If he saw me—I was stretched out on the sofa by this time—he gave no sign. Opening his tarpaulins and thrashing the water from his cap, he walked straight to the cage, peered in, and said softly:
“Ah, my little man! Asleep, are you? I just came down to take a look at the chart and see how you were getting on. We’re having some weather on the bridge.”
A most estimable young man was Muggles: a clean-shaven, spick-and-span, well-mannered young man— particular as to the brushing of his hat, the tying of his scarf and the cut of his clothes; more than particular as to their puttings-on and puttings-off—sack-coat and derby for mornings; top hat and frock for afternoons; bobtail and black tie for stags, and full regalia of white choker, white waistcoat and swallowtail for smart dinners and the opera.
He knew, too, all the little niceties of social life— which arm to give to his hostess in escorting her out to dinner; on which side of a hansom to place a lady; the proper hours for calling; the correct thing in canes, umbrellas, stick-pins and cigar-cases; the way to balance a cup of afternoon tea on one knee while he toyed with a lettuce sandwich teetering on the other—all the delicate observances so vital to the initiated and so unimportant to the untutored and ignorant. Then Muggles was a kind and considerate young man—extremely kind and intrusively considerate; always interesting himself in everybody’s affairs and taking no end of trouble to straighten them out whether importuned or not—and he seldom was.
This idiosyncrasy had gained for him during his college days the title of “Mixey.” This in succeeding years had been merged into “Muddles” and finally to “Muggles,” as being more euphonious and less insulting. Of late among his intimates he had been known as “The Goat,” due to his constant habit of butting in at any and all times, a sobriquet which clings to him to this day.
His real name—the one he inherited from his progenitors and now borne by his family—was one that stood high in the fashionable world: a family that answered to the more dignified and aristocratic patronymic of Maxwell—a name dating back to the time of Cromwell, with direct lineage from the Earl of Clanworthy—john, Duke of Essex, Lord Beverston —that sort of lineage. No one of the later Maxwells, it is true, had ever been able to fill the gap of a hundred years or more between the Clanworthys and the Maxwells, but a little thing like that never made any difference to Muggles or his immediate connections. Was not the family note-paper emblazoned with the counterfeit presentment of a Stork Rampant caught by the legs and flopping its wings over a flattened fish-basket; and did not Muggles’s cigarette-case, cuff-buttons and seal ring bear a similar design? And the wooden