« PreviousContinue »
Mrs. Tupp remembers admitting a at other times he will be that off-handed young lady to the house on the morning and peremptory you might think I was of Friday, the twenty-eighth, when she his blooming office boy. opened the door to take in the milk. The On Friday morning, the twenty-eighth, lady, Mrs. Tupp remembers, spoke in a I did n't get to Harcourt Buildings at the husky voice, the result, as the young lady usual time, knowing that Mr. Quincey explained with a pleasant laugh, of hav- would not be there himself, he having ing passed the night wandering about arranged to interview Mr. Parable for Ham Common, she having been mis- a morning paper at ten o'clock. I allowed directed the previous evening by a fool of him half an hour, to be quite safe, and a railway porter, and not wishing to dis- he came in at quarter-past eleven. turb the neighborhood by waking people
He took no notice of me. For about up at two o'clock in the morning, which, ten minutes—it may have been less—he in Mrs. Tupp's opinion, was sensible of walked up and down the room cursing her. Mrs. Tupp describes the young lady and swearing, and kicking the furniture as of agreeable manners, but looking, about. He landed an occasional walnut naturally, a bit washed out. The lady table in the middle of my shins, upon asked for Mr. Tupp, explaining that a which I took the opportunity of wishing friend of his was in trouble, which did not him “good morning,” and he sort of woke in the least surprise Mrs. Tupp, she her- up, as you might say. self not holding with socialists and such “How did the interview go off?” I says. like. Mr. Tupp, on being informed, "Got anything interesting?" dressed hastily and went down-stairs, and "Yes," he says, "quite interesting. Oh, he and the young lady left the house to- yes, decidedly interesting." gether. Mr. Tupp, on being questioned as He was holding himself in, if you unto the name of his friend, had called up derstand, speaking with horrible slowness that it was no one Mrs. Tupp would and deliberation. know- -a Mr. Quince. It may have been “D' you know where he was last Quincey.
night?” he asks me. Mrs. Tupp is aware that Mr. Parable "Yes," I says; “Caxton Hall, was n’t is also a socialist, and is acquainted with it-meeting to demand the release of Miss the saying about thieves hanging together, Clebb?” but has worked for Mr. Parable for years He leans across the table till his face and has always found him a most satisfac- was within a few inches of mine. tory client. Mr. Tupp appearing at this "Guess again," he says. point, our representative thanked Mrs.
I was n't doing any guessing. He had Tupp for her information, and took his hurt me with the walnut table, and I was departure.
feeling a bit short-tempered.
“Oh, don't make a game of it,” I says. MR. HORATIUS CONDOR, Jr., who con- “It 's too early in the morning.” sented to partake of luncheon in company "At the Earl's Court Exhibition," he with our representative at the Holborn says, “dancing the tango with a lady that Restaurant, was at first disinclined to be he picked up in St. James's Park.” of much assistance, but eventually supplied “Well,” I says, “why not? He don't our representative with the following in- often get much fun.” I thought it best formation:
to treat it lightly. My relationship to Mr. Archibald He takes no notice of
observation. Quincey, Harcourt Buildings, Temple, is “A rival comes upon the scene," he perhaps a little difficult to define.
continues, "a fat-headed ass, according to How he himself regards me I am never my information, and they have a stand-up quite sure. There will be days together fight. He gets run in, and spends the when we will be quite friendly like, and night in a Vine Street police cell.”
I suppose I was grinning without knowing it.
"Funny, ain't it?" he says.
"Well," I says, "it has its humorous side, has n't it? What 'll he get?"
"I am not worrying about what he is going to get," he answers back; “I am worrying about what I am going to get."
I thought he had gone dotty.
"What is it got to do with you?” I says.
“If old Wotherspoon is in a good humor," he continues, "and the constable's head has gone down a bit between now and Wednesday, I may get off with forty shillings and a public reprimand.
"On the other hand,” he goes on,-he was working himself into a sort of fit,
“if the constable's head goes on swellin and old Wotherspoon's liver gets wor I've got to be prepared for a month wit out the option. That is, if I am fq enough?
He had left both the doors open, whi in the daytime we generally do, our chai bers being at the top. Miss Dorton that 's Mr. Parable's secretary-barg into the room.
She did n't seem to noti She staggers to a chair, and burs into tears.
"He's gone," she says; "he 's tak cook with him and gone.
"Gone?" says the guv'nor. "Where he gone?"
"To Fingest," she says through her sob "to the cottage.
Miss Bulstrode can
in just after you had left," she says. “He "I 'll see the Fabian Society, and the wants to get away from every one and women's vote, and the Home for Lost have a few days' quiet. And then he is
Cats at Battersea, and all the rest of the coming back, and he is going to do it blessed bag of tricks—” himself.”
I'd been thinking to myself, and had "Do what?" says the guv'nor, irritable just worked it out. like.
“What 's he want to take his cook “Fourteen days,” she wails. “It 'll kill down with him for?” I says. him.”
“To cook for him," says the guv'nor. “But the case does n't come
“What d' you generally want a cook Wednesday,” says the guy'nor. “How do for?" you know it's going to be fourteen days?” "Rats!" I says. “Does he usually take
!I “Miss Bulstrode,” she says, “she 's seen his cook with him?" the magistrate. He says he always gives "No," answered Miss Dorton. "Now fourteen days in cases of unprovoked as- I come to think of it, he has always hithsault.”
erto put up with Mrs. Meadows." "But it was n't unprovoked," says the "You will find the lady down at Finguv'nor. “The other man began it by gest," I says, "sitting opposite to him and knocking off his hat. It was self-defense. enjoying a recherché dinner for two."
“She put that to him," she says, “and The guv'nor slaps me on the back, and he agreed that that would alter his view lifts Miss Dorton out of her chair. of the case. But, you see,” she continues, “You get on back," he says, “and tele"we can't find the other man. He is n't phone to Miss Bulstrode. I 'll be round likely to come forward of his own ac- at half-past twelve." cord.”
Miss Dorton went out in a dazed sort "The girl must know," says the guy' of condition, and the guv'nor gives me a nor—"this girl he picks up in St. James's sovereign, and tells me I can have the Park and goes dancing with. The man rest of the day to myself. must have been some friend of hers.” Mr. Condor, Jr., considers that what “But we can't find her, either," she happened subsequently goes to prove that
, says. “He does n't even know her name; he was right more than it proves that he he can't remember it. You will do it, was wrong. won't you?" she says.
Mr. Condor, Jr., also promised to send "Do what?” says the guy'nor again. us a photograph of himself for reproduc“The fourteen days,” she says.
tion, but, unfortunately, up to the time “But I thought you said he was going of going to press it had not arrived. to do it himself," he says. “But he must n't,” she says.
“Miss FROM Mrs. Meadows, widow of the late Bulstrode is coming round to see you. Corporal John Meadows, V.C., TurberThink of it! Think of the head-lines in ville, Bucks, the following further particthe papers!” she says. “Think of the Fa- ulars were obtained by our local reprebian Society! Think of the suffrage sentative: cause! We must n't let him."
I have done for Mr. Parable now for "What about me?" says the guv'nor. some years past, my cottage being only a "Does n't anybody care for me?"
mile off, which makes it easy for me to “You don't matter,” she says.
"Be- look after him. sides," she says, "with your influence, you Mr. Parable likes the place to be al'll be able to keep it out of the papers. ways ready so that he can drop in when it comes out that it was Mr. Parable, he chooses, he sometimes giving me warnnothing on earth will be able to."
ing and sometimes not. It was about the The guv’nor was almost as much ex- end of last month-on a Friday, if I recited by this time as she was.
member—that he suddenly turned up.
way to do it.
As a rule he walks from Henley Sta- "if you don't mind taking a bit of mothtion, but on this occasion he arrived in a erly advice, you might remember that Aly, he having a young woman with him, your place is the kitchen, and his the parand she having a bag-his cook, as he ex- lor. He's a dear good man, I know, but plained to me. As a rule, I do everything human nature is human nature, and it 's for Mr. Parable, sleeping in the cottage no good pretending it is n't." when he is there; but to tell the truth, I She and I had our breakfast together was glad to see her. I never was much of before he was up, so that when he came a cook myself, as my poor dead husband down, he had to have his alone, but afterhas remarked on more than one occasion, ward she comes into the kitchen and and I don't pretend to be. Mr. Parable closes the door. added, apologetic like, that he had been "He wants to show me the way to suffering lately from indigestion.
High Wycombe," she says. “He will have "I am only too pleased to see her," I it there are better shops at Wycombe. says.
“There are the two beds in my What ought I to do?" room, and we sha'n't quarrel." She was My experience is that advising folks to quite a sensible young woman, as I had do what they don't want to do is n't the judged from the first look at her, though suffering at the time from a cold. She "What d' you think yourself?" I asked hires a bicycle from Emma Tidd, who her. uses it only on a Sunday, and, taking a "I feel like going with him," she says, market-basket, off she starts for Henley, "and making the most of every mile.” Mr. Parable saying he would go with her And then she began to cry. “What 's the to show her the way.
harm?" she says.
"I have heard him They were gone a goodish time, which, from a dozen platforms ridiculing class seeing it 's eight miles, did n't so much distinctions. Besides,” she says, “my peosurprise me; and when they got back we ple have been farmers for generations. all three had dinner together, Mr. Para- What was Miss Bulstrode's father but a ble arguing that it made for what he
grocer? He ran a hundred shops instead called "labor-saving." Afterward I of one. What difference does that make?” cleared away, leaving them talking to- "When did it all begin?” I says. gether; and later on they had a walk "When did he first take notice of you?" round the garden, it being a moonlight "The day before yesterday," she annight, but a bit too cold for my fancy.
"He had never seen me before,” In the morning I had a chat with her
"I was just cook-something before he was down. She seemed a bit in a cap and apron that he passed occaworried.
sionally on the stairs. On Thursday he “I hope people won't get talking,” she saw me in my best clothes, and fell in says. “He would insist on my coming." love with me. He does n't know it him
"Well," I says, “surely a gent can self, poor dear, not yet ; but that 's what bring his cook along with him to cook for he 's done." him. And as for people talking, what I Well, I could n't contradict her, not always say is, one may just as well give after the way I had seen him looking at them something to talk about and save her across the table. them the trouble of making it up."
"What are your feelings toward him," "If only I was a plain middle-aged I says, "to be quite honest? He's rather woman," she says, "it would be all right." a good catch for a young person in your
"Perhaps you will be all in good time,” position.” I says, but of course I could see what she "That's my trouble,” she says; "I was driving at. A nice clean, pleasant can't help thinking of that. And then to faced young woman she was, and not of be Mrs. John Parable'! That 's enough the ordinary class. "Meanwhile," I says, to turn a woman's head."
"He'd be a bit difficult to live with," Before dinner had call to go into
the woodshed. I heard a scuttling as I "Geniuses always are," she says; "it's opened the door. If I am not mistaken, easy enough if you just think of them as Miss Dorton was hiding in the corner children. He'd be a bit fractious at where we keep the coke. I did n't see times, that 's all. Underneath, he 's just any good in making a fuss, so I left her the kindest, dearest-"
there. When I got back to the kitchen, “Oh, you take your basket and go to
cook asked me if we 'd got any parsley. High Wycombe," I says. "He might do "You 'll find a bit in the front," I says, worse."
"to the left of the gate," and she went I was n't expecting them back soon, out. She came back looking scared. and they did n't come back soon. In the “Anybody keep goats round here?" she afternoon a motor stops at the gate, and out of it steps Miss Bulstrode, Miss Dor- "Not that I know of-nearer than ton, - that 's the young lady that writes Ibstone Common," I says. for him, -and Mr. Quincey. I told them “I could have sworn I saw a goat's face I could n't say when he 'd be back, and looking at me out of the gooseberrythey said it did n't matter; they just hap- bushes while I was picking the parsley," pening to be passing.
she says. “It had a beard.”' “Did anybody call on him yesterday?" "It 's the half-light," I says. "One can asks Miss Bulstrode, careless like-'a imagine anything."
"I do hope I 'm not getting nervy," she "No," I says, "you are the first as yet.” Ι
says. “He 's brought his cook down with I thought I'd have another look round, him, has n't he?” says Mr. Quincey. and made the excuse that I wanted a pail “Yes," I says, “and a very good cook,
I was stooping over the well, too,” which was the truth.
which is just under the mulberry-tree, "I 'd like just to speak a few words when something fell close to me and with her,” says Miss Bulstrode.
lodged upon the bricks. It was a hair"Sorry, ma'am," I says, “but she's out pin. I fixed the cover carefully upon the at present. She's gone to Wycombe. well in case of accident, and when I got
"Gone to Wycombe !" they all says to- in, I went round myself, and was careful gether.
to see that all the curtains were drawn. "To market," I says.
“It 's a little Just before we three sat down to dinfarther, but, of course, it stands to reason ner again, I took cook aside. the shops there are better."
"I should n't go for any stroll in the They looked at one another.
garden to-night," I says. “People from "That settles it," says Mr. Quincey. the village may be about, and we don't "Delicacies worthy to be set before her want them gossiping." And she thanked not available nearer than Wycombe, but must be had. There 's going to be a pleas- Next night they were there again. I ant little dinner here to-night."
thought I would-n't spoil the dinner, but “The hussy!” says Miss Bulstrode un- mention it afterward. I saw to it again der her breath.
that the curtains were drawn, and slipped They whispered together for a mo- the catch of both the doors; and just as ment, then they turns to me.
well that I did. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Meadows," I had always heard that Mr. Parable says Mr. Quincey. “You need n't say was an amusing speaker, but on previous we called. He wanted to be alone, and visits had not myself noticed it. But this it might vex him.”
time he seemed ten years younger than I I said I would n't, and I did n't. They had ever known him before; and during climbed back into the motor and went off. dinner, while we were talking and laugh