Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/170

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All the tenants of Avenue Villas, Clapham, kept a servant; most of them were on visiting terms with the curate's wife: here and there one had been known to dine at the Vicarage; one widow, who lived at the corner, had some rich relations who occasionally called on her in a carriage and pair. She was a Baptist, however, and the curate's wife did not even know her name. She fancied it was Grimmage. Mrs. Grimmage, notwithstanding, was a worthy person, and she had a permanent boarder whom the whole of Avenue Villas held in very just esteem. This boarder was a Mr. Cunningham Legge.

By profession Mr. Legge was a humourist: he also wrote the obituaries in The Argus (Lord Middlehurst's daily paper): he devilled for one or two scholarly authors (being great in grammar and punctuation): he was taster to a poor but eminently respectable firm of publishers: he had written a volume of very graceful Essays himself: "To the Night-winds and the Moon." One critic wrote of them that their style reminded him of Ruskin, the Letters of Cicero and Charles Dickens.

It was generally known that Cunningham was the son of a clergyman, a fact which, apart from his genius and his literary calling, sufficiently explained his poverty; that his wife had died a few years after their