Disagree by P. G. Wodehouse
It is possible that, at about the time at which this story opens,
you may have gone into the Hotel Belvoir for a hair-cut. Many people
did; for the young man behind the scissors, though of a singularly
gloomy countenance, was undoubtedly an artist in his line. He clipped
judiciously. He left no ridges. He never talked about the weather. And
he allowed you to go away unburdened by any bottle of hair-food.
It is possible, too, that, being there, you decided that you might
as well go the whole hog and be manicured at the same time.
It is not unlikely, moreover, that when you had got over the first
shock of finding your hands so unexpectedly large and red, you felt
disposed to chat with the young lady who looked after that branch of
the business. In your genial way you may have permitted a note of gay
(but gentlemanly) badinage to creep into your end of the dialogue.
In which case, if you had raised your eyes to the mirror, you would
certainly have observed a marked increase of gloom in the demeanour of
the young man attending to your apex. He took no official notice of the
matter. A quick frown. A tightening of the lips. Nothing more. Jealous
as Arthur Welsh was of all who inflicted gay badinage, however
gentlemanly, on Maud Peters, he never forgot that he was an artist.
Never, even in his blackest moments, had he yielded to the temptation
to dig the point of the scissors the merest fraction of an inch into a
But Maud, who saw, would understand. And, if the customer was an
observant man, he would notice that her replies at that juncture became
somewhat absent, her smile a little mechanical.
* * * * *
Jealousy, according to an eminent authority, is the 'hydra of
calamities, the sevenfold death'. Arthur Welsh's was all that and a bit
over. It was a constant shadow on Maud's happiness. No fair-minded girl
objects to a certain tinge of jealousy. Kept within proper bounds, it
is a compliment; it makes for piquancy; it is the gin in the
ginger-beer of devotion. But it should be a condiment, not a fluid.
It was the unfairness of the thing which hurt Maud. Her conscience
was clear. She knew girls—several girls—who gave the young men with
whom they walked out ample excuse for being perfect Othellos. If she
had ever flirted on the open beach with the baritone of the troupe of
pierrots, like Jane Oddy, she could have excused Arthur's attitude. If,
like Pauline Dicey, she had roller-skated for a solid hour with a
black-moustached stranger while her fiance floundered in Mug's Alley
she could have understood his frowning disapprovingly. But she was not
like Pauline. She scorned the coquetries of Jane. Arthur was the centre
of her world, and he knew it. Ever since the rainy evening when he had
sheltered her under his umbrella to her Tube station, he had known
perfectly well how things were with her. And yet just because, in a
strictly business-like way, she was civil to her customers, he must
scowl and bite his lip and behave generally as if it had been brought
to his notice that he had been nurturing a serpent in his bosom. It was
worse than wicked—it was unprofessional.
She remonstrated with him.
'It isn't fair,' she said, one morning when the rush of customers
had ceased and they had the shop to themselves.
Matters had been worse than usual that morning. After days of rain
and greyness the weather had turned over a new leaf. The sun glinted
among the bottles of Unfailing Lotion in the window, and everything in
the world seemed to have relaxed and become cheerful. Unfortunately,
everything had included the customers. During the last few days they
had taken their seats in moist gloom, and, brooding over the prospect
of coming colds in the head, had had little that was pleasant to say to
the divinity who was shaping their ends. But today it had been
different. Warm and happy, they had bubbled over with gay small-talk.
'It isn't fair,' she repeated.
Arthur, who was stropping a razor and whistling tunelessly, raised
his eyebrows. His manner was frosty.
'I fail to understand your meaning,' he said.
'You know what I mean. Do you think I didn't see you frowning when I
was doing that gentleman's nails?'
The allusion was to the client who had just left—a jovial
individual with a red face, who certainly had made Maud giggle a good
deal. And why not? If a gentleman tells really funny stories, what harm
is there in giggling? You had to be pleasant to people. If you snubbed
customers, what happened? Why, sooner or later, it got round to the
boss, and then where were you? Besides, it was not as if the red-faced
customer had been rude. Write down on paper what he had said to her,
and nobody could object to it. Write down on paper what she had said to
him, and you couldn't object to that either. It was just Arthur's
She tossed her head.
'I am gratified,' said Arthur, ponderously—in happier moments Maud
had admired his gift of language; he read a great deal: encyclopedias
and papers and things—'I am gratified to find that you had time to
bestow a glance on me. You appeared absorbed.'
Maud sniffed unhappily. She had meant to be cold and dignified
throughout the conversation, but the sense of her wrongs was beginning
to be too much for her. A large tear splashed on to her tray of
orange-sticks. She wiped it away with the chamois leather.
'It isn't fair,' she sobbed. 'It isn't. You know I can't help it if
gentlemen talk and joke with me. You know it's all in the day's work.
I'm expected to be civil to gentlemen who come in to have their hands
done. Silly I should look sitting as if I'd swallowed a poker. I do
think you might understand, Arthur, you being in the profession
'It isn't so much that you talk to them as that you seem to like—'
He stopped. Maud's dignity had melted completely. Her face was
buried in her arms. She did not care if a million customers came in,
all at the same time.
She heard him moving towards her, but she did not look up. The next
moment his arms were round her, and he was babbling.
And a customer, pushing open the door unnoticed two minutes later,
retired hurriedly to get shaved elsewhere, doubting whether Arthur's
mind was on his job.
For a time this little thunderstorm undoubtedly cleared the air. For
a day or two Maud was happier than she ever remembered to have been.
Arthur's behaviour was unexceptionable. He bought her a wrist-watch—
light brown leather, very smart. He gave her some chocolates to eat in
the Tube. He entertained her with amazing statistics, culled from the
weekly paper which he bought on Tuesdays. He was, in short, the perfect
lover. On the second day the red-faced man came in again. Arthur joined
in the laughter at his stories. Everything seemed ideal.
It could not last. Gradually things slipped back into the old
routine. Maud, looking up from her work, would see the frown and the
bitten lip. She began again to feel uncomfortable and self-conscious as
she worked. Sometimes their conversation on the way to the Tube was
It was useless to say anything. She had a wholesome horror of being
one of those women who nagged; and she felt that to complain again
would amount to nagging. She tried to put the thing out of her mind,
but it insisted on staying there. In a way she understood his feelings.
He loved her so much, she supposed, that he hated the idea of her
exchanging a single word with another man. This, in the abstract, was
gratifying; but in practice it distressed her. She wished she were some
sort of foreigner, so that nobody could talk to her. But then they
would look at her, and that probably would produce much the same
results. It was a hard world for a girl.
And then the strange thing happened. Arthur reformed. One might
almost say that he reformed with a jerk. It was a parallel case to
those sudden conversions at Welsh revival meetings. On Monday evening
he had been at his worst. On the following morning he was a changed
man. Not even after the original thunderstorm had he been more docile.
Maud could not believe that first. The lip, once bitten, was stretched
in a smile. She looked for the frown. It was not there.
Next day it was the same; and the day after that. When a week had
gone by, and still the improvement was maintained, Maud felt that she
might now look upon it as permanent. A great load seemed to have been
taken off her mind. She revised her views on the world. It was a very
good world, quite one of the best, with Arthur beaming upon it like a
A number of eminent poets and essayists, in the course of the last
few centuries, have recorded, in their several ways, their opinion that
one can have too much of a good thing. The truth applies even to such a
good thing as absence of jealousy. Little by little Maud began to grow
uneasy. It began to come home to her that she preferred the old Arthur,
of the scowl and the gnawed lip. Of him she had at least been sure.
Whatever discomfort she may have suffered from his spirited imitations
of Othello, at any rate they had proved that he loved her. She would
have accepted gladly an equal amount of discomfort now in exchange for
the same certainty. She could not read this new Arthur. His thoughts
were a closed book. Superficially, he was all that she could have
wished. He still continued to escort her to the Tube, to buy her
occasional presents, to tap, when conversing, the pleasantly
sentimental vein. But now these things were not enough. Her heart was
troubled. Her thoughts frightened her. The little black imp at the back
of her mind kept whispering and whispering, till at last she was forced
to listen. 'He's tired of you. He doesn't love you any more. He's tired
* * * * *
It is not everybody who, in times of mental stress, can find ready
to hand among his or her personal acquaintances an expert counsellor,
prepared at a moment's notice to listen with sympathy and advise with
tact and skill. Everyone's world is full of friends, relatives, and
others, who will give advice on any subject that may be presented to
them; but there are crises in life which cannot be left to the amateur.
It is the aim of a certain widely read class of paper to fill this
Of this class Fireside Chat was one of the best-known
representatives. In exchange for one penny its five hundred thousand
readers received every week a serial story about life in highest
circles, a short story packed with heart-interest, articles on the
removal of stains and the best method of coping with the cold mutton,
anecdotes of Royalty, photographs of peeresses, hints on dress, chats
about baby, brief but pointed dialogues between Blogson and Snogson,
poems, Great Thoughts from the Dead and Brainy, half-hours in the
editor's cosy sanctum, a slab of brown paper, and—the journal's
leading feature—Advice on Matters of the Heart. The weekly
contribution of the advice specialist of Fireside Chat, entitled
'In the Consulting Room, by Dr Cupid', was made up mainly of Answers to
Correspondents. He affected the bedside manner of the kind, breezy old
physician; and probably gave a good deal of comfort. At any rate, he
always seemed to have plenty of cases on his hands.
It was to this expert that Maud took her trouble. She had been a
regular reader of the paper for several years; and had, indeed,
consulted the great man once before, when he had replied favourably to
her query as to whether it would be right for her to accept caramels
from Arthur, then almost a stranger. It was only natural that she
should go to him now, in an even greater dilemma. The letter was not
easy to write, but she finished it at last; and, after an anxious
interval, judgement was delivered as follows:
'Well, well, well! Bless my soul, what is all this? M. P. writes me:
'I am a young lady, and until recently was very, very happy, except
that my fiance, though truly loving me, was of a very jealous
disposition, though I am sure I gave him no cause. He would scowl when
I spoke to any other man, and this used to make me unhappy. But for
some time now he has quite changed, and does not seem to mind at all,
and though at first this made me feel happy, to think that he had got
over his jealousy, I now feel unhappy because I am beginning to be
afraid that he no longer cares for me. Do you think this is so, and
what ought I to do?'
'My dear young lady, I should like to be able to reassure you; but
it is kindest sometimes, you know, to be candid, however it may hurt.
It has been my experience that, when jealousy flies out of the window,
indifference comes in at the door. In the old days a knight would joust
for the love of a ladye, risking physical injury rather than permit
others to rival him in her affections. I think, M. P., that you should
endeavour to discover the true state of your fiance's feelings. I do
not, of course, advocate anything in the shape of unwomanly behaviour,
of which I am sure, my dear young lady, you are incapable; but I think
that you should certainly try to pique your fiance, to test him. At
your next ball, for instance, refuse him a certain number of dances, on
the plea that your programme is full. At garden-parties, at-homes, and
so on, exhibit pleasure in the society and conversation of other
gentlemen, and mark his demeanour as you do so. These little tests
should serve either to relieve your apprehensions, provided they are
groundless, or to show you the truth. And, after all, if it is the
truth, it must be faced, must it not, M. P.?'
Before the end of the day Maud knew the whole passage by heart. The
more her mind dwelt on it, the more clearly did it seem to express what
she had felt but could not put into words. The point about jousting
struck her as particularly well taken. She had looked up 'joust' in the
dictionary, and it seemed to her that in these few words was contained
the kernel of her trouble. In the old days, if any man had attempted to
rival him in her affections (outside business hours), Arthur would
undoubtedly have jousted—and jousted with the vigour of one who means
to make his presence felt. Now, in similar circumstances, he would
probably step aside politely, as who should say, 'After you, my dear
There was no time to lose. An hour after her first perusal of Dr
Cupid's advice, Maud had begun to act upon it. By the time the first
lull in the morning's work had come, and there was a chance for private
conversation, she had invented an imaginary young man, a shadowy
Lothario, who, being introduced into her home on the previous Sunday by
her brother Horace, had carried on in a way you wouldn't believe,
paying all manner of compliments.
'He said I had such white hands,' said Maud.
Arthur nodded, stropping a razor the while. He appeared to be
bearing the revelations with complete fortitude. Yet, only a few weeks
before, a customer's comment on this same whiteness had stirred him to
'And this morning—what do you think? Why, he meets me as bold as
you please, and gives me a cake of toilet soap. Like his impudence!'
She paused, hopefully.
'Always useful, soap,' said Arthur, politely sententious.
'Lovely it was,' went on Maud, dully conscious of failure, but
stippling in like an artist the little touches which give atmosphere
and verisimilitude to a story. 'All scented. Horace will tease me about
it, I can tell you.'
She paused. Surely he must—Why, a sea-anemone would be torn with
jealousy at such a tale.
Arthur did not even wince. He was charming about it. Thought it very
kind of the young fellow. Didn't blame him for being struck by the
whiteness of her hands. Touched on the history of soap, which he
happened to have been reading up in the encyclopedia at the free
library. And behaved altogether in such a thoroughly gentlemanly
fashion that Maud stayed awake half the night, crying.
* * * * *
If Maud had waited another twenty-four hours there would have been
no need for her to have taxed her powers of invention, for on the
following day there entered the shop and her life a young man who was
not imaginary—a Lothario of flesh and blood. He made his entry with
that air of having bought most of the neighbouring property which
belongs exclusively to minor actors, men of weight on the Stock
Exchange, and American professional pugilists.
Mr 'Skipper' Shute belonged to the last-named of the three classes.
He had arrived in England two months previously for the purpose of
holding a conference at eight-stone four with one Joseph Edwardes, to
settle a question of superiority at that weight which had been vexing
the sporting public of two countries for over a year. Having
successfully out-argued Mr Edwardes, mainly by means of strenuous work
in the clinches, he was now on the eve of starting on a lucrative
music-hall tour with his celebrated inaudible monologue. As a result of
these things he was feeling very, very pleased with the world in
general, and with Mr Skipper Shute in particular. And when Mr Shute was
pleased with himself his manner was apt to be of the breeziest.
He breezed into the shop, took a seat, and, having cast an
experienced eye at Maud, and found her pleasing, extended both hands,
and observed, 'Go the limit, kid.'
At any other time Maud might have resented being addressed as 'kid'
by a customer, but now she welcomed it. With the exception of a slight
thickening of the lobe of one ear, Mr Shute bore no outward signs of
his profession. And being, to use his own phrase, a 'swell dresser', he
was really a most presentable young man. Just, in fact, what Maud
needed. She saw in him her last hope. If any faint spark of his ancient
fire still lingered in Arthur, it was through Mr Shute that it must be
She smiled upon Mr Shute. She worked on his robust fingers as if it
were an artistic treat to be permitted to handle them. So carefully did
she toil that she was still busy when Arthur, taking off his apron and
putting on his hat, went out for his twenty-minutes' lunch, leaving
them alone together.
The door had scarcely shut when Mr Shute bent forward.
He sank his voice to a winning whisper.
'You look good to muh,' he said, gallantly.
'The idea!' said Maud, tossing her head.
'On the level,' Mr Shute assured her.
Maud laid down her orange-sticks.
'Don't be silly,' she said. 'There—I've finished.'
'I've not,' said Mr Shute. 'Not by a mile. Say!'
'What do you do with your evenings?'
'I go home.'
'Sure. But when you don't? It's a poor heart that never rejoices.
Don't you ever whoop it up?'
'Whoop it up?'
'The mad whirl,' explained Mr Shute. 'Ice-cream soda and buck-wheat
cakes, and a happy evening at lovely Luna Park.'
'I don't know where Luna Park is.'
'What did they teach you at school? It's out in that direction,'
said Mr Shute, pointing over his shoulder. 'You go straight on about
three thousand miles till you hit little old New York; then you turn to
the right. Say, don't you ever get a little treat? Why not come along
to the White City some old evening? This evening?'
'Mr Welsh is taking me to the White City tonight.'
'And who is Mr Welsh?'
'The gentleman who has just gone out.'
'Is that so? Well, he doesn't look a live one, but maybe it's just
because he's had bad news today. You never can tell.' He rose.
'Farewell, Evelina, fairest of your sex. We shall meet again; so keep a
And, taking up his cane, straw hat, and yellow gloves, Mr Shute
departed, leaving Maud to her thoughts.
She was disappointed. She had expected better results. Mr Shute had
lowered with ease the record for gay badinage, hitherto held by the
red-faced customer; yet to all appearances there had been no change in
Arthur's manner. But perhaps he had scowled (or bitten his lip), and
she had not noticed it. Apparently he had struck Mr Shute, an unbiased
spectator, as gloomy. Perhaps at some moment when her eyes had been on
her work—She hoped for the best.
Whatever his feelings may have been during the afternoon, Arthur was
undeniably cheerful that evening. He was in excellent spirits. His
light-hearted abandon on the Wiggle-Woggle had been noted and commented
upon by several lookers-on. Confronted with the Hairy Ainus, he had
touched a high level of facetiousness. And now, as he sat with her
listening to the band, he was crooning joyously to himself in
accompaniment to the music, without, it would appear, a care in the
Maud was hurt and anxious. In a mere acquaintance this blithe
attitude would have been welcome. It would have helped her to enjoy her
evening. But from Arthur at that particular moment she looked for
something else. Why was he cheerful? Only a few hours ago she had
been—yes, flirting with another man before his very eyes. What right
had he to be cheerful? He ought to be heated, full of passionate
demands for an explanation—a flushed, throaty thing to be coaxed back
into a good temper and then forgiven—all this at great length—for
having been in a bad one. Yes, she told herself, she had wanted
certainty one way or the other, and here it was. Now she knew. He no
longer cared for her.
'Cold?' said Arthur. 'Let's walk. Evenings beginning to draw in now.
Lum-da-diddley-ah. That's what I call a good tune. Give me something
lively and bright. Dumty-umpty-iddley-ah. Dum tum—'
'Funny thing—' said Maud, deliberately.
'What's a funny thing?'
'The gentleman in the brown suit whose hands I did this afternoon—'
'He was,' agreed Arthur, brightly. 'A very funny thing.'
Maud frowned. Wit at the expense of Hairy Ainus was one thing—at
her own another.
'I was about to say,' she went on precisely, 'that it was a funny
thing, a coincidence, seeing that I was already engaged, that the
gentleman in the brown suit whose hands I did this afternoon should
have asked me to come here, to the White City, with him tonight.'
For a moment they walked on in silence. To Maud it seemed a hopeful
silence. Surely it must be the prelude to an outburst.
'Oh!' he said, and stopped.
Maud's heart gave a leap. Surely that was the old tone?
A couple of paces, and he spoke again.
'I didn't hear him ask you.'
His voice was disappointingly level.
'He asked me after you had gone out to lunch.'
'It's a nuisance,' said Arthur, cheerily, 'when things clash like
that. But perhaps he'll ask you again. Nothing to prevent you coming
here twice. Well repays a second visit, I always say. I think—'
'You shouldn't,' said a voice behind him. 'It hurts the head. Well,
kid, being shown a good time?'
The possibility of meeting Mr Shute had not occurred to Maud. She
had assumed that, being aware that she would be there with another, he
would have stayed away. It may, however, be remarked that she did not
know Mr Shute. He was not one of your sensitive plants. He smiled
pleasantly upon her, looking very dapper in evening dress and a silk
hat that, though a size too small for him, shone like a mirror.
Maud hardly knew whether she was glad or sorry to see him. It did
not seem to matter much now either way. Nothing seemed to matter much,
in fact. Arthur's cheery acceptance of the news that she received
invitations from others had been like a blow, leaving her numb and
She made the introductions. The two men eyed each other.
'Pleased to meet you,' said Mr Shute.
'Weather keeps up,' said Arthur.
And from that point onward Mr Shute took command.
It is to be assumed that this was not the first time that Mr Shute
had made one of a trio in these circumstances, for the swift dexterity
with which he lost Arthur was certainly not that of a novice. So
smoothly was it done that it was not until she emerged from the
Witching Waves, guided by the pugilist's slim but formidable right arm,
that Maud realized that Arthur had gone.
She gave a little cry of dismay. Secretly she was beginning to be
somewhat afraid of Mr Shute. He was showing signs of being about to
step out of the role she had assigned to him and attempt something on a
larger scale. His manner had that extra touch of warmth which makes all
'Oh! He's gone!' she cried.
'Sure,' said Mr Shute. 'He's got a hurry-call from the Uji Village.
The chief's cousin wants a hair-cut.'
'We must find him. We must.'
'Surest thing you know,' said Mr Shute. 'Plenty of time.'
'We must find him.'
Mr Shute regarded her with some displeasure.
'Seems to be ace-high with you, that dub,' he said.
'I don't understand you.'
'My observation was,' explained Mr Shute, coldly, 'that, judging
from appearances, that dough-faced lemon was Willie-boy, the first and
Maud turned on him with flaming cheeks.
'Mr Welsh is nothing to me! Nothing! Nothing!' she cried.
She walked quickly on.
'Then, if there's a vacancy, star-eyes,' said the pugilist at her
side, holding on a hat which showed a tendency to wobble, 'count me in.
Directly I saw you—see here, what's the idea of this road-work? We
Maud slowed down.
'That's better. As I was saying, directly I saw you, I said to
myself, “That's the one you need. The original candy kid. The—“'
His hat lurched drunkenly as he answered the girl's increase of
speed. He cursed it in a brief aside.
'That's what I said. “The original candy kid.” So—'
He shot out a restraining hand. 'Arthur!' cried Maud. 'Arthur!'
'It's not my name' breathed Mr Shute, tenderly. 'Call me Clarence.'
Considered as an embrace, it was imperfect. At these moments a silk
hat a size too small handicaps a man. The necessity of having to be
careful about the nap prevented Mr Shute from doing himself complete
justice. But he did enough to induce Arthur Welsh, who, having sighted
the missing ones from afar, had been approaching them at a walking
pace, to substitute a run for the walk, and arrive just as Maud
wrenched herself free.
Mr Shute took off his hat, smoothed it, replaced it with extreme
care, and turned his attention to the new-comer.
'Arthur!' said Maud.
Her heart gave a great leap. There was no mistaking the meaning in
the eye that met hers. He cared! He cared!
He took no notice. His face was pale and working. He strode up to Mr
'Well?' he said between his teeth.
An eight-stone-four champion of the world has many unusual
experiences in his life, but he rarely encounters men who say 'Well?'
to him between their teeth. Mr Shute eyed this freak with profound
'I'll teach you to—to kiss young ladies!'
Mr Shute removed his hat again and gave it another brush. This gave
him the necessary time for reflection.
'I don't need it,' he said. 'I've graduated.'
'Put them up!' hissed Arthur.
Almost a shocked look spread itself over the pugilist's face. So
might Raphael have looked if requested to draw a pavement-picture.
'You aren't speaking to ME?' he said, incredulously.
'Put them up!'
Maud, trembling from head to foot, was conscious of one overwhelming
emotion. She was terrified—yes. But stronger than the terror was the
great wave of elation which swept over her. All her doubts had
vanished. At last, after weary weeks of uncertainty, Arthur was about
to give the supreme proof. He was going to joust for her.
A couple of passers-by had paused, interested, to watch
developments. You could never tell, of course. Many an apparently
promising row never got any farther than words. But, glancing at
Arthur's face, they certainly felt justified in pausing. Mr Shute
'If it wasn't,' he said, carefully, 'that I don't want trouble with
the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, I'd—'
He broke off, for, to the accompaniment of a shout of approval from
the two spectators, Arthur had swung his right fist, and it had taken
him smartly on the side of the head.
Compared with the blows Mr Shute was wont to receive in the exercise
of his profession, Arthur's was a gentle tap. But there was one
circumstance which gave it a deadliness all its own. Achilles had his
heel. Mr Shute's vulnerable point was at the other extremity. Instead
of countering, he uttered a cry of agony, and clutched wildly with both
hands at his hat.
He was too late. It fell to the ground and bounded away, with its
proprietor in passionate chase. Arthur snorted and gently chafed his
There was a calm about Mr Shute's demeanour as, having given his
treasure a final polish and laid it carefully down, he began to advance
on his adversary, which was more than ominous. His lips were a thin
line of steel. The muscles stood out over his jaw-bones. Crouching in
his professional manner, he moved forward softly, like a cat.
And it was at this precise moment, just as the two spectators,
reinforced now by eleven other men of sporting tastes, were
congratulating themselves on their acumen in having stopped to watch,
that Police-Constable Robert Bryce, intruding fourteen stones of bone
and muscle between the combatants, addressed to Mr Shute these
memorable words: ''Ullo, 'ullo! 'Ullo, 'ullo, 'ul-lo!'
Mr Shute appealed to his sense of justice.
'The mutt knocked me hat off.'
'And I'd do it again,' said Arthur, truculently.
'Not while I'm here you wouldn't, young fellow,' said Mr Bryce, with
decision. 'I'm surprised at you,' he went on, pained. 'And you look a
respectable young chap, too. You pop off.'
A shrill voice from the crowd at this point offered the constable
all cinematograph rights if he would allow the contest to proceed.
'And you pop off, too, all of you,' continued Mr Bryce. 'Blest if I
know what kids are coming to nowadays. And as for you,' he said,
addressing Mr Shute, 'all you've got to do is to keep that face of
yours closed. That's what you've got to do. I've got my eye on you,
mind, and if I catch you a-follerin' of him'—he jerked his thumb over
his shoulder at Arthur's departing figure—'I'll pinch you. Sure as
you're alive.' He paused. 'I'd have done it already,' he added,
pensively, 'if it wasn't me birthday.'
* * * * *
Arthur Welsh turned sharply. For some time he had been dimly aware
that somebody was calling his name.
She was breathing quickly. He could see the tears in her eyes.
'I've been running. You walked so fast.'
He stared down at her gloomily.
'Go away,' he said. 'I've done with you.'
She clutched at his coat.
'Arthur, listen—listen! It's all a mistake. I thought you—you
didn't care for me any more, and I was miserable, and I wrote to the
paper and asked what should I do, and they said I ought to test you and
try and make you jealous, and that that would relieve my apprehensions.
And I hated it, but I did it, and you didn't seem to care till now. And
you know that there's nobody but you.'
'You—The paper? What?' he stammered.
'Yes, yes, yes. I wrote to Fireside Chat, and Dr Cupid said
that when jealousy flew out of the window indifference came in at the
door, and that I must exhibit pleasure in the society of other
gentlemen and mark your demeanour. So I—Oh!'
Arthur, luckier than Mr Shute, was not hampered by a too small silk
It was a few moments later, as they moved slowly towards the
Flip-Flap—which had seemed to both of them a fitting climax for the
evening's emotions—that Arthur, fumbling in his waist-coat pocket,
produced a small slip of paper.
'What's that?' Maud asked.
'Read it,' said Arthur. 'It's from Home Moments, in answer to
a letter I sent them. And,' he added with heat, 'I'd like to have five
minutes alone with the chap who wrote it.'
And under the electric light Maud read
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS
By the Heart Specialist
Arthur W.—Jealousy, Arthur W., is not only the most wicked, but the
most foolish of passions. Shakespeare says:
It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
You admit that you have frequently caused great distress to the
young lady of your affections by your exhibition of this weakness.
Exactly. There is nothing a girl dislikes or despises more than
jealousy. Be a man, Arthur W. Fight against it. You may find it hard at
first, but persevere. Keep a smiling face. If she seems to enjoy
talking to other men, show no resentment. Be merry and bright. Believe
me, it is the only way.