Prisoner of War
by P. G.
Mrs. Lora Delane Porter, that great woman, was condescending to argue
with Herbert Nixon, a mere menial. The points under discussion were
(a) Why had Herbert been absent from duty between the hours of 3 p.m.
and midnight on the previous day?
(b) Why had he returned singing?
(c) Why had he divested himself of his upper garments and stood for
twenty minutes before the front door, daring the Kaiser to come out
and have his head knocked off?
Those were the main counts in Mrs. Porter's indictment, and she urged
them with the skill of one who for many years had been in the
forefront of America's Feminist movement. A trained orator and
logician, she made mincemeat of Mr. Nixon.
Herbert's official position was that of odd-job man to the house which
Mrs. Porter had taken for the summer in England. He had gone with the
place as a sort of bonus.
"You don't understand, ma'am," he said, pityingly. "Being a female,
you wouldn't understand. It's polerticks. This 'ere country 'as 'ad to
go to war——"
"And so you had to go and stupefy the few brains you possess at the
village inn? I don't see the connection."
"I can't argue with you, ma'am," said Mr. Nixon, patiently. "My 'ead
don't seem just right this morning. All I know is—"
"All I know is that you can go right away now and look for another
" 'Ave it your own way, ma'am, 'ave it your own way. If you don't want
me, there's others that'll be glad to 'ave me."
"Don't let me keep you from them," said Mrs. Porter. "Good morning."
Herbert vanished, and Mrs. Porter, dipping her pen in the ink, resumed
the chapter of "Woman in the New Era" which his entry had interrupted.
Sybil Bannister came into the room. She was small and fluffy. Mrs.
Porter greeted her with an indulgent smile. Ruthless towards the
Herbert Nixons, she unbent with Sybil. Sybil was her disciple. She
regarded her as a gardener regards some promising young plant.
Six months before Sybil had been what Mrs. Porter called undeveloped.
That is to say, she had been content to live a peaceful life in her
New York home, worshipping her husband, Mrs. Porter's nephew Hailey.
The spectacle of a woman worshipping any man annoyed Mrs. Porter. To
see one worshipping Hailey, for whom she entertained the contempt which
only strong-minded aunts can feel for their nephews, stirred her to
Hailey, it is true, had not been a perfect husband. He was a rather
pompous young man, dictatorial, and inclined to consider that the
machinery of the universe should run with his personal comfort as its
guiding motive. But Sybil had not noticed these things till Mrs.
Porter pointed them out to her. Until Mrs. Porter urged her to assert
her rights, she had not thought the matter out sufficiently to
understand that she had any.
That determined woman took the situation strongly in hand. Before
Hailey knew what had struck him the home was a battlefield, and when
the time arrived for Mrs. Porter to go to England things came to a
head. She invited Sybil to accompany her. Hailey forbade her to go.
Sybil went. That is the whole campaign in a nutshell.
"I have just dismissed Nixon," said Mrs. Porter. "I have no objection
in England going to war, but I will not have my odd-job man singing
patriotic songs in the garden at midnight."
From the beginning of hostilities Mrs. Porter's attitude towards the
European War had been clearly defined. It could continue, provided it
did not bother her. If it bothered her it must stop.
Sybil looked uncomfortable.
"Aunt Lora, don't you think—I've been thinking—I believe I ought to
"Ridiculous! You are perfectly safe here."
"I wasn't thinking so much about myself. I—I believe Hailey will be
worried about me."
Mrs. Porter directed at her shrinking protegee one of the severe
stares which had done so much to unman Mr. Nixon at their recent
interview. This was backsliding, and must be checked.
"So much the better. It is just what Hailey wants—to have to worry
about somebody except himself. The trouble with Hailey has always been
that things have been made too comfortable for him. He has never had
proper discipline. When Hailey was a child I once spanked him with a
clothes-brush. The effects, while they lasted, were extremely
gratifying. Unfortunately, immediately after the incident I ceased to
be on speaking terms with his father, so was not able to follow up the
Sybil shifted uneasily. She looked mutinous.
"He's my husband," she said.
"It's too late to worry about that."
"He is always very kind to me."
"Nonsense child! He treated you like a door-mat. When he was in a bad
temper he snarled at you; when he was in a good temper he patronized
"He's very fond of me."
"Then why doesn't he try to get you back? Has he written you a single
letter, asking you to go home, in the last two months?"
"You don't understand Hailey, Aunt Lora. He's so proud."
When Mrs. Porter said "Tchah!" it was final. There was nothing ill-
tempered or violent about the ejaculation: it was simply final. Sybil
It was Mrs. Porter's daily practice, when she had made her simple
breakfast and given her household staff its instructions, to walk
briskly out of her garden-gate, proceed for a mile down the high road,
then, turning, to walk back and begin work on her current book. The
procedure had two advantages. It cleared her brain, and it afforded
mild exercise to Mike, her Irish terrier.
On the morning after the rout of Herbert Nixon, she had just emerged
from the garden, when she was aware of a ragged figure coming towards
her down the straight white road. She called to the dog, who was
sniffing at an attractive-smelling dead bird which he had located
under the hedge.
Lora Delane Porter was not afraid of tramps; but it is no sign of fear
to mobilize your forces; it is merely a sensible precaution in case of
accidents. She mobilized Mike. He left the bird, on which he had
intended to roll, with a back-glance of regret, and came trotting to
"To heel!" said Mrs. Porter.
The tramp was a typical ruffian of his species. He was unkempt and
grimy; he wore a soiled hat, a grey suit of clothes picked out with
splashes of brown and green and there was no collar round his neck. He
walked as if he had been partially hamstrung by a bungling amateur who
had made a bad job of it.
As she drew level with him he looked at her, stopped, and said: "Aunt
Mrs. Porter made it a rule to pass the ordinary tramp without a
glance; but tramps who addressed her as "Aunt Lora" merited
inspection. She accorded this inspection to the man before her, and
gave a little gasp. His face was obscured by dust and perspiration,
and he had a scrubby beard; but she recognized him.
To preserve a perfect poise in the face of all of life's untoward
happenings was part of Mrs. Porter's religion. Though, for all her
stern force of character, she was now inwardly aflame with curiosity,
she did not show it in her manner.
"What are you doing here, Hailey?" she inquired, calmly.
He passed the ruins of a silk handkerchief over his grimy face and
groaned. He was a shocking spectacle.
"I've had an awful time!"
"You look it."
"I've walked every step of the way from Southampton."
"Why! Because I had to. Do I look as if I were doing this for my
"It's an excellent thing for your health. You always did shirk
Hailey drew himself up and fixed his aunt with a gaze which was a
little too bloodshot to be really dignified.
"Aunt Lora, do not misunderstand me. I have not come to you for
sympathy. I have not come to you for assistance. I have not—"
"You look like a walking ploughed field."
"I have merely come—"
"Have you been sleeping in those clothes?"
Hailey's hauteur changed to a human irritation.
"Yes, I have been sleeping in these clothes, and I wish you wouldn't
look at me as if I were a kind of freak."
"But you are."
"Aunt Lora, I have not come to you for sym—"
"Bless the boy, don't tell me all the things you have not come to me
for. What have you come for? In the first place, why are you in
England at all? Have you come to try and get Sybil to go home?"
"I have not. If Sybil is to return home, she must do so of her own
free will. I shall not attempt to persuade her. I am here because, on
the declaration of war, I was obliged to leave Paris, where I was
spending a vacation. When I reached Southampton and tried to get a
boat back to New York I found it impossible. My traveller's cheques
and my letter of credit were valueless, and I was without a penny. I
had lost all my luggage. I set out to walk to you because you were the
only person who could tell me where Professor Tupper-Smith lived."
"Certainly. Professor Tupper-Smith. The English bore you planted on me
when he visited New York last year."
Hailey spoke bitterly. Over the unconscious head of this same
Professor Tupper-Smith there had raged one of the most serious of the
battles which had shattered his domestic peace. The professor was a
well-known English writer on sociology, who had come to New York with
a letter of introduction to Mrs. Porter. Mrs. Porter, wishing to house
him more comfortably than he was being housed at his hotel, had taken
him to Sybil. Hailey was out of town at the time, and the thing had
been done in his absence. He and Sybil had had one of their first
quarrels about it. In the end the professor had stayed on, and
incidentally nearly driven Hailey mad.
Now, if a man had nearly driven you mad in New York, bursting with
your meat the while, the least he can do, when you call on him,
destitute, in England, is to honour your note-of-hand for a few
That was how Hailey had argued, and that was what had driven him to
his aunt. She knew the location of this human El Dorado; he did not.
"Why do you want to see Professor Tupper-Smith?"
Hailey kicked the hard road in his emotion.
"I want to ask him for his photograph. That's all. Of course, I
entertain no idea of getting him to lend me money so that I can get
back to New York. As he is the only man I know in England, naturally
that had not occurred to me."
Mrs. Porter was a grim woman, sparing with her smiles, but at these
words she laughed heartily.
"Why, of course! Do you know, Hailey, I think I must be getting
stupid. I never realized till now what a complete fix you were in."
"Will you tell me that man's address?"
"No. At least, not for a long time. But I'll do something else. I'll
give you a job."
"What do you mean?"
"Hailey, you always were an undisciplined child. I often told your
father so—when we were on speaking terms. Rich men's sons are always
like that. I was saying to Sybil only yesterday that what you needed
was discipline. Discipline and honest work! They may make something of
you yet. My odd-job man left me yesterday—you shall take his place.
You know what an odd-job man is, I presume? For instance"—she looked
past him—"he washes the dog. I see that Mike is rolling again. He
cannot understand that we don't like it. You had better catch him and
wash him at once, Hailey. Take care he does not bite you. Irish
terriers are quick-tempered.'
"Aunt Lora, do you imagine for a moment that I am going to—"
"You won't find out where Professor Tupper-Smith lives if you don't."
Hailey's unshaven jaw fell. There was a silence broken only by the
pleased snortings of Mike.
"Aunt Lora, if it is your wish to humiliate me—"
"Don't be absurd, child. Humiliate you, indeed! You talk as if you
were a prince of the blood. I am doing you a great kindness. This will
be the making of you. You have been spoiled since you were a boy. You
treated Sybil as if you were a Sultan. You were a mass of conceit. A
month or two of this will—"
"A month or two!"
"Or three," said Mrs. Porter. "Well, make up your mind quickly. You
have a perfectly free choice. If you prefer to go on tramping through
England, by all means do so."
A minute later Mike, busy with his bird, felt his collar grasped. He
gazed up into a set, scrubby-bearded face. It was the face of a man
with a hidden sorrow.
"Under the tap in the stable-yard is the best place," said Mrs.
Of the two principals in the ablutions of Mike, the bather and the
bathed, it would have been hard for an impartial spectator to have
said which looked the unhappier. Mike's views on total immersion were
peculiar. To plunge into any river, pond, or other sheet of water was
one of his chief pleasures. In a tub, with soap playing a part in the
proceedings, he became a tortured martyr.
Nor did Hailey approach the operation in a more rollicking spirit. He
had never washed a dog before. When his dog in New York required
washing, some underling below-stairs did it. The thought crossed his
mind, as he wrought upon Mike, that whatever that underling's wages
were, they were not enough.
He was concentrating tensely upon his task when Sybil entered the
Sybil was in the grip of a number of emotions. When Mrs. Porter had
informed her of Hailey's miraculous appearance, joy had predominated.
When she learned of his misfortunes, it had been succeeded by pity.
Then the curious fact came home to her that, though Hailey was
apparently there, he had not yet appeared before her. And when this
mystery was explained by the information that he was washing the dog
in the stable-yard, her astonishment grew. Finally, when she had
grasped the whole position of affairs a great dismay came upon her.
She knew Hailey so well—his pride, his sensitive fastidiousness, his
aloofness from all that was rough and undignified in the world. This
was terrible. She pleaded with Mrs. Porter, but Mrs. Porter remained
Then she sped to the stable-yard, to witness the horror for herself.
Hailey looked up. Silence reigned in the stable-yard. Hailey looked at
Sybil. Sybil stood there without a word. Mike shivered miserably, as
one on the brink of the tomb.
"Well?" said Hailey, at length.
"Oh, Hailey, it is nice seeing you again!"
Sybil's mouth quivered, and her eyes grew large and plaintive. Hailey
did not soften. Sybil, he reminded himself, was in Mrs. Porter's camp,
and it was Mrs. Porter who had inflicted this beast of a dog on him.
He removed Mike from the tub and enveloped him in the towel.
"Hailey, dear, don't be cross."
It is difficult for a man conscious of a four days' beard and perhaps
a quarter of an inch of English soil on all the exposed parts of his
person to raise his eyes with chilly dignity, but Hailey did it. He
did it twice.
"I begged Aunt Lora not to—"
"Not to what?"
"Not to—to make you do this. I begged her to ask you to—to stay with
"I am staying with you."
"I mean as a guest."
A third time Hailey raised those dusty eyebrows.
"Do you imagine for a moment that I would accept my aunt's
There was a pause.
Hailey released Mike, who shot out of the yard like a torpedo.
"Why did you come to England, Hailey?"
"I was on a vacation in France, and had to leave."
"You didn't come to—to see me?"
"Hailey, you don't seem very fond of me."
Hailey picked up the towel and folded it.
"If Aunt Lora tells you where Mr. Tupper-Smith lives, I suppose you
will go back to New York again?"
"If Mr. Tupper-Smith will lend me the money, I shall go by the first
He lifted the tub with an air of finality, and emptied it down the
drain. Sybil paused irresolutely for a moment, then walked slowly
The days which followed did nothing to relieve Hailey's depression.
Indeed, they deepened it. He had not imagined that he could ever feel
sorrier for himself than he had felt by bedtime that first night, but
he discovered that he had merely, so to speak, scratched the surface
On the second day he sought audience of his aunt.
"Aunt Lora, this cannot continue."
"Why? Have you decided to become a tramp again?"
"You are taking an unjustifiable advantage of my misfortune in being
helpless to resent it to—"
"When you were a small boy, Hailey, you came to visit me once, and
behaved like a perfect little devil. I took advantage of your
misfortune in being helpless to resent it to spank you with a clothes-
brush. My mistake was that I stopped the treatment before I had cured
you. The treatment has now begun again, and will continue till you are
out of danger."
"Aunt Lora, you cannot realize the humiliation of my position."
"Nonsense! Use your imagination. Try to think you're a pioneer out in
"I have no ambition to be a pioneer out in the West."
"Your real trouble, Hailey, is that you think the society beneath
"I am not accustomed to hob-nob with cooks."
"It is exceedingly good of my cook to let you hob-nob with her. She
knows you came here without reference, after having been a tramp. It
shows she is not a snob."
Hailey returned to his hewing of wood and drawing of water.
For a rather excessively fastidious young man with an extremely high
opinion of himself there are more congenial walks in life than that of
odd-job man in a country house.
The duties of an odd-job man are extensive and peculiar. He is seldom
idle. If the cook does not require him to chop wood, the gardener
commandeers him for potato-digging. He cleans the knives; he cleans
the shoes; he cleans the windows; he cleans the dog. In a way his is
an altruistic life, for his primary mission is to scatter sweetness
and light, and to bestow on others benefits in which he himself cannot
share; but it is not an easy one.
Hailey did all these things and others besides. His work began at an
hour which in happier days he had looked on as part of the night, and
it ended when sheer mental fatigue made it impossible for those in
command over him to think up anything else for him to do. When this
happened, he would light his pipe and stroll moodily in the garden. It
was one small count in his case against Fate that he, once known for
his nice taste in cigars, should be reduced to a cheap wooden pipe and
the sort of tobacco they sell in English villages.
His was not a nature that adapted itself readily to deviations from
habit, particularly when such deviations involved manual labour. There
were men of his acquaintance in New York who would have treated his
predicament in a spirit of humorous adventure. But then they were men
whose idea of enjoyment was to camp out in lonely woods with a guide
and a fishing-rod. Newport was the wildest life that Hailey had ever
known. He hated discomfort; he hated manual labour; he hated being
under orders; and he hated the society of his social inferiors. To
treat his present life in a whimsically adventurous spirit was beyond
Of all its disagreeable features, possibly that which he resented most
was the sense of inferiority which it brought with it. In the real
fundamentals of existence, he now perceived, such as reducing unwieldy
blocks of wood to neat faggots and putting a polish on a shoe, he was
useless. He, Hailey Bannister, respected in Wall Street as a coming
man, was continually falling short of even the modest standard of
efficiency set up by his predecessor, Mr. Nixon. The opinion below-
stairs was that Herbert had been pretty bad, but that Hailey was
unspeakable. They were nice about it—but impatient, distinctly
impatient; and it wounded Hailey. He tried to tell himself that the
good opinion of the masses was not worth having, but he could not
bring himself to believe it. For the first time in his life he found
himself humble, even apologetic. It was galling for a young man's
self-esteem to be in Rome and fail through sheer incompetence to do as
the Romans do. There were moments when a word of praise from the cook
would have given Hailey more satisfaction than two successful deals in
It was by chance rather than design that Sybil chose the psychological
moment for re-entering his life. His moods since his arrival had
alternated between a wild yearning for her and positive dislike. But
one night, as he stood smoking in the stable-yard, he was longing for
her with a sentimental fervour of which in the days of his freedom he
had never been capable. It had been a particularly hard day, and, as
he stood poisoning the summer night with his tobacco, a great
loneliness and remorse filled him. He had treated Sybil badly, he told
himself. He went over in his mind episodes of their life together in
New York, and shuddered at the picture he conjured up of himself. No
wonder she shunned him.
And, as he stood there, she came to him.
She was nervous, and he did not wonder at it. A girl coming to speak
to the sort of man he had just been contemplating might have been
excused if she had called out the police reserves as an escort.
He was horrified at the gruffness of his voice. He had meant to speak
with tender softness. It was this bad tobacco.
"Hailey, dear, I've brought you this."
Wonderful intuition of Woman! It was the one thing he desired—a fat
cigar, and, as his trained senses told him, a cigar of quality. He
took it in a silence too deep for words.
"We were calling on some people. The man's study-door was open, and I
saw the box—I hadn't time to take more than one—I thought you would
Hailey could not speak. He was overcome. He kissed her.
He was conscious of a curious dizziness.
In the old days kissing Sybil had always been one of his daily acts.
He had done it the first thing in the morning, last thing at night. It
had not made him dizzy then. He had never even derived any particular
pleasure from it, especially in the morning, when he was a little
late, and the car was waiting to take him to business and the butler
standing by with his hat and cane. Then it had sometimes been almost a
nuisance, and only his rigid conscientiousness had made him do it. But
now, in the scented dusk of this summer night—well, it was different.
It was intensely different.
"I must go back," she said, quickly. "Aunt Lora is waiting for me."
Reluctantly he released her, and the night swallowed her up. It was a
full minute before he moved.
He became aware of something in his right hand. It was the broken
remnants of a crushed cigar.
They fell into the habit of meeting in the garden after dark. All day
he looked forward to these moments. Somehow they seemed to supply
something which had always been lacking in his life. He had wooed
Sybil in the days before their marriage in ballrooms and drawing-
rooms. It had seemed quite satisfactory to him at the time, but this—
this stealthy coming together in the darkness, these whispered
conversations under the stars—this was what he had always been
starving for. He realized it now.
His outlook on life seemed to change. He saw things with different
eyes. Quite suddenly it was borne in upon him how amazingly fit he
felt. In New York he had been exacting in the matter of food,
critical, and hard to please. Now, if supper was a trifle behind time,
he had to exercise restraint to keep himself from raiding the larder.
Hitherto unsuspected virtues in cold mutton were revealed to him. It
might be humiliating for a young man highly respected in Wall Street
and in the clubs of New York to chop wood, sweep leaves, and dig
potatoes, but these things certainly made for health.
Nor had his views on the society in which he moved remained unaltered.
The cook—what a good, motherly soul, always ready with a glass of
beer when the heat of the day made work oppressive. The gardener—what
a sterling conversationalist! The parlour-maid—what a military
expert! That night at supper, when the parlour-maid exposed Germany's
entire plan of campaign, while the cook said that she never did hold
with war, and the gardener told the story of his uncle who had lost a
leg in the Indian Mutiny, was one of the most enjoyable that Hailey
had ever spent.
One portion of Hailey's varied duties was to walk a mile down the road
and post letters at the village post-office. He generally was not
required to do this till late in the evening, but occasionally there
would be an important letter for the morning post, for Mrs. Porter was
a voluminous correspondent.
One morning, as he was turning in at the gate on his way back from the
village, a voice addressed him, and he was aware of a man in a black
suit, seated upon a tricycle.
This in itself would have been enough to rivet his interest, for he
had never in his life seen a man on a tricycle. But it was not only
the tricycle that excited him. The voice seemed familiar. It aroused
vaguely unpleasant memories.
"My good man—why, Mr. Bannister! Bless my soul! I had no idea you
were in England. I am delighted to see you. I never tire of telling my
friends of your kindness to me in New York."
The landscape reeled before Hailey's blinking eyes. Speech was wiped
from his lips. It was Professor Tupper-Smith.
"I must not offer to shake hands, Mr. Bannister. I have no doubt there
is still risk of infection. How is the patient?"
"Eh?" said Hailey.
"Mumps is a painful, distressing malady, but happily not dangerous."
"Mrs. Porter told me that there was mumps in the house. I trust all is
now well? That is what has kept me away. Mrs. Porter knows how
apprehensive I am of all infectious ailments, and expressly forbade me
to call. Previously I had been a daily visitor. It has been a great
deprivation to me, I can assure you, Mr. Bannister. A woman of
"Do you meant to tell me—do you live near here?"
"That house you see through the trees is mine."
Hailey drew a deep breath.
"Could I speak to you," he said, "on a matter of importance?"
In the stable-yard, which their meetings had hallowed for him, Hailey
stood waiting that night. there had been rain earlier in the evening,
and the air was soft and mild, and heavy with the scent of flowers.
But Hailey was beyond the soothing influence of cool air and sweet
scents. He felt bruised.
She had been amusing herself with him, playing with him. There could
be no other explanation. She had known all the time that this man
Tupper-Smith was living at their very gates, and she had kept it from
him. She had known what it meant to him to find the man, and she had
kept it from him. He waited grimly.
There was a glimmer of white against the shadows.
"Here I am."
She came to him, her face raised, but he drew back.
"Sybil," he said, "I never asked you before. Can you tell me where
this man Tupper-Smith lives?"
She started. He could only see her dimly, but he sensed it.
He smiled bitterly. She had the grace to hesitate. That, he supposed,
must be put to her credit.
"Strange," he said. "He lives down the road. Curious your not knowing,
when he used to come here so often."
When Sybil spoke her voice was a whisper.
"I was afraid it would happen."
"Yes, I'm sorry I have not been able to amuse you longer. But it must
have been delightful, while it lasted. You certainly fooled me. I
didn't even think it worth while asking you if you knew his address. I
took it for granted that, if you had known, you would have told me.
And you were laughing the whole time! Well, I suppose I ought not to
blame you. I can see now that I used to treat you badly in New York,
and you can't be blamed for getting even. Well, I'm afraid the joke's
over now. I met him this morning."
"Hailey, you don't understand."
"Surely it couldn't be much plainer?"
"I couldn't tell you. I—I couldn't."
"Of course not. It would have spoiled everything."
"You know it was not that. it was because—do you remember the day you
came here? You told me then that, directly you found him, you would go
back to America."
"Well, I didn't want you to go. And afterwards, when we began to meet
like this, I—still more didn't want you to go."
A bird rustled in the trees behind them. The rustling ceased. In the
distance a corncrake was calling monotonously. The sound came faintly
over the meadows, emphasizing the stillness.
"Don't you understand? You must understand. I was awfully sorry for
you, but I was selfish. I wanted to keep you. It has all been so
different here. Over in New York we never seemed to be together. We
used to quarrel. Everything seemed to go wrong. But here it has been
perfect. It was like being together on a desert island. I couldn't end
it. I hated to see you unhappy, and I wanted it to go on for ever.
Groping at a venture, he found her arm, and held it.
"Sybil! Sybil, dear, I'm going back to-morrow; going home. Will you
come with me?"
"I though you had given me up. I thought you never wanted me back. You
"Forget what I said. When you left New York I was a fool. I was a
brute. I'm different now. Listen, Sybil. Tupper-Smith—I always liked
that man—lent me fifty pounds this morning. In gold! He tricycled
five miles to get it. That's the sort of man he is. I hired a car,
went to Southampton, and fixed things up with the skipper of an
American tramp. She sails to-morrow night. Sybil, will you come?
There's acres of room, and you'll like the skipper. He chews tobacco.
A corking chap! Will you come?"
He could hear her crying. He caught her to him in the darkness.
"Oh, my dear!"
"It isn't a floating palace, you know. It's just an old, rusty tramp-
ship. We may make New York in three weeks, or we may not. There won't
be much to eat except corned beef and crackers. And, Sybil—er—do you
object to a slight smell of pigs? The last cargo was pigs, and you can
still notice it a little."
"I love the smell of pigs, Hailey, dear," said Sybil.
In the drawing-room Lora Delane Porter, that great woman, relaxed her
powerful mind with a selected volume of Spinoza's "Ethics." She looked
up as Sybil entered.
"You've been crying, child."
"I've been talking to Hailey."
Mrs. Porter dropped Spinoza and stiffened militantly in her chair.
"If that boy Hailey has been bullying you, he shall wash Mike now."
"Aunt Lora, I want to go home to-morrow, please."
"Hailey has met Mr. Tupper-Smith and he lent him fifty pounds, and he
motored into Southampton—"
"That's where he was all the afternoon. No wonder they couldn't find
him to dig the potatoes."
"And he has bought accommodation for me and himself on a tramp-steamer
which has been carrying pigs. We shall live on corned beef and
crackers, and we may get to New York some time or we may not. And
Hailey says the captain is such a nice man, who chews tobacco."
Mrs. Porter started.
"Sybil, do you meant to tell me that Hailey proposes to sail to New
York on a tramp-steamer that smells of pigs, and live on corned beef
and crackers? And that he likes a man who chews tobacco?"
"He said he was a corking chap."
Mrs. Porter picked up her Spinoza.
"Well, well," she said. "I failed with the clothes-brush, but I seemed
to have worked wonders with the simple-life treatment."