“Well, sir,” said Joe. “I don’t think!”
“Joe,” said Mr. Lavender that crowd ought not to be at large. They were manifestly Huns.
“The speakin’s been a bit too much for you, sir,” said Joe. “But you’ve got it off your chest, anyway.”
Mr. Lavender regarded him for a moment in silence; then putting his hand to his throat, said hoarsely:
“No, on my chest, I think, Joe. All public speakers do. It is inseparable from that great calling.”
“’Alf a mo’!” grunted Joe, diving into the recesses beneath the driving-seat. “’Ere, swig that off, sir.”
Mr. Lavender raised the tumbler of fluid to his mouth, and drank it off; only from the dregs left on his moustache did he perceive that it smelled of rum and honey.
“Joe,” he said reproachfully, “you have made me break my pledge.”
Joe smiled. “Well, what are they for, sir? You’ll sleep at ’ome to-night.”
“Never,” said Mr. Lavender. “I shall sleep at High Barnet; I must address them there tomorrow on abstinence during the war.”
“As you please, sir. But try and ’ave a nap while we go along.” And lifting Blink into the car, where she lay drenched and exhausted by excitement, with the petal of a purple flower clinging to her black nose, he mounted to his seat and drove off. Mr. Lavender, for years unaccustomed to spirituous liquor, of which he had swallowed nearly half a pint neat, passed rapidly into a state of coma. Nor did he fully regain consciousness till he awoke in bed the next morning.
INTO THE DANGERS OF A PUBLIC LIFE
“At what time is my meeting?” thought Mr. Lavender vaguely, gazing at the light filtering through the Venetian blind. “Blink!”
His dog, who was lying beside his bed gnawing a bone which with some presence of mind she had brought in, raised herself and regarded him with the innocence of her species. “She has an air of divine madness,” thought Mr. Lavender, “which is very pleasing to me. I have a terrible headache.” And seeing a bellrope near his hand he pulled it.
A voice said: “Yes, sir.”
“I wish to see my, servant, Joe Petty,” said Lavender. “I shall not require any breakfast thank you. What is the population of High Barnet?”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir,” answered the voice, which seemed to be that of his housekeeper; “but you can’t see Joe; he’s gone out with a flea in his ear. The idea of his letting you get your feet wet like that!
“How is this?” said Mr. Lavender. “I thought you were the chambermaid of the inn at High Barnet?”
“No, indeed,” said Mrs. Petty soothingly, placing a thermometer in his mouth. “Smoke that a minute, sir. Oh! look at what this dog’s brought in! Fie!” And taking the bone between thumb and finger she cast it out of the window; while Blink, aware that she was considered in the wrong, and convinced that she was in the right, spread out her left paw, laid her head on her right paw, and pressed her chin hard against it. Mrs. Petty, returning from the window, stood above her master, who lay gazing up with the thermometer jutting out through the middle of his moustache.