When all was finished he rubbed his hands, packed up his bag and took a third-class ticket down to his native town, to have a contemptuous look at the Jenkins monuments and see how Jenkins major was getting on.
Jenkins major was up in the cemetery, among his fathers. And on top of Jenkins rested a granite cross—sufficiently handsome, to be sure, for a solicitor, but nothing out of the way. “J.P.” was carved upon it; though, as Jenkins had an absurdly long Christian name (Marmaduke Augustus St. John), these letters were squeezed a bit in the right arm of the cross. Underneath was engraved—
“ERECTED BY HIS DISCONSOLATE
WIFE AND CHILDREN.
A Father kind, a Husband dear,
A faithful Friend, lies buried here_.”
Thompson perused the doggerel once, twice, and a third time; and chuckled contemptuously. “So Jenkins has come to this. God bless me, how life in a provincial town does narrow a man!”
“A Father kind, a Husband dear...”
—and he went away chuckling, but with no malice at all in his breast.
Jenkins slept forgiven beneath his twopenny-halfpenny tombstone, and Thompson, reflecting that not only was his own monument designed (with a canopy of Carrara marble), but the cost of it invested in the three per cents., walked contentedly back to the station, repeating on his way with gentle scorn—
“A Father kind, a Husband dear,
A faithful Friend, lies buried here.”
The jingle lulled him asleep in his railway carriage, and he awoke in London. Driving home, he paid the cabby, rushed up to his room three stairs at a bound, unlocked his safe and pulled out the great design. In one corner he had even drawn up a list of the eminent men who should be his pall-bearers. Certainly such a tomb would make Jenkins turn in his grave.
He spread the plan on the table, with a paper-weight on each corner, and sat down before it. After considering it for an hour, he arose dissatisfied.
“Jenkins had a heap of flowers over him—common flowers, to be sure, but fresh enough. I dare say I could arrange for a supply, though. It’s that confounded doggerel—
‘A Father kind, a Husband dear.’
“That’s Mrs. Jenkins’s taste, I suppose. Still—of course I could better the verse; but one can’t stick up a lie over one’s remains. I wish to God I had a disconsolate wife, or a child, if only to spite Jenkins.”
And I believe, my dear young lady, that underneath his tomb (whereon there now stands a marble figure of Fame and blows a gilt trumpet) he is still wishing it.
It wanted less than an hour to high water when Miss Marty Lear heard her brother’s boat take ground on the narrow beach below the garden, and set the knives and glasses straight while she listened for the click of the garden-latch.