“Know him? Why of course I do.” M. Raoul was reseating himself on his perch, when he happened to throw a look down into the road, and at once broke into immoderate laughter. “Talk of the wolf—”
Polly screamed and ran. Below, at a bend of the road, stood a stoutish figure in the uniform of the Axcester Volunteers—scarlet, with white facings. It was Corporal Zeally, very slowly taking in the scene.
M. Raoul skipped off the gate and stepped briskly past him. “Good-evening, Corporal! We’re both of us a little behind time, this evening!” said he as he went by.
The Corporal pivoted on his heels and stared after him.
“Dang my living buttons!” he said, reflectively. “Couldn’t even wait till my back was turned, but must kiss the maid under my nose!” He paused and rubbed his chin. “Her looked like Polly and her zounded like Polly . . . Dang this dimpsey old light, I’ve got a good mind to run after’n and ax’n who ’twas!” He took a step down the hill, but thought better, of it. “No, I won’t,” he said; “I’ll go and ax Polly.”
FATE IN A LAURELLED POST-CHAISE
All the tongues of Rumour agreed that the Bayfield entertainment had been a success, and Endymion Westcote received many congratulations upon it at the next meeting of magistrates.
“Nonsense, nonsense!” he protested lightly. “One must do something to make life more tolerable to the poor devils, and ’pon my word ’twas worth it to see their gratitude. They behaved admirably. You see, two-thirds of them are gentlemen, after a fashion; not, perhaps, quite in the sense in which we understand the word, but then the—ah—modicum of French blood in my veins counteracts, I dare say, some little insular prejudices.”
“My dear fellow, about such men as de Tocqueville and Rochambeau there can be no possible question.”
“Ah! I’m extremely glad to hear you say so. I feared, perhaps, the way they managed their table-napkins—”
“Not at all. I was thinking rather of your bold attitude towards Sunday observance. What does Milliton say?”
Endymion’s eyebrows went up. Mr. Milliton was the vicar of Axcester and the living lay in the Westcotes’ gift. I am not—ah—aware that I consulted Milliton. On such questions I recognise no responsibility save to my own conscience. He has not been complaining, I trust?”
“Not to my knowledge.”
“Ah!” Endymion looked as if Mr. Milliton had better not. “I take, you must know, a somewhat broad view on such matters—may I, without offence, term it a liberal one? As a matter of fact I intend going yet farther in the direction and granting permission for a small reunion on Sunday evenings at ‘The Dogs,’ when selections of purely sacred music will be performed. I shall, of course, deprecate the name ’concert ’; and even ‘performance’ may seem to carry with it some—ah— suggestions of a theatrical nature. But, as Shakespeare says, ’What’s in a name?’ Perhaps you can suggest a more suitable one?”