She looked at him as if he were a ghost. A look of blankness and horror.
He gathered her up and carried her to her bedroom. Putting her in a chair beside the fire he knelt down and pulled off her shoes and stockings.
She felt as if something were breaking inside her. Cold unrelieving tears were running down her face.
He was kissing her hands and her feet, murmuring little caresses, enveloping her in the glow of his love. And still she couldn’t feel any warmer.
Putting his arms tight round her he held her close to him, her cold wet face nestling in his neck.
“I shall never leave you alone again,” he whispered passionately, but to his horror he felt her stiffen and fall to the ground with a thud.
At that moment her old maid came in. “Poor wee thing,” she said, “don’t you be worrying and fretting yourself. It’s just a touch of the Spring.”
FIDO AND PONTO
Fido was a Dalmatian—of the race described by some as blotting paper and by others as plum pudding dogs. Every line of his body had been formed by hundreds of years of tradition. You can find his ancestors in tapestries and petit point in Italian primitives and Flemish family groups, nestling in voluminous satin petticoats, or running at the heels of skating children—moving in sedate indifference beside the cortege of a pope, or barking in gay derision at the tidy Dutch snow. Not “a dog” or “the dog” but “dog” unspecified and absolute. True, till 1700 it was largely a matter of silhouette, the lissom outline was there, but with a certain variety of colouring. Then the 18th century stepped in and made spots de rigueur—Dalmatians invaded new territory. They conquered the kingdom of china and occupied a commanding position in coaching prints. An unaccompanied post chaise, deplorable in life, because unknown in art, and the expression “carriage dog” came into use for the first time.
The 18th and 19th centuries were the golden age of Dalmatian rule, and when their dynasty was finally overthrown, it was not by a new upstart race of dogs, but by a new upstart production of that blind and ugly mother of strong and hideous children—progress. Motors were invented.
If machinery had a conscience, what a procession of ghosts would it not be haunted by—ghosts of white fingers and humming spinning wheels, ghosts of parasols—stiff pagodas of taffetas or rippling fountains of lace—ghosts of victorias and barouches and tandems—ghosts of spotted streaks of lightning bounding forward with the grace of cats and the speed of Derby winners, capering with fastidious frivolity between yellow wheels.
Dalmatians, console yourselves, you are in good company. Beside you walks the ghost of civilisation herself—surrounded by the phantom forms of courtesy and leisure and all the lost company of the divine superfluous.