“I mustn’t complain; it’s been the salvation o’ me.”
“Do you get shelter?”
Again the old butler seemed to take him into confidence.
“Sometimes of a wet night they lets me stand up in the archway there; they know I’m respectable. ’T wouldn’t never do for that man”—he nodded at his rival—“or any of them boys to get standin’ there, obstructin’ of the traffic.”
“I wanted to ask you, Mr. Creed, is there anything to be done for Mrs. Hughs?”
The frail old body quivered with the vindictive force of his answer.
“Accordin’ to what she says, if I’m a-to believe ’er, I’d have him up before the magistrate, sure as my name’s Creed, an’ get a separation, an’ I wouldn’t never live with ‘im again: that’s what she ought to do. An’ if he come to go for her after that, I’d have ’im in prison, if ’e killed me first! I’ve no patience with a low class o’ man like that! He insulted of me this morning.”
“Prison’s a dreadful remedy,” murmured Hilary.
The old butler answered stoutly: “There ain’t but one way o’ treatin’ them low fellers—ketch hold o’ them until they holler!”
Hilary was about to reply when he found himself alone. At the edge of the pavement some yards away, Creed, his face upraised to heaven, was embracing with all his force the second edition of the Westminster Gazette, which had been thrown him from a cart.
‘Well,’ thought Hilary, walking on, ‘you know your own mind, anyway!’
And trotting by his side, with her jaw set very firm, his little bulldog looked up above her eyes, and seemed to say: ’It was time we left that man of action!’
CECILIA’S SCATTERED THOUGHTS
In her morning room Mrs. Stephen Dallison sat at an old oak bureau collecting her scattered thoughts. They lay about on pieces of stamped notepaper, beginning “Dear Cecilia,” or “Mrs. Tallents Smallpeace requests,” or on bits of pasteboard headed by the names of theatres, galleries, or concert-halls; or, again, on paper of not quite so good a quality, commencing, “Dear Friend,” and ending with a single well-known name like “Wessex,” so that no suspicion should attach to the appeal contained between the two. She had before her also sheets of her own writing-paper, headed “76, The Old Square, Kensington,” and two little books. One of these was bound in marbleised paper, and on it written: “Please keep this book in safety”; across the other, cased in the skin of some small animal deceased, was inscribed the solitary word “Engagements.”