Mr. Molyneux Sinclair looked pained to hesitate. “Personally,” he said confidentially, “I should like it immensely, and I daresay I could get it past the editor. But we’re so short-handed.”
Miss Howe held up a forefinger which seemed luminous with solution. “Don’t you bother,” she said, “I’ll do it for you; I’ll write it myself. My ’prentice hand I’ll try on Rosy, and you shall have the result ready to print on Tuesday morning. Will that do?”
That would do supremely. Mr. Sinclair could not conceal the admiration he felt for such a combination of talents. He did not try; he accompanied it to the door, expanding and expanding until it seemed more than ever obvious that he found the sub-editorial sphere unreasonably contracted. Hilda received his final bow from the threshold of what he called his “sanctum,” and had hardly left the landing in descent when a square-headed, collarless, red-faced male in shirt sleeves came down, descending, as it seemed, in bounds from parts above. “Damn it, Sinclair!” she heard, as he shot into the apartment she had left, “here’s the whole council meeting report set up and waiting three-quarters of an hour—press blocked; and the printer Babu says he can get nothing out of you. What the devil . . . If the dak’s* missed again, by thunder! . . . paid to converse with itinerant females . . . seven columns . . . infernal idiocy” . . .
* Country post.
Hilda descended in safety and at leisure, reflecting with amusement as she made her way down that Mr. Sinclair was doubtless waiting until his lady visitor was well out of earshot to make it warm for the editor.
I find myself wondering whether Calcutta would have found anything very exquisitely amusing in the satisfactions which exchanged themselves between Mr. Llewellyn Stanhope’s leading lady and the Reverend Stephen Arnold, had it been aware of them; and I conclude reluctantly that it would not. Reluctantly, because such imperviousness argues a lack of perception, of flair in directions which any Continental centre would recognise as vastly tickling, regrettable in a capital of such vaunted sophistication as that which sits beside the Hooghly. It may as well be shortly admitted, however, that to stir Calcutta’s sense of comedy you must, for example, attempt to corner, by shortsightedness or faulty technical equipment, a civet cat in a jackal hunt, or, coming out from England to assume official duties, you must take a larger view of your dignities than the clubs are accustomed to admit. For the sex that does not hunt jackals it is easier—you have only to be a little frivolous and Calcutta will invent for you the most side-shaking nickname, as in the case of three ladies known in a viceroyalty of happy legend as the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. I should be sorry to give the impression that Calcutta is therefore a place of gloom. The source of