페이지 이미지

the Chief is dead. It must that its worth lay in the way be your own shadow, you it happened to hang, so that, know.”

when Angela moved, it conAngela picked it up and formed rhythmically with the looked into it again. “It does movement, more like a natural smell a little of Africa,” she thing, a part of Angela, than said.

a man-created integument. Then as she lifted her cup, It just shows,” she said, the handle fell off and spilt all as she paused at the door. the coffee over her dress, the Angela had a way of pronouncbeautiful Chinese alder dressing this formula with a positive which I had given her for a and knowing emphasis. birthday present. She had put What she meant, I suppose, it on because she was going to was that her philosophy of the the Sellingers’ bazaar.

waylaying malice inherent even “ There now!” she said, in inanimate things was vindi“it's quite done for."

cated once more. This time I Angela blamed Jessie. Rather was inclined to agree with her unfairly, I thought, but Angela that it did show. The Chinese was unfair sometimes when she alder was the most valuable was hurt. As a great philoso- thing in the room which the pher once said, we judge human discriminating Chimbashi could actions by the pleasure or pain have chosen to begin his work they give us.

upon. “She must have broken the I looked at the medicinehandle and glued it on without man's relic with increased insaying anything about it. She terest. We must lock it up, ought to have told me."

I thought. A cork won't do. “Can't you wash it?I The children gloated over suggested fatuously, and re- their treasure, turning from one ceived a look of pitying scorn. object to another. The smell

It was her Chinese alder of camphor pervaded the room. dress, a light champagne colour. The purple emperor was being It had rows of intriguing black measured against the papilio. figures cunningly distributed on There was talk of a division of the sleeves and the neck and spoils. A communal collection the hem of the skirt, like bars was so dull. Val offered Irene of music or Chinese characters. the whole of the museum, even They reminded me of the fruit the purple emperor and the of the alder. That was why shoe made by the lunatic at we called it the Chinese alder. Colney Hatch, if she would let It was quite ordinary stuff, I him keep the papilio and the believe, and of a rigorous sim- blue bird-winged butterfly and plicity. I am not a connoisseur the dead-leaf insect for his very in these things, and it was too own. Irene, of course, rejected subtly conceived to reveal any this offer with proper scorn. contrivance; but I gathered He threw in the Goliath beetle, but she laughed derisively, like and pans had been scraped and a little box-wallah. She had were put out in the sun to dry. a better idea of a deal. Val They were attracted by bright might keep the blue bird-winged things. The blue bird-winged butterfly and the dead-leaf in- butterfly, too, and the dead. sect if he gave her the papilio leaf insect were as common as in exchange. “That's two for cabbage-whites in Africa. one,” she conceded generously. The children seemed disThe rest of the things they appointed. I disliked Uncle could divide, and draw lots Bliss intensely. for the first choice, like picking But worse was to come. He sides.

derided Chimbashi. He said And so they bickered and that it must have been a miserchaffered. Chimbashi, of course, able specimen of an antelope. was indivisible.

And why a single hom? “Why Val picked it up again. didn't she send you the whole “Let's wish for something," head while she was about it?" he said.

And he told them that he could Irene jeered at his innocence. give them a much better head, “Don't be so silly. It's no

not that he would give them good wishing if it's not your one. That might have been own shadow."

more palatable. "My turn." She seized it “But it belonged to a witchfrom Val and pressed it to her doctor, it- -" eye like a telescope. “I wish Uncle Bliss generally listened Uncle Bliss could see it,” she to Irene, but this time somesaid.

how she couldn't get her meanJust at that moment we ing through to him. Imposheard a boom in the hall. It sible to make him understand was Ursa Major. The Brebis the sacredness of Chimbashi, hurriedly snatched a book from his magic attributes, his amazthe shelf, as if to cover her ingly romantic history, flight, and slipped through the Val interposed stalwartly. conservatory into the garden. “Please look inside, Uncle Bliss, One might almost call it a and tell us if you can see the scamper.

shadow.” “Hullo ! What have you

Shadow! There's no shagot there?"

dow except what you put into The children were trium- it. Depends how you hold it. phant. I believe they thought Of course, if you go and shove Uncle Bliss was going to be your silly little head between jealous, or “J," as they called it and the light there is bound it. However, he admitted that to be a shadow." it was quite a good papilio. And he did not even pick it And he told them how he had up and look inside. Uncle seen clouds of them about his Bliss was certainly not “in a camp, especially when his pots good shape.” It was the first

[ocr errors]

time I had heard him snub the “I suppose you will have to children. What had he come pay a pretty stiff price for it." for, I wondered ?

“Five figures, perhaps. But He had come to see me, it I won't let it go whatever it seemed, and about a lawyer. costs." More litigation. He had just Here he stopped and began lost another big libel suit. to puncture the gravel absentEnormous costs. He wanted mindedly with his walkingto change his firm of solicitors. stick. They had landed him with a “ Five figures ! Yes. I'll bill for over three thousand find it. It's an investment. pounds. And now there were But I am not going to stand more legal complications about any more of their nonsense at the purchase of the Clapper- the Clapperhouse. Seventy house. They're a lot of pounds for drains ! Enough saurians. Do you know what to feed a rhino for six months. I had to pay for a stamp?” And now they want to repair Also there was trouble with the the roof. Say the rain is comworkmen. They don't know ing in. Let it come in. Seron which side their bread is vants' bedrooms ! Let them buttered, but I'll show them !” sleep somewhere else. There's Uncle Bliss was minatory in room enough. Saxby has just the shadow of these catas- sent mein his estimate. Enough trophes. He shook his fist at to pay my taxidermist's wages them.

for a whole year." We walked up and down the Uncle Bliss was moving garden path between the shrub- round in a slow circle, the subbery and the summer-house, conscious part of him occupied while he expatiated upon the with some design he was prickobstinacy and stupidity of ing out on the gravel. lawyers, and how costly it was “Saxby must go,” he exto him.

ploded. “He's about as much “What I want,” he said, use as an anthropoid ape. Any“is a man who will do what I how, I can't afford him. That's tell him, and not argue about what I came to talk to you it, some one I can leave in about. Lawyers ! I want an charge.”

economical man. And he must Are you going away?I be able to look after an estate asked hopefully.

without pouring money into “Yes, to New York."

the drains. Now, what about Uncle Bliss' new quest was your solicitor at Homerton ?” the dinosaur's egg. It was on Borett, you mean.

He sale in the United States. couldn't possibly take it on.

“I found a cable waiting for Much too busy.” me when I got away from those Borett was an old friend pestilential teetotallers last of mine. He wouldn't thank night. There are other bidders.” me for introducing Bliss in a business connection. I could There was nothing vulgarly imagine that he would very sensational about Uncle Bliss' soon find a polite way of send- subjection to the tyranny of ing him to the devil.

objects. He seemed to want “Why don't you advertise this fungus every bit as much for an estate agent ? ” I sug- as the dinosaur's egg or the gested.

pterodactyl. In fact, he was “I wanted you to help me.” putting off the pterodactyl for

“I am afraid I can't-"I it. It was the children's mubegan.

seum again on a large scale, But Uncle Bliss interrupted the lunatic's shoe, the envelope me with an explosion of grunts. with forty-five postmarks on it, I cannot be sure of his exact and now the Goliath beetle words, but it sounded very and the papilio. A more robust like, " Then do the other thing. and adult curiosity, perhaps,

“How long do you expect but with little more science or to be away?"

method in it. “In America ? The inside “It will look well on the of a month. Not more." drive," he said, “if I can get

Uncle Bliss stepped off the it to seed." gravel on to the grass, and

The vision of the orange cap surveyed his design, a fearsome and yellow gills had exorcised creature like a gigantic lizard financial and litigious vapours. with a huge toothed beak and “And while I am about it wings.

there are two plants I want to “What about the ptero- get the roots of, Monotropa dactyl ?” I asked him.

and Lathræa. One ought to The pterodactyl, he told me, find them in the beech-woods at would have to wait. Until Luchon." Christmas, perhaps. It would We had started our prommean fitting out an expedition. enade again, and Uncle Bliss And from New York he was stopped to transfix a toadgoing straight to the Pyrenees. stool with the ferrule of his He intended to be at Luchon stick. before the end of October. “Saprophytes both,"

Luchon! It was one of the added, I supposed with referBrebis' haunts.

ence to these plants of the “Not baths !” I gasped. Pyrenean beech-woods.

“No, funguses. That is to We were standing by the say, a particular fungus. Ama- summer-house now, and I heard nita Cæsarea, if you want to a nervous sheep-like cough inknow.” Не described it. side. “Orange-red cap, yellow gills, Silly Brebis ! She was quite frilled ring on the stem

safe. Why did she give her“I didn't know you collected self away? I believe she funguses."

thought saprophyte was a word "I collect everything.” that ought not to be overheard


by a lady. I remember feeling ground, I told the Brebis that rather doubtful about it myself Uncle Bliss was just going to when I heard Uncle Bliss use the Pyrenees, and I told Uncle it in a figurative sense.'

Bliss that Aunt Hudson had “ Hullo !” said Ursa Major. just come back from them, or There's some one inside." not exactly the Pyrenees ; it

He kicked the door open, was Dax this year, wasn't it? and discovered an elderly, But last year, and most other rather frightened-looking, lady years, it was the Pyrenees. with brown eyes and a Roman Were you at Luchon ?” he nose, and her hair pulled tightly asked her. back into a bun behind, sitting “Yes, last year.' bolt upright in a deck-chair. “ And Eaux Bonnes ?

“ You haven't met Mr liss?” Yes." I said to Aunt Hudson, and “How high is it?" introduced them.

“How high!” “Who?" said Ursa Major. “Yes, what's its elevation?

“Miss Hudson. Irene's god- “Oh, it's quite a long way mother. You must have met up. I think it must be nearly at the christening."

three miles uphill from the Aunt Hudson with a brebis- station." like movement slowly and stiffly “But how high is it above propelled herself up out of her the sea ?” chair. It is a difficult move- “The sea isn't anywhere ment to accomplish with grace, near.” even if one is an agile person. God bless my soul,” said

Irene's godfather and god- Uncle Bliss. “Do you know mother shook hands.

how high Mount Everest is ? “Yes, poor Dickenson. I “Twenty - nine thousand never saw him again. He died feet.” Aunt Hudson was rewhen I was in Brazil.”

lieved at this chance of disUncle Bliss' voice became playing a little learning. quite gentle ; he seemed lost “Twenty-nine thousand feet in reflection. Dickenson was above what?" one of his earliest loyalties. “Above where it starts from, Aunt Hudson subsided into I suppose." her chair again, and began “Above the sea.Uncle Bliss fingering her book.

explained with singular patience. I began to hope that the “You measure mountains by Brebis was going to escape their elevation above the sea. without a scratch. There were Perhaps you remember the risks, of course ; still I could trees.

That would give you not decently detach Irene's some idea. Were they chestgodfather from Irene's god- nut, beech, or pine ? mother two minutes after they But Aunt Hudson could only had been introduced. So, remember a monkey-tree in the searching fatuously for common hotel garden.

« 이전계속 »