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.
“I thought so!” she said, removing it; “a hundred and one. No getting up for you, sir! That Joe!”
“Mrs. Petty,” said Mr. Lavender rather feebly, for his head pained him excessively, “bring me the morning papers.”
“No, sir. The thermometer bursts at an an’ ten. I’ll bring you the doctor.”
Mr. Lavender was about to utter a protest when he reflected that all public men had doctors.
“About the bulletin?” he said faintly.
“What?” ejaculated Mrs. Petty, whose face seemed to Mr. Lavender to have become all cheekbones, eyes, and shadows. Joe never said a about a bullet. Where? and however did you get it in?
“I did not say ’bullet in’,” murmured Mr. Lavender closing his eyes! “I said bulletin. They have it.”
At this mysterious sentence Mrs. Petty lifted her hands, and muttering the word “Ravin’!” hastened from the room. No sooner had she gone, however, than Blink, whose memory was perfect, rose, and going to the window placed her forepaws on the sill. Seeing her bone shining on the lawn below, with that disregard of worldly consequence which she shared with all fine characters, she leaped through. The rattle of the Venetian blind disturbed Mr. Lavender