A moment later she entered the shop; and Mrs. Smithers, answering the shop bell, found that she had taken the photograph from the window and was examining it eagerly.
“This is quite a surprise, Mrs. Smithers. A capital photograph! May I ask how many copies my husband ordered?”
“I’m not aware, ma’am, that the Admiral has ordered any as yet; though I heard Smithers say only this morning as he hoped he’d be pleased with it.”
“I think I can answer for that, although he is particular. But I happen to know he disapproves of these things being exposed in the window. I’ll take this copy home with me, if I may. Has your husband printed any more?”
“Well no, ma’am. There was one other copy; but Lady Felix-Williams happened to be passing just now, and spied it, and nothing would do but she must take it away with her.”
“Lady Felix-Williams?” Mrs. Trewbody stiffened with sudden distrust. “Now, what would Lady Felix-Williams want with this?”
“I’m sure I can’t tell you, ma’am: but she was delighted. ’A capital likeness,’ she said; ’I’ve never seen a photograph before that caught just that expression of his.’”
“I should very much like to know what she has to do with his expression,” Mrs. Trewbody murmured to herself, between wonder and incipient alarm. But she concealed her feelings, good lady; and, having paid for her purchase, carried it home in her muff and stuck it upright against one of the Sevres candlesticks on her boudoir mantel-shelf.
And there the Admiral discovered it three-quarters of an hour later. He came home wanting his tea; and, finding the boudoir empty, advanced to ring the bell. At that moment his eyes fell on Smithers’ replica of the very photograph he had passed for furtherance to the Home Secretary. He picked it up and gave vent to a long whistle.
“Now, how the dickens—”
His wife appeared in the doorway, with Harry, Dicky, and Theophila clinging to her skirts, fresh from their ride, and boisterous.
“My dear Emily, where in the world did you get hold of this?”
He held the photograph towards her at arm’s length, and the children rushed forward to examine it.
“Papa! papa!” they shouted together, capering around it. “Oh, mammy, isn’t it him exactly?”
THE TALKING SHIPS.
He was a happy boy, for he lived beside a harbour, and just below the last bend where the river swept out of steep woodlands into view of the sea. A half-ruined castle, with a battery of antiquated guns, still made-believe to protect the entrance to the harbour, and looked across it upon a ridge of rocks surmounted by a wooden cross, which the Trinity pilots kept in repair. Between the cross and the fort, for as long as he could remember, a procession of ships had come sailing in to anchor by the great red buoy immediately beneath his nursery window.