IF SO—SEND P.O. FOR 2/6 TO
PROF. X. BOX M. ROOM N. 21 SLOPER’S COURT PECKHAM
AND AWAIT RESULTS.
“ASTOUNDING!” (PRESS OPINION)
PROF. X. THE MAN WHO HAS REVOLUTIONISED MEDICAL SCIENCE.]
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[Illustration: CECILIA BLOBS ROBES]
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THE PERSUASIVE POWER OF BEAUTY IN ART.
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[Illustration: Bored Spectator. “’ERE, NOT SO MUCH OF THE CA-CANNY.”]
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A DIFFERENCE OF CLASS.
It is without doubt the most expensive hotel on the front, and the palatial dining-room in which we have just lunched is furnished and decorated in that sumptuously luxurious style to which only wealth, untrammelled by art, is able to attain. Personally I cannot afford to take my meals at such places, and I know that the same holds good of my fellow-guest, Charteris. Charteris was the best scholar of our year at Oriel, and since his demobilisation he and his wife have been living in two rooms, except during the periods when their son joins them for his holidays from Winchester. But our host is still possessed of an obstinate wealth which even the War has done little to diminish, and, as he himself puts it, is really grateful to those of his old friends who will help him in public to support the ignominy.
At the moment, having finished lunch, we have betaken ourselves to wicker-chairs in the porch, and Charteris and our host being deep in a golf discussion I venture once more to turn a covert attention to the exceedingly splendid couple who have just followed us out from the dining-room. I noticed them first on my arrival, when they were just getting out of their Rolls-Royce, and the admiration which I then conceived for them was even further enhanced during lunch by a near view of the lady’s diamonds and of the Cinquevalli-like dexterity shown by her husband in balancing a full load of peas on the concave side of a fork. At present the man, somewhat flushed with champagne, is smoking an enormous cigar with a red-and-gold band round it, while the lady, her diamonds flashing in the sunshine, leans back in her chair and regards with supercilious eyes the holiday crowds that throng the pavement below.
Following her glance my attention is suddenly arrested by the strange behaviour of two passers-by, who have stopped in the middle of the pavement and, after exchanging some excited comments, are staring fixedly towards us. From their appearance they would seem to be a typical husband and wife of the working-class on holiday, and it occurs to me that, given the clothes and the diamonds, they might well be occupying the wicker-chairs of the couple opposite. Evidently the sight of somebody or something in the hotel porch has excited them greatly, for they continue to stare up at us with a hostile concentration that renders them quite unconscious of the frantic efforts of the small child who accompanies them to tug them towards the beach. After a moment they exchange a few more quick words, and the man leaves his companion and makes his way towards us. Ascending the hotel steps with an air of great determination he comes to a halt before the couple opposite.