“Better than well, me dear. I’ve found a place—an illigant hidin’ in an owld schooner up the river.”
“As a church. I’ll take yez to’t to-morra. Master Sam tells me sorra a sowl goes nigh ut. He tuk me to see ut. I say, me darlint, I’d be lettin’ that young fool down aisier than the pote. He’s a poor little snob, but he’s more like a man than Moggridge.”
“He’s a bad ass, is Moggridge,” assented the Honourable Frederic. “Come, Nellie, we’ve a day’s work before us, remember.”
A friend of mine, the son of steady-going Nihilist parents, and therefore an authority, assures me that the Honourable Frederic cannot have been a conspirator for the simple reason that he shaved his chin regularly. Be this as it may, to-night he smiled mysteriously as he rose, and winked at his wife in a most plebeian way. I regret to say that both smile and wink were returned.
[Illustration: Winked . . . in a most plebeian way.]
OF STRATAGEMS AND SPOILS; AND THAT THE NOMINALISTS ERR WHO HOLD A THING TO BE WHAT IT IS CALLED.
At two o’clock next morning Mr. Moggridge closed the door of his lodgings behind him, and stepping out into the street stood for some moments to ponder.
A smile sat upon his lips, witness to pleasure that underlies poetic pains. The Collector of Customs was in humour this morning, and had written thirty lines of Act IV. of Love’s Dilemma: a Comedy, before breakfast, for it was his custom to rise early and drink regularly of the waters of Helicon before seeking his office. It is curious that the Civil Service should so often divide its claims with the Service of the Muse. I remember that the Honourable Frederic once drew my attention to this, and supplied me with several instances:—“There was What’s-his-name, you know, and t’other Johnny up in the Lakes, and a heap I can’t remember at the moment—fancy it must come from the stamps—licked off with the gum, perhaps.”
Be that as it may, Mr. Moggridge had written thirty lines this morning, and was even now, as he stood in the street and stared at the opposite house, repeating to himself a song he had just composed for his hero. It is worth quoting, for, with slight alteration, I know no better clue to the poet’s mood at the time. The play has since been destroyed, for reasons of which some hint may be found in the next few chapters; but the unfinished song is still preserved among the author’s notes, where it is headed—
A HYMN OF LOVE.
“Toiling lover, loose your
All your sighs and tears unbind;
Care’s a ware may break a back,
May not bend a maiden’s mind.
“Loose, and follow to a land
Where the tyrant’s only fee
Is the kissing of a hand
And the bending of a knee.
“In that State a man
Neither priest nor lawgiver:
Those same slips that are his creed
Shall confess their worshipper.