“Whom is he calling gentlemen?” whispered the old lady.
But Blink, by anxiously licking Mr. Lavender’s lips, had produced a silence in which the young-lady did not dare reply. The sound of the little cat’s purring broke the hush.
“Down, Blink, down!” said Mr. Lavender.
“Watch this little moon-cat and her perfect manners! We may all learn from her how not to be crude. See the light shining through her pretty ears!”
The little cat, who had seen a bird, had left Mr. Lavender’s shoulder, and was now crouching and moving the tip of its tail from side to side.
“She would like a bird inside her; but let us rather go and find her some milk instead,” said Mr. Lavender, and he began to rise.
“Do you know, I think he’s quite sane,” whispered the old lady, “except, perhaps, at intervals. What do you?”
“Glorious print!” cried Mr. Lavender suddenly, for a journal had fallen from his pocket, and the sight of it lying there, out of his reach, excited him. “Glorious print! I can read you even from here. When the enemy of mankind uses the word God he commits blasphemy! How different from us!” And raising his eyes from the journal Mr. Lavender fastened them, as it seemed to his anxious listeners, on the tree which sheltered them. “Yes! Those unseen presences, who search out the workings of our heart, know that even the most Jingo among us can say, ’I am not as they are!’ Come, mooncat!”
So murmuring, he turned and moved towards the house, clucking with his tongue, and followed by Blink.
“Did he mean us?” said the old lady nervously.
“No; that was one of his intervals. He’s not mad; he’s just crazy.”
“Is there any difference, my dear?”
“Why, we’re all crazy about something, you know; it’s only a question of what.”
“But what is his what?”
“He’s got a message. They’re in the air, you know.”
“I haven’t come across them,” said the old lady. “I fear I live a very quiet life—except for picking over sphagnum moss.”
“Oh, well! There’s no hurry.”
“Well, I shall tell my nephew what I’ve seen,” said the old lady. “Good-bye.”
“Good-bye,” responded the young; and, picking up her yellow book, she got back into the hammock and relighted her cigarette.
SEES AND EDITOR, AND FINDS A FARMER
Not for some days after his fall from the window did Mr. Lavender begin to regain the elasticity of body necessary to the resumption of public life. He spent the hours profitably, however, in digesting the newspapers and storing ardour. On Tuesday morning, remembering that no proof of his interview had yet been sent him, and feeling that he ought not to neglect so important a matter, he set forth to the office of the great journal from which, in the occult fashion of the faithful, he was convinced the reporter had come. While he was asking for the editor in the stony entrance, a young man who was passing looked at him attentively and said: “Ah, sir, here you are! He’s waiting for you. Come up, will you?”