CHAPTER VI

My good luck in Marlboro' Hill — Commissions — Portraits — A beautiful sitter — Trying work — I fall in love — Symptoms of the disease — Keeping the postman busy — Top-hatted respectability — Bohemianism versus conventionality — "A talk with papa" — Ignominious retreat — I go to Gorleston — Painting en plein air — Tender recollections — I go to Paris to paint portrait — La vie du Grand Monde — Leaving Marlboro' Hill — Search for another studio — 10 Blenheim Place — The "Eyre Arms" and its habitués — The Belsize Boxing Club — The dances in the Assembly Rooms — The coffee room — The dignified waiter — The private bar — Pony Moore — Amusing episode — Practical joking in the Wood — I spend a weekend in a haunted house — The family ghost — Thrilling incident

THE year I spent in the studio in Marlboro' Hill was pleasant enough from start to finish, and I never had reason to regret having risked taking it. I had nothing but good fortune, and although I didn't make enough money to be able to save anything, I had no occasion to draw on my slender capital the whole time, which meant that I managed to make a living, such as it was, out of my work; no mean achievement considering I was only just starting professionally. Luck of course had a deal to do with it, like it always has, and in my case it took the form of several commissions for small paintings of genre subjects for a London dealer, and three or four portraits. One of the latter was particularly interesting, not only because it was of a very beautiful woman, but by reason of the quite unusual circumstances attending it. I feel bound to recount them, as they had a distinct bearing on my life for some time afterwards.

My sitter was the wife of a rich Englishman, who lived in England during the summer, and in Paris and the South of France during the rest of the year. It was late in the season when I commenced the work, so there wasn't too much time to get on with it before they left town, so it was arranged I should go over and finish it in Paris if necessary, as they particularly desired that it should be exhibited at the Salon. It would have been difficult to imagine a pleasanter commission, and I started on it with an enthusiasm which was augmented by the impression the beauty of my sitter had made on me.

The next few weeks, therefore, I was at her beck and call, so to speak, and I soon discovered how trying it must be to one's patience to be a society portrait painter, for I can still recall those weary waits in the studio, and the telegrams putting off sitting at the last moment, and all the little worries incidental to painting the portrait of a fashionable beauty. They seemed so important at the time, but when I look back on them after all these years, I realize what a lot of concern one attaches to what really only amount to trifles after all is said and done. With all the best will possible, and my sitter turned out to be as charming as she was beautiful, it was utterly impossible to finish the picture before she left town, so I gladly agreed to go over and spend a month in Paris in the autumn and work on it there. As may be imagined, I was not sorry for the excuse, and the more especially as a friend had offered to lend me his studio to work in.

In the meantime I had plenty to occupy my time in London outside painting, as I had an adventure that landed me as near matrimony as I have ever ventured — it was only my want of pluck that saved me. It came about in this wise.

I was something of a dancing man then, and on one occasion I met at a ball what I thought was absolutely the loveliest creature I had ever cast eyes on, and I told her I was an artist and would love to paint her, and she said she'd love to sit to me — and I went home and lay awake and thought of her and fell asleep and dreamed of her. The next day I discovered I was madly in love, so, as the symptoms brooked no delay, I sought some one who knew her people, and in a short time I had got not only an introduction, but was invited to a dance at their house.

From that moment I was non composs and passed most of my time when I could not see her in writing her lengthy letters, which she promptly answered; so between us we kept the postman busy, for on one day alone I remember, no less than eight communications reached us respectively.

I believe it is admitted that a first attack of lovesickness, like influenza, is always severer than subsequent attacks, so no doubt this was my case, for I can well recollect the dreadful time of alternating suspense and elation I passed through during that period of the disease immediately following on the incubation stage, and I had every reason to believe the object of my adoration was similarly afflicted.

One particularly uncomfortable result of the state of mind in which I found myself was that any original assurance with which Nature had endowed me wholly deserted me at that time, and I believe I found myself realizing that if that was one of the consequences of falling seriously in love, it were better to be without it. Perhaps it was because hitherto my experience in this respect had been of but a light-hearted, transient nature — a Bohemian state of affairs which had been, as it were, a result of feeling lonely, and therefore with no deep motive to sustain it. This time I knew somehow it was quite a different matter, and I hardly recognized myself in my new role of top-hatted respectability — paying afternoon calls, going to social functions, dinner parties, and what not, for the sake of meeting my divinity.

It was indeed a new experience for me, and, with the recollection of my boisterous days in Paris still fresh in my memory, a somewhat startling and unexpected one. It was to be a struggle in my mind between Bohemianism and conventionality, and for the moment I felt like a swimmer on a high diving board, who cannot make up his mind for the plunge because he fears the water is cold.

In the meantime I was getting more and more enraptured, and at length we both decided that I ought to have a "talk with papa."

I had been in my heart hoping to be able to defer the interview, for we had been having such lovely times together that the step I was about to take would, I felt, put an end to all the delightful secrecy of the romance and settle it once and for all on a matter-of-fact basis, which somehow didn't seem to have entered into my ideas up till then, nor did it appeal to me. Still there was no help for it; that relentless task-mistress, Mrs. Grundy, had to be reckoned with, and even my love's bosom friend, a jolly girl who had good-naturedly acted as chaperon and played gooseberry for us since the commencement of our rhapsody, had laughingly though significantly thrown out the suggestion that "something ought to be done." I felt she was right, and that I ought not to have required the hint, so after a sleepless night I got up one morning feeling very much as I imagine a man would when going to his execution, and made up my mind suddenly to go and face the music.

Imagine my sensations when the dreaded moment arrived for bearding the stern parent, a hard-hearted merchant of much worldly goods and possessions, whose sympathies I felt only too well would not be entirely in favor of a struggling artist as the husband of his only child; still one could not tell without asking, and it was this I was about to risk.

Although I kept saying to myself "faint heart never won fair lady" (by the way, she was dark), when the time came, and I was alone with him in his study, in spite of his being quite a small man, and not in the least an individual of terrifying appearance, I found I had no heart left at all, and the interview (the only one of its kind in my adventurous career) ended in my ignominious retreat without a shot fired on either side; and to the day of his death the old gentleman could never have known to what he owed the honor of my visit on that beautiful spring morning. What my lady-love thought of it all I hardly care to reflect upon. Perhaps, as she is now a grandmother, time has softened the blow.

I returned to my work a somewhat chastened youth, although somehow I had the satisfactory conviction that I had just escaped making an arrant fool of myself. I didn't want to look like running away when it occurred to me the best thing to do was to get out of London for a time. I decided, therefore, to carry out a pet idea, and paint something large for the Salon — so got an artist friend to accompany me, and we went down to Gorleston, then a tiny little fishing village close to Yarmouth, and here in quiet seclusion I started a six-foot canvas, and we both of us painted and sketched for several weeks. I worked from my models out on the old pier with the very background and composition I wanted, a delightful experience, and one that doesn't always present itself.

We put up at a dear old Dickens-sort of inn called the "Anchor," if I remember rightly, which was on the pier itself and within a stone's-throw of the sea, and it was all so quiet and primitive that one might have been in Holland. I have never been to Gorleston since, but I learn it is now quite an important town, and I should not recognize it.

The village then only consisted of a few fishermen's cottages, and if we wanted any mild excitement we would go into Yarmouth at night. But I had not got over my love affair yet; it had made too deep an impression to be easily effaced, and I generally preferred to wander about at night by myself and think over again and again what might have been.

I Worked From My Models...


It is curious how at times one positively enjoys feeling miserable and unhappy all by oneself, nursing one's grief as it were. Several times I recollect I was on the point of making up my mind to return to town and see her again — if she would see me; but, fortunately, and especially for her as I feel bound to admit, better sense I am now convinced prevailed, and I managed to stick to my painting, and thus divert my thoughts; and so time, the great healer, went by, and gradually I recovered, and when we got back to town in the late autumn I brought a large completely finished picture with me, and I found myself quite looking forward to my forthcoming visit to Paris to continue the portrait.

It is almost unnecessary to mention how delighted I was at the prospect of seeing all my French friends again and revisiting my old haunts. It seemed but a few months since I had left, but so much had happened in the meantime. Little had I thought I should be back again in so short a time with my expenses all paid and a commission for a portrait as well. I had good reason to be satisfied, and things could not have looked rosier.

My client lived in the Avenue d'Jena in a beautiful house, but he had suggested I would be freer if I lived out, so I decided to put up at a maison meublée I had been recommended opposite the Embassy in the Faubourg St Honore, which was not far away, as I naturally had to be near my client since I was his guest. My friend was as good as his word and lent me his studio, so I was once more installed in Paris.

I spent a delightful month over there. My sitter gave me as much of her time as she could spare from her social engagements, and when she didn't feel equal to coming to the studio and preferred going into the Bois, I would accompany her either on horseback or in her victoria, which was one of the best appointed in Paris. Her husband drove a very smartly turned out tandem, and a whole party of friends used to meet of a day for tea at the restaurant at the Cascade, which was then the rendezvous of the fashionable set.


It was quite a different aspect of the life of Paris to what I have been accustomed to when living there as a student, and I enjoyed it immensely. The vie de Bohème has its charms, but so also has the vie du grand monde, and it certainly is easier to get used to luxuries that wealth alone can provide than to roughing it as I had been accustomed to. In spite, however, of so much diversion I managed to get on with my work, and it would have been quite completed within the time limit I had given myself had it not been that my sitter was suddenly taken ill and had to leave at a few hours' notice for the South. It was disappointing, but there was no help for it, so I had to pack up and return to London; before my departure, however, she exacted a promise from me that I would accept an invitation from them to go down to Mentone later on and finish the portrait there. The idea of doing so much travelling and having so good a time for the sake of a portrait was not distasteful to me, as may be imagined, so I readily promised to do what she asked.

My tenancy of the studio in Marlboro' Hill had now nearly expired, so I had to set about looking for another place. To find another furnished studio was almost impossible, so I decided, on the strength of my luck, to take an unfurnished one and gradually fit it up. Within a few hours of commencing my search I hit upon a little place that suited my ideas and means admirably. It was at No. 10 Blenheim Place, and consisted of a nice studio — small bedroom, kitchen and an entrance yard (or yard of entrance, for there was little more) which would be useful for open air painting in. It was newly built and had not yet been occupied, and this probably explained its cheapness.

When the time came for leaving the studio I had passed so pleasant a year in, I really felt quite regretful, and more especially, perhaps, because I was practically starting a new venture, and was moving into premises which I should have to furnish entirely myself. I well recollect my feelings after having moved in when I surveyed my scanty belongings. I had become so accustomed to the comparative luxury of Marlboro' Hill, that it became a positive shock to realize what a lot I had to buy to make the place look even habitable. Although I had been doing so well during the year that was past, it almost seemed like having to commence all over again.

All I had got was an old easel that had belonged to my mother (who was a clever amateur artist), my painting materials, canvases, etc., a couple of wooden boxes containing books and so forth and my personal belongings. It was a very scanty lot indeed, and appeared a very hopeless beginning to setting up dans ses meubles, as they say in France. Of course had I had plenty of money to lay out it would not have taken very long to fit the place up, but I had to be careful, so there was naught for it but to pick up gradually here and there absolute necessities, trusting to luck to be able to buy luxuries later on. Fortunately, the place lent itself to easy arrangement, as there were plenty of commodious nooks and corners. I had a good deal of work in hand for my dealer client, so my time promised to be fully occupied.

I found my new quarters very conveniently situated, as they were close to the High Street, which was the only shopping quarter of the neighborhood, and opposite the "Eyre Arms," which was the only place round about where one could get a decent meal at night. It may be of interest to mention that all that now remains of Blenheim Place has since been absorbed into Grove End Road. No. 10 was exactly opposite Waverley Place.

The "Eyre Arms" and Assembly Rooms, though only a sort of glorified public house, merits more than passing notice at this juncture. Of course it is very different now to what it was in the days of which I am writing; it was then to all intents and purposes the village inn and the center of the life of the district, in fact, it was a sort of club where one met the same men every day, either in the billiard room, where a mild game of pool was played every evening, in the coffee room at dinner, or in the modestly appointed private bar, for saloon bars were unknown then.

In the large Assembly Rooms dances were frequently given, for in those days, before the Portman Rooms and the big hotel ballrooms came into existence, there was no large dancing-hall in London except at "Freemasons' Tavern," which did an enormous business in consequence. Up at the "Eyre Arms" nearly all the big drapery establishments gave their annual dances, but the principal event of the year was the Ash Wednesday theatrical ball. Theaters were then closed on that day, so every one on the stage would be there, and all the prettiest women in town. It was always a wonderful sight and most difficult to get tickets for.

The Belsize Boxing Club held their meetings on the first floor also, at the back. This was quite one of the best known of the boxing clubs, and had a lot of good men in it. Bettinson (Peggy), the lightweight amateur champion, was the leading spirit, and Dewhurst was the secretary. Amongst its members whose names I particularly recall were D'Arcy Bacon (Streakey), Charlie Reeson (who was the single stick amateur champion), Ganger Wills, Jack Hare, King-Trotman, and last but not least, Rums Isaacs (the present Lord Chief Justice), who was a very excellent boxer and certainly one of the best men in the club. On the club big nights there was always a large gathering of sportsmen from all parts of London. Eugene Corri usually acted as judge in the competitions, and it would have been difficult then as it is now to find a more respected or popular referee.

It was a very mixed crowd one met at the "Eyre Arms," for it was but a sort of glorified inn, as I have said, but there was always a good sprinkling of artists, and often in the coffee-room after dinner there would be impromptu gatherings and discussions on painting or art generally which recalled dimly to my mind the students' meeting places in the Latin Quarter, though of course it was a much older crowd, and whisky and soda was more frequently asked for than coffee, although I remember some of us did try to introduce mazagrans, i.e., black coffee served in tumblers, but with no success, as coffee was not a strong feature at the "Eyre Arms."

We were a cheery lot of young fellows who frequented the place, generally ready for any sort of fun, and one gradually got to know all the habitués, who were mostly residents in the immediate neighborhood.

The coffee-room was one of the most interesting of its kind I have come across in London; one might have fancied oneself in some old country inn. It was fitted up with dark mahogany and horsehair, which still further conveyed this impression.

William, the waiter, was quite a character in himself, and gave additional "tone" to the room. He was quite the best man of his class I ever came across, and was far too good for the humble position of coffee-room waiter; he ought to have been butler or major-domo in a ducal mansion. I always fancied there was some mystery in his being at the "Eyre Arms" at all, for he had all the courteous respect of the high-class retainer. One's appetite had to be very jaded indeed for one to be able to resist his eloquent and almost pictorial description of the bill of fare, although it never once varied in the evening all the years I went there. Chops or steaks; pressed beef, ham, salad, cold tart and cheddar cheese, simple English provender, verily, but when enunciated by William it seemed to appeal to one so irresistibly that the difficulty only lay in your choice, though you were generally helped in this by William himself.

"I advise you to have a steak, sir," he would perhaps remark. "They're excellent business today. What shall I say — a good point and some fried potatoes, sir?"

There was nothing more to be said. Even if you had come in with the idea of regaling yourself on cold meat and salad, you felt somehow that William knew better than you did what was best for your constitution.

If it was a wet evening there was generally quite a little crowd in the private bar, and often some good joke on. I remember on one occasion, when Pony Moore (of Moore and Burgess fame) was in there. Several fellows were gassing about athletic feats they could accomplish. Suddenly Pony chipped in with "I like to hear you young chaps talking about what you can do. I'm an old 'un, but I'll bet any one of you a quid that I can do something not one of you can do."

"Oh, and what's that?" said some one, who evidently fancied himself, and saw a chance of picking up a sovereign easily.

"Take my big toe between my teeth. Do that if you can, you're a bit of an athlete."

We all crowded round amused at the novelty of the bet.

"Done with you," said the young fellow, and seating himself on a chair, he took off his boot, and then, raising his leg and stooping forward, he attempted to bend his foot back towards his head. It looks a very simple operation, as it is one that babies accomplish without effort, but in a grown-up person, unless a professional contortionist, it becomes an extremely difficult matter after a certain point, as the movement attempted is diametrically opposed to the laws of anatomy. Try as he could the fellow could not manage it, although with much straining he got within a couple of inches of the goal, which was his wide open mouth. Meanwhile every one was egging him on and encouraging him to exert himself to his utmost. At last he had to acknowledge that he could not do it.

"Now let's see you," he said, as he put on his boot again, turning to Pony.

"All right, you shall, but it's a shame to take your money," replied the old man, cocking up his leg and removing his boot.

Then to the intense astonishment and amusement of us all he put his fingers in his mouth and calmly took out an entire set of false teeth, and bending forward he clasped his big toe with them. There were roars of laughter, for nothing could have been simpler, and the funny part of it was that no one had thought it was a "catch."

He was an amusing old chap at times was Pony, and when he was in the mood would tell us interesting reminiscences of his early days as a showman in America. He lived in a large house in Finchley Road, surrounded by a fine garden, in which on the 4th July he always gave a grand display of fireworks, much to the amusement of the neighborhood.

Whether it was the atmosphere of St John's Wood, or the fact that most of us were comparatively young men in those days, I cannot explain, but there is no doubt we were all inclined to be more or less lighthearted. Looking back, one fancies that life was less strenuous than it is now. Perhaps it wasn't, but judging from the lively times one had, one did not worry so much as nowadays. I have recollections even of practical joking which could scarcely be practiced now; it would probably be considered bad form. Here, for instance, is a specimen of an amusing prank played on me.

There were, as I have explained, two entrances to my place at No. 10 — first a door in the wall flush with the street; this led to a small yard, and across this was the studio door. One beastly wet night I had been dining out, and was hurrying home very late and without an umbrella. I had my latch-key in my hand in readiness. Imagine my astonishment when I found that some farceurs had conceived the brilliant idea of gluing or pasting up my door with auctioneers' sale bills! It looked as though I was going to be sold up "by order of the trustees." Every inch of the woodwork was so thickly covered that it was hopeless to attempt getting the paper off that night, as it meant an hour's work at least. The difficulty was to locate the keyhole, and evidently this had been the idea of the jokers. A friendly policeman coming along gave me a hand, and between us, after considerable trouble, we managed to discover it. It took the whole of the next morning to get the paper off the door, so effectually had it been put on.

It is surprising the amount of trouble practical jokers will often put themselves to for the successful accomplishment of their purpose. I remember on another occasion I had been in bed some time, and it must have been about half past one in the morning, when I was awakened by an uncanny noise outside the door. I must explain that my bedroom communicated with a corridor which led to the studio, which, by the way, was quite isolated from the adjoining houses.

1 am not naturally a nervous man, but I must confess it is startling to say the least of it to be awakened suddenly in the dead of night by weird sounds. There was no electric light to switch on in those days, so I groped for the matches and lit the gas by my bed, and then remained quite still and waited and listened.

The noise which had recommenced sounded like ghostly footsteps coming along the corridor, and stopped just outside the bedroom door. I was not sorry I had locked the door, as is my usual wont. It gave me time to think of what was best to be done, for unless I could help it I didn't want to rouse the neighborhood by opening the window and calling police. The sounds proceeded intermittently. "It must be some one trying to break in," I thought, so, picking up a thick heavy stick, I opened the door cautiously and then peeped quietly out.

The corridor was deserted, and the studio door closed as usual. There was no sign of a nocturnal visitor. Suddenly I heard the mysterious sound again, this time so close by that it gave me quite a turn; I looked up in the direction from which it came from, it was apparently above my head. In an instant I saw it was a joke being played on me; hung over the bell wire was a clothes brush I had missed for some days; attached to it was a thin string which was carried along the wire and over the top of the street door, and so outside, where the jokers were evidently stationed pulling it, doubtless enjoying the idea of the fright they were giving me.

How they had managed to fix it up without my knowing was a mystery, for it was quite cleverly arranged. I was not long making up my mind what to do, and determined to be equal with them. Fetching a large pail of cold water I opened the street door as quietly as possible and peered outside. The string went over the low wall dividing my little yard from the adjoining garden, and was being vigorously pulled. I could hear suppressed laughter and whispering, the conspirators were just the other side. I did not hesitate, and without the slightest warning I threw the contents of the pail over the wall. They must have been drenched, for the yell they gave could have been heard in Wellington Road. I gave the string a sharp pull and it came away in my hand, and I went back to bed again.

Curiously enough, the recollection of this practical joke stood me in good stead shortly after. I was invited to a week-end shooting party at a big country house some distance from London, and had looked forward with much delight to going, as the place is considered one of the finest specimens of the old Tudor mansions in England, and has several ghosts, as every well-ordered place of its class should have.

I well remember how impressed I was by the first view one obtained of the hall, as we drove up to it through the park. It was a moonlight night in late autumn, and the stately pile, which reminded one curiously of Hampton Court Palace, stood out in weird relief against the sky. It looked like a haunted castle from the outside, but the gloomy interior conveyed a still further impression of the supernatural. One entered by a vestibule which led into a vast white marble hall, in which were statues and busts of past noble owners of the place; a gallery ran round this hall, out of which many dark paneled doors led, and it was but faintly illumined by candles placed here and there.

It would have been impossible to imagine anything more ghost-like. Even the white-haired old butler seemed quite in keeping with his surroundings. I was received by my host in the library, where a huge fire helped to liven up the otherwise gloomy apartment, and I was introduced to my fellow guests. We were a small bachelor party, only six in all, but it was a cheery crew, and one felt at home at once. Shortly after we were told where our respective rooms were, and separated to dress for dinner. I went upstairs to my room, piloted by a young officer, who had stayed in the house before.

The broad staircase leading to the upper part of the building was magnificent, and appeared still more so in the nickering candle-light, which cast curious effects on the family portraits lining the walls. We passed a gloomy corridor on one of the landings.

"Of course you've heard the place is haunted," whispered my companion. "Well, this is where one of the ghosts is usually seen, they say."

"It's just the sort of place one would expect such things," I replied, peering into the shadows; and I felt as though a draught of air suddenly went down my back.

"That's why," he continued, "it's so difficult to get servants to stop here; they hear all the talk about it in the village and get jumpy. There's a young footman in the County Asylum now who went raving mad at what he saw, or thought he saw, on this very spot one night a little while ago. Cheery sort of place, isn't it?" he remarked with a laugh as we went on — and I agreed with him.

My bedroom was quite in keeping with the house, and although there was a bright fire in the hearth the four-post bedstead and old furniture looked very gaunt and sepulchral, and the walls were covered with gloomy portraits. It was a very big room, and had four doors in it. My friend came in when I was dressed to lead the way downstairs to the library again, in case I missed my way.

Dinner was quite a lively affair considering the smallness of the party as compared with the size of the room, Our host had an excellent chef, and the wine was perfect. Afterwards we adjourned to the smoking-room and settled ourselves down to our coffee and cigars, and I found myself chatting with my host. He was anxious to hear my first impressions as an artist of the house, of which he seemed very proud, as well he might have been, so he suggested later to have the place lighted up and to show us all round that night — a sort of personally conducted tour. Off, then, we all went through interminable suites of rooms with magnificent pictures and furniture and endless corridors, looking very weird in the subdued light of the candles in the old-fashioned chandeliers. Kings and queens of England had stayed in the place, and every corner seemed to have a history. There were no less than forty guests' bedrooms, we were told, and nothing had been altered for generations. Since then the place with all its contents has been sold, and it is now completely transformed, and in the possession of a well-known alien financier.

When we returned to the smoking-room the conversation somehow turned on the supernatural, which was scarcely to be wondered at, considering the surroundings. Most of the company affected to smile at such superstition, and there was quite a psychical discussion on the pros and cons of the subject, in the course of which the dreaded specters of the house we were in were mentioned. Still the skeptics prevailed, whereat an elderly, hard-headed barrister declared that in his opinion men had been hanged on far less evidence than there was in favor of the existence of ghosts. All this was very cheerful, as may be imagined, in a haunted house at midnight.

"Well, ghosts or no ghosts, I'm off to bed since we've got to be up early," said some one, taking up his candlestick. The others followed, and although I wanted to go also, I found myself engaged in conversation with my host just at the moment, so we were left alone.

A few minutes after the clock struck twelve, and he suddenly jumped up, saying he had no idea it was so late, and that if I wanted to have a read and didn't want to go to bed yet there was no hurry, I could easily find my way upstairs to my room by myself, as his was in the other wing, and with a pleasant good-night he left me. The sound of his footsteps echoed through the hall, then all was silent save for the moaning of the wind through the corridors.

I am not superstitious as a rule, but after the conversation I felt just a bit "nervy." The candles were burning low in the sconces, so there was naught for it but to go to bed. Picking up my candlestick, I carefully extinguished all the lights in the room, and made my way across the marble hall and up the grand staircase. As I gradually approached the corridor where the footman had seen the apparition, I admit I felt a creepy sensation down my back, and my hair appeared to become rigid — but there was nothing for it but to continue going upstairs. At this moment the moaning of the wind seemed to increase till it was almost a shriek.

Suddenly on looking over my hand which was shading the candle, I distinctly saw something going up the stairs just ahead of me, and turn down the corridor. I had no time to distinguish what it was, for at that moment my candle blew out. I stood in the dark rooted to the spot with horror. My heart jumped into my mouth. I was about to shriek out, when, as though with a flash, the thought crossed my mind, "Perhaps they are having a practical joke on me, and I am being watched. I mustn't show the white feather." It was only an idea, but it brought me back to my senses, and in an instant I felt as cool as a cucumber. Taking out a match I calmly relighted my candle and then a cigarette, and proceeded upstairs to my room slowly. Once there, I had a good look round to prepare against possible surprises during the night.

It was ghostly looking enough in all conscience sake, but that no longer perturbed me. As I have explained, there were four doors in the room; these I proceeded to examine. On opening them I discovered a recess formed by the thickness of the wall, then another door leading into the adjoining rooms, all of which were unoccupied. None of the doors had keys or bolts and I didn't like to barricade them, when I thought of something that would effectually prevent any one entering my room unawares. On the floor in front of each door I placed some object — a chair lying down, the wash hand jug, the basin with water in it, and the coal-scuttle. I then went to bed, and although the firelight worried me a bit at first I soon fell asleep.

I was awakened by a loud crash and lusty swearing. I sat up in bed in affright for a moment, trying to collect my wits and remember where I was, for it was pitch dark. Then I heard the intruder groping his way across the room. Something was unfastened, and the next instant a flood of sunshine came through the window. It was morning, and a man-servant had come in with my tea. He had fallen over the chair and barked his shins and broken the tea things, and was standing gazing with blank astonishment at the extraordinary arrangement of the room. I tried to explain to him the reason for it all, but I had a notion after he went out that he had his own ideas on the subject. 




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