THE INDIANAPOLIS SUNDAY SENTINEL SUPPLEM ENTEXTR A
V FAMILY AFFAIR
BY HUGH CONWAY,
Author of "Called Back" and "Dark Days."
: 1 fi. tf
T was a dreary, dismal,
wintry afternoon. All
tho lights of Padding
ton Station were
needed to conquer the
damp fo which filled tho arched expanse from
end to end. The bread platform teemed with
the motion and bustle attendant upon the de
parture of a train. The newspaper boys alono
wero having a comparatively dull time of it,
as the first act of every passenger, upon tak
ing his feat, was to pull up tho window and
shut out as much tog as possible, declining to
let the sash down for any one, except other
travelers, who, having paid their fares.claimod
their right to seats in the train a proceeding
which, to tho first installed passenger, always
seems supremely selfish. Tho new comer, or
comers, might choose some otner compart
ment than his!
The moving rack which bears tho lamps
reached the extreme end of the train. The
strong-armed official below hurled the last
crystal globe to tho nimble official who runs
along tho top of tho carriages, and leaps so
recklessly from one to another. Deft as an
Indian juggler, ho caught tho gleaming mis
sile, slapxed it into the last socket, and sprang
incontinently from the already moving train.
The guard thut tho last door, which some
body's carelessness had left open, jumped into
his van as it swept by him, and, punctual to
the minute, the five o'clock train left London
and began its race to Feazance.
In one of the first-class compartments were
three passengers, although tho railroad com
pany would only benefit to tho extent of two
fares, one of these passengers being a child
still young enough to bo passed off as a child
in arms by all save, perhaps, thoso tender
minded persons who send conscience money
to the chancellor of the exchequer. The two
travelers who augmented tho company's rev
enuo were a man and a woman.
That they were strangers was evident, and
it was also evident that tho man was an old
traveler. As soon as tho train was in motion,
and ho felt insured for some time to come
against disturbance, he arranged his wraps in
the most approved fashion, donned a soft cap,
lit a lamp and buried himself in a book. Ho
was a young man; but as he appears in this
tale only to disappear, a detailed description
would be superfluous. It is enough to know
he was a gentleman, well dressed, well-to-do
in appearance, and looked quite in his place
in a first-class carriage.
It was a different matter with the woman.
There was no obvious reason vhy she should
not be able and willing to pay threepence
halfpenny instead of a penny a mile for the
privilege of being whisked to her destination;
yet one could imagine a crusty old director,
who travels freo himself, and is therefore
anxious to prev nt tho company from being
defrauded, calling to a guard and suggesting
that tho woman's ticket should be examined.
Or, from purely benevolent reasons, a per
son who knows what mistakes women make
in such matters, might with propriety have
remarked: "How comfortable these first'
class carriages are." For my part, I should
most certainly have done so not from be
nevolence, but to save myself, who had paid
just fare, from feeling swindled if, at the
journey's end, a good-natured ticket collector
let off thb victim of such a comfortable mis
take. Yet there was nothing remarkable in the
woman's appearance, except the utter absence
of individuality it displayed. For any guid
ance her looks gave, she might have been
rich or poor, young or old, beautiful or ugly,
noble or simplo. Had her traveling com
panion been as curious as he was at present
indifferent about tho matter, ho might have
sat opposite to her from London to the Land's
End, yet not have known how to classify her.
She was dressed in plain black and black, like
charity and night, covereth and hideth much.
No scrap of bright ribbon, no vestige of
color, broke the sombre monotony of her
attire, and a thick black veil hid the upper
part of her face. She sat like one in a
thoughtful frame of mind. Her head was
bent forward, and so threw her mouth and
chin into tho shade. Her hands being gloved,
it was impossible to know whether she wore
ft wedding ring or not.
Pressed her lips vpon the child's golden
Of the child, a little boy, there was nothing
that could bo seen except a mass of bright
golden hair. The woman had wound a thick
woolen shawl around him, and held him close
to her bosom. He was no annoyance to any
xme, for, shortly after tho train started, he
fell fast asleep. Indeed, so inoffensive were
his traveling com panions, that the gentleman,
who had felt somewhat disgusted when a
woman and a child entered tho compartment,
began to hope that, after all, ho need not shift
bis quarters at the first stoppage.
The train qed on through tho whita fog.
It was a fast train, but not so fast as to givp
Itself airs and decline stopping more than
twice in a hundred miles, year Rrading the
cpeed slackened. Tho gentleman with the
book breathed an inward prayer that bd
p.'-rht not be disturbed. V di4 cot r,sii
tnat, as ttie train drew up at the platform,
the woman half rose from her scat, as if her
journey was at au end; then, after a mo
ment's hesitation, reseated herself in her
former attitude. The travelers were not
disturbed. The train Bhot on once more,
ßtill the gentleman read his book still the
silent woman held the sleeping child.
In less than half an hour Didcot was
reached. The woman, arter a quics glance,
to assure herself that tho reader was intent
upon his book, pressed her lips upon the
child's golden head, and kept them there
until the train stopped. For a minute or
two she remained motionless, then, laying
the child on the seat, rose quickly and opened
the carriage door. The reader looked up as
the cold, damp air rushed into tho heated
44 You have no time to get out," he said;
"we are off in a minute."
If she heard the well-meant caution she
paid no heed to it. She made no reply, but,
stepping on to the platform, closed the car
riage door behind her. The young man
shrugged Ins shoulders, and resumed his in
terrupted paragraph. It was no business of
his if a stupid woman choso to risk missing
Although, two minutes afterwards, when
he found the train in rapid motion, and him
self and the sleeping child the only tenants of
the compartment, he saw that, after all, he
was primarily concerned in the matter. In
spite of his warning tho mother had been left
behind, and he was in the unenviable position
of having a child thrown upon his hands until
the next stoppage.
Although he was a bachelor and one ho
knew nothing of the ways of children, he
scarcely felt justified in pulling the emer
gency cord. Swindon would be reached in
less than an hour there he would 1x3 re
lieved. So he could do no more than an
athematize the careless mother, and pray that
the child's slumbers might be unbroken.
Whatever effect tho objurgation may have
had, he soon saw that his prayer was not to
bo granted. The child, no doubt missing its
protector's embrace, opened its eyes and be
gan to struggle. It would havo rolled off the
seat had not its enforced guardian, who was
a good-natured, kind-hearted young fellow,
picked it up and transferred it to his knee.
He meant well, although he did not handle
it very skillfully. A man must go through a
course of painful experiences before he learna
how to dandle a child proper!. Our friend
did his best, but so clumsily that the woolen
shawl fell from tho child, and disclotd a
large ticket sown on to the dress beneath. On
it was written, "II. Talbert, Esq., Hazlewood
House, Oakbury, near Blacktown." The
young man applauded the good sense width
had provided for a contingency which had
really come to pass. Then ho settled down to
do the best he could towards supplying the
place of the missing woman until the stoppage
at Swindon might bring deliverance.
Swindon at last. Hero the ill-used traveler
called the guard, and, as that ofllcial is of
course paid to undertake all soils of delicate
and unforeseen duties, with perfect fairness
shifted all further responsibility on to his
shoulders, resumed the perusal of his book,
and troubled no more about the matter.
The guard, without disputing his position
of guardian to all unprotected travelers,
hardly know what to do in the present emer
gency. The hope that the foolish mother had
managed to get into another carriage was
dispelled by her not making her appearance.
He was also puzzled by tho careful way in
which the child was labeled. This guard had
seen some curious things in his time, and, as
the missing woman had left not a scrap of
luggage behind, thought it not improbable
that tho desertion of the child was duo to in
tention, not accident. At first he thought of
leaving the tiny derelict at Swindon, on the
chance that the mother would arrive by the
next train from Didcot. But the more ho
thought the matter over the more convinced
he felt that no mother would arrive by the
next or any following train. Being himself .a
family man, and feeling most kindly disposed
towards the little golden head which nestled
in the most confiding way against bis great
brown beard, he decided to take the child on
to Blacktown, and thence forward it as ad
dressed. He pulled a couple of cushions out
of a first-class carriage, put them in one
corner of his van, and tucked up little Golden-
head as snugly as any mother could have
done; so tnugly and comfortably that tho
child at once closed its blue eyes and slept un
til the train reached Blacktown.
There the guard carried tho little fellow
Into the refreshment room, and leaving him
in charge of the pleasant young ladies, went
to look for a sober yet speculative man who
would take the child to Oakbury on the
chance of being paid for his trouble. He even
gave this man half a crown to be repaid out
of his prospective reward lor cab mre.
Then, after another look at the little waif,
who was drinking milk, munching a biscuit,
and being made very mucn oi by the refresh
ment room young ladies, our guard rushed
back to his somewhat neglected duties, and
was ocn spinning down west at the rate of
thirty five miles an hour.
A FAMILY OP POSITION.
Be it rememlxjred that Oakbury is not
Blacktown. Many of its inhabitants are
greatly annoyed when they hear it callod a
suburb of Blacktown. Oakbury is near tho
large city, but not of it. Although the fact
sannot be ignored that the existence of the
many charming country houses which adorn
Oakbury is as much due to its contiguity to
tho dirty thriving town as to its natural
beautios and although a certain proportion
Df those desirablo residences has been pur
:hased by Blacktown's successful traders, the
most aristocratic inhabitants of Oakbury look
srith indifference on the good and evil for
tunes of the citr. They, the aristocratic in-
habitants, are useful to Blacktown, not
Blacktown to them. They aro out of its dis
sensions and struggles; better ftill, beyond
the range of its taxation. They are of the
xrnnty, not tho town. So they head their
letters "Oakbury, estshire;" and, as a rule,
lecline intimacy with any Blacktown trader
mder tho rank of banker or merchant prince.
Besides Lord Kelston's well known country
jcat, there must bo in tho parish of Oakbury
mo 20 or 25 gentlemen's residences. They
rannot le called estates, as tho ground at
tached to each varies respectively from three
to fifty acres, but not a few of them might
lay claim to bo described by that well-round-
pd phrase, dear to auctioneers and houso
agents, 44 a country mansion, fit for tho occu
pation and requirements of a family of posi
tion." They are not new, speculative, jerry-
built houses, but good, old-fashioned, solid
affairs. No painted and gilt railings surround
them; thick boundary walls and fine old trees
hide them from the gaze of inquisitive holi
day folks. As the country around is very
beautiful and richly Umbered ; as the prevail-
IxiS wind which blows across Oakbury comes
itraight from the sea, pure and un contam
inated ; as two of the best packs of hounds
tn England meet within an easy distance;
and, prejudice notwithstanding, as the con-
rehnccs Paejed ljy a large qty are so close
at nana it 1 no wonder tnat tna rector or
Oakbury numbers many families of position
among his parishioners. If mine were a fam
ily of position, it should most certainly oc
cupy a pew in that fine, old square-towered
After this description it will be easily be
lieved that the Oakbury people are somewhat
exclusive by the Oakbury people aro meant
the inhabitants of the aforesaid twenty
houses; the manner of tho villagers and other
small fry who constitute the residue of the
population need not be taken into account.
Tho Oakbury people proper are very particu
lar as to with whom they associate, and tho
most particular and exclusive of all aro two
gentlemen named Talbert, tho joint owners
and occupiers cf Hazlewood House.
Their ultra-exclusiveness was but the nat
ural outcome of tho position in which they
were placed. The fact that their income was
derived from money made by their father in
timber, tobacco, soap, sugar, or some other
largo industry of Blacktown people have
already nearly forgotten which it was must
be responsible for the care the Talberts were
bound to exercise before they made a new
Because, you see, in their opinion at least,
the taint of trade still clung to them. They
were but a generation removed from the
actual buying, selling and chaffering. Meta
phorically shaking, their own father's hands
had been hardt-ned by the timber, stained by
the tobacco, lathered by tho soap, mado
sticky by the sugar, acconling to the particu
lar branch of trade at which he had worked
to such advantage. So it was that upon at-
njiH; jmp &
S y p lUur ?
Mr. Talbert, Merchant.
taming the earliest years of discretion, tho
sons decided that it was more incumbent
upon them than upon tho generality of per
sons to be particularly particular in their
choice cf friends. As they were amiable,
right-feeling young men, they looked upon
this duty as a sad necessity.
Had they been tempted to swerve from this
lino of conduct,- respect for their father should
havo kept them steadfast He had always
impressed the great duty upon them. Before
tho two boys were out of tho nursery the great
coup which is expected by every sanguine
business man came off. Mr. Talbert realized
his capital and sold his business. He obtained
less for it because he made the stipulation that
his name should no longer appear in cornec
tion with it. Then, a widower with one
daughter and two sons, ho bought Hazlewood
House, and settled down to drift gradually
into good society.
He educated his children by this cied. It
is tho duty of all people to rise in the world
both in commercial and social circles. Thr nks
to Iiis exertions and good fortune, tho first
half of the obligation had been discharged.
The second rested chiefly with his children.
He did not tell them this in definite words,
but all the same preached it to them most elo
quently, and was more than content, and felt
that the fruits of his training were showing
themselves, when his daughter married Sir
Maingay Clauson, a fairly respectable and
This satisfactory alliance gavo tho Talberts
a lift in the social scale; although, so far as
Oakbury was concerned, it was little needed.
Mr. Talbert had now been out of business for at
least ten years. He was quiet, gentlemanly,
and, if not retiring, at least unobtrusive. His
wealth was estimated at about three times its
correct amount. With these advantages he
already found himself well received by the
families of position. 1Ü3 neighbors. Content
as ho no doubt felt on his own account, he,
nevertheless, held up their sister's briL. tnt
match as an example to his sons, and talked
so much about the necessity of their choosing
their intimates fittingly that it is a marvel
the young men did not speedily develop into
fools or snobs.
But even now when verging upon middle
ago they were neither although any man
who would decline your acquaintance or
mine ought, of course, to be one or the
other perhaps both. The worst that could
be urged against the Talberts was this. From
tho very first they had told themselves: " e
can find as pleasant and as true friends among
the upper ten thousand among those who do
not make their living by barter as we can
among commercial people. Let us theref oro
only associate with the best. A man has an
undoubted right to chooso his own friends.
Weshall not go out of our way to toady tho
great, but with our ideas on the subject wo
can only make associates of thoso whom wo
consider the proper class of people. A Duko
of Badminton may associnto with whomsoever
he chooses. He is always, pr set tho duke.
We are not dukes. Our father made his
money in well, never mind in what. We
are not oven millionaires. We have enough
wealth to live comfortably and like gentle
men, but not enough to roll in. If wo go hand
in glove with oil, tobacco, sugar, etc., wo
must, on account of tho narrow distance
which divides us from the status of commerce,
sink to the level, or ct least get confounded
with those useful, respectable, profitable, but,
to us, distasteful commodities. Therefore it
behooves us to be fastidious even to a fault."
Who can blamo such sentiments as these?
To my mind theie is a kind of shrewd nobility
Why, with st ch sensible views on things in
general, tho tvo young men did not follow
their sister's example and inako brilliant
matches is a matter which has never been
clearly explained. When, after an immacu
late career, they left Oxford, they wero tall,
well-built, young fellows; moreover carrying
about them an inherent look of distinction.
So far as the world knew they had no vicesi
Indeed, in spite of stature, good looks, and
broad shoulders, in some quartors they were
accounted milksops. Perhaps because, In ad
dition to tho polite, even courtly, style which
they strove to adopt towards every one, they
had many little finnicking, old-maidish ways
which were a source of merriment to their
contemporaries. Nevertheless, among those
who were honored with their friendship, the
Valberts wero not unpopular. With many
women tne miaaie-agea especially tneso
tall, handiomo, refined young mon were
prime favorites. Tho fact of tho brothers
having reached tho respective ages of 40 and
41 without bavins selected helpo-meot for
them argues that something which makes
marrying man was missing from their
It may be that the pleasure they found in
travel prevented their settling down. For
many years, either together or singly, the
Talberts spent nine months out of the twelve
away from home. Their father, who had no
wish to see his sons striving in tho ruck of
humanity for tho world's prizes, made them
handsome allowances. Greatly to their credit
they lived within their incomes, even saved
money. These savings they invariably in
vested in works of art, so that as years went
by their acquisitions if vjiited would have
formed a valuable and tasteful collection, the
units of which had been culled from east,
west, north and south so judiciously that
tho brothers felt sure that, if such a thing
were needed, the selection would enhance tho
reputation they already enjoyed for refined
tastes and knowledge of matters artistic
The ' brothers were the best f friends.
They understood and sympathized with each
others' likes, dislikes and weaknesses. Only
once in their lives had they quarrelled, but
that quarrel had lasted for six years. They
shudder now as they look back upon that
It was no vulgar dispute, which is made
known to all the world and in which mutual
friends are expected to take sides. It was
only tho Talberts themselves who knew that
a quarrel existed. To outsiders they seemed
more absurdly polite to each other than bo
fore. Tho cause of the quarrel was tho interfer
ence of one brother in the other's affairs. They
were peculiar men, and very tenacious of the
Englishman's duty of minding his own busi
ness. On a certain occasion one of them
fancied a rather delicate matter as much his
own business as his bn ther's. He was mis
taken. They did not use high words, because
such things were not in their line; but each
brother was sadly firm. The upshot was that
for six years they only spoke when they met
At last old Talbert died. His successful
daughter had been dead a Ions time. Tho old
man left Hazlewood House nd its contents
to his sons conjointly. The rest of his fortune
he divided into three parts, and left in this
proportion to each of his children or their
children, if any. Then the sons met at Hazle
wood House and considered what they should
First of all, a3 was becoming, they made up
their differences. Very littlo was said on
either side, but it was understood that cordial
relations were ro-estabb'shed. At which happy
conclusion each man rejoiced greatly the
sir years' separation had been a terrible affair
and tacitly registered a vow that for the
future his brother's affairs should be his own
distinct, private property.
By this time our friends had grown rather
weary of gadding about. Moreover, it was
duo to their position that some place should
bo called their home. For nearly twenty
years they had lived in the various capitals of
Europe, and they knew that they had con
quered society. Indeed, it is doubtful whether
auy two men, not celebrities, were better
known than Horace and Herbert Talbert. So
they resolved to settle down and begin house
keeping on their own account.
They collected their art treasures, and be
ing not traders, but still thorough men of
business, in order to save any question arising
in the remote future, made exact inventories
of their respective belongings, down to tho
uttermost, smallest and most cracked cup and
saucer. Then they combined their collections
and made Hazlewood Houso curiously beau
tiful with paintings, china and bric-a-brac.
This done, they settled down into quiet do
mestic 1L i, and kept their house as methodi
cally and carefully, and no doubt a groat
deal better, than any two old women could
Of course, with their cultivated tastes,
their general acquirements, their cosmopolitan
experiences, and the many desirable friends
they were known to possess, the Talberts'
standing in Oakbury was undeniable. They
were a cred;t to the neighborhood, and
might, had they not been too good-hearted to
dream of such a proceeding, have snubbed
any one of tho families of position without
dreading reprisals. If people laughed at
their womanish ways, effeminate proceed
ings and domestic economies, they were,
nevertheless, always glad to entertain or to
be entertained by the Talberts. The latter
need not bo wondered at. The little dinners
at Hazlewood House wero the pink of culinary
civilization tho crjtallization of refined
AN ARGUMENT AND AN ARRIVAI.
On the night when the down train carried
tho golden-headed child to Blacktown, the
Talberts had dined at home, without com
pany. The two men wero still at tho table,
sipping their claret and smoking cigarettes.
They were neither great drinking men nor
great smoking men. If such habits are sins,
the T berts might have gone on as they were
going for many years and then made atone
ment very easily. It is needless to state that
tho two brothers wero faultlessly dressed in
the evening garb of the nineteenth century.
It will also bo guessed that tho dinner tablo
was most tastefully laid out. In spite of the
season being midwinter, it was gay with
flowers. Quaint antique silver spoons and
forks did tho duty which is exacted from tho
florid king's pattern and the ugly fiddle pat
tern alominations of our day. The napery
was of tho whitest and finest description
the polish on tho glass such as to make the
most careful housewife or conscientious ser
vant wonder and envy. There is a tale con
nected with the glass.
Once upon a time a lady who was dining at
Hazlewood House asked her host, with par
donable curiosity, how they were able to in
duce their servants to send tho decanters and
wine glasses to the tablo in such a glorious
state of refulgency. Horace Talbert smiled,
and answered with exquisite simplicity:
"We should nover think of trusting our
glass to tho hands of servants. My brother
and I see to it ourselves."
Thereupon the lady, who had marriageable
sisters, and wa no doubt keenly alive to the
fact that her hosts were eligiblo bachelors,
said: "It was very sweet of them to takoso
much trouble;" but her husband, who heard
the question and the answer, burst into a fit
of uncontrollable laughter. His was a low,
coarse, commonplace mind, utterly unable to
divest the ideal from the material. To such
a groveling naturo tho picture of these two
six-feet, brawny men washing and rubbing
their rare and costly glass seemed intensely
The Talberts showed no signs of annoy
ance; they even smiled gravely in response to
his vulgar mirth; but Hazlewood Houso knew
that person n more.
But the wretch took his revenge after the
manner of his kind. Unluckily, in spite of
his faults, his position in the county was not
to be. despised, and more unluckily ho pos-
fcsseu a ccrram amount or numor oi tno low
class. He was brutal enough to nickname
our friends tLe "Tabbies," and, appropriate
or not, the namo clung to them, and will
cling for ever and ever. This is but another
proof of how careful a man should bo in tho
selection of his friends.
Although to-night tho glass was as radiant
as ever, there was at present no one to admire
it save its owners and caretakers. By virtue
of his year of seniority", Horace Talbert sat
at the head of tho table. Herbert was at his
right hand The two brothers wero strangely
alike both in figure and face. They were
brown-haired men, with long, straight noses,
calmj serious eyes, rather arched eyebrows,
and average foreheads. Each wore a well
kept beard and mustache, the aboard clipped
close, and terminating in a point at the chin
a fashion which suited their long, oval faces
remarkably well, and, perhaps, added a kind
of old-world courtliness to their general ap
pearance. Their looks may bo summed up
by saying that tho Talberts wero men who
one felt ought to possess a picture gallery of
distinguished ancestors. The absence of such
a desirable possession seemed a heartless
freak of nature.
The room in which the brothers were sitting
was furnished with a bold mixture of modern
and antique. Where comfort and utility wero
the first consideration, tho modern prevailed;
where ornament or decoration had to be sup
plied, the antique, often the grotesque antique,
was called into requisition. On tho high,
carved mantelpiece stood Oriental bronze
vases vrith hideous dragons creeping round
them, and gaping, grinning kylins, who
looked mockingly and fearlessly ' tho fierce
metal monsters. They knew old china
figures know more than people suspect that
tho dragons wero welded to their vases more
irrcfragibly than Prometheus to his rock.
Here and there was a plate cf rich-colored
doissonne enamel, a piece of Nankin china, a
specimen of old brass work, a bracket of real
old carved oak, an antique lamp, or some
other articlo dear to the collector. Some half
a dozen medium-sized but valuable paintings
hung upon tho walls. Tho floor was covered
by a sober-hued Persian carpet, and of course
a roaring firo filled tho grate.
Tho Talberts looked very grave as grave
and solemn as Roman fathers in high debate.
They were, indeed, discussing a weighty mat
ter. After an interval of silence, Herbert
rose and walked to his brother's side. The
two looked critically down the table. They
went to the l ottom and looked up tho table.
They went to tho sides and looked across the
table; they even sent glances diagonally from
corner to corner.
"It is certandy a great improvement," said
Horace, with quiet triumph.
certainly a great improvement"
"A great improvement," echoed tho other.
"Echo" is tho right word even their voices
In a contented frame of mind they resumed
their seats, their claret, and their cigarettes.
The great improvement was this:
For some time past theso excellent house
keepers had been sorely exercised by the con
ventional way in which laundresses fold table
cloths. They did not like the appearance of
tho three long creases on the snowy expanse.
They turned their inventive abilities to ac
count, and a week ago walked down to the
residence, redolent of soap and hot water, of
tho woman who did the washing, and startled
tho poor creature out of her wits by in
sisting upon 'their tablecloths being folded
in a new and improved fashion. They even
demonstrated their meaning by a practical
experiment, and so impressed the nymph of
tho wash tub and mangle with the importance
they attached to the matter that she had
actually managed to learn her lesson well
enough for the result of their teaching to
give them great satisfaction.
Coffee was brought in, and tho two gentle
men wero about to leave tho dining room,
when tho Rev. Mr. Moodlo was announced.
Mr. Mordle was tho curate of Oakbury, and
always a welcome guest at Hazlewood House.
It was an unspoken axiom of tho Talberts that
the church set tho seal of fitness upon her ser
vants, or at least upon her upper servants.
Organ blowers, parish clerks and pew openers
were tho lower servants go, all things being
equal, a clergyman could always break
through the exclusiveness which reigned at
nazlewocd House. Mr. Mordlo was clever in
his way, full of talk, and of course knew
every in and out of tho parish, in the admin
istration to the wants of which ho must have
found tho Talberts a great assistance. All
great men have their weaknesses perhaps
their friendship for Mr. Mordlo was the Tal
berts' weakness. But then they dearly loved
having a finger in tho parochial pie, leaving
out of tho question the fact that they liked the
curate, and in tho kindness of their hearts
pitied his loneliness. So ho often dropped in
like this, uninvited, and no doubt felt tho
privilege to ho a great honor.
On Mr. Mordlos side, ho could thoroughly
appreciate humor, tho more so when its exist
ence was quito unsuspected by tho sedate
humorist. To him tho study of Horace and
Herbert was a matter of keen and enduring
They rose and greeted him. "Excuso mern
said Horaco rather nervously, "did "
"Yes, I did," answered tho curate briskly.
"I rubbed them I scrubbed them my feet
feel red hot. I could dance a minuet on your
tablecloth without soiling it.
Tho redundancy of the answer set their
minds at rest. The bugbear of their domestic
lives was persons entering their rooms with
ouc navmg ursc wipoa tneir iaoes as every
Christian gentleman should. Tho hall door
was so heavily armed with mats and scrapers
that such an omission seemed an impossibility.
Yet sometimes it did occur, and its effects
were terrible almost tragic.
Horace rang for more claret; Herbert
passed his cigarette case, and the three men
chatted for a while on various subject.
Presently said Horace with sad decision:
"Ann Jenkins came to us the day before
jesceraay. one toia a piteous taio. S e gavt
her five shillings."
"Very goal of you," said tho curate; she
has a large family nine, I think."
"Yes, but we are sorry now that we gave
tho money. We an sure she is not a careful,
The curate's eyes twinkled. Ho knew Ann
Jenkins well too well.
"Careful an 1 thrifty peoplo wouldn't want
5-our half-crowns. But how did you fi"d out
her true character T
Mr. Mordlo expected to hear a mournful ac
count of a domiciliary visit to Ann Jenkins,
and a dissertation upon the various and almost
original stages of untidiness in which his
friends had found her numerous progeny.
But the truth was better than he had bar
"Wo walked behind her across the field this
morning," said Horace, with gravo regret.
"When she got over the stilo we saw she had
on two odd stockings, a black one and a gray
one or blue and gray, I am not certain
"Blue and gray," said Herbert, "I noticed
"Her taster, like yours," said the curate,
4 'may be cultured enough to avoid Philistinic
"Oh dear, no," said Herbert, seriously.
"We argue in this way. . The woman has two
pairs of stockings "
"I doubt it," said tho curate. "But never
mind go ou." His friends were surpassing
"She has two pairs one gray, tho other
blue or black. She has worn one stocking
into holes. Instead of sitting down and
darning it, like a deexmt body, she simply
puts on one of the other pair."
"Why doesn't sho put on tho other pair
altogetherf' asked Mr. Mordle.
"Because," raid Horace, triumphantly'one
stocking of tliat pair is in the same dilapi
dated condition; so ner conduct is uouoly Dad.
As I said, she is not a deserving woman."
"Granting your prennVes," said Mr. Mordle,
The curate was preparing for a delicious
battle on this subject, well worn or otherwise,
of Ann Jenkins1 hose: lie meant to learn
why one stocking of either pair should wear
out btfore ita fellow, and many other fanciful
combinations were forming themselves in his
subtle brain, when the interest in the mended
or unmended stockings was extinguished by
the entrance of tho Talberts' irreproachable
looking man-servant. He informed his mas
ters that the man had brought tho child.
"What man? What child V asked Horace.
"Do you expect a man or a child, Herbertf
"Certainly not. What do you mean, Whit
"A rail w ay man has brought a child, sir.
He says it is to be left here."
"There must be some srupid mistake."
"Xo doubt, sir," said Whittaker, respect
fully, but showing that his opinion quite coin
cided with his masters."
"Where is the manf asked Horace.
"In the hall, sir."
"Did he wipe his shoes V asked Herbert, In
"Certainly, sir ; I insisted upon hk doing so."
' "Wo hai bettor see the stupid man and set
the matter right," said Horaco. "Excuse us
for a moment, Mr. Mordle."
The two tall men walked into the hall, leav
ing Mr. Mordle to chuckle at his ease. Hazle
wood Houso was certainly a most interesting
place this evening. It was lucky for the
curate that ho indulged In his merriment
with his face turned from the door, as in a
minuto tho respectable Whittaker entered
the room. That functionary was most ten
acious that due respect should bo shown to
his mastci-s. Most probably tbe look of
vivid amusement on Mr. Mordle's features
would, had he seen it, have made an enemy
for life of the faithful Whittaker.
"Mr. Talbert and Mr. HerV Tt would bo
glad if you would step out for a moment, sir."
Thereupon Mr. Mordle went into the hall
and saw a most comical sight the solemnity
of the actors concerned not being the least
comical part of it. Standing sheepishly on
the door mat, or rather on one of the legion
of door mats, was a stolid-faced porter in his
uniform of brown fustian, velveteen, or
whatever they call the stuff. On cither side
of the massive, oblong hall-table stood one of
the Talberts, while between them, on the
table itself, was a child with a mass of tum
bled, flossy, golden hair streaming down from
under a natty little cap. Horace and Her
bert, each armed with his horn-rimmwi eye
glass, and with looks of utter consternation
and bewilderment upon their faces, war
bending down and inspecting the child.
To Mr. Morales imaginative mind
group suggested a picture he had once
of the Brobdignagians taking stock of
liver; nor could the picture have been in
way spoiled when ho himself, a tall
went to one end of the table, while Whit
taker, another tall man, stood at a becoming
distance from the other end, and joined in
tho scrutiny of the diminutive stronger.
"This is a most extraordinary thingp
said Horace. "Tho child is sent by rail
jir. Aiordio read the tacket: "n. Talbert,
Esq., Hazlewood House, Oakbury, nar Black
town." "Where did you say it came fromP asked
Herbert, turning to the stolid-faced porter.
"Let us hear all about it again."
"Guard of live o'clock down, gentlemen; he
siys child was left in nrst-class carriage.
Mother got out at Didcot, and missed the
train or didn't come back. Guard told me to
get cab aud bring tbe child here. Said dbe
paid well for my trouble. Cab was tin ee and
"There must bo some mistake. What are
wo to doP asked the brothers.
"Don't expect any visitors, I suppose V
asked the curate.
"None whatever. You must take the child
arc ay again," said Horaco, turning to the por
ter. The man gaped.
"What am I to do with it, sirP bo asked.
"Lost parcels ofiicc," suggested Mr. Mordle
quietly. Whittaker gavo him a reproachf id
look. Tho matter was too serious a one for jest.
"Cut the label ofT," was tho curate's next
piece oi ad vice. "There may bo a letter under
They took it off. Tho label was a piece of
writing pnjxr gummed on to a plain card
wluch had liccn torn or cut irregularly. No
letter was concealed Leneath it. Then they
searched the pockets of the child's little coat,
but found nothing. Their perplexity in
creased. "I'll wish you, good evening, gentlemen,''
said tho porter. "Cab was three and six."
The "Tabbies" were on the horns of a dilem
ma. The eyes which could detect the discrep
ancy in the unfortunate Mrs. Jenkins stock
ings were able to see that tho baby wa
well, even very well, clad. It was just possi
ble that a letter had miscarried possible that
some one wsls coming to Hazlewood Houm
without invitation or notice that the had
really missed the train at Didcot; that tho
would arrive in the course of an hour or two
and explain matters. The safest plan waa to
keep tho child for a while."
Having kettledthis. Qoracf (Ira
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