After this incident the servants knew no peace. Their bedclothes were thrown off them at night, their dresses torn and bespattered with ink, their brushes and combs thrown out of the window, and the water they poured out to wash in was sometimes quite black, sometimes full of a bright green sediment, and sometimes boiling, when it invariably cracked both the jug and basin.
Unable to stand these annoyances the servants left in a body. Their successors fared the same, and worse. Besides having to endure the above-named horrors, pebbles were thrown through the windows, their chairs were pulled away as they were about to sit down (the cook, who was one of those upon whom this trick was played, thereby seriously injuring her spine), and all sorts of obstacles were placed on the stairs, so that those who ran down unwarily tripped over them and hurt themselves (two successive housemaids broke their legs, whilst another sprained her wrist).
The meat, too, was a constant worry—it went so bad that enormous maggots crawled out of it by the thousand and covered the table and floor; and the milk, of which a large quantity was taken daily, “turned” in a very curious manner. After being deposited, in its usual place, in the pantry, it began to darken; first of all it became light blue, then deepened into an almost inky blackness, exhibiting curious zigzag lines; and, lastly, the whole mass began to putrefy and to emit a stench so overpowering that every one in the house retched, and the whole place had to be disinfected. This occurred day after day. Nothing would stop it. The dairyman who supplied the milk did all he could to counteract it. He had his dairies constantly cleansed, he saw that the cattle had a change of food, he bought an entirely new stock of dairy utensils, and no milk was ever sent to the Cottage that he had not had carefully analyzed.
The troubles continued for three weeks, at the end of which period John Martin received a telephone call from Hamar.
“Hullo!” the latter said, “I guess you’ve had about enough of it by this time. Wouldn’t you like some sweet-smelling milk for a change, or do you prefer to go on till you all get typhoid? The remedy, you know, lies in your own hands. You’ve only to tell that daughter of yours to accept me, and I’ll undertake all your troubles shall cease.”
“I’ll see you hanged first,” John Martin answered.
“Very well, then, you old mule,” Hamar shouted, “look out for yourself—and Miss Gladys.”