Thank God for Mother’s sake, and dear Arthur’s, and for all our friends who have been so kind! I shall not even feel the change, for last night Dr. Van Helsing slept in his chair a lot of the time. I found him asleep twice when I awoke. But I did not fear to go to sleep again, although the boughs or bats or something flapped almost angrily against the window panes.
The pall Mall Gazette 18 September.
INTERVIEW WITH THE KEEPER IN THE ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS
After many inquiries and almost as many refusals, and perpetually using the words ‘pall Mall Gazette’ as a sort of talisman, I managed to find the keeper of the section of the Zoological Gardens in which the wolf department is included. Thomas Bilder lives in one of the cottages in the enclosure behind the elephant house, and was just sitting down to his tea when I found him. Thomas and his wife are hospitable folk, elderly, and without children, and if the specimen I enjoyed of their hospitality be of the average kind, their lives must be pretty comfortable. The keeper would not enter on what he called business until the supper was over, and we were all satisfied. Then when the table was cleared, and he had lit his pipe, he said,
“Now, Sir, you can go on and arsk me what you want. You’ll excoose me refoosin’ to talk of perfeshunal subjucts afore meals. I gives the wolves and the jackals and the hyenas in all our section their tea afore I begins to arsk them questions.”
“How do you mean, ask them questions?” I queried, wishful to get him into a talkative humor.
“‘Ittin’ of them over the ‘ead with a pole is one way. Scratchin’ of their ears in another, when gents as is flush wants a bit of a show-orf to their gals. I don’t so much mind the fust, the ’ittin of the pole part afore I chucks in their dinner, but I waits till they’ve ’ad their sherry and kawffee, so to speak, afore I tries on with the ear scratchin’. Mind you,” he added philosophically, “there’s a deal of the same nature in us as in them theer animiles. Here’s you a-comin’ and arskin’ of me questions about my business, and I that grump-like that only for your bloomin’ ’arf-quid I’d ‘a’ seen you blowed fust ’fore I’d answer. Not even when you arsked me sarcastic like if I’d like you to arsk the Superintendent if you might arsk me questions. Without offence did I tell yer to go to ’ell?”
“An’ when you said you’d report me for usin’ obscene language that was ‘ittin’ me over the ’ead. But the ’arf-quid made that all right. I weren’t a-goin’ to fight, so I waited for the food, and did with my ‘owl as the wolves and lions and tigers does. But, lor’ love yer ’art, now that the old ’ooman has stuck a chunk of her tea-cake in me, an’ rinsed me out with her bloomin’ old teapot, and I’ve lit hup, you may scratch my ears for all you’re worth, and won’t even get a growl out of me. Drive along with your questions. I know what yer a-comin’ at, that ’ere escaped wolf.”