The Astronomer and The Star
A. C. Allenson
Who wrote “Drop Behind and Lose Two," “June Comes Back,” etc.
"FRIGHTFUL thing, love!” mused Marmaduke, leaning back in his
chair, and blowing a cloud of smoke toward the ceiling.
Marmaduke’s other name was Jackson, but that is a mere detail, and without importance in this story. He was supposed to be a sleeping partner in a stockbroking firm in the city, and the supposition as to the “sleeping” part of the legend was absolutely true. During the favorable months he played golf in the North. Then, when frozen or snowed out, he shifted his camp southward, returning to his starting point when the hot days came again. He sported a monocle, and larded his speech with Anglicisms. Observers, at first sight, took him for a light weight, but more intimate knowledge revealed a vein of wisdom and good-heartedness that made friends and kept them. Under the camouflage was a very real man. It was reported among sundry of his more intimate friends that he had written a book or two, but he was stonily deaf to enquiries on the subject; which showed him to be quite an eccentiic among authors.
We were alone in the club smoking room, having dined there and the car would not come to take us home for an hour or two. Having made the portentous statement with which this narrative opens, there was a long pause, then Marmaduke resumed:
/VITIER evils, that flesh is heir to, pursue a normal and reasonable course. Hobnob, for example, with a blighter in the full bloom of smallpox, and the probabilities are that you will have smallpox. But you may mingle with girls . . . all the infinite variety of per-
fectly delicious girls, and nothing at all serious happens. Then one day you meet a girl . . . the girl .• . . Outwardly she may appear to be just an ordinary girly
sort of girl, but the disease has collared you without any warning or incubating period whatever. The first thing you know you are down on your marrowbones, your fingers violently agitating the air, and you find yourself yelling “Kamerad! Kamerad!” to her, as if your home address was somewhere in Hamburg.
And that brings me to dear old Pöttinger,
pOTTINGER was a Professor—Math* ematics—Science—pleasant little fluffinesses like those. He used to earn his living drawing angles and triangles on a blackboard, with a quite ordinary piece of chalk. Not the least bit artistic, don’t you know.
Then, when he had finished his drawing, he would suddenly, without the slightest warning, turn round, pounce upon you, singling you out from the blasé mob of your pals—I herded with his flock for a time—-and demand of you what you thought would or would not happen if the triangle CAT coincided, or did not, with the triangle DOG. Bally rot! As if CAT could ever, or would ever, by the wildest stretch of imagination, coincide with DOG. Well, on these matters old Pott and I never could see eye to eye. He never would admit that there could be two sides to the question, and he would burble along, like a puddle on a hot day, going into all kinds of alphabetical details and combinations, till finally he chortled triumphantly, “Quod erat demonstrandum!” which was the signal that the fit was over, the patient coming round, and doing quite nicely, thank you.
Well, my differences with Pott all came to a head about examination time. You know the kind of paper they set before you at such absurd ordeals? A dozen or so of the most footling and unhumorous conundrums, which they invite you to
guess at. As it happened, Pöttinger and I scarcely agreed on one single thing. The result, shortly, was that I withdrew from the halls of learning under what some would regard as a cloud, academically. All of which impaired somewhat the man-to-man cordiality desirable between professor and pupil, and left me with the rottenest opinion of Pott’s sportmanship. Pöttinger, I should say, wasn’t really an old man. Seen against a cobwebby background of angles and triangles he appeared to be of the vintage of Methusaleh, or like Melchisedec, without beginning or end; but really he
was approximately mod-
ern. In spite of bald head, and frightfully brainy look, he wasn’t more than a few years older than myself.
IT was about four years later that Pot* tinger’s card was brought up to my rooms. Rather a shock, as you may imagine. Then it occurred to me that perhaps conscience was troubling him, and he wished to repent in proper fashion for his pernicious bigotry in the matter of angles, and so forth, and our conflicting views as to their habits. He looked so absolutely down and wormy, that I told him if he had come to argue whether things equal to the same things are equal to one another, I would take his word for it right off, which seemed the hospitable and sporty thing to do.
“No,” he replied. “I have come to consult you.”
“Then,” I told him, “if it is about stocks and bonds, and things of that kind, that fluctuate, you had much better not. The firm, of which I am a somnolent member, employs a ticker and a redheaded man, who — the man and not the ticker, you know—writes figures and funny screeds on a blackboard, as you used to. You had better consult him. Frightfully brainy sort of chap too!” “No,” he repeated. “It is about golf.” Thereupon we entered the world of real things. “My health is not at all good,” he went on ; and he did look mildewed and moth-eaten in spots.
“My dear chap,” I replied. “How can it possibly be anything else? The trouble is that angles and triangles and trying to make them coincide, have got thoroughly into your system. You are wearing yourself away for the futile joy of bubbling ‘quod erat demonstrandum’ over their noisome corpses. To be an undertaker would be infinitely more healthy.”
“I think perhaps you are right,” he
conceded. It was the first time he had ever admitted the possibility of anything I said having truth in it. Which showed the kind of state he was in.
He encompassed a drink in the orthodox manner, but declined my offer of smoking stuff, producing some cigarettes of his own that gave off, before lighting, a distinctly pharmaceutical odor. He said they were good for asthma, doing the most frightful execution on germs. I thought it exceedingly probable. When he had emitted about four puffs, the room upstairs emitted the chappie who lived there. He whirled downstairs in the most frightful tear, demanding why we were fumigating the place without giving him notice. He was only repulsed by the greater density of the smoke when he stood at the door. But that was all right.
“It is my Sabbatic year,” Pöttinger went on. “My doctor orders me to go down to Seascale next week and play all the golf I can.”
Pretty rotten of the doctor, I thought. I was going down to Seascale myself next week. It was a place few people knew about, and those who did know desired to shun the madding crowd, so they kept the treasure properly concealed. I could see that, if the doctors got on to this recommending game, there would be Sunshine clubs, ladies’ euchres, and Chatauquas there soon. I would not mind driving off the face of a gold watch, as some of the sporting old Johnnies used to do, but to approach across a laager of baby carriages would shake my nerve.
GREAT place, Seascale. About a dozen or two real chaps used to foregather there at this time of the year and play golf. When the cares of day were over —single in the morning, foursome after lunch—there were just enough of the right sort to help dispel the melancholy of the hours of darkness. T\vo or three of the blighters had a wife or so each, but otherwise there was not the shadow of a cloud on the skies. Now it looked as though the doctors might turn it into a bathchair parade ground. Probably Pöttinger was married, and had oodles of offspring. That is the way with those brainy chappies whose incomes are small. I had visions of the young Pottingers picnicking on the greens, and playing in the best bunkers with spades and buckets.
“Of course Mrs. Pöttinger will accompany you . . . and the family?” I
“There is no Mrs. Pöttinger,” he replied. So things looked quite a bit brighter.
That old Pott had given to the scientific aspect of golf the most tremendous study could not be doubted, after hearing him drool about it. He was a teeming storehouse of lore, and he poured it forth in quite the old style. So realistic was it, and so reminiscent of college, that I dropped off to sleep. When I woke, he was discussing the theory of the trajectory of a golf ball’s flight, drawing diagrams with the poker on the wallpaper, which occasioned some verbal unpleasantness with my landlady the next morning.
IF I had my way, I would remove all
ladies like Miss Sabrina Mowle to Belgium forthwith, before the Boche withdraws or is driven out. He would, very probably, abduct her, which would be stern justice, though richly deserved by the brutal Hun.
She was a large lady; not large horizontally or circumferentially, as scientific chaps like Pott would put it, but large perpendicularly, with fine formidable development of bone. She was the kind of
lady you expect to address you at any moment thus:
“Come hither, boy ! Are your hands quite clean?
Turn out everything you have in your pockets instantly. Now put your hands behind your back and recite the Shorter Catechism and the Ten Commandments right off!”
She was sister-in-law, or aunt, or something of the kind to a depressed looking blighter called Corkindale, who had come to Seascale for the first time this year. If ladies had been possessed of the vote thirty years ago, Miss Mowle, at that time, would have been qualified to exercise it. That she was out gunning for unfeathered duck none, who saw her manoeuvres, could doubt. She sat on the club veranda, at the very top of the steps, like stout old Horatius waiting to give what for to the Etruscans. Meantime she knitted with the utmost decorum, rolling up the stocking as she manufactured it, lest its appearance should seem unmaidenly. It was obvious that no male creature had ever tampered with her fresh affections, though it is but fair to say she was not over coy. She positively infested the veranda, and evil minded Johnnies got to calling her “Bogey.” She spotted Pöttinger right away and marked him down. It was really his own fault to a great extent, for he had an obsession for playing alone—wanted to practise shots, he said. Consequently he was a positive pipe for the predatory pippin. You could see dear old Pott any day on the high tees, slashing away in the innocence of his soul, the sun striking sparks from his bald head. If he had only flocked with the bunch he might have had a chance, but out in the open he was soft for the sniper. We tried to fence him in, but the secretary, like a silly ass, had to go and stick his oar in, and introduce Pott to the voracious Medusa. When
she found out that he was a real professor, she told him that she adored angles and triangles, and that they could feed them to her without stint, and she would never grow weary of them. When some bally idiot told her that he had written a book on astronomy—stars and comets, and bodies of that description, don’t you know, —her lawless passion knew no bounds.
She told him it had been one of the unfulfilled yearnings of her heart to study the wonders of the nightly heavens, under the guidance of a competent instructor.
“Indeed, Madame!” replied Pott, in that awfully polite away of his. Then she suggested that he step over, quite informally, some evening, to dinner at her crass relative’s place, and afterwards they would go out and look for Jupiter.
Pott was canny though, sticking to his dugout like an old badger. He told her that the night air gave him the most frightful sore throat. What_ did the pernicious female do, but knit him a brown muffler with blue forget-me-nots on it, and send it round to the house where we lodged, together with a pot of black currant jam, and written instructions how to make it up into hot drinks? We gave the muffler to the butcher’s boy and I ate the jam.
Pott was too discouraged to down a
mouthful of it, and it was corking good jam too. He got so dumpy that I had to do something to help him, so the next day I flopped amorously at the fair Sabrina’s feet on the top of the veranda steps.
“Frightfully good jam, Miss Mowle.” I told her. “And whenever I wear the muffler I shall think of the fair hands that knitted it.”
“You ate the jam?” Her eyes probed for my backbone, and found it.
“Every currant of it,” I admitted boldly. “If you will let me have the recipe I’ll keep it for my fiancée. Most industrious girl, that way, my fiancée."
As a matter of strict though lamentable truth I have no fiancée.
But a man has got to stick to his pals, and yet not slip into the tureen himself.
“That jam was not meant for you,” she said in awful tones.
“It wasn’t?” I replied, properly horrified. “It was for old Bloggs, I suppose?” Bloggs was the old fisherman with whom we ,u d, a gentleman composed in equal parts of tar, Limerick twist, beer and fabrications on naval matters.
“It was meant for Professor Pöttinger,” she said.
“No!” I exclaimed. “Well, I will apologize to him most abjectly. When I get the recipe, I will make a copy for Mrs. Pöttinger. In a family of seven small children, sore throats are fairly common.”
I was congratulating myself that I had successfully frosted the lady’s flower patch, when something told me that the atmosphere was growing more frigid. Then I looked up.
“Professor Pöttinger is unmarried,” she said in fearful tones. “I enquired out of merest curiosity and admiraation. He ought to sue you for defamation of character, and I would go upon the stand against you. Your turpitude does not amaze me in the least. It is worthy of a man who could devour another’s black currant
She strafed me most Teutonically, representing me as a person of the most frightful infamy. But it was all in a good cause.
She was a vampire, nothing less, not one of those nice, mysterious vampire women you don’t mind a bit trying their vamping arts on you, but a vampire with positively no redeeming features.
pOTT was fearfully down in the mouth * about the cropper I had come. He even talked about packing up and fleeing Seascale. but I hated to see him go, for I had come to like him amazingly. At last an idea came to me.
“You’ve got to backfire her, Pott, old dear,” I told him.
“Backfire her!” he repeated, with pathetic blankness.
“Yes, like those blighters do in the woods when there are forest fires. Start another—backfire it,” I explained.
“But how, Marmaduke, how?” said the poor dub.
“How?” I exclaimed. “The easiest and pleasantest way In the world. Fall in love, immediately, with a real, regular girl, and leave the rest of the bicker to her. She’ll quod erat demonstrandum the fair Sabrina in half of no time.”
“But I don’t understand,” he pleaded
“You ignorant old top!” I sympathized. “Let me explain. Here in Seascale are
girls, real, regular girls, perfectly delicious girls, all of them, though some more so than others. Girls—a dozen of them— with whom any sane man could fall in love any fine morning before breakfast. The difficulty is not falling in love, but the frightful hardship of having to limit operations to just the one girl.”
It was all so much High Dutch to poor old Pöttinger. There he was, a Professor, a shark on education, who knew all about angles and triangles and could make the most mulish of them coincide, and he had not the remotest notion how to coincide with a real, regular girl.
If one of them gave him a cheery, gay word, out of sympathy, he would blush the prettiest pink, all up his face, and over the top of his head till it was lost in the bush about the back of his collar. What could be done with a man who could neither fight for himself against the Amazon invader, nor make an effective alliance with a girl who would put an efficient barrage before him?
'T'HERE was the sea, occupying its more or less usual place on the land or seascape. There was the sand that the waves had smoothed out nicely after their dance upon It, and there was the big, flat rock at the edge of the sand strip.
We had to cross the beach to get to the third hole. There Pöttinger started play-
ing, for he no longer dared invade the club house and pass the Cerberus at the top of the steps. . Pretty wormy state of affairs but thus^nd so it was. This particular morning the sea was singing away in its usual irresponsible fashion. There also was the sand, all nicely smoothed out, and there was the large flat rock; but all changed. The rock was inhabited. A girl sat upon it. Her back was turned partly to us, so that she did not observe our approach over the sand. In her hand was a cleek, and she was desecrating it dreadfully. When we got quite near we saw that the amazing girl was drawing things on the sand with the top of it, angles and triangles and so forth. Apparently they were obstinate and refused to coincide, for, with a sweepy swipe, she destroyed them with apparent good will.
“Darn the old things!” she said, viciously.
“Amen, my child. So be it,” I commended. The girl had evidently a healthy mind. It was my hope that the evidence of this would not be lost on Pöttinger.
She started and sprang to her feet, and faced us, like a little tigress that had been surprised. One could see the bright tiger fire in her eyes. I was glad I had resisted the impulse to express my approval of her sentiments by patting her head. One would, after seeing her face,
have just as soon have patted Queen Mary on the head. She looked very capable, very independent and not a little defiant. Only those who had very excellent right would pat her head. She was small. Looking casually at her, one would have guessed her age at about fourteen, but a second glance would make one add a few years. Her feet were neatly shod. She wore a trim, short skirt and loose coat, buttoned closely up to her throat. On her head was a red tam o’ shanter. Her face, framed in her dark hair, was pretty but rather pale. The tome of geometry in her hand probably accounted for that. Her eyes were large, dark, deeply lustrous. Obviously she did not approve of me. My hasty greeting had not commended me. Then she looked at Pöttinger, and there was a change. The tigress and the fire died out of her eyes. They became delightfully luminous. Two dimples appeared in her cheeks. Her mouth, that had been firm, a straight line, developed pretty curves and the lips seemed to fill out and become verv charming.
That was the odd gift of Pöttinger, I had recently discovered. Men who thought him a crank on angles, and so forth, liked and admired him. He was the kind of a man you would lend money to without security, and lose no sleep at night over the transaction. Women liked him instinctively, girls wanted to be their
nicest to him, children howled for him, dogs poked their noses into his hand. He got less than a hundred a month for teaching quod erat demonstrandum stuff to boys, when he should have been showing it to men in the big world—-how a man can walk through the world as a big man and yet be poor.
The girl, one knows not by what gift of insight, recognized this, as she stood there; and knowledge brought the dancing light into her eyes.
“Do you want a caddie, Sir?” she asked him—not me—dimpling.
“Well ... Er ... let me see now . . . I do lose a great many balls,
for my eyes are not at all good,” he replied. “Are your eyes good?” And he peered a little through his glasses, as if to make sure.
“Yes, they are very good,” she answered. They were.
“I think, Marmaduke, perhaps it might be truest economy,” he said.
They finally came to an understanding. He was to pay her four dollars a week, and she would act as his caddie exclusively, every day, Sundays, of course, barred.
“And what is your name, child?” He asked her.
“Stella,” she answered.
“Stella—a star!” he mused. “It is a most beautiful name.” Had I spoken in that way, she would probably have re-
torted with the cleek. “Very well, Stella. We will now begin to play here, at the third tee. Good-bye, Marmaduke.”
And off they went.
She wanted to carry the clubs, but the absurd chap would not hear of it. It was her duty to mark the flight of his shots, and reprove his errors. He came home that evening in a state of great delight.
“She is a most wonderful child,” he said. “In one hour she eradicated all my driving heresies. She insisted that I must be more scientific, and use the interlocking grip. It was rather difficult at first, but I got it finally, and it is marvellous. Come outside, and I will show you.” So we left our dinner, and went outside. He tee’d up a ball and drove with the new grip—a peach too!—far and sure, bending neither to left nor right.
ND, as the days went by, she took him to pieces in a golfing sense and carefully reconstructed him. After the driver, the iron, and then the putter. She was a marvellous little player with her one club, driving, approaching, putting with it. There was in her play the natural uncramped swing of one who has learned the game in childhood. From the toe of her little shoe to the button on the top of the cap she was the very grace and poetry of beauty in motion.
They were like two children on the links. One could hear them laughing and talking. Sometimes she was rebuking him for lapses into golfing heresies, and he expressing deep penitence for his baekslidings. She always spoke in a polite, respectful way, and he responded as an obedient pupil to his mentor.
Then he discovered that she had aspirations to be a school-teacher one of these days; hence her interest in angles and so forth. She hated them, as a healthy minded girl naturally would, but there were examinations, looming darkly on the horizon of her career. He was, of course, a ravenous shark on those things, so at lunch time they would adjourn to the rock by the beach and draw angles and triangles, and eat sandwiches, so that her difficulties melted away marvellously.
They were positive babes, but the world makes little allowance for innocence and fineness of mind, so it was necessary that someone, spotted by the world, should give an aspect of social comeliness to the lessons. I used to stroll over and witness the dissection of rhomboids and such like, and poor old Pott was delighted to think that a late love for the things had been born in me. It was rather frightful, don’t you know, and no child at church ever yawned more tiredly for the final Amen than did I for the chortling quod erat demonstrandum. Then we all went back to the links, the two babes with their roles reversed, the mathematical pupil becoming golfing instructor.
When Stella got Pott into form, she sent him, all geared up, into a competition. Formerly he had been a ghastly twentyfive. This day he pulled out a corking ten game, and mashed the lot of us. We were tickled to death.
Of course all this did not happen without the fair Sabrina putting up a fight. She tried to be awfully foxy and nice and persuasive to Stella, so that she might make of the twosome a threesome. Nothing but frost and ice—fearfully respectful frost, frightfully polite ice, but the most real, feminine ice, which is, as all scientists know, the most absolutely frigid thing in the realm of nature. When Sabrina saw the two playing, she would casually saunter across, but by the time
she caught up with them the game would be over, and Pöttinger explaining, with sand diagrams, what would be likely to happen if you invaded the lair of a parallelopiped with the winter hunger upon him.
Impose a parallelopiped on the most frightful love, and the damper is shut with steady streams of water assailing the fervent ashes.
There was a barrage defence about the Professor, not of shell and fire but of geometry and ice. Behind its impenetrability old Pott slashed away in perfect content and safety.
“I think,” I said one day to Stella—she tolerated me now because of the Professor’s approval of me—“I think the state of the game presently is ‘All square with Bogey.’ ”
She made no verbal answer, but it is not necessary for women and girls to put thought into words to have it understood. The dimples appeared in her cheeks, the lips smiled, and there was a sparkle—not fire but fun—in the dark eyes.
THERE was to be a big tournament at Seascale, so we had to arrange about the events and prizes. You know how it is with these affairs.
“John!” says the golfing man’s wife to him one day. “It is about time we began
to retrench and practise economy. That golf game costs you an awful lot of money, and we have positively got to cut things down and save. There are two or three dresses, and a hat or so, I must have, unless I am to adopt the toilettes of the belles of the South Sea Islands. Besides those, with winter coming on in the natural course of events, and the price of furs just at this time so ridiculously reasonable—” And so forth and so on.
John has to make some kind of a defence of his pocket money, and the clubs fix things on a mutual aid basis. Most of the committees are composed of married blighters, so they cook handicaps, and fix competitions so that things go round, a cup here, a salver there, a spoon for baby to cut his toofies on, or a bib holder. One day John lugs to his domestic lair a chased coal scuttle in white metal, with an air of “Where’s that Harry Vardon, now?”
His wife brags to all her friends that he licked Ouimet, Chick Evans, and Jerry Travis to get it, or something equivalent to that.
Few knew, and those who knew kept silent, that he annexed it with 117 less 40, net 77, putting out a game that should inflame his conscience for years to come.
Well, we had our meeting. Everything went finely until we were about to dis-
perse, and then up gets Corkindale, Sabrina’s crass relative, and once erect on his hind legs, begins to bray portentously.
He was rather beany, having been elected a full member of the club in one of our moments of temporary lunacy. There was one thing on his mind, he declared. It was the nefarious caddie system the club had. No caddie roster. No caddie master. No provision for seeing that the caddies were of high moral character and had been successfully inoculated, and so forth. It was a horrible thing to him, in this woman-honoring land that girl caddies were allowed to be on the links. He moved that no girl caddie above the age of ten be employed and thought that these should be properly chaperoned.
“Hear! Hear!” barked Miss Mowle virtuously.
“Tell it to Sweeney! Move ’journment!” growled old Bannister. I had never approved of Bannister altogether. He is a rather coarse bounder at times, but in this emergency I called a waiter and requested him to ascertain Mr. Bannister’s pleasure in a liquid sense, bringing me one of the same.
The meeting broke up then and we told Corkindale our candid opinion of him as a mouth organ. Of course it was a drive at Stella, and poor, innocent, old Pöttinger. Luckily he was not present at the meeting, and did not hear anything of it for some time.
THE day afterward we strolled over the beach, as usual, in the morning. There was the sea, there the sand, there the rock, but no Stella. We waited an hour for her to show up, but she did not appear. The next day, and the day after it was the same. Poor old Professor! He was a lost, bewildered man. I suggested to him that the links were still there, and we went to the tee and started off, but it was a dismal, mournful business. The game was not the same to him. Then for a day or two he relapsed into angles and triangles again; for, with the barrage gone, came a new drive from Sabrina. Pott went into retirement.
By this time I had learned something of Stella’s history. Her father had been a doctor in a town some distance away. When he died, he left mother and daughter badly off, so they moved to a village near Seascale and lived cheaply and quietly. She walked over to the links every morning for the sake of the little money that was needed to help them out till she got her school. She was little, and with her hair hanging down in a thick braid, and the loose coat she wore, she did seem to be quite a kiddie. You know what baffling creatures girls are in the matter of dress disguise?
When Pott heard about the club meeting—some good, kindly Christian soul had to let it out—he came to see me, very white about the gills, very troubled but very firm looking.
“They tell me she is quite
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grown up, Marmaduke,” he said, “that she is twenty years old. I had no idea. She seemed such a child, a very nice and delightful child.”
“Girls are frightfully bafflng, old chap,” I told him. “No definition, axiom, postulate ever framed can express them.”
“I suppose they are,” he gloomed. “I have known very little of women and girls. Perhaps I have devoted myself too much to science.”
“Half science,” I ventured to correct him. “There can be no true science that leaves them out. Get to know their hearts and minds—the nice ones I mean—and there isn’t much more one need care about knowing this side Jordan.”
“Yes, they are, as you say, Marmaduke,
very baffling,” he lamented. And he tool off and rubbed his spectacles.
“Not more so than angles and so forth,’ I told him. “Infinitely more interesting and you can work the problem out to th« quod erat demonstrandum point if you a« painstaking, deserving, and lucky.” Perhaps this scrap of conversation perked him up a bit, for he began to take an interest in things again.
THE next Sunday morning I was late getting up. When I got back from my swim, I found the Professor all dicked up, ready to go out.
“Church!” he said, answering my look of enquiry.
“Church?” I repeated.
“Certainly!” he said. And there came íe least suspicion of a pinky look on the ip of his head.
“Most proper!” I commended. “There e few places in which one may get more insolation and comfort when things do t coincide as they should. But,” I ided, “you had an argument with the urgyman the other day when he came
■ investigate the spiritual condition of 1 Bloggs, and you told me you entirely ^approved of his views. If I remember tight you said he was ‘Atavistic’ or withropomorphic’ or a ‘Mosaic Cosmomist,' or something equally frightful »unding.”
“It is not same clergyman,” he said, in
“Very good,” I told him. “By all means i and get consolation, but service will bt begin for a good hour and a half.”
“It is not the same church,” he replied, Jetting a bit pinkier. I said nothing, but iorked my way through the piece of piast Mrs. Bloggs had armor-plated imirably.
The service, in the ordinary course of
■ ents would probably be over at noon, ottinger sauntered home at 9.30, so he ust have dallied somewhat on the road, he next day we played golf—till noon, lien he did a slink. The day after, and any days, and weeks saw the same périma nee.
One morning he came into my room nd hauled the covers off me at the eird hour of seven, demanding instanter lat we go and swim.
It was outrageous, but still one did outageous things for old Pott When we ot back he rigged himself out in his very rettiest.
“Marmaduke!” he said. “Will you take walk with me?”
“Won’t a round of the links do as well?” suggested.
“Not at all,” he replied.
“Very well,” I succumbed.
So we legged it for four good miles, liking about the weather, and golf, and ther improving topics, train schedules mong them. Pott pulled up at the gate t" a church, and showed a desire to enter. “But, you dear old dodderer, this isn’t unday! You have got an acute attack f ecclesiasmania,” I told him. “Marmaduke!” And he tapped me sevrai times on the chest. “Every day is unday now.” It sounded rather alarm-
ing, but he looked frightfully chirpy overit.
“Have you ever been best man at a wedding?” he demanded.
I nodded and winked at him. I’ve helped to launch more poor blighters from the ways of independence than one cares to remember. But there was no use discouraging the old lad.
“Where do we meet Sabrina?” I grinned at him, and he grinned back.
Before he could answer Stella floated up. There was no tigress in her eyes now. Her mouth was very sweet and trembly. Her hair—dark, I think I told you—was as the night, her face a white, luminous star set in it. The veiling loose coat was gone, and as I saw the little figure I understood the meaning of the word “exquisite.”
So we moved up to the altar, and the clergyman, who was not the Mosaic Cosmogomist, made the astronomer and the star to coincide.
“You will see that Stella’s name is put up at the club for membership?” said Pöttinger, as we waited for the train.
“She will be elected under emergency rules before the week is over,” I replied.
“And Marmaduke!" said Stella. She had never thus named me before. I had no idea the word could sound so fine. “Bend down your head. I want to say something awfully secretly in your ear.”
I bent down to listen, and she said something strange and wonderful had happened. It fell on my cheek, very soft, very sweet, very fragrant, and I believe I began to get pinky too, with old Pott looking down at me all a-grin. Then I put them abroad the train, and they pulled out for Eden.
“Ï WENT down to see them a week
4 or two ago,’’ continued Marmaduke. “Godfather, don’t you know! I wanted them to call the little chap Asteroid— sort of star chip—but they insisted on Marmaduke. Frightful responsibility to be a godfather!”
“But what was it she said at the train?” I asked.
“Oh, yes. It was rather baffling, you know, but it all came back later, when the rose mist faded,” he answered. “I bent my head and she whispered frightfully confidential: ‘Marmaduke, the state of the game, at the finish, is “One up on Bogey!””’
And so it was.