appliance in which the most luxuriously contrived
piggeries were notably deficient. The sharp edge
of the underneath part of the bed was pitched at exactly
the right elevation to permit the pigling to scrape
himself ecstatically backwards and forwards, with
an artistic humping of the back at the crucial moment
and an accompanying gurgle of long-drawn delight.
The gamecock, who may have fancied that he was being
rocked in the branches of a pine-tree, bore the motion
with greater fortitude than Latimer was able to command.
A series of slaps directed at the pig’s body
were accepted more as an additional and pleasing irritant
than as a criticism of conduct or a hint to desist;
evidently something more than a man’s firm hand
was needed to deal with the case. Latimer slipped
out of bed in search of a weapon of dissuasion.
There was sufficient light in the room to enable the
pig to detect this manoeuvre, and the vile temper,
inherited from the drowned mother, found full play.
Latimer bounded back into bed, and his conqueror,
after a few threatening snorts and champings of its
jaws, resumed its massage operations with renewed
zeal. During the long wakeful hours which ensued
Latimer tried to distract his mind from his own immediate
troubles by dwelling with decent sympathy on the second
housemaid’s bereavement, but he found himself
more often wondering how many Boy Scouts were sharing
his Melton overcoat. The role of Saint Martin
malgre lui was not one which appealed to him.
Towards dawn the pigling fell into a happy slumber,
and Latimer might have followed its example, but at
about the same time Stupor Hartlepooli gave a rousing
crow, clattered down to the floor and forthwith commenced
a spirited combat with his reflection in the wardrobe
mirror. Remembering that the bird was more or
less under his care Latimer performed Hague Tribunal
offices by draping a bath-towel over the provocative
mirror, but the ensuing peace was local and short-lived.
The deflected energies of the gamecock found new
outlet in a sudden and sustained attack on the sleeping
and temporarily inoffensive pigling, and the duel which
followed was desperate and embittered beyond any possibility
of effective intervention. The feathered combatant
had the advantage of being able, when hard pressed,
to take refuge on the bed, and freely availed himself
of this circumstance; the pigling never quite succeeded
in hurling himself on to the same eminence, but it
was not from want of trying.
Neither side could claim any decisive success, and
the struggle had been practically fought to a standstill
by the time that the maid appeared with the early
“Lor, sir,” she exclaimed in undisguised
astonishment, “do you want those animals in
The pigling, as though aware that it might have outstayed
its welcome, dashed out at the door, and the gamecock
followed it at a more dignified pace.