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house at once. "I shall take a tram," he said; "but I dare say you and
Edward would prefer to walk."

At this point Lord Potter came out of the police court. Two young men in
smart clothes, with silk hats and patent leather boots, were standing on
the steps smoking cigarettes, and did not notice him. He stopped at the
top of the steps, and said in a tone of contempt: "Will you kindly get
out of my way?"

The two young men looked round hurriedly and slunk aside, taking off
their hats as Lord Potter walked down the steps, ostentatiously holding
his rags together to avoid contact with them.

"It is that spirit," said Mr. Perry, who had observed the scene, "that
is responsible for so much of the class-hatred that is now rife. You can
hardly wonder at the rich hating the poor, when they are treated in that
way."

Lord Potter passed on with his nose in the air, but when he had gone
another two or three steps, turned round and said to Mr. Perry: "You
have had a lucky escape, sir. Your method of life is bringing you down
pretty low, and if you are wise you will give up all this nonsense, and
return to the quite respectable class in which you were born."

Then he turned to me. "As for you, young man," he said, "I shall make it
my business to know more about you. I don't believe you are what you
pretend to be."

As he walked away with his dirty head in the air, Mr. Perry spluttered
indignantly: "The _respectable_ class in which I was born! He knows very
well that I am of a good family - as good as his own. Really, the
arrogance of the dirty set is getting past all bearing!"

"He makes you feel as if your clothes fitted you," said young Perry.
"But never mind him, father. He can't touch us."

FOOTNOTES:

[1] A Daylight Saving Bill had been passed some years before, by which
an hour was borrowed in April to be paid back in October. The necessity,
however, of getting up an hour earlier than usual had made the whole
populace so cross that the Government which had passed the Bill was
forced to resign, and the next Government repealed the law immediately
upon coming into office. They omitted, however, to allow for the
repayment of the borrowed hour, and as no Government had since cared to
touch the question, Upsidonian time had remained an hour earlier ever
since.

[2] It was held in Upsidonia that private knowledge of any fact was the
possessor's own property, and, as no one was willing to acquire property
if they could help it, questions of this sort were never pressed. It had
even been laid down in the courts that a person too ready with
information could be indicted for forcing property on his hearers. Vide
Cope on "The Bore in Law."

[3] I might also have been arrested for sleeping out with visible means
of substance, which had been in Mr. Perry's mind when he had imperilled
himself by his kindly action, as he told me afterwards.




CHAPTER VI


We saw Mr. Perry into his tram, and started to walk through the town.

My observation as to the behaviour and appearance of the well-dressed
people was confirmed. The men slouched along with their hands in their
pockets, and the women, although they wore fine clothes, had a very
ungraceful bearing. The most expensively dressed were the worst in this
respect, and the poorer sort of people hustled them off the pavements
and treated them with every mark of contempt.

As we were going through a narrow street between two wide ones, a stout
old lady, covered with jewels, and dressed in heliotrope velvet, with
some beautiful lace on her gown and enormous ostrich feathers in her
hat, walked in the gutter by my side, and said in the hoarse whine of a
beggar: "Do take a sovereign from a rich woman, kind gentleman. I
'aven't lef' off eating for two days, and the larder's full at 'ome."

I was about to comply with her request, for I have no prejudices against
indiscriminate charity, but young Perry told her to be off, or he'd give
her in charge. She slunk away to where a carriage with two fine horses
and a coachman and footman was standing at the end of the street, and
drove off.

"These beggars are becoming a regular pest," said Perry. "It is because
we have old clothes on. There are _some_ compensations in going about
like a rich man."

"Could I buy a few clothes cheap?" I asked him. "I want to do the thing
thoroughly while I am with you."

He laughed at me. "I don't know why you should want to buy them
_cheap_," he said. "But, of course, you can get what you want. Do you
really mean you would like to be dressed like a rich man?"

"Yes, I should," I said. "I should like to have quite a large new
wardrobe."

"I think you're splendid!" he said admiringly. "I only hope you won't
regret it when you come to experience actual wealth."

"I hope not," I said modestly. "But whatever it costs me I am prepared
to carry it through, and I should like to begin at once."

"Well, you might get what you want to play your part at the Stores.
Then, if you want to do the thing thoroughly, later on you can go to a
good tailor and bootmaker, and so on, and have things made for you."

I said the Stores would do for the present. I was not quite clear in my
mind as yet how the question of payment would work out, but it did not
seem to be difficult to get hold of money in Culbut.

However, as a precautionary measure, I asked the price of the first
article shown me, which was a ready-made flannel suit - dark green with a
purple stripe in it, quite smart-looking.

The shopman looked at a secret mark on the label, and said: "Three
pounds."

"Oh, come now!" said Perry at once. "We're not paupers, you know. You
can't treat us in that way."

The man explained that the material wore exceptionally badly for that
class of goods; but to us he would make it three pounds ten.

"Not a penny less than four pounds," said Perry, and I confounded his
officiousness.

"I'll pay his price," I said. "I hate haggling."

"No," said Perry. "I'm not going to see you bestowed upon. He'll have to
let you pay four pounds for it."

The man said he would go and see the manager, and when he had left the
counter Perry said: "Don't you give way to him. These people are always
open to a bargain, although they profess to sell dear. Why, that suit
would last you for ever so long! If we hadn't come in like this he would
have let us pay six pounds for it."

"Do they give credit?" I asked.

"They think themselves very lucky if they're allowed to," he said, with
a laugh. "I shouldn't trust them too far, if I were you; they might
forget to send in their bill."[4]

"Oh, I'll see to that all right," I said. "I think I'll get a lot of
things. What would happen if I didn't pay for them at all?"

"Well, you would be conferring a benefit on the shareholders of this
company which they would thank you for pretty heartily. The business
lost only ten per cent last year, and it used to lose twenty when it
first started. This new manager is no good. You'll see, he'll give way
about this."

He was right. I was allowed to owe four pounds for the flannel suit, and
when I had been through all the departments, and set myself up
thoroughly, with several suits, and with hats, boots, hosiery, and
everything I could possibly want for some time to come, I was in debt to
the Stores for something considerably over a hundred pounds. But under
the circumstances that did not trouble me, and I determined to do a
little more shopping on credit in Culbut, but without young Perry, who
was always trying to beat things up, and telling me that I didn't need
this, and could do quite well without that.

We each took a parcel, and left the rest to be forwarded to Mr. Perry's
house.

As we walked on through the streets I asked Perry to point me out any
people of note whom we might meet, and as I spoke he lifted his hat to a
woman who passed us.

"That is Lady Rumborough, a cousin of my mother's," he said.

I should not have picked out Lady Rumborough from a crowd as being
anyone in particular, although she was a good-looking woman, and held
herself well. She was dressed in a print gown, and wore a hat of plain
black straw. She carried a string bag bulging with packages, and had a
large lettuce under her arm.

"Is Lady Rumborough a leader of society?" I asked.

"Well, she is in a way," he said, "although she is not very poor. Lord
Rumborough is a greengrocer in a fair way of business, and they hate the
dirty set and all their ways."

He then explained that the dirty set was inclined to usurp the lead in
the aristocratic society of Culbut. Aristocrats of extreme poverty, such
as Lord Potter, belonged to it, but it was largely recruited from
amongst those who were nobodies by birth and had not infrequently risen
from the opulent and leisured classes. They made a parade of their
poverty, and were ashamed to be thought to possess the smallest thing,
even a cake of soap.

We next passed a cheerful active young man in an old but well-cut serge
suit who went by in a great hurry.

"That," said Perry, "is Albert White, the great newspaper proprietor. He
has made himself a most extraordinary career."

It seemed that Mr. Albert White was the son of a man of good family, but
one possessing considerable wealth. At an early age, when other young
men in his position were preparing for a life of dull idleness, he
decided that he would raise himself to a high position amongst the
workers. He started a weekly paper which few people could read, and lost
a good deal of money over it. Using this as a stepping-stone, he started
other papers, each more unreadable than the last. He developed a
positive genius for discovering what the people didn't want, and in a
very few years had lost more than any other newspaper proprietor had
dropped in a lifetime. Now he was one of the poorest men in Upsidonia,
and had made his family, and many others whom he had picked out to help
him, poor too.

"Others have since followed in his footsteps," said Perry, "but none
have had the success that he has. His daily paper has by far the
smallest circulation of any in Upsidonia. People refuse to read it in
enormous numbers, and it is the worst advertising medium in journalism."

"Why?" I asked. "What is its character?"

"It is mostly written by very learned men. White does not mind how
little he pays to get the right people. He makes a frank appeal to the
literate, and, of course, there are fewer of them than of any class. The
odd thing is that nobody ever seems to have realised before what a great
field for newspaper enterprise there is amongst those who _will_ have
the best and nothing but it. White has taught us that you can drop more
money over it, and in a shorter time, than with almost anything else."

"I suppose your learned men are amongst the poor?" I asked.

"Yes. Aren't yours?"

"We keep them fairly poor as a rule."

"It is the only possible way. The mind is of much more importance than
the body, and it cannot do fullest justice to itself if it is hampered
by the distractions of wealth, or clogged by luxury. For that reason, I
take it, in both countries, we keep our learned men poor, and strive
after what knowledge we can."

"I can't say that in my country we _all_ strive after it," I said. "We
don't like to let our learned men feel that we are cutting them out."

"Ah, I think that is a mistake; but perhaps it is not a bad one. If
there is one thing that our upper classes lack, it is humility. I
suppose, though, that all your people _do_ earnestly desire the best
gifts in life - knowledge, high character, and so on!"

"Most of us, of course. But there are some who seem to prefer to be
merely well off."

"Ah, I'm afraid that there will always be those; but I rather gather
from things that you have let fall that you don't despise them quite as
much as we do."

"Possibly a shade less. We are charitable in that respect."

"Then you are always ready to relieve a rich man of his wealth, I
suppose?"

"There are quite a large number of people amongst us who are anxious to
do so."

"My dear Howard, what a happy state of things! Your country must be a
Utopia. Do you see that man over there? That is John De Montmorency, the
popular actor-manager."

He pointed to a very seedy-looking unkempt man who, however, held his
head high, and gazed around him as he walked for admiring looks, which
he got in plenty, especially from the young girls.

"They say," said Perry, "that his dresser once pressed a crease into the
trousers in which he was to play a lord, out of revenge for some slight,
and he went on to the stage in them without noticing. It took him a long
time to recover from the blow."

"Am I to believe," I asked when Mr. De Montmorency had passed us, "that
in Upsidonia the chief things that are desired are, as you say, high
character and knowledge and poverty?"

"There can be no difficulty in believing that, can there? Those are the
best things in life, and everyone naturally desires the best things.
Well, of course, poverty in itself isn't one of the best things; it is
only a means to an end. Still, we are none of us perfect, and I don't
deny that there are many who desire poverty for its own sake. I am
interested to learn that among you there is not the fierce race for it
that we have here."

"Why should anybody desire it for itself?" I asked.

"My dear fellow, if you had seen as much of the grinding bitterness of
wealth as I have," he said, "you would not ask that question. To be at
the mercy of your possessions, never to be free from the deadening
weight of idleness, never - - "

"But surely," I interrupted, "your rich people can amuse themselves.
They needn't be idle. Don't they play games, for instance?"

"Yes, the young do. We make them. But how terrible to _have_ to kill
time with cricket and golf and lawn-tennis, and when the game is
finished to feel that nothing has been done to further the good of
mankind!"

"Why do you make them play, then?"

"To keep them in health. We have the Upsidonian race to think of. We
can't afford to deteriorate bodily as a nation."

"And do you mean to say that the rich and healthy young man really
dislikes exercising his body and amusing his mind by playing games,
simply because nothing comes of it?"

"Not, perhaps, when he is quite young. But to look forward to a life of
it - ! Besides, he can seldom afford to do even that for long."

"Can't afford it?"

"No. It isn't expensive enough. He has to set about his business of
spending money, sometimes - if his parents are very rich - at an early
age, and the desire for healthy exercise soon leaves him. Why, after a
day of idleness it is sometimes as much as he can do to drag himself to
bed, and then very often he can't sleep."

"But surely there is nothing very difficult about spending money, if you
really set out to do it! In my country rich men buy fine pictures, and
things of that sort."

"Well, unless the fine pictures in your country cost more than the poor
ones, I don't see how that's to help them."

"They do cost more. They cost enormous sums."

"Yours seems a very funny sort of country, and I shouldn't say too much
about it if I were you, or people will think you are romancing.
Everything here that is worth having is cheap, and everything that isn't
is dear. The rich aren't educated up to appreciating the good things."

"What do they learn in their schools?"[5]

"The education is good as far as it goes. In fact, some old-fashioned
people say it is too good, and unfits the rich for the serious business
of their lives, which is to spend money that the poor earn; although, of
course, they would not put it in that way. There was a good deal of
grumbling when the last government permitted science to be taught in the
public schools. It was felt that the children of rich parents would be
much better employed in learning expensive habits, so as to fit them for
their station in life. But I, for one, should certainly not give in to
that view."

"Well then, couldn't the rich get rid of some of their wealth by
building hospitals, or endowing research, or something of that sort?"

"Endowing research?" he repeated in a puzzled way. "How could they do
that? Only the poor can endow research - by relieving suitable men of
the wealth that might hamper them in their work."

"Well then, building hospitals, or picture galleries, public
works - anything?"

"But the state does all that. Of course, the rich contribute their share
of the rates and taxes, and there is a good deal of grumbling amongst
them at present, because the party that was lately elected to bring
about profusion has turned out more economical than the party it
defeated. No; it is the overplus of wealth that makes the social
difficulty. It _must_ be used, of course, and there _must_, unless we
limit supply,[6] be a submerged class on whose shoulders rests the
burden of using it."

"I still don't see why it shouldn't be wasted, or merely hoarded. Don't
the rich men hoard their wealth?"

"How could they? The Government auditors would be down on them at once."

"How would they know?"

"Well, everybody has to keep accounts, and the auditors are quite sharp
enough to stop any serious defalcation."[7]

"But why take all this trouble to see that wealth isn't wasted! It _is_
wasted if it keeps a large class of people in idle luxury, when the
state has made up its mind that idle luxury is a bad thing for mankind."

"Ah, my dear Howard! There you sum up the selfishness of human nature.
As long as the poor have power they will put their burdens on the rich."

"Yes, the burdens of wealth. But why should they object to the rich
getting rid of the overplus of wealth in any way they please? It
wouldn't make any difference to their own enjoyment of work and
poverty."

"It ought not to, perhaps, considering what an evil riches are. But what
is it that makes the chief satisfaction of work? Surely, that you are
producing something - something useful to mankind. If you knew that a
considerable proportion of what you produced would be thrown away, why
you might just as well work a treadmill, or play golf, instead of
ploughing or sowing, or making useful things, such as clothes or
furniture. The dignity of labour would disappear."

"Still, if the overplus of food, for instance, makes eating and drinking
hateful, as it seems to do here, and the overplus of other things
becomes a burden to a large proportion of the people, the result would
seem to be about the same as actual waste."[8]

"Well, it is worse, of course, for the rich. But, unfortunately, the
poor do not consider that enough. In your happy country, where the upper
classes, from what you tell me, act as much for the benefit of the lower
classes as for themselves, you escape these problems.

"But we will discuss these things further, and you shall see for
yourself. Here we are at Magnolia Hall; allow me to give you a warm
welcome to our rich abode."

FOOTNOTES:

[4] They did not forget to send in their bill, but I forgot to pay it.

[5] The public schools, of which there were a good number in Upsidonia,
were attended exclusively by the rich, as were the two older
universities. Luxurious habits were encouraged in these establishments,
and learning was at a discount, although this was never acknowledged.
The poor attended council schools, and the newer universities. But even
from a school like Seton, where the sons of the worst families were
educated, there was a ladder to the more serious seats of learning, and
many rich scholars had raised themselves by their own efforts to a
position from which they could look down on the families from which they
had sprung.

[6] There were two schools of economic reformers in Upsidonia. The one
which was supported by the Perrys wished to limit production by law, but
I am inclined to think that Mr. Perry did not wish it very much. Edward,
however, was strongly in favour of legislation. He thought that the many
would benefit at the expense of the few, or so he said.

The other school believed in freedom of consumption, or rather of
non-consumption. I never met any of its adherents while in Upsidonia,
and only heard them called names.

[7] There was said to be a good deal of corruption in this service. The
Government auditors were too well paid to make them altogether
trustworthy. Edward was going to see that this was altered when he had
time.

[8] This was well said on my part, and I do not regard Edward's reply as
convincing.




CHAPTER VII


We had long since left the business streets of the city behind, and had
come, first through a district of mean-looking houses occupied chiefly,
as Perry told me, by the aristocrats of Culbut, then through a more
spacious suburb of large and small villas, where he said those of a
decent degree of poverty resided. The tram-line had borne us company to
the edge of this quarter, and we had walked for the best part of a mile
along a country road, bordered by walls or fences enclosing the gardens
of larger houses.

We now turned in at a pair of gates flanked by a pretty lodge, and went
along a winding drive banked on either side with rhododendrons, now in
full flower, until we came out into a beautiful and open garden, whose
verdant lawns were ringed by a great variety of flowering shrubs and
trees. This charming garden seemed a suitable setting for the long
two-storied white-painted house, with its deep eaves, old-fashioned bow
windows, and creeper-grown verandah. A giant magnolia, delicately
flushed with pink, was in full flower over the front of the house. The
still summer air brooded peacefully over all, and the tinkle of water
from a fountain in a yew-enclosed rose-garden opening out of the drive
fell gratefully on the ear.

"And this," I exclaimed, "your educated classes despise, and prefer to
coop themselves up in those wretched little houses we passed!"

He looked at me in surprise. "Oh, you don't understand in the least," he
said.

There was no time for further explanation, for we had now reached the
front door, which stood hospitably open, affording a glimpse beyond the
lobby of a cool spacious hall, paved with black and white marble.

We did not, however, enter at once. Perry rang the bell, and we waited
until a butler and a footman in livery[9] appeared, who relieved us of
the parcels we carried and showed us into a pleasant morning-room,
beautifully furnished and full of flowers.

"Mr. John Howard and Mr. Edward Perry," said my friend to the butler,
and we were left to ourselves.

"Excuse my asking," I said, "but do you have to observe strict
formalities in your own house?"

"Oh, yes," he said. "No good servants would engage us unless we
undertook to give them plenty of work. It is one of the many penalties
of wealth."

At this point Mr. Perry came into the room, dressed as I had first seen
him, and having shaved since we had parted. He renewed his welcome
warmly, and introduced me to his wife, a comely grey-haired lady with
agreeable manners, who said that she was delighted to see me, and to
hear that I was ready to take them as I found them. I was also
introduced to Miss Miriam Perry, whom I took to at once, as she was
exceptionally pretty, and had a very frank and pleasing way with her.
There was also a younger sister, Mollie, a pretty child of thirteen or
so, and Tom, a boy of about a year older, who alone of the family was
dressed in old and shabby clothes. But he had a merry freckled face and
excellent manners.

"Here," said Mr. Perry, "you see us all, except my married daughter; and
I hope you will like us."

I liked them already, with one exception, and I thought it possible that
I might even come to like Mr. Perry himself in time, for he showed to
better advantage surrounded by his family and in his own beautiful home
than he had done outside.

"Mr. Howard," said Edward, "wants to live as we do while he is with us,
and to study the conditions of wealth from the inside. He has even
bought a great many clothes, and perhaps he would like to put some of
them on before luncheon."

This announcement, I could see, brought gratification to my hosts, but
Tom looked rather disgusted. He was being educated at a day school, I
learnt afterwards, where many of his companions were the sons of very
poor men, and he was not yet of an age to sympathise deeply with the
family taste for philanthropy.

Edward took me up to my room, and apologised for its air of comfort. The
footman was unpacking the parcels we had brought, and it was possibly
for his benefit that Edward said: "We keep one or two barely furnished


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