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he 's loved."

It was not that Tom was a milksop ; he could be
as hard as nails on occasion. But he thought the
little relaxations were due to his position, and he was
hard to balk of them. He shared his father's con-
tempt for the status of the enemy, mere field- folk
who took their coats off to it, and he 'd be hanged
if he was going to go dirty just because he was
fighting them. He was born to cleanliness, and he
was going to have it to his shroud. Had n 't he
read somewhere that the Spartans prepared for the
shock of battle by dressing their hair, and were found
so employed just before the shock of Thermopylae?
Tom, after all, was not so exigent. All he wanted
was a brush-up when his work was done.

Polly had perhaps taken it that way at first, cer-
tainly the heroic figure had found litle more favor
in her eyes than in Tom's, but gradually, in the
course of this troubled morning, with its themes of
public and of private sorrow, it had been borne in
upon her that, after all, here was a man. And look-
ing at the poor old inheritor of a name before her,
and thinking of the brother whose faculty and char-
acter were the only hope of their house, it had come
upon her that what the Liddicots wanted was ex-
actly what the nation, by God's providence, had

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The Yellow Van

found a man once more. Such a feeling must ever
weigh heavily on the woman in societies that still
compel her to appear only by her champion in the
lists of life. Fain would Mary have mounted to the
topmost tower of Liddicot to look for such a helper,
like a second Sister Anne.



181



XX




HAT night's post brought a wel-
come change of ideas.

"Well, Mary, here 's your sur-
prise [wrote Augusta]. My little
brother has arrived, and he 's go-
ing to see you. If I know him at
all, he '11 be at Liddicot about as soon as this. I 'm
the big sister. If you see the slightest sign of his
forgetting it, let me know. Arthur is his name. He
has just left college, after doing pretty well there,
and he is looking round to pick up notions of things
before making a start. He '11 do for a boy or a man,
just as you choose to take him. Wasn't it our am-
bassador here who said that America and England
might do worse than swap school-boys, now and
then, just to give each other points? Well, here 's
our sample, for want of a better. And now what
are you going to do about it ? He means well, Mary ;
be as indulgent as you can.

* ' He '11 cheer you up, perhaps : change of per-
sonality is as stimulating as change of air. He will
stay at Allonby, of course, and that will bring him
within delightfully easy reach of Liddicot. No keep-
ing him in town impossible. Wild horses could n't
do it, and certainly not the tame variety at our dis-

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The Yellow Van

posal. He 's very keen about the country life, and
he calls poor London Britannia's case of swelled
head. This just to let you know what an impudent
young monkey he is. Be a mother to him, Mary, all
the same.

"Keep him till we all come back, which will be
soon, for the season wanes. It will be easy : you have
only to let him spend his time with you."

This was the answer :

"Delighted to put him up here. Must have him,
in fact. Father says you can't begin burying alive
again, at Allonby ; you 'd be five centuries too late.
Not but what there was something to be said, etc.
which I mercifully spare. Who 's to keep off the
ghosts from a lone man in your marble halls ? And,
besides, if he doesn't want society, we do. Please,
Augusta, lend us the baby out and out. We '11 take
such care of him. Just wire the hour of his train. ' '

Within the shortest time possible after that, two
figures might have been seen crossing the moat at
Liddicot in a dogcart. One of them was the man
in livery with the reins; the other was a stranger,
still early in the twenties, who was manifestly an
expected guest. He was like the average guest of
his years at an English house in being of fair height
and of good muscular development ; also like him in
wearing tweeds and a bowler-hat, and in being
scrupulously clean-shaven, so as to give his coun-

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The Yellow Van

tenance the full benefit of every Roman line. Beards
are only for the ages and races that make futile
attempts to rule mankind with a poor chin. He
looked uncommonly English of his age and stand-
ing ; that is to say, uncommonly Greek. The Hermes
of Praxiteles might have come straight from Ox-
ford or from Harvard. Mary thought he would do
quite nicely as she spied on him from a turret-win-
dow. There was barely time to dress for dinner, so
she left the squire to receive him.

On coming down she found them both ready for
her, and the guest greeted her, yet without a touch
of familiarity, as though they had been friends for
years. She had but few categories for her fellow-
creatures, and while waiting to examine this one
more at leisure she hurriedly tried them, only to find
that they would not do. The "thinks so much of
himself" pigeonhole was a wretched fit ; he evidently
thought so much of her as a woman, and of the squire
as his senior and host. He was quietly deferential
without fear the perfect blend. It was the mixed
American system, though she did not know that, in
one of its happiest results. He had been carefully
trained, and from puppyhood had never been allowed
to feel shy at the sight of drapery. His manner of
retrieving a fallen handkerchief at the very outset
left nothing to be desired. Later on he proved simply
lynx-eyed for a longing or a need in this finest of all
sport, and he worked by the eye of his keeper rather
than by the voice. The type was wholly new to the
experience of the English girl, and it fluttered her.

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The Yellow Van

Being fluttered, she next feared he was going to be
of the "cynical and clever" variety, and felt slightly
more ill at ease. His youthful candor made that
as gross a misfit as the other. It was all done in a
moment, so swiftly have we to jump to conclusions
about one another at the first go-off. She had only
just time to fall back on the merely "self -possessed"
when it was time to move. To her great comfort,
he seemed to pop into that receptacle without a
crease, and, leaving him there, she was free to ask
for further news of the party in town as they went
down-stairs.

He gave it with a measured precision of utterance
which was rather disconcerting. It reminded her
of something she had read about the speech peculiar-
ity of another of his countrymen. He seemed dis-
posed to extend the principles of the Declaration of
Independence to his syllables, and to leave them all
free and equal, without a trace of accentuation that
might render one the tyrant of the rest. Now she
began to wonder if she should not shift him into
the "learned and severe." But there was no present
opportunity, for by this time they were in the dining-
room. The plain truth is, he had the freshness of a
boy who happened to have been born a man of the
world. Having no pigeonhole for that, she meekly
settled down to her soup, while he entertained the
squire.

For this was really the way of it: the guest was
host. Mr. Arthur Gooding did the honors of the
neighborhood. He gave information, while seeming

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The Yellow Van

only to ask for it, about views, soil, proportions of
parkland, plowland, and meadow, which, as it af-
fected the district at large, occasionally left his
senior at a loss. He was never in that predicament
himself. He took everything merely as a new con-
versational crisis to be dealt with as it arose.

"I am so sorry we have no one to meet you," she
said; "but there is hardly a soul in the country just
now. ' '

"We may have a host without numbers," replied
the young man.

Compliments always troubled Mary. This one,
mild as it was, had the rather singular effect of
making her wonder whether there was anything
wrong with her hair.

She darted a swift glance at him to find out, with,
of course, still greater inconsistency, for only a mir-
ror could have served her turn. He was inquiring
in a most ingenuous way afiout some of the magnates
of the country-side, whose names he seemed to have
at his fingers' ends, and asking how they spent their
time.

The squire seemed embarrassed. "Well, let me see.
Torold 's rather an authority on church restoration ;
Nethercott keeps the pack; Offley never misses a
meeting at quarter-sessions; Kodeland 's very keen
on model villages. The prime minister, though he
does n't belong to this part of the country, is a great
man in the Primrose League, and came down to our
demonstration the other day."

"Anybody in business?"

186



The Yellow Van

The squire winced. " There 's no answering for
people nowadays. Rodeland's son, I believe, does
something in tea."

"Your prime minister must be a very interesting
man," said Arthur. "I should like to meet him."

It was the nearest approach to the sense of a joke
other than the practical that the squire had ever
made in his life. He laughed heartily.

Even Mary felt inclined to transfer her guest to
the "cheeky" pigeonhole forthwith. But there was
something in his wistful innocence of all idea of pre-
sumption that made her hold her hand. It was evi-
dent that he had come abroad for useful informa-
tion, and that he would have sought the Archbishop
of Canterbury on the spiritual status of the Peculiar
People, or the lord chancellor on kindred points of
interest in British law, without any sense of incon-
gruity. Of mortal man, and that included his "su-
periors," he knew no fear.

He seemed faintly apprehensive of something
wrong, though he still had to feel his way to it. "I
want to know everything about your Primrose
League," he said. "We 've nothing like it on our
side. Your prime minister would be the very man. ' '
It was said, not in apology, but only as amplifying
his phrase.

"You see, he 's very high up," said the squire.
"People of that sort are rather hard to get at. Be-
sides, they are not expected to take an active part."

"I see, I see," said the young man, sympatheti-
cally-" tired."

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The Yellow Van

"Well, perhaps so," said the squire. "They
patronize things, you know."

"I think I understand a mikado sitting motion-
less on his throne to preserve the peace of the world."

"They 've had push enough in their time."

"Of course," he said kindly. "People forget that.
"Why, you were good Americans centuries before us. ' '

"Oh, my dear Augusta [wrote Mary, a few days
after], he has been here less than a week, and he
knows more about us than some who have been here a
lifetime. He has been all the way to dear old Rands-
fordhe calls it 'the circus.' He has such funny
terms of expression, and all without moving a muscle.
And what do you think he has found out atiout it?
That all the while they pretended they didn't want
the factory, because they thought it would displease
the duke, they were dying for it, the artful things !
You remember some dreadful London firm offered
to bring all its work-people there, and talked of
making the fortune of the place, and we only just
managed to save them by threatening to cut off the
water-power. Well, he has chapter and verse for it
to show that they did n 't want to be saved. Oh, he
is such a person for finding out things ! But do you
think it can be true?

"After telling us that, he just said, 'Happy are
the sleepy, for they shall soon drop off,' and then
went on to something else. Father asked him whose
clever saying that was, and he said, 'Nietzsche,'
hope I 've got the spelling right, meaning some au-



thor, you know. Father thought it was the name of
a new German chancellor. Oh, it was such a lark !

"Then Gurt's wife has told him something about
Nopps 's thatch that I 'm sure you and the duke never
heard of before. Dreadful, if it 's true ; but you
know what those people are. He does bring home
such a budget every day ! The dinners are so lively
now, and father threatens to raise the drawbridge on
him and never let him go. It 's killing to hear him
trying to give the story in the Gurt style. You know
he 's as careful about his words as you are, and one
might print him straight off. So just fancy him
struggling with something of this sort!

" 'When they London work-people come down 'ere
for the triumphant arches, old Nopps an' 'is wife
think they might earn a trifle by puttin' up a pair
of my gentlemen, as the inn was full. Well, the old
couple takes the spare room theirselves, so as to give
the lodgers the best un. Job 'elp the pore things
to move, an' we make un as comf 'abl' as we can, by
puttin' un under the dry corner o' th' thatch. If
the rain kep' off, they 'd ha' done pretty well, for
I lent un a peddykwoat mysel' to plug the hole in
the winder. But when the water come in, old Mr.
Nopps he moan o' nights, an' she couldn't pacify
un, though he 'd 'a' Been three shillin' to the good
at the week-end.'

"It was so funny to hear him trying to shorten
Mrs. Gurt's comf 'abl'. He could n't do it to save his
life, and when I tried to explain to him about clip-
ping his g's ,(by request), he kept waylaying me all

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The Yellow Van

day with absurd challenges to a game of 'pin'-pon'.'
He has the most ridiculous theories about what he
calls our revised version of the English language.
He pretends to think that the dropped Ti's began
with a natural tendency to move along the line of
least resistance in the short spells of hot weather.
The only way to meet a climate like this, he says,
is to lay aside your coat and your aspirates when the
hustle comes. Isn't 'hustle' a funny word, Au-
gusta ? And he does bring it in so cleverly now and
then.

"Then he reads us killing little bits out of his
American papers. Just listen to this: 'The Filipino
is treacherous and deceitful. Besides, we want his
country.' And isn't this a good hit: 'Mr. Pierpont
Morgan is very fond of the Bible, due probably to
the fact that it is a number of books merged into
one.' "We catch it sometimes: 'If America had not
sold two hundred thousand horses and mules to
Great Britain, the Boers would be all on foot by
this time ! ' Father says he can 't see the point, but
I call it decidedly sly.

"I 'm afraid he does n't think much of Mr. Raif 's
model village. He calls it 'the penny in the slot.'
Don't you think that 's meant to be rather dis-
respectful ?

"And, would you believe it, he has actually met
that odious person Kisbye, and has discovered he is
not exactly the utter brute we all think him down
here. It appears that he 's fond of music, and has
some beautiful pictures and quite a library. Fancy !

190



The Yellow Van

"When we heard that, we had Mr. Bascomb to
meet him, just to take the taste out of his mouth.
A. was perfectly sweet: not a funny saying, not a
laugh, but all reverent attention, as if he were at
church. The old dear quite bridled under it, and
I never saw him look so pleased. "When he was gone,
A. said it was the most wonderful thing he had
'struck' in his travels. That was the expression; I
wrote it down.

"He does go into the strangest places and meet
the strangest people. What do you think he did
on Tuesday? You remember that dreadful Radical
van? Spent the whole day with them, and bought
a huge bundle of the trash they call their ' literature ' !
He seems to be quite keen about our country life,
knows all the laboring people, has been to see old
Spurr, just as he might come to see us, you know,
and actually went to a meeting of the parish council
and heard a debate on the pumps. He keeps apolo-
gizing for staying on, but we are so delighted to have
him. Do make him stop till you come back, though
it seems like a reason for not wishing for your speedy
return. ' '

"Keep him just as long as you find him useful
[Augusta wrote in reply]. You know I sent him to
cheer you up. I 'm glad you don't take him too
seriously ; he 's only a boy looking round. But he '11
be a man the moment he gives his mind to it. So we
think."



XXI




T is mid- August, and the family is
returning to Allonby. The poor
season in town has flickered out,
but this new one in the country
is to give due compensation. There
is more cheerful news from the seat
of war ; the nation is in better spirits : society is ex-
pected to rise to the occasion.

For weeks the four hundred people attached to
the service of the castle agents, stewards, grooms
of chambers, gardeners, keepers, the little army of
the stables have been on the move. The miles of
walks in the great deer-park, trimmed with spade
labor, have the precision of lines on a map. The
dappled herds, scudding without sound of footfall
through the glades, yield effects of low-lying cloud.
The very river flowing through the domain seems
to have been washed for the occasion. You may count
the pebbles in the shallower parts of the bed, and the
fish in the deeper. The mere osiers and river-grasses
are organized schemes of color, intensified by the
clearness of the stream. A fleet of tiny pleasure-
boats, spick and span like all the rest, stands at its
mooring in the lake.

Not a pond but can give an account of itself. The

I 9 2



The Yellow Van

frogs are unmistakably on the establishment; the
squirrels, the birds, and all the other living things
exhibit the freedom from fear which may be sup-
posed to have characterized their kind in Eden. The
trees have the cleanliness which is the coquetry of
age. Their parasites are trained for sentimental ef-
fects of dependence, and where the withering limbs
threaten collapse under the burden of centuries,
their crutches are at hand. The same perfection of
artificial conditions is seen in the great vineries as
in the peach-houses and the apricot-houses, that are
to be measured by substantial fractions of a mile, and
in the tropical house a perfect university of floricul-
ture, with a head-gardener as its principal dean of
the faculty, and distinguished professors in the sev-
eral chairs. Every tree, plant, flower, beast of the
field, and fowl of the air, as a retainer of the house,
seems to glory in its cultivated and individualized
perfection.

The preserves especially are in magnificent order.
A large party is expected for the shooting, and
some are already busy with the grouse on one of
the duke's moors in the North. The partridges pos-
itively languish for the 1st of September. The pin-
ing pheasants will have to wait for a month more be-
fore the head-keeper can redeem his promise of whole
battalions of slaughter in well-stocked preserves.
With these, and with the ground game, there is every
hope of sport for the autumn and winter. When the
birds have been silenced, the death-squeal of the rab-
bit will take up the wondrous tale. The ferrets,

13 193



The Yellow Van

whose business it is to serve these shy creatures with
notice of ejectment, are already longing to be at
them. Meanwhile an occasional rat tossed into their
cage saves them from the lapse into vegetarian diet,
and keeps them wicked for their work.

Nothing is left to chance: it is the note of man-
agement in this lordly pleasure-house. When the
guns are ready for the game, the game must be
ready for the guns. The ferret winds into the bur-
rows and drives the rabbits into the open. The
beaters drive them on to the line of fire, as they
perform the same kindly service for the birds. This
last ill turn, indeed, might seem to be enough to
frighten all animated nature from Allonby as from
a place accursed. But such creatures, being un-
troubled by school histories, which keep alive the
memory of grievance, are incapable of bearing the
malice of tradition.

The cultivated completeness of it all makes a pro-
found impression on the American visitor. " And
what may his name b'e?" he asks the head-keeper
once, in a moonlight ramble, as a hare crosses their
path.

" His name, sir?"

"Yes; surely you have him somewhere on the
register. Shall we call him Leopold, just for the
sake of the argument?"

Mr. Gooding's sole experience of sport is an oc-
casional bear-hunt where the beast looks after him-
self, and the man follows his example : a blanket and
a camp-fire for one, a cave for the other, and let the

194



The Yellow Van

best win. So they hunted the boar in Calydon. The
fox-hunting of the Genesee valley may set all that
right in time for the younger community. Mean-
while, if you want sport as a fine art, you must seek
it in a country which is too small and too thickly
peopled to let anything happen by accident, even a
hen's egg.

The art of producing that egg in pheasantry, and
rearing it to its maturity of flight in whirring fea-
thers, is one of the triumphs of civilization. The
sacred birds govern the empire. Parliament rises
for them; the professions make holiday to await
their good pleasure. The partridges are supposed to
be wild, but that is only their fun. The main dif-
ference between them and the others is that they are
watched in the gross, while the pheasants are tended
in detail. Both have to be guarded day and night,
and not merely against poachers. Stray dogs must
not come near them, nor even stray cats. No foot-
fall of the wandering lover of nature may render
them uneasy in their minds. You can hardly get
a country walk, for the birds. Even when you have
the liberty of the manor, the keeper expects you
to skirt his fields, lest you flutter the game.

11 I suppose you don't insist on their going to
church Sundays? " Mr. Gooding asks.

The keeper rises to the occasion. " Well, if they
did, they 'd hear summat to their advantage in
the exhortation to ' all ye fowls of the air.'

" Fact is, sir, you must have it so, or do with-
out your sport. The pheasants has to be nussed like

'95



The Yellow Van

babies from first to last, leastways them as is hand-
reared. Some tries to manage it for theirselves, but
they 're ontidy mothers. All I ask them to do is
lay their eggs. After that it 's like the advertise-
ment' we do the rest.' If they get that business
over nice an' early in the year, that 's all we want
of 'em. My men '11 go through the bracken an'
pick up the eggs, an' I '11 see to the hatchin'. That
great clearin' close to my lodge is where the hen
sits on 'em common barn-door fowl, that 's your
motherin' bird, ready to lay on anything, from a
duck's or a pheasant's egg to a lump of plaster of
Paris. Pity we can't put 'em on to some of the poor
wizened babbies born in the cottages."

It is a pregnant saying in these days, when there
is some danger that mere human mothering may
become one of the lost arts, crowded out, as it were,
by societies for the improvement of the mind, the
development of the individual, and other equally
pressing concerns. Perhaps the European cuckoo
is destined to be the emblem of the womanhood of
the future, with her startling invention of mother-
ing by deputy. The cuckoo dames of social life,
who are mothers last, whatever else comes first,
should include a bird of this variety in their aviaries.
It would be interesting to learn from closer observa-
tion how the bird employs the abundant leisure
which she derives from the neglect of her offspring,
and, incidentally, from the destruction of that of her
neighbors. It is probably devoted to the more intel-
ligent contemplation of nature, the more refined care

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The Yellow Van

of her plumage, the improvement of her voice, and
the power of visiting at seasons when so many other
birds are kept at home.

Arthur sticks close to the keeper by day and fre-
quently by night, wondering at the varieties of life
in the world. Sometimes, in their wanderings
through the woods, they come upon huge gibbets
whereon the withered bodies of weasels, stoats, rats,
hawks, and what not that prey upon the game, swing
high and dry in the wind as an awful warning to
their kind. And ever at intervals, from distant
clumps in the prospect, comes the sharp crack of the
gun as some new offender falls.

All day long the under-keepers are on the watch
to keep these marauders off the rearing-grounds.
And one night Arthur goes out with two of the men
to look for poachers. It is a ghostly round. No one
speaks as they stalk through the awesome woods in
Indian file. No one carries a lethal weapon ; the law
forbids: the gun is for the day alone. But a stout
sapling of oak or blackthorn is still arguable as a
walking-stick, and with that they have to be content.
" Poachers '11 use their guns soon as look at ye,"
says a keeper, bitterly, ' ' but us may n 't. That 's
English law for ye!"

For miles they wander through the dewy grass,


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