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my shoulder and offers me a kiss.

Tilda is at first for keeping her imprisoned in
the garden. But Nance insists on the walk, with
something of her old fretfulness. She is used
to it, and she has put off her airing this afternoon
to wait for us. Away we go then, and, by keeping
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No. 5 John Street

our thoughts firmly fixed on the passing moment,
we go as three of the happiest persons alive.
The invalid walks with perfect ease, though
slowly ; but who could want to hurry here ? Our
stroll is the natural pace, the pace of early herds-
men. It may have been quickened for love, as
when the messenger ran to meet Rebekah, but it
was perhaps never quickened for greed until her
progeny invented High Change.

We pass the gabled house, the seat of the
great family till a whole acre of building grew
too small for their state. They die elsewhere
now, but they still keep up the sense of home by
coming here for the final rest. Their monuments
have long outgrown the chancel of the village
church. The architects have come to the rescue
with a chapel of ease which is all tombs.

Nance calls a halt in the churchyard. ' Ain't
it a sweet plyce ? So tidy. Wouldn't you like
to be ? I come 'ere every dye.'

Happily Tilda is out of hearing. As I look at
the poor girl something makes me wish that I
had been so too.

We return for the meal, which is neatly served
by the cottager in an arbour at the end of the
garden. All sit down, even Tilda finally, but
she is at first so disturbed by the thought of being
waited on that she insists on helping to lay the
things. Nance looks a flower of girlhood, though
a fading one, in her new frock, and with mere
decency and comfort in the surroundings. One
could fain curse the brutish dulness that finds no

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No. 5 John Street

better use for such growths than has hitherto
been found for her. She is the gentlest and most
thoughtful of hostesses. And, ah, how little
separates her in essentials from the smartest
and the best bred ! — the Cockney aspirate, the
Cockney vowel, a tendency to eat jam with a
knife.

We have a most affectionate leave-taking
between the girls. Coxcomb as I am, I believe
Nance would like to kiss me again. I know
I should like to kiss her. We both refrain for
fear of misunderstanding on the part of the
cottager, the Mrs. Grundy of our rural scene.
Tilda still would urge it but for her quickened
sense of the social proprieties. She has been
a model of behaviour so far, and is evidently
fired with the ambition of bringing the day to
a triumphant close.

She and I walk back to the station in the
cool of the evening. Peace and beauty ! beauty
and peace ! again and again. Kine low for the
milkmaid, labourers turn their backs on the day's
toil, their faces to the night's rest ; children romp
their way home to bed.

What could strike the jarring note but a cursed
Cockney out of bounds ? And here, alas ! are
three of the breed, hulking shopboys, displayed
on an ale-bench by the roadside. Oh that they
may refrain from the ' chi-hike ' ! Oh that we
may take no notice, if they don't ! I see the
danger, and dread the effect of the strain on
Tilda's new-built bulwark of self-control.

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No. 5 John Street

Alas, it comes ! ' What price flowers ter-dye ?*
The fiend has fixed with unerring eye my one
decorative mistake, the nosegay worn as a button-
hole.

Poor Tilda changes colour, but gives no sign.
We draw nearer and nearer to them. What is to
be done ? I try a covering movement, which
consists of talking with the rapidity of complete
absorption in my theme.

Yes, Tilda, this place has been just as you see
it, for perhaps a hundred and fifty years ; the big
house for, I daresay, three hundred or more ; the
tiny river winding in and out among the meadows
for perhaps a thou '

' Why can't yer leave the gal alone ? '

Tilda {under her breath). ' O my Gawd ! '

First Cockney. ' O you rude man ! I 'U tell
mother, see if I don't ! '

Second Cockney {in raucous imitation of a
feminine scream) ' 'Kip ! 'Elp ! '

It is a prophetic cry. Before my restraining
hand can reach her, Tilda has plucked him from
his seat, a mortal in the grasp of goddess
Enyo, waster of cities, and administered to him
* one between the eyes,' so fair and so true that he
forthwith drops out of the reckoning. It is not a
pleasant business, but we are in for it. The two
are up in an instant ; and as both have a healthy
shame of raising their hands against the girl,
they chivalrously turn their attention to me. I
have not done anything of this sort for years;
but, happily, I have sat at good men's feasts.

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No. 5 John Street

The two together are poor creatures. Before
Tilda can repeat her indiscretion, there is but one
upright, and the fight is o'er.

* Tilda, you 're a disappointment.'

I seize her arm and lead her away. She yields
without a word, and we soon regain the quiet of
the road and the privacy of a hedgerow ; then
she bursts into the first tears I have ever seen fall
from her rebellious eyes since she wept over the
waif in the yard.

* Oh, I 'm no good for a lidy, I ain't ! O why
didn't yer ketch me when I was a kid ? '

It is so infinitely touching in its despair that all
annoyance vanishes in an instant, to give place to
an intense pity for my poor Pocahontas of the
slums. She seems so bruised and broken by the
wayside of her short cut to the higher life.

* Well, Tilda, let 's make the best of it. Leave
yourself alone, and be yourself — just in the old
way.'

' Ah ! and have everybody what 's better look
as if they wouldn't touch me with a pair of
tongs.

' Oh ! ' (wringing her hands, and, the form apart,
with accents worthy of classic tragedy) * I wish I
could sling my 'ook ; I wish I could sling my 'ook,
I can't speak proper. I can't be'ave proper. I
ain't no good. I stands in the gutter, I do ; I can't
git out.'

Her humiliation seems to be deepened by a
sense of the fact that she cannot even ' cry proper.'
She takes her knuckles out of her eyes, and

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draws forth a pocket-handkerchief that is distinctly
behind time.

' Have patience, Tilda — patience with your-
self. Let people help you, and it '11 all come
right'

She looks-up, and flashes revolt through her
tears.

' I ain't a goin' to no Flower Gals' Mission —
not me ! '

* No mission, Tilda, just a friend, that's all.*

' Friend ! Do you think I dunno what you
are ."* You 're a toff. I knowed it pretty nigh
ever since you come back. I can tell it when
you 're speakin' — most, when you 're tryin' to
speak like us. You don't even 'old yer tongue
same way as we do. Nobody can't upset yer by
sayin' a rude thing. I thought you might ha' bin
in the drapery at fust, but I don't think so now.
You 're a toff, stone-broke — that 's what you are.
That was on'y yer last maiden aunt, that judy
wot left yer the bit o' brass the other dye to bring
Nance 'ere. You blued many another maiden
aunt at the races, afore you come down to your
knuckle-bone. You 've blued everythink, 'cept
the gold what 's in yer 'art. When I see what
you done for Nance, you made me feel I was like
dirt. I ain't no class for you. I never can be.
Oh, why didn't yer ketch me when I was a kid ? '

She pauses, but I take care to leave her to
herself.

' I warn't made right at the start. I was a bit
o' slopwork. So was Covey. That's why we

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No. 5 John Street

both got to 'ang together on the same peg. That 's
jest what's the matter with all on us in John Street.
We can't do no good with ourselves now. We
wants pickin' all to pieces, and if you begin that,
you'll only tear the stuff. Give the young uns
a chance in their cradles, an' let the old uns die
off ; then you '11 see a change. All these missions
tryin' to make us mealy-mouthed ! '

' Missions ! Tilda.'

* Oh, I don't mean you. But you know what
you are,' she continues, with a still more embar-
rassing certainty of touch ; ' you 're only a toff
'avin' a lark. It won't be a lark for ever, though.
It makes yer larf, like, to 'ear us talkin', and to
see our funny wyze. But, some time, you '11 see
us jest as we are. Then you '11 git the 'ump, an'
cuss the dye you tried to mike a lidy out of a
fightin' flower-gal.'

' Hurry up, Tilda, or we shall miss the train.
I want to treat you and Covey to the Mogul.'



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XXIX

A BRIEF wait in our play of shifting scenes, and
now I stand, with a host of courtly supers, in
marble halls.

We mount a great staircase, step by step, to
pay our respects to a Queen of the East, who, as
hostess, keeps her state on the upper landing.

It is the night of the great fancy dress ball for
the Jubilee.

I dressed at chambers. The deceased maiden
aunt has covered the cheat by accounting for my
absence from John Street for a few days, during
which I am understood to be on a visit to a
county solicitor for the settlement of family affairs.
The play, in so far as it concerns the factory, is
played out. I have sent in my resignation as
porter at Hell gate.

Stubbs was ready for me, and his services were
welcome as ever. But I was less elate this time
on my return to the old life. I can hardly say
why. I felt inclined to ask myself why I was
there. Last time it was all the other way — Why
was I ever at John Street ? Stubbs is still a
blessing. He had me travestied, and packed in
the brougham, to the minute. I was another
man, if not a new one. My own brother might

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No. 5 John Street

not have known me in my fifteenth century

rig.

That file of carriages — we knew where It was
to end ; but where did it begin ? It seemed to
dislocate the whole traffic of town. Our pace
was funereal. The populace stared at us with
only less interest than they stare at convoys of
the dead. We, with affected detachment from
mundane interests, stared at the new moon.

For all that, I was presently aware of Holy
Joe standing at the corner of a square, evidently
with the fatuous hope of doing a little business
with the skies. What a hope for a night like
this ! He carried the tripod ; Low Covey bore
the telescope in its waterproof case, shouldered
like a gun. It is the one clear night of the year
on which there is no business of that sort to be
done. The earth-bound throng has no eyes for
the vault of heaven just now. That is the reason,
I should say, why Joe, with his positive genius for
missing the main chance, came out. He looked
sad and sour. Covey seemed undisturbed, as
though knowing that, whatever the issue for his
principal, it would yield for himself the price of a
pint of beer. He made critical observations on
the company — perhaps to cheer his companion.
His 'What do yer think o' that for a bit o'
muslin ? ' betokened youth and beauty in the
carriage which had just passed.

My sober costume and the darkness of the
vehicle enabled me to escape unrecognised,
though not exactly unobserved. His remark,

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No. 5 John Street

' All in this lot tuppence,' was, I take it, a sign
that I belonged to a category of objects of minor
interest unworthy of the notice of a connoisseur.
There were many halts, and as many jolts that
marked the attempts of the horse to achieve the
rudiments of a trot in a course of three yards.
But we passed the portal of the great house at
last, and left the sweating pavement for the
Elysian fields. Farewell, drab world !

The stately hall is almost a conservatory, with
its plants and flowers bathed in the soft light.
No appeal to the finer sense is wanting. A band
plays from its hiding-place in a thicket of most
luxuriant growths. Once more, it is life as it
should be — the life of the children of fire. I
imagine that, when we have brought it to this
point for the whole human race, the happy swarm
will aspire just a little too near the centre, and go
out in glory, like moths in the flame of a dip.

As we make our obeisance to the lords of the
revel, the chamberlains take us in charge. The
groups representing whole epochs of history are
packed, for a subsequent procession, in a great
chamber of white and gold, the walls panelled in
yellow brocade and hung with old Masters. We
who are not in the processional groups — ' All in
this lot tuppence ' — are told to pass on through
the rooms.

Now it is the Green Drawing-room, the Blue,
the Pink, each a perfect scheme in stuffs and in
timber dear bought and far-fetched. Then it is
the garden beyond, with poor Joe's moon quite

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No, 5 John Street

snuffed out by the electric beam, which seems to
turn every giant growth into a pear-tree bearing
fruit of fire. The low musical talk and laughter
are as orchestral effects ; and, for their bass, still
in perfect keeping, we have the distant turmoil of
Piccadilly — crowd, carriages, and police — subdued
to harmony as a beat of sullen waves. The great
tent on the lawn, wherein presently we are to sup,
blue and yellow, without ; and within, all braveries
of tapestry and of table service, suggests a State
pavilion of the Sophy camped for glittering war.
Yet, the whole scene, of still life and of quick, is,
at present, but a confusion of isolated splendours,
and it fails to tell us what it is all about. It
seems to await the touch that may bring it
together into the unity of a general idea.

A well-known strain that announces the arrival
of the Royal party brings us back into the house.
Enter the Prince and Princess, attended. We
offer homage to a Grand Master of the Knights
of Malta in black velvet set off with sparkling
steel ; to a Margaret of Valois radiant in white
and gold, in crown of diamonds throbbing with
light, and in ropes of pearl. Each of these
illustrious persons is attended by others of scarcely
inferior state — some of the blood Royal. These,
again, in their trainbearers and supporters, are
the nuclei of only minor glories. If you could
descend in imagination to the very threshold of
nothingness (on the other side of the wall), you
might complete the perspective of the social
order with Low Covey at last.

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No. 5 John Street

The supreme figures take their places on a
dais, and the defile begins. Now, the whole
inner meaning of it is clear. It is the pageant of
the Bosses of recorded time. All who have held
the world in the hollow of the hand, in all that
the world most prizes — acres, wealth, and power
— have come to keep Walpurgis revel with those
who hold it now. It is their one night's leave
from the shades, and they make the most of it.

Here is Sheba, no mean hand at storing the
fatness of the land, since, as we know by writings,
she could spare talents of gold by the hundred,
and precious stones, to pay her footing in a king's
house. Her train is stiff with brilliants and with
the metal of Ophir. Five black pages and as
many white can hardly hold it up. She is
gorgeous in purple and gold-shot gauze, in gems
of all the colours of the mine. When there is no
more room on her fair body for portable property
of this description, the chains of diamond and
turquoise are slung on either arm, from shoulder
to wrist. This was how they did things nigh three
thousand years ago ; and where, if you please, is
the boasted progress of to-day ? For as we
know — also by writings — with all her magni-
ficence, she came to her friend's house but as the
country mouse to the mouse of town. When she
saw how lavishly that house was ordered, 'there
was no more spirit in her.' Her Royal friend
still kept up the due proportion between the
centre of things and the circumference, and was
able to put her in her place.

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No. 5 John Street

And here is great Egypt in scarcely inferior
state. Her form, but for her counteracting pride
of port, might bend beneath the weight of her
necklets, bracelets, anklets, of inestimable worth.
Thus the labourer is still worthy of his hire even
when his labour is to bring kingdoms to the
devil. The asp was evidently but her solace of
vanity, not her refuge of despair. By dissolving
a few of these pearls at the pawnbroker's as
occasion served, she might have lived in exceed-
ingly comfortable circumstances to the remotest
limit of age.

The Arthurian group, with the sheen of their
trappings, light up the dark saying of their
chronicler that good knights come to them who
are mighty of goods. Madame Vivien, I rejoice
to see, though she sports but antique copper for
the circlets of her white arms, has for other orna-
ments the market price of many a flower of
chivalry. Peace be with her, and with her com-
pany. They bring us the comfortable tidings
that they were not always engaged in the social
purity movement, or in affairs of state. There
is a time for all things, and this is a night
out.

The great Venetians bear much the same
message. If the resplendent rig of the Doges
does not mean that Republics, rightly understood
and rightly managed, are no killjoys of social
sport, it means nothing at all.

The spacious skirts of great Elizabeth mark
the culmination. Their embossments bear the



No. 5 John Street

value of many a rich province, and of whole
carracks charged with the beef and beer, for the
want of which her seamen had to fisfht the
Spaniard on rations of wind. Royal daughter
of a Royal sire who spent our store to build fifty
palaces, whims of the hour! Raleigh, Sidney,
Essex, Leicester, Drake, and Burleigh gleam in
her wake, the gravest of the sly rogues, no doubt,
well in the secret of the conspiracy to tie our
common man to the soil, and make him their
bondman for ever.

Russian Catherine is hard by, in an imposing
structure of orange velvet, ermine, and white
satin, and with a train of items whose barbaric
pomp threatens to pale the lustre of the rest of
the show. The great Austrian Empress follows ;
and, with the Sixteenth Louis, the line stretches
out to a crack of doom. A Cromwell and a
Napoleon reassure us as to Revolutions. Such
things mean no more harm than the Republics to
which they sometimes give birth. The coach is
soon running in the old ruts. For the rest,
sprinkle with Astartes, Theodoras, Pompadours,
and you are still in the spirit of the matchless
scene.

The whole is power, power, power, howsoever
it is won, howsoever it is wielded, power for its
own sake. A poor little Dantean Beatrice, who
has lost her way among us, is ridiculously out of
place. The well-groomed Furies, torch in hand,
and kindly, beyond the shallow significance of
Athenian compliment, show that Tartarus bears

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No. 5 John Street

us no ill-will. It soothes with a sense of the
permanence of things, and of the vanity of the
stock warning about the crusts of volcanoes.
Volcanoes are extremely habitable parts of the
earth. Ask the peasant of Vesuvius. When you
hear a rumbling you look out for the lava, and,
at need, shift to the other side of the hill.

While reflecting on this great truth over a
cigarette in the lounge, I feel a touch on the
shoulder, and, turning, behold Seton, my lad
of gold.

• You never came to that supper. There was
reproach in your empty chair.'

* Urgent private affairs. But give a sinner one
more chance next time.'

He has had the wonderful judgment to attend
this riot of opulence quite unadorned. He wears
a close-fitting suit of fawn, which sets off his neat
muscular shape to advantage, and makes him one
of the most striking figures in the throng.

' Have you met the Governor ? To tell the
truth, I 've come here to get out of his way.
His lot are a bit fierce— Crusaders, you know.
That sort of toggery wants putting on.'

In the very act of making this undutiful speech,
he changes colour, as a band of warriors, obvi-
ously from Palestine, enter the recess, and call
for cooling drinks.

Caught ! They lay aside their steel headpieces,
and Sir Marmaduke stands revealed, with two or
three of the most influential members of the
Rubber Union as his companions in arms.

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No. 5 John Street

' Hallo, young 'un,' cries the delighted sire.
* Seen your mother ? She 's Queen Berengaria.
Who may you be ? '

' Oh, it 's an attempt at the Black Prince in his
tennis suit, sir.'

' A Prince ! well, that 's all right, so far. But
why didn't you get some of your mother's jewels.'*
She hasn't got half of 'em on.'

' And who are you yourself, Ridler, if it comes
to that ? ' asks a squat figure, attired as Rouge
Dragon.

' Godfrey of Bullion, my boy ; I believe that 's
the idea.'

* That 's a rum start. Why, there 's another
in the show.'

* Can't help it. There 's three Queens of
Sheba. I 'm the real article.'

As ever, sure in his intuitions, even in his
blunders. His travesty skips the poor social
failure of a Walter the Pennyless, to strike in
when the men of worship, who have the command
of the market, take the lead.

' But what 's the matter with your blazon, old
chap?' inquires the squat person, who threatens to
become troublesome. * You 've got metal upon
metal, pig upon bacon. That 's wrong, surely.'

' I dunno, and I don't care. Had it all worked
out at Herald's College. No expense spared.
Besides, can't have too much metal, I should
think, if you ask me, so long as it 's the right
sort.'

' Hope they 've got me all right,' says another

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No. 5 John Street

of the band uneasily, adjusting the spectacles,
which he draws from an unsuspected pocket, to
survey his portly figure in the glass. * I 'm
Baldwin, Count o' Flanders, so I 'm told.'

' Where did he come in ? ' inquires Sir Mar-
maduke.

* Ah, there you licks me. Nathan did my
little lot. That's all I know.'

' Queen Berengaria, I think you said, sir ? '
observes Seton, as he passes his father, and
quietly slips out.

* Oh, you '11 do,' is the soothing assurance of
our amateur pursuivant, whose reading seems to
have been wide, if not deep, for the occasion.
* Your man waited till the Crusades were a goin'
concern. Never got to Palestine at all, but
collared another concession on his way out.'

* He got left in the right place,' observes a
somewhat youthful William Penn, who has the
precision of the American utterance. 'That's
the main point.'

Sir Marmaduke waves an introduction, and
we make acquaintance. The courtly Quaker, it
appears, has heard of me through his sister — the
fair cousin of all of us, who came over to learn to
be a Marchioness under the tutelage of the noble
family at Brentmoor.

' Your sister is settled in England now, I hear.'

' Yes, sir, and happy as the day is long. She

is here to-night as Princess Bonaparte- Patterson.

She was a great success in the same character at

our Bradley- Martin ball in New York.'

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No. 5 John Street

'That was a fine show,' says Sir Marmaduke.
' But you had some trouble about it with the
Radicals, hadn't you ? '

' Nothing to speak of. Some popularity-hunt-
ing parson began preaching about the luxury and
waste. Then the papers chimed in, and our push
suddenly found we were monsters, when all we
wanted was to have a dance.'

* It was a devil of a dance, though, I 'm told,'
observes the pursuivant ; ' almost as good as this.'

' Sir, it was a good dance. The Waldorf
Hotel was elegant. I never saw such a show of
flowers in my life. We 're a young country ; all
we ask is time. But there 's one thing in which
I think we could give you points already ; we
won't stand any nonsense about the poor. You
should have seen how they piled up the agony
when they wanted to stop that ball. Fifty thou-
sand persons kept alive on rations in Chicago !
Poverty and vice of New York ! Blind man's
alley, Hell's kitchen, Sebastopol, and the Bandits'
Roost ! We just let it all roll by, and gave all
the bounders that preached it the dinky-dink.
They do think they 're such awfully warm babies
that lot. We meant going to that ball, if we
drove over dead bodies. We were ready, but
the corpses were not. It all passed off as quietly
as this.'

' Let 's see — how do you stand in millionaires
now ? ' asks Sir Marmaduke.

'We've topped the four thousand, sir,' says
the Quaker, with modest pride.

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No. 5 John Street

* In dollars or in pounds ? '

* Well, perhaps only in dollars. But some of
our citizens have got a good way over the line,
and would, I assure you, make a very respectable
show, even if you divided them by five.'

' I know it,' says Sir Marmaduke, with some-
thing of the bitterness of extorted admiration.
* You '11 beat us at last. You don't bleed the rich
as they do here. Shockin' — the way they pile it
on with the taxes. We 're always tryin' to pull
our millionaires up by the roots. You leave
yours to grow. Oh, you 're bound to win ; and


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