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Bowery England by Wirt Sikes

A party of four Americans in London—Mr. Hill Bunker of Boston, Mrs. Bunker, his wife, Miss Amy Abell of New York, and myself—we find ourselves growing weary of that noisy town. We talk of a trip to the country. It is the merry month of May.

"Just the time for 'bowery England, as Bulwer phrases it," says Amy. "Let us go to Romsey and see the Boyces."

Carried unanimously. We take the train from the Waterloo Station two hours later. When we get down at Romsey, "Fly, sir?" asks the attentive porter—carries our luggage, calls the fly and touches his hat thankfully for three-pence. The Romsey fly is a lumbering, two-seated carriage, rather more pretentious than a London cab, but far behind the glossy gorgeousness of a New York hackney-coach.

A short drive brings us to the White Horse Inn, under whose covered arch we roll, and are met at the door by a maid. She conducts us to a stuffy coffee-room up a flight of crumbling old stairs, and meekly desires to know our will.

"Send the landlord, please."

The landlord comes, bowing low, and we make inquiries concerning the distance to Paultons, the estate where the Boyces have been spending the summer, and where we venture to hope they still are. He says it is a matter of four miles, and that we can have a fly over for six shillings. We order the fly to be got ready at once, and inquire if we can have dinner now, it being late in the afternoon.

"Yes, sir," he replies. "Would you like some chicken and sparrowgrass?"

"How long will they be in cooking?"

"Matter of arf an hour, sir."

As this means a matter of an hour, I ask if he can't get us up something in a shorter time. He suggests that chops can be cooked sooner.

"Chops be it, then. In the words of the immortal Pickwick, chops and tomato sauce."

"No tomarter sauce, sir," with profound gravity.

"Sparrowgrass, then—chops and sparrowgrass."

He retires, and we all rush to the windows and look out upon the quaint old village—a curious, old-fashioned scene. We feel as if we had somehow become transmogrified, and instead of being flesh-and-blood men and women from practical New York, were playing our parts in some old English novel. Odd little tumble-down houses, with peaked roofs and mullioned windows, ranged about a triangular common, look sleepily out upon a statue of Palmerston in the middle of the open place, the gray walls of Romsey Abbey, a thousand years old, against the blue sky behind them.

About six o'clock our fly is at the door, and we are off, rattling through the ancient streets into the smooth open country. Oh the quaint, delightful old hedge-lined road, deep down below the level of the fields on either side—a green lane shut in with fragrance and delicious quiet! The hedges, perched upon the bank, tower high above our heads, and there is no break in them save at rustic gates. We meet characters on the road who have just stepped out of Trollope's novels. A young man and girl stand on a bridge across which we trundle, leaning companionably on the old stone parapet, and looking up the little river through a long avenue of trees to the pillared mansion of "Broadlands." A laborer, with a gay flower stuck in the buttonhole of his smock-frock, goes whistling along the brown road under the hedgerows. A country gentleman, driving alone in a basket phaeton, looks inquisitively at our half-closed windows as if expecting the sight of an acquaintance. Crumbling milestones stand by the wayside, with deep-cut letters so smoothed by the hand of time that we cannot read them as we pass. Flowers grow thick in the hedgerows. A boy is lolling on the green grass in front of a cottage door—an uncombed English hind, with a face of rustic simplicity and stolid ignorance.

At last we come to a gate which bars the road. The driver gets down and opens it, and when we have passed through in the fly he tells us we are now on Mr. Stanley's broad estate of Paultons. The driver wears corduroy trousers, and touches his hat every time we speak to him and every time he answers. He does not merely touch it when he is first addressed, but he touches it continually throughout the conversation. Bunker considers his conduct extremely touching.

We are presently driving through a bosky wood, and the driver touches his hat to remark that we are nearly there now, he thinks.

"But where is the bad road the landlord spoke of?"

"Bad road, sir?" touching hat.

"Yes: the landlord said we could not drive fast because the road was bad. Where is it bad?"

"All along back of 'ere, sir," touching hat. "We have pahst the worst of it naow, sir: the rest is not so 'illy, sir," touching hat.

"Hilly? We haven't passed over anything bigger than a knoll. If this is what the landlord meant by a hilly road, it is a rich joke. Why, it's as smooth as a floor, almost."

"He should go to California," says Amy, who has feeling reminiscences. "He should go to the Yosemite Valley, over the road which runs through Chinese Camp and Hodgden's. Probably the man never saw a rough road in his life. I doubt if there is such a thing in England."

After half an hour's trundling along the unfenced roads of this fine old estate, crossing ancient stone bridges, rolling through leafy groves, startling fat cattle from their browsing, getting a hat-touch from a shepherd who is leading his flocks across the fields in true pastoral style, we reach the manor-house, standing stately amid dells and dingles, pollards of fantastic growth and patches of fern and gorse. The Boyces have returned to Paris, but nurse and the children are still at the gardener's house, and thither we drive along the banks of a sylvan lake, beyond which the rooks are cawing about the chimneys.

The old gardener is nurse's father, and though he is now so old that he no longer does any work, he is maintained in comfort by the family in whose service he has spent a lifetime. Forty years of honest service in one family! No wonder he feels that his destiny is for ever linked with that of the people who have been his masters, man and boy, for forty years. He has a delightful little cottage with thatched roof and mullioned windows, and pretty vines rioting all over it, and in front of it a flower-garden full of early bloom. The lilacs which grow about so profusely are not of the color of our lilacs in America, being of a rich purple; we should not know they were lilacs but for the familiar odor.

A delicious ride back to Romsey in the twilight, carrying two of the Boyce children with us. In the evening I stroll out alone, to look at the village in the moonlight. The streets are like narrow lanes. The houses are very old, and for the most part dilapidated, but streets and houses are all as clean and neat as wax. Presently I come upon the old abbey, its rugged walls and towers looming solemnly in the moonlight, and pass the parson's house near by, all overrun with vines, thinking of Trollope again and Framley parsonage.

Before going back to the White Horse Inn I wander round the village until I find that I am lost. The discovery is not very alarming in a place so small as this, even at night. I resolve to turn every corner to the left, and see what will come of it. I presently find that getting out into the country comes of it; and having crossed a bridge and come upon a silent brickyard, and seen the long road winding away into the open country, I am reminded of Oliver Twist—or was it Pip?—running away from home and trudging off under the stars to London. Somehow, it seems this road must lead to London.

Turning about, but still walking at random and turning left-hand corners, I presently see the abbey tower again, and make for it. The street through which I pass is apparently the home of the British working man. A light burning in any house is most rare. Occasionally a man can be seen through the odd little windows, smoking a pipe by the blaze of the fire on the hearth. Here are the abbey windows, and now I know where I am. Down this narrow, winding street, across the open place where Lord Palmerston stands stonily in the moonlight, and I am at the White Horse Inn again.

At nine o'clock next morning there is a rap at the door of my room. The door being opened a man-servant is discovered, who touches his forehead (having no hat to touch) and says, "The ladies would like to 'ave you breakfast with them, sir."

He is so very respectful in his manner of saying this that he is inaudible, and being asked what he said, repeats the touching his forehead and then repeats his words.

There are no muffins at breakfast—a fact which I record merely because this is the first time since we have been in England that this peculiarly English dish has been omitted at breakfast. It appears on inquiry that muffins are a luxury of large towns. In villages they are rarely obtainable at less than about a week's notice. In fact, you can't get anything to eat, of any sort, without pretty liberal notice.

After breakfast we go to see the old abbey. It is an imposing and well-preserved pile. It was founded by Ethelwold, a thane—one of those righting, praying, thieving old rascals who lived in the tenth century, and made things lively for any one who went past their houses with money on his person. When Ethelwold had stolen an unusually large sum one day, he founded the monastery and stocked it with nuns. It was but a wooden shanty at first, but after having served till it was worm-eaten and rotting with age, it was torn down and a fine stone convent was built.

We walk about in that part of the abbey which is free from pews—by far the larger part—and stare at the monumental stones let into the floor and walls. If we did not know that Romsey had been the home of Palmerston, we should learn it now, for these stones are thickly covered with the legends of virtue in his family—wives, sisters, sons and so forth, whose remains lie "in the vault beneath." After perusing these numerous testimonials to the truly wonderful virtues of an aristocracy whom we are permitted to survive, and after dropping some shillings in the charity-box, which rather startle us by the noise they make, we pass out of the cool abbey into the hot churchyard, and read on a lonely stone which stands in a corner by the gate that here lies the dust of Mary Ann Brown, "for thirty-five years faithful servant to Mr. Appleford." Mary Ann no doubt had other virtues, but they are not recorded: this is sufficient for a servant.

An hour's ride on the velvet cushions of a railway carriage brings us, with our Paultons friends, the Boyce boys, to Southampton, which was an old town when King Canute was young. We take rooms at a pretentious marble hotel with a mansard roof, attached to the station—a railroad hotel, in fact, but strikingly unlike that institution as we know it in America. Wide halls, solid stone staircases, gorgeous coffee-room, black-coated waiters, and the inevitable buxom landlady with a regiment of blooming daughters for assistants—one presiding over the accounts, another officiating at the beer-pumps, a third to answer questions, and all very much under the influence of their back hair and other charms of person. One of them alleviates the monotony of the office duties by working at embroidery in bright worsteds.

Strolling out, Bunker and I consult certain shabby worthies who are yawning on the boxes of a long line of wretched hacks drawn up by the sidewalk across the street, and find that we can charter a vehicle for two shillings an hour. These cabbies have more nearly the air of our own noble hackmen than any we have seen in England. Americans are no novelty to them, for ship-loads of American tourists are put off here at frequent intervals, and the cabbies have a thin imitation of the voting hackman's independence. They stop short, however, of his impudence. They are lazy, but they touch their hats occasionally.

We choose two of the tumble-down vehicles and go after the ladies. My driver is an elderly man with a hat which has seen better days, and I have chosen his hack, not because it is less likely to drop off its wheels than the others, but because he himself looks like a seedy Bohemian. He proves to be a very intelligent fellow, with a ready turn for description which serves him in good stead whenever his horse gets tired of walking and stops short. At such times our Bohemian pretends that he has stopped the horse himself in order to point out and comment upon some curious thing in the immediate vicinity.

It is pleasant driving. The hack is open, and we hoist sun-umbrellas and look about comfortably. Presently the weary horse stops in the middle of the street.

"'Ere you are, sir," says Cabby briskly, turning half round on his box and pointing to an old stone structure which stretches quite across the High street. "This 'ere is the old Bar Gate, sir, one of the hancient gates of the town. Part of the horiginal town wall. Was a large ditch 'ere, sir, and another there, and a stone bridge betwixt the two, and the young bucks in them days did use to practice harchery right 'ere where you see the lamp-post. The Guild'all is hin the gate, sir, right hinside it, with a passage hup. I'll drive through the harch, sir, and you'll see the hother side. Cluck!" (to the horse).

On the other side, the horse not taking a notion to stop again, the driver is not forced to resume his remarks. Turning about as we pass on, we look up at the old Norman gate-tower, with its handsome archway and projecting buttresses, and Amy says she fancies she sees a knight in armor looking out through the narrow crevice which may have been a window in olden times. This, being an altogether proper fancy for the place, is received with applause.

The next time the horse concludes to stop we are in the midst of what is here called the Common—in fact, a magnificent old forest park, with a smooth road running through it, and numberless winding paths in among the bosky depths. I fancy Central Park might come to look like this if allowed to go untrimmed and unfussed-over for two or three hundred years.

"The Common, sir," says Cabby, turning about, "where King Chawles did use to 'unt wild boars. Fav'rite walk of Halexander Pope, sir, the poet, and Doctor Watts, which wrote the 'ymn-book. Cluck!"

From the top of a high hill a splendid wide landscape is seen, with Romsey in the distance, and (the horse having stopped again) Cabby points out Queen Elizabeth's shooting-box across the fields. In a lot close by cricketers are at play, and a little farther on, where there is a vine-covered beerhouse, a crowd of clod-hoppers are gathered in a green field, looking at two of their number engaged in a rough-and-tumble fight in their shirt-sleeves.

The road after this running down hill, the horse continues to jog along for a considerable distance, stopping at last under a towering old wall looking out on the sea.

"Wind Whistle Tower, sir," says Cabby, pointing up at a square tower projecting from the old wall overhead, and above it the remains of an old round tower thickly overrun with ivy. And, using his fingers industriously, Cabby proceeds to call off the names of various castles and towers here visible—notably, Prince Edward's Tower, bold and round, from whose summit three men were looking down.

"What are those?" asks Bunker in the carriage behind us, pointing to the old brass guns which sit on the wall like Humpty Dumpty.

"Them, sir," says Cabby, "was put there by 'Enry the Heighth, and this 'ere wall was the purtection of the town when the Frenchmen hassaulted it."

"Ho!" says Bunker, contemptuously. "Just fancy one of our ironclads paying any attention to the barking of those popguns!"

Whereupon the horse starts again, and we go lazily on, Cabby dropping in a word of enlightenment here and there to the effect that this old tumble-down part of the ancient wall is the celebrated Arcade, which formed part of the wall of the King's Palace; and this queer old lane running up through the walls like a sewer is Cuckoo lane; and that is Bugle street, where in olden times the warden blew; and here are the remains of Canute's palace, with its elliptical and circular arches and curious mouldings.

Discharging the cab in the High street, we walk about. In a shop where we pause for a moment there is a quartette of half-naked barbarians, such as, with all our boasted varieties of humanity, were never yet seen in New York. We have abundant Chinese and Japanese there, and occasionally an Arab or a Turk, and the word African means with us a man and a brother behind our chair at dinner or wielding a razor in a barber-shop. These men here are pure barbarians, just landed from a vessel direct from Africa. Hideously tattooed, and their heads shaved in regular ridges of black wool, with narrow patches of black scalp between, they are here in a small tradesman's shop in bowery England buying shirts. They know not a word of English, but chatter among themselves the most horrible lingo known to the Hamitic group of tongues. They grimace in a frightful manner, and skip and dance, and writhe their half-naked bodies into the most exaggerated contortions known to the language of signs. The dignified English salesmen are at their wits' end how to treat them. The instinct of the British shopkeeper fights desperately with his disposition to be shocked. From the Ashantee gentlemen's gestures it can only be concluded that white shirts are wanted, but when white shirts are shown the negroes make furious objection to the plaited bosoms. They want shirts such as are fashionable at home. It is easy to be seen that they are Dandy Jims in Africa. They are all young, and, in a sense, spruce. One of them carries a little switch cane, evidently just bought: while he examines the shirts, testing the strength of the stuff by pulling it with his two hands, he holds his cane between his bare legs for safe-keeping.

Sitting in the billiard-room of the hotel in the evening smoking our cigars, Bunker and I are accosted by a brisk little man, who asks us if we play billiards. Bunker doesn't. I do sometimes at home, but not the English game.

"Oh, we play the 'Merican game too. 'Appy to play the 'Merican game with you, sir."

"Try him a game," says Bunker. "It won't hurt you."

Not liking to refuse an invitation from a polite Englishman, who appears to be a stranger here, I consent. This is billiard-room etiquette the world over.

The cue is like a whip-stock. It positively runs down to a point not bigger than a shirt-button, and it bends like a switch. The balls are not much larger than marbles. To make up for this, the table is big enough for a back yard, broad, high, dull of cushion, and with six huge pockets. I am ignominiously beaten. My ball jumps like a living thing. It hops off the table upon the floor at almost every shot, and when it does not go on the floor it goes into one of the six yawning pockets. The pockets bear the same relative proportion to the balls that a tea-cup bears to a French pea. At the end of the game my ball has been everywhere except where I intended it to go, and I have "scratched" thirty.

"A hundred's the game," says the Englishman, putting up his cue. "One shilling."

I wonder if this is an English custom—to pay your victor a shilling, instead of paying the keeper of the tables. But as there is no one else to pay, I pay the Englishman. Bunker has fallen asleep in his chair.

"Going on the Continent?" the Englishman asks.

"Not at present. We return to London first, and go from there."

"'Ave you got a guide?"

I am on the point of saying that guides are a nuisance I do not tolerate, when the Englishman hands me a bit of paste-board. "There is my card, sir," he says. "A. SHARPE, Interpreter and Courier." On the opposite side I read—

SPEAKS SPRICHT PARLE PARLA
French, Französich, Frangais, Francese,
German, Deutsch, Allemand, Tedesco,
Italian and Italienisch u. Italien et Italiano ed
English Englisch Anglais Inglese
fluently. sehr geläufig. courrament. correntemente.

At present he has charge of this billiard-room, but he is ready to follow me to the ends of the earth for a period of not less than three months. I tell him I can get on without a guide.

"But I would go on the most reasonable terms. I would go for as low as ten pounds a month and my expenses."

"Would you go for nothing?" Bunker wakes up and pops this out at him so suddenly as to quite take his breath away.

He expands his hands at his trousers pockets, shrugs his shoulders and looks volumes of reproach.

"Because," Bunker adds, in a soothing tone, "I shouldn't like to have you along, even at that price."

He immediately goes to putting the room to rights.

"Horrible breath that man had," says Bunker when we come out: "did you notice it?"

"Yes."

"Take that breath around with us on the Continent! Why, if he was in Cologne itself, his breath would be in the majority."

I had my umbrella in the billiard-room, and next morning I can't find it anywhere. At breakfast I ask the pompous head-waiter if he knows of my umbrella. He states that he does not. After breakfast I look in the billiard-room. It is not there. I go down to the office, and interrupt the worsted work there in progress by requesting that a search be made for my missing umbrella. The young lady whose ear I have gained kindly condescends to call the porter, and turning me over to that functionary returns to her worsted. The porter is respectful, but doubtful. The moment he learns that the lost article is an umbrella his manner is pervaded with a gentle hopelessness. He, however, listens forbearingly to my story.

"And aboot what time was it, sir, when ye went ty bed?"

"About half-past eleven."

"Oh, then the night porter ull know of it, sir. He's abed now. I'll ask him when he gets oop."

And so, when we go to Netley Abbey, I take a covered cab, because of my lost umbrella. It was a beautiful umbrella to keep off the sun. Nobody can make an umbrella like an Englishman. I should be sorry to lose it. I bought it in Regent street only a few days ago, but I already love it with a passionate affection.

Through the hot paved streets, over a floating bridge, past the cliff at the river's mouth, through a shady grove of noble yews and sycamores, past a picturesque hamlet full of vine-curtained and straw-thatched cottages, through a forest of oaks and past a willow copse, and there is the grand old ruin of Netley Abbey lifting its picturesque and solemn fingers of ivy-hung stone above the tops of the trees which surround and shelter it in its hoary age.

It is really curious how dramatically effective a grand old ruin is. The weird sense of being in the presence of olden time comes over us immediately. We look about us to see the spirit of some cloistered monk come stealing by with hood and girdle. Here—actually here, in these nooks all crumbling under Time's gnawing tooth—did old Cistercian monks kneel with shaved heads and confess their sins, and their bones have been powdered into dust three hundred years! Romsey Abbey—within whose well-kept walls we rather yawned over Palmerstonian eulogiums—is a thousand years old. This abbey is only six hundred and thirty-two years old. Romsey has been restored, and modern men go to church there on Sunday decorously. Netley has been left to go to utter ruin. Grass grows in its long-drawn aisles. Owls hoot in its moss-clothed chimneys. It is dramatically effective.

We wander through cloistered courts into the main body of the church. Yonder stood the pulpit, here gathered the worshipers. The carpet is green grass. Trees grow within the walls. Ivy clambers from side to side of the tall windows, in place of the stained glass once there. Most of the windows have tumbled to decay, walls and all. The roof is the sky—naught else.

We climb up the stone staircase in the turret. All the stone steps are worn with deep hollows where human feet have trodden up and down for centuries, and storms have sent rivulets of water pouring through many a wild night. Some of the steps are worn quite in two and broken away, which makes the ascent frightening to the ladies.

Up here ("on the second floor," as Bunker says) the carpet is again grass, and Bunker and I clamber through a little archway into the cloister gallery, where the monks used to look down on the service below when they felt inclined. The ladies look after us, brave adventurers that we are (only two or three million men have been here before us, perhaps, since the ruin became a popular success), and refuse to follow in our rash footsteps. The crumbling wall is full of owls' nests. Rooks and swallows fly continually in and out of their holes. We could kick a loose stone down into the chancel if there were any stones to kick.

The ladies declare themselves dizzy and afraid, and we help them down the dark winding turret staircase again, and go into the enclosed parts of the ruin. Here is where the monks lived. The walls still stand, and parts of the roof. The windows are thickly ivy-hung and moss-grown. Here is the room where the monks did whilom dine. For three hundred years this dining-room was in daily use, and in the spot where erst the dining-table stood now grows a stalwart tree, whose branches tower and spread beyond the crumbling walls. Passing strange!

More strange is the sight in the next room, the chapter-house, where the abbot held his gravest councils, and where the most honored of the monks were buried beneath the floor when they died. And since the roof fell in, after long battling with storms, perhaps a hundred years after the last monk was buried, one day a seed fell. A tree grew up in the room. It spread its tall branches high above the piled-up stones, and shook its brown leaves down, autumn after autumn, for years and years. It grew slowly old, and at last it died. It fell down in its death in the room where it had grown, and its once sturdy trunk struck against the old ruined walls and broke. Its roots were torn out of the ground by the fall, and stuck up their gnarled fingers in the empty room. And the grass grew over the roots, weaving a green cloak to hide their nakedness. The old trunk stretches now across the space in the room, and leans its old head against the abbey wall. I didn't read this story in a guide-book. It was told to me by the principal actor, the tree.

In the abbot's kitchen we get into the huge hooded fireplace—seven of us—and there is room for more. We look up the chimney and see the glossy green ivy leaves overhead, and the blue sky shining beyond them. We toss a pebble down into the subterranean passage where, they say, the monks were wont to pass out after provisions during a time of siege; which must have been somewhat demoralizing to the besiegers, whoever they were. I stoop to pick up something in the grass of the kitchen floor, which has a glitter of gold upon it, and my face flushes with eager anticipation as I seize it.

"What have you found?" asks Amy.

"A relic of the monks?" asks Bunker.

"It's a champagne cork," I am forced to reply. "The truth is, Netley Abbey is a show, like Niagara Falls and Bunker Hill Monument. Of course crowds of tourists come here, and of course they pop champagne and ginger beer, and cut their confounded initials in the venerable stones."

"Yes," says Bunker, "I saw 'W.S.' cut in the wall at the top of the turret stairs. Saves you the trouble, you know."

"I don't do that sort of thing, thank you."

Nevertheless, it was curious to see some nobody's name cut at full length in the stone, with the date underneath—1770.

When we return to the hotel the night porter reports that he has not found my umbrella. So I must go off without it. Our train leaves at ten minutes past five this afternoon, and we shall be in London early in the evening. It is now four o'clock: we have ordered dinner for this hour, and so we sit down to our soup.

"Please give us our dinner without any delay now," I say to the pompous head-waiter, "for we must take the train at ten minutes past five."

The man bows stiffly and retires. We finish the soup, and wait. When we get tired of waiting we call the head-waiter to us: "Are you hastening our dinner?"

"Fish directly, sir," he answers, and walks solemnly away. We begin to grow fidgety. Fifteen minutes since the soup, and no fish yet. Bunker swears he'll blow the head-waiter up in another minute. Just as he is quite ready for this explosion the fish arrives. All hail! I lay it open.

"Why, it's not done!" I cry in consternation. "There, there! Take it away, and bring the meat."

With an air of grave offence the man bears it solemnly out. Then we wait again. And wait. And wait.

"Good gracious!" cries Bunker, "here's half an hour gone, and we've had nothing but soup! I really must blow this fellow up."

"Stop! there it comes."

Enter the waiter with great dignity, and solemnly deposits before us—the fish again!

He has had it recooked. We attack it hurriedly, and bid the waiter for Goodness' sake bring the rest of the dinner instantly, or we must leave it.

"And I'm about half starved," growls Bunker.

More waiting. Five minutes pass. Ten.

"Oh come, I can't stand this!" cries Bunker, jumping up with his napkin round his neck, and striding over to the head-waiter, where he stands in a Turveydroppy attitude, leaning against a sideboard with his arms folded. "Look here!" Bunker ejaculates: "can you be made to understand that we are in a hurry? Would half a dollar be any inducement to you to wake up and look around lively? Because we have got to take those cars in exactly twelve minutes," showing his watch, "and as the dinner is already paid for, I want to get it before I go."

"Certainly, sir," says the pompous ass with slow indifference, "dinner directly. John!" to our waiter, who is now placing the meat on the table, "serve the genl'm'n's dinner directly."

Bunker stares at the fellow as Clown stares at Harlequin after having cut him in two, in dumb amazement at the fact that Harlequin is not in the least disturbed by being cut in two.

"I wonder," he mutters as he returns to the table, "if that unmitigated wooden image of a dunderhead would pay any attention if I were to kick him?"

"No—not if you were to tie a pack of fire-crackers to his coat-tail and light them. He knows his business too well. The first duty of an English head-waiter is to be dignified, as it is that of a French head-waiter to be vigilant and polite."

"Besides," remarks Amy quietly, "I don't suppose the man had an idea of what you meant by 'those cars,' if he even knew what a half dollar signified."

"Well, we must be off. Time's up. We shall miss the train. Good-bye, boys. You can sit still and finish your dinner in peace."

Good-bye to our friends from Paultons—good-bye. And then we rush out, and do miss the train. It is five o'clock ten minutes and a quarter.

English trains go on time—English dinners don't.

We finally get off at seven o'clock. Just before we leave a waiter comes up to me and says in a casual manner, "Found your humbreller yet, sir?"

"No."

"Wat kind of er humbreller was it, sir?"

"Neat little brown silk umbrella, with an ivory handle."

"W'y, I wouldn't wonder if that was your humbreller in the corner now in the reading-room, sir."

I make haste to look. Yes, there it is, my beloved, long-lost umbrella, quietly leaning against the wall in a dark corner, behind a pillar, behind a big arm-chair, where nobody ever placed it, I'll take my oath, but this rascally waiter, who expects to get a shilling for showing where he hid it.

"Is that your humbreller, sir?" the waiter says, rubbing his hands and getting in my way as I walk briskly out, at peril of being stumbled over by my hurrying feet. I scorn to reply, but I give him a glance of such withering contempt that I trust it pierced to his wicked heart, and will remain there, a punishment and a warning, to the last day of his base life. An English waiter's hide is very thick, however. He has probably hidden many a gentleman's umbrella since.

At eleven o'clock we are back in our cozy London lodgings, and at twelve we are sleeping the sleep of profound fatigue, and dreaming of ghostly monks wandering among the weird old ruins of Netley.