This schoolmaster was a collector of antique furniture and china, and, knowing that I was interested, he asked me to come and see some Chippendale chairs he had just acquired. It happened that some months before I had declined to buy four or five chairs that were offered at 10s. apiece. I had not then fully developed the taste for the antique, which once acquired forbids the connoisseur to refuse anything good, whether really wanted or not, and at that time there was much more choice in such matters than at the present day. The chairs were very dilapidated and I did not recognize their possibilities, but I noticed the arms of the elbow chairs were particularly good, being carved at the junction of the horizontal and vertical pieces with eagles’ heads. Deciding that I did not want them I sent a dealer to the house and forgot all about the matter. The schoolmaster took me into his drawing-room, and I instantly recognized the set I had refused; they were quite transformed, nicely cleaned, lightly polished, and the seats newly covered. I duly admired them, and on inquiry found that he had purchased them in Worcester from the dealer I had sent to look at them; they cost him L5 each, and I suppose at the present time they would be worth L20 apiece at least.
I have previously mentioned old Viper as a family friend, but like all dogs he had his faults. He acquired a liking for new laid eggs and hunted the rickyard for nests in the straw. My bailiff determined to cure him; he carefully blew an egg, and filled it with a mixture of which mustard was the chief component. Viper was tempted to sample the egg, which he accepted with a great show of innocence; the effect when he had broken the shell was electrical; he fled with downcast tail and complete dejection, and nothing would ever induce him to touch an egg again.
The whirligig of time has indeed brought its revenge in the matter of the market value of eggs. In Worcestershire we have had to give them away at eighteen or twenty for a shilling; last (1918-1919) winter we sold some at 7s. a dozen, and many more at 5s.
“Lo! sweetened with the summer light,
The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow
Drops in a silent autumn night.”
A curious old punning Latin line, illustrating various meanings of the word malus, an apple, seems appropriate, as a commencement, to writing about apples; it is I think very little known, and too good to be forgotten. Malo, malo, malo, malo; it is translated thus: