The New Magazine, March 1927
The Opening Chapters.
LOVERS—successful ones—have to be resourceful fellows. But George Finch’s predicament might well have taxed resources profounder than his. George, immaculate tenant of an immaculate small bachelor flat in New York, was madly in love with Molly Waddington, beautiful as unattainable stepdaughter of Mrs. Sigsbee H. Waddington—and daughter of Mr. Waddington—who tried hard to matter, but only succeeded in being foolish; no husband should have expected to matter with a wife like Mrs. Waddington. By careful manœuvring George “insinuated” himself into dinner at Molly’s home midst a bevy of millionaires, snatched a tête-à-tête with Molly, and found himself forbidden the house.
George had a friend, Hamilton Beamish, a health-and-culture fiend, author of “English Pure and Marriage Sane.” He didn’t approve of love at first sight, but having strangely fallen a victim to it himself he did what he could for his friend.
Yet when Mrs. Waddington had been talked into reluctant acquiescence and the marriage (so Molly declared) was arranged, difficulties still arose. Mr. Waddington had to hire a girl-crook to steal his daughter’s pearls, or face his wife’s wrath for having substituted faked gems; and the Small Bachelor discovered on his wedding morn that the presiding clergyman had sprained an ankle. Still worse, a girl-from-the-past chooses this inopportune moment to stage her reappearance.
Y dear George!” said Hamilton Beamish, concerned.
“Wok . . . Wuk . . . Wok . . .” George swallowed desperately. “Wok name did you say?”
“May Stubbs.” Hamilton Beamish’s expression grew graver, and he looked at his friend with a sudden suspicion. “Tell me all, George. It is idle to pretend that the name is strange to you. Obviously it has awakened deep and unpleasant memories. I trust, George, that this is not some poor girl with whose happiness you have toyed in the past, some broken blossom that you have culled and left to perish by the wayside?”
George Finch was staring before him in a sort of stupor.
“All is over!” he said dully.
Hamilton Beamish softened.
“Confide in me. We are friends. I will not judge you harshly, George.”
A sudden fury melted the ice of George’s torpor.
“It’s all that parson’s fault!” he cried vehemently. “I knew all along it meant bad luck. Gosh, what a Paradise this world would be if only clergymen could stand on chairs without spraining their ankles! I’m done for.”
“Who is this May Stubbs?”
“I knew her in East Gilead,” said George hopelessly. “We were sort of engaged.”
Hamilton Beamish pursed his lips.
“Apart from the slovenly English of the phrase, which is perhaps excusable in the circumstances, I cannot see how you can have been ‘sort of’ engaged. A man is either engaged or he is not.”
“Not where I come from. In East Gilead, they have what they call understandings.”
“And there was an understanding between you and this Miss Stubbs?”
“Yes. Just one of those boy-and-girl affairs. You know, you see a girl home once or twice from church, and you take her to one or two picnics, and people kid you about her, and . . . well, there you are. I suppose she thought we were engaged. And now she’s read in the papers about my wedding, and has come to make herself unpleasant.”
“Did you and this girl quarrel before you separated?”
“No. We sort of drifted apart. I took it for granted that the thing was over and done with. And when I saw Molly . . .”
Hamilton Beamish laid a hand upon his arm.
“George,” he said, “I want you to give me your full attention, for we have arrived now at the very core of the matter. Were there any letters?”
“Dozens. And, of course, she has kept them. She used to sleep with them under her pillow.”
“Bad!” said Hamilton Beamish, shaking his head. “Very bad!”
“And I remember her saying once that she believed in breach-of-promise suits.”
Hamilton Beamish frowned. He seemed to be deploring the get-rich-quick spirit of the modern girl, who is not content to sit down and wait for her alimony.
“You think it certain that she is coming here with the intention of making trouble?”
“What other reason could she have?”
“Yes, I fancy you are right. I must think. I must think. Let me think.”
And, so saying, Hamilton Beamish turned sharply to the left and began to walk slowly round in a circle, his hands behind his back and his face bent and thoughtful. His eyes searched the ground as if to wrest inspiration from it.
Few sights in this world are more inspiring than that of a great thinker actually engaged in thought; and yet George Finch, watching his friend, chafed. He had a perhaps forgivable craving for quick results; and Hamilton Beamish, though impressive, did not seem to be getting anywhere.
“Have you thought of anything?” he asked, as the other came round for the third time.
Hamilton Beamish held up a hand in silent reproof, and resumed his pacing. Presently he stopped.
“Yes?” said George.
“With regard to this engagement . . .”
“It wasn’t an engagement. It was an understanding.”
“With regard to this understanding or engagement, the weak spot in your line of defence is undoubtedly the fact that it was you who broke it off.”
“But I didn’t break it off.”
“I used the wrong expression. I should have said that it was you who took the initiative. You left East Gilead and came to New York. Therefore, technically, you deserted this girl.”
“I wish you wouldn’t say things like that. Can’t you understand that it was just one of those boy-and-girl affairs which come to an end of themselves?”
“I was looking at the thing from a lawyer’s view-point. And may I point out that the affair appears not to have come to an end. What I am trying to make clear is this, that, if you had wished it to come to an end, you should, before you left East Gilead, have arranged somehow that this Miss Stubbs broke off the engagement.”
“The engagement or understanding. That would have cleaned the slate. You should have done something that would have made her disgusted with you.”
“How could I? I’m not the sort of fellow who can do things like that.”
“Even now, it seems to me, if you could do something that would revolt this Miss Stubbs . . . make her recoil from you with loathing . . .”
“I must think,” said Hamilton Beamish.
He did four more laps.
“Suppose you had committed some sort of crime?” he said, returning to the fixed point. “Suppose she were to find out you were a thief? She wouldn’t want to marry you if you were on your way to Sing-Sing.”
“No. And neither would Molly.”
“True. I must think again.”
It was some moments later that George, eyeing his friend with the growing dislike which those of superior brain-power engender in us when they fail to deliver the goods in our times of crisis, observed him give a sudden start.
“I think I have it,” said Hamilton Beamish.
“This Miss Stubbs. Tell me, is she straight-laced? Prudish? Most of those village girls are.”
“I don’t remember ever having noticed. I never did anything to make her prudish about.”
“I think we may assume that, having lived all her life in a spot like East Gilead, she is. The solution of this difficulty, then, is obviously to lead her to suppose that you have become a reprobate.”
“A Don Juan. A Lothario. A libertine. It should be perfectly easy. She has seen motion-pictures of life in New York, and will not be hard to convince that you have deteriorated since you came to live there. Our plan of action now becomes straightforward and simple. All we have to do is to get some girl to come along and say that you have no right to marry anybody but her.”
“I can see the scene now. This Miss Stubbs is sitting beside you, a dowdy figure in her home-made village gown. You are talking of the old days. You are stroking her hand. Suddenly you look up and start. The door has opened and a girl, all in black with a white face, is entering. Her eyes are haggard, her hair disordered. In her arms she clasps a little bundle.”
“No, no. Not that!”
“Very well, we will dispense with the bundle. She stretches out her arms to you. She totters. You rush to support her. The scene is similar to one in Haddon Chambers’s ‘Passers-By.’ ”
“What happened in that?”
“What could happen? The fiancée saw the ruined girl had the greater claim, so she joined their hands together and crept silently from the room.”
George laughed mirthlessly.
“There’s just one thing you’re overlooking. Where are we going to get the white-faced girl?”
Hamilton Beamish stroked his chin.
“There is that difficulty. I must think.”
“And while you’re thinking,” said George coldly, “I’ll do the only practical thing there is to be done, and go down to the station and meet her, and have a talk with her and try to get her to be sensible.”
“Perhaps that would be as well. But I still feel that my scheme would be the ideal one, if only we could find the girl. It is too bad that you have not a dark past.”
“My dark past,” said George bitterly, “is all ahead of me.”
He turned and hurried down the drive. Hamilton Beamish, still meditating, made his way towards the house.
He had reached the lawn, when, as he stopped to light a cigarette to assist thought, he saw a sight that made him drop the match and draw back into the shelter of a tree.
Hamilton Beamish stopped, looked and listened. A girl had emerged from a clump of rhododendrons and was stealing softly round the lawn towards the dining-room window.
Girlhood is the season of dreams. To Fanny Welch, musing over the position of affairs after Sigsbee H. Waddington had given her her final instructions, there had come a quaint fantastic thought, creeping into her mind like a bee into a flower—the thought that if she got to the house an hour earlier than the time he had mentioned, it might be possible for her to steal the necklace and keep it for herself.
The flaw in the scheme, as originally outlined, had seemed to her all along to lie in the fact that Mr. Waddington was to preside over the enterprise and take the loot from her the moment she had got it. The revised plan appeared immeasurably more attractive, and she proceeded to put it into action.
Luck seemed to be with her. Nobody was about, the window was ajar, and there on the table lay that which she had now come to look on in the light of a present for a good girl. She crept out of her hiding-place, stole round the edge of the lawn, entered the room, and had just grasped the case in her hand, when it was borne sharply in upon her that luck was not with her so much as she had supposed. A heavy hand was placed upon her shoulder; and, twisting round, she perceived a majestic-looking man with a square chin and horn-rimmed spectacles.
“Well, young lady!” said this person.
Fanny breathed hard. These little contretemps are the risk of the profession, but that makes them none the easier to bear philosophically.
“Put down that jewel-case.”
Fanny did so. There was a pause. Hamilton Beamish moved to the window, blocking it up.
“Well?” said Fanny.
Hamilton Beamish adjusted his spectacles.
“Well, you’ve got me. What are you going to do?”
“What do you expect me to do?”
“Turn me over to the police?”
The figure in the window nodded curtly. Fanny clasped her hands together. Her eyes filled with tears.
“Don’t turn me over to the bulls, mister! I only did it for ma’s sake . . .”
“If you was out of work and starvin’ and you had to sit and watch your poor old ma bendin’ over the wash-tub . . .”
“All wrong!” repeated Hamilton Beamish forcefully.
“What do you mean—all wrong?”
“Mere crude Broadway melodrama. That stuff might deceive some people, but not me.”
Fanny shrugged her shoulders.
“Well, I thought it was worth trying,” she said.
Hamilton Beamish was regarding her keenly. That busy brain was never still, and now it had begun to work with even more than its normal intensity.
“Are you an actress?”
“Me? I should say not. My folks are awful particular.”
“Well, you have considerable dramatic ability. There was a ring of sincerity in that drivel you just recited which would have convinced most men. I think I could use you in a little drama which I have been planning. I’ll make a bargain with you. I have no wish to send you to prison.”
“Spoken like a man.”
“I ought to, of course.”
“Yes, but it’s a lot better fun doing things that you oughtn’t, isn’t it?”
“Well, the point is, I have a friend who is in a difficulty, and it occurs to me that you can get him out.”
“Always glad to oblige.”
“My friend is going to be married to-day, and he has just heard that a previous fiancée of his, whom, in the excitement inseparable from falling in love with the girl who is to be his bride, he had unfortunately overlooked, is on her way here.”
“To make trouble?”
“Well, what can I do about it?”
“Just this. For five minutes I want you to play the rôle of my friend’s discarded victim.”
“I don’t get it.”
“I will put it more plainly. In a short while this girl will arrive, probably in company with my friend, who has gone to meet her at the station. You will be waiting outside here. At an appropriate moment you will rush into the room, hold out your arms to my friend and cry ‘George! George! Why did you desert me? You don’t belong to that girl there. You belong to me—the woman you have wronged!’ ”
“Not on your life!”
Fanny drew herself up haughtily.
“Not on your life!” she said. “Suppose my husband got to hear of it!”
“Are you married?”
“Married this morning at the Little Church Round The Corner.”
“And you come here and try to steal things on your wedding-day!”
“Why not? You know as well as I do what it costs nowadays to set up house.”
“Surely it would be a severe shock to your husband to find that you had been sent to prison? I think you had better be reasonable.”
Fanny scraped the floor with her shoe.
“Would this thing you want me to do get into the papers?”
“Good heavens, no!”
“And there’s another thing. Suppose I did come in and pull that spiel, who would believe it?”
“The girl would. She is very simple.”
“She must be.”
“Just an ignorant village girl. The sort who would naturally recoil from a man in the circumstances I have outlined.”
“Suppose they ask me questions?”
“But suppose they do? Suppose the girl says ‘Where did you meet him and when did all this happen and what the devil—’ and all like that, what do I say?”
Hamilton Beamish considered the point.
“I think the best plan would be for you to pretend, immediately after you have spoken the words I have indicated, that emotion has made you feel faint. Yes, that is best. Having said those words, exclaim, ‘Air! Air! I want air!’ and rush out.”
“Now you’re talking. I like that bit about rushing out. I’ll go so quick, they won’t see me.”
“Then you are prepared to do this thing?”
“Looks as if I’d got to.”
“Good. Kindly run through your opening speech. I must see that you are letter-perfect.”
“George! George! . . .”
“Pause before the second George and take in breath. Remember that the intensity or loudness of the voice depends on the amplitude of the movement of the vocal chords, while pitch depends on the number of vibrations per second. Tone is strengthened by the resonance of the air in the air-passages and in the pharyngeal and oral cavities. Once more, please.”
“George ! George! Why did you desert me? . . .”
“You don’t belong to that girl there.”
“You belong to me—the woman you have wronged!”
Hamilton Beamish nodded with restrained approval.
“Not bad. Not at all bad. I should have liked, if it had been possible, to have an expert examine your thyro-arytenoid ligaments; and I wish there had been time for you to study my booklet on Voice Production . . . However, I think it will do. Now go back and hide in the rhododendrons. This girl may be arriving at any moment.”
Hamilton Beamish strolled out into the hall. Something attempted, something done, had earned a cigarette. He was just lighting one, when there was a grinding of wheels on the gravel, and through the open door he saw Madame Eulalie alighting from a red two-seater car. He skipped joyously to meet her.
“So you managed to come after all!”
Madame Eulalie shook his hand with that brisk amiability which was one of her main charms.
“Yes. But I’ve got to turn right round and go back again. I’ve three appointments this afternoon. I suppose you’re staying on for the wedding?”
“I had intended to. I promised George I would be his best man.”
“That’s a pity. I could have driven you back.”
“Oh, I can easily cancel the thing,” said Hamilton Beamish quickly. “In fact, I will, directly George returns. He can get dozens of best men, dozens.”
“Returns? Where has he gone?”
“To the station.”
“What a nuisance. I came specially to see him. Still, it doesn’t matter. I had better see Miss Waddington for a moment, I suppose.”
“She is out.”
Madame Eulalie raised her eyebrows.
“Doesn’t anybody stay in the house in these parts when there’s going to be a wedding?”
“There has been a slight accident,” explained Hamilton Beamish. “The clergyman sprained his ankle, and Mrs. Waddington and Molly have gone to Flushing to pick up an understudy. And George has gone to the station . . .”
“Yes, why has George gone to the station?”
Hamilton Beamish hesitated. Then, revolted by the thought that he should be hiding anything from this girl, he spoke.
“Can you keep a secret?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never tried.”
“Well, this is something quite between ourselves. Poor George is in trouble.”
“Any worse trouble than most bridegrooms?”
“I wish you would not speak like that,” said Hamilton Beamish, pained. “You seem to mock at Love.”
“Oh, I’ve nothing against love.”
“Thank you, thank you!”
“Don’t mention it.”
“Love is the only thing worth while in the world. In peace, love tunes the shepherd’s reed, in war he mounts the warrior’s steed . . .”
“Yes, doesn’t he. You were going to tell me what George is in trouble about.”
Hamilton Beamish lowered his voice.
“Well, the fact is, on the eve of his wedding an old acquaintance of his has suddenly appeared.”
“I begin to see.”
“George wrote her letters. She still has them.”
“Worse and worse.”
“And if she makes trouble it will stop the wedding. Mrs. Waddington is only waiting for an excuse to forbid it. Already, she has stated in so many words that she is suspicious of George’s morals.”
“How absurd! George is like the driven snow.”
“Exactly. A thoroughly fine-minded man. Why, I remember him once leaving the table at a bachelor dinner because someone told an improper story.”
“How splendid of him! What was the story?”
“I really don’t remember. Still, Mrs. Waddington has this opinion of him, so there it is.”
“All this sounds very interesting. What are you going to do about it?”
“Well, George has gone to the station to try to intercept this Miss Stubbs and reason with her.”
“That is her name. By the way, she comes from your home-town, East Gilead. Perhaps you know her?”
“I seem to recollect the name. So George has gone to reason with her?”
“Yes. But, of course, she will insist on coming here.”
Hamilton Beamish smiled.
“Not quite so bad as you think,” he said. “You see, I have been giving the matter some little thought, and I may say I have the situation well in hand. I have arranged everything.”
“You must be terribly clever.”
“Oh, well!” said Hamilton Beamish modestly.
“But, of course, I knew you were, the moment I read your booklets. Have you a cigarette?”
“I beg your pardon.”
Madame Eulalie selected a cigarette from his case and lit it. Hamilton Beamish, taking the match from her fingers, blew it out and placed it reverently in his left top waistcoat pocket.
“Go on,” said Madame Eulalie.
“Ah yes,” said Hamilton Beamish, coming out of his thoughts. “We were speaking about George. It appears that George, before he left East Gilead, had what he calls an understanding, but which seems to me to have differed in no respect from a definite engagement, with a girl named May Stubbs. Unpleasant name!”
“Horrible. Just the sort of name I would want to change.”
“He then came into money, left for New York, and forgot all about her.”
“But she didn’t forget all about him?”
“Apparently not. I picture her as a poor, dowdy little thing—you know what these village girls are—without any likelihood of getting another husband. So she has clung to her one chance. I suppose she thinks that by coming here at this time she will force George to marry her.”
“But you are going to be too clever to let anything like that happen?”
“Aren’t you wonderful!”
“It is extremely kind of you to say so,” said Hamilton Beamish, pulling down his waistcoat.
“What have you arranged?”
“Well, the whole difficulty is that at present George is in the position of having broken the engagement. So, when this May Stubbs arrives, I am going to get her to throw him over of her own free will.”
“And how do you propose to do that?”
“Quite simply. You see, we may take it for granted that she is a prude. I have, therefore, constructed a little drama, by means of which George will appear an abandoned libertine.”
“She will be shocked and revolted and will at once break off all relations with him.”
“I see. Did you think all this out by yourself?”
“Entirely by myself.”
“You’re too clever for one man. You ought to incorporate.”
It seemed to Hamilton Beamish that the moment had arrived to speak out frankly and without subterfuge, to reveal in the neatest phrases at his disposal the love which had been swelling in his heart like some yeasty ferment ever since he had first taken a speck of dust out of this girl’s eye on the doorstep of Number 16, East Seventy-Ninth Street. And he was about to begin doing so, when she looked past him and uttered a pleased laugh.
“Why, Georgie Finch!”
Hamilton Beamish turned, justly exasperated. Every time he endeavoured to speak his love, it seemed that something had to happen to prevent him. Yesterday it had been the loathsome Charley on the telephone, and now it was George Finch. George was standing in the doorway, flushed as if he had been walking quickly. He was staring at the girl in a manner which Hamilton Beamish resented. To express his resentment he coughed sharply.
George paid no attention. He continued to stare.
“And how is Georgie? You have interrupted a most interesting story, George.”
“May!” George placed a finger inside his collar, as if trying to loosen it. “May! I—I’ve just been down to the station to meet you.”
“I came by car.”
“May?” exclaimed Hamilton Beamish, a horrid light breaking upon him.
Madame Eulalie turned to him brightly.
“Yes, I’m the dowdy little thing.”
“But you’re not a dowdy little thing,” said Hamilton Beamish, finding thought difficult, but concentrating on the one incontrovertible fact.
“I was when George knew me.”
“And your name is Madame Eulalie.”
“My professional name. Didn’t we agree that anyone who had a name like May Stubbs would want to change it as quickly as possible.”
“You are really May Stubbs?”
Then Hamilton Beamish bit his lip and regarded his friend coldly.
“I congratulate you, George. You are engaged to two of the prettiest girls I have ever seen.”
“How charming of you, Jimmy!” said Madame Eulalie.
George Finch’s face worked convulsively.
“But, May, honestly . . . Have a heart! . . . You don’t really look on me as engaged to you?”
“But . . . but . . . I thought you had forgotten all about me.”
“What, after all those beautiful letters you wrote!”
“Boy-and-girl affair,” babbled George.
“Was it, indeed!”
“But, May . . .”
Hamilton Beamish had been listening to these exchanges with a rapidly rising temperature. His heart was pounding feverishly in his bosom. There is no one who becomes so primitive, when gripped by love, as the man who all his life has dwelt in the cool empyrean of the intellect. For twenty years and more, Hamilton Beamish had supposed that he was above the crude passions of the ordinary man, and when love had got him it got him good. And now, standing there and listening to these two, he was conscious of a jealousy so keen that he could no longer keep silent. Hamilton Beamish, the thinker, had ceased to be; and there stood in his place Hamilton Beamish, the descendant of ancestors who had conducted their love affairs with stout clubs and who, on seeing a rival, wasted no time in calm reflection but jumped on him like a ton of bricks and did their best to bite his head off. If you had given him a bearskin and taken away his spectacles, Hamilton Beamish at this moment would have been Prehistoric Man.
“Hey!” said Hamilton Beamish.
“But, May, you know you don’t love me . . .”
“Hey!” said Hamilton Beamish again in a nasty, snarling voice. And silence fell.
The cave-man adjusted his spectacles and glared at his erstwhile friend with venomous dislike. His fingers twitched, as if searching for a club.
“Listen to me, you,” said Hamilton Beamish, “and get me right! See? That’ll be about all from you about this girl loving you, unless you want me to step across and bust you on the beezer. I love her, see? And she’s going to marry me, see? And nobody else, see? And anyone who says different had better notify his friends where he wants the body sent, see? Love you, indeed? A swell chance! I’m the little guy she’s going to marry, see? Me!”
And, folding his arms, the thinker paused for a reply.
It did not come immediately. George Finch, unused to primitive emotions from this particular quarter, remained completely dumb. It was left for Madame Eulalie to supply comment.
“Jimmy!” she said faintly.
Hamilton Beamish caught her masterfully about the waist. He kissed her eleven times.
“So that’s that!” said Hamilton Beamish.
“We’ll get married to-morrow.”
“You are my mate!”
“All right, then,” said Hamilton Beamish.
George came to life like a clockwork toy.
“Hamilton, I congratulate you!”
Mr. Beamish spoke a little dazedly. He blinked. Already the ferment had begun to subside, and Beamish the cave-man was fast giving place to Beamish of the Booklets. He was dimly conscious of having expressed himself a little too warmly and in language which in a calmer moment he would never have selected. Then he caught the girl’s eyes fixed on him adoringly, and he had no regrets.
“Thanks,” he said again.
“May is a splendid girl,” said George. “You will be very happy. I speak as one who knows her. How sympathetic you always were in the old days, May.”
“You certainly were. Don’t you remember how I used to bring my troubles to you, and we would sit together on the sofa in front of your parlour fire?”
“We were always afraid someone was listening at the door.”
“If they had been, the only thing they’d have found out would have been the lamp.”
“Hey!” said Hamilton Beamish abruptly.
“Those were happy days,” said Madame Eulalie.
“And do you remember how your little brother used to call me April Showers?”
“He did, did he?” said Mr. Beamish, snorting a little. “Why?”
“Because I brought May flowers.”
“That’s quite enough,” said Hamilton Beamish, not without reason. “I should like to remind you, Finch, that this lady is engaged to me.”
“Oh, quite,” said George.
“Endeavour not to forget it,” said Hamilton Beamish curtly. “And, later on, should you ever come to share a meal at our little home, be sparing of your reminiscences of the dear old days. You get—you take my meaning?”
“Then we will be getting along. May has to return to New York immediately, and I am going with her. You must look elsewhere for a best man at your wedding. You are very lucky to be having a wedding at all. Good-bye, George. Come, darling.”
The two-seater was moving down the drive, when Hamilton Beamish clapped a hand to his forehead.
“I had quite forgotten,” he exclaimed.
“What have you forgotten, Jimmy, dear?”
“Just something I wanted to say to George, sweetheart. Wait here for me.”
“George,” said Hamilton Beamish, returning to the hall, “I have just remembered something. Ring for Ferris and tell him to stay in the room with the wedding presents and not leave it for a moment. They aren’t safe, lying loose like that. You should have had a detective.”
“We intended to, but Mr. Waddington insisted on it so strongly that Mrs. Waddington said the idea was absurd. I’ll go and tell Ferris immediately.”
“Do so,” said Hamilton Beamish.
He passed out on to the lawn: and reaching the rhododendron bushes, whistled softly.
“Now what?” said Fanny, pushing out an inquiring head.
“Oh, there you are.”
“Yes, here I am. When does the show start?”
“It doesn’t,” said Hamilton Beamish. “Events have occurred which render our little ruse unnecessary. So you can return to your home and husband as soon as you please.”
“Oh?” said Fanny.
She plucked a rhododendron leaf and crushed it reflectively.
“I don’t know as I’m in any hurry,” she said. “I kind of like it out here. The air and the sun and the birds and everything. I guess I’ll stick around for awhile.”
Hamilton Beamish regarded her with a quiet smile.
“Certainly, if you wish it,” he said. “I should mention, however, that if you were contemplating another attempt on those jewels, you would do well to abandon the idea. From now on a large butler will be stationed in the room, watching over it, and there might be unpleasantness.”
“Oh?” said Fanny meditatively.
“You think of everything, don’t you?”
“I thank you for the compliment,” said Hamilton Beamish.
George did not delay. Always sound, Hamilton Beamish’s advice appeared to him now even sounder than usual. He rang the bell for Ferris.
“Oh, Ferris,” said George, “Mr. Beamish thinks you had better stay in the room with the wedding presents and keep an eye on them.”
“Very good, sir.”
“In case somebody tries to steal them, you know.”
“Just so, sir.”
Relief, as it always does, had given George a craving for conversation. He wanted to buttonhole some fellow-creature and babble. He would have preferred this fellow-creature to have been anyone but Ferris, for he had not forgotten the early passages of their acquaintanceship and seemed still to sense in the butler’s manner a lingering antipathy. But Ferris was there, so he babbled to him.
“Nice day, Ferris.”
“Nice country round here.”
George was somewhat taken aback.
“Did you say, ‘No, sir?’ ”
“Oh, ‘Yes, sir’? I thought you said, ‘No, sir.’ ”
“Yes, sir. No, sir.”
“You mean you don’t like the country round here?”
“I disapprove of it, sir.”
“It is not the sort of country to which I have been accustomed, sir. It is not like the country round Little-Seeping-in-the-Wold.”
“In England, sir.”
“I suppose the English country’s nice?”
“I believe it gives uniform satisfaction, sir.”
George felt damped. In his mood of relief he had hoped that Ferris might have brought himself to sink the butler in the friend.
“What don’t you like about the country round here?”
“I disapprove of the mosquitoes, sir.”
“But there are only a few.”
“I disapprove of even one mosquito, sir.”
George tried again.
“I suppose everybody downstairs is very excited about the wedding, Ferris?”
“By ‘everybody downstairs’ you allude to . . . ?”
“The—er—the domestic staff.”
“I have not canvassed their opinions, sir. I mix very little with my colleagues.”
“I suppose you disapprove of them?” said George, nettled.
The butler raised his eyebrows. He preferred the lower middle-classes not to be inquisitive. However, he stooped to explain.
“Many of them are Swedes, sir, and the rest are Irish.”
“You disapprove of Swedes?”
“Their heads are too square, sir.”
“And you disapprove of the Irish?”
“Because they are Irish, sir.”
George shifted his feet uncomfortably.
“I hope you don’t disapprove of weddings, Ferris?”
“They seem to me melancholy occasions, sir.”
“Are you married, Ferris?”
“A widower, sir.”
“Well, weren’t you happy when you got married?”
“Was Mrs. Ferris?”
“She appeared to take a certain girlish pleasure in the ceremony, sir, but it soon flickered out.”
“How do you account for that?”
“I could not say, sir.”
“I’m sorry weddings depress you, Ferris. Surely when two people love each other and mean to go on loving each other . . . ?”
“Marriage is not a process for prolonging the life of love, sir. It merely mummifies its corpse.”
“But, Ferris, if there were no marriages what would become of Posterity?”
“I see no necessity for Posterity, sir.”
“You disapprove of it?”
George walked pensively out on to the drive in front of the house. He was conscious of a diminution of the exuberant happiness which had led him to engage the butler in conversation. He saw clearly now that, Ferris’s conversation being what it was, a bridegroom who engaged him in it on his wedding-day was making a blunder. A suitable, even an ideal, companion for a funeral, Ferris seemed out of harmony when the joy-bells were ringing.
He looked out upon the pleasant garden with sobered gaze; and, looking, was aware of Sigsbee H. Waddington approaching. Sigsbee’s manner was agitated. He conveyed the impression of having heard bad news or of having made some discovery which disconcerted him.
“Say, listen!” said Sigsbee H. “What’s that infernal butler doing in the room with the wedding-presents?”
“Keeping guard over them.”
“Who told him to?”
“Hell’s bells!” said Sigsbee H.
He gave George a peculiar look and shimmered off. If George had been more in the frame of mind to analyse the looks of his future father-in-law, he might have seen in this one a sort of shuddering loathing. But he was not in the frame of mind. Besides, Sigsbee H. Waddington was not the kind of man whose looks one analysed. He was one of those negligible men whom one pushes out of sight and forgets about. George proceeded to forget about him almost immediately. He was still forgetting about him, when an automobile appeared round the bend of the drive and, stopping beside him, discharged Mrs. Waddington, Molly, and a man with a face like a horse whom, from his clerical costume, George took correctly to be the deputy from Flushing.
“Molly!” cried George.
“Here we are, angel,” said Molly.
“And mother!” said George, with less heartiness.
“Mother!” said Mrs. Waddington, with still less heartiness than George.
“This is the Reverend Gideon Voules,” said Molly. “He’s going to marry us.”
“This,” said Mrs. Waddington, turning to the clergyman and speaking in a voice which seemed to George’s sensitive ear to contain too strong a note of apology, “is the bridegroom.”
The Reverend Gideon Voules looked at George with a dull and poached-egg-like eye. He did not seem to the latter to be a frightfully cheery sort of person; but, after all, when you’re married, you’re married, no matter how like a poached egg the presiding minister may look.
“How do you do?” said the Rev. Gideon.
“I’m fine,” said George. “How are you?”
“I am in robust health, I thank you.”
“Splendid! Nothing wrong with the ankles, eh?”
The Rev. Gideon glanced down at them and seemed satisfied with this section of his lower limbs, even though they were draped in white socks.
“Nothing, thank you.”
“So many clergymen nowadays,” explained George, “are falling off chairs and spraining them.”
“I never fall off chairs.”
“Then you’re just the fellow I’ve been scouring the country for,” said George. “If all clergymen were like you . . .”
Mrs. Waddington came to life.
“Would you care for a glass of milk?”
“No, thank you, mother,” said George.
“I was not addressing you,” said Mrs. Waddington. “I was speaking to Mr. Voules. He has had a long drive and no doubt requires refreshment.”
“Of course, of course,” said George. “What am I thinking about? Yes, you must certainly stoke up and preserve your strength. We don’t want you fainting half-way through the ceremony.”
“He would have every excuse,” said Mrs. Waddington.
She led the way into the dining-room, where light refreshments were laid out on a side-table—a side-table brightly decorated by the presence of Sigsbee H. Waddington, who was sipping a small gin and tonic and watching with lowering gaze the massive imperturbability of Ferris, the butler. Ferris, though he obviously disapproved of wedding presents, was keeping a loyal eye on them.
“What are you doing here, Ferris?” asked Mrs. Waddington.
The butler raised the loyal eye.
“Guarding the gifts, madam.”
“Who told you to?”
“Mr. Finch, madam.”
Mrs. Waddington shot a look of disgust at George.
“There is no necessity whatever.”
“Very good, madam.”
“Only an imbecile would have suggested such a thing.”
The butler retired. Sigsbee Horatio, watching him go, sighed unhappily. What was the good of him going now, felt Sigsbee? From now on the room would be full. Already automobiles were beginning to arrive, and a swarm of wedding guests had begun to settle upon the refreshments on the side-table.
The Rev. Gideon Voules, thoughtfully lowering a milk and ham-sandwich into the abyss, had drawn George into a corner and was endeavouring to make his better acquaintance.
“I always like to have a little chat with the bridegroom before the ceremony,” he said. “It is agreeable to be able to feel that he is, in a sense, a personal friend.”
“Very nice of you,” said George, touched.
“I married a young fellow in Flushing named Miglett the other day—Claude R. Miglett. Perhaps you recall the name?”
“Ah? I thought you might have seen it in the papers. They were full of the affair. I always feel that, if I had not made a point of establishing personal relations with him before the ceremony, I should not have been in a position to comfort him as I did after the accident occurred.”
“Yes. The bride was most unfortunately killed by a motor-lorry as they were leaving the church.”
“I have always thought it singularly unfortunate. But then it almost seems as if there were some fatality about the weddings at which I officiate. Only a week before, I had married a charming young couple, and both were dead before the month was out. A girder fell on them as they were passing below a building which was under construction. In the case of another pair whom I married earlier in the year, the bridegroom contracted some form of low fever. A very fine young fellow. He came out in pink spots. We were all most distressed about it.” He turned to Mrs. Waddington, whom an inrush of guests had driven into the corner. “I was telling our young friend here of a rather singular coincidence. In each of the last two weddings at which I officiated the bridegroom died within a few days of the ceremony.”
A wistful look came into Mrs. Waddington’s face. She seemed to be feeling that luck like that could not hold.
“I, personally,” she said, “have had a presentiment right from the beginning that this marriage would never take place.”
“Now, that is very curious,” said the Rev. Gideon. “I am a strong believer in presentiments.”
“So am I.”
“I think they are sent to warn us—to help us to prepare ourselves for disaster.”
“In the present instance,” said Mrs. Waddington, “the word disaster is not the one I would have selected.”
George tottered away. Once more there was creeping over him that grey foreboding which had come to him earlier in the day. So reduced was his nervous system that he actually sought comfort in the society of Sigsbee Horatio. After all, he thought, whatever Sigsbee’s shortcomings as a man, he at least was a friend. A philosopher with the future of the race at heart might sigh as he looked upon Sigsbee H. Waddington, but in a bleak world George could not pick and choose his chums.
A moment later there was forced upon him the unpleasing discovery that in supposing that Mr. Waddington liked him he had been altogether too optimistic. The look which his future father-in-law bestowed upon him as he sidled up was not one of affection. It was the sort of look which, had he been Sheriff of Gory Gulch, Arizona, the elder man might have bestowed upon a horse-thief.
“Darned officious!” rumbled Sigsbee H. in a querulous undertone. “Officious and meddling.”
“Eh?” said George.
“Telling that butler to come in here and watch the presents.”
“But, good heavens, don’t you realise that if I hadn’t told him someone might have sneaked in and stolen something?”
Mr. Waddington’s expression was now that of a cowboy who, leaping into bed, discovers too late that a frolicsome friend has placed a cactus between the sheets; and George, at the lowest ebb, was about to pass on to the refreshment table and see if a little potato-salad might not act as a restorative, when there stepped from the crowd gathered round the food a large and ornately-dressed person chewing the remains of a slab of caviare on toast. George had a dim recollection of having seen him among the guests at that first dinner-party at Number 16, East Seventy-Ninth Street. His memory had not erred. The newcomer was no less a man than United Beef.
“Hello there, Waddington,” said United Beef.
“Ur,” said Sigsbee Horatio. He did not like the other, who had once refused to lend him money, and—what was more—had gone to the mean length of quoting Shakespeare to support his refusal.
“Say, Waddington,” proceeded United Beef, “don’t I seem to remember you coming to me some time ago and asking about that motion-picture company, the Finer and Better? You were thinking of putting some money in, if I recollect.”
An expression of acute alarm shot into Mr. Waddington’s face. He gulped painfully.
“Not me,” he said hastily. “Not me. Get it out of your nut that it was I who wanted to buy the stuff. I just thought that if the stock was any good, my dear wife might be interested.”
“It is not at all the same thing.”
“Do you happen to know if your wife bought any?”
“No, she didn’t. I heard later that the company was no good, so I did not mention it to her.”
“Too bad,” said United Beef. “Too bad.”
“What do you mean—too bad?”
“Well, a rather remarkable thing has happened. Quite a romance in its way. As a motion-picture company the thing was, as you say, no good. Couldn’t seem to do anything right. But yesterday, when a workman started to dig a hole on the lot to put up a ‘For Sale’ sign, I’m darned if he didn’t strike oil.”
The solid outlines of United Beef shimmered uncertainly before Mr. Waddington’s horrified eyes.
“Oil?” he gurgled.
“Yes, sir, oil. What looks like turning out the biggest gusher in the South-West.”
“But—but—do you mean to say, then, that the shares are—are really worth something?”
“Only millions, that’s all. Merely millions. It’s a pity you didn’t buy some. This caviare,” said United Beef, champing meditatively, “is good. That’s what it is, Waddington—good. I think I’ll have another slice.”
It is difficult to arrest the progress of a millionaire who is starting off in the direction of caviare, but Mr. Waddington, with a frenzied clutch at the other’s coat-sleeve, succeeded in doing so for a brief instant.
“When did you hear this?”
“Just as I was starting out this morning.”
“Do you think anybody else knows about it?”
“Everybody down-town, I should say.”
“But, listen,” said Mr. Waddington urgently. “Say, listen!” He clung to the caviare-maddened man’s sleeve with a desperate grip. “What I’m getting at is, I know a guy—nothing to do with business—who has a block of that stock. Do you think there’s any chance of him not having heard about this?”
“Quite likely. But, if you’re thinking of getting it off him you’d better hurry. The story’s probably in the evening papers by now.”
The words acted on Sigsbee H. Waddington like an electric shock. He released the other’s sleeve, and United Beef shot off towards the refreshment-table like a homing pigeon. Mr. Waddington felt in his hip-pocket to make sure that he still possessed the three-hundred dollars which he had hoped that day to hand over to Fanny Welch and bounded out of the room, out of the house, and out of the front gate; and, after bounding along the broad highway to the station, leaped into a train which might have been meeting him there by appointment. Never in his life before had Sigsbee H. Waddington caught a train so neatly; and the fact seemed to him a happy omen. He looked forward with a cheery confidence to the interview with that policeman fellow to whom he had—in a moment of mistaken generosity—parted with his precious stock. The policeman had seemed a simple sort of soul, just the sort of man with whom it is so nice to do business. Mr. Waddington began to rehearse the opening speeches of the interview.
“Say, listen,” he would say. “Say, listen, my dear . . .”
He sat up in his seat with a jerk. He had completely forgotten the policeman’s name.
Several hours later, when the stars had begun to peep out and the birds were rustling sleepily in the trees, a solitary figure might have been observed moving slowly up the drive towards the front door of the Waddington summer-residence at Hempstead, Long Island. It was Sigsbee H., returning from his travels.
He walked apprehensively, like a cat that expects a half-brick. Oh, sings the poet, to be home again, home again, home again; but Sigsbee H. Waddington could not bring himself to share that sunny viewpoint. With the opportunity for quiet reflection there had come to him the numbing realization that beneath the roof before him Trouble waited. On other occasions while serving his second sentence as a married man he had done things of which his wife had disapproved—and of which she had expressed her disapproval in a manner that was frank and unrestrained; but never before had he committed such a domestic crime as the one beneath the burden of which he was staggering now. He had actually absented himself from the wedding of his only child after having been specifically instructed to give her away at the altar; and if on a theme like this his wife did not extend herself in a fashion calculated to stagger Humanity—well, all Sigsbee H. could say was that past form meant nothing and could be ruled out as a guide completely.
He sighed drearily. He felt depressed and battered, in no mood to listen to home-truths about himself. All he wanted was to be alone on a sofa with his shoes off and something to drink at his elbow. For he had had a trying time in the great city.
Sigsbee H. Waddington, as has perhaps been sufficiently indicated in this narrative, was not a man who could think deeply without getting a headache; but even at the expense of an aching head he had been compelled to do some very deep thinking as he journeyed to New York in the train. From somewhere in the muddy depths of his sub-consciousness it was imperative that he should bring to the surface the name of the policeman to whom he had sold that stock. He started the dredging operations immediately, and by the time the train had reached the Pennsylvania Station had succeeded in narrowing the search down to this extent—that he felt sure the man was called either Mulcahy or Garrity.
Now, a man who goes about New York looking for a policeman named Mulcahy has quite an afternoon’s work in hand. So has the man who seeks a Garrity. For one who pursues both there is not a dull moment. Flitting hither and thither about the city and questioning the various officers he encountered, Sigsbee H. Waddington soon began to cover ground. The policeman on point-duty in Times Square said that there was a Mulcahy up near Grant’s Tomb and a choice of Garritys at Columbus Circle and Irving Place. The Grant’s Tomb Mulcahy, expressing regret that he could not himself supply the happy ending, recommended the Hundred-and-Twenty-Fifth Street Mulcahy or—alternately—the one down on Third Avenue and Sixteenth. The Garrity at Columbus Circle spoke highly of a Garrity near the Battery, and the Garrity at Irving Place seemed to think his cousin up in the Bronx might fill the long-felt want. By the time the clocks were striking five, Mr. Waddington had come definitely to the decision that what the world wanted to make it a place fit for heroes to live in was fewer and better Mulcahys. At five-thirty, returning from the Bronx, he would have supported any Amendment to the Constitution which Congress might have cared to introduce, totally prohibiting Garritys. At six sharp, he became suddenly convinced that the name of the man he sought was Murphy.
He was passing through Madison Square at the moment, having just flushed Fourteenth Street for another Mulcahy; and so deeply did this new idea affect him that he tottered to one of the benches and, sitting down, groaned heavily. It was the breaking-point. Mr. Waddington decided to give it up and go home. His head was aching, his feet were aching, and the small of his back was aching. The first fine careless rapture with which he had started his quest had ebbed away to nothing. In short, if there was one man in New York utterly incapable of going about the place looking for Murphys, that man was Sigsbee H. Waddington. He limped to the Pennsylvania Station and took the next train home, and here he was, approaching journey’s end.
The house, as he drew near, seemed very silent. And, of course, it had every right to be. Long since, the wedding must have taken place and the happy pair departed on their honeymoon. Long since, the last guest must have left. And now, beneath that quiet roof, there remained only Mrs. Waddington, no doubt trying out blistering phrases in the seclusion of her boudoir—here, discarding an incandescent adjective in favour of a still zippier one that had just suggested itself; there, realising that the noun “worm” was too mild, and searching in Roget’s Thesaurus for something more expressive. Mr. Waddington paused on the doorstep, half-inclined to make for the solitude of the tool-shed.
Manlier counsels prevailed. In the tool-shed there would be nothing to drink, and, cost what it might, a drink was what his suffering soul demanded. He crossed the threshold, and leaped nimbly as a dark figure suddenly emerged from the telephone booth.
“Oosh!” said Mr. Waddington.
“Sir?” said the figure.
Mr. Waddington felt relieved. It was not his wife. It was Ferris. And Ferris was the one person he particularly wanted at that moment to meet. For it was Ferris who could most expeditiously bring him something to drink.
“Sh!” whispered Sigsbee H. “Anyone about?”
“Where is Mrs. Waddington?”
“In her boudoir, sir.”
Sigsbee H. had expected as much.
“Anyone in the library?”
“Then bring me a drink in there, Ferris. And don’t tell anybody you’ve seen me.”
“Very good, sir.”
Mr. Waddington shambled to the library and flung himself down on the Chesterfield. Delicious, restful moments passed, and then a musical tinkling made itself heard without. Ferris entered with a tray.
“You omitted to give me definite instructions, sir,” said the butler, “so, acting on my own initiative, I have brought the whisky decanter and some charged water.”
He spoke coldly, for he disapproved of Mr. Waddington. But the latter was in no frame of mind to analyse the verbal nuances of butlers. He clutched at the decanter, his eyes moist with gratitude.
“Splendid fellow, Ferris!”
“Thank you, sir.”
“You’re the sort of fellow who ought to be out West, where men are men.”
The butler twitched a frosty eyebrow.
“Will that be all, sir?”
“Yes. But don’t go, Ferris. Tell me about everything.”
“On what particular point did you desire information, sir?”
“Tell me about the wedding. I wasn’t able to be present. I had most important business in New York, Ferris. So I wasn’t able to be present. Because I had most important business in New York.”
“Most important business. Impossible to neglect it. Did the wedding go off all right?”
“Not altogether, sir.”
“What do you mean?”
“There has been no wedding, sir.”
Mr. Waddington sat up. The butler appeared to be babbling. And the one moment when a man does not want to mix with babbling butlers is immediately after he has returned home from a search through New York for a policeman named Mulcahy or Garrity.
“At the last moment a hitch occurred, sir.”
“Don’t tell me the new clergyman sprained his ankle, too?”
“No, sir. The presiding minister continues to enjoy good health in every respect. The hitch to which I allude was caused by a young woman, who, claiming to be an old friend of the bridegroom, entered the room where the guests were assembled and created some little disturbance, sir.”
Mr. Waddington’s eyes bulged.
“Tell me about this,” he said.
The butler fixed a fathomless gaze on the wall beyond him.
“I was not actually present at the scene myself, sir. But one of the lower servants, who chanced to be glancing in at the door, has apprised me of the details of the occurrence. It appears that, just as the wedding-party was about to start off for the church, a young woman suddenly made her way through the French windows opening on to the lawn, and, pausing in the entrance, observed: ‘George! George! Why did you desert me? You don’t belong to that girl there. You belong to me—the woman you have wronged!’ Addressing Mr. Finch, I gather.”
Mr. Waddington’s eyes were now protruding to such a dangerous extent that a sharp jerk would have caused them to drop off.
“Sweet suffering soup-spoons! What happened then?”
“There was considerable uproar and confusion, so my informant tells me. The bridegroom was noticeably taken aback, and protested with some urgency that it was all a mistake. To which Mrs. Waddington replied that it was just what she had foreseen all along. Miss Waddington, I gather, was visibly affected. And the guests experienced no little embarrassment.”
“I don’t blame them.”
“The young woman was pressed for details, but appeared to be in an overwrought and highly emotional condition. She screamed, so my informant tells me, and wrung her hands. She staggered about the room and, collapsing on the table where the wedding-presents had been placed, seemed to swoon. Almost immediately afterwards, however, she appeared to recover herself, and crying: ‘Air! Air! I want air!’ departed hastily through the French windows. I understand, sir, that nothing was seen of her after that.”
“And what happened then?”
“Mrs. Waddington refused to permit the wedding to take place. The guests returned to New York. Mr. Finch, after uttering certain protests which my informant could not hear distinctly but which appear to have been incoherent and unconvincing, also took his departure. Mrs. Waddington has for some little time past been closeted in the boudoir with Miss Waddington. A very unpleasant affair, sir, and one which could never have occurred at Brangmarley Hall.”
One hates to have to record it, but it is a fact that the first emotion which came to Sigsbee H. Waddington after the waning of his initial amazement was relief. It was not the thought of this broken romance that occupied his mind, nor pity for the poor girl who had played the principal part in the tragedy. The aspect of the matter that touched him most nearly was the fact that he was not in for trouble after all. His absence had probably escaped notice, and that wifely lecture to which he had been looking forward so apprehensively would never be delivered.
And then, cutting through relief, came a sudden thought that chilled his satisfaction.
“What sort of a girl was it that came in through the window?”
“My informant describes her as small, sir, and of a neat figure. She had a retroussé nose and expressive, black eyes, sir.”
“Great Godfrey!” ejaculated Mr. Waddington.
He sprang from the sofa and, despite his aching feet, made good time along the hall. He ran into the dining-room and switched on the light. He darted across the room to the table where the wedding-presents lay. At first glance, they seemed to be all there, but a second look showed him that his suspicions had been well-founded.
The case containing the necklace was gone.
One of the most sustaining gifts a man can possess is the ability to look upon the bright side of disaster. It was a gift which, until now, Sigsbee H. Waddington had lacked almost entirely; but at this moment, owing perhaps to the fact that he had just introduced into his interior a healing drink of quite exceptional strength, he suddenly found himself discerning with a limpid clearness the fact that the elimination of that near-pearl necklace from the scheme of things was, from his point of view, the very best thing that could have happened.
It had not been his intention to allow his young assistant to secure the necklace and convert it to her own uses; but, now that this had happened, what, he asked himself, had he to worry about? The main thing was that the necklace had disappeared. Coming right down to it, that was the consummation at which he had aimed all along.
What it amounted to was that, when all the tumult and the shouting had died, he was three-hundred dollars in hand and consequently in a position, if he ever met that policeman again and the policeman had not happened to hear the news which United Beef had told him, to . . .
At this point in his meditations Mr. Waddington suddenly broke off and uttered a sharp exclamation. For before his eyes in letters of fire there seemed to be written the one word
Sigsbee H. Waddington reeled in his tracks. Gallagher! That was the name. Not Mulcahy. Not Garrity. Not Murphy. Gallagher!
Like many another good man before him, Sigsbee Waddington chafed at the fat-headed imbecility with which Memory can behave. Why should Memory have presented to his notice futile Mulcahys and Garritys and Murphys when what he had been asking for was Gallagher? Wasting his time!
But it was not too late. If he went straight back to New York now and resumed his quest, all might yet be well. And Fortune had, he perceived, presented him with the most admirable excuse for going straight back to New York. In a crisis like this, with a valuable pearl necklace stolen, it was imperative that a cool-headed, clear-thinking man of the world should take the next train up and place the facts in the possession of Police Headquarters.
“Good enough!” said Mr. Waddington to his immortal soul; and hobbled stiffly but light-heartedly to the boudoir.
(To be continued).
Printer’s error corrected above:
In ch. 12, magazine had “Sweet, suffering soup-spoons!”; the comma is present in none of the other versions and has been removed.