Frederic S. Isham
THE lady’s face was a study. Alexander had fathomed her thoughts; she divined the reason for his triumph. What an intuition he possessed; what a positively uncanny brain! Why, he could read people! Amazing!
The lady was beginning to feel a bit bewildered with her paragon. She felt he might be getting slightly beyond her.
This was not flattering to her own pride. But she had to conceal her own feelings. She laughed. Pelton would think they were both laughing at some funny joke, perhaps, that had been exchanged between them in the library.
“Tell me something else funny,” said the lady, for Pelton’s ears.
“Humph!” said Alexander.
And the lady laughed, as if that was funny! “I say”—Alexander looked over his shoulder. The soup-tureen had disappeared.
More soup was written in his eyes.
“Did you speak, sir? Yes, sir?” From Pelton.
“The gentleman was about to ask for wine, Pelton,” interposed the lady quickly.
Alexander was about to expostulate, but he didn’t. Soup was all right but wine was better.
“Yes, bring the wine.”
“Young, or heavy?” said the lady.
“Heavy,” said Alexander.
“The best, Pelton!” said the lady.
“Of course!” put in Alexander.
Pelton choked. This ’umantiger wanted to be fed high. The “best” was none too good for him ! Had Jane been right, after all, about the love-potion?
npHE rest of the repast seemed,
A to the lady, like a dream.
Alexander continued to demonstrate for her benefit that he, too, was a prestidigitator. He elevated three peas dexterously on a silver fork, when he could have shoveled in a dozen with his knife. If she could do it, he could. He could do anything any woman could, was his attitude.
He performed untold prodigies of skill. He watched the lady and picked out the right piece of silverware. His precision, in
this respect, almost caused the lady to expire with astonishment. The deliberation with which he started the attack on each course would be attributed, of course, by the observant Pelton, to the guest’s naturally slow and phlegmatic disposition.
The lady started to giggle. She couldn’t help it. When Alexander reached, without one single mistake, the icecream spoon, the humor of the situation so tickled her funny-bone that she simply had to laugh and laugh. Pelton had, never before, seen her so merry. He switched, more strongly, to Jane’s theory. It might be love-potion working. What would her ladyship do next? Peals of silvery merriment shocked the atmosphere of that staid and respectable old place.
“I have so enjoyed this dinner!”
Pelton tried hard not to blush for her ladyship. The love-potion must have been a powerful one. Pelton modestly hoped he would be able to get away from the room without being shocked to a still greater degree.
“Never have I been more entertained !” the lady went on.
“H’entertained?” thought Pelton. “H’and ’im hardly
sayin’ of a word, and h’only h’openin’ his mouth to put somethink in h’it!”
A ND yet her ladyship’s eyes shone as if she had been listening to all manner of witty sayings! She seemed as gay as if Alexander were a light comedian, or a gentleman of the old school with a fund of anecdotes at his tongue’s end.
“You may leave the cigars and cigarettes, Pelton, said the lady.
Pelton was but too pleased to get away. His exit, was unusually forceful and dignified.
The lady turned to Alexander. “How nice!” she said in her sprightliest. “To be alone, at: last!”
“Is it?” said Alexander.
“Do light one,” she said, pressing on him the cigars.
Alexander did, and soon began blowing vast clouds around him. The fragrance of cigar drowned that other antidote-to-dead-rodent-in-the-wnll aroma. The lady studied him.
“You are very apt at learning!”
The First Instalment
¥ ADY ESTELLA LANGLENSHIRE is held in Germany at the start of the war. She escapes by going through a marriage ceremony with a Greek porter and crossing the border as his wife. They are wrecked and, by a COÍTICÍdcnce, la7id on the shore near the lady’s a7icestral home. Alexander, the husband, refuses to leave and is lodged in the royal suite. He begins, mysteriously, to shed his uncouth ways.
She repeated the remark.
“You mean—I got brains?” said Alexander.
“Oh, I got brains all right!” said Alexander simply, if not over-modestly. “I show you !”
“You have! You did!”
There was a faint look of inquiry in the lady’s eyes; she blew rings that mingled with the denser smoke from Alexander’s cigar. Then suddenly she arose.
“Shall we go into the billiardroom?”
And Alexander followed insouciantly.
CHAPTER XII A Good Sport
HE lady held her head higher, and told herself she would, at any rate, enjoy beating Alexander at billiards. She played unusually well, and was quite confident of her skill. And she did beat Alexander—badly! Her expectations, in this respect, were fully realized. Alexander played about as she imagined he would. With much vigor—sans skill !
He sought to accomplish by sheer strength what science alone could accomplish. Even when the balls began flying from the table, and she had to dodge, the lady acted as if she were having “the time of her life.” She scored and Alexander perspired. He did little else. He might imitate her dining-room table-prestidigitation, but here was a quality of juggling not so easily copied. That blind expenditure of brute trength afforded the lady the opportunity she desired. She breathed a little homily on intelligence versus mere forcible physical effort! She waxed quite philosophical, and, incidentally, deliciously ironical. She punctured the animal and his pretenses with deft and delightful abandon. Alexander began to glare. He was beginning to get angry; no doubt about that! He tossed his head like a bull in the ring—a bull that has expended a lot of effort without tangible results.
“Take it easier!” said the lady, with a mocking smile, as a red ball hopped from the table and went skipping down the room, with the exasperated Alexander in hot pursuit.
A LEX ANDER muttered something; the bull evaded his clumsy hands and he bumped his head. The lady leaned back and laughed and laughed; then she delivered another homily. Alexander glared some more, w'hich pleased the lady.
“Good!” Triumphantly. “Where’s your insular calm now? And so it was all a fraud and a sham, after all?”
“I take it easier next time." said Alexander through his teeth. “I surprise you!”
Next time, however, fate arranged an almost impossible rhot.
“Ha. ha!” said the lady. “Poor Alexander! Only
an expert could make that one. I doubt if I could do it. In fact, I’m sure I couldn’t!”
“I make him,” said Alexander violently.
“Indeed?” she breathed mockingly.
“What you bet I don’t make him?” demanded Alexander angrily.
“Bet? Another British trait! Ha, ha! The making of a sport in you!”
“What you bet?” he persisted, even more violently. “Well, if you win, you may—kiss my hand! I dare risk such a reward because there is not the slightest chance of'your performing the impossible.”
“Make it two pounds,” said Alexander practically. “How dare you!” said the lady with flashing eyes. “You make it two pounds, I can’t do it?” reiterated Alexander.
“There are men,” said the lady haughtily, “who would prefer the other alternative to two hundred pounds!”
“I, kiss your hand? That gets me nowhere,” said Alexander. “But with two pounds—”
“Say no more!” said the lady, with a proud toss of the Langlenshire head. “Two pounds it shall be!”
Alexander surveyed the balls carefully. “I play very careful,” he said. “Maybe I make him! I watch you. I play like you, now!”
THE cue now became a delicate thing in his hands;
he poised it most lightly and calculated with much care and apparent concentration. Then he paused, once more, to look up at the lady.
“I make him!”
?-“Why don’t you?” she responded ironically.
The cue shot forth. Alexander began to register exultation. “You see what happen! I know how to play, now. I make him!”
And he did. Alexander had accomplished the almost impossible. The lady looked ; and then she regarded Alexander. There was a frown on her face and a question in her deep eyes. * ’ *.
“Was it accident?” she said, as if to herself.
“I study; I see how you do it,” said Alexander. “Me study how you do juggle-tricks with all kinds of funny table-silver. I, too, can do! And here, too! What you can do, 1 can do!” He tapped his chest—an abominable habit!
“I should call you a star pupil, Alexander, ’ said the lady quietly. “And if I did not have every confidence in your absolute integrity, I might be capable of thinking you had been, what our American friends call ‘stringing me’! For the ignoble purpose of adding two vulgar pounds to your constantly growing earthly possessions! Shall we go on with our game?”
“We bet some more?” Quickly.
“No, Alexander! I cast no aspersion on your probity cf character, but we bet no more!”
“You no good sport?”
“I am beginning to wonder if it would be sport?” said the lady. “Would I stand a sporting chance?’*
“Didn’t I make some pretty bum playing?” demanded Alexander.
“You did! But you have improved so fast, the teacher now wonders if she has become the pupil? May I sit at your feet?”
“All right! We play for nothing,” said Alexander. And once more the balls began to fly off the table with the seemingly very much annoyed Alexander in hot pursuit.
“T THINK that will be sufficient,” said the lady *■ quietly, after this performance had been repeated a few times. Then she yawned. “I fear me, you are deeper than I thought. I imagined I had delved into you, Alexander, but I have just skimmed the surface of the ocean?”
“What you mean?”
“That it is getting late and time to retire! Do you think you can find your way to the royal suite?”
“I trust you will find the bed comfortable, Alexander.”
“I ring for another if it isn’t.”
“Oh, yes!” With rising inflection. “So you could!” “I like lots of room for kicking!”
“Well, if you find the royal bed too short, just tell Pelton to lengthen it. Don’t be afraid of making trouble!”
“I won’t! I make him hop!”
“If he should prove ineffectual, you might call the rest of the household.”
“That bully good idea.” The lady’s sarcasm was lost on Alexander. “You bet! I make ’em all hop!” “If necessary, you could summon me!” That should have overwhelmed Alexander, but did it?
“You bet!” he said. “I make you hop, too!”
Her breast arose. “Would you change us all into— hoppers? Would you invite a veritable plague of
locusts?—a famine on the neighborhood? Spare us, Alexander! Spare—” She clasped her hands.
“These shoes too blamed tight to stop for nonsense talk!” said Alexander.
“You wish larger ones?”
He considered. “Maybe I like small feet, too. I look fine with small feet.”
“Oh, vanity!” she breathed, and then: “Good night!” She extended her hand. Under the circumstances, she felt she ought, at least, do that. Especially when he was the occupant of the royal suite!
\ LEXANDER vouchsafed to take the hand. One has to be diplomatic with people who owe you money. Their fingers touched, but no more! In shuffling about the billiard-table, chasing balls, Alexander seemed to have fairly surcharged his body with electricity, for when the lady’s hand came in contact with his, there was a definite shock and spark. It was as if her ladyship had touched a small battery.
“Haw! haw!” laughed Alexander. “Funny way to shake hands! Eh?”
“I do not find it—funny!”
“Let’s try it again!” said Alexander, just as if he were playing a game.
“Thank you, I decline!”
“All right!” Alexander turned. “Pigs’ feet goes well for dinner, sometimes!”
“I’ll—I’ll speak to the cook.”
“You—you shall have them.”
“I don’t like—if you forget?” Suspiciously.
“Forget anything that appeals to you? Never!” “Humph!” said Alexander.
The lady watched him go. “What—what a positively wifely feeling that man inspires in me!” she thought.
DUT her ladyship’s cares were not over for the day.
At the door of her suite—on the other side of the house from the royal apartments, occupied by Alexander!—she found a small delegation awaiting her. There was Pelton, Tommy, James, Jane, the cook, and others, including, even, the vivacious Jacques. Nervousness or embarrassment, mixed with determination, was depicted on their faces. The lady glanced at them all casually.
“Come to say good night? So good of you, I am sure !”
“We ’asn’t come exactly for that, your ladyship,” said the embarrassed Pelton.
“Go on!” said the voice of Jane, as Pelton hesitated and swallowed.
“Don’t be hurryin’ of him!” said Tommy.
“Him acts as if him was afraid!” From Jane. “What of?” From her ladyship. “I hope you haven’t been doing anything you shouldn’t, Pelton !” “HT?” stammered Pelton. “H’it ayn’t me—” Again he paused. “The truth is, your ladyship, we’as ’ad a meeting.”
“All your ladyship’s ’elp! That is, h’all except Bobby MacDuffy, the styble-man, who, being a h’atheist, said as ’ow it wasn’t any of ’is business!” “What?”
“ Tgh h’English morality!”
“’E do say as how bishops is humbugs!” From Jare, horrified.
“And it is to complain of MacDuffy that you are corno to interview me? I have nothing to do with his private opinions. And he has a perfect right to his opinion of bishops.”
“H’it wasn’t to complain of ’im that we are ’ere,” said Pelton. “H’it”—
“Go on!” From Jane, Pelton seemed to find difficulty in doing so.
“You have come to complain of some one?” said her ladyship.
“We ’as!” Weakly.
“Say w’at you said down there,” urged Tommy. “Where we had the meeting!”
“ ’E spoke up then, all right enough!” From Jane. “So loud and ’ighly respectable! It were like preaching-” , „
“Yes, Pelton, say what you said down there, said her ladyship, with a sweet smile. “You all assembled,
“HpHERE was some talk,” went on Pelton, thus enJcouraged, “each expressin’ ’is or ’er mind, in a ’ighly respectful manner toward your ladyship, exceptin’ MacDuffy, who wasn’t there—”
“Leave ’im out!” From Tommy.
“Get on,” said Jane.
“I is,” said Pelton miserably.
“’E calls that getting on!” From Jane. “And him the spokesman!”
“Tell it yourself,” said Pelton.
“Yes, Jane?” said her ladyship.
“It’s your ladyship’s conduct!” said Jane in an awful tone.
“And you have called to complain of that? Is that all?” Brightly. “Oh, dear, I thought it was something serious.”
“Ayn’t it serious, your ladyship?” From Pelton. “Dear me, No! Someone has always been complaining of my conduct. You have no idea how often my uncle, the lord high chancellor, has taken me to task for doing something unconventional, shall we call it?” “That might do,” said Pelton.
“It would be a way of describing it, your ladyship,” said Jane.
“You mean, a polite way!”
Jane had the grace to blush.
“H’it wouldn’t be as h’if we weren’t old, old servants!” went on Pelton plaintively. “W’ot ’as always 'ad your ladyship’s welfare at ’eart! W’ot ’as always looked up to your ladyship, as all that was 'igh, and ’ighly respectable! It wouldn’t be as if some of us ’adn’t known your ladyship w’en she was a ’igh-bred, ’ighly r-espectable h’infant in arms!”
“I understand,” said her ladyship, deeply touched. “And I trust I am not ungrateful for your combined moral solicitude.”
“Put it to her ladyship so as not to hurt her feelin’s! Them were his instructions at the meeting,” said Tommy.
IN the background, Cook began to snivel. Cook was sensitive and easily affected. Her two or three hundred pounds avoirdupois concealed a most susceptible disposition beneath the depths.
“Oh, your ladyship!” said Cook.
The others began to get more nervous. Cook’s sniveling had a most depressing effect.
“Cheer up,” said her ladyship. “Let us look the matter squarely in the face!” That braced them a little. “Apparently my conduct has been shocking to a high sense of British respectability. Or, shall we say, morality?”
“We might, your ladyship!” From Jane.
“So far, so good! Now we should get on. A regular happy family!” Her ladyship beamed.
“Is we ’appy?” said Pelton.
“Perfectly,” said her ladyship.
“Your ladyship is ’appy?” With awe.
“Account of ’im?” From Jane.
“The ’uman-tiger !” From Pelton.
“Well, he hasn’t eaten me up, yet!” said the lady. “What will the neighbors say?” said Pelton.
“Oh! You fear for my-—”
“But he’s on the other side of the house.”
“He’s in the house, alone with your ladyship! That is, this part of the ’ouse!”
“VOUR ladyship will h’overlook our coming—your * ladyship has always encouraged us to come to your ladyship—”
“Your ladyship has always been most kind—”
“And that’s what makes it ’arder!” Another faint snivel from Cookie !
“Yes, I believe I have always paid you high wages and given you unusual privileges,” said her ladyship. “‘Your ladyship ’as!”
“We appreciates that.”
“If we didn’t, we should ’ave come to your ladyship and asked for our discharges at oncst,” said Jane.
“Dear me, I have had a narrow escape. Which brings us to the point—what are we going to do, next?” “Pack ’im off, your ladyship,” said Jane.
“But if he won’t go?”
“Make him !”
“Will you, Pelton?” -
“I ’umbly begs to be h’excused, your ladyship.”
Her ladyship made a gesture. “You see? And I fear it is his intention to prolong his visit indefinitely !” “Then I leaves,” said Jane.
“I ’as to!” said Pelton. ^ *
“Me, too!” From Jamos.
“I has to follow suit, your ladyship,” said Tommy mournfully.
“Zee morality of ze country of my adoption compels
Continued on page 71
Continued from page 28
me, likewise, to give zee notice of my departure,” said Jacques.
“And you, Cook?” said her ladyship.
Cook’s louder weeping was an affirmation.
“Well,” said the lady, sadly and resignedly, “don’t think I am blaming you!”
“Were it a love-potion, your ladyship?” inquired Jane.
“A what?” said her ladyship.
A SHRIEK cf laughter burst from her ladyship’s lips. Pelton looked at Jane and Jane looked at Pelton. “Is this madness?” said their eyes.
“I have it,” said her ladyship suddenly.
“What?” said Pelton, jumping.
“The solution! I will have a chaperon.”
“What is simpler?”
“But who?” From Pelton.
“One of you !”
“Us, your ladyship!”
“Yes; I'll promote one of you to be chaperon!” Her eyes swept over them. “Cook !”
“Me?” stammered the cook.
“And you shall occupy a room of my suite! What could be more eminently respectable and satisfying to that high sense of morality? And now, of course, you will all withdraw your notices. And everything is lovely and pleasant, once more. And—good night! So good of you to come! No, Cook, you must not seek to escape. You are to remain. To
guard my morals ! What a comfortable feeling, to have some one to guard your morals! It makes one feel so free. Just like a bird ! Such an absence of personal responsibility! Good night!” They trailed away and her ladyship stretched her arms.
“Just like a bird,” she repeated. “I waive all sense of responsibility. What a delightful feeling! Enter!”
“Chaperons, first!” said her ladyship and, with a shriek of laughter, pushed her in.
ii'yTEE morality of ze country of my
^ adoption, eet is magnifique!” said Jacques, down in servants' hall, a little later.
“Cook won’t stand no nonsense from him,” said Jane.
‘ Her can ’andle even a ’uman-tiger,” said Felton. “Her has a fist like a ’ammer!”
“And think what would happen if she fell on him!” said Tommy.
“In cyse he took it in 'is ’ead to walk in ’is sleep!” murmured Pelton.
“My eyes, she’d give ’im a bead!”
“Anyhow, I feels more comfortable,” said Jane virtuously.
‘ Zee morality of ze country of my adoption—” began Jacques.
‘Shut up!” said Tommy.
ALEXANDER did not walk in his ty sleep, and the night passed uneventfuUv. Her ladyship and her chaperon breakfasted à la française, in their suite. Jane brought in the things.
“Am I to serve ’er?” said Jane, eying the cook, reclining gorgeously, if in somewhat bewildered fashion, on a dainty settee several sizes too small for her.
“Of course,” said her ladyship from another settee. “As my chaperon jt would be highly improper if you did not.”
Jane’s lips tightened. “I aint never served such as her,” she remarked rehelliously. “It’s the likes of her, begging your ladyship’s pardon, what should be a-waitin’ on me!”
‘I’m sure I aint arsking anybody to wyte on me,” said Cookie plaintively. “I wanted to go down and cook my own ’am and h’eggs.”
“Ham and eggs!” cried her ladyship. “You have graduated from ham and eggs. You have now reached the proud dejeuner-à-la-fourchette period of life, Cook.”
“Bless my heart!” said Cook. That sounded like a disease.
“You no longer eat. You partake of viands.”
“Biess my heart!”
“There’s a difference.”
Cook looked at a small egg-shell-like cup. “Do I use that?”
“For your morning chocolate!” “H’it’ll break in my fingers.”
“You will acquire proficiency.”
“HT ’ates chocolate.”
“You will learn to adore it.”
“Is them all I ’as with it?” Eying certain dainty little rolls about big enough to crumple in your fingers and toss to the birds.
“That is all. It is not ladylike to gormandize.”
“But I ayn’t a lydy!”
“You are my chaperon.”
“I has been accustomed to ’earty food.”
“Two bloaters, ham, fried eggs, and a ’ole pot of coffee!” From Jane, viciously.
“Sometimes I has a pair of kidneys for a chynge,” said the cook di-eamily.
“Eat kidneys, reclining, à la française! Impossible!” exclaimed her ladyship. “I am sure you’d have horrid indigestion.”
“I could eat sitting up,” suggested Cook.
“And so spoil the picture? Equally impossible !”
“Is it a part of my duties that I has to wait on ’er, your ladyship?” asked Jane, coming back once more to what was troubling her.
“ ’Er, a-reclining there, like one of those ’orrid h’immoral French lydies, a-waiting for their lovers!”
“I ayn’t a-waiting for a lover!” exclaimed Cook indignantly.
“When you breakfast à la française, you must recline à la française,” interposed her ladyship gently. ‘You have the wrong idea, Jane, quite!”
“Well, ’er don’t look respectable, reclinin’ there like that! I ayn’t criticizing your ladyship’s doing it—far from me! But 'er’s too big!”
“Merely a charming embonpoint!” said her ladyship.
“Well, if h’it breaks down, don’t be blyming me!”
“I won’t, Jane.” Sweetly. “And now, leave the things.”
“I ayn’t saying I’ll continue to wyte on ’er, your ladyship,” observed Jane, bristling, once more. “ ’Er whose father was a butcher and ’er mother peddled fish! And not from a shop—”
“Don’t you be aspergin’ the character of my mother!” cried Cookie, a note of belligerency in her voice.
“With my own eyes has I seen ’er,” went on Jane. “A horrid push-around, on wheels, and ’er, perhaps with a drop or two too much—”
“THAT will do,” said her ladyship.
And when her ladyship spoke like that her words carried conviction. Cookie sank back; she was heaving with emotion. And as she expanded and contracted thu£\ she locked larger than ever on the tiny settee. Jane bristled but went. When her ladyship’s eyes flashed like that it meant business, and Jane had not the temerity to oppose her. But she carried her grievance below.
“Cook’s a-reclinin’ on a settee in her ladyship’s boudoir,” she told Pelton. “A-reclinin’ in a robe!”
“Great ’eavens!” said Pelton. “W’at is h’it become? A mad’ouse!”
“My eye!” said Tommy.
“A-eatin’ of a wafer and a thimbleful of cocoa for her breakfast!” went on Jane.
Tommy began to roll up with laughter. “And her such a stuffer! I say, this is a joke !”
Jane relaxed. “Maybe it is,” she said. “Her ladyship called it promotion.” “And her dreamin’ of bloaters and collops and herrings! Ho, ho!”
“Maybe it ayn’t promotion,” said Jane thoughtfully.
“My eye, I’d like to see her!”
Jane cheered up. “There’s somethink in that wye of looking at it,” she conceded.
vVhat she meant was she might not find it such a task, under the circumstances, to wait on poor Cookie. It wouldn’t, really, be waiting on her; it would be, secretly, gloating over her!
A LEXANDER sat up in the royal bed, stretched himself, and yawned. “Did some one knock?”
“HT, sir,” said Pelton. “I thought you’d be having your bawth, sir. And ’ere’s the Times, sir! And what will you be having for breakfast, sir?”
“Breakfast?” Alexander seemed to wake more fully. ‘Breakfast; ah, you said breakfast?”
“What will you have?”
“What you got?”
Pelton, considering, no doubt, the best way to soothe a ’uman-tiger is to feed him, answered with an ingratiating smile: ‘Her ladyship ’as a most
bountiful larder. Everything on ’and in season ! If you has a fair appetite—” “I have!” Promptly. Get all you can while you can, no doubt, was his philosophy! Or, eat while the eating’s good !
“How would a small styke do?” “Rare,” said Alexander. “H’underdone, of course!” from Pelton, hastily. ’Uman-tigers would, naturally, like it that way. “For a delicacy, might I suggest ’ard-boiled plover’s h’eggs!”
“And the plover!” suggested Alexander.
“We has several, ’anging. And ’ow about a bit of lemon sole, or a cold wealand-ammer? Or a bite of wenison pie, from ’er ladyship’s own estates in Scotland?”
“She got lands there, too?” said Alexander, betraying new interest.
“A werry h’imposing estate h’it is, with fine salmon fishing!”
“Good!” said Alexander. “I’ll learn to fish!”
Pelton’s heart sank. “’Er ladyship won’t be going there for several months.”
“Is there anythink else you’d particularly fancy for breakfast?” said Pelton sadly.
“Cabbage soup !”
“Soup,” said Alexander.
“For breakfast, sir?” said the horified Pelton. “HT—h’l don’t think we ’as any cabbages h’on ’and at the moment, sir.” “Couldn’t you—ha!—go out and kill a few?” With a ferocious grin.
“Kill?” murmured the bewildered Pelton. “Oh, h’it’s hares you are Ihinkin’ h’of!”
“Bring what you got,” said Alexander brusquely.
“I eat here?”
“Not with her?”
“ ’Er ladyship breakfasts alone, with the co— I mean ’er chaperon.” “Which?”
“Is it an animal?” said Alexander. “You mean her dog, or her cat?”
r>ELTON again looked horrified. X “H’it’s a female animal of the ’uman sex.” he explained. “ ’Er was the cook, and is now the chaperon. We ’as thought h’it more ’ighly respectable.” Alexander pondered. Perhaps there .was some sense in all this but it was hard to get at.
“If we ’adn’t thought of h’it, somebodv mieht ’ave been pointin’ his finger at ’er ladyship!”
“Point his finger at her!” said Alexander.
“Point his finger at her, would he?” said Alexander fiercely. “Bah! I’d bite it off!”
“But that wouldn’t help,” said Pelton. “H’it would onlv make h’it worse.”
“Let me catch him!”
“No, no,” said Pelton. “H’it wouldn’t de h’at h’all! We ’as to be diplomatic. You can’t bite off the finger of ’igh respectability*. Begging your pardon, sir, h’it can’t be done. And”—more firmly
—“h’it would be ’ighly improper h’and immoral to attempt h’it.”
“I’d like to try,” said Alexander, with characteristic persistency. “You show me the finger!”
“We ’as disposed of the finger, sir. ’Er ladyship ’erself thought of this wye!”
“She bit it off?”
“Er ladyship! Ha, ha! Just your little joke, sir! ’Er ladyship hasn’t a bloodthirsty 'air, sir, in ’er ’ead! ’Er bite is in ’er brain, sir!” Alexander pondered. “She has a ’ead, her ladyship ’as.” Proudly.
“You mean she likes to talk!”
“When the gentlemen are around, sir, ’er ladyship is the centre of attraction!” “Ha!” said Alexander. “Have to stop that !”
“You’d be a-curtailin’ of her ladyship’s liberty of action?” Heavens, what a ’old!
“Of course,” said Alexander, yawning. Then he frowned. “What is it?” “What?”
“Yes, that’s it.”
“Ha! there it is! I mean, ’er!" Pointing out of the window.
\LEXANDER sat up higher in the bed and looked out upon the park!:ke expanse. Two figures were walking the park; one was her ladyship; the
“That’s ’er! The chaperon! ’Er that was the cook.”
“It’s a woman,” said Alexander.
“A fine woman,” added Alexander.
“She ’as her qualities.”
“A big woman !”
“She ’as a circumference,” conceded Pelton.
“I like big women,” said Alexander.
Pelton gazed at him with weird fascination.
“What a side view she has!” murmured Alexander.
“Just the same h’aTI h’around, I should say!”
“Just as fine, you mean!”
“That might be a way of putting h’it!” “You don’t agree with me?” Fiercely. “By h’all means!” Quickly.
“I’d like to see the man that says she aint a fine woman,” said Alexander.
“There ayn’t a finer in h’all h’England,” said Pelton hastily.
“That’s all right,” said Alexander. “Now you got some sense.”
“Yes, sir; thank you, sir!” .
“But you’d show more if you hurried up that breakfast.”
“Yes, sir! At once, sir!”
“And never mind all those things. Bring up what you got. I’m in a hurry to get out.”
“You are?” stammered Pelton.
“You bet,” said Alexander. And glanced from the window.
“Great ’eavens!” thought Pelton. “What now? Poor Cookie! Little does she dream—”
“You still here?” roared Alexander. “Going!” And Pelton fled.
At the same time Alexander sprang from the bed.
CHAPTER XV New Perplexities.
“/YH, LOOK who’s coming!” said her ' lady to Cookie, the chaperon. “How gorgeous!” said Cookie.
“Real English !” observed her ladyship proudly.
“Hasn’t he ’andsome legs?” said Cookie.
“Do you wonder that man makes a strange impression on me?” said her ladyship dreamily.
“I’d wonder if he didn’t,” said Cookie. “He fairly do make my heart go pit-apat!”
“Eh!” said her ladyship sharply. “Remember who you are, and what! In your present position you are supposed to be coldly and unemotionally observant. You are supposed to be secretly suspicious.”
“Of ’im!” said Cookie. “So ’andsome !”
“That is the very reason you are suspicious!” Severely. “You are to think he harbors designs. Evil designs. You are to be my prop—my support! Without you to protect me fi-om him, I am lost. Do you bear? Lost!”
“Dear me!” In distress. “Is h’it as bad as that?”
All this time Alexander was approaching. Alexander, in tweeds, with an English brier stuck in his mouth! Again, a new, a different, a transformed Alexander! Straight; erect; leisurely-looking; commanding! The look of a landowner in his eyes—an English landowner at that ! Lord of all he surveyed and jolly well satisfied with it! Approval of the spark in his eyes; of the few bits of statuary; of her ladyship, and, no doubt of it!—of Cookie!
“Acts as if he thought all this goes with me!” murmured the lady, hut not for Cook to hear. “Or, rather, I go with it! And, oh! how the fancied ownership of a bit of land does take the crook out of a man’s spine! And his jaw, too!— I declare, it’s lifted. Has a regular Hercules kind of a set now! And, oh! what would people say if they knew who he really is, and worst of all, what he is, to me? And what shall I do about it? If I tell, it will be awful; if I don’t it’s just as bad.”
Part of this she half-whispered; part of it she said to herself.
“What am I to do with him?” she now said in a louder voice.
“Is your ladyship arsking me?” said Cookie.
“I’m asking anyone. I’d call it aloud from the steeples. Remember”—in a
sterner tone — “suspicion, distrust, watchfulness! That’s your role! Under no circumstance are you to leave me alone with him.”
“Morning!” said Alexander, approaching. Were his manners improving with his clothes? The word didn’t fall from his lips exactly like a jolt. He didn’t quite bark it out.
THE lady smiled sweetly. She seemed to go with the primroses and the daisies and the delicately carved marble bench. “Good morning,” she said.
But Alexander was not looking at her now. His gaze was for Cookie.
“I saw you from the window,” he said to Cookie.
“Did you, now?” said Cookie, palpitating.
Alexander eyed her steadily. “You ask Pelton! He’ll tell you what I said!” Cookie moved uneasily. There was an awesome intentness in Alexander’s gaze.
‘How werry kind! Werry kind, I’m sure!” Cookie managed to murmur.
“No,” said Alexander, louder,; and standing over her with glowering look. “I couldn’t help it!”
“Bless my ’eart!” said Cookie, beginning to wriggle.
“You ask Pelton!” repeated Alexander. “Ask him to tell you what I said.”
Cookie began to look around uneasily. There was a light in Alexander’s eye highly disconcerting. British modesty qualified beneath it. Alexander was as brazen as the unspeakable Oriental potentate, appraising the fair charms of a pulchritudinous victim displayed in the slave-mart. Unbounded approval for too pronounced embonpoint gleamed from his shameless eyes.
“A whopper!” he said. “Any one ever call you a whopper?”
“HT—h’l—” began Cookie, but could go no farther.
“H’um!” said Alexander. What he implied was: “Yum! yum!”
COOKIE showed symptoms of almost supernatural embarrassment. Alexander bestowed upon her a most immoral wink, and Cookie got up.
“Where are you going?” cried her ladyship.
“Just going!” stammered Cookie. “Is this the way you fulfil the duties of your new position?” expostulated her ladyship.
“I ’ands in my resignation at onct!” faltered Cookie.
“Nonsense!” said her ladyship sharply
“I’d follow,” said Alexander.
Cookie did not answer; she could not; but she did the next best thing. She fled. “Wait!” said Alexander.
She fled faster.
“A nice way for a chaperon to àct!” called out her ladyship.
Even this did not stop her. She continued to flee like a fawn.
“You ask Pelton!” shouted Alexander after her.
“Exit chaperon!” sighed the lady. “Now. what am I to do?”
ALEXANDER continued to stand motionless, gazing in the direction the vanished fair one had gone. He seemed meditating.
“As a disorganizer of households.” said her ladyship, regarding him with justifiable displeasure, “I would match you against all comers!”
Alexander did not answer.
“I suppose,” observed the lady, “it’s the near-proximity of your country to the Oriental countries that makes you so! Temperamental contiguity! you might call it. Like smallpox, or the measles! No accounting for taste! But I am disappointed! You looked so nice and English and phlegmatic!—last night, I mean. And your conduct has been sc perfect and highly respectable— with me, I mean! A modern knight! Ha! And now?” She sighed. “Isn’t it awful? Oh, Alexander!”
Still Alexander did not answer. Was the man made of stone?
“He does not hear me,” said the lady. Alexander folded his arms and puffed at his pipe. His gaze was fixed on vacancy. At that moment Pelton approached excitedly.
“’Er’s gone! The cook!” he cried. “ ’Er left in a hurry, and arsked to have ’er things sent h’after ’er!”
“Did she ask you what he”—indicating Alexander—“said?”
“She did, and that seemed to finish her! She’s a-walkin’ down the lane for dear life at this blessed minute. Fleein’ from ’im! The ’uman-tiger!”
“It isn’t his fault, Pelton,” said the lady in sweet sad tones. “It’s his being born in a country contiguous!”
“What’s that, your ladyship?” “Contiguous! That’s what caused it.”
“What, your ladyship?” stammered Pelton.
“Like measles, or smallpox, Pelton!” “Bless my heart! ’As ’e them?”
“A figure of speech—that is all!”
“Is h’it?” Dubiously.
“Which brings us to: What next?”
Her ladyship spoke almost wearily. Her attitude was that of one trying to bear up—to be brave against frightful odds, perhaps.
“That is the question,” Pelton
“We mustn’t forget that high morality we are guardians of, Pelton!” Impressively.
pELTON looked more miserable. The
* lady bore up better and better. Blood will count. “I have it,” she said suddenly.
“Have you?” said Pelton more hopefully.
“Yes, yes!” She waved her little hand. “I’ll—I’ll have a dog!—a big dog, for a chaperon! A savage dog! He’ll lie at my feet by day and sleep at my door by night.”
It was plain that Pelton, in spite of his respect for the lady, and her reputation for elevçmess, did not think much of this suggestion. “ ’E’d be making friends with ’im!” Jerking his thumb toward the motionless Alexander. “Afeeding him ’igh and making friends with ’im!”
“I suppose so!” Resignedly.
“He’d have ’im a-licking his ’and, your ladyship, and wagging his tail, instead of tyking chunks out of ’is legs!” “’Is ’andsome legs!” murmured her ladyship absently.
“HT beg your ladyship’s pardon!” Horrified.
“Oh, the remark is not original!” Hastily. “It’s only a quotation, Pelton.” “H’oh!” Dubiously. Of course, that wasn’t quite the same as if the remark had been original with her ladyship.
“Which being the case, it would be a pity, all the same, now, wouldn’t it?” “W’ot?”
“To have chunks taken out of them?” Pelton’s chest rose and fell. “I’d like—”
“Wait!” said her ladyship.
Pelton waited. Her manner was impressive.
“I have it!—This time!—Really!” “W’ot?” Bewildered.
“The chaperon! The new one! And how' to keep her! Yes, yes; I’ve got it!” Vivaciously. “How to circumvent him. For embonpoint we’ll substitute—attenuation !”
"W’ot’e that, your ladyship?”
“I’ll have a chaperon thin as a pophole!”
TJELTON brightened. “A ’uman lath!”
* he murmured, “with a fyce like a ’atchet!” Pelton positively smiled. The ’uman-tiger wouldn’t be licking his chops over ’er!
“There’s Liza Jane Handsaw, down in the village,” said her ladyship.
“With a fyce like a ’and saw!” chuckled Pelton.
“I’m sure she’d be glad to come!” “Tickle her to death,” said Pelton. “She ’ates real work. She’d tyke to reclining. And when I think of her fyce, and w’ot the ’uman-tiger will think when ’e sees her, if it weren’t for your ladyship presence, h’l just ’ave to laugh!” “Is this a laughing matter?” Reproachfully. “No, no! Go at once and fetch her!”
“At once, your ladyship!” Pelton started to go. At the same time, Alexander turned to walk away.
“Where can 'im be going, your ladyship?” ventured Pelton.
“Not after herV’
“The other!—the cook,” said her ladyship.
“If he no, he won’t find ’er!” said Pelton. “Her’ll be 'ome and ’iding before this, your ladyship! ’Er was going like a double-six, twelve-horse-power hen, down the ’ighway, w en larst I seen her! ’E won’t never get near her, h’any more!”
“I trust not,” breathed her ladyship. There was a faraway look in her eyes. “1 tremble to think—but I must not think! Go, go!” Imperiously. “And
do not fail me, Pelton! If you failed me?”
“HT?” said Pelton.
“Handsaw, with a face like a hatchet!”
HER ladyship leaned back on the marble-bench in the garden. In the bushes at her elbow the birds sang sweetly.
“I wonder,” she said to herself, gazing in the direction Alexander had gone, “was it Cook, or—a public-house that has drawn him from my side?” Then an enigmatic smile swept her lips. “The latter, no doubt,” she sighed.
Which was not far from wrong! Alexander, not long thereafter, did turn into a public tavern—and not into the compartment reserved for the common herd, if you please! No; Alexander strode into the pew reserved for the gentry. And such was his bearing that he deceived even the barmaid. Now, when a man can deceive a barmaid, he is some deceiver.
CHAPTER XVI An Echo From the Past
;*T HAVEN’T seen her before,” said k Alexander, staring at Miss Eliza Jane Handsaw.
“No,” said her ladyship. “She’s just come. She’s to take Cook’s place.”
“She!” said Alexander incredulously. “Take her place! Haw! haw!”
“I didn’t come here to be insulted,” said Miss Handsaw, rising stiffly.
“It’s only his way,” said her ladyship quickly. Heavens! was she going to lose her new chaperon almost befoi’e she had entered upon her duties? “His playful ways with the ladies!”
“Oh,” said Miss Handsaw, ‘if he only means to be plyeful I like a bit of plye myself, on occasions!”
“Yes, play is good for us all,” said her ladyship soothingly. “And Alexander is Tike a big Newfoundland dog, always tumbling over somebody’s finer susceptibilities! But he doesn’t mean anything, and we that know him well do not mind.”
“If it’s only plye, I don’t mind,” said Miss Handsaw. “I has a special passion for Newfoundland dogs and kittens and all animals, whether of the higher or the lower order, that likes to plye!”
The look she cast upon Alexander was both forgiving and beaming. It seemed to convey the alarming intelligence: “If you want to plye, come on!”
“I used especially to adore ’ide-andseek when I was a few years younger,” she added. “It’s such fun to ’ide!” Looking at Alexander.
“I’d like to,” said Alexander sullenly. He seemed to regard it as a mean trick on her ladyship’s part—this substitution of a “bean-pole” for a “whopper!”
Miss Handsaw stiffened.
“Ha, ha!” said her ladyship blithely. “More of his playful ways!”
“Is it plyeful?” asked Miss Handsaw suspiciously.
“Couldn’t be anything else!” said her ladyship. .
“That last sounded like an aspersion,, said Miss Handsaw.
“Alexander is quite incapable of a double-entendre. If he says he likes to hide, it is that he still retains that happy predilection of young boyhood. Isn’t it, Alexander.”
“Humph!” said Alexander, obviously disgruntled!
“Is that plyeful?” asked Miss Handsaw.
“Of course! The trouble is, Alexander hasn’t yet had his lunch. He’s waiting! He’s hungry! All men are like that when they’re hungry! He’s thinking of cold cuts of rare beef; of moldy old cheese; and greens, yes, greens ! Ah, we mustn’t forget the greens. Now look at him. See him brighten! See him change at the prospect of greens!”
A ND truly, Alexander did look less disgruntled. How could a mere man listen to her ladyship’s enumeration without brightening? Especially after that long walk he had taken after leaving the village inn!
“You see, Miss Handsaw’s going to be
our chaperon,” went on her ladyship brightly.
“Got to have her around all the time?” said Alexander.
“Ha! ha!” laughed her ladyship. “What a way he has! Isn’t he funny?”
“Ha! ha!” said Miss Handsaw dubiously. Alexander’s sense of humor and playful ways got a bit on her nerves. But her ladyship’s wages were high, and the thought of them helped Miss Handsaw preserve her poise.
“Yes,” said her ladyship, “we may expect to have the pleasure of Miss Handsaw’s presence for an indefinite period. Where we are, she will be!”
“For why?” said Alexander.
“English respectability,” said the lady.
“It’s far from my desire to intrude,” said Miss Handsaw stiffly.
“Intrude? Oh, dear! We are delighted,” said her ladyship quickly. If she lost Miss Handsaw what should she do? “As I was saying to Alexander, where can we find another such as Miss Handsaw for our purpose? And what did he say? What did you say, Alexánder?”
“Was it not: ‘Where, indeed’?”—
“It was”—began Alexander. “Not!” he was about to add, but her ladyship went on:
“It’s very hard to understand Alexander. He likes to show people the other side of himself.”
“The plyeful side!” said Miss Handsaw, relaxing.
“I”—once more began Alexander.
“Let us eat!” said her ladyship quickly. “It is time. More than time ! What a waste of time !” she rattled on, to cover up Alexander’s delinquencies. “Rare roast beef; Scotch mutton; jugged hare!”—she thought the last would surely engross Alexander’s attention, and it did.
A LEXANDERforgotwhathehad been GY about to say. Also, he appeared less resentful, once more, of Miss Handsaw’s presence. Why bother about Handsaws when hares assailed your mental vision? What mattered if she had a face like a
hatchet, or a form like a bean-pole? Alexander started impetuously toward the dining-room.
“Kindly give your arm to Miss Handsaw,” said her ladyship.
And Alexander obeyed. Possibly he told himself that a quick compliance was the shortest route to jugged hare. Miss Handsaw might be a bean-stalk, but if at the top of the bean-stalk hung a hare? —Alexander, under the circumstances, could not do less than escort the beanstalk to the hare.
“Isn't he a regular Chesterfield?” said her ladyship proudly. “Which reminds me, he, too, was very fond of jugged hare!”
“What a coincidence!” said Miss Handsaw.
“Yes,” said her ladyship, with a happy smile. “Alexander reminds me of him in more ways than one.”
u AND now,” said her ladyship, as GY they smoked their after-lunch cigarettes in the library, “would you mind, my dear Miss Handsaw, if I had a word in private with Alexander? I believe a chaperon may extend that latitude to her charge. What is your opinion? Would it be proper?”
“ Tghly,” said Miss Handsaw, who on occasions sawed off an “H.” “And I always likes to be obliging?”
“Thank you so much! Of course you are not to leave the room.”
“How would it be if I strolled out upon the balcony?”
“Good!” said Alexander.
“Not at all,” said her ladyship, so quickly as not to give Miss Handsaw time to think. “You see, far be it from me to stretch a point where the proprieties are concerned. If, now, you were to retire to the other side of the room ?”
“Delighted !” said Miss Handsaw. Sympathy for lovers’ sweet confidences in her eyes! ,
“You see, I have something very important to say to Alexander!”
“Naturally, said Miss Handsaw with perfect understanding and tact.
“Something that would not do for other ears!”
“Naturally,” said Miss Handsaw once more. As she spoke, she smiled on Alexander. Alexander shuddered. Miss Handsaw sighed. Love’s young dream was so sweet!
“Why does she look at me like that?” said Alexander.
“Fie!” said her ladyship timidly.
MISS HANDSAW moved with little mincing steps across the room. She tried not to make her going too apparent—but just as if she were fading away through hei’ own volition, and not because she had been requested to do so. Nothing could have been more delicate!
“What a charming girl !” breathed her ladyship, as Miss Handsaw deftly coiled herself upon a great couch on the far side of the room.
“Girl!” said Alexander.
“I think we shall get on very nicely.” “Shall we?” said Alexander ominously. “I don’t like ’em that way.”
“Up and down! I like ’em when they grow sidewise.” . „
“We can remedy that very nicely, said her ladyship blithely.
Alexander regarded her suspiciously. “I’ll get you one of those magicmirrors that make people look fat—the kind they have in museums!— and I’ll arrange it so you shall always see Miss Handsaw reflected!”
“Rot!” said Alexander.
The lady made a gesture; then her face became serious. “How can we jest at such a moment! Alexander, I have some very serious news to impart. I have just received a note from the Honorable Bertie Brindleton.”
“A man! A man I was half-engaged to before I met you !”
“ H alf-engaged ?”
“There was, I believe, a partial understanding. At least, I think there was. You see, our two estates are contiguous.” >
“You mean you meant to marry him?” “Half-meant,” confessed the lady. “Ha, ha!” said Alexander.
“Why this brutal levity?”
“He gets left!”
THE lady drew herself up. “I beg your pardon,” she said. “It is, really, very awkward. To explain, 1 mean ! You see, I haven’t yet told any one our secret—our dreadful secret! Necessarily, it will have to come out.”
“I don’t mind.”
“No; I imagine not. But it will be hard to tell Bertie.”
“Let me tell him!”
“He will be terribly put out!”
“Smash him, if he doesn’t like it!” boasted Alexander.
“You !—Smash an Honorable—the son of an earl!”
“I smash him just the same if he’s a son-of-a-gun!” bragged Alexander.
“You don’t understand. This matter is too delicate to be remedied by the smashing process. And the question is : Would Bertie marry a divorcee?”
“Me? After I have unmarried you?” “Un?” repeated Alexander. “You think, then, I give you up?”
“You won’t?” Gazing at him weirdly fascinated.
“I like it blame well here!”
“But, don’t you see, you are only an incident? An hymeneal June-bug ! You flutter a brief connubial moment, and then, your gay marital adventure comes to an end.”
“June-bug, eh?” said Alexander, tapping his expansive chest. “You mean an eagle! That’s more the kind of a bird I am! What I grab in my claws I keep!”
“An eagle?” said the lady, shrinking before Alexander’s predatory gaze.
“Honorable Bertie!” scoffed Alexander. “When I hit him, his head crack like an egg-shell. Feel my muscle!” The lady laid a shy litle hand on his arm. She was much impressed.
“What an awful bulge!” she exclaimed.
And truly, Alexander had the biceps of an Atlas while his shoulders, to her startled eyes, seemed almost big
enough to bear the world. In his new clothes, he had, oddly enough, acquired a new physical grace. When he navigated about the drawing-room his movements made her think of a big tiger. At such moments, Alexander was eminently satisfying. One might, under happier circumstances, feel cozily comfortable in his proximity.
“A June-bug, eh?” he jibed orice more. “Ho put me out? Ho, ho!”
“But our agreement?” said the lady sadly. “Was it not the understanding, you were to permit me to rmmarry you? Did you not so agree?”
“I change my mind!” Brazenly. “Any man can do that! Tell me, you never change your mind?”
The lady did not answer. What could she say? Alexander’s line of argument was quite overpowering.
“You change your mind sometimes; I change my mind; all people change their mind ! What you say to that?”
“I’m afraid it is useless to argue the point.”
“Isn't this good enough?” said Alexander, looking around him. “Nice place to sleep; good clothes; plenty beer; plenty meat!”
“Such appreciation!” mused the lady. “Right from the heart, too, unless I am mistaken. These sentiments are genuine.”
“You bet!” said Alexander.
“Can one eliminate a guest so appreciative?”
ALEXANDER grinned. “Not easy!
Maybe I never go!”
“Never! But this is too much!—too flattering!”
“You see!” Confidently.
“Words!—idle words! You but say that, thinking to—to please me! Soon you would grow bored ; tire of it all ; of me—”
“I don’t mind you!”
“But you might! You would.”
“No,” he said. “I like to hear you talk.”
The lady caught her breath. “Did you say, ‘like’?” .
“But since when?”
“I get used to it.”
“But why do you like it?”
“I think of a lot of birds making a fuss in the bushes,” said Alexander.
The lady gazed at him in amazement. Here was a side to Alexander totally unexpected. A different Alexander from the one who had glowered upon Cookie!
“A lot of birds fussing,” she repeated.
“Yes,” said Alexander non-amorously. In fact, he had seemed rather bored at the turn the conversation had taken. “And do you—approve of birds?”
“I don’t mind them.”
“But, wouldn’t you get to mind them?” Alexander pondered. “No.”
“But. why do you not disapprove of birds?” persisted the lady.
“They make a nice sound.”
“This is a revelation!” Not of the birds—but of Alexander!
“Once I kept a bird, in a cage,” he remarked.
“Sure! It sang me awake.”
“Sang you awake?”
“In the morning!”
“You—you mean, it saved you the expense of an alarm-clock?”
“That’s so,” said Alexander practically. “Only it stopped singing, and then I let it go.”
“Too much money to feed it!”
“Besides, what’s the use of a bird that ! doesn’t sing you awake?”
“How eminently practical! And then ; you got an alarm-clock instead?”
“Cost too much?”
“No ! Alarm-clock sings you awake too j quick! Gives you the hippety-hops ! ¡ B-r-r-r-r!” Alexander shivered.
;/^\H?” Somewhere, in the depths of 1 '^-'Alexander’s profundities, lay a delicate supersensitiveness. “Perhaps you are right!” Languidly. “I dare say you are! But”—suddenly—“what has all this got to do with the Honorable Bertie, and the predicament you have got me into? And what in the world shall I say to him when he comes here?” “He is coming hei*e?” Slowly. “To-day!”
“Yes, and oh!”—looking out of the window—“there he is!”
“Had” said Alexander, with a tigerish smile.
“Go, go!” implored the lady. “Let me break the news to him gradually. Let me prepare him by slow degrees for the awful truth.”
“I like to see him,” said Alexander grimly. “I like to see this Honorable Bertie !”
“But not now, I beg! Do not make it harder. Go, I implore! Dear, dear Alexander !”
Alexander hesitated. “Allright! But if he make a fuss, you call me.”
“Yes, yes; I promise!”
A LEXANDER started to go; then he 2 * turned. “You think he kill you?” he asked with mild curiosity.
“Englishmen do not go to that extremity.”
“In my country we use knife! Maybe I better stay, with long roast-beef carving knife under my coat?”
“No, no! Your solicitude is deeply touching, and, believe me, I am truly grateful, but—”
“You like me?” said Alexander. What was that—a spark in his eye? “Like?” said the lady.
“You not like, I not go!”
“But you must—don’t you see?”
“Then say you like me!”
“I—I—oh, dear! He’s almost at the door. They must not meet like this! Go, go!”
Alexander folded his arms. “You got to say.”
“Oh. well—I like—like—anything you like! I—I adore you, Alexander! You —you are all that is wonderful— magnificent! You—you are the apple of my eye! The—the—is that enough?
I trust that will do?”
Alexander grinned triumphantly.
“Ho, ho!” he said. “Yes,-that will do. You tell him that! I got good joke on Honorable Bertie.”
“You—you call it a joke?”
“Make him feel good! Ha, ha!” And Alexander went.
“What a fearful man!” said her ladyship, gazing after him. “And what have I said? But I had to! To save Bertie’s life! Wouldn’t you have done it?” Feverishly, crossing to Miss Handsaw.
“What?” said Miss Handsaw, unwinding herself.
“Tell a fib to save a human life?” “That would depend on whose!” said ¡ Miss Handsaw.
To be continued.