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“No, certainly not," answered Stephen.
“Well, at the risk of your thinking me inquisitive-meddling even -I must tell you that I met an old friend of your father's, Sir Julius Mildmay, the greatest authority of the day, I suppose, on mental diseases. We were talking of you. Shall I tell you what he said ? "
Stephen nodded. Somehow he could not have spoken a word.
“'If I had been in England I should have done everything in my power to dissuade Stephen Heriot from going to bury himself in South America. There is no more solid evidence to show that insanity is hereditary in his family than there is proof of the moon's being made of green cheese. His mother's madness was a mere accident, as it were ; and as for his father-well, I should go mad fast enough if I doubled my professional duties and neither ate nor slept, which was about what he did.'”
“God help me!” said poor Stephen after a pause. “Why did I never speak to Sir Julius about it all ? Under the circumstances it seerned our plain duty to avoid associating others in our misfortune, and that it must always be so. Now," he went on, “can you guess why I never went back to Hayters last year ?”
“What did you mean in your letter about your saying to me what you might afterwards have regretted ?”
“I meant that I could not say to you what I longed to say. You know now what prevented me from asking you to be my wife?”
She was silent.
“What does my opinion matter? You are asking out of mere curiosity.”
“No, no. I must have an answer.”
"Well, then," replied Diana slowly, “I don't think your reason was a good one-not good enough to make two people unhappy."
“Two people? Then, you did care a little ?”
“Oh, must I ask you to make me happy ?” Diana turned away from him as she spoke, but Stephen caught her hand and held it.
“What a fool I have been !” he said..
He clasped her close to him without a word, but in the very moment of her supreme happiness Diana burst into tears. “Poor little Alison !" she sobbed. “Poor child ! poor child!”
HOW TO MAKE LONDON
TO “lie like a gas-meter" is a popular expression, and, to some T extent, it reflects an unjust public sentiment.
The truth is, that the general public know even now little more about one of the greatest conveniences of modern life, its manufacture and the uses to which it may be put, than did Mr. Thomas Shirley in 1659, when shown a well wherein the “water did boyle and heave” and burnt like “oyle,” due to the escaping of collected carburetted hydrogen (or fire-damp) from a neighbouring coal mine, into which the well, no doubt, had formed a shaft. The same principle is magnified in the production of “ natural gas,” now so largely made use of in America.
Before the seventeenth century the air we breathe was the only known aëriform body; and, when mysterious deaths occurred in foul subterranean places from the accumulation of carbonic acid gas, all the blame was laid upon the spirit “Sylvester," as he was politely called by the alchemists of bygone times, much as we now, under the slightest provocation, are ready to condemn our gas companies, and apply to them uncalled-for epithets, and bring against them unjust accusations.
And as it remained to Van Helmont, one of the last of the alchemists, to disabuse this "evil spirit,” and give to it the name of "gaz,” so do I hope to show that, as a rule, our gas companies are not “companies Sylvester.” But this is merely a side issue : the main object of this paper is to supplement what has already been said upon the important question of heating by gas as a means of making London a fit place for white people to live in, and also to give the ordinary gas consumer some hints that are the outcome of much observance and practical experience.
Such a great city cannot in one year be freed from so longstanding and so long-endured a pest, which has now well-nigh become a calamity; but much can be done where all are willing to help; and even the Cockney will lend a hand towards the general welfare, providing that that hand has not first to journey to his pocket.
In other words, to deal with such a fog as that manufactured in London, all must help, and the inducement to every man must be the prospect of an individual benefit—something tangible that he may fully realise, and, moreover, something that he may help in to his own good, financially and otherwise.
It is of no use proposing any scheme that will have extra taxation for its basis to a community already overburdened. Any such an undertaking would be justly looked upon as a personal insult.
Strangely enough, some years back, I had thought out a plan of “exhausting” the smoke away from London into the country to certain consuming stations where it might be dealt with and practically annihilated by electricity or other means. My idea was to have every chimney connected with a main that would run along the tops of all the houses, and from which it would be “exhausted ” into “smoke-holders,” and from them driven to the “consuming stations,” in exactly the same way (but reversed) in which our gas is now exhausted into the “gas-holders” from the retorts, and supplied from the holders again, at the proper pressure, to the consumer's house. Much the same idea has lately been proposed, I believe, and has met with some consideration; but I am satisfied that it is not practicable. The expense of such an elaborate system would be enormous, and the many difficulties that will arise at once to the mind of any thinking man are well-nigh insurmountable, although the idea itself is feasible. Besides, London and its suburbs are unpicturesque enough already, God knows :
The only way to make a “London fog" a thing of the past, and also to rid the air of those more or less minute particles of soot that make everything filthy, and are in every breath one takes inhaled into the most delicate parts of one's organisation, is by the universal adoption of gas, and gas only, as our heating agent. If we use it to cook by, to warm our houses and our baths, and either as the actual motive power to all machinery, or as the heating agent to all boilers for the generation of steam in our manufactories, then, and then only, will a London fog be nothing more than an unpleasant memory.
But this is no new idea : far from it—it is, or ought to be, a well known thing. But it will be new, I think, to introduce this delivering agent (that all Londoners should bow down and worship) in the garb of domestic economy. I think it is even a novelty for one versed in the minute details of its manufacture, distribution, and properties, to write as a consumer and in language that all other consumers may understand.
Some cynics have said that our English fire-places are constructed to give the minimum of heat to the maximum expenditure of coal. In all seriousness, of course, the loss of fuel every year in London is appalling-in fact, the real yellow fog is in itself fuel that is thrown away, and (excepting what is caught in the lungs of Londoners) lost to the country for ever. The same applies not only to our dwellings but to our manufactories.
To be well within bounds, of all the coal that is taken from the bowels of our mother country two-thirds is completely wasted. Here is a fearful blot in our domestic economy. But the evil does not end here : the sin comes home to roost. Sometimes for weeks together every day it takes us by the throat and says, “Waste not, want not.” But who heeds it?
Now, the only heating agent, of any consequence, in coal is the gas; and if this be extracted in the best known scientific way, as is now the case in the retort, all the smoke will be practically consumed, and the heating properties (taking into consideration the coke) collected with a loss per ton that is infinitesimal. Here then, alone, we have a saving of one-half of the coal of England.
But we must not stay here. When the gas is “exhausted” from "the retorts," washed in the "scrubbers,” and forced through the “ purifiers” into the “holder”—and these processes are expensivethen it is that we have it under our control. It is a pity that it cannot be mixed in the holder with the exact quantity of air to give the greatest attainable heat, and then be supplied to our stoves and furnaces under pressure, for the best result would then be given; but such a scheme is not feasible, on account of the terrific explosive force of such a mixture. But, as I have said, we now have our gas under control, and by burning it through an atmospheric burner, which supplies the right quantity of air, we shall get, allowing for all deficiencies, three times the heat from a ton of coal that we could get by consuming it in an open fire-place, and twice the boiling power that could be obtained by the best regenerative furnace.
This, I take it, is a great law in “domestic economy.” But at present I have shown only an immense saving in the resources of our country (which may very materially affect future generations, but does not as yet knock very loudly at our own door-for there is plenty of coal), and also how the fog of London may be cured. Now we will come to the point that does knock. In other words, how to help in the achievement of this great cause to our individual profit.
It took a long time for people to realise that gas was cheaper than
oil ; and so it will now be some time dawning upon the public, that heating by gas may be done both with economy and convenience. And at this dawning the fog of London will roll away. You may remember the story of the cow who did not know the use of her tail until she lost it : so it is with the average gas-consumer—he does not recognise the great conditions of convenience and economy under which he lives, until his gas is cut off for debt.
Under existing circumstances gas cannot be supplied by our companies at a much cheaper rate than is now the case; and taking it at 3s. per thousand feet, although it can, if judiciously used, easily compete with coal as a direct heating and cooking medium, yet there is not a great margin for the wastefulness of servants and guests in a mismanaged household. And it is concerning the economical use of gas for these purposes, under existing circumstances, that I hope to speak farther on.
In some of the large northern manufacturing towns a goodly proportion of the “town fog” no doubt is caused by smoke issuing from factory stacks; but as these are much higher than the ordinary chimneys, the “fog”-making element has a much better chance of escape, and the factories do not contribute nearly so much to the general discomfort as is generally supposed. It is the thousands of smoking chimneys of private dwellings and business houses that go to make up by far the greater proportion of town fogs ; and strangely enough, it is the man who stirs his fire most vigorously, thereby adding all in his power to the general discomfiture, who uses the worst language about the very thing that he himself is creating, and then lays the blame upon his country and his climate. His cook is acting in much the same way in the kitchen : not only wasting the resources of his country to the detriment of his own posterity, but inflicting harm upon himself and upon his neighbour.
Now all this to a great extent may be avoided. Most enlightened gas companies now let cooking-stoves of all the best varieties on hire at small rentals—so small, in fact, that they lose upon the stove itself, but are repaid in due course by the increased consumption of gas. By using such a stove, then, anyone may help to the general welfare and to his own ; for, without considering the great convenience, a saving in the cost of cooking may be effected by careful management, and the food so cooked will be of better quality, and can always be done “to the turn.” But it cannot be too strongly impressed upon all, that careless and unthinking servants who have not their master's welfare at heart will flare away gas if not looked after. So they will coal itself, for the matter of that.