. d* font
Bell's 3noian ano Colonial
A SAINT IN MUFTI
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
THE NEW ANDROMEDA
HER HIGHNESS'S SECRETARY
YELLOW AND WHITE
A BRIDE OF JAPAN
THE GRAND DUKE
ONE FAIR ENEMY
This Edition is issued for circulation in India and the
A SAINT IN MUFTI
GEORGE BELL & SONS
RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED,
BRBAI) STRRBT HILL, E.C. AND
I CONCERNING A VERY WORTHY GENTLEMAN . ^
II BITTER ALOES . 26
III WOMAN ........ 44
IV A DERELICT 55
V BETTY 69
VI THE INTERVIEW 82
VII PERSUASIVE ARGUMENT 98
VIII MRS. NUTTALL IS CONFIDENTIAL . . . 106
IX FURNISHING THE DERELICT . . . .119
X BY THE RIVER 131
XI MR. BOB LANGFORD 143
XII THE CHARM OF SEX . . . . . l6l
XIII THE CHARM OF SEX (CONTINUED) . . . l8o
XIV THE MAJOR SEES A GHOST . . . -195
xv THE MAJOR'S SECRET 204
XVI SOME FURTHER CONFIDENCES OF MRS. NUTTALL . 2l8
XVII THE ACTOR MAN'S SECRET . . . .228
xvin "NOW YOU KNOW" ... . 242
XIX CRUMBLING FOUNDATIONS OF A CONFEDERACY 251
XX MR. LANGFORD INTERVENES .... 264
XXI MRS. NUTTALL SEES A MIRACLE . . . 282
XXII BEYOND THE REACH OF PHILOSOPHY . .297
XXIII THE DRIFTING OF THE DERELICT . . .314
XXIV THE DERELICT ENTERS PORT .... 325
A SAINT IN MUFTI
CONCERNING A VERY WORTHY GENTLEMAN
MAJOR SARNING turned on his pillow, alternately
coaxing and pounding it to subjection. But the thing,
utterly lacking in sympathy, and of a truly philistine
descent, outraged at every turn his aesthetic sense.
It was lumpy, brutal, unyielding, and singularly
devoid of all the finer sensibilities of any self-respect-
ing pillow. Perhaps it was also a little weary of the
Major. One never knows. Why should not an
article of furniture, subject though it be, resent an
undue imposition ? Even the springs of a well-bred
and thoroughly docile Chesterfield will assert them-
selves at last. There can be no doubt that Major
Sarning made inordinate demands upon his pillow.
But the thing would neither be cajoled nor bullied,
which caused the Major to yawn, and ultimately to
stretch himself. Then, with a last despairing effort,
he turned his face to the wall and resolutely strove to
forget the encroaching day. But daylight in London,
even in the middle of autumn, will not always be
denied ; and the Major was eventually forced to realize
that whether he liked it or not, this was the beginning
8 A SAINT IN MUFTI
of another period of battle and purgatory. The
calendar told him that each day was comprised of
twenty-four hours, but to his thinking the man who
invented the almanac was entirely lacking in the
higher imaginative qualities. For to say that the day
held neither more nor less than twenty-four hours was
patently absurd to one with any experience of life.
Some days, especially when funds were low, and relief
nebulously glimmering through the dim distance, he
was sure that each hour might easily be multiplied by
four; whereas, on the other hand, the indecent haste
in which rent day came round, or the period in which
a trifling loan fell due, convinced him that there had
been some officious method of subtraction going on.
Therefore, to equalize matters, as it were, and get
back a little bit of his own, he strove assiduously to
show his contempt of time by ignoring it, nor could he
think of a more disdainful method of exhibiting that
contempt than by resolutely refusing to admit the
advent of a new day. Besides, in spite of the unsym-
pathetic pillow and the lumpy mattress, there was a
certain amount of comfort beneath the blankets, and,
what was even more to the point oblivion.
The Major, it will be seen, had a nice aesthetic
sense, even though he happened to be one of those
unfortunate persons whose ideas are more profound
than their purses. "But," said he, "I am a man of
the world, and the w r orld is an open book of life
wherein all may read, but which, happily, only the
few read to advantage. I am one of the few."
Though what advantage he had ever gained was as
nebulous as the gold pieces in his pocket.
Still, it was a fine philosophy, and if it had not
borne him triumphantly along the stream of life, it
A VERY WORTHY GENTLEMAN 9
had taught him infinite patience, and a firm belief
in the utility of ideas.
"Ideas," said the Major, in one of his inspired
moments, "are the incomparable assets of life. I have
no money, but I have ideas : ideas are money, there-
fore I have money." Though he reasoned syllogistic-
ally, like a good logician, he may not have found
his logic work out well in practice. Fortunately for
him he had that supreme contempt of detail which
is the indubitable sign of genius.
At length, after much deep cogitation, he sum-
moned up sufficient energy to throw aside the bed-
clothes, stalk out on to the landing and ring the bell.
It was unfortunate that the builders had forgotten to
place a bell in his room, an omission at which he
was never weary of complaining; but it is to be pre-
sumed that the gentlemen responsible for the con-
struction of that house argued, and not without
reason, that the person fortunate enough to live so
near the stars would naturally be above all earthly
considerations. Still, he could not deny that bells
were useful things in their way especially as the
bare boards of the landing responded unsympathetic-
ally to the tender soles of his feet. He skipped
back into bed again with a most commendable
"Bed," said he, in another of his philosophic out-
bursts, "is man's most supreme invention. People
talk of railways, steamships, aeroplanes, telephones
and the electric light, but what are they all in com-
parison to this most amazing and delightful of con-
ceptions ? the tired man's friend, the sick man's
solace, the rich man's joy, the poor man's hope.
Nay, even the king on his throne, bored to tears with
10 A SAINT IN MUFTI
a ceaseless round of pleasure, finds the sweetest
moments of his life in thy entrancing oblivion. With
a sigh of relief the working woman turns to thee;
with joy the never-working woman creeps into thy
downy recesses and dreams of conquests in the air,
and the mazes of marital infidelity. Of all places under
heaven there is only one place in which we all meet
as equals, and that is between the sheets when we
are lucky enough to possess them."
Soothed by this profound reflection he turned once
more to the wall, fully conscious of the sublimity of
his imaginings, and was slipping off into the land of
dreams when his door was pushed open with scant
ceremony, and a woman, bearing a tray, stood puffing
on the threshold.
The Major, for some reason best known to himself,
pretended to be asleep; but the lady of the tray,
sniffing contemptuously at the atmosphere, also had
her reasons for waking him.
"Your breakfast," she said, announcing the advent
of his coffee and roll in a manner which seemed
singularly lacking in elegance of tone.
"Eh, what ! " said he, as though starting from the
most profound of slumbers. "Is that you, Mrs.
Nuttall ? "
"Looks like it," replied Mrs. Nuttall, with a sharp
bark. "I brought your breakfast."
"So soon?" inquired the Major, strenuously
endeavouring to wake up.
"Soon!" echoed the lady. "It's after eleven.
Don't you think it's time you was up?"
"Really," purred the Major, "and I have a most
important appointment with my solicitors at eleven-
A VERY WORTHY GENTLEMAN 11
"I 'ope it's from Ireland?" suggested Mrs.
"Most remarkable prescience," exclaimed the philo-
sopher, evidently lost in utter amazement at her truly
feminine perspicacity. "As a matter of fact it is about
my Irish property."
"Then I suppose you'll be able to give me a bit
on account? I 'aven't seen the colour of it for
"Really," he said, "you are most thoughtful."
"Ten weeks at five shillings a week is fifty shillings,
an' fifty shillings is two pound ten," continued im-
"So it is," assented the culprit. "Your arithmetic
is absolutely flawless."
"An' Nuttall says "
"I am sure Mr. Nuttall fully comprehends, and
appreciates, the unhappy straits into which unsym-
pathetic destiny has plunged me."
"I don't think," she replied oracularly. "At the
same time Nuttall 'as to get up an' go to work at six
o'clock so as you can lay in bed till twelve."
"I was always sure that Mr. Nuttall was the pos-
sessor of a nature that positively palpitated with
philanthropy, and this is irrefragable confirmation of
"Oh," she answered stoutly, "Nuttall's all right.
'E works for 'is living."
"Happy Nuttall! Many times, happy Nuttall!
Happy in strenuous muscle and deft fingers; but
thrice happy in having for wife a woman of such
charm, tact, intellect and sweet sympathy. Nuttall is
to be envied, to be congratulated. And as for his
going to work at six o'clock, is not that also a benefit ?
12 A SAINT IN MUFTI
Just think how much more work he can do than if
he went at twelve ! Sweet, indeed, is the food that
a man earns by the sweat of his brow."
"I'm not so blooming sure," she answered. "Any-
way, you don't seem to sweat much over yours."
"I sweat mentally, inwardly," he said, "and con-
sequently suffer the more. To sweat outwardly,
though in its essence vulgar, is a relief to the merely
animal in man; but to sweat inwardly is to be con-
sumed by a raging fever. Do you think that coffee is
likely to take cold ? "
"Better cold corfy than none at all," she answered
sharply, "an' that's what it's coming to."
"Truly, you seem endowed with a most Minerva-
like wisdom this morning. The blue-eyed daughter
of Zeus, though she sprang fully equipped from her
father's brain, never started life with half your be-
"What's that?" she inquired sharply, her ears
alert, her eyes glaring suspiciously at the long figure
beneath the clothes. Though he owed her ten weeks'
rent, and looked like owing her more, she was not
one to sanction familiarity in the destitute.
"A classical allusion," explained the Major.
"Pallas Athene was born in her father's brain."
"Oh, was she?" snapped the good lady. "I sup-
pose there are people who'll believe anythink, but
please don't take me for such a fool. What about my
rent ? "
"Ah, with what haste we quit the slopes of
Olympus," he sighed, "and descend to base terrene
matter. Your rent, our rent, my rent ! If, out of
deference to my modesty, you will condescend to leave
me a little to myself, I will even assault the temple
A VERY WORTHY GENTLEMAN 13
of fortune. My solicitor must not be kept waiting too
long. I owe you for ten weeks. Good ! "
"But it's not good," she protested.
" I meant it but as an adjectival exclamation," he
explained. "What are your ten weeks to my ten
years ? for it is fully ten years since my Irish tenantry
have paid any rent. It's a way they have over there.
But I like them, dear, merry, thoughtless souls.
Their forefathers have been for a thousand years on
the estate, so I suppose they have a whimsical notion
that it belongs to them."
"Why don't you evict 'em?"
"Esprit de corps, dear lady. The good creatures
have so entwined themselves around my heart that I
could not inflict so deep a degradation. Evict a
merry heart, trample upon the down-trodden, fling
poverty in the teeth of misfortune ! Ah, no ! True,
1 have my faults, but ingratitude is not one of them."
"Ingratitoode ! " she echoed in a tone of surprise.
"You don't know what I owe my Irish tenantry."
"But I know that you owe me two pound ten," she
said. " An' Nuttall, 'e 'as 'is ideas about things too."
"I have always regarded Mr. Nuttall as a man of
incomparable intelligence, and of a spirit infinitely
provocative. Is he a Baconian or a Machiavelian ? "
"He is an Englishman what pays 'is way."
"Thrice fortunate Nuttall! But, madam, in pro-
portion to the frigidity of my coffee you may perhaps
realize the warmth of my solicitor, through my inad-
vertence in keeping him waiting so long."
"Others are kept waiting too," she said, backing
towards the door.
"It is the fate of man," he answered sententiously,
"and incidentally that of woman also. That is where
14 A SAINT IN MUFTI
the philosophic calm is of such incalculable value. To
the man of patience all things must come in time-
even death itself. Have you ever thought of death,
Mrs. Nuttall of the grave, and of the possibilities
therein? The earth is at least kinder than man, ten-
derer than woman. It does not grudge us a lodging,
but gives us of its best, rent free, till doomsday. Of
all landlords there is none that can compare with the
grave. I think he must be Irish, or at least that every
graveyard is a bit of Ireland."
But Mrs. Nuttall, overwhelmed by this torrent of
transcendentalism, had fled, precipitately fled, and as
he listened to her heavy descent of the stairs a won-
drous calm spread itself over him like a cloak.
"Ah," he mused, "I was wrong to rack her tender
though expansive bosom. Yet it is not altogether ill
that even a landlady should at times be taught to
realize the mutability of life."
After much serious debate he arose and pulled up
the blind. Somewhere across the river the sun was
struggling through a mist. Even the very roofs and
chimney-pots which met his melancholy gaze reflected
the dreariness of life. A plane tree in a neighbouring
back yard lifted its leafless arms in a mute appeal
to the implacable heavens : a tabby cat stretched
along an adjacent wall was quietly taking unto itself
a new coat of soots. Somewhere in the adjacent street
a coster was shouting "beautiful *ake," and "lovely
'addicks " in a voice that startled the desolate waste
spaces of the earth.
The Major flung a shabby and not too clean coun-
terpane across his shoulders, drew a rickety cane chair
to the washstand, and sat down to partake of his
dejeuner. He always called it his dejeuner: it was
A VERY WORTHY GENTLEMAN 15
an amiable weakness of his. Occasionally, when he
brought in over-night an ounce of ham from the
adjacent cookshop, he called it his dejeuner a la four-
chette. But he ate it with his ringers, like a Turk.
Such are the straits to which a Christian man may
come : though that did not distress him so greatly as
the fact that he always seemed to have more fingers
The coffee was cold, and of surprising trans-
parency : the roll looked as though it might be ex-
pected suddenly to groan aloud beneath the weight of
years. Though he searched assiduously for the butter
he could not find it. Butter was evidently off. He
arose and went out on to the landing, but though his
fingers encircled the bell he did not ring. It would
have been unspeakably selfish of him to drag poor
Mrs. Nuttall, a good though stout woman, up four
flights of stairs. Besides which the smell of fried
sausages stole up the stairway and smote upon his
nostrils with incredible ardour, arousing in him an
almost overwhelming desire to partake of the fra-
"It's the Actor Man," he muttered. "That beggar
always lives on the fat of the land."
He stole back to his room and softly closed the
door. Then he ranged himself before the washstand
once again and heroically faced the antiquated roll,
which he broke with much difficulty, and soaked in
the cold coffee. But the insidious odour of those
fried sausages permeated even the closed door and
filled the room with its entrancing fragrance. His
brain grew dizzy, his mouth watered. He drew in
deep gulps of the exquisite perfume.
"Thus," said he, "man may breakfast by proxy,
16 A SAINT IN MUFTI
which is a great aid to a slender purse. Moreover,
this feast of the imagination costs me nothing,
whereas in three or four hours the Actor Man will be
as badly off as I am, and desire once more to replenish
the vacuum created by voracious nature. Hence the
sublime absurdity of gratifying the merely animal
craving. Presently I shall catch him up and cry
It was the philosophy of perfect expedience. The
natural laws of equity were immutable. Time was
the radical democrat of nature, the supreme leveller of
He dressed with exquisite care. It is true he had
to shave with cold water and yellow soap; but what
are superfluities to the old campaigner ? Usually he
descended to the kitchen for his own hot water, but
to-day he had rather a dread of encountering Mrs.
Nuttall. She was not in a sympathetic mood, and he
possessed so profound an admiration of the adorable
sex that it pained him to discover a flaw in the least
member of that ravishing community. Woman
should be gracious, sweet, all dimpled smiles and
pretty fal-lals. He knew that Mrs. Nuttall was not
dimpled : he had something more than a suspicion
that she was not sweet. Her fal-lals almost invariably
consisted of an apron of brown sacking and a blouse
which strove valiantly to contain the amplitude of her
charms. Moreover, just then the Actor Man, who was
playing a small part at Drury Lane, monopolized
all her sweetness, having given her something on
From underneath the mattress the Major drew out
a pair of trousers his only pair which he subjected
to a close scrutiny, here and there removing with
A VERY WORTHY GENTLEMAN 17
much care the adhering specks of fluff. Though
rather baggy, there was yet much good honest wear
in them, while a judicious use of the scissors elimin-
ated the fraying at the edges. His boots gave him
pause. Already they had taken four soles, and he
had every hope of being able to utilize a fifth. But
the uppers were beginning to show the unwonted
strain to which they had been subjected, and he
feared that their days in the land were numbered.
He did not possess an overcoat, but that was an
inconvenience he easily surmounted by declaring that
he never felt the cold, that he was an advocate of the
open air theory, and that the great crime of the age
was the undue swathing of the body. For this reason
also he never wore gloves, though always careful to
carry a pair neatly folded. No one had ever seen
those gloves unfolded. Perhaps they didn't unfold.
Yet he was a fine figure of a man as he swaggered
along Tachbrook Street on his way to town.
"There 'e goes," said Mrs. Nuttall disdainfully,
gazing from the Actor Man's window on the first
floor. "Never guess 'e couldn't pay five shillings a
week, would you ? "
The Actor Man, thus apostrophized, looked up
from his sausage and mash, but said nothing. He
had known the difficulty of finding five shillings a
Meanwhile the Major swung on. For him the
great daily struggle was about to recommence. He
was weary of it, weary to death of it, but like a true
soldier he faced the fearful duty.
"After all," he said, "it is the overcoming of diffi-
culties which brings out the truly heroic in man.
Man was made to struggle, to fight his way upward
18 A SAINT IN MUFTI
through the dark clouds of oppression. And in the
possession of his superior abilities kind nature has
armed him for the fray. I but revert to the methods
of my ancestors. They had to hunt and kill their
food before they could eat it : I have to hunt for
mine. Thus does nature, like history, repeat itself
"And again, ' Life is a battlefield.' " (What more
natural than that an army man should be prone to
military figures?) "The opposing forces join issue:
panic seizes one side and it flies. To the victors the
spoils. It is true I find no difficulty in carrying off
my share of the loot : indeed it might even with pro-
priety be suggested that I am on the vanquished
side. But I have never yet given way to panic. A
strategic retreat does not necessarily mean annihila-
tion. Guerilla warfare is always most trying to the
enemy. I am a guerilla of the guerillas, a hanger-
on to the skirts of opportunity. Vive la guerilla!"
Thinking thus he swung along Tachbrook Street
as though he owned it, and presently debouched upon
that melancholy thoroughfare known as the Vaux-
hall Bridge Road. Though he walked with so proud
a step he did not disdain to cast an eagle glance upon
the sooty pavement, or in the contiguous gutter, in
the hope that he might succour from shame some
neglected coin. But fortune did not smile on him,
or there were too many eyes in Pimlico as eager
as his own.
"The streets of London," he mused, "are paved
with gold; yet I am so abnormally short-sighted that
I cannot even distinguish the gleam of a solitary
piece of silver : while bronze, miscalled copper, is
as rare as the dodo. Singular commentary on estab-
A VERY WORTHY GENTLEMAN 19
lished truth. Yet money, if one could only grasp
the fact, is but a poor substitute for happiness, for
that lightness of heart which goes with the merry
soul. The chink of the sovereign fresh from the
Royal Mint lacks that exquisite harmony which, like
the tintinnabulation of joy-bells, rings through the
soul of merit. I have the soul of merit. Fortune
cannot continue to ignore me."
In his pocket was one shilling and three pence,
which caused him much anxious thought. Yet it was
neck or nothing with him now. Being a soldier he
naturally did not know the meaning of the word fear.
Therefore he swaggered into an adjacent public-house
and chaffed the barmaid as she slapped upon the
counter his glass of bitter. Incidentally he also in-
quired for the evening paper, which he studied with
much intensity, alternately frowning and smiling :
frowning when he forgot where he was, smiling when
he thought the hard eyes of that shrewd-looking man
over in the corner were watching. Then he took
from his pocket a slip of paper and wrote thereon,
"3-45 Gallivanter to win." Into this slip of paper
he carefully folded his shilling, and with an easy
nonchalance drifted towards the man in the corner.
In some mysterious manner their hands met : the
piece of paper with the shilling enclosed passed into
the palm of the man with the hard eyes and the
shrewd face. When the Major emerged once more
into the street his existing capital was represented
by one penny.
"Fortune favours the brave," murmured the gallant
fellow, as he stood for a moment on the crossing to
ogle a pretty fresh-faced girl with soft, fluffy hair.
' By Jove, a nice little filly ! " So wandered the
20 A SAINT IN MUFTI
thought within the thought. "Fetching little thing.
I wonder if she's very lonely ? " But she was gone
amid the crowd : a faint sweet sunbeam swallowed
up in the mists and confusion of life.
"It is true that solitary coin might have repulsed
this most persistent attack of the internal enemy,"
he admitted somewhat reluctantly as he marched on-
ward. "But for how long? And I should then have
been without hope, whereas now there are possi-
His face glowed with enthusiasm ; his eyes shone
with the spirit of adventure.
"One must have a little excitement," he said.
" What is life without hope ? To stagnate in the dim
regions of respectability, to know that you can pay
the butcher and the baker their little weekly accounts,
to buy boots for the children and settle their school
fees; but not to know the thrill of anticipation which
comes from high and daring endeavour how can one
live without this ? Not without reason has nature
implanted in me the capacity to appreciate the
highest. She knows that to whatever state she
may be pleased to call me I shall undoubtedly do
her infinite credit. She realizes, none better, that
throughout the various ramifications of life there
are always certain exalted spirits which rise superior
to their narrow environment, and she never forgets
And she did not. At half-past one she reminded
him of her presence by a stabbing pain which pierced
his internal economy. At two o'clock she was
gnawing savagely at his vitals.
"I will go and look at Buckingham Palace," he
said, "and dream of luxury."
He selected a free bench in the Green Park, a little
way back from the broad walk, which, however, did
not interfere with his view of the royal residence. He
glued his eyes to the rows of vacant windows, and
let his imagination revel in the luxury within. A flag
was flying above the great gloomy edifice.
"He's probably finishing lunch now," he whis-
pered, and there was a low moaning agony in his
voice; for at that moment implacable nature stabbed
him with fiery swords, and he grew pale beneath the
venomous assault. Then he closed his eyes and
dreamed for a moment of a succession of silver dishes