Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

39 articles on this Page



THE ROMANCE OF A LIFE. "P—i—i—ff, Minnie. It 3 a horrid smok- ing carriage." 'So it is, Maud. Well it couldn't helped. There was no time to choose our carriage; in fact, ne bad luck in catching the train at all. These underground trains scarcely give one time to wink." "What drftaJfully vulgar expressions you do pick up, Minnie r" "Slang is the go nowadays, my dear. You cannot 1)03 smart without it. But. i say, do you really object to the smell of tobacco?" 'Yes, especially when it is stale. The fcoecit of a carriage like this clings to one's dress for hours. "What of that? It is rather chic than otherwise. For my part, I greatly prefer a aino-king carriage." "What extraordinary taste r" "Not so much for the sake of the tobacco, as because you meet the bcdt lookiii^ men in smoking carriages, and "Minme Don't be so inexpressibly vul- gar." "And the wickedest." "Ave all smokers wioked, then?" I "No but all wicked men a; e smokers." "And you like wicked men best ?" "Rather Don't you?" "Of course not. How can you suppose Irtich a thing I "Charlie Bidding is a little wicked, my I dear" (with laughing malice). "You—you—shouldn't talk such nonsense. Minnie. You let your tongue run away with you." "Perhaps I do. But it'? not nonsense, all the same. Y Oil know that Charlie Bidding is in love with you, my dear; and I know- that you entertain a weakness for him. I also kn&w that, if he wasn't just a little bit wicked, you wouldn't care for him a you Suppose he had been" with infinite scorn) "a good young man, he would never had sent you that pretty yold 'watch at all—seeing that he isn't engaged to you he would never have danced seven dances with you at Lady P 's ball the other night, when he nearly enraged Aunt Agatha into a ht; he would never have stolen that kiss from you in the corner of the conservatory, when-" "How can you say such things, Minnie interrupted Maud, blushing a rosy red. "I— 1—don't know what you mean." "Yes, you do, my dear, very well," laughed Minnie, saucily. "I—I—really, Minnie, you speak as if Ch— Mr. Bidding's affairs had something to do with me. Haven't I told you fifty times-" "Yes. you eld darling! And I've never believed you once. Huloa, what's this?" What's what?"' "Why, this," said Minnie, stretching across and packing up some small article from tha opposite seat. "By jingo, Maud— a pipe f" "&o it is. Some man has !eft it behind him. Ugh! The horrid, smelly old thing. Put it down at once, Minnie." "You're no judge of pipes, my dear," said Minnie, airily. "If you were, you would never abuse a pipe for being old. Now, this I is a regular clinker; quite a gentleman among pipes. Look at it. Amber mouthpiece, silver collar, I beautifully coloured bowl, and" (bringing it close to her dainty nose) "smells de-licious I "Faugh I call the smell atrocious. It nearly makes me ill—even that distance." Ah, that's your prejudice, dear old- fashioned coz. I—I sa.y" (inspecting the in- side of the bowl) "it's actually charged!" "Actually what ?" "Charged, you darling simpleton; waded- filled with baccy. And I do believe—yes, yes, it is—I am sure of it—it's Old Caro- lina "Pray what i.s Old Carolina Minnie?" "Old Carolina, Maud, is a particularly "Pray what M Old Carolina Minnie?" "Old Carolina, Maud, is a particularly scrumptious kind of baccy. My brother Jack always expects me to give him some for a Christmas present. It tastes just about heavenly, I can tell you." "Tastes cried out Maud. "You do not mean to say that you have smoked it?' "Rather! I've had stealthy whiffs from Jack's pipe many a time. I slvould like a pull at this one now As she spoke—to Maud's unutterable As she spoke—to Maud's unutterable horror—fhe placed the pipe to her mouth and made believe to draw at it. "Good heavens, Minnie f" exclaimed her sober cousin, aghast. "How can you That horrid, dirty, strange pipe! Take it out im- mediately Minnie only laughed. "If I had a match with me," she said, "I should shock you still more; for I should light up." "Allow me to oblige you." It was a man's voice, and it came from behind. The stranger was m the n?xt compartment, looking at them over the partition. How .long he bad been waichinar tiicm they did not know, for they had sat with their backs to him. and would never have observed him at ail unless he had spoken. He was not an at ail unless he had spoken. He was not an ill-looking man—rattier the reverse. He ha.d a pleasant, good-tempered face and twinkling eyes, which were no.* regarding the two young ladlios with evident amusement. But I ihe had no business to be spying over the partition at all, still less to address girls with whom he was unacquainted. So Maud felt, and she drew herself up as stiffly as she could, and affected to ignore him. That was not in Minnie's .tvle ut all. After the first shock of the stranger's voire she began to enjoy the joke, and she said, "with a wave of her liaod towards Lis prof- fered match-box: "Thanks, awfully. We are getting out at fered match-box: "Thanks. awfully. We are getting out at the next station, etee I should oertaiuly have availed myself of your kinuiiess." "Then, if you are really not going to use it yourself, perhaps you can spare me my pipe no* suggested the stranger. smiling. "01.1. it is yours, is it? Here you are," she fca*id, handing it up to him. HK "Thank you very much. I ought to ex- My" intrusion must othe wise seem rather unaccountable. I got out at the last station for a paper, and jumped back into the wrong compartment. Recollecting that I had left my pipe-an old and valued friend —upon the seat, I stood up to look for it ever the partition. I was rejoiced to hnd that it had fallen into such appreciative hands." "Hilloa here we are: Gloucester-road. Oat with you. Maud." J The stranger raised his hat by way of a farewell. "I shaft never forjet," he said, demurely, "that so great a. connoisseur in pipes as yourself has pronounced mine to be a regular clinker!" When they had alighted f<~em the train, Maud, who bad been frowning at her cousin ■all through the above, brought the young lady to task for enoouraging the stranger's familiarity But Minnie treated these remon- strances very lightly. "All right, dear old Propriety. No harm done. Only J, bit of a joke. What do yoa think Aunt Agatha will s:iy when she hears about it?" "Surely VOtl won't tell mamma 1" exclaimed Maud; "she'll he terribly angry if you do." "Oh, I shaJl tell her, certainly." answered Minnie, "if only for the sake ofwutdhing her face during my recital. It will be better) than a play." And Minnie did teli her. And Aont Agatha's face—as a gtmuine study of emo- tioivs- -wao' decidedly better than a play. No actress ciould quite have reproduced that horror-stricken expression. "Margaret," she said, scathingly. "J do not know which to condemn the more, your I conduct with that impertinent stranger cr your flippant manner of relating it. It is hard for me to believe that you can be my own sister's child." Minnie affected to look very much crushed. She bent her eye-s over the tablccloth. Aunt Ajatha, could not see their roguish twinkle, or she might have found it harder still to believe that the gir.i was her own sister s child. In truth, few things daunted this fiarriTn-^canim young lady, and DO reproof* weighted heavily upon her soul. A few mornings affer the two girls were witting" m their little upstairs room, where th/ev painted1, and messed, and practised nn- Cuivjjess to their hearts content. fhey were talking now; though, to sure, Maud did },<)J,} a palette in one hand and a brush m the other, and made occasional reckless dabs pX a canvass in front of her. Minnie had *~VTOWU her implements of art ttpon tne floor iwrtvte Iter, and was i'ounging wth crossed Jrmea In a chair near tho window. was m of high-spirited mooas. 1 i;>d was rattling a,a:í like the proverbial "If I were you, Maud, I should assert myself, defy Auut Agatha, and marry Charles Bidding to-morrow ies, I should. If I loved a man I shouldn't care a twopenny—I mean two- pence—whether he was poor or rich. All the mothers, or fataers, or brothers, or aunts in the world might try to stop me. But I si louldn t let them. If a man, I say, who-m I loved, asked me to marry him. Id do it, in spite of 'em ail." "Ch—Mr. Bidding has never asked me to marry him." said Maud, blushing. "But you know that he wants to. You know that you have only to give him the opportunity to ask you. And vou daren't, because you're afraid of Aunt Agatha. If I WM in love, which Good heavens, who's this?" A hansom had drawn up at the door. Minnie watched the occupant alight. She; clapped her hands merrily. "Talk of an angel," she cried. "Oh, Maud Here's fun. Who do you think it ¡,s?" "Who?" exclaimed Maud, springing to the window and peeping out. Her face suddenly flushed the rosiest of reds. She recognised the athletic form of Charles Bidding. "He has come to ask Aunt Agatha for your hand," laughed Minnie. "Poor Charles I do not envy him the interview." "I—Im sorry he's come," faltered Maud, looking rather distressed. I—I'm afraid mamma will—will be dreadfully rude to him. She was—she was horrid to him the other night at Lady P 's ball. It is of no use his coming, either; no use, whatever. He—he -ouly has JB500 a year, and he's in—in debt. Mamma will never let me marry him." "Fiddlesticks, dear old coz," said Minnie, putting her arm round her and giving her a kiss. "Aunt Agatha, can't prevent you. Girls are not slaves nowadays. You have only to assert yourself, you darling goose. My motto is. if a uitn is worth loving he is worth marrying. And if he is worth marry- ing, marry him. For men worth marryino- do not grow on every bush." In this half-jesting strain Minnie ran on. But Maud did not hear much of it. Maud's attention was obviously distracted. Hci eves constantly wandered to the door. She seemed to be listening for something outside. At. last there oarne a footstep. A maid entered. "A message from missis, please. Miss Maud. Will yoa go down to her in the drawing-room?" Maud sprang up and smoothed h«r hair i with her hands. Then she ran downstair- to obey her mother's order with a verv nervous, frightened expression upon her face, ■ "nearly an hour before she came! back. Minnie looked up at her questioninglv. it was clear that something unexpectedly good had happened. Oh, Minnie, I have something so wonder. tul to 1611 you. Mr. Bidding—Charles-has had an extraordinary piece of fortune. He come into—into—two thousand a }sar! And mamma has allowed us to be engaged. She was so kind. Minnie, and said such such—beautiful things about my happiness being her one consideration. I-I think i have misjudged mamma. Minnie Just for a second a. queer, quizzical twinkle flashed in Minnie's eyes. The idea of Aunt Agatha saying beautiful things was rather novel. However, that was soon for- gotten in her genuine delight at Maud's hap piness. With all her harum-scarum wavs, Minnie was a warm-hearted, unselfish little creature. She hugged and kissed her a. dozen times. She used every term of congratula- I tion-of endearment. Had it been her o*n engagement, she couki not have displaW more heartfelt and unaffected joy over it. Maud found her sympathy very delicious. Girls in Maud s condition are particularly susceptible of sympathy. It adds on 15 per cent. to their bliss. At luncheon Aunt Agatha was more than I agreeable. Her face was wreathed in snhles I throughout the meal. Minnie indulged in many vulgarisms un rebuked. It was alto- gether ail unprecedented luncheon in that I nouse. Aunt Agatha said some more beau- tiful things, and Minnie managed to keep countenance. It -was an effort. But she did it. In the afternoon the elder lady went out alone to pay calls, and. no doubt, to discfiisa Mauds engagement with k-r friends. It was five o clock before she returned. She came into the drawing-room, where the two prls were having tea. They saw at once by her face tbll, something had happened in the interim. Sue had gone away in a sunlight of smiles and good humour. She came back in a storm and good humour. She came back in a storm of angry scowls. Even Maud had never seen her mother's laoe more i/miitou*. The poor girl shuddered. What oould it mean'' Could it have anything to do with her engage- ment ? ° But it was not against Maud that her mothers anger was directed. Nlarga,rot she said, in an awful voice Margaret! Yes, aunt," replied Minnie. I hardly know how to address you- you—you shMneiess girl. Do you know what 1 have betn told of you this aJifcerDooD ? That a few evenings ago you were seen, after dark, in a deserted street near here, walking arm in arm with--with--R man J" "Quite true, aunt," answered Minnie, in a low voice. Her eyes ,were bent upon the carpet. She was altogether shame faced and oonfused. "And a strange man!" continued Aunt Agatha, her voice ming with increased anger. "ies, aunt. At >ast, I had never seen him till-till I picked 11,n his pipe the other day on the Underground." "Picked up bM pipe f Aunt Agatha's voice had risen almost to a scream. "Is that tin M]ow? The counter-jumper ■ A nice compa.nion for my niece to walk arm-in-arm with in the public streets." "1-1 did not t—t—take his arm," faltered Minnie, in a slight.y ill-used tone, "until I— I had promised to marry him "Promised to marry him Aunt Agatha's expression was now appalling. "Marry him Some common cad, whose very name we don't know, and I do know his name, aunt. interposed Minnie. hat. is it, pray? Tom Jones or .Tack ■Robinson?' scoffed the elder lady, with an unparalleled effort of sarcasm. eoither. aunt. It is the Ear of Aorthover—Charles Bidding's brother." So, yon ?ee. CWles dweti his fortune to the ear., his brotuer. The earl owed his generous impulse to Minnie. And Minnie on-ed her opportunity to the pipe. If you took the opinion of these three oersons, adding Aunt Agatha and Maud, you would probably find them to concur in Minnie' original verdict upon the said pipe—that it was a regular clinker




[No title]









[No title]






[No title]





[No title]


-------------.--NEATH AND…



[No title]






[No title]