“‘Dear Mr. Barlow,’” I amended, “’have you any idea when you’re going to die?’ No, that wouldn’t do either. And there’s another thing—we don’t know his initials, or even if he’s a ‘Mr.’ Perhaps he’s a knight or a—a duke. Think how offended Duke Barlow would be if we put ’—— Barlow, Esq.’ on the envelope.”
“We could telegraph. ‘Barlow. After you with Stopes.’”
“Perhaps there’s a young Barlow, a Barlowette or two with expectations. It may have been in the family for years.”
“Then we—Oh, let’s have lunch.” She sat down and began to undo the sandwiches. “Dear o’ Stopes,” she said with her mouth full.
We lunched outside Stopes. Surely if Earl Barlow had seen us he would have asked us in. But no doubt his dining-room looked the other way; towards the east and north, as I pointed out to Celia, thus being pleasantly cool at lunch-time.
“Ha, Barlow,” I said dramatically, “a time will come when we shall be lunching in there, and you—bah!” And I tossed a potted-grouse sandwich to his dog.
However, that didn’t get us any nearer.
“Will you promise," said Celia, “that we shall have lunch in there one day?”
“I promise,” I said readily. That gave me about sixty years to do something in.
“I’m like—who was it who saw something of another man’s and wouldn’t be happy till he got it?”
“The baby in the soap advertisement.”
“No, no, some king in history.”
“I believe you are thinking of Ahab, but you aren’t a bit like him, really. Besides, we’re not coveting Stopes. All we want to know is, does Barlow ever let it in the summer?”
“That’s it,” said Celia eagerly.
“And, if so,” I went on, “will he lend us the money to pay the rent with?”
“Er—yes,” said Celia. “That’s it.”
* * * * *
So for a month we have lived in our Castle of Stopes. I see Celia there in her pink sun-bonnet, gathering the flowers lovingly, bringing an armful of them into the hall, disturbing me sometimes in the library with “Aren’t they beauties? No, I only just looked in—good luck to you.” And she sees me ordering a man about importantly, or waving my hand to her as I ride through the old barn on my road to the golf course.
But this morning she had an idea.
“Suppose,” she said timidly, “you wrote about Stopes, and Mr. Barlow happened to see it, and knew how much we wanted it, and—”
“Then,” said Celia firmly, “if he were a gentleman he would give it to us.”
Very well. Now we shall see if Mr. Barlow is a gentleman.
THE SANDS OF PLEASURE
Ladies first, so we will start with Jenny. Jenny is only nine, but she has been to the seaside before and knows all about it. She wears the fashionable costume de plage, which consists of a white linen hat, a jersey and an overcrowded pair of bathing-drawers, into which not only Jenny, but the rest of her wardrobe, has had to fit itself. Two slim brown legs emerge to bear the burden, and one feels that if she fell over she would have to stay there until somebody picked her up.