The Harmsworth Magazine, v. 1, 1898-1899, No. 2
Author: Various
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"Not cheat you, Geoffrey—no, not cheat you!"

"Yes, cheat me! cheat me! I suppose that you sat upstairs and pretended to keep the children quiet, while I sat down here and wrote. And for every page I wrote, you wrote another, the object of which was to rob me of the life-blood with which I had written mine. But far be it from me to reproach you, Mr. Philip Ayre. You have won, and I—poor devil!—I have lost. It is the fortune of war. I am without a penny. You have your five hundred pounds. And, as it is quite impossible that I can consent to be the recipient of charity from the woman who calls herself my wife, I have the pleasure, Mr. Philip Ayre, of wishing you good day."

She sprang between the door and him.

"Geoffrey! What are you going to do?"

"I am going to live my own life. I am going to earn my own living under the shelter of a roof for which I myself have paid. I am going to meet you with the gloves off, in fair and open fight, not behind a hedgerow, with a gun in my hand, Mr. Philip Ayre."

"Geoffrey, any—any hour I may be taken ill."

"What do you wish me to do? I will stay here until you are well, but only until then, on the understanding that not a penny of your money is to be used for me."

"The children are upstairs. Won't you—won't you let them in?"

"Let them stay upstairs. Philippa! What is the matter?"

Her time was come—that was the matter. By noon their fourth child was born.

When the nurse came to the sitting-room door, she found Geoffrey pacing round and round like some wild creature in a cage.

"Mr. Ford, sir?"

He looked round with a start.

"Yes, nurse."

"Mrs. Ford would like to see you, sir."

"To see me? Oh! Is she well enough?"

"Well, sir, she's not so well as she might be. But she says that it would do her good to see you. Only you musn't let her talk too much, nor yet you musn't stay too long."

"I won't stay too long."

He went upstairs. He paused for a moment outside the bedroom door. Then he entered the room.

"Geoff, I'm going to die!"

Her words so frightened him that, in the suddenness of his fear, he staggered backwards.

"To die!"

"All along I knew that I should. I knew it when I was writing that wicked book—the book which has won the prize, I mean. Perhaps that was why I wrote it. It is the best way out of the trouble. I should never have been the same wife to you again. I know you so well. But, Geoffrey, you won't refuse to accept a legacy from me when I am dead. It is the only thing I have ever had to give you. For the children's sake, and the little baby's sake, and mine."

He sat on a chair by the bedside, trying to hold himself in, as it were, with every muscle of his body.

"Philippa, you musn't talk like that."

"If you'll forgive me, Geoff, I'll be content—only promise that you'll accept my legacy."

"Not if you die, I won't."


"I'll accept it if you live."

Holding the baby in his arms, he knelt beside the bed. She turned to him. They were face to face. As he began to perceive how she had wasted to a shadow, it did not seem as if he could read enough of the story which was told upon her face. She, in her turn, did not seem as if she could gaze long enough at him.

"Geoffrey, do you really mean that if I live, and get well, really and truly well, you will take me for your wife again—that I shall be to you the same wife that I have always been?"

"Philippa, if one of us is to die for the other, let me be the one to die."

"Geoff, I do believe that if there is anything which must be done, you must be the one to do it. Can't you understand, that if you love to do great things for me, I, also, love to do great things for you. I can't help it. It was that which made me Philip Ayre."

"Be Philippa—or Philip Ayre. Only—stay with baby and with me."

She was silent for some moments as she lay and looked at him with a singular intensity of gaze.

"I think, Geoffrey, I shall live."



By Sidney Gowing.

Do not believe it when you are told that bull-fighting is near its end. The great sport is as popular and deeply rooted in Spain as cricket is in Britain, and will last as long. To attempt to stop bull-fighting by law would cause a bigger revolution among the Spaniards than the most fearful disasters at home or abroad.

The great home of bull-fighting is Seville, and when the Seville fights are in their glory even Madrid takes second place. The Seville bull-ring is a little larger than that of Madrid, though it is not quite so gorgeously designed. Still, it holds over 14,000 people.

Nearly every Sunday throughout the year there is a bull-fight of sorts to be seen.

About 300,000 people go to the bull-fight every week in Spain, on an average. One must also count in an infinite number of little amateur fights in outlying villages of the provinces.

But at a pukka bull-fight in Seville, six of the finest bulls and at least forty horses are provided, to say nothing of the cortege of gold-clad operators drawing terrific salaries. Fashion and the masses turn out together to hoot and whistle and shout, and nothing on earth short of Armageddon could stop a fight half-way.

Half-past two in the afternoon is the usual time for commencement. Seats in the sun cost between eighteenpence and two shillings, and in the shade anything from three shillings to five pounds. The bulk of the seats are merely stone steps, like the face of a pyramid, and above them a double row of chairs fenced in by a balcony. It is only these last that are covered from the sky. Half the ring is protected by its own height from the heat of the sun, and the other half is open to its glare.

When the amphitheatre is full of sun-hatted Spaniards, with a sprinkling of girls wearing white mantillas (only at bull-fights are white mantillas the thing), the president takes his place in a little box by the side of the big white platform that is set apart for special visitors.

Then the door at the far end of the arena opens, and the suite comes forth. There are a couple of sombre-looking cloaked horsemen mounted on rather sorry nags, and these amble forward, salute the president, and request the key of the Toril, the great stable where the bulls wait to die. Then come the matadors—they who do the killing—from two to four of them, dressed in knickerbocker attire, with short jackets, after the fashion of an Eton coat. These are generally of light pink or blue silk, hung with infinite short tassels of spun gold or silver. The cloak, which is as fine a piece of embroidery as one could find anywhere, is lapped round the back and held tight in front. The hats are not of the inverted saucepan-lid type that are always depicted in bull-fight pictures, but big black furry structures, bulging at the sides. The men are short, but well made, and carry themselves with a lithe swing that at times savours distinctly of swagger.

In a double row the banderilleros come next—they whose duty it is to place the papered darts—and behind them a few chulos, who are in the first stages of the art, and whose duties are confined to agile exercises with the red cloak.

In the rear ride the picadors—heavily clad lancers—gaily dressed somewhat after the Mexican fashion, and carrying long wooden lances that bear nothing more hurtful than a short blade, the size of a flattened tea-spoon, at the end. These lancers would look still more impressive but for the fact that their steeds are aged and weary carriage hacks, such as would in Britain be sent to the knacker's yard.

Six picadors complete the cortege, with a hanger-on or two behind to help direct the horses. They, poor brutes, are bandaged over one eye—the eye that is to be nearest the bull.

The suite salutes the president, who is a Town Magnate of high degree, and he bows his stateliest in reply. The gorgeous cloaks are only for show, and they are thrown over the barrier into the little corridor that separates the ring from the tiers of seats, and held by an official. In return, the fighters receive their working cloaks—scarlet, blood-stained, and ragged—and range themselves round the walls of the ring. And here let us get rid of the word "toreador"—it is never used in Spain. All other nations seem to take kindly to it, but torero is the Spanish for bull-fighter.

The heralds at the far end of the arena lead off with a flourish of trumpets, and the great door with the iron bull's head over the top swings open and shows a gloomy cavity beyond. There is nothing to see for about ten seconds. There is a hush all round the tiers of waiting people, and presently a blurred shadow looms through the dark.

The bull trots out nimbly to the rim of the arena, glares aggressively at the empty space ahead of him, shakes his mighty head, and every line of his lithe frame says "Ready!" He is not like our British bulls, heavy and ponderous, but spry and agile as a terrier, twisting on his own axis like a small rater in stays. He was not goaded or tortured before the entry, to make him savage, as the historians of bull-fights would have us believe—there is no necessity. It is almost the finest part of the spectacle, this first entry, and those who cannot bring themselves to sit out the drama of blood and steel that comes later should witness it and then go. So the bull trots in and looks round for something to slay. This is a chance for a young and agile torero to show his skill.

The seeker of fame runs out to about the centre of the sandy arena and stands with his arms folded. His Majesty the bull waits for nothing farther, but puts all four hoofs to the ground and thunders towards the youngster at full gallop. Just as the great horns lash upwards for the toss, the boy twists himself round, and at that moment the space between the two is to be counted by inches. The bull usually puts so much vicious power into this first effort, that at the attempted toss he flings his forequarters clear of the ground, and his forefeet come down with a sounding crack on the hard floor. There is nothing left for the fighter to do but run, and he vaults the barrier into the corridor beyond. The bull frequently gathers so much impetus in following at the runner's heels, that he too must leap the fence—a goodly jump for a bull—about five feet. Then follows a wild scramble of corpulent policemen, sweetmeat-sellers, water-carriers, and so forth, and they scuffle heavily over the barrier into the deserted ring. But a door is soon opened, the bull turned back into the arena, and the herd of onlookers climb feverishly back into safety.

There are three picadors on their sorry mounts standing round the fence, but before these come a little knot of chulos, men with cloaks, inviting the bull to a species of game of "touch." The chances are largely in favour of the men here, for the cloaks are large, and can be fluttered in the bull's face while the holder is two or three yards away. Besides, a bull charges with closed eyes, and always attacks the cloak, not the man. There are exceptions to this, but such exceptions give a new turn to the fight, and moreover give work to the little surgeon in the whitewashed room beyond the stables, and to the priest who attends without for the peace of soul of those that may need him before the sixth bull is slain.

Here, again, a matador, he who kills, will often take a cloak and show the audience three or four artistic passes with it, as distinct from the go-as-you-please way in which cloaks are wielded by the chulo. These passes only allow the cloaker to miss the bull by a short breadth, and are well defined and recognised by all connoisseurs. The bull has now given up those wild rushes from a distance, and fences warily, evidently much annoyed at the fruitlessness of his charges, and the impossibility of driving his horns home in solid flesh. So out comes the picador on his halting steed, and plants himself well away from the barrier, so that he may not be thrown against it in the fall. His legs are cased beneath the yellow leggings with sheet iron, for he cannot shield them from the enemy's rush. Horsemanship is absent—there is no need for it. To plant his lance, and fall without hurting himself, is the whole art of a picador, and this part is the greatest blot on the performance. It is merely an act of deliberate slaughter, for the horse is intended to be killed, and will be kept there till it is killed.

The horse always seems vaguely conscious of something wrong, though it is not generally unmanageable. The other horses, while their comrade is being done to death, often grow restive and frightened, though they are unable to see what goes on. The bull seldom appears anxious to attack the horse, but it is pushed forward under his nose, and the big picador on top poises his lance aggressively. Then comes the short, plunging charge, the shock of the short lance-point in the bull's shoulder, and the awful home drive of the great horn into the tottering horse's body. In such a case the forequarters of the mount are lifted clear from the ground, and I have even seen a strong eight-year-old bull fling horse and rider over his back, as if they had been lightly stuffed museum specimens, instead of weighty flesh and blood. The breed of bulls called Miura—one of the most dangerous to fighters—generally strike home about the horse's chest, and thus death is rapid and sudden; but the famed Muruve bulls usually attack the flanks, and the scenes that follow this are too shudderingly horrid to put down on clean paper. Even then, if the wounds allow of the horse standing at all, the stricken beast is mounted again and led forward for another fall, though the populace resent this by whistles, as a rule. Whistling, by the way, is the Spanish method of expressing disapproval.

A bull that takes the stab of the lance without flinching is usually esteemed and applauded; but a young animal may be turned by the first chilling pain of the raw steel. If the horse is overthrown, the picador falls with a crash, and wriggles aside as best he can that the poor beast may not roll on him. In the nick of time a chulo flaunts his crimson rag in the bull's face and draws him away from the helpless lancer, who is hoisted to his feet by the assistants and given a lift on to his steed's back again—if the latter is still capable of bearing a man. If not, the dagger-man—"cachetero" he is called—arrives with a short arrow-headed knife, and severs the doomed beast's backbone at the neck with one short stab. There is no quicker death. The horse wilts like a rent air-balloon, and is dead without a quiver.

He is happier than the long line of his fellows that wait in the gloomy stables beyond.

On an average about three horses fall to a bull, but a single bull has often killed twenty. Some cattle seem to have a leaning towards horse-slaughter, but the majority appear not to relish it. They stand before the picador, and gaze as if considering whether it would be sportsmanlike to rend such a tottering beast. Still, three corpses usually lie about the sand, with the dark, raw pools around them, before the second trumpet-blare sounds.

This is the signal for the withdrawal of the horses. A bull must be allowed to kill as many as he likes, and then the banderilleros are rung on. One comes forward—dressed like the rest, but without any cloak as a protection—carrying a pair of gaily-papered wooden darts, pointed with a large iron barb at one end. He walks into the centre, places his feet together, and defies the bull by a rapid poise of the twin sticks, one in each hand.

If the bull charges at once it is touch and go with the holder, and he must plant his barbs exactly parallel either in the nape of the bull's neck or behind the shoulders—always well on top and within an inch or two of each other. A slight clumsiness is loudly hooted and whistled at by the audience, who are as keen critics of everything that transpires as our own crowds are of cricket.

It takes years to make a good banderillero. Three, or even four pairs of banderillas are planted in the shoulder of the bull, and they mislike him much. He tosses his head and roars angrily when the first pair are placed, but the pain of the inch-long barb, as it falls over and grips the flesh, generally bewilders the bull for a second, and allows the banderillero time to slip aside and run for the barriers.

It is one of the most perilous feats, this placing of darts, for they are never thrown, except in the accounts of bull-fights that occur in novels or newspapers, but thrust into the enemy's neck by hand.

Possibly the bull refuses to charge until the fighter runs towards him from an obtuse angle, and this is the easiest plan for the man. On the other hand, a daring matador will sometimes take a pair of darts and sit on a chair before his prey.

On the charge the slayer slips aside, plants the darts neatly, and the chair often flies twenty feet into the air. This is seldom practised, except at the great Easter fights during Holy Week.

The darts are about two feet six inches long, and merely round pieces of deal, more or less straight, with a wrought-iron semi-arrow at the extremity. The barb is thus single, like a fish-hook. There is not room on a bull for more than four pairs, if they are placed properly; so the banderilleros are rung out, and the trumpets sound the entry for the last act of the red drama.

The matador comes forward. He walks up to the bedizened and top-hatted president, doffs his cap, and makes a speech. He holds a red cloth in one hand, about four feet square, and in the other a straight Toledo sword with a slightly rounded end. There is a ceremony to go through here, and ceremony is the breath of life in the nostrils of a Spaniard. He dedicates the bull to the president, or to the chief lady visitor, and waves the sword and the sable cap impressively the while. Then, with a majestic sweep, he flings the cap to the audience to hold for him—a coveted honour—and walks out to face the bull.

This latter, by loss of blood and much chasing, is glum of aspect and foot-weary. The nerve-tearing barbs rattle their wooden holders about his back as he moves. He seems to recognise that the last part of the fight has come, for all the teasing chulos have withdrawn, and he is alone with one small, wiry man with a bright sword. The time for wild rushes is past; the bull plants himself gloomily and waits his chance. There is the faena to go through first—a series of passes with the scarlet flag. There may be a dozen or so to show, each well recognised by the schools of bull-fighting, and each with its own value and technique. Alto, de pecho, derecho, and so forth—they are too numerous and intricate to explain here; but when the bull has bravely charged the last of them, and passed under the flag into space again on the other side, then comes the preparation for the death-stroke. No other beast in the world would have fought so long. Tiger, wild boar, any of the most blood-thirsty tropical brutes, steeped in vicious savagery—none of them will stand up to the enemy after such bitter dole as is the portion of a bull in the arena, and fight to the end without once turning tail.

So the matador arranges the cloak in his left hand and the sword in his right. Teasing has been the form so far, but now one or the other has to die, and it is not as invariably the bull as most people suppose. There are many ways of making the last stroke.

A short aim, a wave of the flag, and with the last blind, lunging charge the swordsman slips aside, and his blade runs up to the hilt behind the bull's shoulder. The hammered steel feels the great tired heart within, and the enemy falls—the pluckiest beast of his day.

This is what should happen, and with a first-rate swordsman it does. But often half-a-dozen lunges are made, till at last the red, tottering brute kneels down peacefully from sheer inability to stand, and the puntillero comes up behind and writes the end with one short stab of his iron dagger behind the skull. The matador walks round the barriers bowing to the cheers of the people, and behind him stalks a chulo, who picks up for him the showers of cigars, hats, and so forth that are showered into the ring.

A big folding gate swings back, and two teams of gaily-ribboned mules canter in with smart teamsters running beside them. One is hitched to the bull, and with a shout and a long sweep round the reddened sand the bull is hauled out at full gallop, one horn drawing a wavy line in the yellow floor, and one stiff fore-leg wagging grimly to the long lope of the jingling mules. The dead horses are drawn out in the same way, with the same ringing whoop, and as the gates close on the slain the Toril looms open afresh, and the second bull comes forward to his death.

There are variations. Instead of receiving the charge upon the sword the matador may achieve the "volapie" (half-volley), by running towards the bull and driving the sword home as the two meet. Or, a favourite method, but a difficult one, is to sever the spinal cord behind the skull with the point of the sword as the great head goes down to toss. Yet another variation that I have seen more than once is the tinkling of the sword upon sand, a rapid leap, as it seems, of three feet into the air, by the matador, and his writhing collapse upon the floor. Then a hurried flash of red cloaks in the bull's face, to draw him from the fallen man. The fighters are vastly plucky about their mishaps, and generally manage to run out rather than be carried. Few of them, if they have seen much bull-fighting, but are scarred freely with old wounds. The horn generally enters the stomach or groin, and a terrible wound it makes. The photograph illustrating the "death-stroke" on this page shows Espartero, who was the most famous and most utterly reckless of toreros during his life. His sword is up to the hilt in the bull's left shoulder, the flag just passing over its forehead, and its right horn shaving the matador's right knee by a few inches, The upward toss, if the bull were just a little nearer, would bury the horn in Espartero's waist, but those four inches were the rim between life and death, and a second later the bull was stretched upon the sand.

Espartero was killed in the Madrid arena in July 1894. As he administered the death-stroke, the bull, a fierce and very hardy Miura called Perdigon, drove its horn home, and the two died together. Espartero was accorded by far the finest funeral that was ever seen in Spain, easily eclipsing that of any statesman or royal personage that ever died there. His loss was made almost a cause for recognised national mourning. He was an esparto-grass weaver by trade ere he took to the arena, and before his death was wont to receive between L300 and L500 for a single afternoon's work in the ring.

Bull-fighters begin as chulos, drawing about L3 a week, and when qualified as banderilleros they make from L5 to L30 a week. A first-class matador, such as Guerrita, draws about L300 or more for a single fight, and generally there are two first-class matadors in a good Seville or Madrid fight.

A really good bull-fight costs from L1,500 to L2,000 and more. Good bulls are worth between L30 and L50 apiece if full-grown and from the best flocks. The cattle are perfectly wild during their lifetime, and are allowed to run at large among the plains and marshes as they please.

The horses, poor beasts, are worn-out carriage-hacks, and cost about L2 apiece.

Without question bull-fighting is a truly loathsome sport, and the British traveller whose curiosity leads him to witness a performance is rarely tempted to repeat the experiment.



Illustrated by W. Rainey, R.I.

Reginald Hampton, the distinguished aeronaut, was at the mercy of any wind that chose to do him an ill turn. He had entirely lost control of his balloon—of which he was the only occupant—and, so far as he could see, the odds were fairly even as to whether he would find a watery grave in the English Channel, or a rocky one on the Kentish mainland. First came a kind of gentlemen-at-large breeze, which took him seawards; then a rival gust drove him back; finally the balloon stopped for a couple of minutes to think out the situation. Reginald Hampton, being by nature a fatalist and by training an aeronaut, awaited the decision without any appearance of impatience or anxiety; when his vehicle was ready to move on, he would try to fall on his feet if possible, but not for the world would he wish to hasten the departure.

The balloon, after profound meditation, decided in favour of land, and in no long time she began to settle quietly down, with the gentleness of a snow-flake, and finally sank gracefully into the arms of a huge pear tree, white with blossom; whereupon the aeronaut grappled her to the tree, filled and lit a comfortable-looking pipe, and leaned carelessly over the edge of the car, to spy out the nakedness of this foster land. It was against his principles to seem otherwise than dispassioned on these occasions.

Below him he saw a big garden, full of yews, box, fruit trees, and spring flowers, all hobnobbing with one another in the cheeriest manner imaginable. At the far end of the garden stood a house, of ruddy complexion, prosperous bulk, and Queen Anne architecture. Immediately beneath him—the branches diverged considerately, so as to allow his vision free play—a hammock was swinging gently from side to side, and in the hammock reposed a maiden. Now the prospect of a speedy demise did not excite Reginald Hampton, but a suggestion of feminine beauty had never been known to fail in this. He nearly fell out of the car in his eagerness to distinguish the details of the girl's appearance. A girl in a hammock, he reflected, ought always to be pretty, and artistic propriety demanded that she should be a veritable Peri when he had taken the trouble to save his neck by falling into the very tree to which her hammock was attached.

So eager was he, indeed, that his teeth lost their hold of the big briar, which cannoned from branch to branch, and dropped, somewhat forcibly, into the girl's hand. The prospective Peri was naturally a little startled, and more than a little angry, because the pipe had hurt her considerably. She slipped out of the hammock and stood looking about her with an air of enraged bewilderment. And from the clouds there came, as it were, a voice independent of any human tabernacle, a vox et preterea nihil.

"I'm awfully sorry—upon my word, most careless of me—may I come down and make my apologies in proper form?"

"Please, where are you?" demanded the girl. The tree was so constructed that Hampton could more easily see her than she him; and moreover it is one of the most difficult things in the world to locate an unexpected sound.

"I'm tree'd," laughed the voice, "straight above your head."

"That sounds odd," returned the other, beginning to enter into the spirit of the situation; "how on earth did you get there, and who are you?"

"An aeronaut. If you will leave the shelter of this particularly fine tree and look up above, you will see a balloon; attached to the balloon is a car, and attached to the car is myself."

"And do you propose to stay up there indefinitely? It isn't very amusing, is it?"

"Not particularly. If you can suggest a method of escape, I shall be only too happy to descend."

"Climb out of the car, and then down the tree-trunk. Nothing could be simpler."

"Pardon me, but have you ever tried that particular form of gymnastic exercise? Directly I begin to get out of the car, she will topple over, and I wouldn't for the world give you the trouble of collecting my fragments at the bottom."

"Please don't. It would be like making one of those wretched toy-houses out of bricks, and I know I should never fit in the pieces properly. Still, you can't stay up there for ever, can you, now?"

"Not possibly. For one thing, I have not tasted food for twelve hours, and I shall expire if I don't get some presently."

"I might bring you a sandwich, if you have got a piece of string you can let down," said the girl, with the easy badinage of an old friend. It is not every day that one is privileged to encounter a tree'd balloonist, and she felt that the proprieties were not particularly at home in such an al fresco environment.

"Thanks," responded the aerial voice, "but I prefer to reach firm ground, if it can any way be managed. I say, could you get me a ladder?"

"Yes. I'll hunt up the gardener, and tell him to bring one. You think you can get down that way?"

"I think so. If the gardener holds the ladder tight against my car, it should fix it pretty firmly, and then I can climb on to the ladder. By the way, you are awfully good to take all this trouble on behalf of an entire stranger. I forgot to make the observation earlier, because, you see, we grow accustomed to finding ourselves uninvited guests. I once dropped into the middle of a Royal Garden Party."

"Did you, really? Tell me all about it," said the girl, forgetting her errand of mercy.

"Oh, they thought at first I was a Nihilist or a Fenian or something, come to blow up the whole Royal Family. I escaped finally by explaining that the Prince of Wales—who was fortunately absent—had hired me to make the descent by way of affording a little relief to the tedium of the gathering. Incidentally, may I ask into what particular garden I have had the good luck to fall?"

"This is Caviare Court, Fullerton, Kent."

"No? You don't mean it?"

"Why, yes. Why shouldn't I mean it?"

"That really is odd. Then your father is Colonel Currie?"

"Yes. How ever do you come to know that?"

"Because he happens to be my mother's brother. My name is Hampton—Reginald Hampton."

There was silence for some time; then—

"You should have told me that before," said the girl, in an aggrieved tone.

"I don't see that we are responsible for parental quarrels," responded the other, warmly. "My mother married the wrong man, from Colonel Currie's point of view, and they have sworn eternal enmity. But how should that affect us? By Jove, we're cousins! To think that I have to thank the friskiness of my balloon for getting to know you."

Another silence.

"I hope father won't come home while you're here," cried the girl, suddenly. "He's never seen you, but you may be like the family, and it is not a likeness one can easily mistake. Have you a peculiar little dent in the middle of an otherwise straight nose?"

The query was advanced with an eagerness ludicrously at variance with the difference of their respective situations. It seemed—as Charles Lamb said of humorous letters to distant lands—as though eagerness must grow so stale before it reached the summit of this big pear tree.

"Yes, I have," answered Hampton, laughing.

"Then your fate is sealed. Father may return at any moment, and you really musn't come down into the garden."

"But I'm awfully hungry," said Mr. Hampton, plaintively.

"I'll send you up something to eat, as I suggested at first."

"I have no string, or rope, or anything I can let down."

This was scarcely accurate, but Reginald Hampton saw too many capabilities in the situation, to let it go readily. Finally, he overcame the girl's scruples, and she departed in quest of a ladder.

As his daughter disappeared at the rear of the house, Colonel Currie came round the front. He was smoking a cheroot, the slowly curling smoke from which, as also his whole gait and mien, was suggestive of peaceful proprietorship. He paused to examine his bed of spring wallflowers, stooped to uproot an impertinent dandelion which had taken root in his otherwise irreproachable turf, gathered a fine auricula and placed it in his button-hole. Then he took a contented survey of his fruit trees, until his eyes finally rested upon the white-robed bower of the balloon. A change came o'er the spirit of the Colonel's pastoral dream. His ruddy gills assumed a purplish hue, his grizzled hair stood up in fighting attitude. He advanced to the foot of the tree and peered upwards. His inability to see the occupant of the balloon called to battle the last drop of the plentiful supply of choler wherewith Indian heats had endowed him.

"What the mischief are you doing in my pear tree?" thundered the Colonel.

His voice was suggestive of heavy artillery at short range; but masculine anger was not one of the things that ruffled the balloonist's equanimity.

"I'm sitting tight until your gardener is kind enough to bring me a ladder," he responded, imperturbably.

"Eh? What? Well, upon my soul, sir! Do you know that this is my very finest pear-tree—jargonelles, sir, I tell you, jargonelles? You and your impudent machine have ruined the crop. It's just the spirit of this confounded age—anarchy, disruption, red riot—no man's house safe—his garden a refuge for any air-climbing rascal who cares to take up his quarters in it."

The Colonel, from this point onwards, seemed to imagine that he was talking at a coolie; coolie intercourse cultivates the faculty of expression wonderfully, and Reginald Hampton's host entertained that amused aeronaut for fully ten minutes with a wealth of epithet—very old in bottle, and of a fine tawny flavour. Hampton took advantage of the panting calm that followed the outburst to put in a plea for himself.

"I can only say, sir, that I regret this contretemps as much as yourself. The fact is, I had no choice in the matter; the wind got the better of me, and took me just where it pleased."

"P—r—r—rh—Humph, humph!" sputtered the old gentleman. "Serves you right for getting inside such a flimsy contrivance. Can't understand how any man can be fool enough to want to career through the air when heaven has blessed him with a pair of sound legs. Perhaps you have no legs, though, for I'm hanged if I can see you," he concluded, irately, returning to his pet grievance.

"Yes, I have legs—rather long ones," returned the aeronaut, genially. "As to ballooning, it is a matter of personal taste, of course. We needn't quarrel about that, need we, Colonel Currie?"

"Eh, eh? How do you come to know my name?"

Reginald Hampton, in the privacy of his retreat, smiled beautifully to himself. He had watched the old gentleman's progress through the garden, and had guessed that he was tremendously proud of his flowers, his trees, his lawn; and an inspiration had come to this light-hearted trifler with another man's pear blossom.

"I guessed it, sir," he responded, very suavely. "I knew I had dropped somewhere in Kent, and a glance at that well-kept grass of yours, at the rare profusion of early flowers, at the extreme fulness—er—profligacy—of your fruit-blossom, told me in a moment that the garden could belong to only one man in the county. Do you suppose I have been a horticultural enthusiast all these years without knowing Colonel Currie by name? Why, the—the dahlias you exhibit are alone sufficient to make your name cling to one's memory. Sir, I am deeply sorry that I have injured your crop of jargonelles, but I cannot regret that I have been privileged to meet you."

Reginald Hampton had a cheery way of emerging with safety from any embarrassment in which he happened to find himself. His haphazard assumption of enthusiasm for the one subject on earth of which he knew least might so easily have led him astray; yet in the very nick of time that word dahlia crept into his consciousness and won the day. It chanced that dahlia-cultivation was the Colonel's most absorbing hobby. The old gentleman's anger had already begun to cool, under the influence of his enemy's persistent politeness, and this liberal application of the flattery-trowel at once set up a counter-current of positive cordiality.

"I apologise, sir, I apologise for the—ah—breadth of my language. These little accidents will happen, of course—do happen, doubtless, every day—and I had no idea that you were a grower of dahlias. Now, what soil do you consider the most suitable for the Cactus varieties?" Thus the Colonel, in tones of peace.

There was stillness in the flowery region just above the Colonel's head. A perplexed balloonist was at one and the same time suppressing an outburst of hysterical laughter, and encouraging coy soil-theories to evolve themselves from the blank chambers of his brain.

"It is difficult to say off-hand," he began. "Every grower, you see, has his own views."

"So he has, so he has—and he likes to hear other people's views, if only for the sake of abusing them. What is your own candid opinion on the subject?"

"Well, as you ask me, I should say—use pretty much the same soil as you would for the other varieties. Er—ah—a suspicion of loam, not too dry, and fairly well matured, sprinkled over the surface, is not inadvisable."

"You don't say so? For my part, I stick to the old-established methods, but no doubt modern enterprise has done something in the way of development. Loam, you say, sprinkled over the surface? I must try it."

"But be careful that it just hits the happy mean in the matter of moisture. If you keep it too dry, the plant runs to leaf instead of flower; if too wet, the colour is apt to—to run a little."

The balloonist, having fairly spread the wings of his imagination, was by this time quite prepared to fly into fresh difficulties. He was enjoying himself tremendously, and had even forgotten that his prospective rescuer was rather late in coming to his aid.

"But," objected the Colonel, omitting to notice a slight horticultural mistake of the aeronaut's, "but how do you manage about the watering? The loam must be wet at some times and comparatively dry at others."

"My dear sir, you mistake; the latest method is to carefully remove the surface loam before watering, and then to replace it, moistened to the proper degree."

"This is all very interesting," quoth the Colonel. "How it does one good to talk with a genuine enthusiast on these delightful subjects! You are trying for the blue dahlia, of course?"

"I've got it, sir," responded the balloonist, with triumphant emphasis. He was now prepared to go any lengths, trusting that Fate would see the thing through satisfactorily.

The Colonel skipped about in the wildest excitement.

"Got the blue dahlia? Why, I have only got half way to it, and I thought I was farther than most men. You know, of course, that there is a prize of a thousand pounds offered for that unique production? Have you claimed it?"

"I didn't care to," said Hampton, carelessly. "Frankly, there are so many poor men trying for the prize—praiseworthy toilers who finish a hard day's work by an evening's tending of some cottage garden—that I could not bear to step in and take the prize. I have quite enough money, too; I should scarcely know what to do with more."

The airy invisibility of the stranger, the unwontedness of the scene, must have played havoc with the Colonel's credulity. He absorbed everything, as a dry sponge sucks up water. The aeronaut's car was shaking visibly.

"But that is not all," said the latter recklessly. "I promptly set to work on a new colour, and I produced——"

"Yes, yes—you produced——"

"A pea-green dahlia, twelve inches in diameter."

"My dear, my very dear sir," cried the Colonel, well-nigh hysterical with wonder and delight, "I insist on your coming down at once from that tree and partaking of luncheon with me. I have some excellent '49 port, and we'll discuss the two subjects together. Really, it is very remiss of me not to have suggested your coming down sooner; the situation is not well adapted to conversation, and doubtless you are far from comfortable."

"No apology necessary, I assure you. I took the liberty, some time ago, of requesting your daugh—your gardener to bring me a ladder. He will appear presently, I have no doubt—in fact, I see him coming at this moment."

Now Miss Currie, though apparently she had forgotten the very existence of Reginald Hampton, had in point of fact followed his fortunes with an interest bordering on trepidation. Having run the gardener to earth, she was informed by that functionary that there was not a ladder about the place sufficiently long to reach to the top of the pear tree; the Colonel's longest ladder had been broken a week ago, and of the others not one was half the necessary size.

"But you must find one somewhere," insisted the girl, with the pretty imperiousness of feminine youth; "there is a gentleman at the very top of the tree, and he is at this moment dying for want of food. What a pity the pears are not ripe! Can't you think of someone who would lend you a ladder?"

The gardener scratched his head and pondered. There was one at Langbridge Farm, a good mile away, but it was a powerful hot morning to walk a mile with a heavy ladder on one's shoulder. Still, Missy seemed anxious, and Missy had had a right to have her own way ever since she was as high as one of his dwarf rose trees.

So the gardener had departed to Langbridge Farm, and Miss Currie had peeped round the corner of the house, to see how it was faring with the balloonist. She found her worst fears confirmed; her father was standing under the pear tree and abusing the poor man like a pickpocket. The girl, realising how futile it would be for her to put in an appearance and add to the already deafening hurly-burly, quietly secreted herself in a lilac-bush, and listened to what was going on. She began to laugh as the aeronaut unwound his imaginative threads; then she grew angry with him for his recklessness; then she laughed again at the astounding coolness of the man, and the skilful manner in which he avoided all difficulties in his path. Finally, at the end of what seemed to her an eternity and a half, the gardener appeared with his borrowed ladder, and proceeded in the direction of the pear tree. Miss Currie watched the old man place the ladder against the tree, under the combined directions of her father and the unconcerned occupant of the balloon-car, and then she thought the time was ripe for her to stroll up in a negligent manner.

"Why, whatever is the matter?" she cried, with innocent surprise.

"Nothing, my dear, nothing," responded the Colonel, beamingly. "A very worthy gentleman and a magnificent florist has, by good fortune, become my guest, and he is coming down in order to partake of luncheon."

"But where is he, and how did he come there?" she went on, deeming it highly prudent to disown any previous knowledge of the matter.

The old gardener looked at her with an intelligent grin, inwardly remarking that Missy was a deep one, she was. The aeronaut laughed with incontinent heartiness. The Colonel explained to her how the accident had occurred. After which Reginald Hampton climbed out of his nest, reached terra firma, and found himself entirely satisfied with the slim beauty of his rescuer.

The moment might have been an embarrassing one for the average man; it was, however, precisely the kind of situation that Reginald Hampton most enjoyed.

"Delighted to make your acquaintance at closer quarters," he remarked, first raising his cap to the Colonel, and then extending his hand. "Your daughter, I presume?" he added, turning to Violet Currie. "I am glad, by the way, she did not happen to be occupying the hammock there, or my abrupt descent might have startled her somewhat."

"So it might, so it might," responded his host, urbanely. "Now, let us go indoors; you must be positively famishing, and that port of mine is itching, I know, to see the light of day."

"What a time you are going to have!" whispered the girl, as they took their places at table.

He and she managed to stave off the evil day until lunch was half over; but procrastination was not nearly as wholesale a thief of time as they wished him to be.

"Now, about those two unique dahlias of yours," began the Colonel; "you really must allow me to come and see them."

"Delighted, sir. Any time that may be convenient to you. Come and spend a week with me."

"You are very kind. I should say to-morrow if, literally, any time would do," laughed the Colonel; "but I think even you cannot induce dahlias to flower before July."

"Well, no. Of course, my 'anytime' presupposed these natural limits," said the aeronaut, aloud.

"I fancied they were spring flowers," said the aeronaut in a stage-aside. "So I can go scot-free until July. I must marry her before then."

Colonel Currie was on the point of launching well out into his favourite waters—in which case the Providence of so fatuous a trifler as Reginald Hampton must surely have deserted him—when a certain peculiarity in his guest's face arrested his attention. He gazed fixedly at him for a few moments, then frowned ominously.

"I beg your pardon, sir, but you have the family nose. I have never seen that peculiar dent in the middle in any but a Currie nose. Is it possible—"

"I also beg your pardon, Colonel," responded the balloonist, following a sudden inspiration; "but before answering your question, may I ask if you are really as devoted to flowers as you seem to be?"

"I am indeed. They are the passion of my life," said Colonel Currie, still gazing perplexedly at his companion's nasal hallmark.

"For my part, I can never forgive a florist—a true florist—who can find it in his heart to put other—other considerations first. If a man told me that he possessed a blue dahlia, for instance, I would go and see that man in the teeth of gatling guns."

"So would I. Grape-shot is a matter of no consequence by comparison."

"If the man had relations in the house whom it made my head ache to meet, I would still go. Nothing in the world, sir, ought to stand in the way of a blue dahlia."

"Nothing," responded the Colonel, forgetting everything else in a sudden fervour of sympathetic enthusiasm.

"You are quite convinced of that?"

"Quite. How can you doubt me?"

The aeronaut paused, and then planted this shot squarely in the Colonel's astonished person.

"Then, uncle, you won't mind my saying that I am Reginald Hampton, and that it will be necessary for you to see the blue dahlia and your sister in conjunction."

The Colonel grew purple, then white; he stammered, and beat upon the table with his fingers, and talked in strange languages. But he had the good sense to see that he was cornered. Besides, what had his nephew ever done to him, and how could he help being proud of so unique an horticulturist?

Finally, the Colonel reached out his hand across the table.

"Confound you, boy, you've conquered me! I must see that dahlia!" he cried.

"How to arrange matters floral when the merry month of July comes round, I can't guess," mused Reginald Hampton, as he lit a Manilla. "But sufficient for the day is the evil thereof, and my bounden duty is to marry the little girl in June."

Which he did.




A painter once made a miniature of King Charles II. which was more or less of a caricature. "Is that like me?" said the King when he saw it. "Then, odd's fish, I'm an ugly fellow!"

The remark recalls another made to our own Queen when she said to Chalon, the miniaturist, that photography would ruin his profession.

"Ah! non, madame; photographie cannot flattere," was the confident reply.

These comments seem to imply that miniatures make either "ugly fellows" or flattered dames, which is by no means true. But in selecting those which accompany this article, we sought for pretty faces, and decided to admit no "fellows" of any sort except one—no less than a Lord Chief Justice.

The very marked attention which the miniatures in the Royal Academy attracted this year is one of many things which show how great a revival there has been in the taste for miniatures—a revival which is one of the most significant features in the history of modern art.

When photography appeared, it had no difficulty for a time in sweeping miniatures out of the field, for many people preferred the novelty of an exact portrait to a "work of art."

But the pendulum of taste has again swung back. We no longer accept a coloured photograph as a substitute for a genuine miniature, but realise that the two things are quite distinct. At the same time, there are to-day a number of so-called miniaturists who content themselves with copying photographs. But all those whose work is here represented condemn the practice, and do their work from the life. This involves, of course, several sittings for the person to be painted—a fact sometimes resented. Two famous miniaturists wanted to paint King Charles II., so to save time he made them paint him at the same sitting.

Mr. Cecil Rhodes is a man who thinks sittings are superfluous. He gave a commission to Miss Carlisle—a clever portrait painter and miniaturist—to paint his portrait, but nothing could induce him to give a sitting. Miss Carlisle therefore had to dodge him in all sorts of ways to see what manner of man he was.

He used to pass her studio on his way to the Park in the morning, so Miss Carlisle was always on the watch for him and on many other occasions, about which he knew nothing.

Miss Carlisle was born in South Africa, where her grandfather, General Sir John Bisset, was well known. Curiously enough, when Miss Carlisle was quite a young girl she came over to England on the same boat as Mr. Cecil Rhodes. He was then, she says, "a long and lanky youth, who spent all his time in reading books." He was coming to Oxford to keep his terms.

By the way, there was a famous lady miniaturist in the days of Charles I. named Carlisle, and to show his appreciation of her work the King presented her with L500 worth of ultramarine!

To paint a miniature is as arduous a task as to paint a large picture in oils, and requires quite as much skill. Miss Coleridge—whose miniature of her uncle, Chief Justice Coleridge, attracted so much attention in the Academy this year, and is reproduced on p. 202—says: "I find the work, though I love it, even harder than painting large portraits; it requires quite as much thought and care. It is only by working straight from the life, studying your model's expression and character, that you can hope to be even the most humble disciple of the art as it was in the last century.

"The great difficulty I experience is in getting people to understand that they must sit to me. They all say, 'Miss or Mr. So-and-So paints from photos—why can't you?' No doubt these artists do a very charming lightly-stippled coloured photo for them, but there can never be any life in these things, nor can they be anything else than coloured photographs, however pleasant to the eye of their owners."

The portrait of Miss Wilson, one of the beauties of the season, is also by Miss Coleridge, who works a great deal in pastels.

Many amusing stories are told by artists about their sitters, but as a rule the stories are told with this absurd restriction: "but you mustn't publish that"—which, of course, takes the point absolutely away.

Mr. Alyn Williams, the President of the Society of Miniature Painters, to whom the Society owes its origin and prosperity, tells a good story which he does not claim to be original. He tells it rather to show the difficulties which an artist is sometimes made to overcome by his client.

A man who distinctly came from the provinces once went to an artist who had painted a celebrated picture of David, and said that he wanted him to paint a picture of his father.

The artist consented, and suggested that it would be necessary for the subject to come to his studio. That, however, the son declared to be impossible, and at last the fact came out that he was dead.

"Have you a photograph?" asked the artist.

No; a photograph had never been taken.

"Then I cannot paint him," declared the artist.

"But you painted David," retorted the man, "and he has been dead much longer than my father!"

This was irresistible, and so the artist consented to do his best.

When the fancy picture of the father was finished, the faithful son came to see it, and liked it very much.

"It is very good," he said. "But," he added, after a little reflection, "how he has changed!"


Miss Merrylees, whose miniatures, seven in number, make a fine show at the Academy, once had to paint a miniature of a clergyman; but the only way of getting his right expression was to make him recite long poems and dramatic scenes from Shakespeare. While he was doing this, Miss Merrylees "went on painting madly."

Another time she was painting a little boy, who was sitting very still and silent.

Suddenly he convulsed his painter by propounding this tremendous query: "Do you like your groom to sit so, or so?" And he indicated two varieties of the akimbo manner.

A charming portrait of a pretty child indicates Miss Merrylees' style of work. This was exhibited both in the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon.

Holbein, who was a great miniaturist, had a very summary method of dealing with people who troubled him while he was painting miniatures. A nobleman once came into his studio while he was painting a lady, and was promptly thrown downstairs, like Daddy Longlegs of immortal fame.

The King, Henry VIII., heard of it, but sympathised with the painter. "Of seven peasants I can make as many lords, but not one Holbein," he said.

King Henry had a special reason for this sympathy. When he heard of a pretty woman he sent Holbein to paint her, with a view to making her his wife. On one occasion, at least, a flattering miniature led its unhappy subject into trouble—Anne of Cleves.

A word should be said about the origin of the miniature. In the first instance the word had nothing to do with the size of a painting. It comes from the Latin word minium, or red lead. In old days the capitals of illuminated missals were painted with this by great artists, while the less important work was done by minor ones. Thus the miniatura meant the picture painted by the great artist. The word miniature, in its present sense, was born in the 18th century, which was the best period of British miniature painting.

The material on which miniatures have been painted has varied from time to time. To-day ivory cut very thin is almost invariably used.

The elephant is not a graceful or artistic beast, and no particularly sentimental thoughts at first sight attach to him. But artists to-day would be at a loss without his tusks, and much sentiment is lavished on them in the form of lovers' portraits.

While love lasts the miniature will always be in vogue, for artists frankly admit that it is so convenient to carry in the pocket. It represents so much in so little. Miniature painting is especially therefore "the lovers' art." Some say that it makes the subject "beautiful for ever," and what more could Romeo want?

Ivory, however, is of comparatively modern use in the art world and the studio. Vellum, gold, silver, and enamel were the things on which miniatures were painted before the days of ivory.

The prices of these dainty pictures vary enormously. As much as L3,000 was paid for one in the Hamilton collection, while another in a diamond setting sold at Christie's for L2,000. Nowadays, L5 to L100 is easily obtained, according to the skill of the painter.

Her Majesty the Queen is a great collector of miniatures. Her collection at Windsor is of great historic as well as financial value. She has greatly encouraged the art, and has been repeatedly painted in miniature. She frequently gives these miniatures of herself away as special presents.

Miss Carlisle painted one of the Queen with which she was very pleased. She gave it to the Prince of Wales, who said that it was the best of his mother which had been painted for many years.

To deal in detail with the miniatures on these pages. Mr. Alyn Williams is the painter of the charming portrait of a lady in the Gainsborough style.

Miss Kuessner, who is represented by a miniature of Lady Dudley, has already painted an enormous number of ivories. She arrived in New York in 1893 an unknown girl, with a letter of introduction to a lady of social influence, but "very exclusive."

In much fear and trembling the letter was presented. The lady was too unwell to see the artist, but she sent word down that she would see the miniature she had with her.

"This was almost more than she could bear, and she sat waiting the maid's return in sadness that was near despair. But when she did come, how the little miniaturist's sinking heart leaped; for the maid brought an invitation—the lady would see her in her own room." So a friend tells the tale.

Since then Miss Kuessner has pained many of the English aristocracy, and gets L100 a miniature.

This is how Miss Kuessner works. First comes the study of her sitter, and perhaps one entire sitting will be devoted to this. Then follows the sketching of the face on the ivory—a transcript of the form and spirit. Lastly comes the actual painting, with infinitesimally small brushes, each stroke made under a powerful magnifying glass.

Lady Dudley's marriage was quite a romance. She was the daughter of Mr. Gurney, of Norfolk, whose business reverses caused him to resign his partnership in the well-known Gurney Bank and surrender his possessions for the benefit of his creditors.

His wife came to London and opened a milliner's shop, and in this her two daughters served. But it was not a success, and so the daughters entered the employ of a well-known West End modiste. But the Duchess of Bedford and Lady Henry Somerset became interested in them; and it was as the adopted daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford that Rachel Gurney married Lord Dudley.

Miss Winifred Hope Thomson, whose miniature of Miss Pamela Plowden we give, had the place of honour in the miniature room of the Academy this year. Simplicity of style is the feature of Miss Thomson's work, and probably the reason why her miniatures are considered like those of the great Cosway.

Miss Edith Maas is another lady whose miniatures are very greatly admired for their beauty and style. Her portrait of Delia, the daughter of the Rev. and Hon. Ed. Lyttelton, Head Master of Haileybury College, has been exhibited in the New Gallery. The other miniatures we give are of Mrs. Shand, wife of His Honour Judge Shand, and the Hon. Mrs. Benyon, daughter of Lord North. The latter was exhibited in the '93 Academy.

The number of ladies well known as clever miniature painters is quite extraordinary, and with but few exceptions all the portraits on these pages were painted by ladies.

Miss M. Josephine Gibson sends us two charming pictures which she calls "Ma Belle" and "Kathleen." These are exquisite, both in conception and execution. Mrs. Lee Hankey, who, with Miss Gibson, is on the Council of the Society of Miniature Painters, is represented by one strong picture. "Daffodil" is by Mrs. E. W. Andrews, also known as "E. J. Harding." All these ladies have miniatures in this year's Academy.

From the studios of Mr. Esme Collings, of Bond Street, comes the charming miniature of two girls' heads, originally painted in black and white. This gentleman has published a very dainty little brochure on "The Revival of Miniature Art," which gives some romantic stories about miniatures and their painters.

One tells how the Comte de Guiche, being in love with a daughter of Charles I., wore her portrait, mounted on a snuff box, over his heart, and owed his life to this circumstance, for the box turned aside a bullet which struck him in battle—a hint which all soldiers should take. This box is now in the possession of the Baroness Burdett-Coutts.

Other stories tell of Richard Gibson and Miss Biffin, both gifted miniaturists. But the first was a dwarf, 3 feet 10 inches high, who married another dwarf of his own height who lived till she was ninety-seven, and became the mother of nine children. As for Miss Biffin, she was limbless, but managed her paint-brush and pencil with her mouth.

Of course there are miniatures and miniatures. But Shakespeare, by a miniature in words, has given us an exquisite conception of what a miniature in art should be—at least when it is "Fair Portia's counterfeit."

"... Here in her hair The painter plays the spider, and hath woven A golden mesh to entrap the hearts of men Faster than gnats in cobwebs; but her eyes— How could he see to do them? having made one, Methinks it should have power to steal both his, And leave itself unfurnished."

But Bassanio was not an art critic—merely a lover! The miniaturist, however, who can weave on ivory "a golden mesh to entrap the hearts of men" may surely find content.


Illustrated by Edmund J. Sullivan.

After my engagement to Lucy Vivian I took to working very hard—a man always does that or nothing at all—and the work suited me better than the idleness. I suppose we had been engaged five months, and I was beginning to grow accustomed to it, when one afternoon the amiable peer who had been of such service to me in the affair strolled into my studio. Directly I set eyes on him I knew he had something in the wind, his manner was so absolutely uninterested.

He nodded to me without speaking, crossed over to the fire (it was bitterly cold outside), and stood with his back to it. Then he pulled off his gloves slowly and invited me to come and shake hands.

"You lazy beggar!" I said; "you come here! Can't you see I'm working?"

"Working! you're always working. What's come over you?"

"You forget——"

"Oh, it's Lucy, is it?" he asked. "Well, well! she's a dear child, Phil, I admit."

"Lord St. Alleyne," I said, "you never spoke a truer word."

"Why will you always be throwing that confounded title in my face? I'm only an Irish peer; that title has been a great drawback to me."

"How?" I asked.

"It makes people take twice as long as they should to find out I'm a decent chap."

"It didn't take me long," I said.

"You're different, Phil; it's the women it troubles."

I shrugged my shoulders.

"Well, what do you want?" I asked.

"A cigar," he said.

"You know where they are, don't you?" I replied.

He went to my cigar cabinet and selected one thoughtfully. Then he lit it and drew his favourite armchair up to the hearth. His profile was towards me, and I remarked, as I had done a hundred times before, what a beautiful face it was. The lines were as clear and round as a woman's; the mouth sensitively delicate, but firmly set; the nose straight, with only the slightest indentation below the brows. It was a face of singular purity and candour. After a time he bent forward towards the blaze and looked hard into the fire's heart.

"I believe I'm done for, Phil," he said.

"What do you mean?"

"I won't tell you till you put down those brushes. You know you can't see."

"All right," I said. "If you come here to make me neglect my duty, I suppose I must put up with it."

"Pooh!" he said; "sit down then and don't be an ass."

"I'll sit down, but perhaps I can't help being an ass."

"I daresay you can't, poor dear," he said. Then he lay back in his chair and laughed. "To think of me," he chuckled, "falling in love."

I sat down at the other side of the fire and lit a pipe.

"But you've been in love ever since I knew you."

"The others didn't count; this does."

I begged him to explain.

"Well, it's like this. When I saw her often I wasn't quite sure about it, but now that I can't see her at all the thing's dead certain."

I again begged him to be more explicit. "You talk in the dark," I said.

"Then why don't you light a lamp?"

I did as he suggested and sat down again.

"Is there anything else I can do for you?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, "you're coming over to Ireland with me to-morrow."

"I'll see you hanged first," I said.

"The train leaves Euston at 8.45 p.m."

"It can leave when it likes. I shan't be there."

"By eleven o'clock on Thursday we shall be in Stromore."

"Well?" I said, weakly.

"I knew you'd come!" he said.

"But I won't," I said.

He smiled tenderly upon me.

"And yet," he said, "I endured that dragon Mrs. Vivian for your sake for full ten minutes."

"If you'll explain what it's all about," I said, "I'll do anything I can to help you, but as to—"

He tapped me on the knee with the poker.

"Listen!" he said. "In my opinion, my cousin, Mrs. O'Callaghan, is mad."

"I'm not surprised to hear it," I said.

He tapped me again with the poker.

"My cousin, Mrs. O'Callaghan, has a daughter, and in any decent man's home," he added, "there'd be something to drink Norah's health in."

I got up wearily and produced what was required, and we drank solemnly to Norah O'Callaghan.

"That's better," said St. Alleyne. "Now Mrs. O'Callaghan has her heart set on Norah's going into a convent, and Norah, poor child, thinks she has a leaning towards the religious life, and that before she has seen any other life at all. When I heard of this folly I went over, but never a sight of the girl could I get except with her mother. The old woman never lets her outside the grounds, and there they walk up and down for an hour every day."

I was becoming seriously interested, and St. Alleyne saw it.

"Does Miss O'Callaghan know you care for her?" I asked.

"I suppose any girl knows," he said.

"Did you ever speak to her about it?"

"Not seriously," he said.

"Isn't it possible she thinks you were playing with her and may be playing still; and, granted she cares for you, mayn't that be driving her into the convent?"

His face was suddenly flushed with a kind of pitying shame.

"By Jove!" he said. "It may be so, Phil; I never meant to play with her, I swear that."

"I believe you," I said, "but it looks as though there might be something in what I suggest."

"It does," he answered.

"Have you written to her?"

He tapped me once more with the poker.

"No, and if I did she'd never get the letter. I know my cousin, Mrs. O'Callaghan. She thinks all the St. Alleynes are a bad lot, because, I suppose, my grandfather was a wild devil once. That's where I have to suffer for my name."

"But you could convince her otherwise, I suppose?"

"I'd undertake to do it, if I were sure of Norah."

I knocked the ashes from my pipe and stood up. The situation interested me; my own happiness was so near that I was prepared to do a great deal for my friend.

"Well," I said, "suppose I go over with you, how am I to help?"

He rose and stood by my side, putting his right arm round my shoulder. He was quite his old cheerful self again.

"We'll think of that when we get there," he said. "You must draw Mrs. O'Callaghan off while I talk to the girl somehow. If I have a sure friend at hand the thing can be managed. I knew you'd come, old man. My cousin, Mrs. O'Callaghan," he added, "has burnt her own boats; if she hadn't played me this trick I might never have discovered that I wanted Norah."

"Oh, yes, you would," I said.

"You know, of course," he said, pinching my ear.

When I awoke the next morning I confess that our project did not look particularly hopeful, but I had undoubted faith in St. Alleyne's ingenuity, and it was a great satisfaction to me to see Lucy, and let her into the secret of our expedition. Her eagerness, indeed, was much greater than mine, and she made me promise to send her a telegram directly there was any good news to communicate.

It was a bitterly cold night in January when St. Alleyne and I crossed, and I am not a particularly good sailor. I remained on deck for the sake of the air, the saloon being hopeless, and made what efforts I could to keep myself warm. Every now and then I looked into the smoking-room, where my friend was consuming large cigars; I envied him his occupation, but rejected all his invitations to join him. After a time he came out and wrapped me up in half a dozen rugs on a seat. By the time we reached Dublin I was numb to the heart, and knew I was in for a violent cold.

However, we made no delay, but caught the mail for the south. The carriage was warmer than the boat, and by a judicious arrangement of rugs I managed to bring back some heat into my blood, and with it came a revived interest in our expedition. St. Alleyne had said nothing about his plan since starting, but as I looked across at him I could see that he was thinking hard. He caught my eye and smiled.

"Feel better?" he asked.

"Much," I said.

"You look a poor starved rat of a man, even now."

"I'm sorry," I said, "that I haven't your terrific constitution."

"It hasn't been much good to me so far," he said, "and I'll thank you, Mr. Mildmay, for one of those excellent cigars of yours."

"I think I could manage one myself," said I, sitting up.

"Bravo! Now we can talk seriously.... I've been thinking, Phil."

"I could see that!"

"You could, could you? Well, I've hit on a plan—a beautiful plan."

"Capital!" I said.

"But the carrying through depends upon you."

"Am I in fit condition?" I asked.

"Faith, you'll be in too good condition presently. It depends on your sickness."

It was always necessary to beg St. Alleyne to explain: I did this forcibly, and he brought his head close to mine.

"I told you, I think," he said, "that in my opinion my cousin, Mrs. O'Callaghan, is mad?"

"You did."

"Well," he said, "she's not so mad, neither. She has some idea of true charity. Now Norah is a great hand with the sick; she has a way with her, as we say over here, and Mrs. O'Callaghan encourages her to visit them; it's all part of the convent scheme."

"I begin to see," I said; "I'm to be sick."

"And who," said he, "would you rather see in your suffering than an angel like Norah?"

"I'd rather see Lucy," I said.

"Well, well, you're a constant creature. I have a little place over here near Stromore, as you know; but you mustn't be ill there; you must go to the hotel." He paused and looked at me.

"Go on," I said.

"And being very low," he continued, very slowly, "you'll speak to Biddy about it."

"Who's Biddy?" I asked.

"Mahony's daughter; he runs the hotel. And you'll say that you'd like to see someone—a woman for choice—as you have something weighing on your mind; and then you might drop Miss O'Callaghan's name. Now Biddy was Norah's maid for a time, and what more natural than that she should suggest bringing her old mistress to the poor sick guest?"

"You're a rogue," I said.

"Then Norah will come to you," he went on, "and I shall be in the next room, and after a time you'll speak of me, and then—"

"We must wait for the rest," I said, "But what will your cousin, Mrs. O'Callaghan, be doing all the time?"

"She'll be talking to Mahony about the price of oats downstairs."

"This is a very charming plan," I said, "but will it work? And do you think me humbug enough to mix myself up in such an affair?"

"You're humbug enough for anything," he said, "but have you the nerve?"

"It doesn't need much nerve," I said.

"You haven't seen Norah," he replied.

"Well, I'll risk it; I came over here to help you, and I may as well do it, little as the job suits me."

"Oh," he laughed, "it'll be grand to see my cousin Mrs. O'Callaghan's face!"

It was important to our plan that St. Alleyne and I should not seem to be together, so he gave me final instructions before we reached Stromore Station. "You must get the bedroom over the door," he said, "because there's a sitting-room next to it, and we must have them both."

"Suppose it's already occupied?" I said.

"You don't know Stromore in the winter," he said; "there won't be a soul in the place, and Mahony will kneel at your feet."

"I hope he won't," I said, "because I might feel inclined to kick him."

"Kick Mahony!" he cried, "the man's six feet two, and as strong as an ox. You'd better begin to be sick almost at once, hadn't you?"

"I feel bad enough," I said.

We shook hands in the carriage as the train pulled up at Stromore; on the platform we did not know each other.

I secured a car at once, and told the man to drive to the St. Alleyne Arms, and as we swung up the road from the station I looked back and saw his lordship coming slowly down the steps.

"Do ye know," asked my driver, "how long his lordship's come for?"

"His lordship!—whose lordship?"

"Lord St. Alleyne," he said, looking at me incredulously.

"What do I know about the man?" I asked. "Where is he?"

"He's there, sure, comin' down the shteps."

"Indeed," I said, and told the man to hurry, as I was cold.

I had no difficulty in securing the two rooms I wanted, and as I took possession of them I felt some of the pangs of a conspirator. I was also, as a matter of fact, quite sufficiently unwell to see things rather gloomily, and as I sat by my window after lunch, and looked out into the grey street, I confess that I wished myself engaged in a less dubious enterprise.

And then, as I sat there, I heard the brisk sound of wheels, and a carriage drove by, and in it there sat a lady of a rather severe aspect and a girl. The girl glanced up at the inn as she passed; from out of a nest of white fur, there looked a face that made me come nearer to forgetting Lucy than anything I could have imagined. "That," said I to myself, "is Norah, and the other is Mrs. O'Callaghan. My dear St. Alleyne, I'll begin my part of the game this minute if it's to help you to win that child."

And indeed there was no time to be lost, for we had arranged that St. Alleyne was to call at eleven o'clock the next morning to see how things were getting on. I accordingly looked for a bell-rope, but, being unable to find one, I opened the door and called downstairs. Biddy came up light as a bird, and with a merry engaging smile on her face.

"Biddy," I said, "I feel ill, and I think I'll go to bed. I've caught a bad cold, and it may turn to fever with me."

"Lord save us!" she cried, "will I send for the docther?"

"No, I'll see how I am later. And, Biddy, at six o'clock, I might try to eat some dinner."

"To be sure, sorr," she said. "Can I do anythin' for ye now?"

"No," said I, pressing my hand against my forehead, "but if I want anything I'll ring."

"There's no bell," she said, "so you must just knock on the flure, an' I'll hear ye."

With that she departed, and I made up the fire and got slowly into bed. My head did ache a little, but not enough to make me unhappy, and it seemed to me, as I lay in the midst of that apparently dead Irish town, that I was coming perilously near to playing the fool. But my confidence in St. Alleyne was unbounded, and under all his lightness of manner it was plain that he was in deadly earnest; so presently, thinking of him and of the face I had seen, and being horribly tired after the previous night, I fell comfortably asleep.

When I awoke it was dark outside and there was only the red glow of firelight in the room. I got up to light a candle, and felt rather lightheaded and feverish; it gave me some satisfaction to realise that I should not have to altogether act my part. I looked at my watch and found that it was a quarter to six. I lay down again and listened; beyond the slight movement in the house there was not a sound to be heard; I might have been in a lodge in the wilderness.

Presently I heard Biddy's light step on the stairs, and there was a tentative knock at the door.

"Come in," I cried, and she entered with dinner and a lamp.

"Are you betther, sorr?" she asked.

"No," said I, "but worse."

"Will I send for Docther Nolan now?"

"No, Biddy, I'll try to eat some dinner."

"Do, poor soul!" she said. She drew a little table to the bedside, and, having set the food on it, left me. It was not a good dinner; a healthy appetite and an easy conscience might have been satisfied with it, but neither of these was mine at the moment, so I did no more than just play with it. Then I knocked on the floor for Biddy, who came up at once. She was always smiling; she had one of those faces to which only laughter or tears seem natural.

"Have ye done, sorr?" she asked, in undisguised surprise.

"Yes," I said, "I can't eat."

She suggested Doctor Nolan again.

"No, I'm afraid a doctor could do no good until I've got something off my mind."

"Will I sind for a priest, thin?" she asked.

"At present, Biddy, it's not a matter for a priest, but if you knew of some good woman, not a nun, but still in the world—" I paused from sheer inability to go on; I was so unused to this kind of thing that any sign of suspicion on Biddy's part would have meant disaster. But Biddy had a kind heart, and instantly scented a romance.

"Ah," she said, "I see how it is wid ye."

I said nothing, but lay still, watching her face. I tried once or twice to mention Miss O'Callaghan's name, but my lips refused to approach it without a weakness that might have betrayed me. And then, all at once, Biddy did it for me.

"I might ast Miss O'Callaghan to see ye," she said.

My face burned. "And who's Miss O'Callaghan?" I asked.

"A dear, dear heart," said Biddy, "an' just the lady to help ye if it's love you're throubled about. She's had throuble herself," she added, "an' may his lordship be made to pay for it!"

"What do you mean about Miss O'Callaghan and his lordship?"

"Was I her maid for three years and not know her secrets?"

I begged Biddy to explain, which she refused to do; but I gathered enough from her to judge that my surmise had been correct, and that Norah was wholly his lordship's if he could get fair speech with her.

"Biddy," said I, "you're a good girl, and if you can bring Miss O'Callaghan to see me at half-past eleven to-morrow I'll dance at your wedding."

"I'll go to her now," she said; "rest quiet, now, till I come back."

When Biddy had gone I was almost sorry that I had not taken her completely into my confidence, but her interest seemed so deeply engaged on my behalf that I felt sure she would work strongly on Miss O'Callaghan's feelings; and so it proved, for she returned in an hour to say that the lady would come on the following morning. After this piece of news I calmly went to sleep again, and only awoke to find Biddy once more at my bedside with breakfast.

I assured her that I felt somewhat better, and would be ready for Miss O'Callaghan when she came. Just as I had finished breakfast I heard St. Alleyne's voice below. Presently Biddy came up with curiosity shining from her face.

"Why didn't ye tell me," she said, "that ye knew his lordship?"

"Biddy, can I trust you?" I asked.

She tossed her head. "Thrust me," she said, "an' why not, sure?"

"I knew I could. Well, you'll show Lord St. Alleyne up, and he won't go down again until after Miss O'Callaghan has seen me."

"Lord save us!" cried Biddy.

"I know," I went on, "that you have your late mistress's happiness at heart, and this will make it safe. It depends upon you whether there is to be a great wedding at Stromore, or the convent for Miss O'Callaghan."

"Lord save us!" Biddy cried again, between laughter and tears.

"Mrs. O'Callaghan," I said, "is a strange woman, I understand."

"She is that!" Biddy interjected.

"And therefore this interview must be arranged as best it can. On your life, don't say a word to either of them about his lordship being here!"

Biddy's hesitation was only momentary; she promised, and fled from the room.

When St. Alleyne came in I saw he had not had much sleep and that his nerves were on the rack, but his manner was as unperturbed as ever. He sat down on the side of my bed and looked at me curiously.

"How are you?" he asked.

"Perfectly well," I answered; "don't I look it?"

"You look a bit flushed, that's all."

"And with good cause. Miss O'Callaghan will be here in half an hour."

"Thank God!" he said, and walked to the window. He stood silently with his back to me for some time, looking down into the street. Then he said, "How are you going to manage the interview?"

"I don't know; if you worry me I shall make a mess of it."

"I'm not going to worry you, old chap," he said; "you must just do it your own way."

"I saw her yesterday."

He swung round and faced me.

"What did you think of her?" he asked.

"I think," said I, "that you must have been born for each other."

His face lit up with a sudden, boyish smile.

"Thanks," he said, and turned to the window again. A moment later he stepped back quickly.

"There she is," he said, "and my cousin, Mrs. O'Callaghan, with her."

"It was just like you," I cried, "to stand there where the whole street could see you."

"Don't be angry, Phil," he said, humbly, "she didn't look up."

"For heaven's sake get into the next room and shut the door."

He came over to me swiftly and rested his hands on my shoulders.

"Play up, Phil," he whispered, "for the sake of old times." Then he left me, and the door of the sitting-room closed softly behind him.

When I heard footsteps on the stairs and realised that the game had really commenced, the ambiguity of my position overwhelmed me; I wished myself, for a moment, well out of the affair at any price. But the thought of the greater strain upon St. Alleyne, and what it meant to him, restored my composure, and I waited with closed eyes. The door opened, and I heard Biddy's voice say, "Here's Miss O'Callaghan to see ye, sorr." When I looked up, a vision of loveliness greeted my eyes.

Miss O'Callaghan came towards me with a face full of the tenderest solicitude. She was wearing a tailor-made dress that fitted her to perfection, and on her head she had a large hat, from under which tiny tendrils of dark hair had escaped; her skin was of the whiteness of rose petals except where the blood flushed, her eyes had the look of wet violets in spring. My lips murmured incoherent thanks and welcome. I could not force my mind away from the waiting figure in the next room.

"You wished to see me," she said, in a soft voice that had an under-note of sadness. "If I can help you, please be quite free with me. It's to be my life's work to help those who are in trouble."

"Your life's work?" I repeated.

"Yes," she said, "I'm to go into a convent."

"My trouble will seem very small to you, but to me it seems great, and it has to do with so worldly a thing as love."

Her face flushed and paled again before she answered—

"True love can never be small—it is always beautiful."

"That is my thought of it, too," I said; "but however much one wants to do the right thing, it is sometimes terribly hard to decide."

"I know," she said, "I know."

"Now suppose," I said, "that I loved a girl with all my heart—as I do," I added, thinking of Lucy, "but had never told her so; and suppose that her friends, for some foolish reason, did not like me, and wished her to devote her life to a calling which she herself had some leaning to——"

"Yes," she said, breathlessly, and I could see she was applying the case to herself.

"And suppose," I went on, "I had been blind in the past, and perhaps unknowingly allowed the time to go by when I should have spoken: would I be justified in coming into her life again, drawing her away from the peace that this calling might already have given her, and asking her to come back with me into the world where love is?"

For an instant she turned her head aside, and I saw the tears heavy under her eyelids.

"It would be for her to decide," she said; "you should tell her."

"That's just what my friend Lord St. Alleyne thinks," I said.

"You know him?" she cried. The look in her eyes at that moment was certainly not for me.

"He is my very dear friend," I said, "and I have often heard him speak of you. I know him for one of the best men alive."

She slipped down on her knees by the bed, and if I had not already known all about the matter her eyes would have told me.

"I believe he is, I believe he is," she said. "Tell me about him. Is he well? When did you see him last?"

"No longer ago than this morning," I said.

She hid her face and was silent for a time; I could see that she loved him beyond the ordinary love of women, and the sight sent such a wave of content through me that I believe I laughed softly. At any rate she looked up and I could not bear to see her unhappy any longer.

"My dear Miss O'Callaghan," I said, taking into my hand the warm little gloved fingers that lay on the coverlid, "will you forgive me for being a conspirator and a humbug? Remember I did it for the sake of my friend, and I knew he was worth it. I spoke of him and not of myself."

"What do you mean?" she cried. And then, with a hand at her bosom, "Oh, tell me, tell me!"

"St. Alleyne," I said, "loves you, and he's here to tell you himself." And with that I raised my voice and called his name. The door opened instantly—he must have had his hand on the latch the whole time—and there he stood, with his arms stretched out to her and the name, "Norah," on his lips. She sprang to her feet and ran to him with so joyful a cry that I knew my part in the comedy was over, and just as they embraced I turned away and closed my eyes.

Ten minutes later they came back; she was leaning on his shoulder and he had an arm about her waist.

"This conspiracy has been so successful," I said, "that I shall never engage in another. It would never do to spoil my record."

"You have two friends now instead of one," Miss O'Callaghan said.

"Phil," said St. Alleyne, "get up, you old dear, while Norah and I go downstairs to see my cousin, Mrs. O'Callaghan."

They left me once more, and as I dressed I felt so absurdly light-hearted that I had to sing to myself; I forget what the song was, but I know, there was something about lovers' meetings in it. As I reached the foot of the stairs I heard voices in the dining-room; one of them was rather high-pitched and hard, but it sounded pleasant enough as it said, "Well, St. Alleyne, you've beaten me this time, and I suppose I must give in, but it will take you long years to make me believe in your family."

And I concluded it was the voice of his lordship's cousin, Mrs. O'Callaghan.


Here is an interesting photograph of a pair of "dog gates" which may be seen at Slyfield Manor, near Leatherhead, in Surrey.

These gates were very common in country houses in the days of Queen Elizabeth, but there are not many to be seen to-day. Dogs know how to behave now, and there is no need for them.

As their name implies, the gates were used to keep the dogs of the house from wandering upstairs into bedrooms and other places where they had no right.

But many people like to hear their dogs scratching at the door in the morning.

The gates shown in our photograph are in excellent condition. They were photographed by Mr. S. H. Wrightson, of Aldershot.

Pictures by Mr. "Rip."

Words by M. Randall Roberts

Why is it, in these days of up-to-date cricket reporting, no one has noticed the most striking characteristic of Ranjitsinhji's play? The pose of W. G. Grace's tip-tilted foot as he stands at the wicket, Abel's serio-comic expression as he cocks his eye and ambles from the pavilion, and Mr. Key's rotundity, are as familiar as Mr. Chamberlain's eye-glass even to the non-cricketing public; but the ballooning of Prince Ranjitsinhji's silk shirt has hitherto been allowed to lie in obscurity.

About the silk shirt itself there is no particular mystery; dozens of other cricketers wear one exactly like it; but none of these garments "balloon" with the same unvarying persistence as Ranji's. Whether half a gale is blowing on the Hove ground, or there is not enough wind to move the flag at Lord's, the Indian prince's cricket shirt always presents the appearance of the mainsail of a six-tonner on a breezy day in the Solent. Anyone can satisfy himself as to the truth of this assertion by glancing at the first illustration on page 213. The batsman's face is concealed by his arm, and his attitude in playing the ball is almost identical with that of hundreds of other cricketers. Yet there is no mistaking the player. It's Ranji as plainly as if his name was printed all over it; the curve in his shirt gives him away at once. Unkind critics, indeed, declared that the secret of his success in Australia was that, while the rest of Mr. Stoddart's team were panting for a breath of fresh air with the thermometer at 100 deg. in the shade, some mysterious Indian deity was perpetually blowing on Ranji with a thousand cooling zephyrs. Nowadays, Ranjitsinhji's critics are becoming more sane; but when first he burst into splendour, many of his weird strokes were attributed to some supernatural agency. Ranji's most telling stroke, as every cricketer knows, is what is technically known as the "hook" stroke. Most fine batsmen are content to stop short straight balls on a fast wicket. Ranji is more ambitious. When he sees a ball of this kind coming, he stands directly in front of his wicket, and at the moment when the ball is apparently on the point of going through his body, he "hooks" it round to leg.

How hazardous this proceeding is may be gathered from the obvious fact that if the batsman fails to get his bat exactly in the proper place in exactly the proper fraction of a second, he will infallibly have to retire either with a fractured skull or "leg before wicket."

While the cricket scribes used to regard Ranjitsinhji's good fortune in escaping a violent end while playing this speciality of his as a supernatural gift, practical cricketers consider the stroke bad form. "That leg stroke of yours," said an old player to him in the pavilion at Lord's, "is all very well now and then, but it's not cricket; it's far too risky. If you miss the ball, you're bound to be out leg before." "Quite so," replied Ranji; "but one would be out pretty frequently, clean bowled, if one missed the ball—every time a straight ball came, in fact."

Ranjitsinhji's batting has been variously described as satanic, electric, and elusive. "Serpentine" would be far more accurate. Anyone in the least familiar with the famous Indian's style will at once see the point of the epithet.

The line of beauty, we all know, is a curve; and the real secret of the attractiveness of Ranji's batting (from the spectators' point of view) is that every position he assumes seems to be laid out in a curve.

In the illustration on page 215 "Rip" has but very slightly exaggerated the effect of the sinuous curves into which Ranji's body resolves itself before he makes a stroke. That he can unbend faster than any other cricketer past or present is an incontestable fact. The yarn of how in a match at Cambridge he once brought off a catch with such amazing rapidity that the batsman, under the impression that the ball had travelled near the boundary, continued running till Ranji extracted the ball from his pocket, is most likely apocryphal; but to anyone who has seen him fielding slip the feat ascribed to him won't seem impossible.

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