“Indeed. Where is it?”
“Jellybrand’s Library, Eleven Hundred Z, Shaftesbury Avenue. I sent a boy messenger there to-day.”
“Did you receive a reply?”
“No. I think the boy—although Mr. Ferdinand tells me he wore four medals, I presume for courage—must have become nervous on perceiving Mr. Malkiel’s name on the envelope, have thrown the note down a grating, and bolted before he reached the place, though he said—on his Bible oath, I understand from Mr. Ferdinand—he delivered the note. In any case I got no answer. How are you feeling?”
“Twisted, but prophetic. I foretell that my ankle will be swelled beyond recognition to-morrow. Help me to bed, Hennessey.”
The Prophet flew to his dear relative’s assistance, and Mrs. Merillia endeavoured to rise and to lean upon his anxious arm. After a struggle, however, in which the Prophet took part and two chairs were overset, she was obliged to desist.
“You must ring the bell, Hennessey,” she said. “Mr. Ferdinand and Gustavus must carry me to bed in the chair.”
The Prophet sprang tragically to the bell. It was answered. The procession was re-formed, and Mrs. Merillia was carried to bed, still smiling, nodding at each stair and bearing herself with admirable courage.
As Mr. Ferdinand and Gustavus descended to the basement after the completion of their unusual task, the latter said solemnly,—
“However should master have come to know as the missis wouldn’t be able to put foot to floor this night, Mr. Ferdinand? However?”
“I cannot answer you, Gustavus,” Mr. Ferdinand replied, shaking his broad and globe-like head, round whose bald cupola the jet-black hair was brushed in two half moons decorated with a renowned “butler’s own special pomade.”
“Well, Mr. Ferdinand,” rejoined Gustavus, stretching out one hand for pale ale, the other for French Revolution, “I don’t like it.”
“Why, Gustavus?” inquired Mr. Ferdinand, preparing to resume his discussion with the accommodating upper housemaid. “Why?”
“Because it seems strange like, Mr. Ferdinand,” said Gustavus, lifting the glass to his lips, the French Revolution to his eyes.
“It do seem strange, Gustavus,” answered Mr. Ferdinand, leaving out the “like” in a cultivated manner. “It do.”
In the drawing-room the Prophet stood, with clenched hands, gazing through the telescope at Mercury and Uranus, Jupiter, Saturn and Venus, while, on the second floor, Mrs. Fancy Quinglet, Mrs. Merillia’s devoted, but occasionally disconcerting, maid, swathed her mistress’s ankle in bandages previously steeped in cold water and in vinegar.
MALKIEL THE SECOND IS BETRAYED BY THE YOUNG LIBRARIAN