peers in the whole of Upsidonia, and as it had been reckoned that never
more than half of them would be present at a debate, it had been
designed to hold only six people.

But, according to the system on which the Upper House worked, this was
ample. All the business was done by five peers--the Lord Chancellor, and
two representing each party. As there were no facilities for reporting
debates, they held none. In fact, speeches had reduced themselves in the
course of years to three formulæ. These were: (1) "Let it go"; (2) "I
think not"; and (3) "Try again."

Two peers made a quorum, and as a matter of convenience business was
usually left to the Lord Chancellor and one peer, who represented the
Government when one side was in office, and the Opposition when the
other side was in office.

But it must not be supposed that this ancient House had been denuded of
all its powers. Far from it. Parliamentary business was much less
contentious than with us, and this simple procedure was found to suffice
for the bills of most sessions. It worked perhaps better for one party
than the other, but as most of the peers belonged to the larger party it
was considered only fair that it should do so.

But when a really controversial measure was sent up to the House of
Lords, there was a very different state of affairs. Then all the peers
in the country were entitled to vote, and the full Committee sat for a
week, while the papers were coming in.

It was usually a struggle between the "Let it go's," and the "I think
nots"; but the "Try agains" were sometimes in the majority, and the Bill
was sent down to the Lower House for amendment. The peers had no
machinery for amending it themselves, and no direct means of indicating
the amendments they wished made. With the common-sense that was a
feature of so many Upsidonian institutions, it was taken for granted
that the House of Commons would know perfectly well what was expected of
them, and would put it into their Bill if they wanted it passed when it
was sent up a second time.

The great body of peers--men for the most part who had other things to
think of--seldom made any objection to announcing which way they
intended to vote. If they didn't, they were liable to be constantly
worried by people coming to them to find out, when they wanted to get on
with their work.

If the Government was particularly annoyed at the rejection of a Bill,
they would send it up again, and, to avoid any further fuss, the peers
would usually fall back upon a fourth formula, which provided for this
contingency. This was: "Settle it for yourselves"; and it meant that the
Bill would go to the House of Lords Committee again in the usual way,
and would be passed.

The system worked well on the whole, and it had never happened that a
Bill had gone more than three times to the whole body of peers. They
always broke down on the third canvass, even if it was on a question
that affected themselves adversely. They could not stand the nuisance of
being continually interrupted and annoyed; and many of them turned
against their own party for the sake of getting it all over, and being
allowed to settle down quietly again.



CHAPTER XXXII


My last day in Upsidonia had arrived, and the time was fast approaching
when I was about to rob that country of its brightest jewel. Towards the
evening, feeling restless, I set out for a walk. Miriam was with her
mother, and as there was no one else whose company I desired at that
time I went alone.

I thought I might as well see exactly how long it would take to walk to
the other side of Culbut so as to run no risk of meeting many people
when I should take the same road with Miriam, very early the next
morning.

When I got into the busier part of Culbut, I bought an evening paper,
and running my eye idly over its columns, came upon one headed: "The
Truth about John Howard at Last. Arrest Shortly Expected. New Peer
Victimised."

I took refuge upon the top of a tram-car, and read the column through.
It stated that the Master of McGillicuddy, the son of the respected
Highland Baron of that ilk, had been brought to the office of the paper
by another highly respected nobleman--in whom I had no difficulty in
recognising Lord Potter--and had authorised them to announce, for the
protection of all honest people, that there was a dangerous criminal in
their midst, whom they would do well to beware of.

A prisoner undergoing a term of penal servitude for representing himself
as a professor of dead languages, and practising a long series of cruel
frauds on young students, many of whom had lost places in the monthly
examinations owing to his empirical methods of tuition, had escaped from
gaol some weeks before. He was known to have gone south, no doubt with
the idea of practising the same frauds on the less sophisticated
scholars of Upsidonia. There was no doubt whatever that the person
already arrested on his arrival in Culbut for a gross insult to a highly
respected personage was this escaped prisoner, masquerading under
another name. The police, who had hitherto failed to trace the escaped
convict, had been notified, and, by the time these words were in print,
would no doubt have got him once more safely under lock and key.

Unless the paper was mistaken in this last statement, I had probably
passed the police on my way into Culbut, and they were now at Magnolia
Hall awaiting my return. According to the descriptions given by the
Master of McGillicuddy of the escaped prisoner, he might have been my
twin brother dressed up in my own clothes.

I need not reproduce the scorn with which the journal, which was that
chiefly read by the members of the dirty set, expressed itself about the
newly created peer, who had been taken in by this unscrupulous criminal,
and had even allowed him to become engaged to his daughter. It pained me
greatly, and would certainly pain Lord Magnolia no less when he should
come to read it.

The blow was a stunning one. If there was such a criminal at large as
had been described by the Master of McGillicuddy, which I had no reason
to doubt, it would be very difficult to persuade the police that I was
not that criminal. Indeed, how could I expect to persuade them of
anything! I could give no account of myself that would satisfy them that
they were arresting an innocent person, and even if the Highland police
eventually disclaimed me, I knew it would take some time to get them to
Culbut, and in the meantime I should certainly be kept in custody. It
was quite certain that the moment I returned to Magnolia Hall I should
be arrested, even if I got so far, and at dawn the next morning, when
Miriam and I ought to have been starting on the happiest of journeys
together, I should be most comfortably housed in prison.

The more I thought of it, the more angry I became at this most unkind
stroke of fate, and the more angry with the preposterous Lord Potter,
who had undoubtedly brought it upon me. I could not get at Miriam to
tell her to start alone and join me somewhere on the road. I could do
nothing. I was robbed of all I had hoped for as it seemed just within my
grasp.

I walked on and on, trying to form some plan. I walked right through
Culbut, with my eyes mostly on the ground.

By and by, something caused me to lift them, and I found myself passing
a little wood, which, with a start of surprise, I recognised as the one
from which I had made my first entry into Culbut.

It was, as Edward had said, and as was now quite plain to me, part of
the grounds of a large institution, and looked, from this side, quite
unlike what I had taken it to be when I had entered it from the other.

Still, in spite of Edward's description of the kind of country that lay
beyond, I had certainly entered this wood from the cave, in the way I
have described, and I had not the smallest doubt but what I could return
by the same way.

I thought that I might as well satisfy myself of the exact whereabouts
of the cave, so that I should be able to lead Miriam directly to it, if
I should succeed in getting her away. The only plan that seemed to me
possible was to keep away from Magnolia Hall until nightfall, and then
try in some way to communicate with her, and boldly carry her off under
cover of darkness. Very likely the house would be watched, and we might
be followed, even if we escaped. I did not want to run any risk by
groping about in the wood, when possibly time would be of value.

I found the trees and the bushes without the least difficulty, just as I
remembered them, and pushed through them to the dark aperture of the
cave.

I went in a short distance, not meaning to go very far, but just to
satisfy myself that the way was clear.

I am sure that I had not penetrated more than fifty yards, for the light
still held faintly, when suddenly the same roar was in my ears as had
frightened the man who had entered the cave with me from the other end.
I was aware of something odd in my head, which may have been a heavy
blow, although it did not feel like one.

Then I lost consciousness completely.

       *       *       *       *       *

I came to, to find myself lying in bed, in a little room lit by a
lattice window, through which was a view of rolling purple moor. I felt
very weak, and when I tried to move, found that my body was heavily
bandaged and my head swathed. The movement caused a sharp pain to shoot
through me, and again I lost consciousness.

This was nearly six weeks ago. I am now sitting in a little slip of a
garden behind the inn, with the moor coming right up to it. I cannot
walk yet, for both my legs were broken by the subsidence of the cave, as
well as a few other comparatively unimportant bones in my body. But my
head has been clear for a long time, and I have employed my enforced
leisure in writing this account of what befell me.

I cannot, even now, make out exactly what happened. The kind folk who
rescued me, and have looked after me ever since, stoutly aver that the
fall of earth happened on this side of the cave, almost directly I and
my companion entered it; that he gave the alarm immediately, and I was
extricated within an hour.

If this is true, what becomes of Upsidonia?

It cannot be true. But I no longer talk of Upsidonia to them, for when I
did so, after I began to mend, they looked askance at me and were
obviously hiding something. Even the doctor, who rides over the moors
from Eppington on a shaggy pony, told me that I should not get well as
long as I clung to such delusions.

Delusions! Is Miriam a delusion, I should like to know? Can a man fall
in love with a delusion?

No. These people must know perfectly well of the existence of Upsidonia,
but for some reason of their own they wish to keep it dark. Perhaps I
shall know why when I get well again.

But I don't much care what their reasons are. The cave is blocked up
now, but from where I sit I can see a tall rampart of rock about a mile
to the north across the moor. It looks inaccessible, but there must be
some way over it, or round it. When I can walk again I shall find a way.
For beyond it lies Upsidonia, and Upsidonia contains Miriam.

Wherever Miriam is, I am going to find her.





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