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Jeremy by Hugh Walpole

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"It is due to him to say that he was
an obedient boy and a boy whose word
could be depended on . . ."





About thirty years ago there was at the top of the right-hand side
of Orange Street, in Polchester, a large stone house. I say "was";
the shell of it is still there, and the people who now live in it
are quite unaware, I suppose, that anything has happened to the
inside of it, except that they are certainly assured that their
furniture is vastly superior to the furniture of their predecessors.
They have a gramophone, a pianola, and a lift to bring the plates
from the kitchen into the dining-room, and a small motor garage at
the back where the old pump used to be, and a very modern rock
garden where once was the pond with the fountain that never worked.
Let them cherish their satisfaction. No one grudges it to them. The
Coles were, by modern standards, old-fashioned people, and the Stone
House was an old-fashioned house.

Young Jeremy Cole was born there in the year 1884, very early in the
morning of December 8th. He was still there very early in the
morning of December 8th, 1892. He was sitting up in bed. The cuckoo
clock had just struck five, and he was aware that he was, at this
very moment, for the first time in his life, eight years old. He had
gone to bed at eight o'clock on the preceding evening with the
choking consciousness that he would awake in the morning a different
creature. Although he had slept, there had permeated the texture of
his dreams that same choking excitement, and now, wide awake, as
though he had asked the cuckoo to call him in order that he might
not be late for the great occasion, he stared into the black
distance of his bedroom and reflected, with a beating heart, upon
the great event. He was eight years old, and he had as much right
now to the nursery arm-chair with a hole in it as Helen had.

That was his first definite realisation of approaching triumph.
Throughout the whole of his seventh year he had fought with Helen,
who was most unjustly a year older than he and persistently proud of
that injustice, as to his right to use the wicker arm-chair
whensoever it pleased him. So destructive of the general peace of
the house had these incessant battles been, so unavailing the
suggestions of elderly relations that gentlemen always yielded to
ladies, that a compromise had been arrived at. When Jeremy was eight
he should have equal rights with Helen. Well and good. Jeremy had
yielded to that. It was the only decent chair in the nursery. Into
the place where the wicker, yielding to rude and impulsive pressure,
had fallen away, one's body might be most happily fitted. It was of
exactly the right height; it made the handsomest creaking noises
when one rocked in it--and, in any case, Helen was only a girl.

But the sense of his triumph had not yet fully descended upon him.
As he sat up in bed, yawning, with a tickle in the middle of his
back and his throat very dry; he was disappointingly aware that he
was still the same Jeremy of yesterday. He did not know what it was
exactly that he had expected, but he did not feel at present that
confident proud glory for which he had been prepared. Perhaps it was
too early.

He turned round, curled his head into his arm, and with a half-
muttered, half-dreamt statement about the wicker chair, he was once
again asleep.


He awoke to the customary sound of the bath water running into the
bath. His room was flooded with sunshine, and old Jampot, the nurse
(her name was Mrs. Preston and her shape was Jampot), was saying as
usual: "Now, Master Jeremy, eight o'clock; no lying in bed--out--you

He stared at her, blinking.

"You should say 'Many Happy Returns of the Day, Master Jeremy,'" he
remarked. Then suddenly, with a leap, he was out of bed, had crossed
the floor, pushed back the nursery door, and was sitting in the
wicker arm-chair, his naked feet kicking a triumphant dance.

"Helen! Helen!" he called. "I'm in the chair."

No sound.

"I'm eight," he shouted, "and I'm in the chair."

Mrs. Preston, breathless and exclaiming, hurried across to him.

"Oh, you naughty boy . . . death of cold . . . in your nightshirt."

"I'm eight," he said, looking at her scornfully, "and I can sit here
as long as I please."

Helen, her pigtails flapping on either shoulder, her nose red, as it
always was early in the morning, appeared at the opposite end of the

"Nurse, he mustn't, must he? Tell him not to. I don't care how old
you are. It's my chair. Mother said--"

"No, she didn't. Mother said--"

"Yes, she did. Mother said--"

"Mother said that when--"

"Oh, you story. You know that Mother said--" Then suddenly a new,
stiffening, trusting dignity filled him, as though he had with a
turn of the head discovered himself in golden armour.

He was above this vulgar wrangling now. That was for girls. He was
superior to them all. He got down from the chair and stood, his head
up, on the old Turkey rug (red with yellow cockatoos) in front of
the roaring fire.

"You may have your old chair," he said to Helen. "I'm eight now, and
I don't want it any more . . . although if I do want it I shall have
it," he added.

He was a small, square boy with a pug-nosed face. His hair was light
brown, thin and stiff, so that it was difficult to brush, and
although you watered it, stood up in unexpected places and stared at
you. His eyes were good, dark brown and large, but he was in no way
handsome; his neck, his nose ridiculous. His mouth was too large,
and his chin stuck out like a hammer.

He was, plainly, obstinate and possibly sulky, although when he
smiled his whole face was lighted with humour. Helen was the only
beautiful Cole child, and she was abundantly aware of that fact. The
Coles had never been a good-looking family.

He stood in front of the fireplace now as he had seen his father do,
his short legs apart, his head up, and his hands behind his back.

"Now, Master Jeremy," the Jampot continued, "you may be eight years
old, but it isn't a reason for disobedience the very first minute,
and, of course, your bath is ready and you catching your death with
naked feet, which you've always been told to put your slippers on
and not to keep the bath waiting, when there's Miss Helen and Miss
Mary, as you very well know, and breakfast coming in five minutes,
which there's sausages this morning, because it's your birthday, and
them all getting cold--"


He was across the floor in a moment, had thrown off his nightshirt
and was in his bath. Sausages! He was translated into a world of
excitement and splendour. They had sausages so seldom, not always
even on birthdays, and to-day, on a cold morning, with a crackling
fire and marmalade, perhaps--and then all the presents.

Oh, he was happy. As he rubbed his back with the towel a wonderful
glowing Christian charity spread from his head to his toes and
tingled through every inch of him. Helen should sit in the chair
when she pleased; Mary should be allowed to dress and undress the
large woollen dog, known as "Sulks," his own especial and beloved
property, so often as she wished; Jampot should poke the twisted end
of the towel in his ears and brush his hair with the hard brushes,
and he would not say a word. Aunt Mary should kiss him (as, of
course, she would want to do), and he would not shiver; he would
(bravest deed of all) allow Mary to read "Alice in Wonderland" in
her sing-sing voice so long as ever she wanted. . . Sausages!

In his shirt and his short blue trousers, his hair on end, tugging
at his braces, he stood in the doorway and shouted:

"Helen, there are sausages--because it's my birthday. Aren't you

And even when the only response to his joyous invitation was Helen's
voice crossly admonishing the Jampot: "Oh, you do pull so; you're
hurting!"--his charity was not checked.

Then when he stood clothed and of a cheerful mind once more in front
of the fire a shyness stole over him. He knew that the moment for
Presents was approaching; he knew that very shortly he would have to
kiss and be kissed by a multitude of persons, that he would have to
say again and again, "Oh, thank you, thank you so much!" that he
would have his usual consciousness of his inability to thank anybody
at all in the way that they expected to be thanked. Helen and Mary
never worried about such things. They delighted in kissing and
hugging and multitudes of words. If only he might have had his
presents by himself and then stolen out and said "Thank you" to the
lot of them and have done with it.

He watched the breakfast-table with increasing satisfaction--the
large teapot with the red roses, the dark blue porridge plates, the
glass jar with the marmalade a rich yellow inside it, the huge loaf
with the soft pieces bursting out between the crusty pieces, the
solid square of butter, so beautiful a colour and marked with a
large cow and a tree on the top (he had seen once in the kitchen the
wooden shape with which the cook made this handsome thing). There
were also his own silver mug, given him at his christening by Canon
Trenchard, his godfather, and his silver spoon, given him on the
same occasion by Uncle Samuel.

All these things glittered and glowed in the firelight, and a kettle
was singing on the hob and Martha the canary was singing in her cage
in the window. (No one really knew whether the canary were a lady or
a gentleman, but the name had been Martha after a beloved housemaid,
now married to the gardener, and the sex had followed the name.)

There were also all the other familiar nursery things. The hole in
the Turkey carpet near the bookcase, the rocking-horse, very shiny
where you sit and very Christmas- tree-like as to its tail; the
doll's house, now deserted, because Helen was too old and Mary too
clever; the pictures of "Church on Christmas Morning" (everyone with
their mouths very wide open, singing a Christmas hymn, with holly),
"Dignity and Impudence," after Landseer, "The Shepherds and the
Angels," and "The Charge of the Light Brigade." So packed was the
nursery with history for Jeremy that it would have taken quite a
week to relate it all. There was the spot where he had bitten the
Jampot's fingers, for which deed he had afterwards been slippered by
his father; there the corner where they stood for punishment (he
knew exactly how many ships with sails, how many ridges of waves,
and how many setting suns there were on that especial piece of
corner wallpaper--three ships, twelve ridges, two and a half suns);
there was the place where he had broken the ink bottle over his
shoes and the carpet, there by the window, where Mary had read to
him once when he had toothache, and he had not known whether her
reading or the toothache agonised him the more; and so on, an
endless sequence of sensational history.

His reminiscences were cut short by the appearance of Gladys with
the porridge. Gladys, who was only the between-maid, but was
nevertheless stout, breathless from her climb and the sentiment of
the occasion, produced from a deep pocket a dirty envelope, which
she laid upon the table.

"Many 'appy returns, Master Jeremy." Giggle . . . giggle. . . "Lord
save us if I 'aven't gone and forgotten they spunes," and she
vanished. The present-giving had begun.

He had an instant's struggle as to whether it were better to wait
until all the presents had accumulated, or whether he would take
them separately as they arrived. The dirty envelope lured him. He
advanced towards it and seized it. He could not read very easily the
sprawling writing on the cover, but he guessed that it said "From
Gladys to Master Jeremy." Within was a marvellous card, tied
together with glistening cord and shining with all the colours of
the rainbow. It was apparently a survival from last Christmas, as
there was a church in snow and a peal of bells; he was,
nevertheless, very happy to have it.

After his introduction events moved swiftly. First Helen and Mary
appeared, their faces shining and solemn and mysterious--Helen self-
conscious and Mary staring through her spectacles like a profound

Because Jeremy had known Mary ever since he could remember, he was
unaware that there was anything very peculiar about her. But in
truth she was a strange looking child. Very thin, she had a large
head, with big outstanding ears, spectacles, and yellow hair pulled
back and "stringy." Her large hands were always red, and her
forehead was freckled. She was as plain a child as you were ever
likely to see, but there was character in her mouth and eyes, and
although she was only seven years old, she could read quite
difficult books (she was engaged at this particular time upon
"Ivanhoe"), and she was a genius at sums.

The passion of her life, as the family were all aware, was Jeremy,
but it was an unfortunate and uncomfortable passion. She bothered
and worried him, she was insanely jealous; she would sulk for days
did he ever seem to prefer Helen to herself. No one understood her;
she was considered a "difficult child," quite unlike any other
member of the family, except possibly Samuel, Mr. Cole's brother-
in-law, who was an unsuccessful painter and therefore "odd."

As Mary was at present only seven years of age it would be too much
to say that the family was afraid of her. Aunt Amy's attitude was:
"Well, after all, she's sure to be clever when she grows up, poor
child;" and although the parishioners of Mary's father always
alluded to her as "the ludicrous Cole child," they told awed little
stories about the infant's mental capacities, and concluded
comfortably, "I'm glad Alice (or Jane or Matilda or Anabel) isn't
clever like that. They overwork when they are young, and then when
they grow up--"

Meanwhile Mary led her private life. She attached herself to no one
but Jeremy; she was delicate and suffered from perpetual colds; she
therefore spent much of her time in the nursery reading, her huge
spectacles close to the page, her thin legs like black sticks stuck
up on the fender in front of the fire or curled up under her on the

Very different was Helen. Helen had a mass of dark black hair, big
black eyes with thick eye-lashes, a thin white neck, little feet,
and already an eye to "effects" in dress. She was charming to
strangers, to the queer curates who haunted the family hall, to poor
people and rich people, to old people and young people. She was
warm-hearted but not impulsive, intelligent but not clever,
sympathetic but not sentimental, impatient but never uncontrolled.
She liked almost everyone and almost everything, but no one and
nothing mattered to her very deeply; she liked going to church,
always learnt her Collect first on Sunday, and gave half her pocket-
money to the morning collection. She was generous but never
extravagant, enjoyed food but was not greedy. She was quite aware
that she was pretty and might one day be beautiful, and she was glad
of that, but she was never silly about her looks.

When Aunt Amy, who was always silly about everything, said in her
presence to visitors, "Isn't Helen the loveliest thing you ever
saw?" she managed by her shy self- confidence to suggest that she
was pretty, that Aunt Amy was a fool, and life was altogether very
agreeable, but that none of these things was of any great
importance. She was very good friends with Jeremy, but she played no
part in his life at all. At the same time she often fought with him,
simply from her real deep consciousness of her superiority to him.
She valued her authority and asserted it incessantly. That authority
had until last year been unchallenged, but Jeremy now was growing.
She had, although she did not as yet realise it, a difficult time
before her.

Helen and Mary advanced with their presents, laid them on the
breakfast-table, and then retreated to watch the effect of it all.

"Shall I now?" asked Jeremy.

"Yes, now," said Helen and Mary.

There were three parcels, one large and "shoppy," two small and
bound with family paper, tied by family hands with family string. He
grasped immediately the situation. The shoppy parcel was bought with
mother's money and only "pretended" to be from his sisters; the two
small parcels were the very handiwork of the ladies themselves, the
same having been seen by all eyes at work for the last six months,
sometimes, indeed, under the cloak of attempted secrecy, but more
often--because weariness or ill-temper made them careless--in the
full light of day.

His interest was centred almost entirely in the "shoppy" parcel,
which by its shape might be "soldiers"; but he knew the rules of the
game, and disregarding the large, ostentatious brown-papered thing,
he went magnificently for the two small incoherent bundles.

He opened them. A flat green table-centre with a red pattern of
roses, a thick table-napkin ring worked in yellow worsted, these
were revealed.

"Oh!" he cried, "just what I wanted." (Father always said that on
his birthday.)

"Is it?" said Mary and Helen.

"Mine's the ring," said Mary. "It's dirty rather, but it would have
got dirty, anyway, afterwards." She watched anxiously to see whether
he preferred Helen's.

He watched them nervously, lest he should be expected to kiss them.
He wiped his mouth with his hand instead, and began rapidly to talk:

"Jampot will know now which mine is. She's always giving me the
wrong one. I'll have it always, and the green thing too."

"It's for the middle of a table," Helen interrupted.

"Yes, I know," said Jeremy hurriedly. "I'll always have it too--like
Mary's--when I'm grown up and all. . . . I say, shall I open the
other one now?"

"Yes, you can," said Helen and Mary, ceasing to take the central
place in the ceremony, spectators now and eagerly excited.

But Mary had a last word.

"You do like mine, don't you?"

"Of course, like anything."

She wanted to say "Better than Helen's?" but restrained herself.

"I was ever so long doing it; I thought I wouldn't finish it in

He saw with terror that she meditated a descent upon him; a kiss was
in the air. She moved forward; then, to his extreme relief, the door
opened and the elders arriving saved him.

There were Father and Mother, Uncle Samuel and Aunt Amy, all with
presents, faces of birthday tolerance and "do-as-you-please-to-day,
dear" expressions.

The Rev. Herbert Cole was forty years of age, rector of St. James's,
Polchester, during the last ten years, and marked out for greater
preferment in the near future. To be a rector at thirty is unusual,
but he had great religious gifts, preached an admirable "as-man-to-
man" sermon, and did not believe in thinking about more than he
could see. He was an excellent father in the abstract sense, but the
parish absorbed too much of his time to allow of intimacies with

Mrs. Cole was the most placid lady in Europe. She had a comfortable
figure, but was not stout, here a dimple and there a dimple. Nothing
could disturb her. Children, servants, her husband's sermons,
district visiting, her Tuesday "at homes," the butcher, the dean's
wife, the wives of the canons, the Polchester climate, bills,
clothes, other women's clothes--over all these rocks of peril in the
sea of daily life her barque happily floated. Some ill-natured
people thought her stupid, but in her younger days she had liked
Trollope's novels in the Cornhill, disapproved placidly of "Jane
Eyre," and admired Tennyson, so that she could not be considered

She was economical, warm-hearted, loved her children, talked only
the gentlest scandal, and was a completely happy woman--all this in
the placidest way in the world. Miss Amy Trefusis, her sister, was
very different, being thin both in her figure and her emotions. She
skirted tempestuously over the surface of things, was the most
sentimental of human beings, was often in tears over reminiscences
of books or the weather, was deeply religious in a superficial way,
and really--although she would have been entirely astonished had you
told her so--cared for no one in the world but herself. She was
dressed always in dark colours, with the high shoulders of the day,
elegant bonnets and little chains that jingled as she moved. In her
soul she feared and distrusted children, but she did not know this.
She did know, however, that she feared and distrusted her brother

Her brother Samuel was all that the Trefusis family, as a
conservative body who believed in tradition, had least reason for
understanding. He had been a failure from the first moment of his
entry into the Grammar School in Polchester thirty-five years before
this story. He had continued a failure at Winchester and at Christ
Church, Oxford. He had desired to be a painter; he had broken from
the family and gone to study Art in Paris. He had starved and
starved, was at death's door, was dragged home, and there suddenly
had relapsed into Polchester, lived first on his father, then on his
brother-in-law, painted about the town, painted, made cynical
remarks about the Polcastrians, painted, made blasphemous remarks
about the bishop, the dean and all the canons, painted, and refused
to leave his brother-in-law's house. He was a scandal, of course; he
was fat, untidy, wore a blue tam-o'-shanter when he was "out," and
sometimes went down Orange Street in carpet slippers.

He was a scandal, but what are you to do if a relative is obstinate
and refuses to go? At least make him shave, say the wives of the
canons. But no one had ever made Samuel Trefusis do anything that he
did not want to do. He was sometimes not shaved for three whole days
and nights. At any rate, there he is. It is of no use saying that he
does not exist, as many of the Close ladies try to do. And at least
he does not paint strange women; he prefers flowers and cows and the
Polchester woods, although anything less like cows, flowers and
woods, Mrs. Sampson, wife of the Dean, who once had a water-colour
in the Academy, says she has never seen. Samuel Trefusis is a
failure, and, what is truly awful, he does not mind; nobody buys his
pictures and he does not care; and, worst taste of all, he laughs at
his relations, although he lives on them. Nothing further need be

To Helen, Mary and Jeremy he had always been a fascinating object,
although they realised, with that sharp worldly wisdom to be found
in all infants of tender years, that he was a failure, a dirty man,
and disliked children. He very rarely spoke to them; was once quite
wildly enraged when Mary was discovered licking his paints. (It was
the paints he seemed anxious about, not in the least the poor little
thing's health, as his sister Amy said), and had publicly been heard
to say that his brother-in-law had only got the children he

Nevertheless Jeremy had always been interested in him. He liked his
fat round shape, his rough, untidy grey hair, his scarlet slippers,
his blue tam-o'-shanter, the smudges of paint sometimes to be
discovered on his cheeks, and the jingling noises he made in his
pocket with his money. He was certainly more fun than Aunt Amy.

There, then, they all were with their presents and their birthday

"Shall I undo them for you, darling?" of course said Aunt Amy.
Jeremy shook his head (he did not say what he thought of her) and
continued to tug at the string. He was given a large pair of
scissors. He received (from Father) a silver watch, (from Mother) a
paint-box, a dark blue and gold prayer book with a thick squashy
leather cover (from Aunt Amy).

He was in an ecstasy. How he had longed for a watch, just such a
turnip-shaped one, and a paint-box. What colours he could make! Even
Aunt Amy's prayer book was something, with its squashy cover and
silk marker (only why did Aunt Amy never give him anything
sensible?). He stood there, his face flushed, his eyes sparkling,
the watch in one hand and the paint-box in the other. Remarks were
heard like: "You mustn't poke it with, your finger, Jerry darling,
or you'll break the hands off"; and "I thought he'd, better have the
square sort, and not the tubes. They're so squashy"; and "You'll be
able to learn your Collect so easily with that big print, Jerry
dear. Very kind of you, Amy."

Meanwhile he was aware that Uncle Samuel had given him nothing.
There was a little thick catch of disappointment in his throat, not
because he wanted a present, but because he liked Uncle Samuel.
Suddenly, from somewhere behind him his uncle said: "Shut your eyes,
Jerry. Don't open them until I tell you"--then rather crossly, "No,
Amy, leave me alone. I know what I'm about, thank you."

Jeremy shut his eyes tight. He closed them so that the eyelids
seemed to turn right inwards and red lights flashed. He stood there
for at least a century, all in darkness, no one saying anything save
that once Mary cried "Oh!" and clapped her hands, which same cry
excited him to such a pitch that he would have dug his nails into
his hands had he not so consistently in the past bitten them that
there were no nails with which to dig. He waited. He waited. He
waited. He was not eight, he was eighty when at last Uncle Samuel
said, "Now you may look."

He opened his eyes and turned; for a moment the nursery, too, rocked
in the unfamiliar light. Then he saw. On the middle of the nursery
carpet was a village, a real village, six houses with red roofs,
green windows and white porches, a church with a tower and a tiny
bell, an orchard with flowers on the fruit trees, a green lawn, a
street with a butcher's shop, a post office, and a grocer's.
Villager Noah, Mrs. Noah and the little Noahs, a field with cows,
horses, dogs, a farm with chickens and even two pigs. . .

He stood, he stared, he drew a deep breath.

"It comes all the way from Germany," said Aunt Amy, who always made
things uninteresting if she possibly could.

There was much delighted talk. Jeremy said nothing. But Uncle Samuel

"Glad you like it," he said, and left the room.

"Aren't you pleased ?" said Helen.

Jeremy still said nothing.

"Sausages. Sausages!" cried Mary, as Gladys, grinning, entered with
a dish of a lovely and pleasant smell. But Jeremy did not turn. He
simply stood there--staring.


It is of the essence of birthdays that they cannot maintain
throughout a long day the glorious character of their early dawning.
In Polchester thirty years ago there were no cinematographs, no
theatre save for an occasional amateur performance at the Assembly
Rooms and, once and again, a magic-lantern show. On this particular
day, moreover, Mr. and Mrs. Cole were immensely busied with
preparations for some parochial tea. Miss Trefusis had calls to
make, and, of course, Uncle Samuel was invisible. The Birthday then
suddenly became no longer a birthday but an ordinary day--with an
extraordinary standard. This is why so many birthdays end in tears.

But Jeremy, as was usual with him, took everything quietly. He might
cry aloud about such an affair as the conquest of the wicker chair
because that did not deeply matter to him, but about the real things
he was silent. The village was one of the real things; during all
the morning he remained shut up in his soul with it, the wide world
closed off from them by many muffled doors. How had Uncle Samuel
known that he had deep in his own inside, so deep that he had not
mentioned it even to himself, wanted something just like this?
Thirty years ago there were none of the presents that there are for
children now--no wonderful railways that run round the nursery from
Monte Carlo to Paris with all the stations marked; no dolls that are
so like fashionable women that you are given a manicure set with
them to keep their nails tidy; no miniature motor-cars that run of
themselves and go for miles round the floor without being wound up.
Jeremy knew none of these things, and was the happier that he did
not. To such a boy such a village was a miracle. . . . It had not
come from Germany, as Aunt Amy said, but from heaven. But it was
even more of Uncle Samuel than the village that he was thinking.
When they started--Helen, Mary and he in charge of the Jampot--upon
their afternoon walk, he was still asking himself the same
questions. How had Uncle Samuel known so exactly? Had it been a
great trouble to bring from so far away? Had Uncle Samuel thought it
bad of him not to thank him?

He was lost in such considerations when the Jampot inquired of him
the way that their walk should take--it was his choice because it
was his Birthday. He had no choice. There was one walk that far
exceeded all others in glory, straight down Orange Street, straight
again through the Market, past the Assembly Rooms and the Town Hall,
past the flower and fruit stalls, and the old banana woman under the
green umbrella and the toy stall with coloured balloons, the china
dogs and the nodding donkeys, up the High Street, into the cobble-
stones of the Close, whence one could look down, between the houses
on to the orchards, round the Cathedral with the meadows, Pol Meads
sloping down to the river, so through Orchard Lane into Orange
Street once again.

Such a walk combined every magic and delight known to the heart of
man, but it was not generally allowed, because Jeremy would drag
past the shops, the stalls in the Market Place and the walk behind
the Cathedral, whence one might sometimes see boats on the river,
sheep and cows in the meads, and, in their proper season, delight of

They set out. . .

Thirty years ago the winter weather in Polchester was wonderful.
Now, of course, there are no hard winters, no frost, no snow, no
waits, no snowmen, and no skating on the Pol. Then there were all
those things. To-day was of a hard, glittering frost; the sun, like
a round, red lacquer tray, fell heavily, slowly through a faint pale
sky that was not strong enough to sustain it. The air had the cold,
sweet twang of peppermints in the throat. Polchester was a painted
town upon a blue screen, the Cathedral towers purple against the
sky; the air was scented with burning leaves, and cries from the
town rose up clear and hard, lingering and falling like notes of
music. Somewhere they were playing football, and the shouting was
distant and regular like the tramp of armed men. "Three" struck the
Cathedral clock, as though it were calling "Open Sesame." Other
lesser clocks repeated the challenge cry through the town. "Woppley-
-Woppley--Why!" sung the man who was selling skins down Orange
Street. The sky, turning slowly from blue to gold, shone
mysteriously through the glass of the street lamps, and the sun
began to wrap itself in tints of purple and crocus and iris.

"Woppley--Woppley--Why!" screamed the skin-man suddenly appearing at
the top of the street.

"Now 'urry, Master Jeremy," said the Jampot, "or we shall never get
'ome this night, and I might have known you'd choose the longest
walk possible. Come along, Miss Mary, now--none of that dawdling."

Jeremy, in his H.M.S. Adventure's cap and rough blue navy coat, felt
himself superior to the Jampot, so he only said, "Oh, don't bother,
Nurse," and then in the same breath, "I'll run you down the hill,
Mary," and before anyone could say a word there they were at the
bottom of Orange Street, as though they had fallen into a well. The
sun was gone, the golden horizon was gone--only the purple lights
began to gather about their feet and climb slowly the high black

Mary liked this, because she now had Jeremy to herself. She began
hurriedly, so that she should lose no time:

"Shall I tell you a story, Jeremy? I've got a new one. Once upon a
time there were three little boys, and they lived in a wood, and an
old witch ate them, and the Princess who had heaps of jewellery and
a white horse and a lovely gold dress came, and it was snowing and
the witch--"

This was always Mary's way. She loved to tell Jeremy interesting
stories, and he did not mind because he did not listen and could
meanwhile think his own thoughts.

His chief decision arrived at as he marched along was that he would
keep the village to himself; no one else should put their fingers
into it, arrange the orchard with the coloured trees, decide upon
the names of the Noah family, settle the village street in its final
order, ring the bell of the church, or milk the cows. He alone would
do all these things. And, so considering, he seemed to himself very
like God. God, he supposed, could pull Polchester about, root out a
house here, another there, knock the Assembly Rooms down and send a
thunderbolt on to the apple woman's umbrella. Well, then--so could
he with his village. He walked swollen with pride. He arrived at the
first Island of Circe, namely, the window of Mr. Thompson, the
jeweller in Market Street, pressed his nose to the pane, and refused
to listen when the Jampot suggested that he should move forward.

He could see the diamonds like drops of water in the sun, and the
pearls like drops of milk, and the rubies like drops of blood, but
it was not of diamonds, pearls or rubies that he was thinking--he
thought only of his village. He would ring the church bell, and then
all the Noah family should start out of the door, down the garden,
up the village street. . . It did not matter if one of the younger
Noahs should be lazy and wish to stay at home beneath the flowering
trees of the orchard. She would not be allowed. . . He was as God. .
. He was as God. . . The butcher should go (if he was not stuck to
his shop), and even some of his cows might go. . . . He was as
God. . .

He heard Mary's voice in his ear.

"And after that they all ate chocolates with white cream and red
cream, and they sucked it off pins, and there were hard bits and
soft bits, and the Princess (she was a frog now. You remember, don't
you, Jeremy? The witch turned her) hotted the oven like cook has,
with black doors, and hotted it and hotted it, but suddenly there
was a noise--"

And, on the other side, the Jampot's voice: "You naughty boy,
stoppin' 'ere for everyone to see, just because it's your birthday,
which I wish there wasn't no birthdays, nor there wouldn't be if I
had my way."

Jeremy turned from Mr. Thompson's window, a scornful smile on his

"I'm bigger'n you, Nurse," he said. "If I said out loud, 'I won't
go,' I wouldn't go, and no one could make me."

"Well, come along, then," said Nurse.

"Don't be so stupid, Jerry," said Helen calmly. "If a policeman came
and said you had to go home you'd have to go."

"No I wouldn't," said Jeremy.

"Then they'd put you in prison."

"They could."

"They'd hang you, perhaps."

"They could," replied Jeremy.

Farther than this argument cannot go, so Helen shrugged her
shoulders and said: "You are silly."

And they all moved forward.

He found then that this new sense or God-like power detracted a
little from the excitements of the Market Place, although the
flower-stall was dazzling with flowers; there was a new kind of pig
that lifted its tail and lowered it again on the toy stall, and the
apple-woman was as fat as ever and had thick clumps of yellow
bananas hanging most richly around her head. They ascended the High
Street and reached the Close. It was half-past three, and the
Cathedral bells had begun to ring for evensong. All the houses in
the Close were painted with a pale yellow light; across the long
green Cathedral lawn thin black shadows like the fingers of giants
pointed to the Cathedral door. All was so silent here that the bells
danced against the houses and back again, the echoes lingering in
the high elms and mingling with the placid cooing of the rooks.

"There's Mrs. Sampson," said Jeremy. "Aunt Amy says she's a wicked
woman. Do you think she's a wicked woman, Nurse?" He gazed at the
stout figure with interest. If he were truly God he would turn her
into a rabbit. This thought amused him, and he began to laugh.

"You naughty boy; now come along, do," said the Jampot, who
distrusted laughter in Jerry.

"I'll ring the bells when I grow up," he said, "and I'll ring them
in the middle of the night, so that everyone will have to go to
church when they don't want to. I'll be able to do what I like when
I grow up."

"No, you won't," said Helen. "Father and Mother can't do what they

"Yes they can," said Jeremy.

"No they can't," answered Helen, "or they would."

"So they do," said Jeremy--"silly."

"Silly yourself," said Helen very calmly, because she knew very well
that she was not silly.

"Now, children, stop it, do," said the Jampot.

Jeremy's sense of newly received power reached its climax when they
walked round the Close and reached the back of the Cathedral. I know
that now, both for Jeremy and me, that prospect has dwindled into
its proper grown- up proportions, but how can a man, be he come to
threescore and ten and more, ever forget the size, the splendour,
the stupendous extravagance of that early vision?

Jeremy saw that day the old fragment of castle wall, the green
expanse falling like a sheeted waterfall from the Cathedral heights,
the blue line of river flashing in the evening sun between the bare-
boughed trees, the long spaces of black shadow spreading slowly over
the colour, as though it were all being rolled up and laid away for
another day; the brown frosty path of the Rope Walk, the farther
bank climbing into fields and hedges, ending in the ridge of wood,
black against the golden sky. And all so still! As the children
stood there they could catch nestlings' faint cries, stirrings of
dead leaves and twigs, as birds and beasts moved to their homes; the
cooing of the rooks about the black branches seemed to promise that
this world should be for ever tranquil, for ever cloistered and
removed; the sun, red and flaming above the dark wood, flung white
mists hither and thither to veil its departure. The silence
deepened, the last light flamed on the river and died upon the hill.

"Now, children, come along do," said the Jampot who had been held in
spite of herself, and would pay for it, she knew, in rheumatism to-
morrow. It was then that Jeremy's God-flung sense of power, born
from that moment early in the day when he had sat in the wicker
chair, reached its climax. He stood there, his legs apart, looking
upon the darkening world and felt that he could do anything--
anything. . .

At any rate, there was one thing that he could do, disobey the

"I'm not coming," he said, "till I choose."

"You wicked boy!" she cried, her temper rising with the evening
chills, her desire for a cup of hot tea, and an aching longing for a
comfortable chair. "When everyone's been so good to you to-day and
the things you've been given and all--why, it's a wicked shame."

The Jampot, who was a woman happily without imagination, saw a
naughty small boy spoiled and needing the slipper.

A rook, taking a last look at the world before retiring to rest,
watching from his leafless bough, saw a mortal spirit defying the
universe, and sympathised with it.

"I shall tell your mother," said the Jampot. "Now come, Master
Jeremy, be a good boy."

"Oh, don't bother, Nurse," he answered impatiently. "You're such a

She realised in that moment that he was suddenly beyond her power,
that he would never be within it again. She had nursed him for eight
years, she had loved him in her own way; she, dull perhaps in the
ways of the world, but wise in the ways of nurses, ways that are
built up of surrender and surrender, gave him, then and there, to
the larger life. . .

"You may behave as you like, Master Jeremy," she said. "It won't be
for long that I'll have the dealing with you, praise be. You'll be
going to school next September, and then we'll see what'll happen to
your wicked pride."

"School!" he turned upon her, his eyes wide and staring.

"School!" he stared at them all.

The world tumbled from him. In his soul was a confusion of triumph
and dismay, of excitement and loneliness, of the sudden falling from
him of all old standards, old horizons, of pride and humility. . .
How little now was the Village to him. He looked at them to see
whether they could understand. They could not.

Very quietly he followed them home. His birthday had achieved its
climax. . .




That winter of Jeremy's eighth birthday was famous for its snow.
Glebeshire has never yielded to the wishes of its children in the
matter of snowy Christmases, and Polchester has the reputation of
muggy warmth and foggy mists, but here was a year when traditions
were fulfilled in the most reckless manner, and all the 1892 babies
were treated to a present of snow on so fine a scale that certainly
for the rest of their days they will go about saying: "Ah, you
should see the winters we used to have when we were children. . ."

The snow began on the very day after Jeremy's birthday, coming down
doubtfully, slowly, little grey flakes against a grey sky, then
sparkling white, then vanishing flashes of moisture on a wet,
unsympathetic soil. That day the snow did not lie; and for a week it
did not come again; then with a whirl it seized the land, and for
two days and nights did not loosen its grip. From the nursery
windows the children watched it, their noses making little rings on
the window-pane, their delighted eyes snatching fascinating glimpses
of figures tossed through the storm, cabs beating their way, the
rabbit-skin man, the milkman, the postman, brave adventurers all,
fighting, as it seemed, for their very lives.

For two days the children did not leave the house, and the natural
result of that was that on the second afternoon tempers were, like
so many dogs, straining, tugging, pulling at their chains.

It could not be denied that Jeremy had been tiresome to everyone
since the afternoon when he had heard the news of his going to
school next September. It had seemed to him a tremendous event, the
Beginning of the End. To the others, who lived in the immediate
present, it was a crisis so remote as scarcely to count at all. Mary
would have liked to be sentimental about it, but from this she was
sternly prevented. There was then nothing more to be said. . .

Jeremy was suddenly isolated from them all. His destiny was
peculiar. They were girls, he was a boy. They understood neither his
fears nor his ambitions; he needed terribly a companion. The snow,
shutting them in, laughed at their struggles against monotony. The
nursery clock struck three and they realised that two whole hours
must pass before the next meal. Mary, her nose red from pressing on
the window-pane, her eyes gazing through her huge spectacles
wistfully at Jeremy, longed to suggest that she should read aloud to
him. She knew that he hated it; she pretended to herself that she
did not know.

Jeremy stared desperately at Helen who was sitting, dignified and
collected, in the wicker chair hemming a minute handkerchief.

"We might play Pirates," Jeremy said with a little cough, the better
to secure her attention. There was no answer.

"Or there's the hut in the wood--if anyone likes it better," he
added politely. He did not know what was the matter. Had the Jampot
not told him about school he would at this very moment be playing
most happily with his village. It spread out there before him on the
nursery floor, the Noah family engaged upon tea in the orchard, the
butcher staring with fixed gaze from the door of his shop, three
cows and a sheep absorbed in the architecture of the church.

He sighed, then said again: "Perhaps Pirates would be better."

Still Helen did not reply. He abandoned the attempted control of his

"It's very rude," he said, "not to answer when gentlemen speak to

"I don't see any gentlemen," answered Helen quietly, without raising
her eyes, which was, as she knew, a provoking habit.

"Yes, you do," almost screamed Jeremy. "I'm one."

"You're not," continued Helen; "you're only eight. Gentlemen must be
over twenty like Father or Mr. Jellybrand."

"I hate Mr. Jellybrand and I hate you," replied Jeremy.

"I don't care," said Helen.

"Yes, you do," said Jeremy, then suddenly, as though even a good
quarrel were not worth while on this heavily burdened afternoon, he
said gently: "You might play Pirates, Helen. You can be Sir Roger."

"I've got this to finish."

"It's a dirty old thing," continued Jeremy, pursuing an argument,
"and it'll be dirtier soon, and the Jampot says you do all the
stitches wrong. I wish I was at school."

"I wish you were," said Helen.

There was a pause after this. Jeremy went sadly back to his window-
seat. Mary felt that her moment had arrived. Sniffing, as was her
habit when she wanted something very badly, she said in a voice that
was little more than a whisper:

"It would be fun, wouldn't it, perhaps if I read something, Jeremy?"

Jeremy was a gentleman, although he was only eight. He looked at her
and saw behind the spectacles eyes beseeching his permission.

"Well, it wouldn't be much fun," he said, "but it's all beastly this
afternoon, anyway."

"Can I sit on the window too?" asked Mary.

"Not too close, because it tickles my ear, but you can if you like."

She hurried across to the bookshelf. "There's 'Stumps' and 'Rags and
Tatters,' and 'Engel the Fearless,' and 'Herr Baby' and 'Alice' and-

"'Alice' is best," said Jeremy, sighing. "You know it better than
the others." He curled himself into a corner of the window-seat.
From his position there he had a fine view. Immediately below him
was the garden, white and grey under the grey sky, the broken
fountain standing up like a snow man in the middle of it. The snow
had ceased to fall and a great stillness held the world.

Beyond the little iron gate of the garden that always sneezed
"Tishoo" when you closed it, was the top of Orange Street; then down
the hill on the right was the tower of his father's church; exactly
opposite the gate was the road that led to the Orchards, and on the
right of that was the Polchester High School for Young Ladies, held
in great contempt by Jeremy, the more that Helen would shortly be a
day-boarder there, would scream with the other girls, and, worst of
all, would soon be seen walking with her arm round another girl's
neck, chattering and eating sweets. . .

The whole world seemed deserted. No colour, no movement, no sound.
He sighed once more--"I'd like to eat jam and jam--lots of it," he
thought. "It would be fun to be sick."

Mary arrived and swung herself up on to the window-seat.

"It's the 'Looking Glass' one. I hope you don't mind," she said

"Oh, it's all right," he allowed. He flung a glance back to the
lighted nursery. It seemed by contrast with that grey world outside
to blaze with colour; the red- painted ships on the wallpaper, the
bright lights and shadows of "The Charge of the Light Brigade," the
salmon fronts of the doll's house, the green and red of the village
on the floor with the flowery trees, the blue tablecloth, the
shining brass coal-scuttle all alive and sparkling in the flames and
shadows of the fire, caught and held by the fine gold of the higher
fender. Beyond that dead white--soon it would be dark, the curtains
would be drawn, and still there would be nothing to do. He sighed

"It's a nice bit about the shop," said Mary. Jeremy said nothing, so
she began. She started at a run:

"She looked at the Queen, who seemed to have'"--sniff, sniff-" 'sud-
den-ly suddenly wra-wra-w-r-a-p-p-e-d wrapped--'"

"Wrapped?" asked Jeremy.

"I don't know," said Mary, rubbing her nose, "what it means, but
perhaps we'll see presently, herself up in w-o-o-l wool. 'Alice
rubbed her eyes and looked again she couldn't--'"

"'Looked again she couldn't'?" asked Jeremy. "It should be, 'she
couldn't look again.'"

"Oh, there's a stop," said Mary. "I didn't see. After 'again'
there's a stop. 'She couldn't make out what had happened at all--'"

"I can't either," said Jeremy crossly. "It would be better perhaps
if I read it myself."

"It will be all right in a minute," said Mary confidently. "'Was she
in a shop? And was that really--was it really a ship that was
sitting on the counter?'" she finished with a run.

"A what?" asked Jeremy.

"A ship--"

"A ship! How could it sit on a counter?" he asked.

"Oh no, it's a sheep. How silly I am!" Mary exclaimed.

"You do read badly," he agreed frankly. "I never can understand
nothing." And it was at that very moment that he saw the Dog.


He had been staring down into the garden with a gaze half
abstracted, half speculative, listening with one ear to Mary, with
the other to the stir of the fire, the heavy beat of the clock and
the rustlings of Martha the canary.

He watched the snowy expanse of garden, the black gate, the road
beyond. A vast wave of pale grey light, the herald of approaching
dusk, swept the horizon, the snowy roofs, the streets, and Jeremy
felt some contact with the strange air, the mysterious omens that
the first snows of the winter spread about the land. He watched as
though he were waiting for something to happen.

The creature came up very slowly over the crest of Orange Street. No
one else was in sight, no cart, no horse, no weather-beaten
wayfarer. At first the dog was only a little black smudge against
the snow; then, as he arrived at the Coles' garden-gate, Jeremy
could see him very distinctly. He was, it appeared, quite alone; he
had been, it was evident, badly beaten by the storm. Intended by
nature to be a rough and hairy dog, he now appeared before God and
men a shivering battered creature, dripping and wind-tossed,
bedraggled and bewildered. And yet, even in that first distant
glimpse, Jeremy discerned a fine independence. He was a short stumpy
dog, in no way designed for dignified attitudes and patronising
superiority; nevertheless, as he now wandered slowly up the street,
his nose was in the air and he said to the whole world: "The storm
may have done its best to defeat me--it has failed. I am as I was. I
ask charity of no man. I know what is due to me."

It was this that attracted Jeremy; he had himself felt thus after a
slippering from his father, or idiotic punishments from the Jampot,
and the uninvited consolations of Mary or Helen upon such occasions
had been resented with so fierce a bitterness that his reputation
for sulkiness had been soundly established with all his circle.

Mary was reading. . .! "'an old Sheep, sitting in an arm-chair,
knitting, and every now and then leaving off to look at her through
a great pair of spec-t-a-c-les spectacles!'"

He touched her arm and whispered:

"I say, Mary, stop a minute--look at that dog down there."

They both stared down into the garden. The dog had stopped at the
gate; it sniffed at the bars, sniffed at the wall beyond, then very
slowly but with real dignity continued its way up the road.

"Poor thing," said Jeremy. "It IS in a mess." Then to their
astonishment the dog turned back and, sauntering down the road again
as though it had nothing all day to do but to wander about, and as
though it were not wet, shivering and hungry, it once more smelt the

"Oh," said Mary and Jeremy together.

"It's like Mother," said Jeremy, "when she's going to see someone
and isn't sure whether it's the right house."

Then, most marvellous of unexpected climaxes, the dog suddenly began
to squeeze itself between the bottom bar of the gate and the ground.
The interval was fortunately a large one; a moment later the animal
was in the Coles' garden.

The motives that led Jeremy to behave as he did are uncertain. It
may have been something to do with the general boredom of the
afternoon, it may have been that he felt pity for the bedraggled
aspect of the animal--most probable reason of all, was that devil-
may-care independence flung up from the road, as it were, expressly
at himself.

The dog obviously did not feel any great respect for the Cole
household. He wandered about the garden, sniffing and smelling
exactly as though the whole place belonged to him, and a ridiculous
stump of tail, unsubdued by the weather, gave him the ludicrous
dignity of a Malvolio.

"I'm going down," whispered Jeremy, flinging a cautious glance at
Helen who was absorbed in her sewing.

Mary's eyes grew wide with horror and admiration. "You're not going
out," she whispered. "In the snow. Oh, Jeremy. They WILL be angry."

"I don't care," whispered Jeremy back again. "They can be."

Indeed, before Mary's frightened whisper he had not intended to do
more than creep down into the pantry and watch the dog at close
range; now it was as though Mary had challenged him. He knew that it
was the most wicked thing that he could do--to go out into the snow
without a coat and in his slippers. He might even, according to Aunt
Amy, die of it, but as death at present meant no more to him than a
position of importance and a quantity of red- currant jelly and
chicken, THAT prospect did not deter him. He left the room so
quietly that Helen did not even lift her eyes.

Then upon the landing he waited and listened. The house had all the
lighted trembling dusk of the snowy afternoon; there was no sound
save the ticking of the clocks. He might come upon the Jampot at any
moment, but this was just the hour when she liked to drink her cup
of tea in the kitchen; he knew from deep and constant study every
movement of her day. Fortune favoured him. He reached without
trouble the little dark corkscrew servants' staircase. Down this he
crept, and found himself beside the little gardener's door. Although
here there was only snow-lit dusk, he felt for the handle of the
lock, found it, turned it, and was, at once, over the steps, into
the garden.

Here, with a vengeance, he felt the full romance and danger of his
enterprise. It was horribly cold; he had been in the nursery for two
whole days, wrapped up and warm, and now the snowy world seemed to
leap up at him and drag him down as though into an icy well.
Mysterious shadows hovered over the garden; the fountain pointed
darkly against the sky, and he could feel from the feathery touches
upon his face that the snow had begun to fall again.

He moved forward a few steps; the house was so dark behind him, the
world so dim and uncertain in front of him, that for a moment his
heart failed him. He might have to search the whole garden for the

Then he heard a sniff, felt something wet against his leg--he had
almost stepped upon the animal. He bent down and stroked its wet
coat. The dog stood quite still, then moved forward towards the
house, sniffed at the steps, at last walked calmly through the open
door as though the house belonged to him. Jeremy followed, closed
the door behind him; then there they were in the little dark passage
with the boy's heart beating like a drum, his teeth chattering, and
a terrible temptation to sneeze hovering around him. Let him reach
the nursery and establish the animal there and all might be well,
but let them be discovered, cold and shivering, in the passage, and
out the dog would be flung. He knew so exactly what would happen. He
could hear the voices in the kitchen. He knew that they were sitting
warm there by the fire, but that at any moment Jampot might think
good to climb the stairs and see "what mischief they children were
up to." Everything depended upon the dog. Did he bark or whine, out
into the night he must go again, probably to die in the cold. But
Jeremy, the least sentimental of that most sentimental race the
English, was too intent upon his threatened sneeze to pay much
attention to these awful possibilities.

He took off his slippers and began to climb the stairs, the dog
close behind him, very grave and dignified, in spite of the little
trail of snow and water that he left in his track. The nursery door
was reached, pushed softly open, and the startled gaze of Mary and
Helen fell wide-eyed upon the adventurer and his prize.


The dog went directly to the fire; there, sitting in the very middle
of the golden cockatoos on the Turkey rug, he began to lick himself.
He did this by sitting very square on three legs and spreading out
the fourth stiff and erect, as though it had been not a leg at all
but something of wood or iron. The melted snow poured off him,
making a fine little pool about the golden cockatoos. He must have
been a strange-looking animal at any time, being built quite square
like a toy dog, with a great deal of hair, very short legs, and a
thick stubborn neck; his eyes were brown, and now could be seen very
clearly because the hair that usually covered them was plastered
about his face by the snow. In his normal day his eyes gleamed
behind his hair like sunlight in a thick wood. He wore a little
pointed beard that could only be considered an affectation; in one
word, if you imagine a ridiculously small sheep-dog with no legs, a
French beard and a stump of a tail, you have him. And if you want to
know more than that I can only refer you to the description of his
great-great-great-grandson "Jacob," described in the Chronicles of
the Beaminster Family.

The children meanwhile gazed, and for a long time no one said a
word. Then Helen said: "Father WILL be angry."

But she did not mean it. The three were, by the entrance of the dog,
instantly united into an offensive and defensive alliance. They knew
well that shortly an attack from the Outside World must be
delivered, and without a word spoken or a look exchanged they were
agreed to defend both themselves and the dog with all the strength
in their power. They had always wanted a dog; they had been
prevented by the stupid and selfish arguments of uncomprehending

Now this dog was here; they would keep him.

"Oh, he's perfectly sweet," suddenly said Helen.

The dog paused for a moment from his ablutions, raised his eyes, and
regarded her with a look of cold contempt, then returned to his

"Don't be so silly," said Jeremy. "You know you always hate it when
Aunt Amy says things like that about you."

"Did Nurse see?" asked Mary.

"No, she didn't," said Jeremy; "but she'll be up in a minute."

"What are you going to do?" asked Mary her mouth wide open.

"Do? Keep him, of course," said Jeremy stoutly; at the same time his
heart a little failed him as he saw the pool of the water slowly
spreading and embracing one cockatoo after another in its ruinous

"We ought to wipe him with a towel," said Jeremy; "if we could get
him dry before Nurse comes up she mightn't say so much."

But alas, it was too late for any towel; the door opened, and the
Jampot entered, humming a hymn, very cheerful and rosy from the
kitchen fire and an abundant series of chronicles of human failings
and misfortunes. The hymn ceased abruptly. She stayed there where
she was, "frozen into an image," as she afterwards described it. She
also said: "You could 'ave knocked me down with a feather."

The dog did not look at her, but crocked under him the leg that had
been stiff like a ramrod and spread out another. The children did
not speak.

"Well!" For a moment words failed her; then she began, her hands
spread out as though she was addressing a Suffragette meeting in
Trafalgar Square. (She knew, happy woman, nothing of Suffragettes.)
"Of all the things, and it's you, Master Jeremy, that 'as done it,
as anyone might have guessed by the way you've been be'aving this
last fortnight, and what's come over you is more nor I nor anyone
else can tell, which I was saying only yesterday to your mother that
it's more than one body and pair of hands is up to the managing of
now you've got so wild and wicked; and wherever from did you get the
dirty animal dropping water all over the nursery carpet and smelling
awful, I'll be bound, which anyone can see that's got eyes, and
you'd know what your father will do to you when he knows of it, and
so he shall, as sure as my name is Lizzie Preston. . .. Go on out,
you ugly, dirty animal-ough, you 'orrible creature you. I'll--"

But her advance was stopped. Jeremy stopped it. Standing in front of
the dog, his short thick legs spread defiantly apart, his fists
clenched, he almost shouted:

"You shan't touch him. . .. No, you shan't. I don't care. He shan't
go out again and die. You're a cruel, wicked woman."

The Jampot gasped. Never, no, never in all her long nursing
experience had she been so defied, so insulted.

Her teeth clicked as always when her temper was roused, the reason
being that thirty years ago the arts and accomplishments of
dentistry had not reached so fine a perfection as to-day can show.

She had, moreover, bought a cheap set. Her teeth clicked. She began:
"The moment your mother comes I give her notice. To think that all
these years I've slaved and slaved only to be told such things by a
boy as--"

Then a very dramatic thing occurred. The door opened, just as it
might in the third act of a play by M. Sardou, and revealed the
smiling faces of Mrs. Cole, Miss Amy Trefusis and the Rev. William
Jellybrand, Senior Curate of St. James's, Orange Street.

Mr. Jellybrand had arrived, as he very often did, to tea. He had
expressed a desire, as he very often did, to see the "dear
children." Mrs. Cole, liking to show her children to visitors, even
to such regular and ordinary ones as Mr. Jellybrand, at once was
eager to gratify his desire.

"We'll catch them just before their tea," she said happily.

There is an unfortunate tendency on the part of our Press and stage
to caricature our curates; this tendency I would willingly avoid. It
should be easy enough to do, as I am writing about Polchester, a
town that simply abounds--and also abounded thirty years ago--in
curates of the most splendid and manly type. But, unfortunately, Mr.
Jellybrand was not one of these. I, myself, remember him very well,
and can see him now flinging his thin, black, and--as it seemed to
me then--gigantic figure up Orange Street, his coat flapping behind
him, his enormous boots flapping in front of him, and his huge hands
flapping on each side of him like a huge gesticulating crow.

He had, the Polchester people who liked him said, "a rich voice."
The others who did not like him called him "an affected ass." He ran
up and down the scale like this:

and his blue cheeks looked colder than any iceberg. But then I must
confess that I am prejudiced. I did not like him; no children did.

The Cole children hated him. Jeremy because he had damp hands, Helen
because he never looked at her, Mary because he once said to her,
"Little girls must play as well as work, you know." He always talked
down to us as though we were beings of another and inferior planet.
He called it, "Getting on with the little ones." No, he was not
popular with us.

He stood on this particular and dramatic occasion in front of the
group in the doorway and stared--as well he might. Unfortunately the
situation, already bad enough, was aggravated by this dark
prominence of Mr. Jellybrand. It cannot be found in any chronicles
that Mr. Jellybrand and the dog had met before; it is simply a fact
that the dog, raising his eyes at the opening of the door and
catching sight of the black-coated figure, forgot instantly his
toilet, rose dripping from his rug, and advanced growling, his lips
back, his ears out, his tail erect, towards the door. Then
everything happened together. Mr. Jellybrand, who had been afraid of
dogs ever since, as an infant, he had been mistaken for a bone by a
large retriever, stepped back upon Aunt Amy, who uttered a shrill
cry. Mrs. Cole, although she did not forsake her accustomed
placidity, said: "Nurse . . . Nurse . . ." Jeremy cried: "It's all
right, he wouldn't touch anything, he's only friendly." Mary and
Helen together moved forward as though to protect Jeremy, and the
Jampot could be heard in a confused wail: "Not me, Mum . . .
Wickedest boy . . . better give notice . . . as never listens . . .
dog . . . dog . . ."

The animal, however, showed himself now, as at that first earlier
view of him, indifferent to his surroundings. He continued his
advance and then, being only a fraction of an inch from Mr.
Jellybrand's tempting gleaming black trousers, he stopped, crouched
like a tiger, and with teeth still bared continued his kettle-like
reverberations. Aunt Amy, who hated dogs, loved Mr. Jellybrand, and
was not in the least sentimental when her personal safety was in
danger, cried in a shrill voice: "But take it away. Take it away.
Alice, tell him. It's going to bite Mr. Jellybrand."

The dog raised one eye from his dreamy contemplation of the trousers
and glanced at Aunt Amy; from that moment may be dated a feud which
death only concluded. This dog was not a forgetful dog.

Jeremy advanced. "It's all right," he cried scornfully. "He wouldn't
bite anything." He bent down, took the animal by the scruff of the
neck, and proceeded to lead it back to the fire. The animal went
without a moment's hesitation; it would be too much to say that it
exchanged a wink with Jeremy, but something certainly passed between
them. Back again on the Turkey rug he became master of the
situation. He did the only thing possible: he disregarded entirely
the general company and addressed himself to the only person of
ultimate importance--namely, Mrs. Cole. He lay down on all fours,
looked up directly into her face, bared his teeth this time in a
smile and not in a growl, and wagged his farcical tail.

Mrs. Cole's psychology was of the simplest: if you were nice to her
she would do anything for you, but in spite of all her placidity she
was sometimes hurt in her most sensitive places. These wounds she
never displayed, and no one ever knew of them, and indeed they
passed very quickly--but there they occasionally were. Now on what
slender circumstances do the fates of dogs and mortals hang. Only
that afternoon Mr. Jellybrand, in the innocent self-confidence of
his heart, had agreed with Miss Maple, an elderly and bitter
spinster, that the next sewing meeting of the Dorcas Sisterhood
should be held in her house and not at the Rectory. He had told Mrs.
Cole of this on his way upstairs to the nursery. Now Mrs. Cole liked
the Dorcas meetings at the Rectory; she liked the cheerful chatter,
the hospitality, the gentle scandal and her own position as hostess.

She did not like--she never liked--Miss Maple, who was always
pushing herself forward, criticising and back- biting. Mr.
Jellybrand should not have settled this without consulting her. He
had taken it for granted that she would agree. He had said: "I
agreed with Miss Maple that it would be better to have it at her
house. I'm sure you will think as I do." Why should he be sure? Was
he not forgetting his position a little? . . .

Kindest woman in the world, she had seen with a strange un-Christian
pleasure the dog's advance upon the black trousers. Then Mr.
Jellybrand had been obviously afraid. He fancied, perhaps, that she
too had been afraid. He fancied, perhaps, that she was not mistress
in her house, that she could be browbeaten by her sister and her

She smiled at him. "There's no reason to be afraid, Mr. Jellybrand.
. . . He's such a little dog."

Then the dog smiled at her.

"Poor little thing," she said. "He must have nearly died in the

Thus Miss Maple, bitterest of spinsters, influenced, all unwitting,
the lives not only of a dog and a curate, but of the entire Cole
family, and through them, of endless generations both of dogs and
men as yet unborn. Miss Maple, sitting in her little yellow-
curtained parlour drinking, in jaundiced contentment, her
afternoon's cup of tea, was, of course, unaware of this. A good
thing that she was unaware - she was quite conceited enough already.


After that smiling judgment of Mrs. Cole's, affairs were quickly

"Of course it can only be for the night, children. Father will
arrange something in the morning. Poor little thing. Where did you
find him?"

"We saw him from the window," said Jeremy quickly, "and he was
shivering like anything, so we called him in to warm him."

"My dear Alice, you surely don't mean--" began Aunt Amy, and the
Jampot said: "I really think, Mum-," and Mr. Jellybrand, in his rich
voice, murmured: "Is it quite wise, dear Mrs. Cole, do you think?"

With thoughts of Miss Maple she smiled upon them all.

"Oh, for one night, I think we can manage. He seems a clean little
dog, and really we can't turn him out into the snow at once. It
would be too cruel. But mind, children, it's only for one night. He
looks a good little dog."

When the "quality" had departed, Jeremy's mind was in a confused
condition of horror and delight. Such a victory as he had won over
the Jampot, a victory that was a further stage in the fight for
independence begun on his birthday, might have very awful qualities.
There would begin now one of the Jampot's sulks--moods well known to
the Cole family, and lasting from a day to a week, according to the
gravity of the offence. Yes, they had already begun. There she sat
in her chair by the fire, sewing, sewing, her fat, roly-poly face
carved into a parody of deep displeasure. Life would be very
unpleasant now. No tops of eggs, no marmalade on toast, no skins of
milk, no stories of "when I was a young girl," no sitting up five
minutes "later," no stopping in the market-place for a talk with the
banana woman--only stern insistence on every detail of daily life;
swift judgment were anything left undone or done wrong.

Jeremy sighed; yes, it would be horrid and, for the sake of the
world in general, which meant Mary and Helen, he must see what a
little diplomacy would do. Kneeling down by the dog, he looked up
into her face with the gaze of ingenuous innocence.

"You wouldn't have wanted the poor little dog to have died in the
snow, would you, Nurse ? . . . It might, you know. It won't be any
trouble, I expect--"

There was no reply. He could hear Mary and Helen drawing in their
breaths with excited attention.

"Father always said we might have a dog one day when we were older--
and we are older now."

Still no word.

"We'll be extra good, Nurse, if you don't mind. Don't you remember
once you said you had a dog when you were a little girl, and how you
cried when it had its ear bitten off by a nasty big dog, and how
your mother said she wouldn't have it fighting round the house, and
sent it away, and you cried, and cried, and cried, and how you said
that p'r'aps we'll have one one day?--and now we've got one."

He ended triumphantly. She raised her eyes for one moment, stared at
them all, bit off a piece of thread, and said in deep, sepulchral

"Either it goes, or I go."

The three stared at one another. The Jampot go? Really go? . . .
They could hear their hearts thumping one after another. The Jampot

"Oh, Nurse, would you really?" whispered Mary. This innocent remark
of Mary's conveyed in the tone of it more pleased anticipation than
was, perhaps, polite. Certainly the Jampot felt this; a flood of
colour rose into her face. Her mouth opened. But what she would have
said is uncertain, for at that very moment the drama was further
developed by the slow movement of the door, and the revelation of
half of Uncle Samuel's body, clothed in its stained blue painting
smock, and his ugly fat face clothed in its usual sarcastic smile.

"Excuse me one moment," he said; "I hear you have a dog."

The Jampot rose, as good manners demanded, but said nothing.

"Where is the creature?" he asked.

The new addition to the Cole family had finished his washing; the
blazing fire had almost dried him, and his hair stuck out now from
his body in little stiff prickles, hedgehog fashion, giving him a
truly original appearance. His beard afforded him the air of an
ambassador, and his grave, melancholy eyes the absorbed
introspection of a Spanish hidalgo; his tail, however, in its
upright, stumpy jocularity, betrayed his dignity.

"There he is," said Jeremy, with a glance half of terror, half of
delight, at the Jampot. "Isn't he lovely?"

"Lovely. My word!" Uncle Samuel's smile broadened. "He's about the
most hideous mongrel it's ever been my lot to set eyes on. But he
has his points. He despises you all, I'm glad to see."

Jeremy, as usual with Uncle Samuel, was uncertain as to his

"He looks a bit funny just now," he explained. "He's been drying on
the rug. He'll be all right soon. He wanted to bite Mr. Jellybrand.
It was funny. Mr. Jellybrand was frightened as anything."

"Yes, that must have been delightful," agreed Uncle Samuel. "What's
his name?"

"We haven't given him one yet. Wouldn't you think of one, Uncle

The uncle considered the dog. The dog, with grave and scornful eyes,
considered the uncle.

"Well, if you really ask me," said that gentleman, "if you name him
by his character I should say Hamlet would be as good as anything."

"What's Hamlet?" asked Jeremy.

"He isn't anything just now. But he was a prince who Was unhappy
because he thought so much about himself."

"Hamlet'11 do," said Jeremy comfortably. "I've never heard of a dog
called that, but it's easy to say."

"Well, I must go," said Uncle Samuel, making one of his usual sudden
departures. "Glad to have seen the animal. Good-bye."

He vanished.

"Hamlet," repeated Jeremy thoughtfully. "I wonder whether he'll like

His attention, however, was caught by the Jampot's sudden outburst.

"All of them," she cried, "supporting you in your wickedness and
disobedience. I won't 'ave it nor endure it not a minute longer.
They can 'ave my notice this moment, and I won't take it back, not
if they ask me on their bended knees - no, I won't - and that's

For an instant she frowned upon them all - then she was gone, the
door banging after her.

They gazed at one another.

There was a dreadful silence. Once Mary whispered: "Suppose she
really does."

Hamlet only was unmoved.

Ten minutes later, Rose, the housemaid, entered with the tea-things.
For a little she was silent. Then the three faces raised to hers
compelled her confidence.

"Nurse has been and given notice," she said, "and the Missis has
taken it. She's going at the end of the month. She's crying now in
the kitchen."

They were alone again. Mary and Helen looked at Jeremy as though
waiting to follow his lead. He did not know what to say. There was
Tragedy, there was Victory, there was Remorse, there was Triumph. He
was sorry, he was glad. His eyes fell upon Hamlet, who was now
stretched out upon the rug, his nose between his paws, fast asleep.

Then he looked at his sisters.

"Well," he said slowly, "it's awfully nice to have a dog--anyway."

Such is the true and faithful account of Hamlet's entrance into the
train of the Coles.




I am sometimes inclined to wonder whether, in very truth, those
Polchester Christmases of nearly thirty years ago were so marvellous
as now in retrospect they seem. I can give details of those
splendours, facts and figures, that to the onlooker are less than
nothing at all--a sugar elephant in a stocking, a box of pencils on
a Christmas tree, "Hark, the Herald Angels. . ." at three in the
morning below one's window, a lighted plum- pudding, a postman four
hours late, his back bent with bursting parcels. And it is something
further--behind the sugar cherries and the paper caps and the
lighted tree--that remains to give magic to those days; a sense of
expectancy, a sense of richness, a sense of worship, a visit from
the Three Kings who have so seldom come to visit one since.

That Christmas of Jeremy's ninth year was one of the best that he
ever had; it was perhaps the last of the MAGICAL Christmases. After
this he was to know too much, was to see Father Christmas vanish
before a sum in arithmetic, and a stocking change into something
that "boys who go to school never have"--the last of the Christmases
of divine magic, when the snow fell and the waits sang and the
stockings were filled and the turkey fattened and the candles blazed
and the holly crackled by the will of God rather than the power of
man. It would be many years before he would realise that, after all,
in those early days he had been right. . .

A very fat book could be written about all that had happened during
that wonderful Christmas, how Hamlet the Dog caught a rat to his own
immense surprise; how the Coles' Christmas dinner was followed by a
play acted with complete success by the junior members of the
family, and it was only Mr. Jellybrand the curate who disapproved;
how Aunt Amy had a new dress in which, by general consent, she
looked ridiculous; how Mary, owing to the foolish kindness of Mrs.
Bartholomew, the Precentor's wife, was introduced to the works of
Charlotte Mary Yonge and became quite impossible in consequence; how
Miss Maple had a children's party at which there was nothing to eat,
so that all the children cried with disappointment, and one small
boy (the youngest son of the Precentor) actually bit Miss Maple; how
for two whole days it really seemed that there would be skating on
The Pool, and everyone bought skates, and then, of course, the ice
broke, and so on, and so on. . . there is no end to the dramatic
incidents of that great sensational time.

The theme that I sing, however, is Jeremy's Progress, and although
even Hamlet's catching of a rat influenced his development, there
was one incident of this Christmas that stands out and away from all
the others, an affair that he will never all his days forget, and
that even now, at this distance of time and experience, causes his
heart to beat roughly with the remembered excitement and pleasure.

Several weeks before Christmas there appeared upon the town walls
and hoardings the pictured announcements of the approaching visit to
Polchester of Denny's Great Christmas Pantomime "Dick Whittington."
Boxing Night was to see the first performance at our Assembly Rooms,
and during every afternoon and evening of the next three weeks this
performance was to be repeated.

A pantomime had, I believe, never visited our town before; there
had, of course, for many years been the Great Christmas Pantomime at
the Theatre Royal, Drymouth, but in those days trains were not easy,
and if you wished to attend an afternoon performance at the Drymouth
Theatre you must rise very early in the morning by the candle-light
and return late in the evening, with the cab forgetting to meet you
at the station as commanded, and the long walk up Orange Street, and
a headache and a bad temper next day.

It happened naturally then that the majority of the Polchester
children had never set their inquisitive noses within the doors of a
theatre, and although the two eldest daughters of the Dean, aged ten
and eleven, had been once to London and to Drury Lane Theatre, their
sense of glory and distinction so clouded their powers of accuracy
and clarity that we were no nearer, by their help and authority, to
the understanding of what a pantomime might really be.

I can myself recall the glory of those "Dick Whittington" pictures.
Just above Martin's the pastry-cook's (where they sold lemon
biscuits), near the Cathedral, there was a big wooden hoarding, and
on to this was pasted a marvellous representation of Dick and his
Cat dining with the King of the Zanzibar Islands. The King, a
Mulatto, sat with his court in a hall with golden pillars, and the
rats were to be seen flying in a confused flood towards the golden
gates, whilst Dick, in red plush and diamond buckles, stood in
dignified majesty, the Cat at his side. There was another wonderful
picture of Dick asleep at the Cross Roads, fairies watching over
him, and London Town in a lighted purple distance--and another of
the streets of Old London with a comic fat serving man, diamond-
paned windows, cobblestones and high pointing eaves to the houses.

Jeremy saw these pictures for the first time during one of his
afternoon walks, and returned home in such a state of choking
excitement that he could not drink his tea. As was ever his way he
was silent and controlled about the matter, asked very few
questions, and although he talked to himself a little did not
disturb the general peace of the nursery. On Mary and Helen the
effect of the posters had been less. Mary was following the
adventures of the May family in "The Daisy Chain," and Helen was
making necklaces for herself out of a box of beads that had been
given her.

When Jeremy said once, "Who was the man in the red trousers with
gold on them?" no one paid any attention save Hamlet, who wagged his
tail, looked wise and growled a little.

Who indeed could tell how he ached and longed and desired He had a
very vague idea as to the nature of a play; they had often dressed
up at home and pretended to be different things and people, and, of
course, he knew by heart the whole history of Dick Whittington, but
this knowledge and experience did not in the least force him to
realise that this performance of Mr. Denny's was simply a larger,
more developed "dressing up" and pretending. In some mysterious but
nevertheless direct fashion Dick Whittington was coming to
Polchester. It was just as he had heard for a long time of the
existence of Aunt Emily who lived in Manchester--and then one day
she appeared in a black bonnet and a shawl, and gave them wet kisses
and sixpence apiece.

Dick Whittington was coming, having perhaps heard that Polchester
was a very jolly place. So might come any day Jack of the Beanstalk,
Cinderella, Queen Victoria, and God.

There were questions meanwhile that he would like to ask, but he was
already a victim to that properly English fear of making a fool of
himself, so he asked nothing. He dragged out his toy village and
tried to make it a bridge in his imagination between the nursery and
Whittington's world. As the village opened a door from the nursery,
so might Whittington open a door from the village.

He considered Hamlet and wondered whether he knew anything about it.
Hamlet, in spite of his mongrel appearance, was a very clever dog.
He had his especial corners in the garden, the kitchen and the
nursery. He never misbehaved, was never in the way, and was able to
amuse himself for hours together. Although he attached himself quite
deliberately to Jeremy, he did this in no sentimental fashion, and
in his animosities towards the Jampot, Aunt Amy and the boy who
helped with the boots and the knives, he was always restrained and
courteous. He did indeed growl at Aunt Amy, but always with such a
sense of humour that everyone (except Aunt Amy) was charmed, and he
never actually supported the children in their rebellions against
the Jampot, although you could see that he liked and approved of
such things. The Jampot hated him with a passion that caused the
nursery to quiver with emotion. Was he not the cause of her
approaching departure, his first appearance having led her into a
tempest of passion that had caused her to offer a "notice" that she
had never for an instant imagined would be accepted? Was he not a
devilish dog who, with, his quiet movements and sly expressions, was
more than human? "Mark my words," she said in the kitchen, "there's
a devil in that there animal, and so they'll find before they're
many years older--'Amlet indeed--a 'eathenish name and a 'eathenish

Her enemy had discovered that in one corner of the nursery there
were signs and symbols that witnessed to something in the nature of
a mouse or a rat. That nursery corner became the centre of all his
more adventurous instincts. It happened to be just the corner where
the Jampot kept her sewing machine, and you would think, if you came
to the nursery as a stranger, and saw him sitting, his eyes fixed
beamingly upon the machine, his tail erect, and his body here and
there quivering a little, that from duties of manly devotion he was
protecting the Jampot's property. She knew better; she regarded, in
some undefined way, this continued contemplation by him of her
possessions as an ironical insult. She did everything possible to
drive him from the corner; he inevitably returned, and as he always
delicately stepped aside when she approached, it could not be said
that he was in her way. Once she struck him; he looked at her in
such a fashion that "her flesh crept." . . . She never struck him

For Jeremy he became more and more of a delight. He understood so
much. He sympathised, he congratulated, he sported, always at the
right moment. He would sit gravely at Jeremy's feet, his body
pressed against Jeremy's leg, one leg stuck out square, his eyes
fixed inquisitively upon the nursery scene. He would be motionless;
then suddenly some thought would electrify him--his ears would cock,
his eyes shine, his nose quiver, his tail tumble. The crisis would
pass; he would be composed once more. He would slide down to the
floor, his whole body collapsing; his head would rest upon Jeremy's
foot; he would dream of cats, of rats, of birds, of the Jampot, of
beef and gravy, of sugar, of being washed, of the dogs' Valhalla, of
fire and warmth, of Jeremy, of walks when every piece of flying
paper was a challenge, of dogs, dogs that he had known of when he
was a puppy, of doing things he shouldn't, of punishment and wisdom,
pride and anger, of love-affairs of his youth, of battle, of
settling-down, of love- affairs in the future, again of cats and
beef, and smells--smells--smells, again of Jeremy, whom he loved.
And Jeremy, watching him now, thus sleeping, and thinking of Dick
Whittington, wondered why it was that a dog would understand so
easily, without explanations, the thoughts and desires he had, and
that all grown-up people would not understand, and would demand so
many explanations, and would laugh at one, and pity one, and despise
one. Why was it? he asked himself.

"I know," he suddenly cried, turning upon Helen; "it can be your
birthday treat!"

"What can?" she asked.

"Why, going to Dick Whittington--all of us."

Helen had, most unfortunately for herself, a birthday only a week
after Christmas, the result being that, in her own opinion at any
rate, she never received "proper presents" on either of those two
great present-giving occasions. She was always allowed, however, a
"treat"; her requests were generally in the nature of food; once of
a ride in the train; once even a visit to the Polchester Museum. . .
It was difficult in those days to find "treats" in Polchester.

"Oh, do you think they'd let us?" she said, her eyes wide.

"We can try," said Jeremy. "I heard Aunt Amy say the other day that
she didn't think it was right for children to see acting, and Mother
always does the opposite to what Aunt Amy says, so p'r'aps it will
be all right. I wish Hamlet could go," he added.

"Don't be silly!" said Helen.

"It isn't silly," Jeremy said indignantly. "It's all about a cat,
anyway, and he'd love to see all the rats and things. He wouldn't
bark if we told him not to, and I held his collar."

"If Aunt Amy sat next him he would," said Mary.

"Oh, bother Aunt Amy," said Jeremy.

After this Helen needed a great deal of urging; but she heard that
Lucy and Angela, the aforesaid daughters of the Dean, were going,
and the spirit of rivalry drove her forward.

It happened that the Dean himself one day said something to Mr. Cole
about "supporting a very praiseworthy effort. They are presenting, I
understand, the proceeds of the first performance to the Cathedral

Helen was surprised at the readiness with which her request was

"We'll all go," said Mr. Cole, in his genial, pastoral fashion.
"Good for us . . . good for us . . . to see the little ones laugh .
. . good for us all."

Only Uncle Samuel said "that nothing would induce him--"


I pass swiftly over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after,
although I should like to linger upon these sumptuous dates. Jeremy
had a sumptuous time; Hamlet had a sumptuous time (a whole sugar
rat, plates and plates of bones, and a shoe of Aunt Amy's); Mary and
Helen had sumptuous times in their own feminine fashion.

Upon the evening of Christmas Eve, when the earth was snow-lit, and
the street-lamps sparkled with crystals, and the rime on the
doorsteps crackled beneath one's feet, Jeremy accompanied his mother
on a present-leaving expedition. The excitement of that! The
wonderful shapes and sizes of the parcels, the mysterious streets,
the door- handles and the door-bells, the glittering stars, the
maidservants, the sense of the lighted house, as though vou opened a
box full of excitements and then hurriedly shut the lid down again.
Jeremy trembled and shook, not with cold, but with exalting,
completely satisfying happiness.

There followed the Stocking, the Waits, the Carols, the Turkey, the
Christmas Cake, the Tree, the Presents, Snapdragon, Bed. . . There
followed Headache, Ill- temper, Smacking of Mary, Afternoon Walk,
Good Temper again, Complete Weariness, Hamlet sick on the Golden
Cockatoos, Hamlet Beaten, Five minutes with Mother downstairs, Bed.
. . Christmas was over.

From that moment of the passing of Boxing Day it was simply the
counting of the minutes to "Dick Whittington." Six days from Boxing
Day. Say you slept from eight to seven--eleven hours; that left
thirteen hours; six thirteen hours was, so Helen said, seventy-
eight. Seventy-eight hours, and Sunday twice as long as the other
days, and that made thirteen more; ninety-one, said Helen, her nose
in the air.

The week dragged along, very difficult work for everybody, and even
Hamlet felt the excitement and watched his corner with the Jampot's
sewing machine in it with more quivering intensity than ever. The
Day Before The Day arrived, the evening before The Day, the last
supper before The Day, the last bed before The Day. . . Suddenly,
like a Jack-in-the-Box, The Day itself.

Then the awful thing happened.

Jeremy awoke to the consciousness that something terrific was about
to occur. He lay for a minute thinking--then he was up, running
about the nursery floor as though he were a young man in Mr.
Rossetti's poetry shouting: "Helen! Mary! Mary! Helen! . . . It's
Dick Whittington! Dick Whittington!"

On such occasions he lost entirely his natural reserve and caution.
He dressed with immense speed, as though that would hasten the
coming of the evening. He ran into the nursery, carrying the black
tie that went under his sailor-collar.

He held it out to the Jampot, who eyed him with disfavour. She was
leaving them all in a week and was a strange confusion of sentiment
and bad temper, love and hatred, wounded pride and injured dignity.

"Nurse. Please. Fasten it," he said impatiently.

"And that's not the way to speak, Master Jeremy, and well you know
it," she said. "'Ave you cleaned your teeth?"

"Yes," he answered without hesitation. It was not until the word was
spoken that he realised that he had not. He flushed. The Jampot eyed
him with a sudden sharp suspicion. He was then and ever afterwards a
very bad hand at a lie. . .

He would have taken the word back, he wanted to take it back--but
something held him as though a stronger than he had placed his hand
over his mouth. His face flamed.

"You've truly cleaned them?" she said.

"Yes, truly," he answered, his eyes on the ground. Never was there a
more obvious liar in all the world.

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