Page images

but a man reclining on a canvas chair to the toga already. If we don't take on the roof of the house-boat, obviously steps he will no doubt dress for dinin a position of considerable comfort, ner.” The Admiral's voice bad that possibly of comfort greater than was ring of decision in it that always good for one who had not yet reached brought an expression of studied innothe prime of life; but this of itself was cence into the faces of the large unhardly enough to explain the ferocity ruly boys at the bottom of the Lower now levelled at him from three pairs of Sixth, and he stooped for a convenient eyes. Nor was there anything notice- piece of stick. able in him otherwise to the casual eye. The missile struck the sleeper on the He wore a suit of dark blue, which elbow and roused him to rub his eyes, was plainly, even in his attitude of re- push his hat back, and sit up. “Hullo!" pose, of good cut and fit; one leg, he said, seeing his friends. "Got back? crossed over the other, displayed a neat Nearly tea-time isn't it? What's the boot of an unostentatious brown,-that matter?" he added, as his slowly resober and gentlemanly brown of good turning consciousness grasped the fact leather carefully tended which is only that they were considering him with attained by a man with a real sense of disapproval. the niceties of dress; a decent inch of "Why, if one may ask, have you put shirt-cuff showed modestly beyond his those things on?" asked the Admiral in coat-sleeve, giving a hint of the gold his magisterial manner. links that secured it, and a Panama “You're in the country, you know, on bat with a broad brim was tilted on his the river,-camping out,” explained face till it almost touched a tall and William, kindly explicit, moved by the very white collar. The disposition of evident lack of comprehension in the the hat suggested slumber; but set him face of the accused. on his feet, and he might have ap- "So are we,” added Talbot, "and if peared in the pavilion at Lord's or be. you think we came down here to wear hind the Ditch on a fine day in July collars, and look like tailor's dummies without seeming out of place on the generally, you're mistaken."

a credit to the house-boat which sup- now clear and Sir Seymour Haddon ported him; he gave it an air of social (commonly known as Charles from a stability, and suggested a blending of certain propensity to magnificence) re

of the country essentially gratifying to see complacently. "These things ?” he the urbane mind.

said with a fine air of depreciation. However, the men on the bank had “Oh, well, I had a bathe after you felpresumably lost their urbanity of mind lows were gone, and I thought I'd try if they had ever possessed such a qual- on this new suit; it only came just beity, for they regarded him with un- fore I left town, and my man packed mixed irritation. “I suppose,” said it straight away. I think it's a very Talbot scornfully, "he thinks this is decent fit.” Then he surveyed the othHenley, and himself the cynosure ofers and laughed. “I suppose it is a bit every eye."

of a contrast,” he added; "but you "It can't be that, or he wouldn't be want somebody to look decent." asleep," William objected with great The urbane mind would very probajustice. "It's sheer vanity."

bly have assented heartily to this after “We have been here less than a day," eren a superficial study of the three. said the Admiral, "and he has returned Indeed, a glance at William alone would have settled the matter. The The others nodded assent, and Wiigarments which he wore with the ease liam putting the kettle on the now of long familiarity consisted of a crick- crackling fire rose to his feet. "Yes," eting shirt open at the throat, a pair of he said, “it's a distinct breach of the flannel trousers too short for him, and agreement, that every man should only a flannel coat of a color that was no bring his oldest clothes." color but the accidental result of sev- "We should have people coming here eral. Upon his head was a white linen to look at him," Talbot remarked. hat, whose brim, innocent of starch, “That's what he wants," said the Adflapped comically over a nose that had miral unkindly. At this moment a already been a little touched by the loud splash announced that the object sun. The others might be described of discussion had “gone in again," and as variants of the same disreputable presently his head was apparent in the type, Talbot having a small advan- distance as he swam strongly down tage in an enormous gray felt hat, de- stream. signed originally perhaps for some Ger- Talbot put down the loaf and the man professor, but in our unintellect- marmalade and walked swiftly to the ual climate long since robbed of all house-boat, crossed the plank that shape and style, of everything indeed joined it to the shore, and went inside. save color and size.

Presently he emerged carrying a fat "You look unmitigated ruffians," pur- Gladstone bag, with which he returned. sued Charles frankly. “All right, don't "I've got them,” he said; "half-a-dozen throw," he added in haste as with one white linen shirts, if you please, and consent the others began to stoop. no end of collars and ties. I've left

"Take them off then," said Talbot, bim his flannels on his locker." in the tone of one who dictates "What are you going to do with the terms.

bag?" asked William. "I'm going to," conceded the weaker "Hide it,” returned Talbot briefly; “I party. "I'm going in again before know a place." And without more tea." Therewith he descended the com- ado he went off in the direction of the panion-ladder and disappeared within osier-bed, from which they had origithe house-boat.

nally come. "Now for the kettle,” said William, “Got the courage of his convictions. and they moved on again. A little "Justum ac tenacem propositi virum,higher up the bank stood a small white commented the Admiral when he had bell-tent, and at its door a long trestle- gone, as he ladled tea lavishly into the table was set out with a bench on pot with a tablespoon. either side. A rude fire-place built of The kettle had been boiling some bricks with an iron grid above it served time when Talbot returned, and he for the kitchen of the expedition, and found the others already at tea. He William was soon coaxing the still nodded in answer to their questions smouldering embers into a flame with and sat down. "No, I shan't say where bits of dry stick, while the others pro. I've put it,” he said; "one of you might

and laid them out on the table.

tice it at first probably, because he Talbot paused, with a loaf of bread put the things back into it before he in one hand and a pot of marmalade bathed and hid the bag in the kitchen. in the other, and spoke solemnly. When he does, he'll be too slack to **They ought to be taken away from worry much. It's lucky there are no him.”

women anywhere round here.” And

with this unchivalrous sentiment Tal- want to, though I should have thought bot poured himself out some tea. that in your crowded life you would

"Women are not unwelcome in their have enjoyed a fortnight of freedom. proper sphere," said the Admiral, as But we are not going to entertain one who concedes a point generously; young ladies here, are we, Admiral?" “but they would be impossible for “Certainly not,” said the person adcamping-out. The modern woman dressed, with decision. wants such a lot of attention, and she “Oh well,” conceded Charles, “it would insist on our shaving. That's doesn't matter. I don't know them the worst of a person like Charles, very well. Here's Majendie," he added whose instinct it is to shave every as the noise of oars reached them. day; he encourages the sex in its tyr. The approaching dinghy soon touched apny.” The Admiral (who, by the way, the bank, and the man in it jumped was so called, not from any nautical out and fastened the painter to a stake. skill above the common, but because Then he hurried towards them. “Tea ? his name was Crichton) felt his chin as Excellent," he said briskly, "just what he spoke; but it was still beardless. I was longing for. The chub are beginCivilization had only released him early ning to rise in the mill-pool,” he added that morning.

turning to Talbot, who nodded. Presently Charles approached. He "I'll have a go for them after looked somewhat languid after his tea,” he replied. “Have you been swim, and even though he was now in far?" flannels struck a note of elegance that "About a mile below the lock,” said was impressive amid these surround- Majendie, “and a bit of the way up ings. "There's a jolly weir about a the back-water. There are some more quarter of a mile down," he said. "I people camping out there," he anshall have the bottom boards out of the nounced as he stirred the sugar in his dinghy and toboggan down it.”

tea. "Did you see Majendie?” asked Wil- "House-boat?” asked William. liam.

“No, tents, three I think; I didn't Charles shook his head. "He took go very close. They're well up the the boat through the lock," he replied, back-water on that little promontory "and he hadn't come back, while I was below the weir-pool.” in the water." He ate some bread and “Did you see any of the men ?" asked butter meditatively. “Isn't there a the Admiral. place called Handcote somewhere near Majendie adjusted his eyeglasses. here?" he asked after a pause.

"No," he said slowly, “I didn't see any "Yes," said William who knew the of the men, but I fancy I saw some district. “Why?"

parasols." "I know some people who live there,” “Saw what?" said Talbot in rather a Charles explained, “people called startled tone, and the others echoed the Grove. There are two nice girls. I question. must go over and call, and we could "Parasols," repeated Majendie, not have them out to tea."

ill-pleased with the sensation he had The others exchanged a glance, and created; "two of them, a red one and Talbot expressed the common thought, a blue one; but it doesn't follow they with sarcastic emphasis. "My dear belonged to the tents." Charles, we have not come down here Talbot shook his head gloomily. to mix in the world of fashion and “Sure to," he said. "Where else could beauty. You can go and call if you they come from? It's miles from the

LIVING AGE. VOL. xxxv. 1818


nearest habitable place, isn't it, Wil- and I've hardly seen a soul before exliam?"

cept the rustics." "Miles," agreed that gentleman. "Pity it's got so populous in the inter“There's only the farm, and I doubt if val," said Talbot, whose temper was there's such a thing as a parasol there; evidently seriously tried by the news. the vicar's a bachelor. They might "I'll tell you what we could do," have come up in a boat, except that suggested Majendie, "if they make boats never get as high as this if themselves too obnoxious; we could they've got women on board."

move our quarters. I found a creek a “Damn," observed Talbot from the mile down stream which would do very middle of bis train of thought.

Charles who had been listening with "There's a better one still, about two a kindling eye made no attempt to dis- miles up,” said William after a little guise his satisfaction. “Quite a god- thought. “The river divides in two send," he remarked. “We must get there, and it's right in the woods." to know them and have them to Charles felt it his duty to comment tea."

on this proposal. “That's all very "Whom? The parasols?” asked the well," he said persuasively, “but where Admiral.

are you going to get your provisions "Only a pretty girl would camp out from? Butter and milk don't grow in with a parasol," pursued Charles ig- the woods, and here we've got them noring him. Then a thought struck at our very door, so to speak, to say him and his eye involuntarily wan- nothing of drinking-water. You don't dered towards the house-boat. It was want to walk a mile and a half carrya fortunate circumstance that he had ing buckets every morning." brought that suit of clothes.

“A lot of water you drink," said Tal"They'll be an infernal nuisance," bot with ferocity. grumbled Talbot. “How can men be "I always take water with my expected to camp out in comfort where whiskey," returned Charles with mild there are a lot of women always dignity. about?"

“There's a good deal in what Charles “They're a good distance off, that's says," admitted William. “At any rate one comfort,” said William.

I think we had better see what hap“And on the further bank of the pens. Things may not be so bad afback-water," Majendie put in, "so ter all, and we don't know for certain we've got two streams between us and yet that the parasols do belong to the them."

tents.” The others, inclined to ease “What's a mere river to a wilful after a hard day, agreed that hasty acwoman?" asked Talbot indignantly. tion would be unwise, and Charles,

"'Under the fountains and over the now that his tongue had done its work, waves,' " quoted the Admiral. "But, again fixed his eyes complacently on seriously, as Talbot says, it will be a the house-boat. real inconvenience if they come wan- Talbot caught the look and in a measdering about much. It is not what we ure it helped to restore him to good had a right to expect. What did you humor. It was a fortunate circumsay it was the quietest bit of river in stance that Charles no longer had his England for?" He looked accusingly suit of clothes. Then he rose. “Any at William

of you fellows want the boat?" he "So it used to be," was the answer asked, and the others shook their “This is the fourth time I've been here, heads. "Let's go and put a fly over

the mill-pool, then," he said to Majen "Which way?" asked the Adiniral. die. "I want to get one of those big Charles's gesture included the half chub, if the petticoats haven't fright of the compass in which lay the backened them all away." And the two water, but he said, "Oh, I don't mind; were soon pulling down stream to any way you like.” wards the lock.

"I'll wash up," said William, "and "Let's go for a stroll, Admiral," said then I'll have a bathe." And so this Charles innocently.

most ungallant scene ended.

(To be continued.) Macmillan's Magasine.


The Longfellow centenary, celebrated fellow will hardly suggest the requisite in the United States February the 27th, alibi. Hardly is it possible for the is a notable event from more points of most epigrammatic of moderns to apview than a merely literary one. As a proach his name, even through the most direct literary influence Longfellow has careful series of paradoxes. To the practically ceased to exist at the pres- merely æsthetic critic it is impossible. ent time--that is to say, he does not in- On almost any page of an Arthur Paul fluence the men who write for writers. Pater or a William Butler Maeterlinck Modern journalists, of course, have no Moore the mere name of Longfellow time to read anything but ephemeral would be worse than a loud and proliterature: they are begining to discover longed fit of sneezing by a very shy a better trick than the study of Addi.' man's wife at a very solemn moment sun. Still, the bare idea of Mr. Ches. in a very silent and crowded church. terton, for example, settling down at Yet cowards die many times before his fireside to read “The Village Black their deaths; and, assuredly, Longfellow smith" or "The Reaper and the Angel" is very like Death. No one can escape is a little funnier, perhaps, than the him. You may read some decadent supposition that he has really read the little volume and sally forth to taste Brontës, in whom he so glibly discovers Life at a London music-hall; but it is precisely the same "abysm" (colored quite on the cards that the old mole red or blue to taste) as he finds in will “work i' the earth so fast" as to Dickens, Charles the Second, Max greet you from the stage. Some low Beerbohm, "Paradise Regained,” Mr. comedian in enormous pantaloons will George Shaw (we absolutely refuse to advance displaying his biceps and ancall him Bernard), Little Tich, and the nouncing, amid roars of laughter from Fathers of the Church. Of course, he the congregated “æsthetes and London is quite right. Our point is, that it nighters," that "under a spreading must save him and his like a good deal chestnut-tree the village smithy of unnecessary delving into Thomas stands." Nor does the fact that Long Aquinas and Longfellow. To know fellow is the standing butt for the Little Tich is to know all, from Homer cheaper sort of parody mean that he is

-nay, from the Megatherium-on- ceasing to be taken seriously. “Exwards. Yet the name of Longfellow celsior" and "The Wreck of the Hesis one to be shunned in print by a mod- perus" are recited to-day by "beautiful ern critic who values his reputation. pink children" in thousands of schoolThe abysms-to use an unusual collo rooms. “The Courtship of Miles Standcation of words in the case of Long- ish" is delivered at hundreds of penny

« PreviousContinue »