Part 3 out of 3
"It was incomparably the most artistic thing to do," said I.
"I'm sometimes afraid you don't do me justice, Mr. Carter,"
remarked Dolly with some pathos.
I did not care to enter upon that discussion, and a pause
followed. Then Dolly, in a timid manner, asked me--
"Do you remember the dreadful thing that happened the same
"That chances to remain in my memory," I admitted.
"I've always thought it kind of you never to speak of it," said
"It is best forgotten," said I, smiling.
"We should have said the same about anybody," protested Dolly.
"Certainly. We were only trying to be smart," said I.
"And it was horribly unjust."
"I quite agree with you, Lady Mickleham."
"Besides, I didn't know anything about him then. He had only
arrived that day, you see."
"Really we were not to blame," I urged.
"Oh, but doesn't it seem funny?"
"A strange whirligig, no doubt," I mused.
There was a pause. Then the faintest of smiles appeared on
"He shouldn't have worn such clothes," she said, as though in
self defense. "Anybody would have looked absurd in them."
"It was all the clothes," I agreed. "Besides, when a man doesn't
know a place, he always moons about and looks--"
"Yes. Rather awkward, doesn't he, Mr. Carter?"
"And the mere fact of his looking at you--"
"At us, please."
"Is nothing, although we made a grievance of it at the time."
"That was very absurd of you," said Dolly.
"It was certainly unreasonable of us," said I.
"We ought have known he was a gentleman."
"But we scouted the idea of it," said I.
"It was a most curious mistake to make," said Dolly.
"O, well, it's put right now," said I.
"Oh, Mr. Carter, do you remember mamma's face when we described
"That was a terrible moment," said I, with a shudder.
"I said he was--ugly," whispered Dolly.
"And I said--something worse," murmured I.
"And mamma knew at once from our description that it was--"
"She saw it in a minute," said I.
"And then you went away."
"Well, I rather suppose I did," said I.
"Mamma is just a little like the Dowager sometimes," said Dolly.
"There is a touch now and then," I conceded.
"And when I was introduced to him the next day I absolutely
"I don't altogether wonder at that," I observed.
"But it wasn't as if he'd heard what we were saying."
"No; but he'd seen what we were doing."
"Well, what were we doing?" cried Dolly defiantly.
"Conversing confidentially," said I.
"And a week later you went home!"
"Just one week later," said I.
There was a long pause.
"Well, you'll take me to the theater?" asked Dolly, with
something which, if I were so disposed, I might consider a sigh.
"I've seen the piece twice," said I.
"How tiresome of you! You've seen everything twice."
"I've seen some things much oftener," I observed.
"I'll get a nice girl for you to talk to, and I'll have a young
"I don't want my girl to be too nice," I observed.
"She shall be pretty," said Dolly generously.
"I don't mind if I do come with you," said I. "What becomes of
"He's going to take his mother and his sisters to the Albert
My face brightened.
"I am unreasonable," I admitted.
"Sometimes you are," said Dolly.
"I have much to be thankful for. Have you ever observed a small
boy eat a penny ice?"
"Of course I have," said Dolly.
"What does he do when he's finished it?"
"Stop, I suppose."
"On the contrary," said I, "he licks the glass."
"Yes, he does," said Dolly meditatively.
"It's not so bad--licking the glass," said I.
Dolly stood opposite me, smiling. At this moment Archie entered.
He had been working at his lathe. He is very fond of making
things which he doesn't want, and then giving them to people who
have no use for them.
"How are you, old chap?" he began. "I've just finished an
He stopped, paralyzed by a cry from Dolly--
"Archie, what in the world are you wearing?"
I turned a startled gaze upon Archie.
"It's just an old suit I routed out," said he apologetically.
I looked at Dolly; her eyes were closed shut, and she gasped--
"My dear, dear boy, go and change it!"
"I don't see why it's not--"
"Go and change it, if you love me," besought Dolly.
"Oh, all right."
"You look hideous in it," she said, her eyes still shut.
Archie, who is very docile, withdrew. A guilty silence reigned
for some moments. Then Dolly opened her eyes. "It was the
suit," she said, with a shudder. "Oh, how it all came back to
"I could wish," I observed, taking my hat, "that it would all
come back to me."
"I wonder if you mean that!"
"As much as I ever did," said I earnestly.
"And that is--?
"How tiresome you are!" she said, turning away with a smile.
Outside I met Archie in another suit.
"A quick change, eh, my boy?" said he.
"It took just a week," I remarked absently.
A SLIGHT MISTAKE
"I don't ask you for more than a guinea," said Mrs. Hilary, with
a parade of forbearance.
"It would be the same," I replied politely, "if you asked me for
a thousand;" with which I handed her half-a-crown. She held it
in her open hand, regarding it scornfully.
"Yes," I continued, taking a seat, "I feel that pecuniary
"Are you a poor substitute for personal service. May not I
accompany you to the ceremony?"
"I dare say you spent as much as this on wine with your lunch!"
"I was in a mad mood today," I answered apologetically. "What
are they taught at the school?"
"Above all, to be good girls," said Mrs. Hilary earnestly. "What
are you sneering at, Mr. Carter?"
"Nothing," said I hastily, and I added with a sigh, "I suppose
it's all right."
"I should like," said Mrs. Hilary meditatively, "if I had not
other duties, to dedicate my life to the service of girls."
"I should think twice about that, if I were you," said I, shaking
"By the way, Mr. Carter, I don't know if I've ever spoken
unkindly of Lady Mickleham. I hope not."
"Hope," said I, "is not yet taxed."
"If I have, I'm very sorry. She's been most kind in undertaking
to give away the prizes today. There must be some good in her."
"Oh, don't be hasty," I implored.
"I always wanted to think well of her."
"Ah! Now I never did."
"And Lord Mickleham is coming, too. He'll be most useful."
"That settles it," I exclaimed. "I may not be an earl, but I
have a perfect right to be useful. I'll go too."
"I wonder if you'll behave properly," said Mrs. Hilary
I held out a half-sovereign, three half-crowns, and a shilling.
"Oh, well, you may come, since Hilary can't," said Mrs. Hilary.
"You mean he won't," I observed.
"He has always been prevented hitherto," said she, with dignity.
So I went, and it proved a most agreeable expedition. There were
200 girls in blue frocks and white aprons (the girl three from
the end of the fifth row was decidedly pretty)--a nice lot of
prize books--the Micklehams (Dolly in demure black), ourselves,
and the matron. All went well. Dolly gave away the prizes; Mrs.
Hilary and Archie made little speeches. Then the matron came to
me. I was sitting modestly at the back of the platform, a little
distance behind the others.
"Mr. Musgrave," said the matron to me, "we're so glad to see you
here at last. Won't you say a few words?"
"It would be a privilege," I responded cordially, "but unhappily
I have a sore throat."
The matron (who was a most respectable woman) said, "Dear, dear!"
but did not press the point. Evidently, however, she liked me,
for when we went to have a cup of tea, she got me in a corner and
began to tell me all about the work. It was extremely
interesting. Then the matron observed:
"And what an angel Mrs. Musgrave is!"
"Well, I should hardly call her that," said I, with a smile.
"Oh, you mustn't depreciate her--you, of all men!" cried the
matron, with a somewhat ponderous archness. "Really I envy you
her constant society."
"I assure you, " said I, "I see very little of her."
"I beg your pardon?"
"I only go to the house about once a fortnight--Oh, it's not my
fault. She won't have me there oftener."
"What do you mean? I beg your pardon. Perhaps I've touched on a
"Not at all, not at all," said I suavely. "It is very natural.
I am neither young nor handsome, Mrs. Wiggins. I am not
The matron gazed at me.
"Only seeing her here," I pursued, "you have no idea of what she
is at home. She has chosen to forbid me to come to her house--"
"It happens to be more hers than mine," I explained. "To forbid
me, I say, more than once to come to her house. No doubt she had
"Nothing could justify it," said the matron, directing a
wondering glance at Mrs. Hilary.
"Do not let us blame her," said I. "It is just an unfortunate
accident. She is not as fond of me as I could wish, Mrs.
Wiggins; and she is a great deal fonder than I could wish of--"
I broke off. Mrs. Hilary was walking toward us. I think she was
pleased to see me getting on so well with the matron, for she was
smiling pleasantly. The matron wore a bewildered expression.
"I suppose," said Mrs. Hilary, "that you'll drive back with the
"Unless you want me," said I, keeping a watchful eye on the
"Oh, I don't want you," said Mrs. Hilary lightly.
"You won't be alone this evening?" I asked anxiously.
Mrs. Hilary stared a little.
"O, no!" she said. "We shall have our usual party."
"May I come one day next week?" I asked humbly.
Mrs. Hilary thought for a moment.
"I'm so busy next week--come the week after," said she, giving me
"That's very unkind," said I.
"Nonsense!" said Mrs. Hilary, and she added, "Mind you let me
know when you're coming."
"I won't surprise you," I assured her, with a covert glance at
The excellent woman was quite red in the face, and could gasp out
nothing but "Goodbye," as Mrs. Hilary affectionately pressed her
At this moment Dolly came up. She was alone.
"Where's Archie?" I asked.
"He's run away; he's got to meet somebody. I knew you'd see me
home. Mrs. Hilary didn't want you, of course?"
"Of course not," said I plaintively.
"Besides, you'd rather come with me, wouldn't you?" pursued
Dolly, and she added, pleasantly to the matron, "Mrs. Hilary's so
down on him, you know."
"I'd much rather come with you," said I.
"We'll have a cozy drive all to ourselves," said Dolly, "without
husbands or wives or anything horrid. Isn't it nice to get rid
of one's husband sometimes, Mrs. Wiggins?"
"I have the misfortune to be a widow, Lady Mickleham," said Mrs.
Dolly's eyes rested upon her with an interesting expression. I
knew that she was about to ask Mrs. Wiggins whether she liked the
condition of life, and I interposed hastily, with a sigh:
"But you can look back on a happy marriage, Mrs. Wiggins?"
"I did my best to make it so," said she stiffly.
"You are right," said I. "Even in the face of unkindness we
"My husband's not unkind," said Dolly.
"I didn't mean your husband," said I.
"What your poor wife would do if she cared a button for you, I
don't know," observed Dolly.
"If I had a wife who cared for me, I should be a better man,"
said I solemnly.
"But you'd probably be very dull," said Dolly. "And you wouldn't
be allowed to drive with me."
"Perhaps it's all for the best," said I, brightening up.
"Goodbye, Mrs. Wiggins."
Dolly walked on. Mrs. Wiggins held my hand for a moment.
"Young man," said she sternly, "are you sure it's not your own
"I'm not at all sure, Mrs. Wiggins," said I. "But don't be
distressed about it. It's of no consequence. I don't let it
make me unhappy. Goodbye; so many thanks. Charming girls you
have here--especially that one in the fifth--I mean, charming,
all of them. Goodbye."
I hastened to the carriage. Mrs. Wiggins stood and watched. I
got in and sat down by Dolly.
"Oh, Mrs. Wiggins," said Dolly, dimpling, "don't tell Mrs. Hilary
that Archie wasn't with us, or we shall get into trouble." And
she added to me, "Are you all right?"
"Rather!" said I appreciatively; and we drove off, leaving Mrs.
Wiggins on her doorstep.
A fortnight later I went to call on Mrs. Hilary. After some
conversation she remarked:
"I'm going to the school again tomorrow."
"Really!" said I.
"And I'm so delighted--I've persuaded Hilary to come."
She paused, and then added:
"You really seemed interested last time."
"Oh, I was."
"Would you like to come again tomorrow?"
"No, I think not, thanks," said I carelessly.
"That's just like you!" she said severely. "You never do any
real good because you never stick to anything."
"There are some things one can't stick to," said I.
"Oh, nonsense!" said Mrs. Hilary.
But there are--and I didn't go.
THE OTHER LADY
"By the merest chance," I observed meditatively, "I attended a
reception last night."
"I went to three," said Lady Mickleham, selecting a sardine
sandwich with care.
"I might not have gone," I mused, "I might easily not have gone."
"I can't see what difference it would have made if you hadn't,"
"I thought three times about going. It's a curious world."
"What happened? You may smoke, you know."
"I fell in love," said I, lighting a cigarette.
Lady Mickleham placed her feet on the fender--it was a chilly
afternoon--and turned her face to me, shielding it from the fire
with her handkerchief.
"Men of your age," she remarked, "have no business to be thinking
of such things."
"I was not thinking of it," said I. "I was thinking of going
home. Then I was introduced to her."
"And you stayed a little, I suppose?"
"I stayed two hours--or two minutes,--I forget which"; and, I
added, nodding my head at Lady Mickleham, "There was something
irresistible about me last night."
Lady Mickleham laughed.
"You seem very pleased with yourself," she said, reaching for a
fan to replace the handkerchief.
"Yes, take care of your complexion," said I approvingly. "She
has a lovely complexion."
Lady Mickleham laid down the fan.
"I am very pleased with myself," I continued. "She was delighted
"I suppose you talked nonsense to her."
"I have not the least idea what I talked to her. It was quite
immaterial. The language of the eyes--"
"Oh, you might be a boy!"
"I was," said I, nodding again.
There was a long silence. Dolly looked at me; I looked at the
fire. I did not, however, see the fire. I saw something quite
"She liked me very much," I observed, stretching my hands out
toward the blaze.
"You absurd old man!--" said Dolly. "Was she very charming?"
"She was perfect."
I waved my hand impatiently.
"Pretty, Mr. Carter?"
"Why, of course; the prettiest picture I ever--but that goes
"It would have gone better without saying," remarked Dolly.
To have asked "Considering what?" would have been the acme of bad
I merely smiled, and waved my hand again.
"You're quite serious about it, aren't you?" said Dolly.
"I should think I was," said I indignantly. "Not to be serious
in such a matter is to waste it utterly."
"I'll come to the wedding," said Dolly.
"There won't be a wedding," said I. "There are Reasons."
"Oh! You're very unlucky, Mr. Carter."
"That," I observed, "is as it may be, Lady Mickleham."
"Were the Reasons at the reception?"
"They were. It made no difference."
"It's very curious," remarked Dolly with a compassionate air,
"that you always manage to admire people whom somebody else has
"It would be very curious," I rejoined, "if somebody had not
married the people whom I admire. Last night, though, I made
nothing of his sudden removal; my fancy rioted in accidental
deaths for him."
"He won't die," said Dolly.
"I hate that sort of superstition," said I irritably. "He's just
as likely to die as any other man is."
"He certainly won't die," said Dolly.
"Well, I know he won't. Do let it alone," said I, much
exasperated. It was probably only kindness, but Dolly suddenly
turned her eyes away from me and fixed them on the fire; she took
the fan up again and twirled it in her hand; a queer little smile
bent her lips.
"I hope the poor man won't die," said Dolly in a low voice.
"If he had died last night!" I cried longingly. Then, with a
regretful shrug of my shoulders, I added, "Let him live now to
the crack of doom!"
Somehow this restored my good humor. I rose and stood with my
back to the fire, stretching myself and sighing luxuriously.
Dolly leant back in her chair and laughed at me.
"Do you expect to be forgiven?" she asked.
"No, no," said I; "I had too good an excuse."
"I wish I'd been there--at the reception, I mean."
"I'm extremely glad you weren't, Lady Mickleham. As it was I
forgot all my troubles."
Dolly is not resentful; she did not mind the implied description.
She leant back, smiling still. I sighed again, smiled at Dolly,
and took my hat. Then I turned to the mirror over the
mantelpiece, arranged my necktie, and gave my hair a touch.
"No one," I observed, "can afford to neglect the niceties of the
toilet. Those dainty little curls on the forehead--"
"You've had none there for ten years," cried Lady Mickleham.
"I did not mean my forehead," said I.
Sighing once again, I held out my hand to Dolly.
"Are you doing anything this evening?" she asked.
"That depends on what I'm asked to do," said I cautiously.
"Well, Archie's going to be at the House, and I thought you might
take me to the Phaetons' party. It's quite a long drive, a
horrible long drive, Mr. Carter."
I stood for a moment considering this proposal.
"I don't think," said I, "that it would be proper."
"Why, Archie suggested it! You're making an excuse. You know
you are!" and Lady Mickleham looked very indignant. "As if," she
added scornfully, "you cared about what was proper!"
I dropped into a chair, and said, in a confidential tone, "I
don't care a pin. It was a mere excuse. I don't want to come."
"You're very rude, indeed. Many women would never speak to you
"They would," said I, "all do just as you will."
"And what's that, Mr. Carter."
"Ask me again on the first opportunity."
"Why won't you come?" said Dolly, waiving this question.
I bent forward, holding my hat in my left hand and sawing the air
with my right forefinger.
"You fail to allow," said I impressively, "for the rejuvenescence
which recent events have produced in me. If I came with you this
evening, I should be quite capable--" I paused.
"Of anything dreadful?" asked Dolly.
"Of paying you pronounced attentions," said I gravely.
"That," said Dolly with equal gravity, "would be very
regrettable. It would be unjust to me--and very insulting to
her, Mr. Carter."
"It would be the finest testimonial to her," I cried.
"And you'll spend the evening thinking of her?" asked Dolly.
"I shall go through the evening," said I, "in the best way I
can." And I smiled contentedly.
"What's her husband?" asked Dolly suddenly.
"Her husband," I rejoined, "is nothing at all."
Dolly, receiving this answer, looked at me with a pathetic air.
"It's not quite fair," she observed. "Do you know what I'm
thinking about, Mr. Carter?"
"Certainly I do, Lady Mickleham. You are thinking that you would
like to meet me for the first time."
"Not at all. I was thinking that it would be amusing if you met
me for the first time."
I said nothing. Dolly rose and walked to the window. She swung
the tassel of the blind and it bumped against the window. The
failing sun caught her ruddy brown hair. There were curls on her
"It's a grand world," said I. "And, after all, one can grow old
"You're not really old," said Dolly, with the fleetest glance at
me. A glance should not be over-long.
"Gradually and disgracefully," I murmured.
"If you met me for the first time--" said Dolly, swinging the
"By Heaven, it should be the last!" I cried, and I rose to my
Dolly let the tassel go, and made me a very pretty curtsey.
"I am going to another party tonight," said I, nodding my head
"Ah!" said Dolly.
"And I shall again," I pursued, "spend my time with the prettiest
woman in the room."
"Shall you?" asked Dolly, smiling.
"I am a very fortunate fellow," I observed. "And as for Mrs.
Hilary, she may say what she likes."
"Oh, does Mrs. Hilary know the Other Lady?"
I walked toward the door.
"There is," said I, laying my hand on the door, "no Other Lady."
"I shall get there about eleven," said Dolly.
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
Unfortunately it was Sunday; therefore the gardeners could not be
ordered to shift the long row of flower pots from the side of the
terrace next the house, where Dolly had ordered them to be put,
to the side remote from the house, where Dolly now wished them to
stand. Yet Dolly could not think of living with the pots where
they were till Monday. It would kill her, she said. So Archie
left the cool shade of the great trees, where Dolly sat doing
nothing, and Nellie Phaeton sat splicing the gig whip, and I lay
in a deck chair with something iced beside me. Outside the sun
was broiling hot and poor Archie mopped his brow at every weary
journey across the broad terrace.
"It's a burning' shame, Dolly," said Miss Phaeton. "I wouldn't
do it if I were him."
"Oh, yes, you would, dear," said Dolly. "The pots looked
atrocious on that side."
I took a long sip from my glass, and observed in a meditative
"There but for the grace of woman, goes Samuel Travers Carter."
Dolly's lazy lids half lifted. Miss Phaeton mumbled (Her mouth
was full of twine):
"What DO you mean?"
"Nemo omnibus horis sapit," said I apologetically.
"I don't know what that means either."
"Nemo--everybody," I translated, "sapit--has been in
"Oh, and you mean she wouldn't have you?" asked Nellie, with
"Not quite that," said I. "They--"
"THEY?" murmured Dolly, with half-lifted lids.
"THEY," I pursued, "regretfully recognized my impossibility.
Hence I am not carrying pots across a broad terrace under a hot
"Why did they think you impossible?" asked Miss Phaeton, who
takes much interrest in this sort of question.
"A variety of reasons: for one, I was too clever, for another,
too stupid; for others, too good--or too bad; too serious--or too
frivolous; too poor or--"
"Well, no one objected to your money, I suppose?" interrupted
"Pardon me. I was about to say 'or not rich enough.'"
"But that's the same thing."
"The antithesis is certainly imperfect," I admitted.
"Mr. Gay," said Nellie, introducing the name with some timidity,
"you know who I mean?--the poet--once said to me that man was
essentially imperfect until he was married."
"It is true," I agreed. "And woman until she is dead."
"I don't think he meant it quite in that sense," said Nellie,
"I don't think he meant it in any sense," murmured Dolly, a
We might have gone on talking in this way for ever so long had
not Archie at this point dropped a large flower pot and smashed
it to bits. He stood looking at the bits for a moment, and then
came towards us and sank into a chair.
"I'm off!" he announced.
"And half are on one side, and half on the other," said Dolly,
A sudden impulse seized me. I got up, put on my straw hat, took
off my coat, walked out into the sun, and began to move flower
pots across the broad terrace. I heard a laugh from Archie, a
little cry from Dolly, and from Nellie Phaeton, "Goodness, what's
he doing that for?" I was not turned from my purpose. The
luncheon bell rang. Miss Phaeton, whip and twine in hand, walked
into the house. Archie followed her, saying as he passed that he
hoped I shouldn't find it warm. I went on shifting the flower
pots. They were very heavy. I broke two, but I went on.
Presently Dolly put up her parasol and came out from the shade to
watch me. She stood there for a moment or two. Then, she said:
"Well, do you think you'd like it, Mr. Carter?"
"Wait till I've finished," said I, waving my hand.
Another ten minutes saw the end of my task. Panting and hot I
sought the shade, and flung myself onto my deck chair again. I
also lit a cigarette.
"I think they looked better on the other side, after all," said
"Of course you do," said I urbanely. "You needn't tell me that"
"Perhaps you'd like to move them back," she suggested.
"No," said I. "I've done enough to create the impression."
"And how did you like it?"
"It was," said I, "in its way a pleasant enough illusion." And I
shrugged my shoulders, and blew a ring of smoke.
To my very considerable gratification, Dolly's tone manifested
some annoyance as she asked:
"Why do you say, 'in its way'?"
"Because, in spite of the momentary pleasure I gained from
feeling myself a married man, I could not banish the idea that we
should not permanently suit one another."
"Oh, you thought that?" said Dolly, smiling again.
"I must confess it," said I. "The fault, I know, would be mine."
"I'm sure of that," said Dolly.
"But the fact is that I can't exist in too high altitudes. The
rarefaction of the moral atmosphere--"
"Please don't use all those long words."
"Well, then, to put it plainly," said I, with a pleasant smile,
"I felt all the time that Mrs. Hilary would be too good for me."
It is not very often that it falls to my humble lot to startle
Lady Mickleham out of her composure. But at this point she sat up
quite straight in her chair; her cheek flushed, and her eyelids
ceased to droop in indolent insouciance.
"Mrs. Hilary!" she said. "What has Mrs. Hilary--?
"I really thought you understood," said I, "the object of my
Dolly glanced at me. I believe that my expression was absolutely
innocent--and I am, of course sure that hers expressed mere
"I thought," she said, after a pause, "that you were thinking of
"Oh, I see," cried I smiling. "A natural mistake, to be sure."
"She thought so too," pursued Dolly, biting her lip.
"Did she though?"
"And I'm sure she'd be quite annoyed if she thought you were
thinking of Mrs. Hilary."
"As a matter of fact," I observed, "she didn't understand what I
was doing at all."
Dolly leant back. The relics of a frown still dwelt on her brow;
presently, however, she began to swing her hat on her forefinger,
and she threw a look at me. I immediately looked up toward the
branches above my head.
"We might as well go in to lunch," said Dolly.
"By all means," I acquiesced, with alacrity.
We went out into the sunshine, and came where the pots were.
Suddenly Dolly said:
"Go back and sit down again, Mr. Carter."
"I want my lunch," I ventured to observe.
"Do as I tell you," said Dolly, stamping her foot; whereat, much
intimidated, I went back, and stretched myself once more on the
Dolly approached a flower pot. She stooped down, exerting her
strength, lifted it, and carried it, not without effort, across
Again she did the like. I sat smoking and watching. She lifted
a third pot, but dropped it half way. Then, dusting her hands
against one another, she came back slowly into the shade and sat
down. I made no remark.
Dolly glanced at me.
"Well?" she said.
"Woman--woman--woman!" said I sadly.
"Must I carry some more?" asked Dolly, in a humble, yet
"Mrs. Hilary," I began, "is an exceedingly attractive--"
Dolly rose with a sigh.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"More pots," said Dolly, standing opposite me. "I must go on,
"Till when, Lady Mickleham?"
"Till you tell the truth," said Dolly, and she suddenly burst
into a little laugh.
"Woman--woman--woman!" said I again. "Let's go in to lunch."
"I'm going to carry the pots," said Dolly. "It's awfully hot,
Mr. Carter--and look at my poor hands!"
She held them out to me.
"Lunch!" said I.
"Pots!" said Dolly, with infinite firmness.
The window of the dining room opened and Archie put his head out.
"Come along, you two," he called. "Everything's getting cold."
Dolly turned an appealing glance on me.
"How obstinate you are!" she said. "You know perfectly well--"
I began to walk towards the house.
"I'm going in to lunch," said I.
"Ask them to keep some for me," said Dolly, and she turned up the
sleeves of her gown, till her wrists were free.
"It's most unfair," said I indignantly.
"I don't care if it is," said Dolly, stooping down to lift a pot.
I watched her strain to lift it. She had chosen the largest and
heaviest; she sighed delicately and delicately she panted. She
also looked at her hands, and held them up for me to see the
lines of brown on the pink. I put my hands in my pockets and
said most sulkily, as I turned away towards the house:
"All right. It wasn't Mrs. Hilary then."
Dolly rose up, seized me by the arm, and made me run to the
"Mr. Carter," she cried, "would stop for those wretched pots.
He's moved all except two, but he's broken three. Isn't he
"You are an old ass, Carter," said Archie.
"I believe you're right, Archie," said I.
ONE WAY IN
I had a very curious dream the other night. In fact, I dreamt
that I was dead. I passed through a green baize door and found
myself in a small square room. Opposite me was another door
inscribed "Elysian Fields," and in front of it, at a large table
with a raised ledge, sat Rhadamanthus. As I entered I saw a
graceful figure vanish through the door opposite.
"It's no use trying to deceive me," I observed. "That was Mrs.
Hilary, I think; if you don't mind, I'll join her."
"I'm afraid I must trouble you to take a seat for a few moments,
Mr. Carter," said Rhadamanthus, "while I run over your little
"Any formalities which are usual," I murmured politely, as I sat
Rhadamanthus turned over the leaves of a large book.
"Carter--Samuel Travers, isn't it?" he asked.
"Yes. For goodness sake don't confuse me with Vincent Carter.
He only paid five shillings in the pound."
"Your case presents some peculiar features, Mr. Carter," said
Rhadamanthus. "I hope I am not censorious, but--well, that fine
"I was a mere boy," said I, with some warmth, "and my solicitor
grossly mismanaged the case.."
"Well, well!" said he soothingly. "But haven't you spent a great
deal of time at Monte Carlo?"
"A man must be somewhere," said I.
Rhadamanthus scratched his nose.
"I should have wasted the money anyhow," I added.
"I suppose you would," he conceded. "But what of this caveat
lodged by the Dowager Lady Mickleham? That's rather serious, you
know; isn't it now--joking apart?"
"I am disappointed," I remarked, "to find a man of your
experience paying any attention to such an ill-natured old
"We have our rules," he replied, "and I'm afraid, Mr. Carter,
that until that caveat is removed--"
"You don't mean that?"
"Really, I'm afraid so."
"Then I may as well go back," said I, taking my hat.
At this moment there was a knock at the door.
"Although I can't oblige you with an order of admission," said
Rhadamanthus, very civilly, "perhaps it would amuse you to listen
to a case or two. There's no hurry, you know. You've got lots
of time before you."
"It will be an extremely interesting experience," said I, sitting
The door opened, and, as I expected (I don't know why, but it
happens like that in dreams), Dolly Mickleham came in. She did
not seem to see me. She bowed to Rhadamanthus, smiled, and took
a chair immediately opposite the table.
"Mickleham--Dorothea--Countess of--" she said.
"Formerly, I think, Dolly Foster?" asked Rhadamanthus.
"I don't see what that's got to do with it," said Dolly.
"The account runs on," he explained, and began to consult his big
book. Dolly leant back in her chair, slowly peeling off her
gloves. Rhadamanthus shut the book with a bang.
"It's not the least use," he said decisively. "It wouldn't be
kind to pretend that it was, Lady Mickleham."
"Dear, dear," said Dolly. "What's the matter?"
"Half the women in London have petitioned against you."
"Have they, really?" cried Dolly, to all appearance rather
delighted. "What do they say, Mr. Rhadamanthus? Is it in that
book? Let me look." And she held out her hand.
"The book's too heavy for you to hold," said he.
"I'll come round," said Dolly. So she went round and leant over
his shoulder and read the book.
"What's that scent you've got on?" asked Rhadamanthus.
"Bouquet du diable," said she. (I had never heard of the perfume
before.) "Isn't it sweet?"
"I haven't smelt it since I was a boy," sighed Rhadamanthus.
"Poor old thing," said Dolly. "I'm not going to read all this,
you know." And, with a somewhat contemptuous smile, she walked
back to her chair. "They ought to be ashamed of themselves," she
added, as she sat down. "It's just because I'm not a fright."
"Aren't you a fright?" asked Rhadamanthus. "Where are my
He put them on and looked at Dolly.
"I must go in, you know," said Dolly, smiling at Rhadamanthus.
"My husband has gone in!"
"I shouldn't have thought you'd consider that conclusive," said
he, with a touch of satire in his tone.
"Don't be horrid," said Dolly, pouting.
There was a pause. Rhadamanthus examined Dolly through his
"This is a very painful duty," said he, at last. "I have sat
here for a great many years, and I have seldom had a more painful
"It's very absurd of you," said Dolly.
"I can't help it, though," said he.
"Do you really mean that I'm not to go in?"
"I do, indeed," said Rhadamanthus.
Dolly rose. She leant her arms on the raised ledge which ran
along the table, and she leant her chin on her hands.
"Really?" she said.
"Really," said he, looking the other way.
A sudden change came over Dolly's face. Her dimples vanished;
her eyes grew pathetic and began to shine rather than to sparkle;
her lip quivered just a little.
"You're very unkind," she said in an extremely low tone. "I had
no idea you would be so unkind."
Rhadamanthus seemed very uncomfortable.
"Don't do that," he said, quite sharply, fidgeting with the
Dolly began to move slowly round the table. Rhadamanthus sat
still. When she was standing close by him, she put her hand
lightly on his arm and said:
"Please do, Mr. Rhadamanthus."
"It's as much as my place is worth," he grumbled.
Dolly's eyes shone still, but the faintest little smile began to
play about her mouth.
"Some day," she said (with total inappropriateness, now I come to
think of it, though it did not strike me so at the time), "you'll
be glad to remember having done a kind thing. When you're
old--because you are not really old now--you will say, 'I'm glad
I didn't send poor Dolly Mickleham away crying.'"
Rhadamanthus uttered an inarticulate sound--half impatience,
half, I fancy, something else.
"We are none of us perfect, I dare say. If I asked your wife--"
"I haven't got a wife," said Rhadamanthus.
"That's why you're so hard-hearted," said Dolly. "A man who's
got a wife is never hard on other women."
There was another pause. Then Rhadamanthus, looking straight at
the blotting paper, said:
"Oh, well, don't bother me. Be off with you;" and as he spoke,
the door behind him opened.
"Oh, you old dear!" she cried; and, stooping swiftly, she kissed
Rhadamanthus. "You're horribly bristly!" she laughed; and then,
before he could move, she ran through the door.
I rose from my seat, taking my hat and stick in my hand. I felt,
as you may suppose, that I had been there long enough. When I
moved Rhadamanthus looked up, and with an attempt at
"We will proceed with your case now, if you please, Mr. Carter."
I looked him full in the face. Rhadamanthus blushed. I pursued
my way towards the door.
"Stop!" he said, in a blustering tone. "You can't go there, you
I smiled significantly.
"Isn't it rather too late for that sort of thing?" I asked. "You
seem to forget that I have been here for the last quarter of an
"I didn't know she was going to do it," he protested.
"Oh, of course," said I, "that will be your story. Mine,
however, I shall tell in my own way."
Rhadamanthus blushed again. Evidently he felt that he was in a
delicate position. We were standing thus, facing one another,
when the door began to open again, and Dolly put her head out.
"Oh, it's you, is it?" she said. "I thought I heard your voice.
Come along and help me to find Archie."
"This gentleman says I'm not to come in," said I.
"Oh, what nonsense! Now, you really mustn't be silly, Mr.
Rhadamanthus--or I shall have to--Mr. Carter, you weren't there,
"I was--and a more interesting piece of scandal it has seldom
"Hush! I didn't do anything. Now, you know I didn't, Mr.
"No," said I, "you didn't. But Rhadamanthus, taking you
"Oh, be off with you--both of you!" cried Rhadamanthus.
"That's sensible," said Dolly. "Because you know, there really
isn't any harm in poor Mr. Carter.
Rhadamanthus vanished. Dolly and I went inside.
"I suppose everything will be very different here," said Dolly,
and I think she sighed.
Whether it were or not I don't know, for just then I awoke, and
found myself saying aloud, in answer to the dream voice and the
dream face (which had not gone altogether with the dream).
"Not everything"--a speech that, I agree, I ought not to have
made, even though it were only in a dream.