Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

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3, Blank Row, Westminster.

From every well-born soul humanity is owing.  A thousand thanks.  I received this morning your postal order; your heart henceforth for me will be placed beyond all praise.

J. Carolan.

CHAPTER XI

THE VISION

A few days later he received a letter from Antonia which filled him with excitement: 

. . .  Aunt Charlotte is ever so much better, so mother thinks we can go home-hurrah!  But she says that you and I must keep to our arrangement not to see each other till July.  There will be something fine in being so near and having the strength to keep apart . . .  All the English are gone.  I feel it so empty out here; these people are so funny-all foreign and shallow.  Oh, Dick! how splendid to have an ideal to look up to!  Write at once to Brewer’s Hotel and tell me you think the same . . . .  We arrive at Charing Cross on Sunday at half-past seven, stay at Brewer’s for a couple of nights, and go down on Tuesday to Holm Oaks.

Always your
Antonia.

“To-morrow!” he thought; “she’s coming tomorrow!” and, leaving his neglected breakfast, he started out to walk off his emotion.  His square ran into one of those slums that still rub shoulders with the most distinguished situations, and in it he came upon a little crowd assembled round a dogfight.  One of the dogs was being mauled, but the day was muddy, and Shelton, like any well-bred Englishman, had a horror of making himself conspicuous even in a decent cause; he looked for a policeman.  One was standing by, to see fair play, and Shelton made appeal to him.  The official suggested that he should not have brought out a fighting dog, and advised him to throw cold water over them.

“It is n ’t my dog,” said Shelton.

“Then I should let ’em be,” remarked the policeman with evident surprise.

Shelton appealed indefinitely to the lower orders.  The lower orders, however, were afraid of being bitten.

“I would n’t meddle with that there job if I was you,” said one.

“Nasty breed o’ dawg is that.”

He was therefore obliged to cast away respectability, spoil his trousers and his gloves, break his umbrella, drop his hat in the mud, and separate the dogs.  At the conclusion of the “job,” the lower orders said to him in a rather shamefaced spanner: 

“Well, I never thought you’d have managed that, sir”; but, like all men of inaction, Shelton after action was more dangerous.

“D——­n it!” he said, “one can’t let a dog be killed”; and he marched off, towing the injured dog with his pocket-handkerchief, and looking scornfully at harmless passers-by.  Having satisfied for once the smouldering fires within him, he felt entitled to hold a low opinion of these men in the street.  “The brutes,” he thought, “won’t stir a finger to save a poor dumb creature, and as for policemen—­” But, growing cooler, he began to see that people weighted down by “honest toil” could not afford to tear their trousers or get a bitten hand, and that even the policeman, though he had looked so like a demi-god, was absolutely made of flesh and blood.  He took the dog home, and, sending for a vet., had him sewn up.

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