A Party of Four

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A Party of Four  (1895) 
by Stanley J. Weyman

Extracted from Short Stories, pp. vol. 20, 1895, 189-201. Accompanying illustrations omitted.

A Party of Four

By Stanley J. Weyman

IT is of no importance to any one why, on that particular evening, I did not go down Bond Street to my club, as I had done many hundreds of times before; why, instead of betaking myself like a sensible man to my dinner, I plunged into Brook Street, and went mooning westward through the drizzle. Perhaps I was tired of dining, having dined so often before, only to dine again. Or perhaps I had taken afternoon tea and been snubbed, or wanted something out of the common to happen, or really had no reason at all for the freak.

It had an unpleasant beginning near Grosvenor Square. A little short of that place a hansom dashed up to the pavement, and, drawing up sharply beside me, splashed me so freely that I stopped short with a mild exclamation. The words were still in the air when two people jumped out of the cab, under a lamp as it chanced; and, while I stood glowering upon them, proceeded to pay the driver. The one was a tall girl, dressed in mourning; the other, a child of twelve or thirteen, wearing short, full skirts of that age, a purple cloak lightly edged with fur, and a big purple hat, partly covered by a white veil. Still standing, as much from indignation as to wipe the mud from my cheek, I heard what followed.

"Kitty!" exclaimed the child, as the elder girl held up the fare, "do not pay him; let him wait for us."

Kitty shook her head. "Why, dear?" she answered, gently; "we shall have no trouble in finding another."

"But you will stay so long," her sister—I concluded they were sisters—pleaded, "and it is cold."

"Indeed I will not stay long," was the elder's reply. "I will stay a very, very little time, darling."

Now, said I to myself, that girt is in trouble; and as they moved toward the square, I, too, walked on, so that when they reached the corner, and stopped abruptly, I nearly ran against them. They were standing arm-in-arm, looking toward the inner pavement, which runs round the garden. Without intending to listen I heard, as I tacked round them—their umbrella acting as a sounding-board—a few more words.

"Look, Kitty!" the younger was saying, "there she is again!"

"Poor thing!" replied the elder girl.

And that—that was all I heard. But the voice was the voice of an angel—in trouble. And the pathos and sorrow that rang in the two words set my curiosity vibrating more briskly than all their previous talk, or even their air of good breeding—out of place in the streets after nightfall—had been able to do.

"There she is again!" I said to myself. Up to this time I had learned involuntarily what I had. Now I took the first step toward meddling in a strange business by crossing the roadway to the garden, instead of keeping along the outer pavement. I would see who was there again. And I did. I came upon her at once—a short, middle-aged woman, plainly dressed so far as I could see, and apparently of the lower class. She was standing still, her back to the garden railings, her eyes strained—or did I judge of that by her attitude?—in an intent looking toward the houses opposite her. There was nothing odd about her except this air of watching, and perhaps her position; nor anything to connect her with the two girls now lost in the gloom, but probably not far off. She did not move nor avert her eyes as I brushed close before her, but only drew a quick sigh, as of impatience at the obstacle which for a moment intervened between her and her object.

Naturally I examined the house at which she was looking. It was the second from the corner, a large house with a brightly lit porch and heavy double doors. The rooms on the ground floor and the floor above were partly visible. Upstairs the curtains had been drawn, but not closely. In the dining-room below they had not been drawn, so that I could see what was passing within.

But the scene was commonplace enough. Two servants, an old man and a young one, were putting the finishing touches to a well-appointed dinner-table; walking round it and daintily moving this thing and that. There were good pictures on the walls, there was plate on the sideboard, and shaded lamps cast a warm glow upon glass and flowers. But in all this there was nothing which might not be seen in a thousand houses.

Yet stay. While I looked, the men paused at their work. The elder seemed to be speaking to the other with animation, as if he were arguing with him or scolding him. More than once he raised his hands energetically, while the figure of the young man betrayed some shame, I thought, and more obstinacy. Still there was nothing marvelous in this, a servants' dispute, and I was moving away, pishing and pshawing, when I saw, a few yards from me, in the same attitude and gazing in the same direction as the middle-aged woman, my former friends—the two girls of the cab. It was wonderful how my curiosity was set a-thrilling again. Not caring whether they saw me or not, or what they thought of me, I crossed over to the pavement to read the number of the house.

I was making a note of it, when one leaf of the doors was thrown open violently, and a voice cried, "Out you go, my lad!"

And out accordingly, and down the steps, forcibly impelled, as it seemed to me, from behind, came the young man-servant, he whom I had seen in the dining-room. He held, in a helpless kind of way, as if they had been thrust upon him, an overcoat and a hat, and his face wore as foolish an expression of discomfiture as I ever saw.

"Come, none of that, Mr. Bund!" he cried, in weakly remonstrance, as he poised himself on the lowest step. "I do not see why I should go right away. I will not be turned out, sir!"

"Yes, you will, James," replied the butler, giving him a gentle push which landed him staggering on the pavement. "You will go, or you will wait at table, which you were engaged to do, my lad."

"Not on them!" exclaimed the young man, with a burst of excitement. "Why, you do not know the minute when one of them might turn round and——"

"Hold your tongue!" broke in the other, imperiously, "or you will get into worse trouble than this; you mark my words."

"You give me a month's wages," said the ejected one.

He seemed to be a weak young man and easily cowed.

"Not I!"

"Then let me get my things."

"Your things! You can come and get them to-morrow," was the contemptuous answer. "You do not go down into the kitchen to chatter to-night, which is what you would be at. You are a mean cur, James, that is what you are!"

"I would not talk of curs in that house, if I were you," retorted James spitefully. "People who live in——"

He did not finish. His taunt, which seemed to me harmless enough, seemed quite otherwise to the butler. The latter sprang down the steps, swelling like a turkey-cock, and would certainly have fallen upon the offender had not the young man, with a faint cry of alarm, fled and disappeared in the darkness.

"What is the matter, butler?" I asked, as he remounted the steps.

He eyed me sharply. "Oh, only a servant that would be master," he answered. "Pretty short-handed he has left me, too, hang him!"

"With a party on your hands?" I said, sympathetically.

"Party of four," he answered, shortly, his hand on the door; and he again looked me over, in doubt, I think, whether he should add "sir" or not. I was wearing an old overcoat above my evening clothes, and, instead of an opera hat, had carelessly put on, the evening being damp, a low-crowned black hat. I interpreted his glance, and suddenly saw a way in which I might gratify my curiosity.

"Look here!" I said, preparing to make a bold plunge for it, "I can wait at table, and I am a respectable man. I will give you a hand for the evening, if you like."

He whistled softly, looking much astonished. "Could not do it," he said, shaking his head. "There is plate about, and I do not know you from Adam."

"I am just off a job," I urged, more eager now, and pleased to find my invention serve me so well. "I go out evenings. I am not badly off, but I would rather take half-a-crown and my supper, and perhaps extend my connection, than waste time. Look here, I have a gold watch—legacy from an old master. Suppose I hand it over to you as security. Terms, half-a-crown and my supper."

"You can wait?"

"Rather!" I said, presumptuously.

He wavered, poising my watch, an old-fashioned timekeeper, which had been my father's, in his hand. "I am loath to let a stranger in the house," he said, "but there is nothing Sir Eldred hates so much as a bad service. I am half inclined to try you, young man. I like your looks."

I could have said much on that, but refrained. "All I want is a job," I answered, modestly.

"Then in you come," he said, making up his mind. "It is just striking eight, and Sir Eldred is an impatient man at the best of times. Slip your coat and hat under this bench. And look slippery yourself, for there goes the master's bell. I will take the meats and wines, and do you take the sauces and the vegetables. The girl brings everything to the door. You understand, do you?"

I said "Yes," and did as I was bidden. But the prospect before me seemed more dubious now. My fingers had suddenly become thumbs, a very odd thing. And even my cheeks fell to burning, when almost immediately four gentlemen filed into the room and sat down at the round table. Two minutes had not elapsed, however, before I was myself again; following my leader with cayenne pepper and lemon as to the manner born, and displaying, I flatter myself, a fair amount of readiness and aplomb.

And so incongruous a party, for a West-End dining-room, were those four at the table, that I felt my curiosity was justified. I had no difficulty in picking out Sir Eldred. He alone looked at me with passing surprise. He was a man of refined type, with aquiline nose, blue eyes, and a long fair beard; fastidious, whimsical, and a bit of an epicure, if appearances went for anything. Facing him, wearing a kind of undress uniform jacket, sat a man whom he addressed as "Skipper," a short, sturdy sailor with a tanned face and a goatee beard, and the separate use of an oath which was new to me.

The third at table, sitting at Sir Eldred's right, was a pale, sickly youth, who from the moment of entering the room never ceased to fidget, I might almost say, to shiver and shake. If he touched a glass, it rattled against its fellows. If I handed a dish to him, he knocked it with his elbow; and his fingers so persistently dropped his knife and fork, that I am sure the only food that reached his lips was the bread he continually crumbled. He wore the regulation dinner-dress, but his hair was not that of a gentleman, although he came into the room on his host's arm, and Sir Eldred showed him much attention, even clapping him on the shoulder as he sat down, and saying, kindly, "Come, cheer up, my boy. We are all here again, you see."

"Aye, cheer up, lad," cried the skipper, bluntly, as he spread his napkin with elaborate ease. "Care killed a cat!"

"Oh, don't! don't!" cried the youth, staggering to his feet, as though a pin had run into him. "How can you! You—you——" Trembling, he cast a vicious glance, half hate, half fear, at the sailor.

"Skipper! skipper!" said Sir Eldred, reproachfully, laying his hand on the young man's arm and drawing him down again, "be a bit more careful."

"By the Lassie Kowen!" replied the sailor, "but I forgot." And he showed a certain amount of real concern, though for the life of me I could not see what harm he had done.

"Come, we are all here," repeated the host, with an air of satisfaction. "Where" (to the butler) "is the claret, Bund? Bring it round, and let us drink our toast and be thankful."

A sort of grace this, I thought. With some ceremony the butler, bidding me by a glance to stand back, brought from the sideboard a salver, bearing a Venetian glass carafe of claret and four glasses. One of these he filled and gave to his master, who waited with it in his hands until all were served. Then saying, with a ghost of a smile, "To our next meeting, gentlemen," Sir Eldred raised it to his lips and drank it dry. The sailor followed suit, tossing off the wine with much braggadocio, and smacking his lips afterward with such gusto that I could scarcely think the liquor merely claret. The fourth at table, whom I have not described—a stout, melancholy man of pasty complexion, with a big, bald head and thick lips: he wore evening-dress, but I saw the breadth of his thumb, and set him down for a master-saddler—took his glassful without looking up or saying a word. But even in him, as he set down the glass, I detected a curl of the lip that betokened relief. There remained only the young man at the host's right hand.

Sir Eldred, beginning his soup, cast an anxious glance at him. "Peter thinks," he said, lightly, "that he drinks best who drinks last. Come, pass the Rubicon! I mean," for it was evident that the youth did not understand him, "drink it off and no heeltaps, my boy."

Thus adjured, the young fellow raised the glass to his lips with an unsteady hand, and, with a queer, shrinking look in his face that was as unintelligible to me as the rest of the scene, did as he was ordered; not the least strange item being the interest which I could see the other three secretly took in this simple action.

"That is well done. We shall make a toper of you yet!" cried the host, slapping the table cheerily—over-cheerily, perhaps. "Seven from forty-two leaves thirty-five. Skipper, you want something with more body in it. Bund, quick with the sherry! Friedricsson, you liked the soup last night. What of this? Now, Peter, to dinner! Care killed a——" He stopped with his mouth wide open, an expression of wrathful surprise on his face; and the skipper, who had had his glass of sherry, roared, "Ho! ho! ho! If the pilot do not know the shoals, it is small blame to the sailor-man, Sir Eldred. That is good sea-law, by the Lassie Kowen."

"I hate a sea-lawyer," retorted the baronet, testily.

"So do I," was the hearty answer. After which the conversation, though always jerky, a fitful merriment alternating with a thoughtful pause, grew more general. The man of leather, who kept his appetite in spite of depression, gave gloomy praise to the cook. The youthful Peter hazarded a few tremulous remarks. And from these I gathered that this was not the first nor was it meant to be the last occasion of the quartette dining together.

I stealthily rubbed my eyes, yet still they were all there, the fastidious baronet, the tradesman, the cockney clerk, the merchant-mate. There, notwithstanding my rubbing, they still sat, hobnobbing together in this house in Grosvenor Square, and feigning, for some inscrutable reason, to be of the same rank in life: to be one and all bred to the napkin. Was it some new Abbey of Thelema? I asked myself. Some extravagant offshoot of Toynbee Hall? Some whim of a rich Socialist? Or was the baronet mad? Or the youth some near relation, yet a monomaniac who had to be honored? Or had I really strayed into the land where cream tarts are dashed with pepper? I wondered, and remembering what the young footman had let fall, grew suspicious. It pleased me to hear outside the occasional rattle of a carriage and the heavy tread of a policeman.

It was in the baronet my curiosity centred. And, taking every opportunity of watching him, I was presently rewarded. I was handing some jelly to his opposite neighbor, when I saw him pause with his fork halfway to his lips, and listen. I listened too, and was conscious of a stir in the hall—of a noise as if some one or something shuffling to and fro, with every now and then a shorter throb of sound. Listening intently, I forgot what I was about, and though the skipper had helped himself, I continued to hold the dish before him, until his harsh voice roused me with a start.

"Guess I'll not take the whole cargo this voyage," he said. "You've dropped anchor too near inshore, young man."

I drew back in confusion, but escaped notice, as Sir Eldred rose.

"I am afraid," he exclaimed, looking round in anger for the butler, who had slipped toward the door. "I am afraid—— How is it, Bund, that my orders have been neglected?"

Bund not answering, the sailor seemed at once to understand.

"Oh! by the Lassie Kowen! that is too bad," he cried, violently. "Not that I mind for myself, not I. But our mate here——" and glancing at the gloomy epicure, he left his sentence unfinished.

"Go and see, Bund!" ordered Sir Eldred, wrathfully. "Go and see!"

The butler had been standing near the door, with his hand upon it. Now he slid quickly out, and at once the noise ceased. While he was absent I noticed that the stout man desisted from eating, and sat with his eyes fixed upon the door and a look of dull alarm in them.

"Well?" said Sir Eldred when Bund came back. "Well?"

"She went out by the area door, sir," the butler said in a low tone, "and came in by the front. I can assure you, sir, it will not occur again. I have——" and he added something, the meaning of which I could not catch.

With that the incident ended, but it seemed to have destroyed such good fellowship as had existed. The bald tradesman left his jelly on his plate, and looked as if he was going to be ill. Sir Eldred's face wore a frown. The skipper tossed off two glasses of sherry, one on top of the other. Only the white-faced clerk, fumbling with his bread, had betrayed no particular emotion, being too much taken up with his troubles, whatever they were, to perceive anything strange, or to sympathize with the feelings of his companions.

"Whatever was the matter outside or whoever was the intruder," I thought, "they are a nervous lot. One is as bad as another. And then, who in heaven's name are they? Conspirators, madmen, actors, or practical jokers?"

By this time dinner was over. The wine was being put on the table, and I was dreading the order to withdraw—for curiosity raised to the pitch which mine had reached is an intolerable thing—when, following the skipper's eye, I saw a tear—an unmistakable tear, big, leaden and unconventional—trolling down the fat face of the man known as Friedricsson. The skipper saw it, too, as I have hinted.

"Come," cried he, bluntly, "don't give way, brother. We are all in the same boat."

The stout man seemed by a melancholy shake of the head to demur.

"You do not think so? Come, how do you foot it up?" asked the sailor, briskly, affecting interest, as I thought, to draw the other into an argument.

"They have neither wife nor child," he began. "You have only a wife."

"You have no call to 'only' her," interrupted the merchant-mate, sharply. "She is a woman in a hundred, aye, in a thousand! God bless her!" and he drank her health defiantly.

"Well, you have no children," the other meekly answered, "and I have seven. Perhaps that seems a small thing to you, and to make no difference."

But the skipper, nodding gravely, confessed that there was something in the distinction. And on the instant a ray of light pierced my mind. I divined who was the plainly dressed woman I had seen watching the house. Clearly the woman in a hundred. The skipper's wife. And the two girls, then—who were they? Sir Eldred had no wife or child. No; but at mention of those relations, a flush and a momentary parting of the lips, as in a smile arrested by some gloomy thought before it took shape, had been visible to one observing him. No, he had no wife or child; but that he had one who some day might be his wife I felt sure; as sure of it as she was then waiting and watching outside, sharing for some unknown reason the ill-lit, windswept pavement with the other woman, and doing wifely service before her time.

No wonder that I marveled as I set on the olives. What—what on earth did it all mean? The glimpse of light I had gained only made the darkness more visible. But there!—my chance was gone. The butler was giving me the sign to retire. The wine was already beginning to pass round the table. And though my eyes dwelt on the baronet to the last, that last had come, in another moment the door would have been closed behind me, when a sound, clear and prolonged, broke the momentary stillness of the square. There was nothing in the sound—to me, though I have heard it in lonely farmhouses and found it eerie enough, and though I know that it is a sound of awe to superstitious folk. It alone would not have stayed my hand upon the door; but the effect it produced did. The baronet swore, disturbed, as it seemed to me, for others rather than for himself. Friedricsson started nervously in his seat and looked behind him. The sailor muttered something, and fidgeted oddly with his collar. Again the sound rose and fell dismally, and this time two of the four drank off a glass of wine as if by a single impulse. The skipper was not one of these. He looked flushed, and was straining as if he had something in his windpipe. The clerk's face I could not see, his back being toward me. But he seemed little moved, even when a third time the long, dreary howl of a dog rose on the night air; and Sir Eldred, with a fiercer oath, sprang up.

"Bund, where the fiend is that brute?" he cried, roughly. "It is not Flora? Then send out and have it stopped. Have it stopped! Do you hear, you fool? Don't stand there gaping." And he flung his napkin on the table wrathfully. "Go!"

I turned hurridly to the butler, who was by my side, to learn why he did not go. He go? His whole soul was crying to be gone to feet that would not carry him away. His face froze me. His fat cheeks were quivering with overmastering terror, and his eyes looking past me—past Sir Eldred—were the eyes of a man looking upon death. I turned with a quick shudder to confront the worst.

Ha! The skipper was clawing at his throat in an ugly fashion. His face had grown purple, and his hair become disarranged in a wonderfully short time. He was beginning, too, to utter hoarse noises. A fit! I said to myself, and with a malediction on the butler's cowardice (I am not particularly brave, but there are some things, such as loosening a neckcloth, which one does owe to one's fellow-creatures) I sprang forward and undid the poor fellow's collar; and then tried to get him to lie down, not knowing whether that were right or not, but thinking, as he was inclined to be violent, that so he would do himself least harm.

"A doctor!" I cried, trying to restrain him, for he was pulling the cloth from the table. "Quick, fetch a doctor!" I dare say that I spoke almost as imperiously as had Sir Eldred himself, for the truth was that I was disgusted with them, one and all. The butler had escaped. I heard him fling open the outer door and rush down the steps. And I hoped that he had gone for a doctor. But of the others only Sir Eldred, and he but perfunctorily, as I thought, and with a daintiness that could never have been less in place, gave me any assistance. The clerk had flung himself face downward on a sofa, and was visibly shaking from head to foot. The bald tradesman had retreated to the other end of the room, and was looking at us in silence over the back of an armchair, behind which he had intrenched himself. No help would come from them, although the poor sailor was now in evil case, foaming at the mouth, and working his jaws. Remembering or fancying that the tongue is sometimes injured in these fits, I snatched a spoon from the floor and tried to insert the handle between his teeth, so as to prevent their closing; but before I could effect this, Sir Eldred clutched my arm and knocked the spoon from my grasp.

"Are you mad?" I cried, enraged by his interference.

"Are you mad, man?" he answered, scarcely able to speak for excitement, and still holding my wrist while the perspiration ran down his face. "Are you mad, or a fool, or tired of your life? Hold him down! That is enough, if you can do it. Bund has gone for the doctor. By heaven, you are a foolhardy fellow, but a brave one!"

"The doctor will come, I dare say," I answered, not understanding him one whit. "But I do not fancy he will put our friend's tongue in, if once he bites it off."

I meant to be rude. It is not easy to hold down a man in a fit, and be civil to the lookers-on in kid gloves. But somehow Sir Eldred missed the rebuke. "Be more cautious, man," he said, chidingly. "If I had thought this would happen, I would have left the poor fellow to himself. And Higginson? He said he would come at any hour, night or day! And why the deuce does he not come? But here he—— Hallo!"

I glanced up; not at the wretched cowards—they were beneath regard—but at the new-comer. It was not the doctor. But it was the next best thing; it was the woman I had seen in the square—the skipper's wife. And I never felt more thankful to see any one. She would know something about these attacks, and what ought to be done. When I heard her cry "Jack!" and rush toward him with arms outstretched to clasp him, and, wife-like, save him from himself, the action seemed to me the most natural in the world. I did not dream of interfering or standing in her way. Nay, I doubted my eyes when Sir Eldred rose from his knees with a sharp cry, and, seizing the woman by both wrists, bore her back by main force. "Are you mad?" I heard him say, using the same words he had used to me, as he struggled with her. "You can do no good, my poor soul; be calm. The doctor is coming?"

She did not speak, but she wrestled with him, bringing down in another minute the tablecloth, with all the service, pell-mell upon me and the floor. And then she fell into hysterics.

I snatched a hasty glance at her, and saw Sir Eldred trying to soothe her in a clumsy fashion. Then I had as much as I could do to hold my patient. I jerked out of his way a broken decanter, but he dashed his head so violently from side to side, amid the débris of knives and shattered glass, that he threatened each minute to do himself an injury or to do me one. He was a stout, heavy man. I could not by myself move him to a safer place; and though the noise was appalling, and the whole house must have been alarmed minutes ago, no one came to my help. I was breathless and giddy. The poor fellow was growing more and more violent as my grasp upon him relaxed, and I felt that in another moment he must take his chance, when, just at the crisis of his paroxysm, a small gloved hand slid into the little space under my eyes and deftly removed a broken plate, which 1 had been making frantic but vain efforts to push away with my foot. Away went its jagged edges out of sight, and away the same dexterous hand swept half-a-dozen other ugly things. Then this dea ex machina, by a few gentle touches, stilled the poor man.

"Good, indeed! a thousand thanks!" I cried, eagerly, raising my eyes to the face of the girl in mourning. "He is not," I added, seeing how white the face was, "a pleasant sight, but he is better. I think I can manage him now."

As I spoke I looked from her to the others, having leisure now to think of them. At the same instant Sir Eldred glanced up from his charge. Our eyes did not meet; but I saw his, as they rested on the girl beside me, suddenly dilate. His lips moved. He dropped his burden as if she had been lead, and, springing forward, laid his hands upon the girl's shoulders—to pull her away, as it seemed. But so panic-stricken was he, that he had no strength to do it, and only rocked her to and fro, saying, hoarsely: "Helen! Helen! Come; you are killing me! Think what might——"

"Happen!" and, turning upon him, while his lips still faltered, a look full of pure exultation that glorified her face, she added: "And what then? I should but share your fate—for better, for worse!"

That did give him strength. "Oh!" he said ragefully, and dragged her away. I heard her utter a faint cry of protest, and then she fainted, as a stout, clean-shaven man came briskly in.

"Dear! dear! dear!" he exclaimed, looking nervously round at the strange scene—the senseless girl, the sobbing woman, the baronet on his knees beside the sofa, the two pale-faced cravens at the farther end. "Dear! dear! dear! We must get rid of these people. We can do nothing with these people here. It is a pity I was out. And what is it, eh? What is it?"

"Well, it might be the black death!" I replied, testily. He had not asked the question as seeking information, but mechanically, as if it were a form to be gone through. "People could not be much more afraid of the poor fellow."

"But," he answered, kneeling down suddenly, and laying his hand on the skipper's forehead so as to raise the eyelids, "this is not hydrophobia? this is only a fit! and not the first he has had either. Sir Eldred! Mr. Friedricsson! Where are you? There is no cause for alarm. Our friend is only in a fit. It is not hydrophobia!"

"Who said it was?" I replied, groping about for the truth, and yet at once understanding a part of it, and shuddering.

"The servant. Still it was an excusable error under the circumstances," replied the doctor, cheerily. "But I always thought Sir Eldred's quixotic plan a mistaken one. Though M. Pasteur considered all danger over, yet during the six weeks of probation there is always a risk. There! He is coming round. He will do well now. I must go and see the ladies."

I detained him for a moment. Of course he took me for a guest. "Were they bitten at the same time?" I asked.

"All four on the same day. By different animals though. One by a cat," he replied, genially. "Sir Eldred by a foxhound puppy, just off the walk. They entered M. Pasteur's establishment also on the same day, were inoculated on the same day, and discharged the same day. Singular thing, was it not? So Sir Eldred—kind-hearted man, but whimsical—said, 'They should see it out together and fare the same.' Ha! ha! Coming, Sir Eldred. The young lady is upstairs, is she?"

He hurried away, and Bund coming in, I caught the butler's eye, as he lifted it from a sorrowful contemplation of the wreck on the floor. "You have made your fortune, young man," he said, as unasked he put my watch into my hand. "I liked your looks from the first. Sir Eldred is asking to see you. And you are to call a cab."

I did so; and getting into it drove to my club to supper.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1928, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 94 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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