Jaffery eBook

William John Locke
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 296 pages of information about Jaffery.
Finding that her idea of happiness was to sprawl about the garden and let the child run over her and inveigle her into childish games and call her “Loshie” (a disrespectful mode of address which I had all the pains in the world in persuading Barbara to permit) and generally treat her as an animate instrument of entertainment, we smoothed down every obstacle that might lie in this particular path to beatitude.  So many difficulties were solved.  Not only were we spared the problem of what the deuce to do with Liosha during the daytime, but also Barbara was able to send the nurse away for a short and much needed holiday.  Of course Barbara herself undertook all practical duties; but when she discovered that Liosha experienced primitive delight in bathing Susan—­Susan’s bath being a heathen rite in which ducks and fish and swimming women and horrible spiders played orgiac parts, and in getting up at seven in the morning—­("Good God!  Is there such an hour?” asked Adrian, when he heard about it)—­in order to breakfast with Susan, and in dressing and undressing her and brushing her hair, and in tramping for miles by her side while with Basset, her vassal, in attendance, Susan rode out on her pony; when Barbara, in short, became aware of this useful infatuation, she pandered to it, somewhat shamelessly, all the time, however, keeping an acute eye on the zealous amateur.  If, for instance, Liosha had picked a bushel of nectarines and had established herself with Susan, in the corner of the fruit garden, for a debauch, which would have had, for consequence, a child’s funeral, Barbara, by some magic of motherhood, sprang from the earth in front of them with her funny little smile and her “Only one—­and a very ripe one—­for Susan, dear Liosha.”  And in these matters Liosha was as much overawed by Barbara as was Susan.

This, I repeat, was a good sign in Liosha.  I don’t say that she would have fallen captive to any ordinary child, but Susan being my child was naturally different from the vulgar run of children.  She was rarissinia avis in the lands of small girls—­one of the few points on which Barbara and I are in unclouded agreement.  No one could have helped falling captive to Susan.  But, I admit, in the case of Liosha, who was an out-of-the-way, incalculable sort of creature—­it was a good sign.  Perhaps, considering the short period during which I had her under close observation, it was the best sign.  She had grievous faults.

One evening, while I was dressing for dinner, Barbara burst into my dressing-room.

“Reynolds has given me notice.”

“Oh,” said I, not desisting (as is the callous way of husbands the world over) from the absorbing and delicate manipulation of my tie.  “What for?”

“Liosha has just gone for her with a pair of scissors.”

“Horrible!” said I, getting the ends even.  “I can imagine nothing more finnikin in ghastliness than to cut anybody’s throat with nail scissors, especially when the subject is unwilling.”

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Project Gutenberg
Jaffery from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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