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
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
"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
"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
"No tomarter sauce, sir," with profound
"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
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
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
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
"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,"
"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
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
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
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
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
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
"'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
"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.
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
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
"What are those?" asks Bunker in
the carriage behind us, pointing to the
old brass guns which sit on the wall like
"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
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
"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"
"A hundred's the game," says the
Englishman, putting up his cue. "One
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
"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—
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
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
"Take that breath around with us on
the Continent! Why, if he was in Cologne
itself, his breath would be in the
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
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
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
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
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
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
"Yes," says Bunker, "I saw 'W.S.'
cut in the wall at the top of the turret
stairs. Saves you the trouble, you
"I don't do that sort of thing, thank
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
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
More waiting. Five minutes pass.
"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
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
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?"
"Wat kind of er humbreller was it,
"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
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