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the hope of getting the one thing needful at last.

"Fust I see o' London in all my life I come up
for a 'oliday. Frightened of it like when I got there,
an' trots into a pub to ask my way. Stops in the
pub all day, an' goes back at night, same way 's I
come. I 'ad n't seen much, but, mind yer, I got
'ome to time."

It was his first experience in dissipation, but it
sufficed.

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The Yellow Van

"I ain't seen much more of it now, master,
though I 've been up this five year. But I 've got
a place, an' that '11 do for me. I loads an' un-
loads my 'taters all day long, an' then, when I Ve
swep' out the ware 'us, I comes 'ome and 'as my
tea."

He expected no more. His life in the village had
been one long apprenticeship to the living death.
Full many a winter's night had he tramped home in
the darkness through miry ways to a mildewed cot-
tage lighted by a farthing dip, and to a supper of
bread-crusts soaked in liquid grease, offered and
eaten in the silence of a life without events. What
was there to talk about? Nothing had happened,
nothing was going to happen. The muteness of his
mate betokened no ill feeling, but only stagnation
of the mind. And sometimes, to break the silence,
there was the half-delirious wail of a child down with
one of the diseases of its age. To-day was as yester-
day; to-morrow would be as to-day. The sweet
privacies of dawn to the early riser, so restful to the
tormented spirit, were but aggravations of the
melancholy of his lot. It was not sorrow, but the
far worse thing absence of joy: a life wherein
nothing came to pass but a rank pipe. This it is, the
sense of the vacuity of being, that empties the cot-
tage into the slum. The gin-palace is at least a pres-
ent discount of the promises; and the clodhopper
has almost ceased to believe in the brightness of # life
to come, for want of a sign.

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The Yellow Van

He had resisted that consolation, for he had not
enough temperament for vice. Town was as dull as
country for him. Yet he lived by a doctrine, as all
must, though they may not be able to give it a name.
It was the doctrine of the futility of resistance to
the hurtful forces of the world.

"We keeps ourselves to ourselves," he said to Mr.
Gooding, by way of apology for his ignorance of the
further movements of the Herions. "We don't say
nothin' to nobody : you gets on best that way. I never
see any one come to much good as did. The gentry
doan' like it. All the noise they want they can make
for theirselves. Keep quiet eh, master? an' then
you won't find the churchyard so much of a change.
It 's the lively ones that finds dying such a worry.
I fancy that was young Herion's complaint, from
all I 've heared."

"I dare say; but how are we going to cure Him,
if you can't put me on his track?"

The wife wrinkled her brow in thought. "There
was a woman a sort of a woman as 'elped her at
the birth of her baby. So I was told. It came on
sudden-like, soon after they went away."

"Don't you fancy I 'm in a hurry," said Arthur,
settling himself. "If it comes to a pinch, I Ve got
all night long."

"Mrs. Patch was her name if she was a Mrs."

' ' Hurry up a bit, just for fun, ' ' said the youth.

"She lived at a place called Batley's Rents in
Limehouse. So I was told."

"Thank you. I 'm sure you 're always among

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those present," he said, pressing half a crown into
her hand.

"GONE 'opping," was the report in the Rents; but
the scent was now so hot that Batley's, with scarcely
an effort, was enabled to name the village in Kent
where Mrs. Patch might not inconceivably be found.



2 55




XXIX

HAT same night, such is the per-
fection of the railway system and
such are the vicissitudes of a quest,
Mr. Gooding was sitting by a
camp-fire in Kent. His com-
panions were a gang of hop-
pickers who had finished their day's work and were
prolonging their evening revel into the small hours.
It was a motley throng outcasts of town and
country, and a few quite decent folk who took their
hopping as a recreation and killed the two birds of
work and the summer holiday with one stone.

The "sort of a woman" he had come in quest of
was among them. She sat a little apart from the
rest, pulling at a pipe with tranquil energy, and
gazing into vacancy. The glow of the fire lighted
up her dismal, tormented face of early middle age,
seamed with the coarser cares. She was a drab, even
in the punning sense of the word, being of a dry-
mud color in her very clothing, as though she had
quite immediately sprung from the soil, and might
dissolve back into it at any moment by the accident
of a shower. She was shod only less solidly than
a horse, and mainly with metal, too, which glittered
bright in nail and clamp from the surface of her up-

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turned soles. She seemed as densely unideaed as a
frog at rest a peasant woman of the lowest order,
who had received her final touch of brutishness in
town. The gang girls of the fen country look so
when their womanhood has flowered in the squalor
of a provincial center. In such the earth seems hun-
gry to claim its own before the time. A too ex-
clusive commerce with it has degraded them to the
lowest level. They seem to gape wonder at every-
thing in the cosmic scheme that is not a clod. Arthur
thought of his sister, and wondered whether the
evolutionary system might not possibly be brought
under new management for the speedier elevation
of the race. It might otherwise take thousands of
years to give Mrs. Patch a lift toward the skies.

She grunted forth her answers in one syllable till
Mr. Gooding mollified her with a tip. Then she went
into two, though but a little way. ' ' Yes ; I knowed
'er, fast enough." The neatness of her questioner's
attire seemed to have some effect upon her, as upon
all of them. They settled down to make the most
of the unwonted visit of a ' ' gentleman, ' ' eyeing him
the while with contemptuous wonder, as Hotspur
might have eyed his fop.

The arrival of Mrs. Patch's "man" with a can
of beer was a welcome diversion. He was an abso-
lute contrast to her small, foxy, nimble, voluble,
but still chary of speech at first, as though to make
the most of his information. For her his coming was
evidently a relief to the tedium of talk, and she re-
sumed her silence and her pipe.



The Yellow Van

"Yes; we knowed 'em, fast enough," he repeated.
"You 're at the right shop here, guvnor."

' ' Where are they now ? ' '

""Well, we '11 come to that by an' by. I was in
the same gang with 'im, this 'ere friend o' yours, at
Lime 'us Dock. Garge, we used to call 'im. I can
see 'im as well as I see you a reg'lar glutton for
work. ' '

"Yes, yes."

"Then we both got the sack, the work comes an'
goes, guvnor, an' I loses sight on 'im for a time.
To tell you the truth, they was both rather a cut
above me an' my missus. But you know how it is
hard up, an' the kid comin'. People can't afford
to be partic'lar when they 're like that. Can they,
now?"

"You 're giving us rather too much hot air," said
Mr. Gooding.

"Then I struck 'im again, guvnor. An' where
d' ye think it was ? But there you 'd never guess. "

"Then I won't try."

"Well, he was jest mad for a job\ An' what do
you think he was doin', sir? Gospel truth!"

"Governor of the Bank of England?"

"No, sir; but jest outside it, peddlin' knickknacks
on the curb studs, pocket-combs, toothpicks, 'all this
lot a penny.' Seem he 'd once been in that line.
That 's the way English-born men has to live now-
adays, guvnor, if they 're not foreigners. An' even
that lot is cuttin' into the street trade."

"Sorry, but" It was maddening.

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The Yellow Van

"Things '11 never be right," piped another of the
group, "till them sort is kep' out of this country.
I 'm a snip, an' I know what they are in my trade.
Talk about religion ! ' '

"I 'm not talking about it," said Mr. Gooding.

"Well, if you was, you 'd see as God A 'mighty
seems to think more o' the Jarmans than he does of
his own countrymen."

"An' dynamite on your door-step as soon as look
at ye, if you put 'em out!" said a decent-looking
woman, comfortably shawled.

' ' Ever 'ad any on yours, missus ? ' ' some one asked.

It turned the laugh against her, and spoiled her
effect. There was evidently a sneaking kindness for
this agency with most of them. Nobody approved,
but nobody blamed. It was left a moot point.

"As to that," returned the tailor, "there 's a
good deal to be said on both sides. Dynamiters ain 't
all bad. They mean well, some of 'em. It 's the
swells they 're after most o' the time; it ain't us
lot."

A chill fell on the group. The woman in the shawl
had a repentant air.

"You see, Englishmen likes to enjoy theirselves, "
said the foxy little man, by way of diversion.
' ' That 's their natur '. ' Jolly Englishmen ! 'you 've
beared the sayin'. This foreign scum they don't
want no enjoyment. Live on pickles, seen it with
my own eyes, an' sleep on the same shelf as they
keep the jar. That 's their touch. They don't want
no music- 'alls in the evenin', an' no social glass

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The Yellow Van

jest as we might be 'avin' now. That 's what fust
brought me up to town the lights in the street."

"It ain't the foreigners," said the tailor; "it 's
the rich people, no matter where they come from.
All the coin o' the world drains into their pockets.
If you want sights, go round the West End. That 's
the way the money goes. Ever done Bond street,
mate, on a fine evenin'?"

"No; not my touch."

"The pantymines ain't in it for glory. Every
winder ablaze; the very coffee-shops like Aladdin's
palace, an' gals in long trains to wait. When I got
nothin' else to do, I watch it from outside. An' the
jewel-shops, with the glare of it beatin' down on the
goods till it stings 'em into burnin' life throb,
throb, throb! An' the blasted knickknacks! None
o' your 'this lot a penny' there. Cases in solid gold
to hold a ha'p'orth o' lead-pencil; penholders like-
wise ; even the very pens. My Gawd, it 's cruel !
They dunno what to do with the coin. They say the
Jarmans is comin' over 'ere to give us a good 'idin'
one o' these days. It '11 serve us damned well right."

Arthur was sick at heart. He was baffled in his
quest. Either they knew nothing or they would
not tell. And the misery chilled him. He had such
a sense of opportunity in life opportunity for all;
and the instinctive pessimism of these wretches
seemed to give it the lie. He had dreams of being
a great financier, of world-girdling combinations in
which his own aggrandizement would be that of the
race. Yet these people were some of the items of

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The Yellow Van

his reckoning. What, after all, could he, or his
tribe, do for any but themselves? Was this the
result of ages of profit-hunting, on the principle
that the good of one was the good of all? He had
crossed the Atlantic with hopes of a venture which
was to determine his choice of a career. Men of
wealth and standing in his own country, who had
faith in him, were ready for a new invasion of Eng-
land, of Europe, if he, or others like him, could show
the way. It could have no attraction for him if it
were not beneficent. He was going to make himself
a rich man to the end of making himself a useful
one. Yet where could be the certainty of that, after
what he had seen in this direful object-lesson? JLt
began to look as though all corporate life were but
one eternal mode of slave-labor, the forms varying,
but the mass ever in the position of the under dog.
What had he seen as a mere tourist with his eyes
open? A land that could not even feed its own
people ; a competitive system that had nothing nobler
than sheer hunger and destitution for its starting-
point; a most appalling poverty, a still more ap-
palling wealth. Hundreds of thousands without so
much as the assurance of the elementals of bed,
clothing, and a crust, things without which no saint
could take up his sainthood, no sage his parable, no
workman his hammer, no writer his pen. It was
sickening to feel that, after ages of stable and con-
tinuous civilization, no one had found out how to
give everybody three meals a day and a clean shirt.
And all the sages supposed to be at work on it stead-

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The Yellow Van

ily, and all the statesmen, and all the churches?
There must have been slackness somewhere. And
still worse was it to know the gnawing doubt that he
and all his precious labors as a coming captain of
industry might only make things worse. He de-
tested Socialism, and well-nigh all else ending with
the same syllable. He was so sure that "these
States" had found the secret in limitless freedom
and limitless struggle, with wealth for the prize.
Yet see what hideous results of these were before
him in the old land!

He rose to leave, and to stamp off the chill of the
night air. The foxy man, watchful through the slits
of his eyes, seemed to feel that if his "missus" was
to earn the guerdon already paid, she had better
make haste.

"There was one o' that missionary lot as took up
with 'em, so I 've heared say. They ain't no class
for me." He nodded at the woman, as though
urging her to speak. ' ' She knows. ' '

She went on smoking.

Then he swore at her. "Can't yer open yer
mouth an ' tell the gentleman ? Yer 've got 'is money
in yer pocket. ' '

Arthur looked at her. It was the sex, after all,
even in this ghastly image.

"Don't talk to her like that."

She eyed him as though he were some wandering
child of the sun, out of his sphere, and muttered:
"Place over a fried-fish shop off Poplar Road.

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The Yellow Van

Pawnshop at the corner. ' Christ! 'n 'Ope Sersiety.'
They might know."

The mission woman, seen next day, could only
shake her head. "I 'm afraid the Herions have sunk
out of our reach. There 's a point where these people
touch the lower levels of misery and are quite lost.
All of us are useless in that slough, though some
don 't like to confess it. The Salvation Army, which
is the charwoman of the Church, fails there. I knew
Mrs. Herion very well : a quiet, hard-working woman
pretty, too ; proud as a duchess in her humble way.
There isn't enough work to go round for such as
they. If the wages rise a bit, up goes the rent along
with it. There 's always somebody, a landlord or
a sweater, to graft every penny of the increase. .If
you housed them for nothing, down would go the
earnings to the point at which the poor things could
just manage to eat and drink. The Herions had
saved a little while his work lasted, but her confine-
ment and the loss of work together pulled them
down. And they went from bad to worse when they
came this way. The rent was crushing. It keeps
pace with the very need of shelter. The greater the
crowd, the dearer the homes. In this quarter they
are asking ' key money ' now, a premium on the right
of a mere first chance in the scramble for a lodging.
What is London to do with all these human misfits?
Why don't we find out how to keep them in their
villages? How can they strike out with their
wretched education, suited to their 'state in life'?

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The Yellow Van

You may walk round with me, if you like, to see our
poor very decent, all of them. Some of them might
be able to tell you more than I can. Kose always
tried to keep the best company among them."

He went with her as a forlorn hope. The utter
inadequacy of the remedy to the disease was dis-
heartening. The missioners had evidently no grip
on it. The soft deans by whom they were more re-
motely inspired rarely mentioned the religion of
economic relations, the root of the matter, to ears
polite. Their silence was not time-serving, but con-
viction. It was policy, too. If they rashly tampered
with the doctrine that everybody should grow as rich
as he could, where would charity get its ten-pound
note?

A few old people eked out a scanty subsistence
under her care. It was better than nothing, perhaps,
but all around! One, a sort of specimen number,
asked Mr. Gooding if he happened to know the
shortest verse in the Bible. As it did happen, he
was able to tell her. Then came a poser : What was
the word that stood in the very middle of the sacred
book? He gave it up. She named it with triumph
as the result of efforts that had cost her six months'
application to the dreary business of the count.

He turned away with his rather shamefaced guide.

"When did you last see the Herions?" he asked.

"George had gone out again to look for work.

Hose was lying ill on the bed in a dismal room, still

and quiet, with a baby opening its eyes, for the first

time, on a vista of East End back yards. A mouse,

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The Yellow Van

trustful in the stagnant peace, foraged for its break-
fast, and hardly stirred when I came in."

"Who sublets such holes?"

" 'Speculators.' "

"Who owned that one?"

"The Duke of Allonby, I believe."

Arthur left town that night to report.



265




XXX

HREE months of the country sea-
son have passed, with their round
of sport and play according to the
rubric, and we are now at the open-
ing of a new year. Allonby, by
general consent, has never seen the
like of it. There has been one steady whirl of or-
dered movement, as brisk in its way as the rotation
of the earth. The only thing that saves us in the
general arrangement is that the planet is forever on
the go. If once it paused to take stock of itself, we
might all be shivered into fragments. Having no
time for reflection, Augusta has been able to take the
congratulations of her friends in good part, and to
admit that her success has been almost without a
flaw.

Yet, in the very moment of supreme satisfaction,
there came a doubt. In one thing she had to own
failure. The Herions were still waiting for ducal
justice, still undiscovered of late, even, still un-
sought. The sense of right was still strong with
her. The sense of the smart of failure was just
as strong, for she was as inconsistent in her virtues
as the rest of us.

The truth is, she had won over the duke alone,

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The Yellow Van

and the system was still against her. He had con-
sented to the reinstalment of the Herions, but the
agent, the family solicitors, in fact the whole per-
manent staff of management, had resolved that his
order should never be carried out. He had told them
to advertise. They advertised in the leading jour-
nal! A dock-laborer seeking himself in an agony
column at threepence a peep was a grotesque con-
ception, but he could not realize that. He suggested
private detectives. The private detectives took their
cue from those who instructed them, the more so
as they naturally languished without the stimulus
of a scandal or a crime. Augusta was puzzled at
first, until George Herion 's mother gave her the clue.
"They not goin' to 'ave 'em back, your Grace, till
they come in their coffins mark that!" Then it all
flashed on Augusta in an instant: "they" meant the
counterplot. She colored with resentment and in-
dignation, and determined to find her birds for her-
self.

Yet Allonby still claimed her for the moment, and
in the most imperative way. Its brilliant season
was to have an ending of supreme splendor in the
visit of a royal pair. Invitations were out for a
great party to meet the duke and duchess whose
place was on the steps of the throne.

It was the day of their arrival. The castle looked
watchfulness and expectation from every port-hole.
All were at their posts, from the steward to the scul-
lions. It was the first visit of an heir in the direct
line of succession for over a century, and this one

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The Yellow Van

had still some of the interest of mystery. He had
been brought up in the close companionship of the
best of mothers, one of the most beautiful and the
most devout women of her time, and still as youth-
ful to look at as her own children.

The struggle for invitations to the house-party
had been unusually keen. The party was limited to
thirty; and, according to custom, every name had
been submitted in the highest quarter. The host and
hostess had drawn up their lists. The royal duke
and duchess had used the blue pencil freely, to strike
in or to strike out. There could not have been more
orderly fuss about it if the choice of so many am-
bassadors had been the matter in hand.

For, the truth is, these august persons had the
reputation of social austerity in the court circle.
The prince had his mother's horror of the smart set,
and his wife was known to share his sentiments to
the full. The set would cheerfully have left both
alone in their glory, but it had to reckon with them
in spite of itself. To be at Allonby on such an oc-
casion was, no doubt, to endure intolerable boredom ;
yet not to be there was, in some measure, to be
classed. The prince was eminently "serious"; and
it was well understood that when his day came so-
ciety would have to toe the line.

The figurative expression bore a literal reference.
It was really a question of the right sort of toe for
the purpose. The illustrious person was familiarly
known to the set as "Young Square Toes." This
meant nothing to the prejudice of his bootmaker,

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but only that the customer, in spite of a limited
count of years, was smitten with incurable age of
mind. Some of those who called him Square Toes
were hoary with eld ; but that did not matter. Their
"footwear" was their accepted symbol of eternal
youth. One symbol will serve as well as another to
signify the most profound difference in the view of
life. At one time, as we know, it was the cut in love-
locks; to-day it is the cut in shoe-leather: yet Cav-
alier and Roundhead maintain their everlasting con-
flict amid the changes of form. And, after all, the
more joyous party may easily be commended to our
sense of dignity by regarding them as a sort of
Pointed Order of the fabric of state.

The Square Toes, by common consent of the others,
stood for the dullness of respectability and the gloom
of the moral law in fact, for the reaction toward
puritanism in a court that had long been going it too
fast. The Points, as they were familiarly called,
were for the joie de vivre, and for every other felici-
tous phrase that signified the yearning for a good
time. They were for taking this life in a galliard
and in a coranto, whatever might be the fortunes of
the next.

It was war to the knife between them, as a mat-
ter of course, though their animosity was naturally
tempered in expression by their good breeding. The
Squares detested the Points as threatening ruin to
the nation and discredit to the throne. The Points
despised and ridiculed the Squares as killjoys whose
coming supremacy meant sackcloth for court-dress.

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Many a Point disappeared beneath the blue pencil
in the course of revision. Some got through by a
timely fit of mealy-mouthedness, or by good judg-
ment in lying low. It would have been impossible
to sacrifice all of them. If the proscription had been
too rigorous, there might have been no house-party.

When all was done, the factions were exceedingly
well defined. The Squares included that unblem-
ished nobleman Lord Ogreby, whose acquaintance
Augusta had made soon after her arrival, with sev-
eral members of his family. The earl was known
for the rigor of his evangelical principles and for
the studied simplicity of his life. Whatever else was
served at his board, boiled mutton always had a
place there; and, by friendly consultation with his
tailor, he had contrived to introduce homespun into
the composition of his dress-suit. His hose, for all
occasions, were of hodden-gray. You might have
ruled a ledger with the ends of his shoes. These
circumstances, however, are of minor importance,
for of course the actual costume of the sections was
only in accidental conformity with their symbolic
name. The earl was accompanied by his son and
heir, Lord Beglerbeg, who stood high in Christian
Science, and by a daughter, Lady Francesca Darton,
who held a humble rank in the Salvation Army, and
wore its serge, its bonnet, and its badge in the most
glittering throngs. This was the best the neighbor-
hood could afford in the ultra-respectability of de-
votion. But that qualification was not exacted by
the illustrious visitors, who asked only for decency.

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The Yellow Van

Two or three ministers and as many of the highest
judges supplied gravity without any admixture of
the ridiculous. With these were a few who looked
in vain for an opening in great affairs, and who
were part of that strength of England which is run-


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