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Night Watches by W.W. Jacobs

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hearths, and stained glass in the front door filled her with a deep and
solemn thankfulness. The only thing that disturbed her was the fact
that Mr. Gribble, to avoid wasting money over necessaries, contrived to
spend an unduly large portion on personal luxuries.

"We ought to have some new things for the kitchen," she said one day.

"No money," said Mr. Gribble, laconically.

"And a mat for the bathroom."

Mr. Gribble got up and went out.

She had to go to him for everything. Two hundred a year and not a penny
she could call her own! She consulted her heart, and that faithful
organ responded with a bound that set her nerves quivering. If she
could only screw her courage to the sticking-point the question would be
settled for once and all.

White and trembling she sat at breakfast on the first of November,
waiting for the postman, while the unconscious Mr. Gribble went on with
his meal. The double-knocks down the road came nearer and nearer, and
Mr. Gribble, wiping his mouth, sat upright with an air of alert and
pleased interest. Rapid steps came to the front door, and a double bang

"Always punctual," said Mr. Gribble, good-humouredly.

His wife made no reply, but, taking a blue-crossed envelope from the
maid in her shaking fingers, looked round for a knife. Her gaze
encountered Mr. Gribble's outstretched hand.

"After you," he said sharply.

Mrs. Gribble found the knife, and, hacking tremulously at the envelope,
peeped inside it and, with her gaze fastened on the window, fumbled for
her pocket. She was so pale and shook so much that the words died away
on her husband's lips.

"You--you had better let me take care of that," he said, at last.

"It is--all right," gasped his wife.

She put her hand to her throat and, hardly able to believe in her
victory, sat struggling for breath. Before her, grim and upright, her
husband sat, a figure of helpless smouldering wrath.

"You might lose it," he said, at last. "I sha'n't lose it," said his

To avoid further argument, she arose and went slowly upstairs. Through
the doorway Mr. Gribble saw her helping herself up by the banisters, her
left hand still at her throat. Then he heard her moving slowly about in
the bedroom overhead.

He took out his pipe and filled it mechanically, and was just holding a
match to the tobacco when he paused and gazed with a puzzled air at the
ceiling. "Blamed if it don't sound like somebody dancing!" he growled.


"Wonderful improvement," said Mr. Jack Mills. "Show 'em to me again."

Mr. Simpson took his pipe from his mouth and, parting his lips, revealed
his new teeth.

"And you talk better," said Mr. Mills, taking his glass from the counter
and emptying it; "you ain't got that silly lisp you used to have. What
does your missis think of 'em?"

"She hasn't seen 'em yet," said the other. "I had 'em put in at dinner-
time. I ate my dinner with 'em."

Mr. Mills expressed his admiration. "If it wasn't for your white hair
and whiskers you'd look thirty again," he said, slowly. "How old are

"Fifty-three," said his friend. "If it wasn't for being laughed at I've
often thought of having my whiskers shaved off and my hair dyed black.
People think I'm sixty."

"Or seventy," continued Mr. Mills. "What does it matter, people
laughing? You've got a splendid head of 'air, and it would dye

Mr. Simpson shook his head and, ordering a couple of glasses of bitter,
attacked his in silence.

"It might be done gradual," he said, after a long interval. "It don't
do anybody good at the warehouse to look old."

"Make a clean job of it," counselled Mr. Mills, who was very fond of a
little cheap excitement. "Get it over and done with. You've got good
features, and you'd look splendid clean-shaved." Mr. Simpson smiled
faintly. "Only on Wednesday the barmaid here was asking after you,"
pursued Mr. Mills. Mr. Simpson smiled again. "She says to me, 'Where's
Gran'pa?' she says, and when I says, haughty like, 'Who do you mean?'
she says, 'Father Christmas!' If you was to tell her that you are only
fifty-three, she'd laugh in your face."

"Let her laugh," said the other, sourly.

"Come out and get it off," said Mr. Mills, earnestly. "There's a
barber's in Bird Street; you could go in the little back room, where he
charges a penny more, and get it done without anybody being a bit the

He put his hand on Mr. Simpson's shoulder, and that gentleman, with a
glare in the direction of the fair but unconscious offender, rose in a
hypnotized fashion and followed him out. Twice on the way to Bird
Street Mr. Simpson paused and said he had altered his mind, and twice
did the propulsion of Mr. Mills's right hand, and his flattering
argument, make him alter it again.

It was a matter of relief to Mr. Simpson that the barber took his
instructions without any show of surprise. It appeared, indeed, that an
elderly man of seventy-eight had enlisted his services for a similar
purpose not two months before, and had got married six weeks afterwards.
Age of the bride given as twenty-four, but said to have looked older.

A snip of the scissors, and six inches of white beard fell to the floor.
For the first time in thirty years Mr. Simpson felt a razor on his face.
Then his hair was cut and shampooed; and an hour later he sat gazing at
a dark-haired, clean-shaven man in the glass who gazed back at him with
wondering eyes--a lean-jawed, good-looking man, who, in a favourable
light, might pass for forty. He turned and met the admiring eyes of Mr.

"What did I tell you?" inquired the latter. "You look young enough to
be your own son."

"Or grandson," said the barber, with professional pride.

Mr. Simpson got up slowly from the chair and, accompanied by the
admiring Mr. Mills, passed out into the street. The evening was young,
and, at his friend's suggestion, they returned to the Plume of Feathers.

"You give the order," said Mr. Mills, "and see whether she recognizes

Mr. Simpson obeyed.

"Don't you know him?" inquired Mr. Mills, as the barmaid turned away.

"I don't think I have that pleasure," said the girl, simpering.

"Gran'pa's eldest boy," said Mr. Mills.

"Oh!" said the girl. "Well, I hope he's a better man than his father,

"What do you mean by that?" demanded Mr. Simpson, painfully conscious
of his friend's regards.

"Nothing," said the girl, "nothing. Only we can all be better, can't
we? He's a nice old gentleman; so simple."

"Don't know you from Adam," said Mr. Mills, as she turned away. "Now,
if you ask me, I don't believe as your own missis will recognize you."

"Rubbish," said Mr. Simpson. "My wife would know me anywhere. We've
been married over thirty years. Thirty years of sunshine and shadow
together. You're a single man, and don't understand these things."

"P'r'aps you're right," said his friend. "But it'll be a bit of a shock
to her, anyway. What do you say to me stepping round and breaking the
news to her? It's a bit sudden, you know. She's expecting a white-
haired old gentleman, not a black-haired boy."

Mr. Simpson looked a bit uneasy. "P'r'aps I ought to have told her
first," he murmured, craning his neck to look in the glass at the back
of the bar.

"I'll go and put it right for you," said his friend. "You stay here and
smoke your pipe."

He stepped out briskly, but his pace slackened as he drew near the

"I--I--came--to see you about your husband," he faltered, as Mrs.
Simpson opened the door and stood regarding him.

"What's the matter?" she exclaimed, with a faint cry. "What's happened
to him?"

"Nothing," said Mr. Mills, hastily. "Nothing serious, that is. I just
came round to warn you so that you will be able to know it's him."

Mrs. Simpson let off a shriek that set his ears tingling. Then,
steadying herself by the wall, she tottered into the front room,
followed by the discomfited Mr. Mills, and sank into a chair.

"He's dead!" she sobbed. "He's dead!"

"He is not," said Mr. Mills.

"Is he much hurt? Is he dying?" gasped Mrs. Simpson.

"Only his hair," said Mr. Mills, clutching at the opening. "He is not
hurt at all."

Mrs. Simpson dabbed at her eyes-and sat regarding him in bewilderment.
Her twin chins were still quivering with emotion, but her eyes were
beginning to harden. "What are you talking about?" she inquired, in a
raspy voice.

"He's been to a hairdresser's," said Mr. Mills. "He's 'ad all his white
whiskers cut off, and his hair cut short and dyed black. And, what with
that and his new teeth, I thought--he thought--p'r'aps you mightn't know
him when he came home."

"Dyed?" cried Mrs. Simpson, starting to her feet.

Mr. Mills nodded. "He looks twenty years younger," he said, with a
smile. "He'd pass for his own son anywhere."

Mrs. Simpson's eyes snapped. "Perhaps he'd pass for my son," she

"Yes, easy," said the tactful Mr. Mills. "You can't think what a
difference it's made to him. That's why I came to see you--so you
shouldn't be startled."

"Thank you," said Mrs. Simpson. "I'm much obliged. But you might have
spared yourself the trouble. I should know my husband anywhere."

"Ah, that's what you think," retorted Mr. Mills, with a smile; "but the
barmaid at the Plume didn't. That's what made me come to you."

Mrs. Simpson gazed at him.

"I says to myself," continued Mr. Mills, "'If she don't know him, I'm
certain his missis won't, and I'd better----'"

"You'd better go," interrupted his hostess.

Mr. Mills started, and then, with much dignity, stalked after her to the

"As to your story, I don't believe a word of it," said Mrs. Simpson.
"Whatever else my husband is, he isn't a fool, and he'd no more think of
cutting off his whiskers and dyeing his hair than you would of telling
the truth."

"Seeing is believing," said the offended Mr. Mills, darkly.

"I'll wait till I do see, and then I sha'n't believe," was the reply.
"It is a put-up job between you and some other precious idiot, I expect.
But you can't deceive me. If your black-haired friend comes here, he'll
get it, I can tell you."

She slammed the door on his protests and, returning to the parlour,
gazed fiercely into the glass on the mantelpiece. It reflected sixteen
stone of honest English womanhood, a thin wisp of yellowish-grey hair,
and a pair of faded eyes peering through clumsy spectacles.

"Son, indeed!" she said, her lips quivering. "You wait till you come
home, my lord!"

Mr. Simpson, with some forebodings, returned home an hour later. To a
man who loved peace and quietness the report of the indignant Mr. Mills
was not of a reassuring nature. He hesitated on the doorstep for a few
seconds while he fumbled for his key, and then, humming unconcernedly,
hung his hat in the passage and walked into the parlour.

The astonished scream of his wife warned him that Mr. Mills had by no
means exaggerated. She rose from her seat and, crouching by the
fireplace, regarded him with a mixture of anger and dismay.

"It--it's all right, Milly," said Mr. Simpson, with a smile that
revealed a dazzling set of teeth.

"Who are you?" demanded Mrs. Simpson. "How dare you call me by my
Christian name. It's a good job for you my husband is not here."

"He wouldn't hurt me," said Mr. Simpson, with an attempt at
facetiousness. "He's the best friend I ever had. Why, we slept in the
same cradle."

"I don't want any of your nonsense," said Mrs. Simpson. "You get out of
my house before I send for the police. How dare you come into a
respectable woman's house in this fashion? Be off with you."

"Now, look here, Milly----" began Mr. Simpson.

His wife drew herself up to her full height of four feet eleven.

"I've had a hair-cut and a shave," pursued her husband; "also I've had
my hair restored to its natural colour. But I'm the same man, and you
know it."

"I know nothing of the kind," said his wife, doggedly. "I don't know
you from Adam. I've never seen you before, and I don't want to see you
again. You go away."

"I'm your husband, and my place is at home," replied Mr. Simpson. "A
man can have a shave if he likes, can't he? Where's my supper?"

"Go on," said his wife. "Keep it up. But be careful my husband don't
come in and catch you, that's all."

Mr. Simpson gazed at her fixedly, and then, with an impatient
exclamation, walked into the small kitchen and began to set the supper.
A joint of cold beef, a jar of pickles, bread, butter, and cheese made
an appetizing display. Then he took a jug from the dresser and
descended to the cellar.

A musical trickling fell on the ear of Mrs. Simpson as she stood at the
parlour door, and drew her stealthily to the cellar. The key was in the
lock, and, with a sudden movement, she closed the door and locked it. A
sharp cry from Mr. Simpson testified to his discomfiture.

"Now I'm off for the police," cried his wife.

"Don't be a fool," shouted Mr. Simpson, tugging wildly at the door-
handle. "Open the door."

Mrs. Simpson remained silent, and her husband resumed his efforts until
the door-knob, unused to such treatment, came off in his hand. A sudden
scrambling noise on the cellar stairs satisfied the listener that he had
not pulled it off intentionally.

She stood for a few moments, considering. It was a stout door and
opened inwards. She took her bonnet from its nail in the kitchen and,
walking softly to the street-door, set off to lay the case before a
brother who lived a few doors away.

"Poor old Bill," said Mr. Cooper, when she had finished. "Still, it
might be worse; he's got the barrel o' beer with him."

"It's not Bill," said Mrs. Simpson.

Mr. Cooper scratched his whiskers and looked at his wife.

"She ought to know," said the latter. "We'll come and have a look at
him," said Mr. Cooper.

Mrs. Simpson pondered, and eyed him dubiously.

"Come in and have a bit of supper," she said at last. "There's a nice
piece of beef and pickles."

"And Bill--I mean the stranger--sitting on the beer-barrel," said Mr.
Cooper, gloomily.

"You can bring your beer with you," said his sister, sharply. "Come

Mr. Cooper grinned, and, placing a couple of bottles in his coat
pockets, followed the two ladies to the house. Seated at the kitchen
table, he grinned again, as a persistent drumming took place on the
cellar door. His wife smiled, and a faint, sour attempt in the same
direction appeared on the face of Mrs. Simpson.

"Open the door!" bellowed an indignant voice. "Open the door!"

Mrs. Simpson, commanding silence with an uplifted finger, proceeded to
carve the beef. A rattle of knives and forks succeeded.

"O-pen-the-door!" said the voice again.

"Not so much noise," commanded Mr. Cooper. "I can't hear myself eat."

"Bob!" said the voice, in relieved accents, "Bob! Come and let me

Mr. Cooper, putting a huge hand over his mouth, struggled nobly with his

"Who are you calling 'Bob'?" he demanded, in an unsteady voice. "You
keep yourself to yourself. I've heard all about you. You've got to
stay there till my brother-in-law comes home."

"It's me, Bob," said Mr. Simpson--"Bill."

"Yes, I dare say," said Mr. Cooper; "but if you're Bill, why haven't you
got Bill's voice?"

"Let me out and look at me," said Mr. Simpson.

There was a faint scream from both ladies, followed by protests.

"Don't be alarmed," said Mr. Cooper, reassuringly. "I wasn't born
yesterday. I don't want to get a crack over the head."

"It's all a mistake, Bob," said the prisoner, appealingly. "I just had
a shave and a haircut and--and a little hair-dye. If you open the door
you'll know me at once."

"How would it be," said Mr. Cooper, turning to his sister, and speaking
with unusual distinctness--"how would it be if you opened the door, and
just as he put his head out I hit it a crack with the poker?"

"You try it on," said the voice behind the door, hotly. "You know who I
am well enough, Bob Cooper. I don't want any more of your nonsense.
Milly has put you up to this!"

"If your wife don't know you, how do you think I can?" said Mr. Cooper.
"Now, look here; you keep quiet till my brother-in-law comes home. If
he don't come home perhaps we shall be more likely to think you're him.
If he's not home by to-morrow morning we--Hsh! Hsh! Don't you know
there's ladies present?"

"That settles it," said Mrs. Cooper, speaking for the first time. "My
brother-in-law would never talk like that."

"I should never forgive him if he did," said her husband, piously.

He poured himself out another glass of beer and resumed his supper with
relish. Conversation turned on the weather, and from that to the price
of potatoes. Frantic efforts on the part of the prisoner to join in the
conversation and give it a more personal turn were disregarded. Finally
he began to kick with monotonous persistency on the door.

"Stop it!" shouted Mr. Cooper.

"I won't," said Mr. Simpson.

The noise became unendurable. Mr. Cooper, who had just lit his pipe,
laid it on the table and looked round at his companions.

"He'll have the door down soon," he said, rising. "Halloa, there!"

"Halloa!" said the other.

"You say you're Bill Simpson," said Mr. Cooper, holding up a forefinger
at Mrs. Simpson, who was about to interrupt. "If you are, tell us
something you know that only you could know; something we know, so as to
identify you. Things about your past."

A strange noise sounded behind the door.

"Sounds as though he is smacking his lips," said Mrs. Cooper to her
sister-in-law, who was eyeing Mr. Cooper restlessly.

"Very good," said Mr. Simpson; "I agree. Who is there?"

"Me and my wife and Mrs. Simpson," said Mr. Cooper.

"He is smacking his lips," whispered Mrs. Cooper. "Having a go at the
beer, perhaps."

"Let's go back fifteen years," said Mr. Simpson in meditative tones.
"Do you remember that girl with copper-coloured hair that used to live
in John Street?"

"No!" said Mr. Cooper, loudly and suddenly.

"Do you remember coming to me one day--two days after Valentine Day, it
was--white as chalk and shaking like a leaf, and--"

"NO!" roared Mr. Cooper.

"Very well, I must try something else, then," said Mr. Simpson,
philosophically. "Carry your mind back ten years, Bob Cooper--"

"Look here!" said Mr. Cooper, turning round with a ghastly smile.
"We'd better get off home, Mary. I don't like interfering in other
people's concerns. Never did."

"You stay where you are," said his wife.

"Ten years," repeated the voice behind the door. "There was a new
barmaid at the Crown, and one night you----"

"If I listen to any more of this nonsense I shall burst," remarked Mr.
Cooper, plaintively.

"Go on," prompted Mrs. Cooper, grimly. "One night----"

"Never mind," said Mr. Simpson. "It doesn't matter. But does he
identify me? Because if not I've got a lot more things I can try."

The harassed Mr. Cooper looked around appealingly.

"How do you expect me to recognize you--" he began, and stopped

"Go back to your courting days, then," said Mr. Simpson, "when Mrs.
Cooper wasn't Mrs. Cooper, but only wanted to be."

Mrs. Cooper shivered; so did Mr. Cooper.

"And you came round to me for advice," pursued Mr. Simpson, in
reminiscent accents, "because there was another girl you wasn't sure of,
and you didn't want to lose them both. Do you remember sitting with the
two photographs--one on each knee--and trying to make up your mind?"

"Wonderful imagination," said Mr. Cooper, smiling in a ghastly fashion
at his wife. "Hark at him!"

"I am harking," said Mrs. Cooper.

"Am I Bill Simpson or am I not?" demanded Mr. Simpson.

"Bill was always fond of his joke," said Mr. Cooper, with a glance at
the company that would have moved an oyster. "He was always fond of
making up things. You're like him in that. What do you think, Milly?"

"It's not my husband," said Mrs. Simpson.

"Tell us something about her," said Mr. Cooper, hastily.

"I daren't," said Mr. Simpson. "Doesn't that prove I'm her husband?
But I'll tell you things about your wife, if you like."

"You dare!" said Mrs. Cooper, turning crimson, as she realized what
confidences might have passed between husband and wife. "If you say a
word of your lies about me, I don't know what I won't do to you."

"Very well, I must go on about Bob, then--till he recognizes me," said
Mr. Simpson, patiently. "Carry your mind--"

"Open the door and let him out," shouted Mr. Cooper, turning to his
sister. "How can I recognize a man through a deal door?"

Mrs. Simpson, after a little hesitation, handed him the key, and the
next moment her husband stepped out and stood blinking in the gas-light.

"Do you recognize me?" he asked, turning to Mr. Cooper.

"I do," said that gentleman, with a ferocious growl.

"I'd know you anywhere," said Mrs. Cooper, with emphasis.

"And you?" said Mr. Simpson, turning to his wife.

"You're not my husband," she said, obstinately.

"Are you sure?" inquired Mr. Cooper.


"Very good, then," said her brother. "If he's not your husband I'm
going to knock his head off for telling them lies about me."

He sprang forward and, catching Mr. Simpson by the collar, shook him
violently until his head banged against the dresser. The next moment
the hands of Mrs. Simpson were in the hair of Mr. Cooper.

"How dare you knock my husband about!" she screamed, as Mr. Cooper let
go and caught her fingers. "You've hurt him."

"Concussion, I think," said Mr. Simpson, with great presence of mind.

His wife helped him to a chair and, wetting her handkerchief at the tap,
tenderly bathed the dyed head. Mr. Cooper, breathing hard, stood by
watching until his wife touched him on the arm.

"You come off home," she said, in a hard voice. "You ain't wanted. Are
you going to stay here all night?"

"I should like to," said Mr. Cooper, wistfully.


Thirty years ago on a wet autumn evening the household of Mallett's
Lodge was gathered round the death-bed of Ursula Mallow, the eldest of
the three sisters who inhabited it. The dingy moth-eaten curtains of
the old wooden bedstead were drawn apart, the light of a smoking oil-
lamp falling upon the hopeless countenance of the dying woman as she
turned her dull eyes upon her sisters. The room was in silence except
for an occasional sob from the youngest sister, Eunice. Outside the
rain fell steadily over the steaming marshes.

"Nothing is to be changed, Tabitha," gasped Ursula to the other sister,
who bore a striking likeness to her although her expression was harder
and colder; "this room is to be locked up and never opened."

"Very well," said Tabitha brusquely, "though I don't see how it can
matter to you then."

"It does matter," said her sister with startling energy. "How do you
know, how do I know that I may not sometimes visit it? I have lived in
this house so long I am certain that I shall see it again. I will come
back. Come back to watch over you both and see that no harm befalls

"You are talking wildly," said Tabitha, by no means moved at her
sister's solicitude for her welfare. "Your mind is wandering; you know
that I have no faith in such things."

Ursula sighed, and beckoning to Eunice, who was weeping silently at the
bedside, placed her feeble arms around her neck and kissed her.

"Do not weep, dear," she said feebly. "Perhaps it is best so. A lonely
woman's life is scarce worth living. We have no hopes, no aspirations;
other women have had happy husbands and children, but we in this
forgotten place have grown old together. I go first, but you must soon

Tabitha, comfortably conscious of only forty years and an iron frame,
shrugged her shoulders and smiled grimly.

"I go first," repeated Ursula in a new and strange voice as her heavy
eyes slowly closed, "but I will come for each of you in turn, when your
lease of life runs out. At that moment I will be with you to lead your
steps whither I now go."

As she spoke the flickering lamp went out suddenly as though
extinguished by a rapid hand, and the room was left in utter darkness.
A strange suffocating noise issued from the bed, and when the trembling
women had relighted the lamp, all that was left of Ursula Mallow was
ready for the grave.

That night the survivors passed together. The dead woman had been a
firm believer in the existence of that shadowy borderland which is said
to form an unhallowed link between the living and the dead, and even the
stolid Tabitha, slightly unnerved by the events of the night, was not
free from certain apprehensions that she might have been right.

With the bright morning their fears disappeared. The sun stole in at
the window, and seeing the poor earth-worn face on the pillow so touched
it and glorified it that only its goodness and weakness were seen, and
the beholders came to wonder how they could ever have felt any dread of
aught so calm and peaceful. A day or two passed, and the body was
transferred to a massive coffin long regarded as the finest piece of
work of its kind ever turned out of the village carpenter's workshop.
Then a slow and melancholy cortege headed by four bearers wound its
solemn way across the marshes to the family vault in the grey old
church, and all that was left of Ursula was placed by the father and
mother who had taken that self-same journey some thirty years before.

To Eunice as they toiled slowly home the day seemed strange and Sabbath-
like, the flat prospect of marsh wilder and more forlorn than usual, the
roar of the sea more depressing. Tabitha had no such fancies. The bulk
of the dead woman's property had been left to Eunice, and her avaricious
soul was sorely troubled and her proper sisterly feelings of regret for
the deceased sadly interfered with in consequence.

"What are you going to do with all that money, Eunice?" she asked as
they sat at their quiet tea.

"I shall leave it as it stands," said Eunice slowly. "We have both got
sufficient to live upon, and I shall devote the income from it to
supporting some beds in a children's hospital."

"If Ursula had wished it to go to a hospital," said Tabitha in her deep
tones, "she would have left the money to it herself. I wonder you do
not respect her wishes more."

"What else can I do with it then?" inquired Eunice.

"Save it," said the other with gleaming eyes, "save it."

Eunice shook her head.

"No," said she, "it shall go to the sick children, but the principal I
will not touch, and if I die before you it shall become yours and you
can do what you like with it."

"Very well," said Tabitha, smothering her anger by a strong effort; "I
don't believe that was what Ursula meant you to do with it, and I don't
believe she will rest quietly in the grave while you squander the money
she stored so carefully."

"What do you mean?" asked Eunice with pale lips. "You are trying to
frighten me; I thought that you did not believe in such things."

Tabitha made no answer, and to avoid the anxious inquiring gaze of her
sister, drew her chair to the fire, and folding her gaunt arms, composed
herself for a nap.

For some time life went on quietly in the old house. The room of the
dead woman, in accordance with her last desire, was kept firmly locked,
its dirty windows forming a strange contrast to the prim cleanliness of
the others. Tabitha, never very talkative, became more taciturn than
ever, and stalked about the house and the neglected garden like an
unquiet spirit, her brow roughened into the deep wrinkles suggestive of
much thought. As the winter came on, bringing with it the long dark
evenings, the old house became more lonely than ever, and an air of
mystery and dread seemed to hang over it and brood in its empty rooms
and dark corridors. The deep silence of night was broken by strange
noises for which neither the wind nor the rats could be held
accountable. Old Martha, seated in her distant kitchen, heard strange
sounds upon the stairs, and once, upon hurrying to them, fancied that
she saw a dark figure squatting upon the landing, though a subsequent
search with candle and spectacles failed to discover anything. Eunice
was disturbed by several vague incidents, and, as she suffered from a
complaint of the heart, rendered very ill by them. Even Tabitha
admitted a strangeness about the house, but, confident in her piety and
virtue, took no heed of it, her mind being fully employed in another

Since the death of her sister all restraint upon her was removed, and
she yielded herself up entirely to the stern and hard rules enforced by
avarice upon its devotees. Her housekeeping expenses were kept rigidly
separate from those of Eunice and her food limited to the coarsest
dishes, while in the matter of clothes, the old servant was by far the
better dressed. Seated alone in her bedroom this uncouth, hard-featured
creature revelled in her possessions, grudging even the expense of the
candle-end which enabled her to behold them. So completely did this
passion change her that both Eunice and Martha became afraid of her, and
lay awake in their beds night after night trembling at the chinking of
the coins at her unholy vigils.

One day Eunice ventured to remonstrate. "Why don't you bank your money,
Tabitha?" she said; "it is surely not safe to keep such large sums in
such a lonely house."

"Large sums!" repeated the exasperated Tabitha, "large sums! what
nonsense is this? You know well that I have barely sufficient to keep

"It's a great temptation to housebreakers," said her sister, not
pressing the point. "I made sure last night that I heard somebody in
the house."

"Did you?" said Tabitha, grasping her arm, a horrible look on her face.
"So did I. I thought they went to Ursula's room, and I got out of bed
and went on the stairs to listen."

"Well?" said Eunice faintly, fascinated by the look on her sister's

"There was something there," said Tabitha slowly. "I'll swear it, for I
stood on the landing by her door and listened; something scuffling on
the floor round and round the room. At first I thought it was the cat,
but when I went up there this morning the door was still locked, and the
cat was in the kitchen."

"Oh, let us leave this dreadful house," moaned Eunice.

"What!" said her sister grimly; "afraid of poor Ursula? Why should you
be? Your own sister who nursed you when you were a babe, and who
perhaps even now comes and watches over your slumbers."

"Oh!" said Eunice, pressing her hand to her side, "if I saw her I should
die. I should think that she had come for me as she said she would. O
God! have mercy on me, I am dying."

She reeled as she spoke, and before Tabitha could save her, sank
senseless to the floor.

"Get some water," cried Tabitha, as old Martha came hurrying up the
stairs, "Eunice has fainted."

The old woman, with a timid glance at her, retired, reappearing shortly
afterwards with the water, with which she proceeded to restore her much-
loved mistress to her senses. Tabitha, as soon as this was
accomplished, stalked off to her room, leaving her sister and Martha
sitting drearily enough in the small parlour, watching the fire and
conversing in whispers.

It was clear to the old servant that this state of things could not last
much longer, and she repeatedly urged her mistress to leave a house so
lonely and so mysterious. To her great delight Eunice at length
consented, despite the fierce opposition of her sister, and at the mere
idea of leaving gained greatly in health and spirits. A small but
comfortable house was hired in Morville, and arrangements made for a
speedy change.

It was the last night in the old house, and all the wild spirits of the
marshes, the wind and the sea seemed to have joined forces for one
supreme effort. When the wind dropped, as it did at brief intervals,
the sea was heard moaning on the distant beach, strangely mingled with
the desolate warning of the bell-buoy as it rocked to the waves. Then
the wind rose again, and the noise of the sea was lost in the fierce
gusts which, finding no obstacle on the open marshes, swept with their
full fury upon the house by the creek. The strange voices of the air
shrieked in its chimneys windows rattled, doors slammed, and even, the
very curtains seemed to live and move.

Eunice was in bed, awake. A small nightlight in a saucer of oil shed a
sickly glare upon the worm-eaten old furniture, distorting the most
innocent articles into ghastly shapes. A wilder gust than usual almost
deprived her of the protection afforded by that poor light, and she lay
listening fearfully to the creakings and other noises on the stairs,
bitterly regretting that she had not asked Martha to sleep with her.
But it was not too late even now. She slipped hastily to the floor,
crossed to the huge wardrobe, and was in the very act of taking her
dressing-gown from its peg when an unmistakable footfall was heard on
the stairs. The robe dropped from her shaking fingers, and with a
quickly beating heart she regained her bed.

The sounds ceased and a deep silence followed, which she herself was
unable to break although she strove hard to do so. A wild gust of wind
shook the windows and nearly extinguished the light, and when its flame
had regained its accustomed steadiness she saw that the door was slowly
opening, while the huge shadow of a hand blotted the papered wall.
Still her tongue refused its office. The door flew open with a crash, a
cloaked figure entered and, throwing aside its coverings, she saw with a
horror past all expression the napkin-bound face of the dead Ursula
smiling terribly at her. In her last extremity she raised her faded
eyes above for succour, and then as the figure noiselessly advanced and
laid its cold hand upon her brow, the soul of Eunice Mallow left its
body with a wild shriek and made its way to the Eternal.

Martha, roused by the cry, and shivering with dread, rushed to the door
and gazed in terror at the figure which stood leaning over the bedside.
As she watched, it slowly removed the cowl and the napkin and exposed
the fell face of Tabitha, so strangely contorted between fear and
triumph that she hardly recognized it.

"Who's there?" cried Tabitha in a terrible voice as she saw the old
woman's shadow on the wall.

"I thought I heard a cry," said Martha, entering. "Did anybody call?"

"Yes, Eunice," said the other, regarding her closely. "I, too, heard
the cry, and hurried to her. What makes her so strange? Is she in a

"Ay," said the old woman, falling on her knees by the bed and sobbing
bitterly, "the trance of death. Ah, my dear, my poor lonely girl, that
this should be the end of it! She has died of fright," said the old
woman, pointing to the eyes, which even yet retained their horror. "She
has seen something devilish."

Tabitha's gaze fell. "She has always suffered with her heart," she
muttered; "the night has frightened her; it frightened me."

She stood upright by the foot of the bed as Martha drew the sheet over
the face of the dead woman.

"First Ursula, then Eunice," said Tabitha, drawing a deep breath. "I
can't stay here. I'll dress and wait for the morning."

She left the room as she spoke, and with bent head proceeded to her own.
Martha remained by the bedside, and gently closing the staring eyes,
fell on her knees, and prayed long and earnestly for the departed soul.
Overcome with grief and fear she remained with bowed head until a sudden
sharp cry from Tabitha brought her to her feet.

"Well," said the old woman, going to the door.

"Where are you?" cried Tabitha, somewhat reassured by her voice.

"In Miss Eunice's bedroom. Do you want anything?"

"Come down at once. Quick! I am unwell."

Her voice rose suddenly to a scream. "Quick! For God's sake! Quick,
or I shall go mad. There is some strange woman in the house."

The old woman stumbled hastily down the dark stairs. "What is the
matter?" she cried, entering the room. "Who is it? What do you mean?"

"I saw it," said Tabitha, grasping her convulsively by the shoulder. "I
was coming to you when I saw the figure of a woman in front of me going
up the stairs. Is it--can it be Ursula come for the soul of Eunice, as
she said she would?"

"Or for yours?" said Martha, the words coming from her in some odd
fashion, despite herself.

Tabitha, with a ghastly look, fell cowering by her side, clutching
tremulously at her clothes. "Light the lamps," she cried hysterically.
"Light a fire, make a noise; oh, this dreadful darkness! Will it never
be day!"

"Soon, soon," said Martha, overcoming her repugnance and trying to
pacify her. "When the day comes you will laugh at these fears."

"I murdered her," screamed the miserable woman, "I killed her with
fright. Why did she not give me the money? 'Twas no use to her. Ah!
Look there!"

Martha, with a horrible fear, followed her glance to the door, but saw

"It's Ursula," said Tabitha from between her teeth. "Keep her off!
Keep her off!"

The old woman, who by some unknown sense seemed to feel the presence of
a third person in the room, moved a step forward and stood before her.
As she did so Tabitha waved her arms as though to free herself from the
touch of a detaining hand, half rose to her feet, and without a word
fell dead before her.

At this the old woman's courage forsook her, and with a great cry she
rushed from the room, eager to escape from this house of death and
mystery. The bolts of the great door were stiff with age, and strange
voices seemed to ring in her ears as she strove wildly to unfasten them.
Her brain whirled. She thought that the dead in their distant rooms
called to her, and that a devil stood on the step outside laughing and
holding the door against her. Then with a supreme effort she flung it
open, and heedless of her night-clothes passed into the bitter night.
The path across the marshes was lost in the darkness, but she found it;
the planks over the ditches slippery and narrow, but she crossed them in
safety, until at last, her feet bleeding and her breath coming in great
gasps, she entered the village and sank down more dead than alive on a
cottage doorstep.


"Handsome is as 'andsome does," said the night-watchman. It's an old
saying, but it's true. Give a chap good looks, and it's precious little
else that is given to 'im. He's lucky when 'is good looks 'ave gorn--or
partly gorn--to get a berth as night-watchman or some other hard and
bad-paid job.

One drawback to a good-looking man is that he generally marries young;
not because 'e wants to, but because somebody else wants 'im to. And
that ain't the worst of it: the handsomest chap I ever knew married five
times, and got seven years for it. It wasn't his fault, pore chap; he
simply couldn't say No.

One o' the best-looking men I ever knew was Cap'n Bill Smithers, wot
used to come up here once a week with a schooner called the Wild Rose.
Funny thing about 'im was he didn't seem to know about 'is good looks,
and he was one o' the quietest, best-behaved men that ever came up the
London river. Considering that he was mistook for me more than once, it
was just as well.

He didn't marry until 'e was close on forty; and then 'e made the
mistake of marrying a widder-woman. She was like all the rest of 'em--
only worse. Afore she was married butter wouldn't melt in 'er mouth,
but as soon as she 'ad got her "lines" safe she began to make up for it.

For the fust month or two 'e didn't mind it, 'e rather liked being
fussed arter, but when he found that he couldn't go out for arf an hour
without having 'er with 'im he began to get tired of it. Her idea was
that 'e was too handsome to be trusted out alone; and every trip he made
'e had to write up in a book, day by day, wot 'e did with himself. Even
then she wasn't satisfied, and, arter saying that a wife's place was by
the side of 'er husband, she took to sailing with 'im every v'y'ge.

Wot he could ha' seen in 'er I don't know. I asked 'im one evening--in
a roundabout way--and he answered in such a long, roundabout way that I
didn't know wot to make of it till I see that she was standing just
behind me, listening. Arter that I heard 'er asking questions about me,
but I didn't 'ave to listen: I could hear 'er twenty yards away, and
singing to myself at the same time.

Arter that she treated me as if I was the dirt beneath 'er feet. She
never spoke to me, but used to speak against me to other people. She
was always talking to them about the "sleeping-sickness" and things o'
that kind. She said night-watchmen always made 'er think of it somehow,
but she didn't know why, and she couldn't tell you if you was to ask
her. The only thing I was thankful for was that I wasn't 'er husband.
She stuck to 'im like his shadow, and I began to think at last it was a
pity she 'adn't got some thing to be jealous about and something to
occupy her mind with instead o' me.

"She ought to 'ave a lesson," I ses to the skipper one evening. "Are
you going to be follered about like this all your life? If she was made
to see the foolishness of 'er ways she might get sick of it."

My idea was to send her on a wild-goose chase, and while the Wild Rose
was away I thought it out. I wrote a love-letter to the skipper signed
with the name of "Dorothy," and asked 'im to meet me at Cleopatra's
Needle on the Embankment at eight o'clock on Wednesday. I told 'im to
look out for a tall girl (Mrs. Smithers was as short as they make 'em)
with mischievous brown eyes, in a blue 'at with red roses on it.

I read it over careful, and arter marking it "Private," twice in front
and once on the back, I stuck it down so that it could be blown open
a'most, and waited for the schooner to come back. Then I gave a van-boy
twopence to 'and it to Mrs. Smithers, wot was sitting on the deck alone,
and tell 'er it was a letter for Captain Smithers.

I was busy with a barge wot happened to be handy at the time, but I
'eard her say that she would take it and give it to 'im. When I peeped
round she 'ad got the letter open and was leaning over the side to
wind'ard trying to get 'er breath. Every now and then she'd give
another look at the letter and open 'er mouth and gasp; but by and by
she got calmer, and, arter putting it back in the envelope, she gave it
a lick as though she was going to bite it, and stuck it down agin. Then
she went off the wharf, and I'm blest if, five minutes arterwards, a
young fellow didn't come down to the ship with the same letter and ask
for the skipper.

"Who gave it you?" ses the skipper, as soon as 'e could speak.

"A lady," ses the young fellow.

The skipper waved 'im away, and then 'e walked up and down the deck like
a man in a dream.

"Bad news?" I ses, looking up and catching 'is eye.

"No," he ses, "no. Only a note about a couple o' casks o' soda."

He stuffed the letter in 'is pocket and sat on the side smoking till his
wife came back in five minutes' time, smiling all over with good temper.

"It's a nice evening," she ses, "and I think I'll just run over to
Dalston and see my Cousin Joe."

The skipper got up like a lamb and said he'd go and clean 'imself.

"You needn't come if you feel tired," she ses, smiling at 'im.

The skipper could 'ardly believe his ears.

"I do feel tired," he ses. "I've had a heavy day, and I feel more like
bed than anything else."

"You turn in, then," she ses. "I'll be all right by myself."

She went down and tidied herself up--not that it made much difference to
'er--and, arter patting him on the arm and giving me a stare that would
ha' made most men blink, she took herself off.

I was pretty busy that evening. Wot with shifting lighters from under
the jetty and sweeping up, it was pretty near ha'-past seven afore I 'ad
a minute I could call my own. I put down the broom at last, and was
just thinking of stepping round to the Bull's Head for a 'arf-pint when
I see Cap'n Smithers come off the ship on to the wharf and walk to the

"I thought you was going to turn in?" I ses.

"I did think of it," he ses, "then I thought p'r'aps I'd better stroll
as far as Broad Street and meet my wife."

It was all I could do to keep a straight face. I'd a pretty good idea
where she 'ad gorn; and it wasn't Dalston.

"Come in and 'ave 'arf a pint fust," I ses.

"No; I shall be late," he ses, hurrying off.

I went in and 'ad a glass by myself, and stood there so long thinking of
Mrs. Smithers walking up and down by Cleopatra's Needle that at last the
landlord fust asked me wot I was laughing at, and then offered to make
me laugh the other side of my face. And then he wonders why people go
to the Albion.

I locked the gate rather earlier than usual that night. Sometimes if
I'm up that end I leave it a bit late, but I didn't want Mrs. Smithers
to come along and nip in without me seeing her face.

It was ten o'clock afore I heard the bell go, and when I opened the
wicket and looked out I was surprised to see that she 'ad got the
skipper with 'er. And of all the miserable-looking objects I ever saw
in my life he was the worst. She 'ad him tight by the arm, and there
was a look on 'er face that a'most scared me.

"Did you go all the way to Dalston for her?" I ses to 'im.

Mrs. Smithers made a gasping sort o' noise, but the skipper didn't
answer a word.

She shoved him in in front of 'er and stood ever 'im while he climbed
aboard. When he held out 'is hand to help 'er she struck it away.

I didn't get word with 'im till five o'clock next morning, when he came
up on deck with his 'air all rough and 'is eyes red for want of sleep.

"Haven't 'ad a wink all night," he ses, stepping on to the wharf.

I gave a little cough. "Didn't she 'ave a pleasant time at Dalston?" I

He walked a little further off from the ship. "She didn't go there," he
ses, in a whisper.

"You've got something on your mind," I ses. "Wot is it?"

He wouldn't tell me at fust, but at last he told me all about the letter
from Dorothy, and 'is wife reading it unbeknown to 'im and going to meet

"It was an awful meeting!" he ses. "Awful!"

I couldn't think wot to make of it. "Was the gal there, then?" I ses,
staring at 'im.

"No," ses the skipper; "but I was."

"You?" I ses, starting back. "You! Wot for? I'm surprised at you! I
wouldn't ha' believed it of you!"

"I felt a bit curious," he ses, with a silly sort o' smile. "But wot I
can't understand is why the gal didn't turn up."

"I'm ashamed of you, Bill," I ses, very severe.

"P'r'aps she did," he ses, 'arf to 'imself, "and then saw my missis
standing there waiting. P'r'aps that was it."

"Or p'r'aps it was somebody 'aving a game with you," I ses.

"You're getting old, Bill," he ses, very short. "You don't understand.
It's some pore gal that's took a fancy to me, and it's my dooty to meet
'er and tell her 'ow things are."

He walked off with his 'ead in the air, and if 'e took that letter out
once and looked at it, he did five times.

"Chuck it away," I ses, going up to him.

"Certainly not," he ses, folding it up careful and stowing it away in
'is breastpocket. "She's took a fancy to me, and it's my dooty----"

"You said that afore," I ses.

He stared at me nasty for a moment, and then 'e ses: "You ain't seen any
young lady hanging about 'ere, I suppose, Bill? A tall young lady with
a blue hat trimmed with red roses?"

I shook my 'ead.

"If you should see 'er" he ses.

"I'll tell your missis," I ses. "It 'ud be much easier for her to do
her dooty properly than it would you. She'd enjoy doing it, too."

He went off agin then, and I thought he 'ad done with me, but he 'adn't.
He spoke to me that evening as if I was the greatest friend he 'ad in
the world. I 'ad two 'arfpints with 'im at the Albion--with his missis
walking up and down outside--and arter the second 'arf-pint he said he
wanted to meet Dorothy and tell 'er that 'e was married, and that he
'oped she would meet some good man that was worthy of 'er.

I had a week's peace while the ship was away, but she was hardly made
fast afore I 'ad it all over agin and agin.

"Are you sure there's been no more letters?" he ses.

"Sartain," I ses.

"That's right," he ses; "that's right. And you 'aven't seen her walking
up and down?"

"No," I ses.

"'Ave you been on the look-out?" he ses. "I don't suppose a nice gal
like that would come and shove her 'ead in at the gate. Did you look up
and down the road?"

"Yes," I ses. "I've fair made my eyes ache watching for her."

"I can't understand it," he ses. "It's a mystery to me, unless p'r'aps
she's been taken ill. She must 'ave seen me here in the fust place; and
she managed to get hold of my name. Mark my words, I shall 'ear from
her agin."

"'Ow do you know?" I ses.

"I feel it 'ere," he ses, very solemn, laying his 'and on his chest.

I didn't know wot to do. Wot with 'is foolishness and his missis's
temper, I see I 'ad made a mess of it. He told me she had 'ardly spoke
a word to 'im for two days, and when I said--being a married man myself
--that it might ha' been worse, 'e said I didn't know wot I was talking

I did a bit o' thinking arter he 'ad gorn aboard agin. I dursn't tell
'im that I 'ad wrote the letter, but I thought if he 'ad one or two more
he'd see that some one was 'aving a game with 'im, and that it might do
'im good. Besides which it was a little amusement for me.

Arter everybody was in their beds asleep I sat on a clerk's stool in the
office and wrote 'im another letter from Dorothy. I called 'im "Dear
Bill," and I said 'ow sorry I was that I 'adn't had even a sight of 'im
lately, having been laid up with a sprained ankle and 'ad only just got
about agin. I asked 'im to meet me at Cleopatra's Needle at eight
o'clock, and said that I should wear the blue 'at with red roses.

It was a very good letter, but I can see now that I done wrong in
writing it. I was going to post it to 'im, but, as I couldn't find an
envelope without the name of the blessed wharf on it, I put it in my
pocket till I got 'ome.

I got 'ome at about a quarter to seven, and slept like a child till
pretty near four. Then I went downstairs to 'ave my dinner.

The moment I opened the door I see there was something wrong. Three
times my missis licked 'er lips afore she could speak. Her face 'ad
gone a dirty white colour, and she was leaning forward with her 'ands on
her 'ips, trembling all over with temper.

"Is my dinner ready?" I ses, easy-like. "'Cos I'm ready for it."

"I--I wonder I don't tear you limb from limb," she ses, catching her

"Wot's the matter?" I ses.

"And then boil you," she ses, between her teeth. "You in one pot and
your precious Dorothy in another."

If anybody 'ad offered me five pounds to speak then, I couldn't ha' done
it. I see wot I'd done in a flash, and I couldn't say a word; but I
kept my presence o' mind, and as she came round one side o' the table I
went round the other.

"Wot 'ave you got to say for yourself?" she ses, with a scream.

"Nothing," I ses, at last. "It's all a mistake."

"Mistake?" she ses. "Yes, you made a mistake leaving it in your pocket;
that's all the mistake you've made. That's wot you do, is it, when
you're supposed to be at the wharf? Go about with a blue 'at with red
roses in it! At your time o' life, and a wife at 'ome working herself
to death to make both ends meet and keep you respectable!"

"It's all a mistake," I ses. "The letter wasn't for me."

"Oh, no, o' course not," she ses. "That's why you'd got it in your
pocket, I suppose. And I suppose you'll say your name ain't Bill next."

"Don't say things you'll be sorry for," I ses.

"I'll take care o' that," she ses. "I might be sorry for not saying
some things, but I don't think I shall."

I don't think she was. I don't think she forgot anything, and she raked
up things that I 'ad contradicted years ago and wot I thought was all
forgot. And every now and then, when she stopped for breath, she'd try
and get round to the same side of the table I was.

She follered me to the street door when I went and called things up the
road arter me. I 'ad a snack at a coffee-shop for my dinner, but I
'adn't got much appetite for it; I was too full of trouble and finding
fault with myself, and I went off to my work with a 'art as heavy as

I suppose I 'adn't been on the wharf ten minutes afore Cap'n Smithers
came sidling up to me, but I got my spoke in fust.

"Look 'ere," I ses, "if you're going to talk about that forward hussy
wot's been writing to you, I ain't. I'm sick and tired of 'er."

"Forward hussy!" he ses. "Forward hussy!" And afore I could drop my
broom he gave me a punch in the jaw that pretty near broke it. "Say
another word against her," he ses, "and I'll knock your ugly 'ead off.
How dare you insult a lady?"

I thought I should 'ave gone crazy at fust, but I went off into the
office without a word. Some men would ha' knocked 'im down for it, but
I made allowances for 'is state o' mind, and I stayed inside until I see
'im get aboard agin.

He was sitting on deck when I went out, and his missis too, but neither
of 'em spoke a word. I picked up my broom and went on sweeping, when
suddenly I 'eard a voice at the gate I thought I knew, and in came my

"Ho!" she ses, calling out. "Ain't you gone to meet that gal at
Cleopatra's Needle yet? You ain't going to keep 'er waiting, are you?"

"H'sh!" I ses.

"H'sh! yourself," she ses, shouting. "I've done nothing to be ashamed
of. I don't go to meet other people's husbands in a blue 'at with red
roses. I don't write 'em love-letters, and say 'H'sh!' to my wife when
she ventures to make a remark about it. I may work myself to skin and
bone for a man wot's old enough to know better, but I'm not going to be
trod on. Dorothy, indeed! I'll Dorothy 'er if I get the chance."

Mrs. Smithers, wot 'ad been listening with all her ears, jumped up, and
so did the skipper, and Mrs. Smithers came to the side in two steps.

"Did you say 'Dorothy,' ma'am?" she ses to my missis.

"I did," ses my wife. "She's been writing to my husband."

"It must be the same one," ses Mrs. Smithers. "She's been writing to
mine too."

The two of 'em stood there looking at each other for a minute, and then
my wife, holding the letter between 'er finger and thumb as if it was
pison, passed it to Mrs. Smithers.

"It's the same," ses Mrs. Smithers. "Was the envelope marked

"I didn't see no envelope," ses my missis. "This is all I found."

Mrs. Smithers stepped on to the wharf and, taking 'old of my missis by
the arm, led her away whispering. At the same moment the skipper walked
across the deck and whispered to me.

"Wot d'ye mean by it?" he ses. "Wot d'ye mean by 'aving letters from
Dorothy and not telling me about it?"

"I can't help 'aving letters any more than you can," I ses. "Now
p'r'aps you'll understand wot I meant by calling 'er a forward hussy."

"Fancy 'er writing to you!" he ses, wrinkling 'is forehead. "Pph! She
must be crazy."

"P'r'aps it ain't a gal at all," I ses. "My belief is somebody is
'aving a game with us."

"Don't be a fool," he ses. "I'd like to see the party as would make a
fool of me like that. Just see 'im and get my 'ands on him. He
wouldn't want to play any more games."

It was no good talking to 'im. He was 'arf crazy with temper. If I'd
said the letter was meant for 'im he'd 'ave asked me wot I meant by
opening it and getting 'im into more trouble with 'is missis, instead of
giving it to 'im on the quiet. I just stood and suffered in silence,
and thought wot a lot of 'arm eddication did for people.

"I want some money," ses my missis, coming back at last with Mrs.

That was the way she always talked when she'd got me in 'er power. She
took two-and-tenpence--all I'd got--and then she ordered me to go and
get a cab.

"Me and this lady are going to meet her," she ses, sniffing at me.

"And tell her wot we think of 'er," ses Mrs. Smithers, sniffing too.

"And wot we'll do to 'er," ses my missis.

I left 'em standing side by side, looking at the skipper as if 'e was a
waxworks, while I went to find a cab. When I came back they was in the
same persition, and 'e was smoking with 'is eyes shut.

They went off side by side in the cab, both of 'em sitting bolt-upright,
and only turning their 'eads at the last moment to give us looks we
didn't want.

"I don't wish her no 'arm," ses the skipper, arter thinking for a long
time. "Was that the fust letter you 'ad from 'er, Bill?"

"Fust and last," I ses, grinding my teeth.

"I hope they won't meet 'er, pore thing," he ses.

"I've been married longer than wot you have," I ses, "and I tell you one
thing. It won't make no difference to us whether they do or they
don't," I ses.

And it didn't.


"I'm the happiest man in the world," said Mr. Farrer, in accents of
dreamy tenderness.

Miss Ward sighed. "Wait till father comes in," she said.

Mr. Farrer peered through the plants which formed a welcome screen to
the window and listened with some uneasiness. He was waiting for the
firm, springy step that should herald the approach of ex-Sergeant-Major
Ward. A squeeze of Miss Ward's hand renewed his courage.

"Perhaps I had better light the lamp," said the girl, after a long
pause. "I wonder where mother's got to?"

"She's on my side, at any rate," said Mr. Farrer.

"Poor mother!" said the girl. "She daren't call her soul her own. I
expect she's sitting in her bedroom with the door shut. She hates
unpleasantness. And there's sure to be some."

"So do I," said the young man, with a slight shiver. "But why should
there be any? He doesn't want you to keep single all your life, does

"He'd like me to marry a soldier," said Miss Ward. "He says that the
young men of the present day are too soft. The only thing he thinks
about is courage and strength."

She rose and, placing the lamp on the table, removed the chimney, and
then sought round the room for the matches. Mr. Farrer, who had two
boxes in his pocket, helped her.

They found a box at last on the mantelpiece, and Mr. Farrer steadied her
by placing one arm round her waist while she lit the lamp. A sudden
exclamation from outside reminded them that the blind was not yet drawn,
and they sprang apart in dismay as a grizzled and upright old warrior
burst into the room and confronted them.

"Pull that blind down!" he roared. "Not you," he continued, as Mr.
Farrer hastened to help. "What do you mean by touching my blind? What
do you mean by embracing my daughter? Eh? Why don't you answer?"

"We--we are going to be married," said Mr. Farrer, trying to speak

The sergeant-major drew himself up, and the young man gazed in dismay at
a chest which seemed as though it would never cease expanding.

"Married!" exclaimed the sergeant-major, with a grim laugh. "Married to
a little tame bunny-rabbit! Not if I know it. Where's your mother?"
he demanded, turning to the girl.

"Upstairs," was the reply.

Her father raised his voice, and a nervous reply came from above. A
minute later Mrs. Ward, pale of cheek, entered the room.

"Here's fine goings-on!" said the sergeant major, sharply. "I go for a
little walk, and when I come back this--this infernal cockroach has got
its arm round my daughter's waist. Why don't you look after her? Do
you know anything about it?"

His wife shook her head.

"Five feet four and about thirty round the chest, and wants to marry my
daughter!" said the sergeant-major, with a sneer. "Eh? What's that?
What did you say? What?"

"I said that's a pretty good size for a cockroach," murmured Mr. Farrer,
defiantly. "Besides, size isn't everything. If it was, you'd be a
general instead of only a sergeant-major."

"You get out of my house," said the other, as soon as he could get his
breath. "Go on Sharp with it."

"I'm going," said the mortified Mr. Farrer. "I'm sorry if I was rude. I
came on purpose to see you to-night. Bertha--Miss Ward, I mean--told me
your ideas, but I couldn't believe her. I said you'd got more common
sense than to object to a man just because he wasn't a soldier."

"I want a man for a son-in-law," said the other. "I don't say he's got
to be a soldier."

"Just so," said Mr. Farrer. "You're a man, ain't you? Well, I'll do
anything that you'll do."

"Pph!" said the sergeant-major. "I've done my little lot. I've been in
action four times, and wounded in three places. That's my tally."

"The colonel said once that my husband doesn't know what fear is," said
Mrs. Ward, timidly. "He's afraid of nothing."

"Except ghosts," remarked her daughter, softly.

"Hold your tongue, miss," said her father, twisting his moustache. "No
sensible man is afraid of what doesn't exist."

"A lot of people believe they do, though," said Mr. Farrer, breaking in.
"I heard the other night that old Smith's ghost has been seen again
swinging from the apple tree. Three people have seen it."

"Rubbish!" said the sergeant-major.

"Maybe," said the young man; "but I'll bet you, Mr. Ward, for all your
courage, that you won't go up there alone at twelve o'clock one night to

"I thought I ordered you out of my house just now," said the sergeant-
major, glaring at him.

"Going into action," said Mr. Farrer, pausing at the door, "is one thing
--you have to obey orders and you can't help yourself; but going to a
lonely cottage two miles off to see the ghost of a man that hanged
himself is another."

"Do you mean to say I'm afraid?" blustered the other.

Mr. Farrer shook his head. "I don't say anything," he remarked; "but
even a cockroach does a bit of thinking sometimes."

"Perhaps you'd like to go," said the sergeant-major.

"I don't mind," said the young man; "and perhaps you'll think a little
better of me, Mr. Ward. If I do what you're afraid to do--"

Mrs. Ward and her daughter flung themselves hastily between the
sergeant-major and his intended sacrifice. Mr. Farrer, pale but
determined, stood his ground.

"I'll dare you to go up and spend a night there alone," he said.

"I'll dare you," said the incensed warrior, weakly.

"All right; I'll spend Wednesday night there," said Mr. Farrer, "and
I'll come round on Thursday and let you know how I got on."

"I dare say," said the other; "but I don't want you here, and, what's
more, I won't have you. You can go to Smith's cottage on Wednesday at
twelve o'clock if you like, and I'll go up any time between twelve and
three and make sure you're there. D'ye understand? I'll show you
whether I'm afraid or not."

"There's no reason for you to be afraid," said Mr. Farrer. "I shall be
there to protect you. That's very different to being there alone, as I
shall be. But, of course, you can go up the next night by yourself, and
wait for me, if you like. If you like to prove your courage, I mean."

"When I want to be ordered about," said the sergeant-major, in a
magnificent voice, "I'll let you know. Now go, before I do anything I
might be sorry for afterwards."

He stood at the door, erect as a ramrod, and watched the young man up
the road. His conversation at the supper-table that night related
almost entirely to puppy-dogs and the best way of training them.

He kept a close eye upon his daughter for the next day or two, but human
nature has its limits. He tried to sleep one afternoon in his easy-
chair with one eye open, but the exquisite silence maintained by Miss
Ward was too much for it. A hum of perfect content arose from the
feature below, and five minutes later Miss Ward was speeding in search
of Mr. Farrer.

"I had to come, Ted," she said, breathlessly, "because to-morrow's
Wednesday. I've got something to tell you, but I don't know whether I
ought to."

"Tell me and let me decide," said Mr. Farrer, tenderly.

"I--I'm so afraid you might be frightened," said the girl. "I won't
tell you, but I'll give you a hint. If you see anything awful, don't be

Mr. Farrer stroked her hand. "The only thing I'm afraid of is your
father," he said, softly.

"Oh!" said the girl, clasping her hands together. "You have guessed

"Guessed it?" said Mr. Farrer.

Miss Ward nodded. "I happened to pass his door this morning," she said,
in a low voice. "It was open a little way, and he was standing up and
measuring one of mother's nightgowns against his chest. I couldn't
think what he was doing it for at first."

Mr. Farrer whistled and his face hardened.

"That's not fair play," he said at last. "All right; I'll be ready for

"He doesn't like to be put in the wrong," said Miss Ward. "He wants to
prove that you haven't got any courage. He'd be disappointed if he
found you had."

"All right," said Mr. Farrer again. "You're an angel for coming to tell

"Father would call me something else, I expect," said Miss Ward, with a
smile. "Good-bye. I want to get back before he wakes up."

She was back in her chair, listening to her father's slumbers, half an
hour before he awoke.

"I'm making up for to-morrow night," he said, opening his eyes suddenly.

His daughter nodded.

"Shows strength of will," continued the sergeant-major, amiably.
"Wellington could go to sleep at any time by just willing it. I'm the
same way; I can go to sleep at five minutes' notice."

"It's a very useful gift," said Miss Ward, piously, "very."

Mr. Ward had two naps the next day. He awoke from the second at twelve-
thirty a.m., and in a somewhat disagreeable frame of mind rose and
stretched himself. The house was very still. He took a small brown-
paper parcel from behind the sofa and, extinguishing the lamp, put on
his cap and opened the front door.

If the house was quiet, the little street seemed dead. He closed the
door softly and stepped into the darkness. In terms which would have
been understood by "our army in Flanders" he execrated the forefathers,
the name, and the upbringing of Mr. Edward Farrer.

Not a soul in the streets; not a light in a window. He left the little
town behind, passed the last isolated house on the road, and walked into
the greater blackness of a road between tall hedges. He had put on
canvas shoes with rubber soles, for the better surprise of Mr. Farrer,
and his own progress seemed to partake of a ghostly nature. Every ghost
story he had ever heard or read crowded into his memory. For the first
time in his experience even the idea of the company of Mr. Farrer seemed
better than no company at all.

The night was so dark that he nearly missed the turning that led to the
cottage. For the first few yards he had almost to feel his way; then,
with a greater yearning than ever for the society of Mr. Farrer, he
straightened his back and marched swiftly and noiselessly towards the

It was a small, tumble-down place, set well back in an overgrown garden.
The sergeant-major came to a halt just before reaching the gate, and,
hidden by the hedge, unfastened his parcel and shook out his wife's best

He got it over his head with some difficulty, and, with his arms in the
sleeves, tried in vain to get his big hands through the small, lace-
trimmed wristbands. Despite his utmost efforts he could only get two or
three fingers through, and after a vain search for his cap, which had
fallen off in the struggle, he made his way to the gate and stood there
waiting. It was at this moment that the thought occurred to him that
Mr. Farrer might have failed to keep the appointment.

His knees trembled slightly and he listened anxiously for any sound from
the house. He rattled the gate and, standing with white arms
outstretched, waited. Nothing happened. He shook it again, and then,
pulling himself together, opened it and slipped into the garden. As he
did so a large bough which lay in the centre of the footpath
thoughtfully drew on one side to let him pass.

Mr. Ward stopped suddenly and, with his gaze fixed on the bough, watched
it glide over the grass until it was swallowed up in the darkness. His
own ideas of frightening Mr. Farrer were forgotten, and in a dry,
choking voice he called loudly upon the name of that gentleman.

He called two or three times, with no response, and then, in a state of
panic, backed slowly towards the gate with his eyes fixed on the house.
A loud crash sounded from somewhere inside, the door was flung violently
open, and a gruesome figure in white hopped out and squatted on the

It was evident to Sergeant-Major Ward that Mr. Farrer was not there, and
that no useful purpose could be served by remaining. It was clear that
the young man's courage had failed him, and, with grey head erect,
elbows working like the sails of a windmill, and the ends of the
nightgown streaming behind him, the sergeant-major bent his steps
towards home.

He dropped into a walk after a time and looked carefully over his
shoulder. So far as he could see he was alone, but the silence and
loneliness were oppressive. He looked again, and, without stopping to
inquire whether his eyes had deceived him, broke into a run again.
Alternately walking and running, he got back to the town, and walked
swiftly along the streets to his house. Police-Constable Burgess, who
was approaching from the other direction, reached it at almost the same
moment, and, turning on his lantern, stood gaping with astonishment.
"Anything wrong?" he demanded.

"Wrong?" panted the sergeant-major, trying to put a little surprise and
dignity into his voice. "No."

"I thought it was a lady walking in her sleep at first," said the
constable. "A tall lady."

The sergeant-major suddenly became conscious of the nightgown. "I've
been--for a little walk," he said, still breathing hard. "I felt a bit
chilly--so I--put this on."

"Suits you, too," said the constable, stiffly. "But you Army men always
was a bit dressy. Now if I put that on I should look ridikerlous."

The door opened before Mr. Ward could reply, and revealed, in the light
of a bedroom candle, the astonished countenances of his wife and

"George!" exclaimed Mrs. Ward.

"Father!" said Miss Ward.

The sergeant-major tottered in and, gaining the front room, flung
himself into his arm-chair. A stiff glass of whisky and water, handed
him by his daughter, was swallowed at a gulp.

"Did you go?" inquired Mrs. Ward, clasping her hands.

The sergeant-major, fully conscious of the suspicions aroused by his
disordered appearance, rallied his faculties. "Not likely," he said,
with a short laugh. "After I got outside I knew it was no good going
there to look for that young snippet. He'd no more think of going there
than he would of flying. I walked a little way down the road--for
exercise--and then strolled back."

"But--my nightgown?" said the wondering Mrs. Ward.

"Put it on to frighten the constable," said her husband.

He stood up and allowed her to help him pull it off. His face was
flushed and his hair tousled, but the bright fierceness of his eye was
unquenched. In submissive silence she followed him to bed.

He was up late next morning, and made but a poor breakfast. His after-
dinner nap was disturbed, and tea was over before he had regained his
wonted calm. An hour later the arrival of a dignified and reproachful
Mr. Farrer set him blazing again.

"I have come to see you about last night," said Mr. Farrer, before the
other could speak. "A joke's a joke, but when you said you would come I
naturally expected you would keep your word."

"Keep my word?" repeated the sergeant-major, almost choking with wrath.

"I stayed there in that lonely cottage from twelve to three, as per
agreement, waiting for you," said Mr. Farrer.

"You were not there," shouted the sergeant-major.

"How do you know?" inquired the other.

The sergeant-major looked round helplessly at his wife and daughter.

"Prove it," said Mr. Farrer, pushing his advantage. "You questioned my
courage, and I stayed there three hours. Where were you?"

"You were not there," said the sergeant-major. "I know. You can't
bluff me. You were afraid."

"I was there, and I'll swear it," said Mr. Farrer. "Still, there's no
harm done. I'll go there again to-night, and I'll dare you to come for

"Dare?" said the sergeant-major, choking. "Dare?"

"Dare," repeated the other; "and if you don't come this time I'll spread
it all over Marcham. To-morrow night you can go there and wait for me.
If you see what I saw--"

"Oh, Ted!" said Miss Ward, with a shiver. "Saw?" said the sergeant-
major, starting. "Nothing harmful," said Mr. Farrer, calmly.

"As a matter of fact, it was very interesting."

"What was?" demanded the sergeant-major.

"It sounds rather silly, as a matter of fact," said Mr. Farrer, slowly.
"Still, I did see a broken bough moving about the garden."

Mr. Ward regarded him open-mouthed.

"Anything else?" he inquired, in a husky voice.

"A figure in white," said Mr. Farrer, "with long waving arms, hopping
about like a frog. I don't suppose you believe me, but if you come to-
night perhaps you'll see it yourself. It's very interesting.

"Wer--weren't you frightened?" inquired the staring Mrs. Ward.

Mr. Farrer shook his head. "It would take more than that to frighten
me," he said, simply. "I should be ashamed of myself to be afraid of a
poor thing like that. It couldn't do me any harm."

"Did you see its face?" inquired Mrs. Ward, nervously.

Mr. Farrer shook his head.

"What sort of a body had it got?" said her daughter.

"So far as I could see, very good," said Mr. Farrer. "Very good figure
--not tall, but well made."

An incredible suspicion that had been forming in the sergeant-major's
mind began to take shape. "Did you see anything else?" he asked,

"One more," said Mr. Farrer, regarding him pleasantly. "One I call the
Running Ghost."

"Run--" began the sergeant-major, and stopped suddenly.

"It came in at the front gate," pursued Mr. Farrer. "A tall, well-knit
figure of martial bearing--much about your height, Mr. Ward--with a
beautiful filmy white robe down to its knees--"

He broke off in mild surprise, and stood gazing at Miss Ward, who, with
her handkerchief to her mouth, was rocking helplessly in her chair.

"Knees," he repeated, quietly. "It came slowly down the path, and half
way to the house it stopped, and in a frightened sort of voice called
out my name. I was surprised, naturally, but before I could get to it--
to reassure it--"

"That'll do," said the sergeant-major, rising hastily and drawing
himself up to his full height.

"You asked me," said Mr. Farrer, in an aggrieved voice.

"I know I did," said the sergeant-major, breathing heavily. "I know I
did; but if I sit here listening to any more of your lies I shall be
ill. The best thing you can do is to take that giggling girl out and
give her a breath of fresh air. I have done with her."


A lad of about twenty stepped ashore from the schooner Jane, and joining
a girl, who had been avoiding for some ten minutes the ardent gaze of
the night-watchman, set off arm-in-arm. The watchman rolled his eyes
and shook his head slowly.

Nearly all his money on 'is back, he said, and what little bit 'e's got
over he'll spend on 'er. And three months arter they're married he'll
wonder wot 'e ever saw in her. If a man marries he wishes he 'adn't,
and if he doesn't marry he wishes he 'ad. That's life.

Looking at them two young fools reminds me of a nevy of Sam Small's; a
man I think I've spoke to you of afore. As a rule Sam didn't talk much
about 'is relations, but there was a sister of 'is in the country wot 'e
was rather fond of because 'e 'adn't seen 'er for twenty years. She 'ad
got a boy wot 'ad just got a job in London, and when 'e wrote and told
'er he was keeping company with the handsomest and loveliest and best
'arted gal in the whole wide world, she wrote to Sam about it and asked
'im to give 'is nevy some good advice.

Sam 'ad just got back from China and was living with Peter Russet and
Ginger Dick as usual, and arter reading the letter about seven times and
asking Ginger how 'e spelt "minx," 'e read the letter out loud to them
and asked 'em what they thought about it.

Ginger shook his 'ead, and, arter thinking a bit, Peter shook his too.

"She's caught 'im rather young," ses Ginger.

"They get it bad at that age too," ses Peter. "When I was twenty, there
was a gal as I was fond of, and a regiment couldn't ha' parted us."

"Wot did part you then?" ses Sam.

"Another gal," ses Peter; "a gal I took a fancy to, that's wot did it."

"I was nearly married when I was twenty," ses Ginger, with a far-away
look in his eyes. "She was the most beautiful gal I ever saw in my
life; she 'ad one 'undred pounds a year of 'er own and she couldn't bear
me out of her sight. If a thump acrost the chest would do that cough of
yours any good, Sam--"

"Don't take no notice of 'im, Ginger," ses Peter. "Why didn't you marry

"'Cos I was afraid she might think I was arter 'er money," ses Ginger,
getting a little bit closer to Sam.

Peter 'ad another turn then, and him and Ginger kept on talking about
gals whose 'arts they 'ad broke till Sam didn't know what to do with

"I'll just step round and see my nevy, while you and Peter are amusing
each other," he ses at last. "I'll ask 'im to come round to-morrow and
then you can give 'im good advice."

The nevy came round next evening. Bright, cheerful young chap 'e was,
and he agreed with everything they said. When Peter said as 'ow all
gals was deceivers, he said he'd known it for years, but they was born
that way and couldn't 'elp it; and when Ginger said that no man ought to
marry afore he was fifty, he corrected 'im and made it fifty-five.

"I'm glad to 'ear you talk like that," ses Ginger.

"So am I," ses Peter.

"He's got his 'ead screwed on right," ses Sam, wot thought his sister
'ad made a mistake.

"I'm surprised when I look round at the wimmen men 'ave married," ses
the nevy; "wot they could 'ave seen in them I can't think. Me and my
young lady often laugh about it."

"Your wot?" ses Sam, pretending to be very surprised.

"My young lady," ses the nevy.

Sam gives a cough. "I didn't know you'd got a young lady," he ses.

"Well, I 'ave," ses his nevy, "and we're going to be married at

"But--but you ain't fifty-five," ses Ginger.

"I'm twenty-one," ses the nevy, "but my case is different. There isn't
another young lady like mine in the world. She's different to all the
others, and it ain't likely I'm going to let 'er be snapped up by
somebody else. Fifty-five! Why, 'ow I'm to wait till Christmas I don't
know. She's the prettiest and handsomest gal in the world; and she's
the cleverest one I ever met. You ought to hear 'er laugh. Like music
it is. You'd never forget it."

"Twenty-one is young," ses Ginger, shaking his 'ead. "'Ave you known
'er long?"

"Three months," ses the nevy. "She lives in the same street as I do.
'Ow it is she ain't been snapped up before, I can't think, but she told
me that she didn't care for men till she saw me."

"They all say that," ses Ginger.

"If I've 'ad it said to me once, I've 'ad it said twenty times," ses
Peter, nodding.

"They do it to flatter," ses old Sam, looking as if 'e knew all about
it. "You wait till you are my age, Joe; then you'll know; why I should
ha' been married dozens o' times if I 'adn't been careful."

"P'r'aps it was a bit on both sides," ses Joe, looking at 'is uncle.
"P'r'aps they was careful too. If you only saw my young lady, you
wouldn't talk like that. She's got the truthfullest eyes in the world.
Large grey eyes like a child's, leastways sometimes they are grey and
sometimes they are blue. It seems to depend on the light somehow; I
'ave seen them when they was a brown-brownish-gold. And she smiles with
'er eyes."

"Hasn't she got a mouth?" ses Ginger, wot was getting a bit tired of

"You've been crossed in love," ses the nevy, staring at 'im. "That's
wot's the matter with you. And looking at you, I don't wonder at it."

Ginger 'arf got up, but Sam gave him a look and 'e sat down agin, and
then they all sat quiet while the nevy went on telling them about 'is

"I should like to see 'er," ses his uncle at last.

"Call round for me at seven to-morrow night," ses the young 'un, "and
I'll introduce you."

"We might look in on our way," ses Sam, arter Ginger and Peter 'ad both
made eyes at 'im. "We're going out to spend the evening."

"The more the merrier," ses his nevy. "Well, so long; I expect she's
waiting for me."

He got up and said good-bye, and arter he 'ad gorn, Sam and the other
two shook their leads together and said what a pity it was to be twenty-
one. Ginger said it made 'im sad to think of it, and Peter said 'ow any
gal could look at a man under thirty, 'e couldn't think.

They all went round to the nevy's the next evening. They was a little
bit early owing to Ginger's watch 'aving been set right by guess-work,
and they 'ad to sit in a row on the nevy's bed waiting while 'e cleaned
'imself, and changed his clothes. Although it was only Wednesday 'e
changed his collar, and he was so long making up 'is mind about his
necktie that 'is uncle tried to make it up for him. By the time he 'ad
finished Sam said it made 'im think it was Sunday.

Miss Gill was at 'ome when they got there, and all three of 'em was very
much surprised that such a good-looking gal should take up with Sam's
nevy. Ginger nearly said so, but Peter gave 'im a dig in the back just
in time and 'e called him something under 'is breath instead.

"Why shouldn't we all make an evening of it?" ses Ginger, arter they 'ad
been talking for about ten minutes, and the nevy 'ad looked at the clock
three or four times.

"Because two's company," ses Mrs. Gill. "Why you was young yourself
once. Can't you remember?"

"He's young now, mother," ses the gal, giving Ginger a nice smile.

"I tell you wot we might do," ses Mrs. Gill, putting 'er finger to her
forehead and considering. "You and Joe go out and 'ave your evening,
and me and these gentlemen'll go off together somewhere. I shall enjoy
an outing; I ain't 'ad one for a long time."

Ginger said it would be very nice if she thought it wouldn't make 'er
too tired, and afore Sam or Peter could think of anything to say, she
was upstairs putting 'er bonnet on. They thought o' plenty to say while
they was sitting alone with Ginger waiting for 'er.

"My idea was for the gal and your nevy to come too," ses pore Ginger.
"Then I thought we might lose 'im and I would 'ave a little chat with
the gal, and show 'er 'ow foolish she was."

"Well, you've done it now," ses Sam. "Spoilt our evening."

"P'r'aps good will come out of it," ses Ginger. "If the old lady takes
a fancy to us we shall be able to come agin, and then to please you,
Sam, I'll have a go to cut your nevy out."

Sam stared at 'im, and Peter stared too, and then they looked at each
other and began to laugh till Ginger forgot where 'e was and offered to
put Sam through the winder. They was still quarrelling under their
breath and saying wot they'd like to do to each other when Mrs. Gill
came downstairs. Dressed up to the nines she was, and they walked down
the street with a feeling that everybody was looking at em.

One thing that 'elped to spoil the evening was that Mrs. Gill wouldn't
go into public'ouses, but to make up for it she went into sweet-stuff
shops three times and 'ad ices while they stood and watched 'er and
wondered 'ow she could do it. And arter that she stopped at a place
Poplar way, where there was a few swings and roundabouts and things.
She was as skittish as a school-gal, and arter taking pore Sam on the
roundabout till 'e didn't know whether he was on his 'eels or his 'ead,
she got 'im into a boat-swing and swung 'im till he felt like a boy on
'is fust v'y'ge. Arter that she took 'im to the rifle gallery, and
afore he had 'ad three shots the man took the gun away from 'im and
threatened to send for the police.

It was an expensive evening for all of them, but as Ginger said when
they got 'ome they 'ad broken the ice, and he bet Peter Russet 'arf a
dollar that afore two days 'ad passed he'd take the nevy's gal for a

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