Miss Blowser threw the silver away.
‘Take your old cat in the bag,’ said the matron, slamming the door in the face of Miss Blowser.
* * * * *
After the trial for breach of promise of marriage, and after paying the very considerable damages which Miss Blowser demanded and received, old Mr. Fulton hardened his heart, and engaged a male chef.
The gratitude of Mrs. Gisborne, now free from all anxiety, was touching. But Merton assured her that he knew nothing whatever of the stratagem, scarcely a worthy one, he thought, as she reported it, by which her uncle was disentangled.
It was Logan’s opinion, and it is mine, that he had not been guilty of theft, but perhaps of the wrongous detention or imprisonment of Rangoon. ‘But,’ he said, ’the Habeas Corpus Act has no clause about cats, and in Scottish law, which is good enough for me, there is no property in cats. You can’t, legally, steal them.’
‘How do you know?’ asked Merton.
‘I took the opinion of an eminent sheriff substitute.’
‘What is that?’
‘Oh, a fearfully swagger legal official: you have nothing like it.’
‘Rum country, Scotland,’ said Merton.
‘Rum country, England,’ said Logan, indignantly. ’You have no property in corpses.’
Merton was silenced.
Neither could foresee how momentous, to each of them, the question of property in corpses was to prove. O pectora caeca!
* * * * *
Miss Blowser is now Mrs. Potter. She married her aged wooer, and Rangoon still wins prizes at the Crystal Palace.
It is not to be supposed that all the enterprises of the Company of Disentanglers were fortunate. Nobody can command success, though, on the other hand, a number of persons, civil and military, are able to keep her at a distance with surprising uniformity. There was one class of business which Merton soon learned to renounce in despair, just as some sorts of maladies defy our medical science.
‘It is curious, and not very creditable to our chemists,’ Merton said, ’that love philtres were once as common as seidlitz powders, while now we have lost that secret. The wrong persons might drink love philtres, as in the case of Tristram and Iseult. Or an unskilled rural practitioner might send out the wrong drug, as in the instance of Lucretius, who went mad in consequence.’
‘Perhaps,’ remarked Logan, ’the chemist was voting at the Comitia, and it was his boy who made a mistake about the mixture.’
’Very probably, but as a rule, the love philtres worked. Now, with all our boasted progress, the secret is totally lost. Nothing but a love philtre would be of any use in some cases. There is Lord Methusalem, eighty if he is a day.’