Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
KIPPS - THE STORY OF A SIMPLE SOUL
BY H. G. WELLS
THE LITTLE SHOP AT NEW ROMNEY
Until he was nearly arrived at adolescence it did not become clear to
Kipps how it was that he was under the care of an aunt and uncle instead
of having a father and mother like other boys. Yet he had vague memories
of a somewhere else that was not New Romney--of a dim room, a window
looking down on white buildings--and of a some one else who talked to
forgotten people, and who was his mother. He could not recall her
features very distinctly, but he remembered with extreme definition a
white dress she wore, with a pattern of little sprigs of flowers and
little bows of ribbon upon it, and a girdle of straight-ribbed white
ribbon about the waist. Linked with this, he knew not how, were clouded
half-obliterated recollections of scenes in which there was weeping,
weeping in which he was inscrutably moved to join. Some terrible tall
man with a loud voice played a part in these scenes, and either before
or after them there were impressions of looking for interminable periods
out of the windows of railway trains in the company of these two
He knew, though he could not remember that he had ever been told, that
a certain faded, wistful face, that looked at him from a plush and gilt
framed daguerreotype above the mantel of the "sitting-room," was the
face of his mother. But that knowledge did not touch his dim memories
with any elucidation. In that photograph she was a girlish figure,
leaning against a photographer's stile, and with all the self-conscious
shrinking natural to that position. She had curly hair and a face far
younger and prettier than any other mother in his experience. She swung
a Dolly Varden hat by the string, and looked with obedient respectful
eyes on the photographer-gentleman who had commanded the pose. She was
very slight and pretty. But the phantom mother that haunted his memory
so elusively was not like that, though he could not remember how she
differed. Perhaps she was older, or a little less shrinking, or, it may
be, only dressed in a different way....
It is clear she handed him over to his aunt and uncle at New Romney with
explicit directions and a certain endowment. One gathers she had
something of that fine sense of social distinctions that subsequently
played so large a part in Kipps' career. He was not to go to a "common"
school, she provided, but to a certain seminary in Hastings that was not
only a "middle-class academy," with mortar boards and every evidence of
a higher social tone, but also remarkably cheap. She seems to have been
animated by the desire to do her best for Kipps, even at a certain
sacrifice of herself, as though Kipps were in some way a superior sort
of person. She sent pocket-money to him from time to time for a year or
more after Hastings had begun for him, but her face he never saw in the
days of his lucid memory.
His aunt and uncle were already high on the hill of life when first he
came to them. They had married for comfort in the evening or at any rate
in the late afternoon of their days. They were at first no more than
vague figures in the background of proximate realities, such realities
as familiar chairs and tables, quiet to ride and drive, the newel of the
staircase, kitchen furniture, pieces of firewood, the boiler tap, old
newspapers, the cat, the High Street, the back yard and the flat fields
that are always so near in that little town. He knew all the stones in
the yard individually, the creeper in the corner, the dustbin and the
mossy wall, better than many men know the faces of their wives. There
was a corner under the ironing-board which by means of a shawl could,
under propitious gods, be made a very decent cubby-house, a corner that
served him for several years as the indisputable hub of the world; and
the stringy places in the carpet, the knots upon the dresser, and the
several corners of the rag hearthrug his uncle had made, became
essential parts of his mental foundations. The shop he did not know so
thoroughly--it was a forbidden region to him; yet somehow he managed to
know it very well.
His aunt and uncle were, as it were, the immediate gods of this world;
and, like the gods of the world of old, occasionally descended right
into it, with arbitrary injunctions and disproportionate punishments.
And, unhappily, one rose to their Olympian level at meals. Then one had
to say one's "grace," hold one's spoon and fork in mad, unnatural ways
called "properly," and refrain from eating even nice sweet things "too
fast." If he "gobbled" there was trouble, and at the slightest "abandon"
with knife, fork, and spoon, his aunt rapped his knuckles, albeit his
uncle always finished up his gravy with his knife. Sometimes, moreover,
his uncle would come, pipe in hand, out of a sedentary remoteness in the
most disconcerting way, when a little boy was doing the most natural and
attractive things, with "Drat and drabbit that young rascal! What's he
a-doing of now?" And his aunt would appear at door or window to
interrupt interesting conversation with children who were upon unknown
grounds considered "low" and undesirable, and call him in. The
pleasantest little noises, however softly you did them,--drumming on
tea-trays, trumpeting your fists, whistling on keys, ringing chimes with
a couple of pails, or playing tunes on the window-panes,--brought down
the gods in anger. Yet what noise is fainter than your finger on the
window--gently done? Sometimes, however, these gods gave him broken toys
out of the shop, and then one loved them better--for the shop they kept
was, among other things, a toy shop. (The other things included books to
read and books to give away and local photographs; it had some
pretensions also to be a china shop, and the fascia spoke of glass; it
was also a stationer's shop with a touch of haberdashery about it, and
in the windows and odd corners were mats and terra-cotta dishes, and
milking-stools for painting; and there was a hint of picture-frames, and
fire-screens, and fishing tackle, and air-guns, and bathing suits, and
tents: various things, indeed, but all cruelly attractive to a small
boy's fingers.) Once his aunt gave him a trumpet if he would "promise"
faithfully not to blow it, and afterwards took it away again. And his
aunt made him say his Catechism and something she certainly called the
"Colic for the Day" every Sunday in the year.
As the two grew old while he grew up, and as his impression of them
modified insensibly from year to year, it seemed to him at last that
they had always been as they were when, in his adolescent days, his
impression of things grew fixed. His aunt he thought of as always lean,
rather worried-looking, and prone to a certain obliquity of cap, and his
uncle massive, many-chinned, and careless about his buttons. They
neither visited nor received visitors. They were always very suspicious
about their neighbours and other people generally; they feared the "low"
and they hated and despised the "stuck-up," and so they "kept themselves
"to" themselves," according to the English ideal. Consequently little
Kipps had no playmates, except through the sin of disobedience. By
inherent nature he had a sociable disposition. When he was in the High
Street he made a point of saying "Hello!" to passing cyclists, and he
would put his tongue out at the Quodling children whenever their
nursemaid was not looking. And he began a friendship with Sid Pornick,
the son of the haberdasher next door, that, with wide intermissions, was
destined to last his lifetime through.
Pornick, the haberdasher, I may say at once, was, according to old
Kipps, a "blaring jackass"; he was a teetotaller, a "nyar, nyar,
'im-singing Methodis'," and altogether distasteful and detrimental, he
and his together, to true Kipps ideals, so far as little Kipps could
gather them. This Pornick certainly possessed an enormous voice, and he
annoyed old Kipps greatly by calling, "You--Arn" and "Siddee," up and
down his house. He annoyed old Kipps by private choral services on
Sunday, all his family "nyar, nyar-ing"; and by mushroom culture; by
behaving as though the pilaster between the two shops was common
property; by making a noise of hammering in the afternoon, when old
Kipps wanted to be quiet after his midday meal; by going up and down
uncarpeted stairs in his boots; by having a black beard; by attempting
to be friendly; and by--all that sort of thing. In fact, he annoyed old
Kipps. He annoyed him especially with his shop doormat. Old Kipps never
beat his mat, preferring to let sleeping dust lie; and, seeking a motive
for a foolish proceeding, he held that Pornick waited until there was a
suitable wind in order that the dust disengaged in that operation might
defile his neighbour's shop. These issues would frequently develop into
loud and vehement quarrels, and on one occasion came so near to violence
as to be subsequently described by Pornick (who read his newspaper) as a
"Disgraceful Frackass." On that occasion he certainly went into his own
shop with extreme celerity.
But it was through one of these quarrels that the friendship of little
Kipps and Sid Pornick came about. The two small boys found themselves
one day looking through the gate at the doctor's goats together; they
exchanged a few contradictions about which goat could fight which, and
then young Kipps was moved to remark that Sid's father was a "blaring
jackass." Sid said he wasn't, and Kipps repeated that he was, and quoted
his authority. Then Sid, flying off at a tangent rather alarmingly, said
he could fight young Kipps with one hand, an assertion young Kipps with
a secret want of confidence denied. There were some vain repetitions,
and the incident might have ended there, but happily a sporting butcher
boy chanced on the controversy at this stage, and insisted upon seeing
The two small boys under his pressing encouragement did at last button
up their jackets, square and fight an edifying drawn battle, until it
seemed good to the butcher boy to go on with Mrs. Holyer's mutton. Then,
according to his directions and under his experienced stage management,
they shook hands and made it up. Subsequently, a little tear-stained
perhaps, but flushed with the butcher boy's approval ("tough little
kids"), and with cold stones down their necks as he advised, they sat
side by side on the doctor's gate, projecting very much behind,
staunching an honourable bloodshed, and expressing respect for one
another. Each had a bloody nose and a black eye--three days later they
matched to a shade--neither had given in, and, though this was tacit,
neither wanted any more.
It was an excellent beginning. After this first encounter the attributes
of their parents and their own relative value in battle never rose
between them, and if anything was wanted to complete the warmth of their
regard it was found in a joint dislike of the eldest Quodling. The
eldest Quodling lisped, had a silly sort of straw hat and a large pink
face (all covered over with self-satisfaction), and he went to the
National School with a green baize bag--a contemptible thing to do. They
called him names and threw stones at him, and when he replied by
threatenings ("Look 'ere, young Art Kipth, you better "thtoppit"!") they
were moved to attack and put him to flight.
And after that they broke the head of Ann Pornick's doll, so that she
went home weeping loudly--a wicked and endearing proceeding. Sid was
whacked, but, as he explained, he wore a newspaper tactically adjusted
during the transaction, and really it didn't hurt him at all.... And
Mrs. Pornick put her head out of the shop door suddenly, and threatened
Kipps as he passed.
"Cavendish Academy," the school that had won the limited choice of
Kipps' vanished mother, was established in a battered private house in
the part of Hastings remotest from the sea; it was called an Academy for
Young Gentlemen, and many of the young gentlemen had parents in "India,"
and other unverifiable places. Others were the sons of credulous widows,
anxious, as Kipps' mother had been, to get something a little "superior"
to a board school education as cheaply as possible; and others again
were sent to demonstrate the dignity of their parents and guardians. And
of course there were boys from France.
Its "principal" was a lean, long creature of indifferent digestion and
temper, who proclaimed himself on a gilt-lettered board in his front
garden George Garden Woodrow, F.S.Sc., letters indicating that he had
paid certain guineas for a bogus diploma. A bleak white-washed outhouse
constituted his schoolroom, and the scholastic quality of its carved and
worn desks and forms was enhanced by a slippery blackboard and two large
yellow out-of-date maps, one of Africa and the other of Wiltshire, that
he had picked up cheap at a sale. There were other maps and globes in
his study, where he interviewed inquiring parents, but these his pupils
never saw. And in a glass cupboard in the passage was several
shillingsworth of test tubes and chemicals, a tripod, a glass retort,
and a damaged Bunsen burner, manifesting that the "Scientific
laboratory" mentioned in the prospectus was no idle boast.
This prospectus, which was in dignified but incorrect English, laid
particular stress on the sound preparation for a commercial career given
in the Academy, but the army, navy and civil service were glanced at in
an ambiguous sentence. There was something vague in the prospectus about
"examinational successes"--though Woodrow, of course, disapproved of
"cram"--and a declaration that the curriculum included "art," "modern
foreign languages" and "a sound technical and scientific training." Then
came insistence upon the "moral well-being" of the pupils, and an
emphatic boast of the excellence of the religious instruction, "so often
neglected nowadays even in schools of wide repute." "That's bound to
fetch 'em," Mr. Woodrow had remarked when he drew up the prospectus. And
in conjunction with the mortarboards it certainly did. Attention was
directed to the "motherly" care of Mrs. Woodrow--in reality a small
partially effaced woman with a plaintive face and a mind above cookery;
and the prospectus concluded with a phrase intentionally vague, "Fare
unrestricted, and our own milk and produce."
The memories Kipps carried from that school into after life were set in
an atmosphere of stuffiness and mental muddle; and included countless
pictures of sitting on creaking forms bored and idle, of blot licking
and the taste of ink, of torn books with covers that set one's teeth on
edge, of the slimy surface of the laboured slates, of furtive
marble-playing, whispered story-telling, and of pinches, blows, and a
thousand such petty annoyances being perpetually "passed on" according
to the custom of the place, of standing up in class and being hit
suddenly and unreasonably for imaginary misbehaviour, of Mr. Woodrow's
raving days, when a scarcely sane injustice prevailed, of the cold
vacuity of the hour of preparation before the bread-and-butter
breakfast, and of horrible headaches and queer, unprecedented, internal
feelings resulting from Mrs. Woodrow's motherly rather than intelligent
cookery. There were dreary walks, when the boys marched two by two, all
dressed in the mortarboard caps that so impressed the widowed mothers;
there were dismal half-holidays when the weather was wet and the spirit
of evil temper and evil imagination had the pent boys to work its will
on; there were unfair, dishonourable fights and miserable defeats and
victories, there was bullying and being bullied. A coward boy Kipps
particularly afflicted, until at last he was goaded to revolt by
incessant persecution, and smote Kipps to tolerance with whirling fists.
There were memories of sleeping three in a bed, of the dense leathery
smell of the schoolroom when one returned thither after ten minutes'
play, of a playground of mud and incidental sharp flints. And there was
much furtive foul language.
"Our Sundays are our happiest days," was one of Woodrow's formulæ with
the inquiring parent, but Kipps was not called in evidence. They were to
him terrible gaps of inanity--no work, no play, a drear expanse of time
with the mystery of church twice and plum duff once in the middle. The
afternoon was given up to furtive relaxations, among which "Torture
Chamber" games with the less agreeable, weaker boys figured. It was from
the difference between this day and common days that Kipps derived his
first definite conceptions of the nature of God and heaven. His instinct
was to evade any closer acquaintance as long as he could.
The school work varied, according to the prevailing mood of Mr. Woodrow.
Sometimes that was a despondent lethargy; copy-books were distributed or
sums were "set," or the great mystery of bookkeeping was declared in
being, and beneath these superficial activities lengthy conversations
and interminable guessing games with marbles went on while Mr. Woodrow
sat inanimate at his desk heedless of school affairs, staring in front
of him at unseen things. At times his face was utterly inane, at times
it had an expression of stagnant amazement, as if he saw before his eyes
with pitiless clearness the dishonour and mischief of his being....
At other times the F.S.Sc. roused himself to action, and would stand up
a wavering class and teach it, goading it with bitter mockery and blows
through a chapter of Ann's "First French Course," or "France and the
French," or a Dialogue about a traveller's washing, or the parts of an
opera-house. His own knowledge of French had been obtained years ago in
another English private school, and he had refreshed it by occasional
weeks of loafing and mean adventure in Dieppe. He would sometimes in
their lessons hit upon some reminiscence of these brighter days, and
then he would laugh inexplicably and repeat French phrases of an
Among the commoner exercises he prescribed the learning of long passages
of poetry from a "Poetry Book," which he would delegate an elder boy to
"hear," and there was reading aloud from the Holy Bible, verse by
verse--it was none of your "godless" schools!--so that you counted the
verses up to your turn and then gave yourself to conversation--and
sometimes one read from a cheap History of this land. They did, as Kipps
reported, "loads of catechism." Also there was much learning of
geographical names and lists, and sometimes Woodrow in an outbreak of
energy would see these names were actually found on a map. And once,
just once, there was a chemistry lesson--a lesson of indescribable
excitement--glass things of the strangest shape, a smell like bad eggs,
something bubbling in something, a smash and stench, and Mr. Woodrow
saying quite distinctly--they thrashed it out in the dormitory
afterwards--"Damn!" followed by the whole school being kept in, with
extraordinary severities, for an hour....
But interspersed with the memories of this grey routine were certain
patches of brilliant colour--the holidays, his holidays, which in spite
of the feud between their seniors, he spent as much as possible with
Sid Pornick, the son of the irascible black-bearded haberdasher next
door. They seemed to be memories of a different world. There were
glorious days of "mucking about" along the beach, the siege of
unresisting Martello towers, the incessant interest of the mystery and
motion of windmills, the windy excursions with boarded feet over the
yielding shingle to Dungeness lighthouse--Sid Pornick and he far adrift
from reality, smugglers and armed men from the moment they left Great
Stone behind them--wanderings in the hedgeless reedy marsh, long
excursions reaching even to Hythe, where the machine guns of the Empire
are forever whirling and tapping, and to Rye and Winchelsea, perched
like dream-cities on their little hills. The sky in these memories was
the blazing hemisphere of the marsh heavens in summer, or its wintry
tumult of sky and sea; and there were wrecks, real wrecks, in it (near
Dymchurch pitched high and blackened and rotting were the ribs of a
fishing smack flung aside like an empty basket when the sea had devoured
its crew); and there was bathing all naked in the sea, bathing to one's
armpits and even trying to swim in the warm sea-water (spite of his
aunt's prohibition), and (with her indulgence) the rare eating of dinner
from a paper parcel miles away from home. Toke and cold ground rice
pudding with plums it used to be--there is no better food at all. And
for the background, in the place of Woodrow's mean, fretting rule, were
his aunt's spare but frequently quite amiable figure--for though she
insisted on his repeating the English Church Catechism every Sunday,
she had an easy way over dinners that one wanted to take abroad--and his
uncle, corpulent and irascible, but sedentary and easily escaped. And
The holidays were indeed very different from school. They were free,
they were spacious, and though he never knew it in these words--they had
an element of beauty. In his memory of his boyhood they shone like
strips of stained glass window in a dreary waste of scholastic wall,
they grew brighter and brighter as they grew remoter. There came a time
at last and moods when he could look back to them with a feeling akin to
The last of these windows was the brightest, and instead of the
kaleidoscopic effects of its predecessors its glory was a single figure.
For in the last of his holidays, before the Moloch of Retail Trade got
hold of him, Kipps made his first tentative essays at the mysterious
shrine of Love. Very tentative they were, for he had become a boy of
subdued passions, and potential rather than actual affectionateness.
And the objects of these first stirrings of the great desire was no
other than Ann Pornick, the head of whose doll he and Sid had broken
long ago, and rejoiced over long ago, in the days when he had yet to
learn the meaning of a heart.
Negotiations were already on foot to make Kipps into a draper before he
discovered the lights that lurked in Ann Pornick's eyes. School was
over, absolutely over, and it was chiefly present to him that he was
never to go to school again. It was high summer. The "breaking up" of
school had been hilarious; and the excellent maxim, "Last Day's Pay
Day," had been observed by him with a scrupulous attention to his
honour. He had punched the heads of all his enemies, wrung wrists and
kicked shins; he had distributed all his unfinished copybooks, all his
school books, his collection of marbles and his mortarboard cap among
such as loved him; and he had secretly written in obscure pages of their
books, "remember Art Kipps." He had also split the anæmic Woodrow's
cane, carved his own name deeply in several places about the premises,
and broken the scullery window. He had told everybody so often that he
was to learn to be a sea captain that he had come almost to believe the
thing himself. And now he was home, and school was at an end for him for
He was up before six on the day of his return, and out in the hot
sunlight of the yard. He set himself to whistle a peculiarly penetrating
arrangement of three notes supposed by the boys of the Hastings Academy
and himself and Sid Pornick, for no earthly reason whatever, to be the
original Huron war-cry. As he did this he feigned not to be doing it,
because of the hatred between his uncle and the Pornicks, but to be
examining with respect and admiration a new wing of the dustbin recently
erected by his uncle--a pretence that would not have deceived a nestling
Presently there came a familiar echo from the Pornick hunting-ground.
Then Kipps began to sing, "Ar pars eight tra-la, in the lane be'ind the
church." To which an unseen person answered, "Ar pars eight it is, in
the lane be'ind the church." The "tra-la" was considered to render this
sentence incomprehensible to the uninitiated. In order to conceal their
operations still more securely, both parties to this duet then gave vent
to a vocalisation of the Huron war-cry again, and after a lingering
repetition of the last and shrillest note, dispersed severally, as
became boys in the enjoyment of holidays, to light the house fires for
Half-past eight found Kipps sitting on the sunlit gate at the top of the
long lane that runs towards the sea, clashing his boots in a slow
rhythm, and whistling with great violence all that he knew of an
excruciatingly pathetic air. There appeared along by the churchyard wall
a girl in a short frock, brown-haired, quick-coloured, and with dark
blue eyes. She had grown so that she was a little taller than Kipps, and
her colour had improved. He scarcely remembered her, so changed was she
since last holidays--if indeed he had seen her last holidays, a thing he
could not clearly remember. Some vague emotion arose at the sight of
her. He stopped whistling and regarded her, oddly tongue-tied.
"He can't come," said Ann, advancing boldly. "Not yet."
"No. Father's made him dust all his boxes again."
"I dunno. Father's in a stew 'smorning."
Pause. Kipps looked at her, and then was unable to look at her again.
She regarded him with interest. "You left school?" she remarked after a
The conversation languished. Ann put her hands on the top of the gate,
and began a stationary hopping, a sort of ineffectual gymnastic
"Can you run?" she said presently.
"Run you any day," said Kipps.
"Gimme a start?"
"Where for?" said Kipps.
Ann considered, and indicated a tree. She walked towards it, and turned.
"Gimme to here?" she called.
Kipps, standing now and touching the gate, smiled to express conscious
superiority. "Further!" he said.
"Bit more!" said Kipps, and then, repenting of his magnanimity, said
"Orf!" suddenly, and so recovered his lost concession.
They arrived abreast at the tree, flushed and out of breath.
"Tie!" said Ann, throwing her hair back from her face with her hand.
"I won," panted Kipps.
They disputed firmly but quite politely.
"Run it again, then," said Kipps. ""I" don't mind."
They returned towards the gate.
"You don't run bad," said Kipps, temperately expressing sincere
admiration. "I'm pretty good, you know."
Ann sent her hair back by an expert toss of the head. "You give me a
start," she allowed.
They became aware of Sid approaching them.
"You better look out, young Ann," said Sid, with that irreverent want of
sympathy usual in brothers. "You been out nearly 'arf-hour. Nothing
ain't been done upstairs. Father said he didn't know where you was, but
when he did he'd warm y'r young ear."
Ann prepared to go.
"How about that race?" asked Kipps.
"Lor!" cried Sid, quite shocked. "You ain't been racing "her!""
Ann swung herself round the end of the gate with her eyes on Kipps, and
then turned away suddenly and ran off down the lane.
Kipps' eyes tried to go after her, and came back to Sid's.
"I give her a lot of start," said Kipps apologetically. "It wasn't a
proper race." And so the subject was dismissed. But Kipps was
"distrait" for some seconds, perhaps, and the mischief had begun in him.
They proceeded to the question of how two accomplished Hurons might most
satisfactorily spend the morning. Manifestly their line lay straight
along the lane to the sea.
"There's a new wreck," said Sid, "and my!--don't it smell just!"
"Fair make you sick. It's rotten wheat."
They fell to talking of wrecks, and so came to ironclads and wars and
suchlike manly matters.
Half-way to the wreck Kipps made a casual irrelevant remark. "Your
sister ain't a bad sort," he said off-handedly.
"I clout her a lot," said Sidney modestly, and after a pause the talk
reverted to more suitable topics.
The new wreck was full of rotting grain, and smelt abominably, even as
Sid had said. This was excellent. They had it all to themselves. They
took possession of it in force, at Sid's suggestion, and had speedily to
defend it against enormous numbers of imaginary "natives," who were at
last driven off by loud shouts of "bang", "bang", and vigorous thrusting
and shoving of sticks. Then, also at Sid's direction, they sailed with
it into the midst of a combined French, German and Russian fleet,
demolishing the combination unassisted, and having descended to the
beach, clambered up the side and cut out their own vessel in brilliant
style, they underwent a magnificent shipwreck (with vocalised thunder)
and floated "waterlogged"--so Sid insisted--upon an exhausted sea.
These things drove Ann out of mind for a time. But at last, as they
drifted without food or water upon a stagnant ocean, haggard-eyed, chins
between their hands, looking in vain for a sail, she came to mind again
"It's rather nice 'aving sisters," remarked one perishing mariner.
Sid turned round and regarded him thoughtfully. "Not it!" he said.
"Not a bit of it." He grinned confidentially. "Know too much," he said;
and afterwards, "Get out of things."
He resumed his gloomy scrutiny of the hopeless horizon. Presently he
fell to spitting jerkily between his teeth, as he had read was the way
with such ripe manhood as chews its quid.
"Sisters," he said, "is rot. That's what sisters are. Girls if you like,
"But ain't sisters girls?"
""N-eaow!"" said Sid, with unspeakable scorn.
And Kipps answered, "Of course. I didn't mean---- I wasn't thinking of
"You got a girl?" asked Sid, spitting very cleverly again.
Kipps admitted his deficiency. He felt compunction.
"You don't know who "my" girl is, Art Kipps--I bet."
"Who is, then?" asked Kipps, still chiefly occupied by his own poverty.
Kipps let a moment elapse before he did his duty. "Tell us!"
Sid eyed him and hesitated. "Secret?" he said.
"Dying solemn!" Kipps' self-concentration passed into curiosity.
Sid administered a terrible oath. Even after that precaution he adhered
lovingly to his facts. "It begins with a Nem," he said, doling them out
parsimoniously. "M A U D," he spelt, with a stern eye on Kipps, "C H A R
T E R I S."
Now, Maud Charteris was a young person of eighteen and the daughter of
the vicar of St. Bavon's,--besides which she had a bicycle,--so that as
her name unfolded the face of Kipps lengthened with respect. "Get out!"
he gasped incredulously. "She ain't your girl, Sid Pornick."
"She is!" answered Sid, stoutly.
Kipps scrutinised his face. "Reely?"
Sid touched wood, whistled, and repeated a binding doggerel with great
Kipps still struggled with the amazing new light on the world about
him. "D'you mean--she knows?"
Sid flushed deeply, and his aspect became stern and gloomy. He resumed
his wistful scrutiny of the sunlit sea. "I'd die for that girl, Art
Kipps," he said presently, and Kipps did not press a question he felt to
be ill timed. "I'd do anything she asked me to do," said Sid--"just
anything. If she was to ask me to chuck myself into the sea." He met
Kipps' eye. "I "would"," he said.
They were pensive for a space, and then Sid began to discourse in
fragments of Love, a theme upon which Kipps had already in a furtive way
meditated a little, but which, apart from badinage, he had never yet
heard talked about in the light of day. Of course many and various
aspects of life had come to light in the muffled exchange of knowledge
that went on under the shadow of Woodrow, but this of Sentimental Love
was not among them. Sid, who was a boy with an imagination, having once
broached this topic, opened his heart, or at any rate a new wing of his
heart, to Kipps, and found no fault with Kipps for a lack of return. He
produced a thumbed novelette that had played a part in his sentimental
awakening; he proffered it to Kipps, and confessed there was a character
in it, a baronet, singularly like himself. This baronet was a person of
volcanic passions which he concealed beneath a demeanour of "icy
cynicism." The utmost expression he permitted himself was to grit his
teeth; and now his attention was called to it, Kipps remarked that Sid
also had a habit of gritting his teeth--and indeed had had all the
morning. They read for a time, and presently Sid talked again. The
conception of love Sid made evident was compact of devotion and much
spirited fighting and a touch of mystery; but through all that cloud of
talk there floated before Kipps a face that was flushed and hair that
was tossed aside.
So they budded, sitting on the blackening old wreck in which men had
lived and died, looking out to sea, talking of that other sea upon which
they must presently embark....
They ceased to talk, and Sid read; but Kipps falling behind with the
reading and not wishing to admit that he read slowlier than Sid, whose
education was of the inferior elementary school brand, lapsed into
"I "would" like to 'ave a girl," said Kipps. "I mean just to talk to and
A floating object distracted them at last from this obscure topic. They
abandoned the wreck and followed the new interest a mile along the
beach, bombarding it with stones until it came to land. They had
inclined to a view that it would contain romantic mysteries, but it was
simply an ill-preserved kitten--too much even for them. And at last they
were drawn dinnerward and went home hungry and pensive side by side.
But Kipps' imagination had been warmed by that talk of love, and in the
afternoon, when he saw Ann Pornick in the High Street and said "Hello!"
it was a different "hello" from that of their previous intercourse. And
when they had passed they both looked back and caught each other doing
so. Yes, he "did" want a girl badly....
Afterwards he was distracted by a traction engine going through the
town, and his aunt had got some sprats for supper. When he was in bed,
however, sentiment came upon him again in a torrent quite abruptly and
abundantly, and he put his head under the pillow and whispered very
softly, "I love Ann Pornick," as a sort of supplementary devotion.
In his subsequent dreams he ran races with Ann, and they lived in a
wreck together, and always her face was flushed and her hair about her
face. They just lived in a wreck and ran races, and were very, very fond
of one another. And their favourite food was rock-chocolate, dates, such
as one buys off barrows, and sprats--fried sprats....
In the morning he could hear Ann singing in the scullery next door. He
listened to her for some time, and it was clear to him that he must put
things before her.
Towards dusk that evening they chanced on one another at the gate by the
church; but though there was much in his mind, it stopped there with a
resolute shyness until he and Ann were out of breath catching
cockchafers, and were sitting on that gate of theirs again. Ann sat up
upon the gate, dark against vast masses of flaming crimson and darkling
purple, and her eyes looked at Kipps from a shadowed face. There came a
stillness between them, and quite abruptly he was moved to tell his
"Ann," he said, "I "do" like you. I wish you was my girl.... I say, Ann:
will you "be" my girl?"
Ann made no pretence of astonishment. She weighed the proposal for a
moment with her eyes on Kipps. "If you like, Artie," she said lightly.
""I" don't mind if I am."
"All right," said Kipps, breathless with excitement, "then you are."
"All right," said Ann.
Something seemed to fall between them, and they no longer looked openly
at one another. "Lor'!" cried Ann suddenly, "see that one!" and jumped
down and darted after a cockchafer that had boomed within a yard of her
face. And with that they were girl and boy again....
They avoided their new relationship painfully.
They did not recur to it for several days, though they met twice. Both
felt that there remained something before this great experience was
complete, but there was an infinite diffidence about the next step.
Kipps talked in fragments of all sorts of matters, telling particularly
of the great things that were being done to make a man and a draper of
him, how he had two new pairs of trousers and a black coat and four new
shirts. And all the while his imagination was urging him to that unknown
next step, and when he was alone and in the dark he became even an
enterprising wooer. It became evident to him that it would be nice to
take Ann by the hand; even the decorous novelettes Sid affected egged
him on to that greater nearness of intimacy.
Then a great idea came to him, in a paragraph called "Lovers' Tokens"
that he read in a torn fragment of "Tit Bits". It fell in to the measure
of his courage--a divided sixpence! He secured his aunt's best scissors,
fished a sixpence out of his jejune tin money-box, and jabbed his finger
in a varied series of attempts to get it in half. When they met again
the sixpence was still undivided. He had not intended to mention the
matter to her at that stage, but it came up spontaneously. He
endeavoured to explain the theory of broken sixpences and his unexpected
failure to break one.
"But what you break it for?" said Ann. "It's no good if it's broke."
"It's a Token," said Kipps.
"Oh, you keep half and I keep half, and when we're sep'rated you look at
your half and I look at mine--see! Then we think of each other."
"Oh!" said Ann, and appeared to assimilate this information.
"Only "I" can't get it in 'arf nohow," said Kipps.
They discussed this difficulty for some time without illumination. Then
Ann had a happy thought. "Tell you what," she said, starting away from
him abruptly and laying a hand on his arm, "you let "me" 'ave it, Artie.
I know where father keeps his file."
Kipps handed her the sixpence, and they came upon a pause.
"I'll easy do it," said Ann.
In considering the sixpence side by side, his head had come near her
cheek. Quite abruptly he was moved to take his next step into the
unknown mysteries of love.
"Ann," he said, and gulped at his temerity, "I "do" love you. Straight.
I'd do anything for you, Ann. Reely--I would."
He paused for breath. She answered nothing, but she was no doubt
enjoying herself. He came yet closer to her--his shoulder touched hers.
"Ann, I wish you'd----"
"What?" said Ann.
"Ann--lemme kiss you."
Things seemed to hang for a space; his tone, the drop of his courage,
made the thing incredible as he spoke. Kipps was not of that bold order
of wooers who impose conditions.
Ann perceived that she was not prepared for kissing after all. Kissing,
she said, was silly, and when Kipps would have displayed a belated
enterprise, she flung away from him. He essayed argument. He stood afar
off, as it were--the better part of a yard--and said she "might" let him
kiss her, and then that he didn't see what good it was for her to be his
girl if he couldn't kiss her.
She repeated that kissing was silly. A certain estrangement took them
homeward. They arrived in the dusky High Street not exactly together,
and not exactly apart, but struggling. They had not kissed, but all the
guilt of kissing was between them. When Kipps saw the portly contours of
his uncle standing dimly in the shop doorway, his footsteps faltered,
and the space between our young couple increased. Above, the window over
Pornick's shop was open, and Mrs. Pornick was visible, taking the air.
Kipps assumed an expression of extreme innocence. He found himself face
to face with his uncle's advanced outposts of waistcoat buttons.
"Where ye bin, my boy?"
"Bin for a walk, uncle."
"Not along of that brat of Pornick's?"
"Along of who?"
"That gell"--indicating Ann with his pipe.
"Oh, no, uncle!"--very faintly.
"Run in, my boy."
Old Kipps stood aside, with an oblique glance upward, and his nephew
brushed clumsily by him and vanished out of sight of the street, into
the vague obscurity of the little shop. The door closed behind old Kipps
with a nervous jangle of its bell, and he set himself to light the
single oil lamp that illuminated his shop at nights. It was an
operation requiring care and watching, or else it flared and "smelt."
Often it smelt after all. Kipps for some reason found the dusky
living-room with his aunt in it too populous for his feelings, and went
"That brat of Pornick's!" It seemed to him that a horrible catastrophe
had occurred. He felt he had identified himself inextricably with his
uncle, and cut himself off from her for ever by saying "Oh, no!" At
supper he was so visibly depressed that his aunt asked him if he wasn't
feeling well. Under this imminent threat of medicine he assumed an
He lay awake for nearly half an hour that night, groaning because things
had all gone wrong--because Ann wouldn't let him kiss her, and because
his uncle had called her a brat. It seemed to Kipps almost as though he
himself had called her a brat....
There came an interval during which Ann was altogether inaccessible.
One, two, three days passed, and he did not see her. Sid he met several
times; they went fishing, and twice they bathed; but though Sid lent and
received back two further love stories, they talked no more of love.
They kept themselves in accord, however, agreeing that the most
flagrantly sentimental story was "proper." Kipps was always wanting to
speak of Ann, but never daring to do so. He saw her on Sunday evening
going off to chapel. She was more beautiful than ever in her Sunday
clothes, but she pretended not to see him because her mother was with
her. But he thought she pretended not to see him because she had given
him up for ever. Brat!--who could be expected ever to forgive that? He
abandoned himself to despair, he ceased even to haunt the places where
she might be found.
With paralysing unexpectedness came the end.
Mr. Shalford, the draper at Folkestone to whom he was to be bound
apprentice, had expressed a wish to "shape the lad a bit" before the
autumn sale. Kipps became aware that his box was being packed, and
gathered the full truth of things on the evening before his departure.
He became feverishly eager to see Ann just once more. He made silly and
needless excuses to go out into the yard, he walked three times across
the street without any excuse at all, to look up at the Pornick windows.
Still she was hidden. He grew desperate. It was within half an hour of
his departure that he came on Sid.
"Hello!" he said; "I'm orf!"
"I say, Sid. You going 'ome?"
"D'you mind? Ask Ann about that."
And Sid said he would. But even that, it seemed, failed to evoke Ann.
At last the Folkestone bus rumbled up, and he ascended. His aunt stood
in the doorway to see him off. His uncle assisted with the box and
portmanteau. Only furtively could he glance up at the Pornick windows,
and still it seemed Ann hardened her heart against him. "Get up!" said
the driver, and the hoofs began to clatter. No--she would not come out
even to see him off. The bus was in motion, and old Kipps was going back
into his shop. Kipps stared in front of him, assuring himself that he
did not care.
He heard a door slam, and instantly craned out his neck to look back. He
knew that slam so well. Behold! out of the haberdasher's door a small,
untidy figure in homely pink print had shot resolutely into the road,
and was sprinting in pursuit. In a dozen seconds she was abreast of the
bus. At the sight of her Kipps' heart began to beat very quickly, but he
made no immediate motion of recognition.
"Artie!" she cried breathlessly, "Artie! Artie! You know! I got "that"!"
The bus was already quickening its pace, and leaving her behind again,
when Kipps realized what "that" meant. He became animated, he gasped,
and gathered his courage together, and mumbled an incoherent request to
the driver to "stop jest a jiff for sunthin'." The driver grunted, as
the disparity of their years demanded, and then the bus had pulled up,
and Ann was below.
She leapt up upon the wheel. Kipps looked down into Ann's face, and it
was foreshortened and resolute. He met her eyes just for one second as
their hands touched. He was not a reader of eyes. Something passed
quickly from hand to hand, something that the driver, alert at the
corner of his eye, was not allowed to see. Kipps hadn't a word to say,
and all she said was, "I done it, 'smorning." It was like a blank space
in which something pregnant should have been written and wasn't. Then
she dropped down, and the bus moved forward.
After the lapse of about ten seconds it occurred to him to stand and
wave his new bowler hat at her over the corner of the bus top, and to
shout hoarsely, "Goo-bye, Ann! Don' forget me--while I'm away!"
She stood in the road looking after him, and presently she waved her
He remained standing unstably, his bright, flushed face looking back at
her, and his hair fluffing in the wind, and he waved his hat until at
last the bend of the road hid her from his eyes. Then he turned about
and sat down, and presently he began to put the half sixpence he held
clenched in his hand into his trouser pocket. He looked sideways at the
driver, to judge how much he had seen.
Then he fell a-thinking. He resolved that, come what might, when he came
back to New Romney at Christmas, he would by hook or by crook kiss Ann.
Then everything would be perfect and right, and he would be perfectly
When Kipps left New Romney, with a small yellow tin box, a still smaller
portmanteau, a new umbrella, and a keepsake half-sixpence, to become a
draper, he was a youngster of fourteen, thin, with whimsical drakes'
tails at the poll of his head, smallish features, and eyes that were
sometimes very light and sometimes very dark, gifts those of his birth;
and by the nature of his training he was indistinct in his speech,
confused in his mind, and retreating in his manners. Inexorable fate had
appointed him to serve his country in commerce, and the same national
bias towards private enterprise and leaving bad alone, which entrusted
his general education to Mr. Woodrow, now indentured him firmly into the
hands of Mr. Shalford, of the Folkestone Drapery Bazaar. Apprenticeship
is still the recognised English way to the distributing branch of the
social service. If Mr. Kipps had been so unfortunate as to have been
born a German he might have been educated in an elaborate and costly
special school ("over-educated--crammed up"--Old Kipps) to fit him for
his end--such being their pedagogic way. He might.... But why make
unpatriotic reflections in a novel? There was nothing pedagogic about
He was an irascible, energetic little man, with hairy hands, for the
most part under his coat tails, a long, shiny, bald head, a pointed,
aquiline nose a little askew, and a neatly trimmed beard. He walked
lightly and with a confident jerk, and he was given to humming. He had
added to exceptional business "push," bankruptcy under the old
dispensation, and judicious matrimony. His establishment was now one of
the most considerable in Folkestone, and he insisted on every inch of
frontage by alternate stripes of green and yellow down the houses over
the shops. His shops were numbered 3, 5 and 7 on the street, and on his
billheads 3 to 7. He encountered the abashed and awestricken Kipps with
the praises of his system and himself. He spread himself out behind his
desk with a grip on the lapel of his coat and made Kipps a sort of
speech. "We expect y'r to work, y'r know, and we expect y'r to study our
interests," explained Mr. Shalford in the regal and commercial plural.
"Our system here is the best system y'r could have. I made it, and I
ought to know. I began at the very bottom of the ladder when I was
fourteen, and there isn't a step in it I don't know. Not a step. Mr.
Booch in the desk will give y'r the card of rules and fines. Jest wait a
minute." He pretended to be busy with some dusty memoranda under a
paper-weight, while Kipps stood in a sort of paralysis of awe regarding
his new master's oval baldness. "Two thous'n three forty-seven pounds,"
whispered Mr. Shalford audibly, feigning forgetfulness of Kipps. Clearly
a place of great transactions!
Mr. Shalford rose, and handing Kipps a blotting-pad and an inkpot to
carry--mere symbols of servitude, for he made no use of them--emerged
into a counting-house where three clerks had been feverishly busy ever
since his door handle had turned. "Booch," said Mr. Shalford, "'ave y'r
copy of the rules?" and a down-trodden, shabby little old man with a
ruler in one hand and a quill pen in his mouth, silently held out a
small book with green and yellow covers, mainly devoted, as Kipps
presently discovered, to a voracious system of fines. He became acutely
aware that his hands were full, and that everybody was staring at him.
He hesitated a moment before putting the inkpot down to free a hand.
"Mustn't fumble like "that"," said Mr. Shalford as Kipps pocketed the
rules. "Won't do here. Come along, come along," and he cocked his coat
tails high, as a lady might hold up her dress, and led the way into the
A vast interminable place it seemed to Kipps, with unending shining
counters and innumerable faultlessly dressed young men and presently
Houri-like young women staring at him. Here there was a long vista of
gloves dangling from overhead rods, there ribbons and baby-linen. A
short young lady in black mittens was making out the account of a
customer, and was clearly confused in her addition by Shalford's eagle
A thickset young man with a bald head and a round, very wise face, who
was profoundly absorbed in adjusting all the empty chairs down the
counter to absolutely equal distances, awoke out of his preoccupation
and answered respectfully to a few Napoleonic and quite unnecessary
remarks from his employer. Kipps was told that this young man's name was
Mr. Buggins, and that he was to do whatever Mr. Buggins told him to do.
They came round a corner into a new smell, which was destined to be the
smell of Kipps' life for many years, the vague, distinctive smell of
Manchester goods. A fat man with a large nose jumped--actually
jumped--at their appearance, and began to fold a pattern of damask in
front of him exactly like an automaton that is suddenly set going.
"Carshot, see to this boy to-morrow," said the master. "See he don't
fumble. Smart'n 'im up."
"Yussir," said Carshot fatly, glanced at Kipps, and resumed his
pattern-folding with extreme zeal.
"Whatever Mr. Carshot says y'r to do, ye "do"," said Mr. Shalford,
trotting onward; and Carshot blew out his face with an appearance of
They crossed a large room full of the strangest things Kipps had ever
seen. Ladylike figures, surmounted by black wooden knobs in the place of
the refined heads one might have reasonably expected, stood about with a
lifelike air of conscious fashion.
"Costume room," said Shalford.
Two voices engaged in some sort of argument--"I can assure you, Miss
Mergle, you are entirely mistaken--entirely, in supposing I should do
anything so unwomanly,"--sank abruptly, and they discovered two young
ladies, taller and fairer than any of the other young ladies, and with
black trains to their dresses, who were engaged in writing at a little
table. Whatever they told him to do, Kipps gathered he was to do. He was
also, he understood, to do whatever Carshot and Booch told him to do.
And there were also Buggins and Mr. Shalford. And not to forget or
They descended into a cellar called "The Warehouse," and Kipps had an
optical illusion of errand boys fighting. Some aerial voice said,
"Teddy!" and the illusion passed. He looked again, and saw quite clearly
that they were packing parcels and always would be, and that the last
thing in the world that they would or could possibly do was to fight.
Yet he gathered from the remarks Mr. Shalford addressed to their busy
backs that they had been fighting--no doubt at some past period of their
Emerging in the shop again among a litter of toys and what are called
"fancy articles," Shalford withdrew a hand from beneath his coat tails
to indicate an overhead change-carrier. He entered into elaborate
calculations to show how many minutes in one year were saved thereby,
and lost himself among the figures. "Seven tums eight seven nine--was
it? Or seven eight nine? Now, "now"! Why, when I was a boy your age I
c'd do a sum like that as soon as hear it. We'll soon get y'r into
better shape than that. Make you Fishent. Well, y'r must take my word,
it comes to pounds and pounds saved in the year--pounds and pounds.
System! System everywhere. Fishency." He went on murmuring "Fishency"
and "System" at intervals for some time.
They passed into a yard, and Mr. Shalford waved his hand to his three
delivery vans all striped green and yellow--"uniform--green,
yell'r--System." All over the premises were pinned absurd little cards.
"This door locked after 7:30.--By order, Edwin Shalford," and the like.
Mr. Shalford always wrote "By order," though it conveyed no earthly
meaning to him. He was one of those people who collect technicalities
upon them as the Reduvius bug collects dirt. He was the sort of man who
is not only ignorant, but absolutely incapable of English. When he
wanted to say he had a sixpenny-ha'penny longcloth to sell, he put it
thus to startled customers: "Can DO you one, six half if y' like." He
always omitted pronouns and articles and so forth; it seemed to him the
very essence of the efficiently businesslike. His only preposition was
"as" or the compound "as per." He abbreviated every word he could; he
would have considered himself the laughing-stock of Wood Street if he
had chanced to spell "socks" in any way but "sox." But, on the other
hand, if he saved words here, he wasted them there: he never
acknowledged an order that was not an esteemed favour, nor sent a
pattern without begging to submit it. He never stipulated for so many
months' credit, but bought in November "as Jan." It was not only words
he abbreviated in his London communications. In paying his wholesalers
his "System" admitted of a constant error in the discount of a penny or
twopence, and it "facilitated business," he alleged, to ignore odd pence
in the cheques he wrote. His ledger clerk was so struck with the beauty
of this part of the System, that he started a private one on his own
account with the stamp box, that never came to Shalford's knowledge.
This admirable British merchant would glow with a particular pride of
intellect when writing his London orders.
"Ah! do y'r think "you"'ll ever be able to write London orders?" he
would say with honest pride to Kipps, waiting impatiently long after
closing time to take these triumphs of commercial efficiency to post,
and so end the interminable day.
Kipps shook his head, anxious for Mr. Shalford to get on.
"Now, here, f' example, I've written--see?--'1 piece 1 in. cott. blk,
elas. 1/ or.' What do I mean by that "or", eh?--d'ye know?"
Kipps promptly hadn't the faintest idea.
"And then, '2 ea. silk net as per patts herewith': "ea.", eh?"
It was not Mr. Shalford's way to explain things. "Dear, dear! Pity you
couldn't get some c'mercial education at your school. 'Stid of all this
lit'ry stuff. Well, my boy, if y' don't 'ussel a bit y'll never write
London orders, "that's" pretty plain. Jest stick stamps on all those
letters, and mind y'r stick 'em right way up, and try and profit a
little more by the opportunities your aunt and uncle have provided ye.
Can't say "what"'ll happen t'ye if ye don't."
And Kipps, tired, hungry, and belated, set about stamping with vigour
"Lick the "envelope"," said Mr. Shalford, "lick the "envelope"," as
though he grudged the youngster the postage-stamp gum. "It's the little
things mount up," he would say; and, indeed, that was his philosophy of
life--to bustle and save, always to bustle and save. His political creed
linked Reform, which meant nothing, with Efficiency which meant a
sweated service, and Economy which meant a sweated expenditure, and his
conception of a satisfactory municipal life was to "keep down the
rates." Even his religion was to save his soul, and to preach a similar
cheese-paring to the world.
The indentures that bound Kipps to Mr. Shalford were antique and
complex: they insisted on the latter gentleman's parental privileges;
they forbade Kipps to dice and game; they made him over body and soul
to Mr. Shalford for seven long years, the crucial years of his life. In
return there were vague stipulations about teaching the whole art and
mystery of the trade to him; but as there was no penalty attached to
negligence, Mr. Shalford, being a sound, practical business man,
considered this a mere rhetorical flourish, and set himself assiduously
to get as much out of Kipps and to put as little into him as he could in
the seven years of their intercourse.
What he put into Kipps was chiefly bread and margarine, infusions of
chicory and tea-dust, colonial meat by contract at threepence a pound,
potatoes by the sack, and watered beer. If, however, Kipps chose to buy
any supplementary material for growth, Mr. Shalford had the generosity
to place his kitchen resources at his disposal free--if the fire chanced
to be going. He was also allowed to share a bedroom with eight other
young Englishmen, and to sleep in a bed which, except in very severe
weather, could be made with the help of his overcoat and private
underlinen, not to mention newspapers, quite sufficiently warm for any
reasonable soul. In addition Kipps was taught the list of fines; and how
to tie up parcels; to know where goods were kept in Mr. Shalford's
systematised shop; to hold his hands extended upon the counter and to
repeat such phrases as "What can I have the pleasure...?" "No trouble, I
'ssure you," and the like; to block, fold, and measure materials of all
sorts; to lift his hat from his head when he passed Mr. Shalford abroad,
and to practise a servile obedience to a large number of people. But he
was not, of course, taught the "cost" mark of the goods he sold, nor
anything of the method of buying such goods. Nor was his attention
directed to the unfamiliar social habits and fashions to which his trade
ministered. The use of half the goods he saw sold and was presently to
assist in selling he did not understand; materials for hangings,
cretonnes, chintzes, and the like, serviettes and all the bright, hard
white wear of a well-ordered house, pleasant dress materials, linings,
stiffenings--they were to him from first to last no more than things
heavy and difficult to handle in bulk, that one folded up, unfolded, cut
in lengths, and saw dwindle and pass away out into that mysterious happy
world in which the customer dwells. Kipps hurried from piling linen
table-cloths, that were collectively as heavy as lead, to eat off
oil-cloth in a gas-lit dining-room underground; and he dreamt of combing
endless blankets beneath his overcoat, spare undershirt, and three
newspapers. So he had at least the chance of learning the beginnings of
In return for these benefits he worked so that he commonly went to bed
exhausted and footsore. His round began at half-past six in the morning,
when he would descend unwashed and shirtless, in old clothes and a
scarf, and dust boxes and yawn, and take down wrappers and clean the
windows until eight. Then in half an hour he would complete his toilet
and take an austere breakfast of bread and margarine and what only an
Imperial Englishman would admit to be coffee, after which refreshment
he ascended to the shop for the labours of the day. Commonly these began
with a mighty running to and fro with planks and boxes and goods for
Carshot, the window-dresser, who, whether he worked well or ill, nagged
persistently by reason of a chronic indigestion, until the window was
done. Sometimes the costume window had to be dressed, and then Kipps
staggered down the whole length of the shop from the costume room with
one after another of those ladylike shapes grasped firmly, but
shamefully, each about her single ankle of wood. Such days as there was
no window-dressing, there was a mighty carrying and lifting of blocks
and bales of goods into piles and stacks. After this there were terrible
exercises, at first almost despairfully difficult: certain sorts of
goods that came in folded had to be rolled upon rollers, and for the
most part refused absolutely to be rolled, at any rate by Kipps; and
certain other sorts of goods that came from the wholesalers rolled had
to be measured and folded, which folding makes young apprentices wish
they were dead. All of it, too, quite avoidable trouble, you know, that
is not avoided because of the cheapness of the genteeler sorts of labour
and the dearness of forethought in the world. And then consignments of
new goods had to be marked off and packed into proper parcels; and
Carshot packed like conjuring tricks, and Kipps packed like a boy with
tastes in some other direction--not ascertained. And always Carshot
He had a curious formula of appeal to his visceral oeconomy, had
Carshot, that the refinement of the times and the earnest entreaties of
my friends induce me to render by an anæmic paraphrase.
"My heart and lungs! I never see such a boy," so I present Carshot's
refrain; and even when he was within a foot or so of the customer's face
the disciplined ear of Kipps would still at times develop a featureless,
intercalary murmur into--well, "my heart and lungs!"
There came a blessed interval when Kipps was sent abroad "matching."
This consisted chiefly in supplying unexpected defects in buttons,
ribbon, lining, and so forth in the dressmaking department. He was given
a written paper of orders with patterns pinned thereto, and discharged
into the sunshine and interest of the street. Then, until he thought it
wise to return and stand the racket of his delay, he was a free man,
clear of all reproach.
He made remarkable discoveries in topography, as for example that the
most convenient way from the establishment of Mr. Adolphus Davis to the
establishment of Messrs. Plummer, Roddis & Tyrrel, two of his principal
places of call, is not as is generally supposed down the Sandgate Road,
but up the Sandgate Road, round by West Terrace, and along the Leas to
the lift, watch the lift up and down "twice", but not longer, because
that wouldn't do, back along the Leas, watch the Harbour for a short
time, and then round by the churchyard, and so (hurrying) into Church
Street and Rendezvous Street. But on some exceptionally fine days the
route lay through Radnor Park to the pond where the little boys sail
ships and there are interesting swans.
He would return to find the shop settling down to the business of
serving customers. And now he had to stand by to furnish any help that
was necessary to the seniors who served, to carry parcels and bills
about the shop, to clear away "stuff" after each engagement, to hold up
curtains until his arms ached, and what was more difficult than all, to
do nothing, and not stare disconcertingly at customers when there was
nothing for him to do. He plumbed an abyss of boredom, or stood a mere
carcass, with his mind far away, fighting the enemies of the Empire, or
steering a dream ship perilously into unknown seas. To be recalled
sharply to our higher civilisation by some bustling senior's "Nar then,
Kipps. "Look" alive! Ketch 'old. (My heart and lungs!)"
At half-past seven o'clock--except on late nights--a feverish activity
of "straightening up" began, and when the last shutter was up outside,
Kipps with the speed of an arrow leaving a bow would start hanging
wrappers over the fixtures and over the piles of wares upon the
counters, preparatory to a vigorous scattering of wet sawdust and the
sweeping out of the shop.
Sometimes people would stay long after the shop was closed--"They don't
mind a bit at Shalford's," these ladies used to say--it is always ladies
do this sort of thing--and while they loitered it was forbidden to
touch a wrapper, or take any measures to conclude the day until the
doors closed behind them.
Mr. Kipps would watch these later customers from the shadow of a stack
of goods, and death and disfigurement was the least he wished for them.
Rarely much later than nine, a supper of bread and cheese and watered
beer awaited him upstairs, and, that consumed, the rest of the day was
entirely at his disposal for reading, recreation, and the improvement of
The front door was locked at half-past ten, and the gas in the dormitory
extinguished at eleven.
On Sundays he was obliged to go to church once, and commonly he went
twice, for there was nothing else to do. He sat in the free seats at the
back; he was too shy to sing, and not always clever enough to keep his
place in the prayer-book, and he rarely listened to the sermon. But he
had developed a sort of idea that going to church had a tendency to
alleviate life. His aunt wanted to have him confirmed, but he evaded
this ceremony for some years.
In the intervals between services he walked about Folkestone with an air
of looking for something. Folkestone was not so interesting on Sundays
as on week-days, because the shops were shut; but on the other hand
there was a sort of confusing brilliance along the front of the Leas in
the afternoon. Sometimes the apprentice next above him would condescend
to go with him; but when the apprentice next but one above him
condescended to go with the apprentice next above him, then Kipps, being
habited as yet in ready-made clothes without tails, and unsuitable
therefore to appear in such company, went alone.
Sometimes he would strike out into the country--still as if looking for
something he missed--but the rope of meal-times haled him home again;
and sometimes he would invest the major portion of the weekly allowance
of a shilling that old Booch handed out to him, in a sacred concert on
the pier. He would sometimes walk up and down the Leas between twenty
and thirty times after supper, desiring much the courage to speak to
some other person in the multitude similarly employed. Almost invariably
he ended his Sunday footsore.
He never read a book; there were none for him to read, and besides, in
spite of Mr. Woodrow's guidance through a cheap and cheaply annotated
edition of the "Tempest" (English Literature) he had no taste that way;
he never read any newspapers, except occasionally "Tit-Bits" or a
ha'penny "comic." His chief intellectual stimulus was an occasional
argey-bargey that sprang up between Carshot and Buggins at dinner. Kipps
listened as if to unparalleled wisdom and wit, and treasured all the
gems of repartee in his heart against the time when he, too, should be a
Buggins and have the chance and courage for speech.
At times there came breaks in this routine--sale times, darkened by
extra toil and work past midnight, but brightened by a sprat supper and
some shillings in the way of 'premiums.' And every year--not now and
then, but every year--Mr. Shalford, with parenthetic admiration of his
own generosity and glancing comparisons with the austerer days when "he"
was apprenticed, conceded Kipps no less than ten days' holiday--ten
whole days every year! Many a poor soul at Portland might well envy the
fortunate Kipps. Insatiable heart of man! but how those days were
grudged and counted as they snatched themselves away from him one after
Once a year came stock-taking, and at intervals gusts of "marking off"
goods newly arrived. Then the splendours of Mr. Shalford's being shone
with oppressive brilliancy. "System!" he would say, "system. Come!
'ussel!" and issue sharp, confusing, contradictory orders very quickly.
Carshot trotted about, confused, perspiring, his big nose up in the air,
his little eye on Mr. Shalford, his forehead crinkled, his lips always
going to the formula "Oh, my heart and lungs!" The smart junior and the
second apprentice vied with one another in obsequious alacrity. The
smart junior aspired to Carshot's position, and that made him almost
violently subservient to Shalford. They all snapped at Kipps. Kipps held
the blotting-pad and the safety inkpot and a box of tickets, and ran and
fetched things. If he put the ink down before he went to fetch things
Mr. Shalford usually knocked it over, and if he took it away Mr.
Shalford wanted it before he returned. "You make my tooth ache, Kipps,"
Mr. Shalford would say. "You gimme n'ralgia. You got no more System in
you than a bad potato." And at the times when Kipps carried off the
inkpot Mr. Shalford would become purple in the face and jab round with
his dry pen at imaginary inkpots and swear, and Carshot would stand and
vociferate, and the smart junior would run to the corner of the
department and vociferate, and the second apprentice would pursue Kipps,
vociferating, "Look Alive, Kipps! Look Alive! Ink, Man! Ink!"
A vague self-disgust, that shaped itself as an intense hate of Shalford
and all his fellow-creatures, filled the soul of Kipps during these
periods of storm and stress. He felt that the whole business was unjust
and idiotic, but the why and the wherefore was too much for his
unfortunate brain. His mind was a welter. One desire, the desire to
dodge some at least of a pelting storm of disagreeable comment, guided
him through a fumbling performance of his duties. His disgust was
infinite! It was not decreased by the inflamed ankles and sore feet that
form a normal incident in the business of making an English draper; and
the senior apprentice, Minton, a gaunt, sullen-faced youngster with
close-cropped, wiry, black hair, a loose, ugly mouth, and a moustache
like a smudge of ink, directed his attention to deeper aspects of the
question and sealed his misery.
"When you get too old to work they chuck you away," said Minton. "Lor!
you find old drapers everywhere--tramps, beggars, dock labourers, 'bus
conductors--Quod. Anywhere but in a crib."
"Don't they get shops of their own?"
"Lord! '"Ow" are they to get shops of their own? They 'aven't any
capital! How's a draper's shopman to save up five hundred pounds even? I
tell you it can't be done. You got to stick to cribs until it's over. I
tell you we're in a blessed drainpipe, and we've got to crawl along it
till we die."
The idea that fermented perpetually in the mind of Minton was to "hit
the little beggar slap in the eye"--the little beggar being Mr.
Shalford--"and see how his blessed System met that."
The threat filled Kipps with splendid anticipations whenever Shalford
went marking off in Minton's department. He would look at Minton and
look at Shalford, and decide where he would best like Shalford hit....
But for reasons known to himself Shalford never pished and tushed with
Minton, as he did at the harmless Carshot, and this interesting
experiment upon the System was never attempted.
There were times when Kipps would lie awake, all others in the dormitory
asleep and snoring, and think dismally of the outlook Minton pictured.
Dimly he perceived the thing that had happened to him--how the great,
stupid machine of retail trade had caught his life into its wheels, a
vast, irresistible force which he had neither strength of will nor
knowledge to escape. This was to be his life until his days should end.
No adventures, no glory, no change, no freedom. Neither--though the
force of that came home to him later--might he dream of effectual love
and marriage. And there was a terrible something called the "swap," or
"the key of the street," and "crib hunting," of which the talk was
scanty but sufficient. Night after night he would resolve to enlist, to
run away to sea, to set fire to the warehouse, or drown himself; and
morning after morning he rose up and hurried downstairs in fear of a
sixpenny fine. He would compare his dismal round of servile drudgery
with those windy, sunlit days at Littlestone, those windows of happiness
shining ever brighter as they receded. The little figure of Ann seemed
in all these windows now.
She, too, had happened on evil things. When Kipps went home for the
first Christmas after he was bound, that great suspended resolve of his
to kiss her flared up to hot determination, and he hurried out and
whistled in the yard. There was a still silence, and then old Kipps
appeared behind him.
"It's no good your whistling there, my boy," said Old Kipps in a loud,
clear tone, designed to be audible over the wall. "They've cleared out
all you 'ad any truck with. "She's" gone as help to Ashford, my boy.
"Help!" Slavey is what we used to call 'em, but times are changed.
Wonder they didn't say lady-'elp while they was about it. It 'ud be like
And Sid? Sid had gone, too. "Arrand boy or somethink," said Old Kipps.
"To one of these here brasted cicycle shops."
""Has" 'e!" said Kipps, with a feeling that he had been gripped about
the chest, and he turned quickly and went indoors.
Old Kipps, still supposing him present, went on to further observations
of an anti-Pornick hue....
When Kipps got upstairs safe in his own bedroom, he sat down on the bed
and stared at nothing. They were caught--they were all caught. All life
took on the hue of one perpetual, dismal Monday morning. The Hurons were
scattered, the wrecks and the beach had passed away from him, the sun of
those warm evenings at Littlestone had set for evermore....
The only pleasure left for the brief remainder of his holiday after that
was to think he was not in the shop. Even that was transient. Two more
days--one more day--half a day. When he went back there were one or two
very dismal nights indeed. He went so far as to write home some vague
intimation of his feelings about business and his prospects, quoting
Minton. But Mrs. Kipps answered him, "Did he want the Pornicks to say he
wasn't good enough to be a draper?" This dreadful possibility was of
course conclusive in the matter. "No," he resolved they should not say
he failed at that.
He derived much help from a "manly" sermon delivered in an enormous
voice by a large, fat, sun-red clergyman, just home from a colonial
bishopric he had resigned on the plea of ill-health, exhorting him that
whatever his hand found to do, he was to do with all his might; and the
revision of his Catechism preparatory to his confirmation reminded him
that it behooved him "to do his duty in that state of life unto which it
shall please God to call him...."
After a time the sorrows of Kipps grew less acute, and save for a
miracle the brief tragedy of his life was over. He subdued himself to
his position even as his Church required of him, seeing moreover no way
out of it.
The earliest mitigation of his lot was that his soles and ankles became
indurated to the perpetual standing. The next was an unexpected weekly
whiff of freedom that came every Thursday. Mr. Shalford, after a brave
stand for what he called "Innyvishal lib'ty" and the "Idea of my
System," a stand which he explained he made chiefly on patriotic
grounds, was at last, under pressure of certain of his customers,
compelled to fall in line with the rest of the local Early Closing
Association, and Mr. Kipps could emerge in daylight and go where he
listed for long, long hours. Moreover Minton, the pessimist, reached the
end of his appointed time and left--to enlist in a cavalry regiment and
go about this planet leading an insubordinate but interesting life, that
ended at last in an intimate, vivid and really you know by no means
painful or tragic night grapple in the Terah Valley. In a little while
Kipps cleaned windows no longer; he was serving customers (of the less
important sort) and taking goods out on approval; and presently he was
third apprentice, and his moustache was visible, and there were three
apprentices whom he might legally snub and cuff. But one was (most
dishonestly) too big to cuff in spite of his greener years.
There came still other distractions, the natural distractions of
adolescence, to take his mind off the inevitable. His costume, for
example, began to interest him more; he began to realise himself as a
visible object, to find an interest in the costume-room mirrors and the
eyes of the girl apprentices.
In this he was helped by counsel and example. Pierce, his immediate
senior, was by way of being what was called a Masher, and preached his
cult. During slack times grave discussions about collars, ties, the cut
of trouser legs, and the proper shape of a boot-toe, were held in the
Manchester department. In due course Kipps went to a tailor, and his
short jacket was replaced by a morning coat with tails. Stirred by this,
he purchased at his own expense three stand-up collars to replace his
former turn-down ones. They were nearly three inches high, higher than
those Pierce wore, and they made his neck quite sore and left a red mark
under his ears.... So equipped, he found himself fit company even for
this fashionable apprentice, who had now succeeded Minton in his
Most potent help of all in the business of forgetting his cosmic
disaster was this, that so soon as he was in tail coats the young ladies
of the establishment began to discover that he was no longer a "horrid
little boy." Hitherto they had tossed heads at him and kept him in his
place. Now they discovered that he was a "nice boy," which is next door
at least to being a "feller," and in some ways even preferable. It is
painful to record that his fidelity to Ann failed at their first onset.
I am fully sensible how entirely better this story would be from a
sentimental point of view if he had remained true to that early love.
Only then it would have been a different story altogether. And at least
Kipps was thus far true, that with none of these later loves was there
any of that particular quality that linked Ann's flushed face and warmth
and the inner things of life so inseparably together. Though they were
not without emotions of various sorts.
It was one of the young ladies in the costume-room who first showed by
her manner that he was a visible object and capable of exciting
interest. She talked to him, she encouraged him to talk to her, she lent
him a book she possessed, and darned a sock for him, and said she would
be his elder sister. She allowed him to escort her to church with a
great air of having induced him to go. Then she investigated his eternal
welfare, overcame a certain affectation of virile indifference to
religion, and extorted a promise that he would undergo "confirmation."
This excited the other young lady in the costumes, her natural rival,
and she set herself with great charm and subtlety to the capture of the
ripening heart of Kipps. She took a more worldly line. She went for a
walk with him to the pier on Sunday afternoon, and explained to him how
a gentleman must always walk "outside" a lady on a pavement, and how all
gentlemen wore, or at least carried gloves, and generally the broad
beginnings of the British social ideal. Afterwards the ladies exchanged
"words," upon Sabbatical grounds. In this way was the "toga virilis"
bestowed on Kipps, and he became recognised as a suitable object for
that Platonic Eros whose blunted darts devastate even the very
highest-class establishments. In this way, too, did that pervading
ambition of the British young man to be, if not a "gentleman," at least
mistakably like one, take root in his heart.
He took to these new interests with quite natural and personal zest. He
became initiated into the mysteries of "flirting," and--at a slightly
later stage, and with some leading hints from Pierce, who was of a
communicative disposition in these matters--of the milder forms of
"spooning." Very soon he was engaged. Before two years were out he had
been engaged six times, and was beginning to be rather a desperate
fellow, so far as he could make out. Desperate, but quite gentlemanly,
be it understood, and without let or hindrance to the fact that he was,
in four brief lessons, "prepared" by a distant-mannered and gloomy young
curate, and "confirmed" a member of the Established Church.
The engagements in drapery establishments do not necessarily involve a
subsequent marriage. They are essentially more refined, less coarsely
practical, and altogether less binding than the engagements of the
vulgar rich. These young ladies do not like not to be engaged--it is so
unnatural; and Mr. Kipps was as easy to get engaged to as one could
wish. There are, from the young lady's point of view, many conveniences
in being engaged. You get an escort for church and walks and so forth.
It is not quite the thing to walk abroad with a "feller," much more to
"spoon" with him, when he is neither one's "fiancé" nor an adopted
brother; it is considered either a little "fast", or else as savouring
of the "walking-out" habits of the servant girls. Now, such is the
sweetness of human charity, that the shop young lady in England has just
the same horror of doing anything that savours of the servant girl as
the lady journalist, let us say, has of anything savouring of the shop
girl, or the really quite nice young lady has of anything savouring of
any sort of girl who has gone down into the economic battlefield to earn
herself a living.... But the very deepest of these affairs was still
among the shallow places of love; at best it was paddling where it is
decreed that men must sink or swim. Of the deep and dangerous places,
and of the huge buoyant lift of its waves, he tasted nothing. Affairs of
clothes and vanities they were, jealousies about a thing said,
flatteries and mutual boastings, climaxes in the answering grasp of
hands, the temerarious use of Christian names, culminations in a walk,
or a near confidence, or a little pressure more or less. Close-sitting
on a seat after twilight, with some little fondling, was indeed the
boldest of a lover's adventures, the utmost limit of his enterprises in
the service of that stark Great Lady, who is daughter of Uranus and the
sea. The "young ladies" who reigned in his heart came and went like
people in an omnibus: there was the vehicle, so to speak, upon the road,
and they entered and left it without any cataclysm of emotion. For all
that, this development of the sex interest was continuously very
interesting to Kipps, and kept him going as much as anything through all
these servile years.
For a tailpiece to this chapter one may vignette one of those little
It is a bright Sunday afternoon; the scene is a secluded little seat
half-way down the front of the Leas, and Kipps is four years older than
when he parted from Ann. There is a quite perceptible down upon his
upper lip, and his costume is just as tremendous a "mash" as lies within
his means. His collar is so high that it scars his inaggressive jawbone,
and his hat has a curly brim, his tie shows taste, his trousers are
modestly brilliant, and his boots have light cloth uppers and button at
the side. He jabs at the gravel before him with a cheap cane, and
glances sideways at Flo Bates, the young lady from the cash desk. She
is wearing a brilliant blouse and a gaily trimmed hat. There is an air
of fashion about her that might disappear under the analysis of a woman
of the world, but which is quite sufficient to make Kipps very proud to
be distinguished as her particular "feller," and to be allowed at
temperate intervals to use her Christian name.
The conversation is light and gay in the modern style, and Flo keeps on
smiling, good temper being her special charm.
"Ye see, you don' mean what "I" mean," he is saying.
"Well, what do "you" mean?"
"Not what you mean!"
"Well, tell me."
""Ah!" That's another story."
Pause. They look meaningly at one another.
"You "are" a one for being roundabout," says the lady.
"Well, you're not so plain, you know."
"You don't mean to say I'm roundabout?"
"No. I mean to say ... though----"
"You're not a bit plain--you're" (his voice jumps up to a squeak)
"Oh, get "out"!" her voice lifts also--with pleasure.
She strikes at him with her glove, then glances suddenly at a ring upon
her finger. Her smile disappears momentarily. Another pause. Eyes meet
and the smile returns.
"I wish I knew----" says Kipps.
"Where you got that ring."
She lifts the hand with the ring until her eyes just show (very
prettily) over it. "You'd just "like" to know," she says slowly, and
smiles still more brightly with the sense of successful effect.
"I dessay I could guess."
"I dessay you couldn't."
"Guess it in three."
"Not the name."
"Well, anyhow lemme look at it."
He looks at it. Pause. Giggles, slight struggle, and a slap on Kipps'
coatsleeve. A passerby appears down the path, and she hastily withdraws
She glances at the face of the approaching man. They maintain a bashful
silence until he has passed.
THE WOOD-CARVING CLASS
Though these services to Venus Epipontia, the seaside Venus, and these
studies in the art of dress, did much to distract his thoughts and
mitigate his earlier miseries, it would be mere optimism to present
Kipps as altogether happy. A vague dissatisfaction with life drifted
about him and every now and again enveloped him like a sea fog. During
these periods it was greyly evident that there was something, something
vital in life, lacking. For no earthly reason that Kipps could discover,
he was haunted by a suspicion that life was going wrong or had already
gone wrong in some irrevocable way. The ripening self-consciousness of
adolescence developed this into a clearly felt insufficiency. It was all
very well to carry gloves, open doors, never say "Miss" to a girl, and
walk "outside," but were there not other things, conceivably even deeper
things, before the complete thing was attained? For example, certain
matters of knowledge. He perceived great bogs of ignorance about him,
fumbling traps, where other people, it was alleged, "real" gentlemen and
ladies, for example, and the clergy, had knowledge and assurance, bogs
which it was sometimes difficult to elude. A girl arrived in the
millinery department who could, she said, "speak" French and German. She
snubbed certain advances, and a realisation of inferiority blistered
Kipps. But he tried to pass the thing off as a joke by saying,
"Parlez-vous Francey," whenever he met her, and inducing the junior
apprentice to say the same.
He even made some dim half-secret experiments towards remedying the
deficiencies he suspected. He spent five shillings on five serial
numbers of a Home Educator, and bought (and even thought of reading) a
Shakespeare and a Bacon's "Advancement of Learning" and the poems of
Herrick from a chap who was hard up. He battled with Shakespeare all one
Sunday afternoon, and found the "English Literature" with which Mr.
Woodrow had equipped him had vanished down some crack in his mind. He
had no doubt it was very splendid stuff, but he couldn't quite make out
what it was all about. There was an occult meaning, he knew, in
literature, and he had forgotten it. Moreover, he discovered one day,
while taunting the junior apprentice with ignorance, that his "rivers of
England" had also slipped his memory, and he laboriously restored that
fabric of rote learning: "Ty Wear Tees 'Umber...."
I suppose some such phase of discontent is a normal thing in every
adolescence. The ripening mind seeks something upon which its will may
crystallise, upon which its discursive emotions, growing more abundant
with each year of life, may concentrate. For many, though not for all,
it takes a religious direction, but in those particular years the mental
atmosphere of Folkestone was exceptionally free from any revivalistic
disturbance that might have reached Kipps' mental being. Sometimes they
fall in love. I have known this uneasiness end in different cases in a
vow to read one book (not a novel) every week, to read the Bible through
in a year, to pass in the Honours division of the London Matriculation
examination, to become an accomplished chemist, and never more to tell a
lie. It led Kipps finally into Technical Education as we understand it
in the south of England.
It was in the last year of his apprenticeship that he had pursued his
researches after that missing qualification into the Folkestone Young
Men's Association, where Mr. Chester Coote prevailed. Mr. Chester Coote
was a young man of semi-independent means who inherited a share in a
house agency, read Mrs. Humphry Ward, and took an interest in social
work. He was a whitish-faced young man with a prominent nose, pale blue
eyes, and a quivering quality in his voice. He was very active upon
committees; he was very prominent and useful on all social occasions, in
evidence upon platforms and upon all those semi-public occasions when
the Great descend. He lived with an only sister. To Kipps and his kind
in the Young Men's Association he read a stimulating paper on
"Self-Help." He said it was the noblest of all our distinctive English
characteristics, and he was very much down upon the "over-educated"
Germans. At the close a young German hairdresser made a few commendatory
remarks which developed somehow into an oration on Hanoverian politics.
As he became excited he became guttural and obscure; the meeting
sniggered cheerfully at such ridiculous English, and Kipps was so much
amused that he forgot a private project to ask this Chester Coote how he
might set about a little self-help on his own private account in such
narrow margins of time as the System of Mr. Shalford spared him. But
afterwards in the night-time it came to him again.
It was a few months later, and after his apprenticeship was over and Mr.
Shalford had with depreciatory observations taken him on as an improver
at twenty pounds a year, that this question was revived by a casual
article on Technical Education in a morning paper that a commercial
traveller had left behind him. It played the "rôle" of the word in
season. Something in the nature of conversion, a faint sort of
concentration of purpose, really occurred in him then. The article was
written with penetrating vehemence, and it stimulated him to the pitch
of inquiring about the local Science and Art Classes, and after he had
told everybody in the shop about it and taken the advice of all who
supported his desperate resolution, he joined. At first he attended the
class in Freehand, that being the subject taught on early closing night;
and he had already made some progress in that extraordinary routine of
reproducing freehand "copies" which for two generations had passed with
English people for instruction in art, when the dates of the classes
were changed. Thereby just as the March winds were blowing he was
precipitated into the wood-carving class, and his mind diverted first to
this useful and broadening pursuit, and then to its teacher.
The class in wood-carving was an extremely select class, conducted at
that time by a young lady named Walshingham, and as this young lady was
destined by fortune to teach Kipps a great deal more than wood carving,
it will be well if the reader gets the picture of her correctly in mind.
She was only a year or so older than he was; she had a pale,
intellectual face, dark grey eyes, and black hair, which she wore over
her forehead in an original and striking way that she had adopted from a
picture by Rossetti in the South Kensington Museum. She was slender, so
that without ungainliness she had an effect of being tall, and her hands
were shapely and white when they came into contrast with hands much
exercised in rolling and blocking. She dressed in those loose and
pleasant forms and those soft and tempered shades that arose in England
in the socialistic-æsthetic epoch and remain to this day among us as the
badge of those who read Turgenev's novels, scorn current fiction, and
think on higher planes. I think she was as beautiful as most beautiful
people, and to Kipps she was altogether beautiful. She had, Kipps
learnt, matriculated at London University, an astounding feat to his
imagination; and the masterly way in which she demonstrated how to prod
and worry honest pieces of wood into useless and unedifying patterns in
relief extorted his utmost admiration.
At first, when Kipps had learnt he was to be taught by a "girl," he was
inclined to resent it, the more so as Buggins had recently been very
strong on the gross injustice of feminine employment.
"We have to keep wives," said Buggins (though as a matter of fact he did
not keep even one), "and how are we to do it with a lot of girls coming
in to take the work out of our mouths?"
Afterwards Kipps, in conjunction with Pierce, looked at it from another
point of view, and thought it would be rather a "lark." Finally, when he
saw her, and saw her teaching, and coming nearer to him with an
impressive deliberation, he was breathless with awe and the quality of
her dark, slender femininity.
The class consisted of two girls and a maiden lady of riper years,
friends of Miss Walshingham's, and anxious rather to support her in an
interesting experiment than to become really expert wood-carvers; an
oldish young man with spectacles and a black beard, who never spoke to
any one, and who was evidently too short-sighted to see his work as a
whole; a small boy who was understood to have a "gift" for wood-carving;
and a lodging-house keeper who "took classes" every winter, she told
Mr. Kipps, as though they were a tonic, and "found they did her good."
And occasionally Mr. Chester Coote--refined and gentlemanly--would come
into the class, with or without papers, ostensibly on committee
business, but in reality to talk to the less attractive one of the two
girl students; and sometimes a brother of Miss Walshingham's, a slender,
dark young man with a pale face, and fluctuating resemblances to the
young Napoleon, would arrive just at the end of the class-time to see
his sister home.
All these personages impressed Kipps with a sense of inferiority that in
the case of Miss Walshingham became positively abysmal. The ideas and
knowledge they appeared to have, their personal capacity and freedom,
opened a new world to his imagination. These people came and went, with
a sense of absolute assurance, against an overwhelming background of
plaster casts, diagrams and tables, benches and a blackboard--a
background that seemed to him to be saturated with recondite knowledge
and the occult and jealously guarded tips and secrets that constitute
Art and the Higher Life. They went home, he imagined, to homes where the
piano was played with distinction and freedom, and books littered the
tables, and foreign languages were habitually used. They had complicated
meals, no doubt--with serviettes. They "knew etiquette," and how to
avoid all the errors for which Kipps bought penny manuals, "What to
Avoid," "Common Errors in Speaking," and the like. He knew nothing
about it all--nothing whatever; he was a creature of the outer darkness
blinking in an unsuspected light.
He heard them speak easily and freely to one another of examinations, of
books and paintings, of "last year's Academy"--a little contemptuously;
and once, just at the end of the class-time, Mr. Chester Coote and young
Walshingham and the two girls argued about something or other called, he
fancied, "Vagner" or "Vargner"--they seemed to say it both ways--and
which presently shaped itself more definitely as the name of a man who
made up music. (Carshot and Buggins weren't in it with them.) Young
Walshingham, it appeared, said something or other that was an "epigram,"
and they all applauded him. Kipps, I say, felt himself a creature of
outer darkness, an inexcusable intruder in an altitudinous world. When
the epigram happened, he first of all smiled, to pretend he understood,
and instantly suppressed the smile to show he did not listen. Then he
became extremely hot and uncomfortable, though nobody had noticed either
It was clear his only chance of concealing his bottomless baseness was
to hold his tongue, and meanwhile he chipped with earnest care, and
abased his soul before the very shadow of Miss Walshingham. She used to
come and direct and advise him, with, he felt, an effort to conceal the
scorn she had for him; and, indeed, it is true that at first she thought
of him chiefly as the clumsy young man with the red ears.
And as soon as he emerged from the first effect of pure and awestricken
humility--he was greatly helped to emerge from that condition to a
perception of human equality by the need the lodging-house keeper was
under to talk while she worked, and as she didn't like Miss Walshingham
and her friends very much, and the young man with spectacles was deaf,
she naturally talked to Kipps--he perceived that he was in a state of
adoration for Miss Walshingham that it seemed almost a blasphemous
familiarity to speak of us being in love.
This state, you must understand, had nothing to do with "flirting" or
"spooning" and that superficial passion that flashes from eye to eye
upon the leas and pier--absolutely nothing. That he knew from the first.
Her rather pallid, intelligent young face, beneath those sombre clouds
of hair, put her in a class apart; towards her the thought of
"attentions" paled and vanished. To approach such a being, to perform
sacrifices and to perish obviously for her, seemed the limit he might
aspire to, he or any man. For if his love was abasement, at any rate it
had this much of manliness, that it covered all his sex. It had not yet
come to Kipps to acknowledge any man as his better in his heart of
hearts. When one does that the game is played and one grows old indeed.
The rest of his sentimental interests vanished altogether in this great
illumination. He meditated about her when he was blocking cretonne; her
image was before his eyes at tea-time, and blotted out the more
immediate faces, and made him silent and preoccupied, and so careless in
his bearing that the junior apprentice, sitting beside him, mocked at
and parodied his enormous bites of bread and butter unreproved. He
became conspicuously less popular on the "fancy" side, the "costumes"
was chilly with him and the "millinery" cutting. But he did not care. An
intermittent correspondent with Flo Bates, that had gone on since she
left Mr. Shalford's desk for a position at Tunbridge "nearer home," and
which had roused Kipps in its earlier stages to unparalleled heights of
epistolatory effort, died out altogether by reason of his neglect. He
heard with scarcely a pang that, as a consequence perhaps of his
neglect, Flo was "carrying on with a chap who managed a farm."
Every Thursday he jabbed and gouged at his wood, jabbing and gouging
intersecting circles and diamond traceries, and that laboured inane
which our mad world calls ornament, and he watched Miss Walshingham
furtively whenever she turned away. The circles in consequence were
jabbed crooked; and his panels, losing their symmetry, became
comparatively pleasing to the untrained eye--and once he jabbed his
finger. He would cheerfully have jabbed all his fingers if he could have
found some means of using the opening to express himself of the vague
emotions that possessed him. But he shirked conversation just as
earnestly as he desired it; he feared that profound general ignorance of
his might appear.
There came a time when she could not open one of the class-room windows.
The man with the black beard pored over his chipping heedlessly....
It did not take Kipps a moment to grasp his opportunity. He dropped his
gouge and stepped forward. "Lem "me"," he said....
He could not open the window either!
"Oh, please don't trouble," she said.
"'Sno trouble," he gasped.
Still the sash stuck. He felt his manhood was at stake. He gathered
himself together for a tremendous effort, and the pane broke with a
snap, and he thrust his hand into the void beyond.
""There!"" said Miss Walshingham, and the glass fell ringing into the
Then Kipps made to bring his hand back, and felt the keen touch of the
edge of the broken glass at his wrist. He turned dolefully. "I'm
tremendously sorry," he said in answer to the accusation in Miss
Walshingham's eyes. "I didn't think it would break like that,"--as if he
had expected it to break in some quite different and entirely more
satisfactory manner. The boy with the gift of wood-carving having stared
at Kipps' face for a moment, became involved in a Laocoon struggle with
"You've cut your wrist," said one of the girl friends, standing up and
pointing. She was a pleasant-faced, greatly freckled girl, with a
helpful disposition, and she said "You've cut your wrist," as brightly
as if she had been a trained nurse.
Kipps looked down, and saw a swift line of scarlet rush down his hand.
He perceived the other man student regarding this with magnified eyes.
"You "have" cut your wrist," said Miss Walshingham, and Kipps regarded
his damage with greater interest.
"He's cut his wrist," said the maiden lady to the lodging-house keeper,
and seemed in doubt what a lady should do. "It's----" she hesitated at
the word "bleeding," and nodded to the lodging-house keeper instead.
"Dreadfully," said the maiden lady, and tried to look and tried not to
look at the same time.
"Of "course" he's cut his wrist," said the lodging-house keeper,
momentarily quite annoyed at Kipps; and the other young lady, who
thought Kipps rather common, went on quietly with her wood-cutting with
an air of its being the proper thing to do--though nobody else seemed to
"You must tie it up," said Miss Walshingham.
"We must tie it up," said the freckled girl.
"I 'adn't the slightest idea that window was going to break like that,"
said Kipps, with candour. "Nort the slightest."
He glanced again at the blood on his wrist, and it seemed to him that it
was on the very point of dropping on the floor of that cultured
class-room. So he very neatly licked it off, feeling at the same time
for his handkerchief. "Oh, "don't!"" said Miss Walshingham as he did
so, and the girl with the freckles made a movement of horror. The giggle
got the better of the boy with the gift, and celebrated its triumph by
unseemly noises; in spite of which it seemed to Kipps at the moment that
the act that had made Miss Walshingham say "Oh, "don't!"" was rather a
desperate and manly treatment of what was after all a creditable injury.
"It ought to be tied up," said the lodging-house keeper, holding her
chisel upright in her hand. "It's a bad cut to bleed like that."
"We must tie it up," said the freckled girl, and hesitated in front of
Kipps. "Have you got a handkerchief?" she said.
"I dunno 'ow I managed "not" to bring one," said Kipps. "I---- Not
'aving a cold I suppose some'ow I didn't think----"
He checked a further flow of blood.
The girl with the freckles caught Miss Walshingham's eye, and held it
for a moment. Both glanced at Kipps' injury. The boy with the gift, who
had reappeared with a chastened expression from some noisy pursuit
beneath his desk, made the neglected motions of one who proffers shyly.
Miss Walshingham under the spell of the freckled girl's eye produced a
handkerchief. The voice of the maiden lady could be heard in the
background. "I've been through all the technical education ambulance
classes twice, and I know you go "so" if it's a vein, and "so" if it's
an artery--at least you go "so" for one and "so" for the other,
whichever it may be; but...."
"If you will give me your hand," said the freckled girl, and proceeded
with Miss Walshingham's assistance to bandage Kipps in a most
businesslike way. Yes, they actually bandaged Kipps. They pulled up his
cuffs--happily they were not a very frayed pair--and held his wrist, and
wrapped the soft handkerchief round it, and tightened the knot together.
And Miss Walshingham's face, the face of that almost divine Over-human,
came close to the face of Kipps.
"We're not hurting you, are we?" she said.
"Not a bit," said Kipps, as he would have said if they had been sawing
his arm off.
"We're not experts, you know," said the freckled girl.
"I'm sure it's a dreadful cut," said Miss Walshingham.
"It ain't much reely," said Kipps; "and you're taking a lot of trouble.
I'm sorry I broke that window. I can't think what I could have been
"It isn't so much the cut at the time, it's the poisoning afterwards,"
came the voice of the maiden lady.
"Of course I'm quite willing to pay for the window," panted Kipps
"We must make it just as tight as possible, to stop the bleeding," said
the freckled girl.
"I don't think it's much reely," said Kipps. "I'm awful sorry I broke
that window, though."
"Put your finger on the knot, dear," said the freckled girl.
"Eh?" said Kipps; "I mean----"
Both the young ladies became very intent on the knot, and Mr. Kipps was
very red and very intent upon the two young ladies.
"Mortified, and had to be sawn off," said the maiden lady.
"Sawn off?" said the lodging-house keeper.
"Sawn "right" off," said the maiden lady, and jabbed at her mangled
""There"," said the freckled girl, "I think that ought to do. You're
sure it's not too tight?"
"Not a bit," said Kipps.
He met Miss Walshingham's eye, and smiled to show how little he cared
for wounds and pain. "It's only a little cut," he added.
The maiden lady appeared as an addition to their group. "You should have
washed the wound, dear," she said. "I was just telling Miss Collis." She
peered through her glasses at the bandage. "That doesn't look "quite"
right," she remarked critically. "You should have taken the ambulance
classes. But I suppose it will have to do. Are you hurting?"
"Not a bit," said Kipps, and he smiled at them all with the air of a
brave soldier in hospital.
"I'm sure it "must" hurt," said Miss Walshingham.
"Anyhow, you're a very good patient," said the girl with the freckles.
Mr. Kipps became quite pink. "I'm only sorry I broke the window--that's
all," he said. "But who would have thought it was going to break like
"I'm afraid you won't be able to go on carving to-night," said Miss
"I'll try," said Kipps. "It reelly doesn't hurt--not anything to
Presently Miss Walshingham came to him as he carved heroically with his
hand bandaged in her handkerchief. There was a touch of a novel interest
in her eyes. "I'm afraid you're not getting on very fast," she said.
The freckled girl looked up and regarded Miss Walshingham.
"I'm doing a little, anyhow," said Kipps. "I don't want to waste any
time. A feller like me hasn't much time to spare."
It struck the girls that there was a quality of modest disavowal about
that "feller like me." It gave them a light into this obscure person,
and Miss Walshingham ventured to commend his work as "promising" and to
ask whether he meant to follow it up. Kipps didn't "altogether
know"--"things depended on so much," but if he was in Folkestone next
winter he certainly should. It did not occur to Miss Walshingham at the
time to ask why his progress in art depended upon his presence in
Folkestone. There was some more questions and answers--they continued to
talk to him for a little time, even when Mr. Chester Coote had come into
the room--and when at last the conversation had died out it dawned upon
Kipps just how much his cut wrist had done for him....
He went to sleep that night revising that conversation for the twentieth
time, treasuring this and expanding that, and inserting things he might
have said to Miss Walshingham, things he might still say about
himself--in relation more or less explicit to her. He wasn't quite sure
if he wouldn't like his arm to mortify a bit, which would make him
interesting, or to heal up absolutely, which would show the exceptional
purity of his blood.
The affair of the broken window happened late in April, and the class
came to an end in May. In that interval there were several small
incidents and great developments of emotion. I have done Kipps no
justice if I have made it seem that his face was unsightly. It was, as
the freckled girl pointed out to Helen Walshingham, an "interesting"
face, and that aspect of him which presented chiefly erratic hair and
glowing ears ceased to prevail.
They talked him over, and the freckled girl discovered there was
something "wistful" in his manner. They detected a "natural delicacy,"
and the freckled girl set herself to draw him out from that time forth.
The freckled girl was nineteen, and very wise and motherly and
benevolent, and really she greatly preferred drawing out Kipps to
wood-carving. It was quite evident to her that Kipps was in love with
Helen Walshingham, and it struck her as a queer and romantic and
pathetic and extremely interesting phenomenon. And as at that time she
regarded Helen as "simply lovely," it seemed only right and proper that
she should assist Kipps in his modest efforts to place himself in a
state of absolute "abandon" upon her altar.
Under her sympathetic management the position of Kipps was presently
defined quite clearly. He was unhappy in his position--misunderstood. He
told her he "didn't seem to get on like" with customers, and she
translated this for him as "too sensitive." The discontent with his fate
in life, the dreadful feeling that education was slipping by him,
troubles that time and usage were glazing over a little, revived to
their old acuteness but not to their old hopelessness. As a basis for
sympathy indeed they were even a source of pleasure.
And one day at dinner it happened that Carshot and Buggins fell talking
of "these here writers," and how Dickens had been a labeller of blacking
and Thackeray "an artist who couldn't sell a drawing," and how Samuel
Johnson had walked to London without any boots, having thrown away his
only pair "out of pride." "It's luck," said Buggins, "to a very large
extent. They just happen to hit on something that catches on, and there
"Nice easy life they have of it, too," said Miss Mergle. "Write just an
hour or so, and done for the day! Almost like gentlefolks."
"There's more work in it than you'd think," said Carshot, stooping to a
"I wouldn't mind changing, for all that," said Buggins. "I'd like to see
one of these here authors marking off with Jimmy."
"I think they copy from each other a good deal," said Miss Mergle.
"Even then (chup, chup, chup)," said Carshot, "there's writing it out in
their own hands."
They proceeded to enlarge upon the literary life, on its ease and
dignity, on the social recognition accorded to those who led it, and on
the ample gratifications their vanity achieved. "Pictures
everywhere--never get a new suit without being photographed--almost like
Royalty," said Miss Mergle.
And all this talk impressed the imagination of Kipps very greatly. Here
was a class that seemed to bridge the gulf. On the one hand essentially
Low, but by factitious circumstances capable of entering upon those
levels of social superiority to which all true Englishmen aspire, those
levels from which one may tip a butler, scorn a tailor, and even commune
with those who lead "men" into battle. "Almost like gentlefolks"--that
was it! He brooded over these things in the afternoon, until they
blossomed into daydreams. Suppose, for example, he had chanced to write
a book, a well-known book, under an assumed name, and yet kept on being
a draper all the time.... Impossible, of course, but "suppose"--it made
quite a long dream.
And at the next wood-carving class he let it be drawn from him that his
real choice in life was to be a Nawther--"only one doesn't get a
After that there were times when Kipps had that pleasant sense that
comes of attracting interest. He was a mute, inglorious Dickens, or at
any rate something of that sort, and they were all taking him at that.
The discovery of this indefinable "something in" him, the development of
which was now painfully restricted and impossible, did much to bridge
the gulf between himself and Miss Walshingham. He was unfortunate, he
was futile, but he was not "common." Even now with help...? The two
girls, and the freckled girl in particular, tried to "stir him up" to
some effort to do his imputed potentialities justice. They were still
young enough to believe that to nice and niceish members of the male
sex--more especially when under the stimulus of feminine
encouragement--nothing is finally impossible.
The freckled girl was, I say, the stage manager of this affair, but Miss
Walshingham was the presiding divinity. A touch of proprietorship came
in her eyes at times when she looked at him. He was
hers--unconditionally--and she knew it.
To her directly Kipps scarcely ever made a speech. The enterprising
things that he was continually devising to say to her, he usually did
not say, or he said them in a suitably modified form to the girl with
the freckles. And one day the girl with the freckles smote him to the
heart. She said to him, with the faintest indication of her head across
the class-room to where her friend reached a cast from the shelf, "I do
think Helen Walshingham is sometimes the most lovely person in the
world. Look at her now!"
Kipps gasped for a moment. The moment lengthened, and she regarded him
as an intelligent young surgeon might regard an operation without
"You're right," he said, and then looked at her with an entire
abandonment of visage.
She coloured under his glare of silent avowal, and he blushed brightly.
"I think so, too," he said hoarsely, cleared his throat, and after a
meditative moment proceeded sacramentally with his wood-carving.
"You "are" wonderful," said the freckled girl to Miss Walshingham,
apropos of nothing, as they went on their way home together. "He simply
"But, my dear, what have I done?" said Helen.
"That's just it," said the freckled girl. "What "have" you done?"
And then with a terrible swiftness came the last class of the course, to
terminate this relationship altogether. Kipps was careless of dates, and
the thing came upon him with an effect of abrupt surprise. Just as his
petals were expanding so hopefully, "Finis," and the thing was at an
end. But Kipps did not fully appreciate that the end was indeed and
really and truly the end, until he was back in the Emporium after the
end was over.
The end began practically in the middle of the last class, when the
freckled girl broached the topic of terminations. She developed the
question of just how he was going on after the class ended. She hoped he
would stick to certain resolutions of self-improvement he had breathed.
She said quite honestly that he owed it to himself to develop his
possibilities. He expressed firm resolve, but dwelt on difficulties. He
had no books. She instructed him how to get books from the public
library. He was to get a form of application for a ticket signed by a
ratepayer; and he said "of course," when she said Mr. Shalford would do
that, though all the time he knew perfectly well it would "never do" to
ask Mr. Shalford for anything of the sort. She explained that she was
going to North Wales for the summer, information he received without
immediate regret. At intervals he expressed his intention of going on
with wood-carving when the summer was over, and once he added "If----"
She considered herself extremely delicate not to press for the
completion of that "if----"
After that talk there was an interval of languid wood-carving and
watching Miss Walshingham.
Then presently there came a bustle of packing, a great ceremony of
hand-shaking all round by Miss Collis and the maiden lady of ripe years,
and then Kipps found himself outside the class-room, on the landing
with his two friends. It seemed to him he had only just learnt that this
was the last class of all. There came a little pause, and the freckled
girl suddenly went back into the class-room, and left Kipps and Miss
Walshingham alone together for the first time. Kipps was instantly
breathless. She looked at his face with a glance that mingled sympathy
and curiosity, and held out her white hand.
"Well, good-bye, Mr. Kipps," she said.
He took her hand and held it. "I'd do anything," said Kipps, and had not
the temerity to add, "for you." He stopped awkwardly. He shook her hand
and said, "Good-bye."
There was a little pause.
"I hope you will have a pleasant holiday," she said.
"I shall come back to the class next year, anyhow," said Kipps
valiantly, and turned abruptly to the stairs.
"I hope you will," said Miss Walshingham.
He turned back towards her. "Reelly?" he said.
"I hope everybody will come back."
"I will--anyhow," said Kipps. "You may count on that," and he tried to
make his tones significant.
They looked at one another through a little pause.
"Good-bye," she said.
Kipps lifted his hat. She turned towards the class-room.
"Well?" said the freckled girl, coming back towards her.
"Nothing," said Helen. "At least--presently." And she became very
energetic about some scattered tools on a desk.
The freckled girl went out and stood for a moment at the head of the
stairs. When she came back she looked very hard at her friend. The
incident struck her as important--wonderfully important. It was
unassimilable, of course, and absurd, but there it was, the thing that
is so cardinal to a girl, the emotion, the subservience, the crowning
triumph of her sex. She could not help feeling that Helen took it, on
the whole, a little too hardly.
The hour of the class on the following Thursday found Kipps in a state
of nearly incredible despondency. He was sitting with his eyes on the
reading room clock, his chin resting on his fists and his elbows on the
accumulated comic papers that were comic alas! in vain! He paid no heed
to the little man in spectacles glaring opposite to him, famishing for
"Fun". In this place it was he had sat night after night, each night
more blissful than the last, waiting until it should be time to go to
Her! And then--bliss! And now the hour had come and there was no class!
There would be no class now until next October; it might be there would
never be a class so far as he was concerned again.
It might be there would never be a class again, for Shalford, taking
exception at a certain absent-mindedness that led to mistakes and more
particularly to the ticketing of several articles in Kipps' Manchester
window upside down, had been "on to" him for the past few days in an
exceedingly onerous manner....
He sighed profoundly, pushed the comic papers back--they were rent away
from him instantly by the little man in spectacles--and tried the old
engravings of Folkestone in the past, that hang about the room. But
these, too, failed to minister to his bruised heart. He wandered about
the corridors for a time and watched the library indicator for awhile.
Wonderful thing that! But it did not hold him for long. People came and
laughed near him and that jarred with him dreadfully. He went out of the
building and a beastly cheerful barrel organ mocked him in the street.
He was moved to a desperate resolve to go down to the beach. There it
might be he would be alone. The sea might be rough--and attuned to him.
It would certainly be dark.
"If I 'ad a penny I'm blest if I wouldn't go and chuck myself off the
end of the pier.... "She'd" never miss me...." He followed a deepening
vein of thought.
"Penny though! It's tuppence," he said after a space.
He went down Dover Street in a state of profound melancholia--at the
pace and mood as it were of his own funeral procession--and he crossed
at the corner of Tontine Street heedless of all mundane things. And
there it was that Fortune came upon him, in disguise and with a loud
shout, the shout of a person endowed with an unusually rich, full voice,
followed immediately by a violent blow in the back.
His hat was over his eyes and an enormous weight rested on his
shoulders and something kicked him in the back of his calf.
Then he was on all fours in some mud that Fortune, in conjunction with
the Folkestone corporation and in the pursuit of equally mysterious
ends, had heaped together even lavishly for his reception.
He remained in that position for some seconds awaiting further
developments and believing almost anything broken before his heart.
Gathering at last that this temporary violence of things in general was
over, and being perhaps assisted by a clutching hand, he arose, and
found himself confronting a figure holding a bicycle and thrusting
forward a dark face in anxious scrutiny.
"You aren't hurt, Matey?" gasped the figure.
"Was that "you" 'it me?" said Kipps.
"It's these handles, you know," said the figure with an air of being a
fellow sufferer. "They're too "low". And when I go to turn, if I don't
remember, Bif!--and I'm "in" to something."
"Well--you give me a oner in the back--anyhow," said Kipps, taking stock
of his damages.
"I was coming down hill, you know," explained the bicyclist. "These
little Folkestone hills are a Fair Treat. It isn't as though I'd been on
the level. I came rather a whop."
"You did "that"," said Kipps.
"I was back pedalling for all I was worth anyhow," said the bicyclist.
"Not that I "am" worth much back pedalling."
He glanced round and made a sudden movement almost as if to mount his
machine. Then he turned as rapidly to Kipps again, who was now stooping
down, pursuing the tale of his injuries.
"Here's the back of my trouser leg all tore down," said Kipps, "and I
believe I'm bleeding. You reely ought to be more careful----"
The stranger investigated the damage with a rapid movement. "Holy Smoke,
so you are!" He laid a friendly hand on Kipps' arm. "I say--look here!
Come up to my diggings and sew it up. I'm----. Of course I'm to blame,
and I say----" his voice sank to a confidential friendliness. "Here's a
slop. Don't let on I ran you down. Haven't a lamp, you know. Might be a
bit awkward, for "me"."
Kipps looked up towards the advancing policeman. The appeal to his
generosity was not misplaced. He immediately took sides with his
assailant. He stood up as the representative of the law drew nearer. He
assumed an air which he considered highly suggestive of an accident not
"All right," he said, "go on!"
"Right you are," said the cyclist promptly, and led the way, and then,
apparently with some idea of deception, called over his shoulder, "I'm
tremendous glad to have met you, old chap.
"It really isn't a hundred yards," he said after they had passed the
policeman, "it's just round the corner."
"Of course," said Kipps, limping slightly. "I don't want to get a chap
into trouble. Accidents "will" happen. Still----"
"Oh! "rather!" I believe you. Accidents "will" happen. Especially when
you get "me" on a bicycle." He laughed. "You aren't the first I've run
down not by any manner of means! I don't think you can be hurt much
either. It isn't as though I was scorching. You didn't see me coming. I
was back pedalling like anything. Only naturally it seems to you I must
have been coming fast. And I did all I could to ease off the bump as I
hit you. It was just the treadle I think came against your calf. But it
was All Right of you about that policeman, you know. That was a Fair Bit
of All Right. Under the Circs, if you'd told him I was riding it might
have been forty bob! Forty bob! I'd have had to tell 'em Time is Money.
Just now for Mr. H. C.
"I shouldn't have blamed you either, you know. Most men after a bump
like that might have been spiteful. The least I can do is to stand you a
needle and thread. And a clothes brush. It isn't everyone who'd have
taken it like you.
"Scorching! Why if I'd been scorching you'd have--coming as we
did--you'd have been knocked silly.
"But I tell you, the way you caught on about that slop was something
worth seeing. When I asked you, I didn't half expect it. Bif! Right off.
Cool as a cucumber. Had your line at once. I tell you that there isn't
many men would have acted as you have done, I "will" say that. You
acted like a gentleman over that slop."
Kipps' first sense of injury disappeared. He limped along a pace or so
behind, making depreciatory noises in response to these flattering
remarks and taking stock of the very appreciative person who uttered
As they passed the lamps he was visible as a figure with a slight
anterior plumpness, progressing buoyantly on knickerbockered legs, with
quite enormous calves, legs that, contrasting with Kipps' own narrow
practice, were even exuberantly turned out at the knees and toes. A
cycling cap was worn very much on one side, and from beneath it
protruded carelessly straight wisps of dark red hair, and ever and again
an ample nose came into momentary view round the corner. The muscular
cheeks of this person and a certain generosity of chin he possessed were
blue shaven and he had no moustache. His carriage was spacious and
confident, his gestures up and down the narrow deserted back street they
traversed, were irresistibly suggestive of ownership; a suggestion of
broadly gesticulating shadows were born squatting on his feet and grew
and took possession of the road and reunited at last with the shadows of
the infinite, as lamp after lamp was passed. Kipps saw by the flickering
light of one of them that they were in Little Fenchurch Street, and then
they came round a corner sharply into a dark court and stopped at the
door of a particularly ramshackle looking little house, held up between
two larger ones, like a drunken man between policemen.
The cyclist propped his machine carefully against the window, produced a
key and blew down it sharply. "The lock's a bit tricky," he said, and
devoted himself for some moments to the task of opening the door. Some
mechanical catastrophe ensued and the door was open.
"You'd better wait here a bit while I get the lamp," he remarked to
Kipps; "very likely it isn't filled," and vanished into the blackness of
the passage. "Thank God for matches!" he said, and Kipps had an
impression of a passage in the transitory pink flare and the bicyclist
disappearing into a further room. Kipps was so much interested by these
things that for the time he forgot his injuries altogether.
An interval and Kipps was dazzled by a pink shaded kerosene lamp. "You
go in," said the red-haired man, "and I'll bring in the bike," and for a
moment Kipps was alone in the lamp-lit room. He took in rather vaguely
the shabby ensemble of the little apartment, the round table covered
with a torn, red, glass-stained cover on which the lamp stood, a mottled
looking-glass over the fireplace reflecting this, a disused gas bracket,
an extinct fire, a number of dusty postcards and memoranda stuck round
the glass, a dusty, crowded paper rack on the mantel with a number of
cabinet photographs, a table littered with papers and cigarette ash and
a syphon of soda water. Then the cyclist reappeared and Kipps saw his
blue-shaved, rather animated face and bright-reddish, brown eyes for
the first time. He was a man perhaps ten years older than Kipps, but his
beardless face made them in a way contemporary.
"You behaved all right about that policeman--anyhow," he repeated as he
"I don't see 'ow else I could 'ave done," said Kipps quite modestly. The
cyclist scanned his guest for the first time and decided upon hospitable
"We'd better let that mud dry a bit before we brush it. Whiskey there
is, good old Methusaleh, Canadian Rye, and there's some brandy that's
all right. Which'll you have?"
""I" dunno," said Kipps, taken by surprise, and then seeing no other
course but acceptance, "well--whiskey, then."
"Right you are, old boy, and if you'll take my advice you'll take it
neat. I may not be a particular judge of this sort of thing, but I do
know old Methusaleh pretty well. Old Methusaleh--four stars. That's me!
Good old Harry Chitterlow and good old Methusaleh. Leave 'em together.
Bif! He's gone!"
He laughed loudly, looked about him, hesitated and retired, leaving
Kipps in possession of the room and free to make a more precise
examination of its contents.
He particularly remarked the photographs that adorned the apartment.
They were chiefly photographs of ladies, in one case in tights, which
Kipps thought a "bit 'ot," but one represented the bicyclist in the
costume of some remote epoch. It did not take Kipps long to infer that
the others were probably actresses and that his host was an actor, and
the presence of the half of a large, coloured playbill seemed to confirm
this. A note framed in an Oxford frame that was a little too large for
it, he presently demeaned himself to read. "Dear Mr. Chitterlow," it ran
its brief course, "if after all you will send the play you spoke of I
will endeavour to read it," followed by a stylish but absolutely
illegible signature, and across this was written in pencil, "What price,
Harry, now?" And in the shadow by the window was a rough and rather able
sketch of the bicyclist in chalk on brown paper, calling particular
attention to the curvature of the forward lines of his hull and calves
and the jaunty carriage of his nose, and labelled unmistakably
"Chitterlow." Kipps thought it "rather a take-off." The papers on the
table by the syphon were in manuscript. Kipps observed manuscript of a
particularly convulsive and blottesque sort and running obliquely across
Presently he heard the metallic clamour as if of a series of irreparable
breakages with which the lock of the front door discharged its function,
and then Chitterlow reappeared, a little out of breath as if from
running and with a starry labelled bottle in his large, freckled hand.
"Sit down, old chap," he said, "sit down. I had to go out for it after
all. Wasn't a solitary bottle left. However, it's all right now we're
here. No, don't sit on that chair, there's sheets of my play on that.
That's the one--with the broken arm. I think this glass is clean, but
anyhow wash it out with a squizz of syphon and shy it in the fireplace.
Here! I'll do it! Lend it here!"
As he spoke Mr. Chitterlow produced a corkscrew from a table drawer,
attached and overcame good old Methusaleh's cork in a style a bartender
might envy, washed out two tumblers in his simple, effectual manner, and
poured a couple of inches of the ancient fluid into each. Kipps took his
tumbler, said "Thenks" in an off-hand way, and after a momentary
hesitation whether he should say "here's to you!" or not, put it to his
lips without that ceremony. For a space fire in his throat occupied his
attention to the exclusion of other matters, and then he discovered Mr.
Chitterlow with an intensely bulldog pipe alight, seated on the opposite
side of the empty fireplace and pouring himself out a second dose of
"After all," said Mr. Chitterlow, with his eye on the bottle and a
little smile wandering to hide amidst his larger features, "this
accident might have been worse. I wanted someone to talk to a bit, and I
didn't want to go to a pub, leastways not a Folkestone pub, because as a
matter of fact I'd promised Mrs. Chitterlow, who's away, not to, for
various reasons, though of course if I'd wanted to I'm just that sort I
should have all the same, and here we are! It's curious how one runs up
against people out bicycling!"
"Isn't it!" said Kipps, feeling that the time had come for him to say
"Here we are, sitting and talking like old friends, and half an hour ago
we didn't know we existed. Leastways we didn't know each other existed.
I might have passed you in the street perhaps and you might have passed
me, and how was I to tell that, put to the test, you would have behaved
as decently as you have behaved. Only it happened otherwise, that's all.
You're not smoking!" he said. "Have a cigarette?"
Kipps made a confused reply that took the form of not minding if he did,
and drank another sip of old Methusaleh in his confusion. He was able to
follow the subsequent course of that sip for quite a long way. It was as
though the old gentleman was brandishing a burning torch through his
vitals, lighting him here and lighting him there until at last his whole
being was in a glow. Chitterlow produced a tobacco pouch and cigarette
papers and with an interesting parenthesis that was a little difficult
to follow about some lady named Kitty something or other who had taught
him the art when he was as yet only what you might call a nice boy, made
Kipps a cigarette, and with a consideration that won Kipps' gratitude
suggested that after all he might find a little soda water an
improvement with the whiskey. "Some people like it that way," said
Chitterlow, and then with voluminous emphasis, ""I don't"."
Emboldened by the weakened state of his enemy Kipps promptly swallowed
the rest of him and had his glass at once hospitably replenished. He
began to feel he was of a firmer consistency than he commonly believed,
and turned his mind to what Chitterlow was saying with the resolve to
play a larger part in the conversation than he had hitherto done. Also
he smoked through his nose quite successfully, an art he had only very
Meanwhile Chitterlow explained that he was a playwright, and the tongue
of Kipps was unloosened to respond that he knew a chap, or rather one of
their fellows knew a chap, or at least to be perfectly correct this
fellow's brother did, who had written a play. In response to
Chitterlow's enquiries he could not recall the title of the play, nor
where it had appeared nor the name of the manager who produced it,
though he thought the title was something about "Love's Ransom" or
something like that.
"He made five 'undred pounds by it, though," said Kipps. "I know that."
"That's nothing," said Chitterlow, with an air of experience that was
extremely convincing. "Nothing. May seem a big sum to "you", but "I" can
assure you it's just what one gets any day. There's any amount of money,
an-ny amount, in a good play."
"I dessay," said Kipps, drinking.
"Any amount of money!"
Chitterlow began a series of illustrative instances. He was clearly a
person of quite unequalled gift for monologue. It was as though some
conversational dam had burst upon Kipps, and in a little while he was
drifting along upon a copious rapid of talk about all sorts of
theatrical things by one who knows all about them, and quite incapable
of anticipating whither that rapid meant to carry him. Presently somehow
they had got to anecdotes about well-known theatrical managers, little
Teddy Bletherskite, artful old Chumps, and the magnificent Behemoth,
"petted to death, you know, fair sickened, by all these society women."
Chitterlow described various personal encounters with these personages,
always with modest self-depreciation, and gave Kipps a very amusing
imitation of old Chumps in a state of intoxication. Then he took two
more stiff doses of old Methusaleh in rapid succession.
Kipps reduced the hither end of his cigarette to a pulp as he sat
"dessaying" and "quite believing" Chitterlow in the sagest manner and
admiring the easy way in which he was getting on with this very novel
and entertaining personage. He had another cigarette made for him, and
then Chitterlow, assuming by insensible degrees more and more of the
manner of a rich and successful playwright being interviewed by a young
admirer, set himself to answer questions which sometimes Kipps asked and
sometimes Chitterlow, about the particulars and methods of his career.
He undertook this self-imposed task with great earnestness and vigour,
treating the matter indeed with such fulness that at times it seemed
lost altogether under a thicket of parentheses, footnotes and episodes
that branched and budded from its stem. But it always emerged again,
usually by way of illustration to its own degressions. Practically it
was a mass of material for the biography of a man who had been
everywhere and done everything (including the Hon. Thomas Norgate, which
was a Record), and in particular had acted with great distinction and
profit (he dated various anecdotes, "when I was getting thirty, or forty
or fifty, dollars a week") throughout America and the entire civilised
And as he talked on and on in that full, rich, satisfying voice he had,
and as old Methusaleh, indisputably a most drunken old reprobate of a
whiskey, busied himself throughout Kipps, lighting lamp after lamp until
the entire framework of the little draper was illuminated and glowing
like some public building on a festival, behold Chitterlow and Kipps
with him and the room in which they sat, were transfigured! Chitterlow
became in very truth that ripe, full man of infinite experience and
humour and genius, fellow of Shakespeare and Ibsen and Maeterlinck
(three names he placed together quite modestly far above his own) and no
longer ambiguously dressed in a sort of yachting costume with cycling
knickerbockers, but elegantly if unconventionally attired, and the room
ceased to be a small and shabby room in a Folkestone slum, and grew
larger and more richly furnished, and the fly-blown photographs were
curious old pictures, and the rubbish on the walls the most rare and
costly bric-à-brac, and the indisputable paraffin lamp, a soft and
splendid light. A certain youthful heat that to many minds might have
weakened old Methusaleh's starry claim to a ripe antiquity, vanished in
that glamour, two burnt holes and a claimant darn in the table cloth,
moreover, became no more than the pleasing contradictions natural in the
house of genius, and as for Kipps!--Kipps was a bright young man of
promise, distinguished by recent quick, courageous proceedings not too
definitely insisted upon, and he had been rewarded by admission to a
sanctum and confidences, for which the common prosperous, for which
"society women" even, were notoriously sighing in vain. "Don't "want"
them, my boy; they'd simply play old Harry with the work, you know!
Chaps outside, bank clerks and university fellows, think the life's all
"that" sort of thing. Don't you believe 'em. Don't you believe 'em."
"Boom.... Boom.... Boom.... Boom.... right in the middle of a most
entertaining digression on flats who join touring companies under the
impression that they are actors, Kipps much amused at their flatness as
exposed by Chitterlow.
"Lor'!" said Kipps like one who awakens, "that's not eleven!"
"Must be," said Chitterlow. "It was nearly ten when I got that whiskey.
It's early yet----"
"All the same I must be going," said Kipps, and stood up. "Even
now--maybe. Fact is--I 'ad "no" idea. The 'ouse door shuts at 'arf past
ten, you know. I ought to 'ave thought before."
"Well, if you "must" go! I tell you what. I'll come, too.... Why!
There's your leg, old man! Clean forgot it! You can't go through the
streets like that. I'll sew up the tear. And meanwhile have another
"I ought to be getting on "now"," protested Kipps feebly, and then
Chitterlow was showing him how to kneel on a chair in order that the
rent trouser leg should be attainable and old Methusaleh on his third
round was busy repairing the temporary eclipse of Kipps' arterial glow.
Then suddenly Chitterlow was seized with laughter and had to leave off
sewing to tell Kipps that the scene wouldn't make a bad bit of business
in a farcical comedy, and then he began to sketch out the farcical
comedy and that led him to a digression about another farcical comedy of
which he had written a ripping opening scene which wouldn't take ten
minutes to read. It had something in it that had never been done on the
stage before, and was yet perfectly legitimate, namely, a man with a
live beetle down the back of his neck trying to seem at his ease in a
roomful of people....
""They" won't lock you out," he said, in a singularly reassuring tone,
and began to read and act what he explained to be (not because he had
written it, but simply because he knew it was so on account of his
exceptional experience of the stage) and what Kipps also quite clearly
saw to be, one of the best opening scenes that had ever been written.
When it was over Kipps, who rarely swore, was inspired to say the scene
was "damned fine" about six times over, whereupon as if by way of
recognition, Chitterlow took a simply enormous portion of the inspiring
antediluvian, declaring at the same time that he had rarely met a
"finer" intelligence than Kipps' (stronger there might be, "that" he
couldn't say with certainty as yet, seeing how little after all they had
seen of each other, but a finer "never"); that it was a shame such a
gallant and discriminating intelligence should be nightly either locked
up or locked out at ten--well, ten thirty then--and that he had half a
mind to recommend old somebody or other (apparently the editor of a
London daily paper) to put on Kipps forthwith as a dramatic critic in
the place of the current incapable.
"I don't think I've ever made up anything for print," said Kipps;
"----ever. I'd have a thundering good try, though, if ever I got a
chance. I would that! I've written window tickets often enough. Made 'em
up and everything. But that's different."
"You'd come to it all the fresher for not having done it before. And the
way you picked up every point in that scene, my boy, was a Fair Treat! I
tell you, you'd knock William Archer into fits. Not so literary, of
course, you'd be, but I don't believe in literary critics any more than
in literary playwrights. Plays "aren't" literature--that's just the
point they miss. Plays are plays. No! That won't hamper you anyhow.
You're wasted down here, I tell you. Just as I was, before I took to
acting. I'm hanged if I wouldn't like your opinion on these first two
acts of that tragedy I'm on to. I haven't told you about that. It
wouldn't take me more than an hour to read...."
Then so far as he could subsequently remember, Kipps had "another," and
then it would seem that suddenly, regardless of the tragedy, he insisted
that he "reelly "must" be getting on," and from that point his memory
became irregular. Certain things have remained quite clearly, and as it
is a matter of common knowledge that intoxicated people forget what
happens to them, it follows that he was not intoxicated. Chitterlow came
with him partly to see him home and partly for a freshener before
turning in. Kipps recalled afterwards very distinctly how in Little
Fenchurch Street he discovered that he could not walk straight and also
that Chitterlow's needle and thread in his still unmended trouser leg
was making an annoying little noise on the pavement behind him. He tried
to pick up the needle suddenly by surprise and somehow tripped and fell
and then Chitterlow, laughing uproariously, helped him up. "It wasn't a
bicycle this time, old boy," said Chitterlow, and that appeared to them
both at the time as being a quite extraordinarily good joke indeed.
They punched each other about on the strength of it.
For a time after that Kipps certainly pretended to be quite desperately
drunk and unable to walk and Chitterlow entered into the pretence and
supported him. After that Kipps remembered being struck with the
extremely laughable absurdity of going down hill to Tontine Street in
order to go up hill again to the Emporium, and trying to get that idea
into Chitterlow's head and being unable to do so on account of his own
merriment or Chitterlow's evident intoxication, and his next memory
after that was of the exterior of the Emporium, shut and darkened, and,
as it were, frowning at him with all its stripes of yellow and green.
The chilly way in which "Shalford" glittered in the moonlight printed
itself with particular vividness on his mind. It appeared to Kipps that
that establishment was closed to him for evermore. Those gilded letters,
in spite of appearances, spelt FINIS for him and exile from Folkestone.
He would never do wood-carving, never see Miss Walshingham again. Not
that he had ever hoped to see her again. But this was the knife, this
was final. He had stayed out, he had got drunk, there had been that row
about the Manchester window dressing only three days ago.... In the
retrospect he was quite sure that he was perfectly sober then and at
bottom extremely unhappy, but he kept a brave face on the matter
nevertheless, and declared stoutly he didn't care if he "was" locked
Whereupon Chitterlow slapped him on the back very hard and told him
that was a "Bit of All Right," and assured him that when he himself had
been a clerk in Sheffield before he took to acting he had been locked
out sometimes for six nights running.
"What's the result?" said Chitterlow. "I could go back to that place
now, and they'd be glad to have me.... Glad to have me," he repeated,
and then added, "that is to say, if they remember me--which isn't very
Kipps asked a little weakly, "What am I to do?"
"Keep out," said Chitterlow. "You can't knock 'em up now--that would
give you Right away. You'd better try and sneak in in the morning with
the Cat. That'll do you. You'll probably get in all right in the morning
if nobody gives you away."
Then for a time--perhaps as the result of that slap in the back--Kipps
felt decidedly queer, and acting on Chitterlow's advice went for a bit
of a freshener upon the Leas. After a time he threw off the temporary
queerness and found Chitterlow patting him on the shoulder and telling
him that he'd be all right now in a minute and all the better for
it--which he was. And the wind having dropped and the night being now a
really very beautiful moonlight night indeed, and all before Kipps to
spend as he liked and with only a very little tendency to spin round now
and again to mar its splendour, they set out to walk the whole length of
the Leas to the Sandgate lift and back, and as they walked Chitterlow
spoke first of moonlight transfiguring the sea and then of moonlight
transfiguring faces, and so at last he came to the topic of Love, and
upon that he dwelt a great while, and with a wealth of experience and
illustrative anecdote that seemed remarkably pungent and material to
Kipps. He forgot his lost Miss Walshingham and his outraged employer
again. He became as it were a desperado by reflection.
Chitterlow had had adventures, a quite astonishing variety of adventures
in this direction; he was a man with a past, a really opulent past, and
he certainly seemed to like to look back and see himself amidst its
He made no consecutive history, but he gave Kipps vivid, momentary
pictures of relations and entanglements. One moment he was in
flight--only too worthily in flight--before the husband of a Malay woman
in Cape Town. At the next he was having passionate complications with
the daughter of a clergyman in York. Then he passed to a remarkable
grouping at Seaford.
"They say you can't love two women at once," said Chitterlow. "But I
tell you----" He gesticulated and raised his ample voice. "It's "Rot"!
"I know that," said Kipps.
"Why, when I was in the smalls with Bessie Hopper's company there were
three." He laughed and decided to add, "Not counting Bessie, that is."
He set out to reveal Life as it is lived in touring companies, a quite
amazing jungle of interwoven "affairs" it appeared to be, a mere
amorous winepress for the crushing of hearts.
"People say this sort of thing's a nuisance and interferes with Work. I
tell you it isn't. The Work couldn't go on without it. They "must" do
it. They haven't the Temperament if they don't. If they hadn't the
Temperament they wouldn't want to act, if they have--Bif!"
"You're right," said Kipps. "I see that."
Chitterlow proceeded to a close criticism of certain historical
indiscretions of Mr. Clement Scott respecting the morals of the stage.
Speaking in confidence and not as one who addresses the public, he
admitted regretfully the general truth of these comments. He proceeded
to examine various typical instances that had almost forced themselves
upon him personally, and with especial regard to the contrast between
his own character towards women and that of the Hon. Thomas Norgate,
with whom it appeared he had once been on terms of great intimacy....
Kipps listened with emotion to these extraordinary recollections. They
were wonderful to him, they were incredibly credible. Of course the
tumultuous, passionate course was the way life ran--except in high-class
establishments! Such things happened in novels, in plays--only he had
been fool enough not to understand they happened. His share in the
conversation was now indeed no more than faint writing in the margin;
Chitterlow was talking quite continuously. He expanded his magnificent
voice into huge guffaws, he drew it together into a confidential
intensity, it became drawlingly reminiscent, he was frank, frank with
the effect of a revelation, reticent also with the effect of a
revelation, a stupendously gesticulating, moonlit black figure,
wallowing in itself, preaching Adventure and the Flesh to Kipps. Yet
withal shot with something of sentiment, with a sort of sentimental
refinement very coarsely and egotistically done. The Times he had
had!--even before he was as old as Kipps he had had innumerable times.
Well, he said with a sudden transition, he had sown his wild oats--one
had to somewhen--and now he fancied he had mentioned it earlier in the
evening, he was happily married. She was, he indicated, a "born lady."
Her father was a prominent lawyer, a solicitor in Kentish Town, "done a
lot of public house business"; her mother was second cousin to the wife
of Abel Jones, the fashionable portrait painter--"almost Society people
in a way." That didn't count with Chitterlow. He was no snob. What "did"
count was that she possessed, what he ventured to assert without much
fear of contradiction, was the very finest, completely untrained
contralto voice in all the world. ("But to hear it properly," said
Chitterlow, "you want a Big Hall.") He became rather vague and jerked
his head about to indicate when and how he had entered matrimony. She
was, it seemed, "away with her people." It was clear that Chitterlow did
not get on with these people very well. It would seem they failed to
appreciate his playwright, regarding it as an unremunerative pursuit,
whereas as he and Kipps knew, wealth beyond the dreams of avarice would
presently accrue. Only patience and persistence were needful.
He went off at a tangent to hospitality. Kipps must come down home with
him. They couldn't wander about all night, with a bottle of the right
sort pining at home for them. "You can sleep on the sofa. You won't be
worried by broken springs anyhow, for I took 'em all out myself two or
three weeks ago. I don't see what they even put 'em in for. It's a point
I know about. I took particular notice of it when I was with Bessie
Hopper. Three months we were and all over England, North Wales and the
Isle of Man, and I never struck a sofa in diggings anywhere that hadn't
a broken spring. Not once--all the time."
He added almost absently: "It happens like that at times."
They descended the slant road towards Harbour Street and went on past
the Pavilion Hotel.
They came into the presence of old Methusaleh again, and that worthy
under Chitterlow's direction at once resumed the illumination of Kipps'
interior with the conscientious thoroughness that distinguished him.
Chitterlow took a tall portion to himself with an air of asbestos, lit
the bulldog pipe again, and lapsed for a space into meditation, from
which Kipps roused him by remarking that he expected "an acter 'as a
lot of ups and downs like, now and then."
At which Chitterlow seemed to bestir himself. "Ra-ther," he said. "And
sometimes it's his own fault and sometimes it isn't. Usually it is. If
it isn't one thing it's another. If it isn't the manager's wife it's
bar-bragging. I tell you things happen at times. I'm a fatalist. The
fact is Character has you. You can't get away from it. You may think you
do, but you don't."
He reflected for a moment. "It's that what makes tragedy Psychology
really. It's the Greek irony--Ibsen and--all that. Up to date."
He emitted this exhaustive summary of high-toned modern criticism as if
he was repeating a lesson while thinking of something else, but it
seemed to rouse him as it passed his lips, by including the name of
He became interested in telling Kipps, who was indeed open to any
information whatever about this quite novel name, exactly where he
thought Ibsen fell short, points where it happened that Ibsen was
defective just where it chanced that he, Chitterlow, was strong. Of
course he had no desire to place himself in any way on an equality with
Ibsen; still the fact remained that his own experience in England and
America and the colonies was altogether more extensive than Ibsen could
have had. Ibsen had probably never seen "one decent bar scrap" in his
life. That, of course, was not Ibsen's fault or his own merit, but there
the thing was. Genius, he knew, was supposed to be able to do anything
or to do without anything; still he was now inclined to doubt that. He
had a play in hand that might perhaps not please William Archer--whose
opinion, after all, he did not value as he valued Kipps' opinion--but
which he thought was at any rate as well constructed as anything Ibsen
So with infinite deviousness Chitterlow came at last to his play. He
decided he would not read it to Kipps, but tell him about it. This was
the simpler because much of it was still unwritten. He began to explain
his plot. It was a complicated plot and all about a nobleman who had
seen everything and done everything and knew practically all that
Chitterlow knew about women; that is to say, "all about women" and
suchlike matters. It warmed and excited Chitterlow. Presently he stood
up to act a situation--which could not be explained. It was an extremely
Kipps applauded the situation vehemently. "Tha's dam' fine," said the
new dramatic critic, quite familiar with his part now, striking the
table with his fist and almost upsetting his third portion (in the
second series) of old Methusaleh. "Tha's dam' fine, Chit'low!"
"You see it?" said Chitterlow, with the last vestiges of that incidental
gloom disappearing. "Good, old boy! I thought you'd see it. But it's
just the sort of thing the literary critic can't see. However, it's only
He replenished Kipps and proceeded with his exposition.
In a little while it was no longer necessary to give that
over-advertised Ibsen the purely conventional precedence he had hitherto
had. Kipps and Chitterlow were friends and they could speak frankly and
openly of things not usually admitted. "Any 'ow," said Kipps, a little
irrelevantly and speaking over the brim of the replenishment, "what you
read jus' now was dam' fine. Nothing can't alter that."
He perceived a sort of faint, buzzing vibration about things that was
very nice and pleasant and with a little care he had no difficulty
whatever in putting his glass back on the table. Then he perceived
Chitterlow was going on with the scenario, and then that old Methusaleh
had almost entirely left his bottle. He was glad there was so little
more Methusaleh to drink because that would prevent his getting drunk.
He knew that he was not now drunk, but he knew that he had had enough.
He was one of those who always know when they have had enough. He tried
to interrupt Chitterlow to tell him this, but he could not get a
suitable opening. He doubted whether Chitterlow might not be one of
those people who did not know when they had had enough. He discovered
that he disapproved of Chitterlow. Highly. It seemed to him that
Chitterlow went on and on like a river. For a time he was inexplicably
and quite unjustly cross with Chitterlow and wanted to say to him, "you
got the gift of the gab," but he only got so far as to say "the gift,"
and then Chitterlow thanked him and said he was better than Archer any
day. So he eyed Chitterlow with a baleful eye until it dawned upon him
that a most extraordinary thing was taking place. Chitterlow kept
mentioning someone named Kipps. This presently began to perplex Kipps
very greatly. Dimly but decidedly he perceived this was wrong.
"Look 'ere," he said suddenly, ""what" Kipps?"
"This chap Kipps I'm telling you about."
"What chap Kipps you're telling which about?"
"I told you."
Kipps struggled with a difficulty in silence for a space. Then he
reiterated firmly, ""What" chap Kipps?"
"This chap in my play--man who kisses the girl."
"Never kissed a girl," said Kipps; "leastwise----" and subsided for a
space. He could not remember whether he had kissed Ann or not--he knew
he had meant to. Then suddenly in a tone of great sadness and addressing
the hearth he said, ""My" name's Kipps."
"Eh?" said Chitterlow.
"Kipps," said Kipps, smiling a little cynically.
"What about him?"
"He's me." He tapped his breastbone with his middle finger to indicate
his essential self.
He leant forward very gravely towards Chitterlow. "Look 'ere, Chit'low,"
he said, "you haven't no business putting my name into play. You
mustn't do things like that. You'd lose me my crib, right away." And
they had a little argument--so far as Kipps could remember. Chitterlow
entered upon a general explanation of how he got his names. These, he
had for the most part got out of a newspaper that was still, he
believed, "lying about." He even made to look for it, and while he was
doing so Kipps went on with the argument, addressing himself more
particularly to the photograph of the girl in tights. He said that at
first her costume had not commended her to him, but now he perceived she
had an extremely sensible face. He told her she would like Buggins if
she met him; he could see she was just that sort. She would admit, all
sensible people would admit, that using names in plays was wrong. You
could, for example, have the law of him.
He became confidential. He explained that he was already in sufficient
trouble for stopping out all night without having his name put in plays.
He was certain to be in the deuce of a row, the deuce of a row. Why had
he done it? Why hadn't he gone at ten? Because one thing leads to
another. One thing, he generalized, always does lead to another....
He was trying to tell her that he was utterly unworthy of Miss
Walshingham, when Chitterlow gave up the search and suddenly accused him
of being drunk and talking "Rot----."
He awoke on the thoroughly comfortable sofa that had had all its springs
removed, and although he had certainly not been intoxicated, he awoke
with what Chitterlow pronounced to be, quite indisputably, a Head and a
Mouth. He had slept in his clothes and he felt stiff and uncomfortable
all over, but the head and mouth insisted that he must not bother over
little things like that. In the head was one large, angular idea that it
was physically painful to have there. If he moved his head the angular
idea shifted about in the most agonising way. This idea was that he had
lost his situation and was utterly ruined and that it really mattered
very little. Shalford was certain to hear of his escapade, and that
coupled with that row about the Manchester window----!
He raised himself into a sitting position under Chitterlow's urgent
He submitted apathetically to his host's attentions. Chitterlow, who
admitted being a "bit off it" himself and in need of an egg-cupful of
brandy, just an egg-cupful neat, dealt with that Head and Mouth as a
mother might deal with the fall of an only child. He compared it with
other Heads and Mouths that he had met, and in particular to certain
experienced by the Hon. Thomas Norgate. "Right up to the last," said
Chitterlow, "he couldn't stand his liquor. It happens like that at
times." And after Chitterlow had pumped on the young beginner's head and
given him some anchovy paste piping hot on buttered toast, which he
preferred to all the other remedies he had encountered, Kipps resumed
his crumpled collar, brushed his clothes, tacked up his knee, and
prepared to face Mr. Shalford and the reckoning for this wild,
unprecedented night, the first "night out" that ever he had taken.
Acting on Chitterlow's advice to have a bit of a freshener before
returning to the Emporium, Kipps walked some way along the Leas and back
and then went down to a shop near the Harbour to get a cup of coffee. He
found that extremely reinvigorating, and he went on up the High Street
to face the inevitable terrors of the office, a faint touch of pride in
his depravity tempering his extreme self-abasement. After all, it was
not an unmanly headache; he had been out all night, and he had been
drinking and his physical disorder was there to witness the fact. If it
wasn't for the thought of Shalford he would have been even a proud man
to discover himself at last in such a condition. But the thought of
Shalford was very dreadful. He met two of the apprentices snatching a
walk before shop began. At the sight of them he pulled his spirits
together, put his hat back from his pallid brow, thrust his hands into
his trouser pockets and adopted an altogether more dissipated carriage;
he met their innocent faces with a wan smile. Just for a moment he was
glad that his patch at the knee was, after all, visible and that some at
least of the mud on his clothes had refused to move at Chitterlow's
brushing. What wouldn't they think he had been up to? He passed them
without speaking. He could imagine how they regarded his back. Then he
recollected Mr. Shalford....
The deuce of a row certainly and perhaps----! He tried to think of
plausible versions of the affair. He could explain he had been run down
by rather a wild sort of fellow who was riding a bicycle, almost stunned
for the moment (even now he felt the effects of the concussion in his
head) and had been given whiskey to restore him, and "the fact is,
sir"--with an upward inflection of the voice, an upward inflection of
the eyebrows and an air of its being the last thing one would have
expected whiskey to do, the manifestation indeed of a practically unique
physiological weakness--"it got into my "'ed"!"
Put like that it didn't look so bad.
He got to the Emporium a little before eight and the housekeeper with
whom he was something of a favourite ("There's no harm in Mr. Kipps,"
she used to say) seemed to like him if anything better for having broken
the rules and gave him a piece of dry toast and a good hot cup of tea.
"I suppose the G. V.----" began Kipps.
"He knows," said the housekeeper.
He went down to shop a little before time, and presently Booch summoned
him to the presence.
He emerged from the private office after an interval of ten minutes.
The junior clerk scrutinised his visage. Buggins put the frank question.
Kipps answered with one word.
"Swapped!" said Kipps.
Kipps leant against the fixtures with his hands in his pockets and
talked to the two apprentices under him.
"I don't care if I "am" swapped," said Kipps. "I been sick of Teddy and
his System some time. I was a good mind to chuck it when my time was up.
Wish I 'ad now."
Afterwards Pierce came round and Kipps repeated this.
"What's it for?" said Pierce. "That row about the window tickets?"
"No fear!" said Kipps and sought to convey a perspective of splendid
depravity. "I wasn't in las' night," he said and made even Pierce, "man
about town" Pierce, open his eyes.
"Why! where did you get to?" asked Pierce.
He conveyed that he had been "fair round the town." "With a Nactor chap,
"One can't "always" be living like a curit," he said.
"No fear," said Pierce, trying to play up to him.
But Kipps had the top place in that conversation.
"My Lor'!" said Kipps, when Pierce had gone, "but wasn't my mouth and
'ed bad this morning before I 'ad a pick-me-up!"
"Whad jer 'ave?"
"Anchovy on 'ot buttered toast. It's the very best pick-me-up there is.
You trust me, Rodgers. I never take no other and I don't advise you to.
And when pressed for further particulars, he said again he had been
"fair all "round" the town, with a Nactor chap" he knew. They asked
curiously all he had done and he said, "Well, what do "you" think?" And
when they pressed for still further details he said there were things
little boys ought not to know and laughed darkly and found them some
huckaback to roll.
And in this manner for a space did Kipps fend off the contemplation of
the "key of the street" that Shalford had presented him.
This sort of thing was all very well when junior apprentices were about,
but when Kipps was alone with himself it served him not at all. He was
uncomfortable inside and his skin was uncomfortable, and Head and Mouth
palliated perhaps, but certainly not cured, were still with him. He
felt, to tell the truth, nasty and dirty and extremely disgusted with
himself. To work was dreadful and to stand still and think still more
dreadful. His patched knee reproached him. These were the second best of
his three pairs of trousers, and they had cost him thirteen and
sixpence. Practically ruined they were. His dusting pair was unfit for
shop and he would have to degrade his best. When he was under inspection
he affected the slouch of a desperado, but directly he found himself
alone, this passed insensibly into the droop.
The financial aspect of things grew large before him. His whole capital
in the world was the sum of five pounds in the Post Office Savings Bank
and four and sixpence cash. Besides there would be two months' screw.
His little tin box upstairs was no longer big enough for his belongings;
he would have to buy another, let alone that it was not calculated to
make a good impression in a new "crib." Then there would be paper and
stamps needed in some abundance for answering advertisements and railway
fares when he went "crib hunting." He would have to write letters, and
he never wrote letters. There was spelling for example to consider.
Probably if nothing turned up before his month was up he would have to
go home to his Uncle and Aunt.
How would they take it?...
For the present at any rate he resolved not to write to them.
Such disagreeable things as this it was that lurked below the fair
surface of Kipps' assertion, "I've been wanting a chance. If 'e 'adn't
swapped me, I should very likely 'ave swapped "'im"."
In the perplexed privacies of his own mind he could not understand how
everything had happened. He had been the Victim of Fate, or at least of
one as inexorable--Chitterlow. He tried to recall the successive steps
that had culminated so disastrously. They were difficult to recall....
Buggins that night abounded in counsel and reminiscence.
"Curious thing," said Buggins, "but every time I've had the swap I've
never believed I should get another Crib--never. But I have," said
Buggins. "Always. So don't lose heart, whatever you do....
"Whatever you do," said Buggins, "keep hold of your collars and
cuffs--shirts if you can, but collars anyhow. Spout them last. And
anyhow, it's summer!--you won't want your coat.... You got a good
"You'll no more get a shop from New Romney, than--anything. Go straight
up to London, get the cheapest room you can find--and hang out. Don't
eat too much. Many a chap's put his prospects in his stomach. Get a cup
o' coffee and a slice--egg if you like--but remember you got to turn up
at the Warehouse tidy. The best places "now", I believe, are the old
cabmen's eating houses. Keep your watch and chain as long as you can....
"There's lots of shops going," said Buggins. "Lots!"
And added reflectively, "But not this time of year perhaps."
He began to recall his own researches. "'Stonishing lot of chaps you
see," he said. "All sorts. Look like Dukes some of 'em. High hat. Patent
boots. Frock coat. All there. All right for a West End crib.
Others--Lord! It's a caution, Kipps. Boots been inked in some reading
rooms--"I" used to write in a Reading Room in Fleet Street, regular
penny club--hat been wetted, collar frayed, tail coat buttoned up, black
chest-plaster tie--spread out. Shirt, you know, gone----" Buggins
pointed upward with a pious expression.
"No shirt, I expect?"
"Eat it," said Buggins.
Kipps meditated. "I wonder where old Merton is," he said at last. "I
often wondered about 'im."
It was the morning following Kipps' notice of dismissal that Miss
Walshingham came into the shop. She came in with a dark, slender lady,
rather faded, rather tightly dressed, whom Kipps was to know some day as
her mother. He discovered them in the main shop at the counter of the
ribbon department. He had come to the opposite glove counter with some
goods enclosed in a parcel that he had unpacked in his own department.
The two ladies were both bent over a box of black ribbon.
He had a moment of tumultuous hesitations. The etiquette of the
situation was incomprehensible. He put down his goods very quietly and
stood hands on counter, staring at these two ladies. Then, as Miss
Walshingham sat back, the instinct of flight seized him....
He returned to his Manchester shop wildly agitated. Directly he was out
of sight of her he wanted to see her. He fretted up and down the
counter, and addressed some snappish remarks to the apprentice in the
window. He fumbled for a moment with a parcel, untied it needlessly,
began to tie it up again and then bolted back again into the main shop.
He could hear his own heart beating.
The two ladies were standing in the manner of those who have completed
their purchases and are waiting for their change. Mrs. Walshingham
regarded some remnants with impersonal interest; Helen's eyes searched
the shop. They distinctly lit up when they discovered Kipps.
He dropped his hands to the counter by habit and stood for a moment
regarding her awkwardly. What would she do? Would she cut him? She came
across the shop to him.
"How are "you", Mr. Kipps?" she said, in her clear, distinct tones, and
she held out her hand.
"Very well, thank you," said Kipps; "how are you?"
She said she had been buying some ribbon.
He became aware of Mrs. Walshingham very much surprised. This checked
something allusive about the class and he said instead that he supposed
she was glad to be having her holidays now. She said she was, it gave
her more time for reading and that sort of thing. He supposed that she
would be going abroad and she thought that perhaps they "would" go to
Knocke or Bruges for a time.
Then came a pause and Kipps' soul surged within him. He wanted to tell
her he was leaving and would never see her again. He could find neither
words nor voice to say it. The swift seconds passed. The girl in the
ribbons was handing Mrs. Walshingham her change. "Well," said Miss
Walshingham, "Good-bye," and gave him her hand again.
Kipps bowed over her hand. His manners, his counter manners, were the
easiest she had ever seen upon him. She turned to her mother. It was no
good now, no good. Her mother! You couldn't say a thing like that before
her mother! All was lost but politeness. Kipps rushed for the door. He
stood at the door bowing with infinite gravity, and she smiled and
nodded as she went out. She saw nothing of the struggle within him,
nothing but a satisfactory emotion. She smiled like a satisfied goddess
as the incense ascends.
Mrs. Walshingham bowed stiffly and a little awkwardly.
He remained holding the door open for some seconds after they had passed
out, then rushed suddenly to the back of the "costume" window to watch
them go down the street. His hands tightened on the window rack as he
stared. Her mother appeared to be asking discreet questions. Helen's
bearing suggested the off-hand replies of a person who found the world a
satisfactory place to live in. "Really, Mumsie, you cannot expect me to
cut my own students dead," she was in fact saying....
They vanished round Henderson's corner.
Gone! And he would never see her again--never!
It was as though someone had struck his heart with a whip. Never! Never!
Never! And she didn't know! He turned back from the window and the
department with its two apprentices was impossible. The whole glaring
world was insupportable.
He hesitated and made a rush head down for the cellar that was his
Manchester warehouse. Rodgers asked him a question that he pretended not
The Manchester warehouse was a small cellar apart from the general
basement of the building and dimly lit by a small gas flare. He did not
turn that up, but rushed for the darkest corner, where on the lowest
shelf the sale window tickets were stored. He drew out the box of these
with trembling hands and upset them on the floor, and so having made
himself a justifiable excuse for being on the ground, with his head well
in the dark, he could let his poor bursting little heart have its way
with him for a space.
And there he remained until the cry of "Kipps! Forward!" summoned him
once more to face the world.
Now in the slack of that same day, after the midday dinner and before
the coming of the afternoon customers, this disastrous Chitterlow
descended upon Kipps with the most amazing coincidence in the world. He
did not call formally, entering and demanding Kipps, but privately, in a
confidential and mysterious manner.
Kipps was first aware of him as a dark object bobbing about excitedly
outside the hosiery window. He was stooping and craning and peering in
the endeavour to see into the interior between and over the socks and
stockings. Then he transferred his attention to the door, and after a
hovering scrutiny, tried the baby-linen display. His movements and
gestures suggested a suppressed excitement.
Seen by daylight, Chitterlow was not nearly such a magnificent figure as
he had been by the subdued nocturnal lightings and beneath the glamour
of his own interpretation. The lines were the same indeed, but the
texture was different. There was a quality about the yachting cap, an
indefinable finality of dustiness, a shiny finish on all the salient
surfaces of the reefer coat. The red hair and the profile, though still
forcible and fine, were less in the quality of Michael Angelo and more
in that of the merely picturesque. But it was a bright brown eye still
that sought amidst the interstices of the baby-linen.
Kipps was by no means anxious to interview Chitterlow again. If he had
felt sure that Chitterlow would not enter the shop he would have hid in
the warehouse until the danger was past, but he had no idea of
Chitterlow's limitations. He decided to keep up the shop in the shadows
until Chitterlow reached the side window of the Manchester department
and then to go outside as if to inspect the condition of the window and
explain to him that things were unfavourable to immediate intercourse.
He might tell him he had already lost his situation....
"Ullo, Chit'low," he said, emerging.
"Very man I want to see," said Chitterlow, shaking with vigour. "Very
man I want to see." He laid a hand on Kipps' arm. "How "old" are you,
"One and twenty," said Kipps. "Why?"
"Talk about coincidences! And your name now? Wait a minute." He held out
a finger. ""Is" it Arthur?"
"Yes," said Kipps.
"You're the man," said Chitterlow.
"It's about the thickest coincidence I ever struck," said Chitterlow,
plunging his extensive hand into his breast coat pocket. "Half a jiff
and I'll tell you your mother's Christian name." He laughed and
struggled with his coat for a space, produced a washing book and two
pencils, which he deposited in his side pocket; then in one capacious
handful, a bent but by no means finally disabled cigar, the rubber
proboscis of a bicycle pump, some twine and a lady's purse, and finally
a small pocket book, and from this, after dropping and recovering
several visiting cards, he extracted a carelessly torn piece of
newspaper. "Euphemia," he read and brought his face close to Kipps'.
"Eh?" He laughed noisily. "It's about as fair a Bit of All Right as
anyone "could" have--outside a coincidence play. Don't say her name
wasn't Euphemia, Kipps, and spoil the whole blessed show."
"Whose name--Euphemia?" asked Kipps.
"Lemme see what it says on the paper."
Chitterlow handed him the fragment and turned away. "You may say what
you like," he said, addressing a vast, deep laugh to the street
Kipps attempted to read. "'WADDY or KIPPS. If Arthur Waddy or Arthur
Kipps, the son of Margaret Euphemia Kipps, who----'"
Chitterlow's finger swept over the print. "I went down the column and
every blessed name that seemed to fit my play I took. I don't believe in
made-up names. As I told you. I'm all with Zola in that. Documents
whenever you can. I like 'em hot and real. See? Who was Waddy?"
"Never heard his name."
Kipps tried to read again and abandoned the attempt. "What does it
mean?" he said. "I don't understand."
"It means," said Chitterlow, with a momentary note of lucid exposition,
"so far as I can make out that you're going to strike it Rich. Never
mind about the Waddy--that's a detail. What does it usually mean? You'll
hear of something to your advantage--very well. I took that newspaper up
to get my names by the merest chance. Directly I saw it again and read
that--I knew it was you. I believe in coincidences. People say they
don't happen. "I" say they do. Everything's a coincidence. Seen
properly. Here you are. Here's one! Incredible? Not a bit of it! See?
It's you! Kipps! Waddy be damned! It's a Mascot. There's luck in my
play. Bif! You're there. "I'm" there. Fair "in" it! Snap!" And he
discharged his fingers like a pistol. "Never you mind about the
"Eh?" said Kipps, with a nervous eye on Chitterlow's fingers.
"You're all right," said Chitterlow; "you may bet the seat of your only
breeches on that! Don't you worry about the Waddy--that's as clear as
day. You're about as right side up as a billiard ball--whatever you do.
Don't stand there gaping, man! Read the paper if you don't believe me.
He shook it under Kipps' nose.
Kipps became aware of the second apprentice watching them from the shop.
His air of perplexity gave place to a more confident bearing.
"'---- who was born at East Grinstead.' I certainly was born there. I've
'eard my Aunt say----"
"I knew it," said Chitterlow, taking hold of one edge of the paper and
bringing his face close alongside Kipps'.
"'----on September the first, eighteen hundred and seventy-eight----'"
""That's" all right," said Chitterlow. "It's all, all right, and all you
have to do is write to Watson and Bean and get it----"
"Whatever it is."
Kipps sought his moustache. "You'd write?" he asked.
"But what d'you think it is?"
"That's the fun of it!" said Chitterlow, taking three steps in some as
yet uninvented dance. "That's where the joke comes in. It may be
anything--it may be a million. If so! Where does little Harry come in?
Kipps was trembling slightly. "But----" he said, and thought. "If you
was me----" he began. "About that Waddy----?"
He glanced up and saw the second apprentice disappear with amazing
swiftness from behind the goods in the window.
""What?"" asked Chitterlow, but he never had an answer.
"Lor'! There's the guv'nor!" said Kipps, and made a prompt dive for the
He dashed in only to discover that Shalford, with the junior apprentice
in attendance, had come to mark off remnants of Kipps' cotton dresses
and was demanding him. "Hullo, Kipps," he said, "outside----?"
"Seein' if the window was straight, Sir," said Kipps.
"Umph!" said Shalford.
For a space Kipps was too busily employed to think at all of Chitterlow
or the crumpled bit of paper in his trouser pocket. He was, however,
painfully aware of a suddenly disconcerted excitement at large in the
street. There came one awful moment when Chitterlow's nose loomed
interrogatively over the ground glass of the department door, and his
bright, little, red-brown eye sought for the reason of Kipps'
disappearance, and then it became evident that he saw the high light of
Shalford's baldness and grasped the situation and went away. And then
Kipps (with that advertisement in his pocket) was able to come back to
the business in hand.
He became aware that Shalford had asked a question. "Yessir, nosir,
rightsir. I'm sorting up zephyrs to-morrow, Sir," said Kipps.
Presently he had a moment to himself again, and, taking up a safe
position behind a newly unpacked pile of summer lace curtains, he
straightened out the piece of paper and reperused it. It was a little
perplexing. That "Arthur Waddy or Arthur Kipps"--did that imply two
persons or one? He would ask Pierce or Buggins. Only----
It had always been impressed upon him that there was something demanding
secrecy about his mother.
"Don't you answer no questions about your mother," his aunt had been
wont to say. "Tell them you don't know, whatever it is they ask you."
Kipps' face became portentously careful and he tugged at his moustache,
such as it was, hard.
He had always represented his father as being a "gentleman farmer." "It
didn't pay," he used to say with a picture in his own mind of a penny
magazine aristocrat prematurely worn out by worry. "I'm a Norfan, both
sides," he would explain, with the air of one who had seen trouble. He
said he lived with his uncle and aunt, but he did not say that they kept
a toy shop, and to tell anyone that his uncle had been a butler--"a
servant!"--would have seemed the maddest of indiscretions. Almost all
the assistants in the Emporium were equally reticent and vague, so great
is their horror of "Lowness" of any sort. To ask about this "Waddy or
Kipps" would upset all these little fictions. He was not, as a matter of
fact, perfectly clear about his real status in the world (he was not,
as a matter of fact, perfectly clear about anything), but he knew that
there was a quality about his status that was--detrimental.
Under the circumstances----?
It occurred to him that it would save a lot of trouble to destroy the
advertisement there and then.
In which case he would have to explain to Chitterlow!
"Eng!" said Mr. Kipps.
"Kipps," cried Carshot, who was shopwalking; "Kipps, Forward!"
He thrust back the crumpled paper into his pocket and sallied forth to
"I want," said the customer, looking vaguely about her through glasses,
"a little bit of something to cover a little stool I have. Anything
would do--a remnant or anything----"
The matter of the advertisement remained in abeyance for half an hour,
and at the end the little stool was still a candidate for covering and
Kipps had a thoroughly representative collection of the textile fabrics
in his department to clear away. He was so angry about the little stool
that the crumpled advertisement lay for a space in his pocket,
Kipps sat on his tin box under the gas bracket that evening, and looked
up the name Euphemia and learnt what it meant in the "Enquire Within
About Everything" that constituted Buggins' reference library. He hoped
Buggins, according to his habit, would ask him what he was looking for,
but Buggins was busy turning out his week's washing. "Two collars," said
Buggins, "half pair socks, two dickeys. Shirt?... M'm. There ought to be
another collar somewhere."
"Euphemia," said Kipps at last, unable altogether to keep to himself
this suspicion of a high origin that floated so delightfully about him,
"Eu--phemia; it isn't a name "common" people would give to a girl, is
"It isn't the name any decent people would give to a girl," said
Buggins, "----common or not."
"Lor'!" said Kipps. "Why?"
"It's giving girls names like that," said Buggins, "that nine times out
of ten makes 'em go wrong. It unsettles 'em. If ever I was to have a
girl, if ever I was to have a dozen girls, I'd call 'em all Jane. Every
one of 'em. You couldn't have a better name than that. Euphemia indeed!
What next?... Good Lord!... That isn't one of my collars there, is it?
under your bed?"...
Kipps got him the collar.
"I don't see no great 'arm in Euphemia," he said as he did so.
After that he became restless. "I'm a good mind to write that letter,"
he said, and then, finding Buggins preoccupied wrapping his washing up
in the "half sox," added to himself, "a thundering good mind."
So he got his penny bottle of ink, borrowed the pen from Buggins and
with no very serious difficulty in spelling or composition, did as he
He came back into the bedroom about an hour afterwards a little out of
breath and pale. "Where you been?" said Buggins, who was now reading the
"Daily World Manager", which came to him in rotation from Carshot.
"Out to post some letters," said Kipps, hanging up his hat.
"Mostly," said Kipps.
"Rather," he added, with a nervous laugh; "what else?"
Buggins went on reading. Kipps sat on his bed and regarded the back of
the "Daily World Manager" thoughtfully.
"Buggins," he said at last.
Buggins lowered his paper and looked.
"I say, Buggins, what do these here advertisements mean that say
so-and-so will hear of something greatly to his advantage?"
"Missin' people," said Buggins, making to resume reading.
"How d'yer mean?" asked Kipps. "Money left and that sort of thing?"
Buggins shook his head. "Debts," he said, "more often than not."
"But that ain't to his advantage."
"They put that to get 'old of 'em," said Buggins. "Often it's wives."
"What you mean?"
"Deserted wives, try and get their husbands back that way."
"I suppose it "is" legacies sometimes, eh? Perhaps if someone was left a
hundred pounds by someone----"
"Hardly ever," said Buggins.
"Well, 'ow----?" began Kipps and hesitated.
Buggins resumed reading. He was very much excited by a leader on Indian
affairs. "By Jove!" he said, "it won't do to give these here Blacks
"No fear," said Kipps.
"They're different altogether," said Buggins. "They 'aven't the sound
sense of Englishmen, and they 'aven't the character. There's a sort of
tricky dishonesty about 'em--false witness and all that--of which an
Englishman has no idea. Outside their courts of law--it's a pos'tive
fact, Kipps--there's witnesses waitin' to be 'ired. Reg'lar trade. Touch
their 'ats as you go in. Englishmen 'ave no idea, I tell you--not
ord'nary Englishmen. It's in their blood. They're too timid to be
honest. Too slavish. They aren't used to being free like we are, and if
you gave 'em freedom they wouldn't make a proper use of it. Now
"we"----. Oh, "Damn"!"
For the gas had suddenly gone out and Buggins had the whole column of
Society Club Chat still to read.
Buggins could talk of nothing after that but Shalford's meanness in
turning off the gas, and after being extremely satirical indeed about
their employer, undressed in the dark, hit his bare toe against a box
and subsided after unseemly ejaculations into silent ill-temper.
Though Kipps tried to get to sleep before the affair of the letter he
had just posted resumed possession of his mind he could not do so. He
went over the whole thing again, quite exhaustively. Now that his first
terror was abating he couldn't quite determine whether he was glad or
sorry that he had posted that letter. If it "should" happen to be a
It "must" be a hundred pounds!
If it was he could hold out for a year, for a couple of years even,
before he got a Crib.
Even if it was fifty pounds----!
Buggins was already breathing regularly when Kipps spoke again.
""Bug"-gins," he said.
Buggins pretended to be asleep, and thickened his regular breathing (a
little too hastily) to a snore.
"I say Buggins," said Kipps after an interval.
""What's" up now?" said Buggins unamiably.
"'Spose "you" saw an advertisement in a paper, with your name in it,
see, asking you to come and see someone, like, so as to hear of
something very much to your----"
"Hide," said Buggins shortly.
"Goonight, o' man," said Buggins, with convincing earnestness. Kipps lay
still for a long time, then blew profoundly, turned over and stared at
the other side of the dark.
He had been a fool to post that letter!
Lord! "Hadn't" he been a fool!
It was just five days and a half after the light had been turned out
while Buggins was reading, that a young man with a white face and eyes
bright and wide-open, emerged from a side road upon the Leas front. He
was dressed in his best clothes, and, although the weather was fine, he
carried his umbrella, just as if he had been to church. He hesitated and
turned to the right. He scanned each house narrowly as he passed it, and
presently came to an abrupt stop. "Hughenden," said the gateposts in
firm, black letters, and the fanlight in gold repeated "Hughenden." It
was a stucco house fit to take your breath away, and its balcony was
painted a beautiful sea-green, enlivened with gilding. He stood looking
up at it.
"Gollys!" he said at last in an awestricken whisper.
It had rich-looking crimson curtains to all the lower windows and brass
railed blinds above. There was a splendid tropical plant in a large,
artistic pot in the drawing-room window. There was a splendid bronzed
knocker (ring also) and two bells--one marked "servants." Gollys!
He walked past away from it, with his eyes regarding it, and then turned
and came back. He passed through a further indecision, and finally
drifted away to the sea front and sat down on a seat a little way along
the Leas and put his arm over the back and regarded "Hughenden." He
whistled an air very softly to himself, put his head first on one side
and then on the other. Then for a space he scowled fixedly at it.
A very stout old gentleman, with a very red face and very protuberant
eyes, sat down beside Kipps, removed a Panama hat of the most abandoned
desperado cut, and mopped his brow and blew. Then he began mopping the
inside of his hat. Kipps watched him for a space, wondering how much he
might have a year, and where he bought his hat. Then "Hughenden"
An impulse overwhelmed him. "I say," he said, leaning forward, to the
The old gentleman started and stared.
""Whad" do you say?" he asked fiercely.
"You wouldn't think," said Kipps, indicating with his forefinger, "that
that 'ouse there belongs to me."
The old gentleman twisted his neck round to look at "Hughenden." Then he
came back to Kipps, looked at his mean, little garments with apoplectic
intensity and blew at him by way of reply.
"It does," said Kipps, a little less confidently.
"Don't be a Fool," said the old gentleman, and put his hat on and wiped
out the corners of his eyes. "It's hot enough," panted the old gentleman
indignantly, "without Fools." Kipps looked from the old gentleman to the
house and back to the old gentleman. The old gentleman looked at Kipps
and snorted and looked out to sea, and again, snorting very
contemptuously, at Kipps.
"Mean to say it doesn't belong to me?" said Kipps.
The old gentleman just glanced over his shoulder at the house in dispute
and then fell to pretending Kipps didn't exist. "It's been lef' me this
very morning," said Kipps. "It ain't the only one that's been lef' me,
"Aw!" said the old gentleman, like one who is sorely tried. He seemed to
expect the passers-by presently to remove Kipps.
"It "'as"," said Kipps. He made no further remark to the old gentleman
for a space, but looked with a little less certitude at the house....
"I got----" he said and stopped.
"It's no good telling you if you don't believe," he said.
The old gentleman, after a struggle with himself, decided not to have a
fit. "Try that game on with me," he panted. "Give you in charge."
"Wasn't born yesterday," said the old gentleman, and blew. "Besides," he
added, ""look" at you! I know you," and the old gentleman coughed
shortly and nodded to the horizon and coughed again.
Kipps looked dubiously from the house to the old gentleman and back to
the house. Their conversation, he gathered, was over. Presently he got
up and went slowly across the grass to its stucco portal again. He stood
and his mouth shaped the precious word, "Hughenden." It was all "right"!
He looked over his shoulder as if in appeal to the old gentleman, then
turned and went his way. The old gentleman was so evidently past all
He hung for a moment some distance along the parade, as though some
invisible string was pulling him back. When he could no longer see the
house from the pavement he went out into the road. Then with an effort
he snapped the string.
He went on down a quiet side street, unbuttoned his coat furtively, took
out three bank notes in an envelope, looked at them and replaced them.
Then he fished up five new sovereigns from his trouser pocket and
examined them. To such a confidence had his exact resemblance to his
dead mother's portrait carried Messrs. Watson and Bean.
It was right enough.
It really was "all" right.
He replaced the coins with grave precaution and went his way with a
sudden briskness. It was all right--he had it now--he was a rich man at
large. He went up a street and round a corner and along another street,
and started towards the Pavilion and changed his mind and came round
back, resolved to go straight to the Emporium and tell them all.
He was aware of someone crossing a road far off ahead of him, someone
curiously relevant to his present extraordinary state of mind. It was
Chitterlow. Of course it was Chitterlow who had told him first of the
whole thing! The playwright was marching buoyantly along a cross street.
His nose was in the air, the yachting cap was on the back of his head
and the large freckled hand grasped two novels from the library, a
morning newspaper, a new hat done up in paper and a lady's net bag full
of onions and tomatoes....
He passed out of sight behind the wine merchant's at the corner, as
Kipps decided to hurry forward and tell him of the amazing change in the
Order of the Universe that had just occurred.
Kipps uttered a feeble shout, arrested as it began, and waved his
umbrella. Then he set off at a smart pace in pursuit. He came round the
corner and Chitterlow had gone; he hurried to the next and there was no
Chitterlow, he turned back unavailingly and his eyes sought some other
possible corner. His hand fluttered to his mouth and he stood for a
space at the pavement edge, staring about him. No good!
But the sight of Chitterlow was a wholesome thing, it connected events
together, joined him on again to the past at a new point, and that was
what he so badly needed....
It was all right--all right.
He became suddenly very anxious to tell everybody at the Emporium,
absolutely everybody, all about it. That was what wanted doing. He felt
that telling was the thing to make this business real. He gripped his
umbrella about the middle and walked very eagerly.
He entered the Emporium through the Manchester department. He flung open
the door (over whose ground glass he had so recently, in infinite
apprehension, watched the nose of Chitterlow) and discovered the second
apprentice and Pierce in conversation. Pierce was prodding his hollow
tooth with a pin and talking in fragments about the distinctive
characteristics of Good Style.
Kipps came up in front of the counter.
"I say," he said; "what d'yer think?"
"What?" said Pierce over the pin.
"You've slipped out because Teddy's in London."
"Been left a fortune."
"Straight. I been lef' twelve 'undred pounds--twelve 'undred pounds a
He moved towards the little door out of the department into the house,
moving, as heralds say, "regardant passant". Pierce stood with mouth
wide open and pin poised in air. "No!" he said at last.
"It's right," said Kipps, "and I'm going."
And he fell over the doormat into the house.
It happened that Mr. Shalford was in London buying summer sale
goods--and no doubt also interviewing aspirants to succeed Kipps.
So that there was positively nothing to hinder a wild rush of rumour
from end to end of the Emporium. All the masculine members began their
report with the same formula. "Heard about Kipps?"
The new girl in the cash desk had had it from Pierce and had dashed out
into the fancy shop to be the first with the news on the fancy side.
Kipps had been left a thousand pounds a year, twelve thousand pounds a
year. Kipps had been left twelve hundred thousand pounds. The figures
were uncertain, but the essential facts they had correct. Kipps had gone
upstairs. Kipps was packing his box. He said he wouldn't stop another
day in the old Emporium, not for a thousand pounds! It was said that he
was singing ribaldry about old Shalford.
He had come down! He was in the counting house. There was a general
movement thither. Poor old Buggins had a customer and couldn't make out
what the deuce it was all about! Completely out of it was Buggins.
There was a sound of running to and fro and voices saying this, that
and the other thing about Kipps. Ring-a-dinger, ring-a-dinger went the
dinner bell all unheeded. The whole of the Emporium was suddenly
bright-eyed, excited, hungry to tell somebody, to find at any cost
somebody who didn't know and be first to tell them, "Kipps has been left
thirty--forty--fifty thousand pounds!"
""What!"" cried the senior porter, "Him!" and ran up to the counting
house as eagerly as though Kipps had broken his neck.
"One of our chaps just been left sixty thousand pounds," said the first
apprentice, returning after a great absence, to his customer.
"Unexpectedly?" said the customer.
"Quite," said the first apprentice....
"I'm sure if Anyone deserves it, it's Mr. Kipps," said Miss Mergle, and
her train rustled as she hurried to the counting house.
There stood Kipps amidst a pelting shower of congratulations. His face
was flushed and his hair disordered. He still clutched his hat and best
umbrella in his left hand. His right hand was anyone's to shake rather
than his own. (Ring-a-dinger, ring-a-dinger ding, ding, ding, dang you!
went the neglected dinner bell.)
"Good old Kipps," said Pierce, shaking; "Good old Kipps."
Booch rubbed one anæmic hand upon the other. "You're sure it's all
right, Mr. Kipps," he said in the background.
"I'm sure we all congratulate him," said Miss Mergle.
"Great Scott!" said the new young lady in the glove department. "Twelve
hundred a year! Great Scott! You aren't thinking of marrying anyone, are
you, Mr. Kipps?"
"Three pounds, five and ninepence a day," said Mr. Booch, working in his
head almost miraculously....
Everyone, it seemed, was saying how glad they were it was Kipps, except
the junior apprentice, upon whom--he being the only son of a widow and
used to having the best of everything as a right--an intolerable envy, a
sense of unbearable wrong, had cast its gloomy shade. All the rest were
quite honestly and simply glad--gladder perhaps at that time than Kipps
because they were not so overpowered....
Kipps went downstairs to dinner, emitting fragmentary, disconnected
statements. "Never expected anything of the sort.... When this here old
Bean told me, you could have knocked me down with a feather.... He says,
'You b'en lef' money.' Even then I didn't expect it'd be mor'n a hundred
pounds perhaps. Something like that."
With the sitting down to dinner and the handing of plates the excitement
assumed a more orderly quality. The housekeeper emitted congratulations
as she carved and the maidservant became dangerous to clothes with the
plates--she held them anyhow, one expected to see one upside down
even--she found Kipps so fascinating to look at. Everyone was the
brisker and hungrier for the news (except the junior apprentice) and the
housekeeper carved with unusual liberality. It was High Old Times there
under the gaslight, High Old Times. "I'm sure if Anyone deserves it,"
said Miss Mergle--"pass the salt, please--it's Kipps."
The babble died away a little as Carshot began barking across the table
at Kipps. "You'll be a bit of a Swell, Kipps," he said. "You won't
hardly know yourself."
"Quite the gentleman," said Miss Mergle.
"Many real gentlemen's families," said the housekeeper, "have to do with
"See you on the Leas," said Carshot. "My gu--!" He met the housekeeper's
eye. She had spoken about that before. "My eye!" he said tamely, lest
words should mar the day.
"You'll go to London, I reckon," said Pierce. "You'll be a man about
town. We shall see you mashing 'em, with violets in your button'ole down
the Burlington Arcade."
"One of these West End Flats. That'd be my style," said Pierce. "And a
"Aren't these clubs a bit 'ard to get into?" asked Kipps, open-eyed,
over a mouthful of potato.
"No fear. Not for Money," said Pierce. And the girl in the laces who had
acquired a cynical view of Modern Society from the fearless exposures
of Miss Marie Corelli, said, "Money goes everywhere nowadays, Mr.
But Carshot showed the true British strain.
"If I was Kipps," he said, pausing momentarily for a knifeful of gravy,
"I should go to the Rockies and shoot bears."
"I'd certainly 'ave a run over to Boulogne," said Pierce, "and look
about a bit. I'm going to do that next Easter myself, anyhow--see if I
"Go to Oireland, Mr. Kipps," came the soft insistence of Biddy Murphy,
who managed the big workroom, flushed and shining in the Irish way, as
she spoke. "Go to Oireland. Ut's the loveliest country in the world.
Outside Car-rs. Fishin', shootin', huntin'. An' pretty gals! Eh! You
should see the Lakes of Killarney, Mr. Kipps!" And she expressed ecstasy
by a facial pantomime and smacked her lips.
And presently they crowned the event.
It was Pierce who said, "Kipps, you ought to stand Sham!"
And it was Carshot who found the more poetical word, "Champagne."
"Rather!" said Kipps hilariously, and the rest was a question of detail
and willing emissaries. "Here it comes!" they said as the apprentice
came down the staircase. "How about the shop?" said someone. "Oh! "hang"
the shop!" said Carshot and made gruntulous demands for a corkscrew with
a thing to cut the wire. Pierce, the dog! had a wire cutter in his
pocket knife. How Shalford would have stared at the gold tipped bottles
if he had chanced to take an early train! Bang with the corks, and bang!
Gluck, gluck, gluck, and sizzle!
When Kipps found them all standing about him under the gas flare, saying
almost solemnly "Kipps!" with tumblers upheld--"Have it in tumblers,"
Carshot had said; "have it in tumblers. It isn't a wine like you have in
glasses. Not like port and sherry. It cheers you up, but you don't get
drunk. It isn't hardly stronger than lemonade. They drink it at dinner,
some of 'em, every day."
"What! At three and six a bottle!" said the housekeeper incredulously.
""They" don't stick at "that"," said Carshot; "not the champagne sort."
The housekeeper pursed her lips and shook her head....
When Kipps, I say, found them all standing up to toast him in that
manner, there came such a feeling in his throat and face that for the
life of him he scarcely knew for a moment whether he was not going to
cry. "Kipps!" they all said, with kindly eyes. It was very good of them,
it was very good of them, and hard there wasn't a stroke of luck for
But the sight of upturned chins and glasses pulled him together
They did him honour. Unenviously and freely they did him honour.
For example, Carshot being subsequently engaged in serving cretonne and
desiring to push a number of rejected blocks up the counter in order to
have space for measuring, swept them by a powerful and ill-calculated
movement of the arm, with a noise like thunder partly on to the floor
and partly on to the foot of the still gloomily preoccupied junior
apprentice. And Buggins, whose place it was to shopwalk while Carshot
served, shopwalked with quite unparalleled dignity, dangling a new
season's sunshade with a crooked handle on one finger. He arrested each
customer who came down the shop with a grave and penetrating look.
"Showing very 'tractive line new sheason's shun-shade," he would remark,
and, after a suitable pause, "'Markable thing, one our 'sistant leg'sy
twelve 'undred a year. V'ry 'tractive. Nothing more to-day, mum? No!"
And he would then go and hold the door open for them with perfect
decorum and with the sunshade dangling elegantly from his left hand....
And the second apprentice, serving a customer with cheap ticking, and
being asked suddenly if it was strong, answered remarkably,
"Oo! "no", mum! Strong! Why it ain't 'ardly stronger than lemonade...."
The head porter, moreover, was filled with a virtuous resolve to break
the record as a lightning packer and make up for lost time. Mr.
Swaffenham, of the Sandgate Riviera, for example, who was going out to
dinner that night at seven, received at half-past six, instead of the
urgently needed dress shirt he expected, a corset specially adapted to
the needs of persons inclined to embonpoint. A parcel of summer
underclothing selected by the elder Miss Waldershawe, was somehow
distributed in the form of gratis additions throughout a number of
parcels of a less intimate nature, and a box of millinery on approval to
Lady Pamshort (at Wampachs) was enriched by the addition of the junior
These little things, slight in themselves, witness perhaps none the less
eloquently to the unselfish exhilaration felt throughout the Emporium at
the extraordinary and unexpected enrichment of Mr. Kipps.
The 'bus that plies between New Romney and Folkestone is painted a
British red and inscribed on either side with the word "Tip-top" in gold
amidst voluptuous scrolls. It is a slow and portly 'bus. Below it swings
a sort of hold, hung by chains between the wheels, and in the summer
time the top has garden seats. The front over the two dauntless
unhurrying horses rises in tiers like a theatre; there is first a seat
for the driver and his company, and above that a seat and above that,
unless my memory plays me false, a seat. There are days when this 'bus
goes and days when it doesn't go--you have to find out. And so you get
to New Romney.
This 'bus it was, this ruddy, venerable and immortal 'bus, that came
down the Folkestone hill with unflinching deliberation, and trundled
through Sandgate and Hythe, and out into the windy spaces of the Marsh,
with Kipps and all his fortunes on its brow. You figure him there. He
sat on the highest seat diametrically above the driver and his head was
spinning and spinning with champagne and this stupendous Tomfoolery of
Luck and his heart was swelling, swelling indeed at times as though it
would burst him, and his face towards the sunlight was transfigured. He
said never a word, but ever and again as he thought of this or that, he
laughed. He seemed full of chuckles for a time, detached and independent
chuckles, chuckles that rose and burst in him like bubbles in a wine....
He held a banjo sceptre-fashion and restless on his knee. He had always
wanted a banjo, and now he had got one at Malchior's while he was
waiting for the 'bus.
There sat beside him a young servant who was sucking peppermint and a
little boy with a sniff, whose flitting eyes showed him curious to know
why ever and again Kipps laughed, and beside the driver were two young
men in gaiters talking about "tegs." And there sat Kipps, all
unsuspected, twelve hundred a year, as it were, disguised as a common
young man. And the young man in gaiters to the left of the driver eyed
Kipps and his banjo, and especially his banjo, ever and again as if he
found it and him, with his rapt face, an insoluble enigma. And many a
King has ridden into a conquered city with a lesser sense of splendour
Their shadows grew long behind them and their faces were transfigured in
gold as they rumbled on towards the splendid West. The sun set before
they had passed Dymchurch, and as they came lumbering into New Romney
past the windmill the dusk had come.
The driver handed down the banjo and the portmanteau, and Kipps having
paid him--"That's aw right," he said to the change, as a gentleman
should--turned about and ran the portmanteau smartly into Old Kipps,
whom the sound of the stopping of the 'bus had brought to the door of
the shop in an aggressive mood and with his mouth full of supper.
"Ullo, Uncle, didn't see you," said Kipps.
"Blunderin' ninny," said Old Kipps. "What's brought "you" here? Ain't
early closing, is it? Not Toosday?"
"Got some news for you, Uncle," said Kipps, dropping the portmanteau.
"Ain't lost your situation, 'ave you? What's that you got there? I'm
blowed if it ain't a banjo. Goo-lord! Spendin' your money on banjoes!
Don't put down your portmanty there--anyhow. Right in the way of
everybody. I'm blowed if ever I saw such a boy as you've got lately.
Here! Molly! And, look here! What you got a portmanty for? Why!
Goo-lord! You ain't "really" lost your place, 'ave you?"
"Somethin's happened," said Kipps slightly dashed. "It's all right,
Uncle. I'll tell you in a minute."
Old Kipps took the banjo as his nephew picked up the portmanteau again.
The living room door opened quickly, showing a table equipped with
elaborate simplicity for supper, and Mrs. Kipps appeared.
"If it ain't young Artie," she said. "Why! Whatever's brought "you"
"Ullo, Aunt," said Artie. "I'm coming in. I got somethin' to tell you.
I've 'ad a bit of Luck."
He wouldn't tell them all at once. He staggered with the portmanteau
round the corner of the counter, set a bundle of children's tin pails
into clattering oscillation, and entered the little room. He deposited
his luggage in the corner beside the tall clock, and turned to his Aunt
and Uncle again. His Aunt regarded him doubtfully, the yellow light from
the little lamp on the table escaped above the shade and lit her
forehead and the tip of her nose. It would be all right in a minute. He
wouldn't tell them all at once. Old Kipps stood in the shop door with
the banjo in his hand, breathing noisily. "The fact is, Aunt, I've 'ad a
bit of Luck."
"You ain't been backin' gordless 'orses, Artie?" she asked.
"It's a draw he's been in," said Old Kipps, still panting from the
impact of the portmanteau; "it's a dratted draw. Jest look here, Molly.
He's won this 'ere trashy banjer and thrown up his situation on the
strength of it--that's what he's done. Goin' about singing. Dash and
plunge! Jest the very fault poor Pheamy always 'ad. Blunder right in and
no one mustn't stop 'er!"
"You ain't thrown up your place, Artie, 'ave you?" said Mrs. Kipps.
Kipps perceived his opportunity. "I 'ave," he said; "I've throwed it
"What for?" said Old Kipps.
"So's to learn the banjo!"
"Goo "Lord"!" said Old Kipps, in horror to find himself verified.
"I'm going about playing!" said Kipps with a giggle. "Goin' to black my
face, Aunt, and sing on the beach. I'm going to 'ave a most tremenjous
lark and earn any amount of money--you see. Twenty-six fousand pounds
I'm going to earn just as easy as nothing!"
"Kipps," said Mrs. Kipps, "he's been drinking!"
They regarded their nephew across the supper table with long faces.
Kipps exploded with laughter and broke out again when his Aunt shook her
head very sadly at him. Then suddenly he fell grave. He felt he could
keep it up no longer. "It's all right, Aunt. Reely. I ain't mad and I
ain't been drinking. I been lef' money. I been left twenty-six fousand
"And you thrown up your place?" said Old Kipps.
"Yes," said Kipps. "Rather!"
"And bort this banjer, put on your best noo trousers and come right on
"Well," said Mrs. Kipps, ""I" never did."
"These ain't my noo trousers, Aunt," said Kipps regretfully. "My noo
trousers wasn't done."
"I shouldn't ha' thought that "even you" could ha' been such a fool as
that," said Old Kipps.
"It's "all" right," said Kipps a little disconcerted by their
distrustful solemnity. "It's all right--reely! Twenny-six fousan'
pounds. And a 'ouse----"
Old Kipps pursed his lips and shook his head.
"A 'ouse on the Leas. I could have gone there. Only I didn't. I didn't
care to. I didn't know what to say. I wanted to come and tell you."
"How d'yer know the 'ouse----?"
"They told me."
"Well," said Old Kipps, and nodded his head portentously towards his
nephew, with the corners of his mouth pulled down in a portentous,
discouraging way. "Well, you "are" a young Gaby."
"I didn't "think" it of you, Artie!" said Mrs. Kipps.
"Wadjer mean?" asked Kipps faintly, looking from one to the other with a
Old Kipps closed the shop door. "They been 'avin' a lark with you," said
Old Kipps in a mournful undertone. "That's what I mean, my boy. They
jest been seein' what a Gaby like you 'ud do."
"I dessay that young Quodling was in it," said Mrs. Kipps. "'E's jest
(For Quodling of the green baize bag had grown up to be a fearful dog,
the terror of New Romney.)
"It's somebody after your place very likely," said Old Kipps.
Kipps looked from one sceptical, reproving face to the other, and round
him at the familiar shabby, little room, with his familiar cheap
portmanteau on the mended chair, and that banjo amidst the supper things
like some irrevocable deed. Could he be rich indeed? Could it be that
these things had really happened? Or had some insane fancy whirled him
Still--perhaps a hundred pounds----
"But," he said. "It's all right, reely, Uncle. You don't think----? I
'ad a letter."
"Got up," said Old Kipps.
"But I answered it and went to a norfis."
Old Kipps felt staggered for a moment, but he shook his head and chins
sagely from side to side. As the memory of old Bean and Shalford
revived, the confidence of Kipps came back to him.
"I saw a nold gent, Uncle--perfect gentleman. And 'e told me all about
it. Mos' respectable 'e was. Said 'is name was Watson and
Bean--leastways 'e was Bean. Said it was lef' me----" Kipps suddenly
dived into his breast pocket. "By my Grandfather----"
The old people started.
Old Kipps uttered an exclamation and wheeled round towards the mantel
shelf above which the daguerreotype of his lost younger sister smiled
its fading smile upon the world.
"Waddy 'is name was," said Kipps, with his hand still deep in his
pocket. "It was "'is" son was my father----"
"Waddy!" said Old Kipps.
"Waddy!" said Mrs. Kipps.
"She'd never say," said Old Kipps.
There was a long silence.
Kipps fumbled with a letter, a crumpled advertisement and three bank
notes. He hesitated between these items.
"Why! That young chap what was arsting questions----" said Old Kipps,
and regarded his wife with an eye of amazement.
"Must 'ave been," said Mrs. Kipps.
"Must 'ave been," said Old Kipps.
"James," said Mrs. Kipps, in an awestricken voice, "after
""'Ow" much did you say?" asked Old Kipps. "'Ow much did you say 'ed
lef' you, me b'y?"
It was thrilling, though not quite in the way Kipps had expected. He
answered almost meekly across the meagre supper things, with his
documentary evidence in his hand:
"Twelve 'undred pounds. 'Proximately, he said. Twelve 'undred pounds a
year. 'E made 'is will, jest before 'e died--not more'n a month ago.
When 'e was dying, 'e seemed to change like, Mr. Bean said. 'E'd never
forgiven 'is son, never--not till then. 'Is son 'ad died in Australia,
years and years ago, and "then" 'e 'adn't forgiven 'im. You know--'is
son what was my father. But jest when 'e was ill and dying 'e seemed to
get worried like and longing for someone of 'is own. And 'e told Mr.
Bean it was 'im that had prevented them marrying. So 'e thought. That's
'ow it all come about...."
At last Kipps' flaring candle went up the narrow uncarpeted staircase to
the little attic that had been his shelter and refuge during all the
days of his childhood and youth. His head was whirling. He had been
advised, he had been warned, he had been flattered and congratulated, he
had been given whiskey and hot water and lemon and sugar, and his health
had been drunk in the same. He had also eaten two Welsh Rabbits--an
unusual supper. His Uncle was chiefly for his going into Parliament, his
Aunt was consumed with a great anxiety. "I'm afraid he'll go and marry
"Y'ought to 'ave a bit o' shootin' somewheer," said Old Kipps.
"It's your "duty" to marry into a county family, Artie. Remember that."
"There's lots of young noblemen'll be glad to 'ang on to you," said Old
Kipps. "You mark my words. And borry your money. And then, good day to
"I got to be precious Careful," said Kipps. "Mr. Bean said that."
"And you got to be precious careful of this old Bean," said Old Kipps.
"We may be out of the world in Noo Romney, but I've 'eard a bit about
s'licitors, for all that. You keep your eye on old Bean, me b'y.
"'Ow do we know what 'e's up to, with your money, even now?" said Old
Kipps, pursuing this uncomfortable topic.
"'E "looked" very respectable," said Kipps....
Kipps undressed with great deliberation, and with vast gaps of pensive
margin. Twenty-six thousand pounds!
His Aunt's solicitude had brought back certain matters into the
foreground that his "Twelve 'Undred a year!" had for a time driven away
altogether. His thoughts went back to the wood-carving class. Twelve
Hundred a Year. He sat on the edge of the bed in profound meditation and
his boots fell "whop" and "whop" upon the floor, with a long interval
between each "whop." Twenty-five thousand pounds. "By Gum!" He dropped
the remainder of his costume about him on the floor, got into bed,
pulled the patchwork quilt over him and put his head on the pillow that
had been first to hear of Ann Pornick's accession to his heart. But he
did not think of Ann Pornick now.
It was about everything in the world except Ann Pornick that he seemed
to be trying to think of--simultaneously. All the vivid happenings of
the day came and went in his overtaxed brain; "that old Bean" explaining
and explaining, the fat man who wouldn't believe, an overpowering smell
of peppermint, the banjo, Miss Mergle saying he deserved it,
Chitterlow's vanishing round a corner, the wisdom and advice and
warnings of his Aunt and Uncle. She was afraid he would marry beneath
him, "was" she? She didn't know....
His brain made an excursion into the wood-carving class and presented
Kipps with the picture of himself amazing that class by a modest yet
clearly audible remark, "I been left twenty-six thousand pounds."
Then he told them all quietly but firmly that he had always loved Miss
Walshingham, always, and so he had brought all his twenty-six thousand
pounds with him to give to her there and then. He wanted nothing in
return.... Yes, he wanted nothing in return. He would give it to her all
in an envelope and go. Of course he would keep the banjo--and a little
present for his Aunt and Uncle--and a new suit perhaps--and one or two
other things she would not miss. He went off at a tangent. He might buy
a motor car, he might buy one of these here things that will play you a
piano--that would make old Buggins sit up! He could pretend he had
learnt to play--he might buy a bicycle and a cyclist suit....
A terrific multitude of plans of what he might do and in particular of
what he might buy, came crowding into his brain, and he did not so much
fall asleep as pass into a disorder of dreams in which he was driving a
four-horse Tip-Top coach down Sandgate Hill ("I shall have to be
precious careful"), wearing innumerable suits of clothes, and through
some terrible accident wearing them all wrong. Consequently he was being
laughed at. The coach vanished in the interest of the costume. He was
wearing golfing suits and a silk hat. This passed into a nightmare that
he was promenading on the Leas in a Highland costume, with a kilt that
kept shrinking, and Shalford was following him with three policemen.
"He's my assistant," Shalford kept repeating; "he's escaped. He's an
escaped Improver. Keep by him and in a minute you'll have to run him in.
I know 'em. We say they wash, but they won't."... He could feel the kilt
creeping up his legs. He would have tugged at it to pull it down only
his arms were paralysed. He had an impression of giddy crisis. He
uttered a shriek of despair. ""Now!"" said Shalford. He woke in horror,
his quilt had slipped off the bed.
He had a fancy he had just been called, that he had somehow overslept
himself and missed going down for dusting. Then he perceived it was
still night and light by reason of the moonlight, and that he was no
longer in the Emporium. He wondered where he could be. He had a curious
fancy that the world had been swept and rolled up like a carpet and that
he was nowhere. It occurred to him that perhaps he was mad. "Buggins!"
he said. There was no answer, not even the defensive snore. No room, no
Then he remembered better. He sat on the edge of his bed for some time.
Could anyone have seen his face they would have seen it white and drawn
with staring eyes. Then he groaned weakly. "Twenty-six thousand pounds?"
Just then it presented itself in an almost horribly overwhelming mass.
He remade his bed and returned to it. He was still dreadfully wakeful.
It was suddenly clear to him that he need never trouble to get up
punctually at seven again. That fact shone out upon him like a star
through clouds. He was free to lie in bed as long as he liked, get up
when he liked, go where he liked, have eggs every morning for breakfast
or rashers or bloater paste or.... Also he was going to astonish Miss
Astonish her and astonish her....
* * * * *
He was awakened by a thrush singing in the fresh dawn. The whole room
was flooded with warm, golden sunshine. "I say!" said the thrush. "I
say! I say! Twelve 'undred a year! Twelve 'Undred a Year. Twelve 'UNDRED
a Year! I say! I say! I say!"
He sat up in bed and rubbed the sleep from his eyes with his knuckles.
Then he jumped out of bed and began dressing very eagerly. He did not
want to lose any time in beginning the new life.
END OF BOOK I
MR. COOTE, THE CHAPERON
THE NEW CONDITIONS
There comes a gentlemanly figure into these events and for a space takes
a leading part therein, a Good Influence, a refined and amiable figure,
Mr. Chester Coote. You must figure him as about to enter our story,
walking with a curious rectitude of bearing through the evening dusk
towards the Public Library, erect, large-headed--he had a great, big
head full of the suggestion of a powerful mind, well under control--with
a large, official-looking envelope in his white and knuckly hand. In the
other he carries a gold-handled cane. He wears a silken grey jacket
suit, buttoned up, and anon he coughs behind the official envelope. He
has a prominent nose, slatey grey eyes and a certain heaviness about the
mouth. His mouth hangs breathing open, with a slight protrusion of the
lower jaw. His straw hat is pulled down a little in front, and he looks
each person he passes in the eye, and directly his look is answered
Thus Mr. Chester Coote, as he was on the evening when he came upon
Kipps. He was a local house agent and a most active and gentlemanly
person, a conscious gentleman, equally aware of society and the serious
side of life. From amateur theatricals of a nice, refined sort to
science classes, few things were able to get along without him. He
supplied a fine, full bass, a little flat and quavery perhaps, but very
abundant, to the St. Stylites' choir....
He passes on towards the Public Library, lifts the envelope in
salutation to a passing curate, smiles and enters....
It was in the Public Library that he came upon Kipps.
By that time Kipps had been rich a week or more, and the change in his
circumstances was visible upon his person. He was wearing a new suit of
drab flannels, a Panama hat and a red tie for the first time, and he
carried a silver-mounted stick with a tortoise shell handle. He felt
extraordinarily different, perhaps more different than he really was,
from the meek Improver of a week ago. He felt as he felt Dukes must
feel, yet at bottom he was still modest. He was leaning on his stick and
regarding the indicator with a respect that never palled. He faced round
to meet Mr. Coote's overflowing smile.
"What are you doang hea?" said Mr. Chester Coote.
Kipps was momentarily abashed. "Oh," he said slowly, and then, "Mooching
round a bit."
That Coote should address him with this easy familiarity was a fresh
reminder of his enhanced social position. "Jes' mooching round," he
said. "I been back in Folkestone free days now. At my 'ouse, you know."
"Ah!" said Mr. Coote. "I haven't yet had an opportunity of
congratulating you on your good fortune."
Kipps held out his hand. "It was the cleanest surprise that ever was,"
he said. "When Mr. Bean told me of it--you could have knocked me down
with a feather."
"It must mean a tremendous change for you."
"Oo. Rather. Change. Why, I'm like the chap in the song they sing, I
don't 'ardly know where I are. "You" know."
"An extraordinary change," said Mr. Coote. "I can quite believe it. Are
you stopping in Folkestone?"
"For a bit. I got a 'ouse, you know. What my gran'father 'ad. I'm
stopping there. His housekeeper was kep' on. Fancy--being in the same
town and everything!"
"Precisely," said Mr. Coote. "That's it!" and coughed like a sheep
behind four straight fingers.
"Mr. Bean got me to come back to see to things. Else I was out in New
Romney, where my Uncle and Aunt live. But it's a Lark coming back. In a
The conversation hung for a moment.
"Are you getting a book?" asked Coote.
"Well, I 'aven't got a ticket yet. But I shall get one all right, and
have a go in at reading. I've often wanted to. Rather. I was just 'aving
a look at this Indicator. First-class idea. Tells you all you want to
"It's simple," said Coote, and coughed again, keeping his eyes fixed on
Kipps. For a moment they hung, evidently disinclined to part. Then Kipps
jumped at an idea he had cherished for a day or more,--not particularly
in relation to Coote, but in relation to anyone.
"You doing anything?" he asked.
"Just called with a papah about the classes."
"Because----. Would you care to come up and look at my 'ouse and 'ave a
smoke and a chat. Eh?" He made indicative back jerks of the head, and
was smitten with a horrible doubt whether possibly this invitation might
not be some hideous breach of etiquette. Was it, for example, the
correct hour? "I'd be awfully glad if you would," he added.
Mr. Coote begged for a moment while he handed the official-looking
envelope to the librarian and then declared himself quite at Kipps'
service. They muddled a moment over precedence at each door they went
through and so emerged to the street.
"It feels awful rum to me at first, all this," said Kipps "'Aving a
'ouse of my own and all that. It's strange, you know. 'Aving all day.
Reely I don't 'ardly know what to do with my time.
"D'ju smoke?" he said suddenly, proffering a magnificent gold decorated
pigskin cigarette case, which he produced from nothing, almost as
though it was some sort of trick. Coote hesitated and declined, and
then, with great liberality, "Don't let me hinder you...."
They walked a little way in silence, Kipps being chiefly concerned to
affect ease in his new clothes and keeping a wary eye on Coote. "It's
rather a big windfall," said Coote presently. "It yields you an
"Twelve 'undred a year," said Kipps. "Bit over--if anything."
"Do you think of living in Folkestone?"
"Don't know 'ardly yet. I "may". Then again, I may not. I got a
furnished 'ouse, but I may let it."
"Your plans are undecided?"
"That's jest it," said Kipps.
"Very beautiful sunset it was to-night," said Coote, and Kipps said,
"Wasn't it?" and they began to talk of the merits of sunsets. Did Kipps
paint? Not since he was a boy. He didn't believe he could now. Coote
said his sister was a painter and Kipps received this intimation with
respect. Coote sometimes wished he could find time to paint
himself,--but one couldn't do everything and Kipps said that was "jest
They came out presently upon the end of the Leas and looked down to
where the squat dark masses of the Harbour and Harbour Station, gemmed
with pinpoint lights, crouched against the twilit grey of the sea. "If
one could do "that"," said Coote, and Kipps was inspired to throw his
head back, cock it on one side, regard the Harbour with one eye shut
and say that it would take some doing. Then Coote said something about
"Abend," which Kipps judged to be in a foreign language and got over by
lighting another cigarette from his by no means completed first one.
"You're right, "puff", "puff"."
He felt that so far he had held up his end of the conversation in a very
creditable manner, but that extreme discretion was advisable.
They turned away and Coote remarked that the sea was good for crossing,
and asked Kipps if he had been over the water very much. Kipps said he
hadn't been--"much," but he thought very likely he'd have a run over to
Boulogne soon, and Coote proceeded to talk of the charms of foreign
travel, mentioning quite a number of unheard-of places by name. He had
been to them! Kipps remained on the defensive, but behind his defences
his heart sank. It was all very well to pretend, but presently it was
bound to come out. "He" didn't know anything of all this....
So they drew near the house. At his own gate Kipps became extremely
nervous. It was a fine, impressive door. He knocked neither a single
knock nor a double, but about one and a half--an apologetic half. They
were admitted by an irreproachable housemaid, with a steady eye, before
which Kipps cringed dreadfully. He hung up his hat and fell about over
hall chairs and things. "There's a fire in the study, Mary?" he had the
audacity to ask, though evidently he knew, and led the way upstairs
panting. He tried to shut the door and discovered the housemaid behind
him coming to light his lamp. This enfeebled him further. He said
nothing until the door closed behind her. Meanwhile to show his "sang
froid" he hummed and flitted towards the window, and here and there.
Coote went to the big hearthrug and turned and surveyed his host. His
hand went to the back of his head and patted his occiput--a gesture
frequent with him.
"'Ere we are," said Kipps, hands in his pockets and glancing round him.
It was a gaunt Victorian room, with a heavy, dirty cornice, and the
ceiling enriched by the radiant plaster ornament of an obliterated gas
chandelier. It held two large glass fronted bookcases, one of which was
surmounted by a stuffed terrier encased in glass. There was a mirror
over the mantel and hangings and curtains of magnificent crimson
patternings. On the mantel were a huge black clock of classical design,
vases in the Burslem Etruscan style, spills and toothpicks in large
receptacles of carved rock, large lava ash trays and an exceptionally
big box of matches. The fender was very great and brassy. In a
favourable position, under the window, was a spacious rosewood writing
desk, and all the chairs and other furniture were of rosewood and well
"This," said Kipps, in something near an undertone, "was the o'
gentleman's study--my grandfather that was. 'E used to sit at that desk
"No. Letters to the "Times", and things like that. 'E's got 'em all cut
out--stuck in a book.... Leastways, he "'ad". It's in that bookcase....
Won't you sit down?"
Coote did, bowing very slightly, and Kipps secured his vacated position
on the extensive black skin rug. He spread out his legs compass-fashion
and tried to appear at his ease. The rug, the fender, the mantel and
mirror conspired with great success to make him look a trivial and
intrusive little creature amidst their commonplace hauteur, and his own
shadow on the opposite wall seemed to think everything a great lark and
mocked and made tremendous fun of him....
For a space Kipps played a defensive game and Coote drew the lines of
the conversation. They kept away from the theme of Kipps' change of
fortune, and Coote made remarks upon local and social affairs. "You must
take an interest in these things now," was as much as he said in the way
of personalities. But it speedily became evident that he was a person of
wide and commanding social relationships. He spoke of "society" being
mixed in the neighbourhood and of the difficulty of getting people to
work together, and "do" things; they were cliquish. Incidentally he
alluded quite familiarly to men with military titles, and once even to
someone with a title, a Lady Punnet. Not snobbishly, you understand,
nor deliberately, but quite in passing. He had, it appeared, talked to
Lady Punnet about private theatricals! In connection with the Hospitals.
She had been unreasonable and he had put her right, gently of course,
but firmly. "If you stand up to these people," said Coote, "they like
you all the better." It was also very evident he was at his ease with
the clergy; "My friend, Mr. Densemore--a curate, you know, and rather
curious, the Reverend "and" Honourable." Coote grew visibly in Kipps'
eyes as he said these things; he became, not only the exponent of
"Vagner or Vargner," the man whose sister had painted a picture to be
exhibited at the Royal Academy, the type of the hidden thing called
culture, but a delegate, as it were, or at least an intermediary from
that great world "up there," where there were men servants, where there
were titles, where people dressed for dinner, drank wine at meals, wine
costing very often as much as three and sixpence the bottle, and
followed through a maze of etiquette, the most stupendous practices....
Coote sat back in the armchair smoking luxuriously and expanding
pleasantly, with the delightful sense of Savoir Faire; Kipps sat
forward, his elbows on his chair arm alert, and his head a little on one
side. You figure him as looking little and cheap and feeling smaller and
cheaper amidst his new surroundings. But it was a most stimulating and
interesting conversation. And soon it became less general and more
serious and intimate. Coote spoke of people who had got on, and of
people who hadn't, of people who seemed to be "in" everything and people
who seemed to be "out" of everything, and then he came round to Kipps.
"You'll have a good time," he said abruptly, with a smile that would
have interested a dentist.
"I dunno," said Kipps.
"There's mistakes, of course."
"That's jest it."
Coote lit a new cigarette. "One can't help being interested in what you
will do," he remarked. "Of course--for a young man of spirit, come
suddenly into wealth--there's temptations."
"I got to go careful," said Kipps. "O' Bean told me that at the very
Coote went on to speak of pitfalls, of Betting, of Bad Companions. "I
know," said Kipps, "I know." "There's Doubt again," said Coote. "I know
a young fellow--a solicitor--handsome, gifted. And yet, you
know--utterly sceptical. Practically altogether a Sceptic."
"Lor'!" said Kipps, "not a Natheist?"
"I fear so," said Coote. "Really, you know, an awfully fine young
fellow--Gifted! But full of this dreadful Modern Spirit--Cynical! All
this Overman stuff. Nietzsche and all that.... I wish I could do
something for him."
"Ah!" said Kipps and knocked the ash off his cigarette. "I know a
chap--one of our apprentices he was--once. Always scoffing.... He lef'!"
He paused. "Never wrote for his refs," he said, in the deep tone proper
to a moral tragedy, and then, after a pause--"Enlisted!"
"Ah!" said Coote.
"And often," he said, after a pause, "it's just the most spirited chaps,
just the chaps one likes best, who Go Wrong."
"It's temptation," Kipps remarked.
He glanced at Coote, leant forward, knocked the ash from his cigarette
into the mighty fender. "That's jest it," he said; "you get tempted.
Before you know where you are."
"Modern life," said Coote, "is so--complex. It isn't everyone is Strong.
Half the young fellows who go wrong, aren't really bad."
"That's jest it," said Kipps.
"One gets a tone from one's surroundings----"
"That's exactly it," said Kipps.
He meditated. ""I" picked up with a chap," he said. "A Nacter. Leastways
he writes plays. Clever fellow. But----"
He implied extensive moral obloquy by a movement of his head. "Of course
it's seeing life," he added.
Coote pretended to understand the full implications of Kipps' remark.
"Is it "worth" it?" he asked.
"That's jest it," said Kipps.
He decided to give some more. "One gets talking," he said. "Then it's
''ave a drink!' Old Methusaleh four stars--and where "are" you? "I"
been drunk," he said in a tone of profound humility, and added, "lots
"Tt. Tt.," said Coote.
"Dozens of times," said Kipps, smiling sadly, and added, "lately."
His imagination became active and seductive. "One thing leads to
another. Cards, p'raps. Girls----"
"I know," said Coote; "I know."
Kipps regarded the fire and flushed slightly. He borrowed a sentence
that Chitterlow had recently used. "One can't tell tales out of school,"
"I can imagine it," said Coote.
Kipps looked with a confidential expression into Coote's face. "It was
bad enough when money was limited," he remarked. "But now----" He spoke
with raised eyebrows, "I got to steady down."
"You "must"," said Coote, protruding his lips into a sort of whistling
concern for a moment.
"I must," said Kipps, nodding his head slowly with raised eyebrows. He
looked at his cigarette end and threw it into the fender. He was
beginning to think he was holding his own in this conversation rather
well, after all.
Kipps was never a good liar. He was the first to break silence. "I don't
mean to say I been reely bad or reely bad drunk. A 'eadache
perhaps--three or four times, say. But there it is!"
"I have never tasted alcohol in my life," said Coote, with an immense
"Never. I don't feel "I" should be likely to get drunk at all--it isn't
that. And I don't go so far as to say even that in small quantities--at
meals--it does one harm. But if I take it, someone else who doesn't know
where to stop--you see?"
"That's jest it," said Kipps, with admiring eyes.
"I smoke," admitted Coote. "One doesn't want to be a Pharisee."
It struck Kipps what a tremendously Good chap this Coote was, not only
tremendously clever and educated and a gentleman and one knowing Lady
Punnet, but Good. He seemed to be giving all his time and thought to
doing good things to other people. A great desire to confide certain
things to him arose. At first Kipps hesitated whether he should confide
an equal desire for Benevolent activities or for further
Depravity--either was in his mind. He rather affected the pose of the
Good Intentioned Dog. Then suddenly his impulses took quite a different
turn, fell indeed into what was a far more serious rut in his mind. It
seemed to him Coote might be able to do for him something he very much
"Companionship accounts for so much," said Coote.
"That's jest it," said Kipps. "Of course, you know, in my new
position----. That's just the difficulty."
He plunged boldly at his most secret trouble. He knew that he wanted
refinement--culture. It was all very well--but he knew. But how was one
to get it? He knew no one, knew no people----. He rested on the broken
sentence. The shop chaps were all very well, very good chaps and all
that, but not what one wanted. "I feel be'ind," said Kipps. "I feel out
of it. And consequently I feel it's no good. And then if temptation
"Exactly," said Coote.
Kipps spoke of his respect for Miss Walshingham and her freckled friend.
He contrived not to look too self-conscious. "You know, I'd like to talk
to people like that, but I can't. A chap's afraid of giving himself
"Of course," said Coote, "of course."
"I went to a middle-class school, you know. You mustn't fancy I'm one of
these here board-school chaps, but you know it reely wasn't a
first-class affair. Leastways he didn't take pains with us. If you
didn't want to learn you needn't--I don't believe it was "much" better
than one of these here national schools. We wore mortarboards, o'
course. But what's "that"?
"I'm a regular fish out of water with this money. When I got it--it's a
week ago--reely I thought I'd got everything I wanted. But I dunno what
His voice went up into a squeak. "Practically," he said, "it's no good
shuttin' my eyes to things--I'm a gentleman."
Coote indicated a serious assent.
"And there's the responsibilities of a gentleman," he remarked.
"That's jest it," said Kipps.
"There's calling on people," said Kipps. "If you want to go on knowing
Someone you knew before like. People that's refined." He laughed
nervously. "I'm a regular fish out of water," he said, with expectant
eyes on Coote.
But Coote only nodded for him to go on.
"This actor chap," he meditated, "is a good sort of chap. But 'e isn't
what "I" call a gentleman. I got to 'old myself in with 'im. 'E'd make
me go it wild in no time. 'E's pretty near the on'y chap I know. Except
the shop chaps. They've come round to 'ave supper once already and a bit
of a sing song afterwards. I sang. I got a banjo, you know, and I vamp a
bit. Vamping--you know. Haven't got far in the book--'Ow to Vamp--but
still I'm getting on. Jolly, of course, in a way, but what does it lead
to?... Besides that, there's my Aunt and Uncle. "They're" very good old
people--very--jest a bit interfering p'r'aps and thinking one isn't
grown up, but Right enough. Only----. It isn't what I "want". I feel
I've got be'ind with everything. I want to make it up again. I want to
get with educated people who know 'ow to do things--in the regular,
His beautiful modesty awakened nothing but benevolence in the mind of
"If I had someone like you," said Kipps, "that I knew regular like----"
From that point their course ran swift and easy. "If I "could" be of any
use to you," said Coote....
"But you're so busy and all that."
"Not "too" busy. You know, your case is a very interesting one. It was
partly that made me speak to you and draw you out. Here you are with all
this money and no experience, a spirited young chap----"
"That's jest it," said Kipps.
"I thought I'd see what you were made of, and I must confess I've rarely
talked to anyone that I've found quite so interesting as you have
"I seem able to say things to you like somehow," said Kipps.
"I'm glad. I'm tremendously glad."
"I want a Friend. That's it--straight."
"My dear chap, if I----"
""I" want a Friend, too."
"Yes. You know, my dear Kipps--if I may call you that."
"Go on," said Kipps.
"I'm rather a lonely dog myself. "This" to-night----. I've not had
anyone I've spoken to so freely of my Work for months."
"You. And, my dear chap, if I can do anything to guide or help you----"
Coote displayed all his teeth in a kindly tremulous smile and his eyes
were shiny. "Shake 'ands," said Kipps, deeply moved, and he and Coote
rose and clasped with mutual emotion.
"It's reely too good of you," said Kipps.
"Whatever I can do I will," said Coote.
And so their compact was made. From that moment they were Friends,
intimate, confidential, high-thinking, "sotto voce" friends. All the
rest of their talk (and it inclined to be interminable) was an expansion
of that. For that night Kipps wallowed in self-abandonment and Coote
behaved as one who had received a great trust. That sinister passion for
pedagoguery to which the Good Intentioned are so fatally liable, that
passion of infinite presumption that permits one weak human being to
arrogate the direction of another weak human being's affairs, had Coote
in its grip. He was to be a sort of lay confessor and director of Kipps,
he was to help Kipps in a thousand ways, he was in fact to chaperon
Kipps into the higher and better sort of English life. He was to tell
him his faults, advise him about the right thing to do----
"It's all these things I don't know," said Kipps. "I don't know, for
instance, what's the right sort of dress to wear--I don't even know if
I'm dressed right now----"
"All these things"--Coote stuck out his lips and nodded rapidly to show
he understood--"Trust me for that," he said, "trust me."
As the evening wore on Coote's manner changed, became more and more the
manner of a proprietor. He began to take up his rôle, to survey Kipps
with a new, with a critical affection. It was evident the thing fell in
with his ideas. "It will be awfully interesting," he said. "You know,
Kipps, you're really good stuff." (Every sentence now he said "Kipps" or
"my dear Kipps" with a curiously authoritative intonation.)
"I know," said Kipps, "only there's such a lot of things I don't seem to
be up to some'ow. That's where the trouble comes in."
They talked and talked, and now Kipps was talking freely. They rambled
over all sorts of things. Among others Kipps' character was dealt with
at length. Kipps gave valuable lights on it. "When I'm reely excited,"
he said, "I don't seem to care "what" I do. I'm like that." And again,
"I don't like to do anything under'and. I "must" speak out...."
He picked a piece of cotton from his knee, the fire grimaced behind his
back, and his shadow on the wall and ceiling was disrespectfully
Kipps went to bed at last with an impression of important things
settled, and he lay awake for quite a long time. He felt he was lucky.
He had known--in fact Buggins and Carshot and Pierce had made it very
clear indeed--that his status in life had changed and that stupendous
adaptations had to be achieved, but how they were to be effected had
driven that adaptation into the incredible. Here in the simplest,
easiest way was the adapter. The thing had become possible. Not of
course easy, but possible.
There was much to learn, sheer intellectual toil, methods of address,
bowing, an enormous complexity of laws. One broken, you are an outcast.
How, for example, would one encounter Lady Punnet? It was quite possible
some day he might really have to do that. Coote might introduce him.
"Lord!" he said aloud to the darkness between grinning and dismay. He
figured himself going into the Emporium to buy a tie, for example, and
there in the face of Buggins, Carshot, Pierce and the rest of them,
meeting "my friend, Lady Punnet!" It might not end with Lady Punnet! His
imagination plunged and bolted with him, galloped, took wings and soared
to romantic, to poetical altitudes....
Suppose some day one met Royalty. By accident, say! He soared to that!
After all,--twelve hundred a year is a lift, a tremendous lift. How did
one address Royalty? "Your Majesty's Goodness," it will be, no
doubt--something like that--and on the knees. He became impersonal. Over
a thousand a year made him an Esquire, didn't it? He thought that was
it. In which case, wouldn't he have to be presented at Court? Velvet
cycling breeches like you wear cycling, and a sword! What a curious
place a court must be! Kneeling and bowing, and what was it Miss Mergle
used to talk about? Of course!--ladies with long trains walking about
backward. Everybody walked about backward at court, he knew, when not
actually on their knees. Perhaps, though, some people regular stood up
to the King! Talked to him, just as one might talk to Buggins, say.
Cheek of course! Dukes, it might be, did that--by permission?
From such thoughts this free citizen of our Crowned Republic passed
insensibly into dreams, turgid dreams of that vast ascent which
constitutes the true-born Briton's social scheme, which terminates with
retrogressive progression and a bending back.
The next morning he came down to breakfast looking grave--a man with
much before him in the world....
Kipps made a very special thing of his breakfast. Daily once hopeless
dreams came true then. It had been customary in the Emporium to
supplement Shalford's generous, indeed unlimited, supply of bread and
butter-substitute, by private purchases, and this had given Kipps very
broad, artistic conceptions of what the meal might be. Now there would
be a cutlet or so or a mutton chop--this splendour Buggins had reported
from the great London clubs--haddock, kipper, whiting or fish-balls,
eggs, boiled or scrambled, or eggs and bacon, kidney also frequently and
sometimes liver. Amidst a garland of such themes, sausages, black and
white puddings, bubble-and-squeak, fried cabbage and scallops came and
went. Always as camp followers came potted meat in all varieties, cold
bacon, German sausage, brawn, marmalade and two sorts of jam, and when
he had finished these he would sit among his plates and smoke a
cigarette and look at all these dishes crowded round him with a beatific
approval. It was his principal meal. He was sitting with his cigarette
regarding his apartment with that complacency begotten of a generous
plan of feeding successfully realized, when newspapers and post arrived.
There were several things by the post, tradesmen's circulars and cards
and two pathetic begging letters--his luck had got into the papers--and
there was a letter from a literary man and a book to enforce his request
for 10/--to put down Socialism. The book made it very clear that prompt
action on the part of property owners was becoming urgent, if property
was to last out the year. Kipps dipped in it and was seriously
perturbed. And there was a letter from old Kipps saying it was difficult
to leave the shop and come over and see him again just yet, but that he
had been to a sale at Lydd the previous day and bought a few good old
books and things it would be difficult to find the equal of in
Folkestone. "They don't know the value of these things out here," wrote
old Kipps, "but you may depend upon it they are valuable," and a brief
financial statement followed. "There is an engraving someone might come
along and offer you a lot of money for one of these days. Depend upon
it, these old things are about the best investment you could make...."
Old Kipps had long been addicted to sales, and his nephew's good
fortune had converted what had once been but a looking and a craving--he
had rarely even bid for anything in the old days except the garden tools
or the kitchen gallipots or things like that, things one gets for
sixpence and finds a use for--into a very active pleasure. Sage and
penetrating inspection, a certain mystery of bearing, tactical bids and
Purchase!--Purchase!--the old man had had a good time.
While Kipps was rereading the begging letters and wishing he had the
sound, clear common sense of Buggins to help him a little, the Parcels
Post brought along the box from his uncle. It was a large, insecure
looking case held together by a few still loyal nails, and by what the
British War Office would have recognised at once as an Army Corps of
string, rags and odds and ends tied together. Kipps unpacked it with a
table knife, assisted at a critical point by the poker, and found a
number of books and other objects of an antique type.
There were three bound volumes of early issues of Chambers' Journal, a
copy of Punch's Pocket Book for 1875, Sturm's Reflections, an early
version of Gill's Geography (slightly torn), an illustrated work on
Spinal Curvature, an early edition of Kirke's Human Physiology, The
Scottish Chiefs and a little volume on the Language of Flowers. There
was a fine steel engraving, oak-framed and with some rusty spots, done
in the Colossal style and representing the Handwriting on the Wall.
There were also a copper kettle, a pair of candle snuffers, a brass
shoehorn, a tea caddy to lock, two decanters (one stoppered) and what
was probably a portion of an eighteenth century child's rattle.
Kipps examined these objects one by one and wished he knew more about
them. Turning over the pages of the Physiology again he came upon a
striking plate in which a youth of agreeable profile displayed his
interior in an unstinted manner to the startled eye. It was a new view
of humanity altogether for Kipps, and it arrested his mind.
This anatomised figure made him forget for a space that he was
"practically a gentleman" altogether, and he was still surveying its
extraordinary complications when another reminder of a world quite
outside those spheres of ordered gentility into which his dreams had
carried him overnight, arrived (following the servant) in the person of
"Ul-"lo"!" said Kipps, rising.
"Not busy?" said Chitterlow, enveloping Kipps' hand for a moment in one
of his own and tossing the yachting cap upon the monumental carved oak
"Only a bit of reading," said Kipps.
"Reading, eh?" Chitterlow cocked the red eye at the books and other
properties for a moment and then, "I've been expecting you 'round again
"I been coming 'round," said Kipps. "On'y there's a chap 'ere----. I
was coming 'round last night on'y I met 'im."
He walked to the hearthrug. Chitterlow drifted around the room for a
time, glancing at things as he talked. "I've altered that play
tremendously since I saw you," he said. "Pulled it all to pieces."
"What play's that, Chit'low?"
"The one we were talking about. You know. You said something--I don't
know if you meant it--about buying half of it. Not the tragedy. I
wouldn't sell my twin brother a share in that. That's my investment.
That's my Serious Work. No! I mean that new farce I've been on to. Thing
with the business about a beetle."
"Oo yes," said Kipps. ""I" remember."
"I thought you would. Said you'd take a fourth share for a hundred
pounds. "You" know."
"I seem to remember something----"
"Well, it's all different. Every bit of it. I'll tell you. You remember
what you said about a butterfly? You got confused, you know--Old Meth.
Kept calling the beetle a butterfly and that set me off. I've made it
quite different. Quite different. Instead of Popplewaddle--thundering
good farce name that, you know; for all that it came from a Visitors'
List--instead of Popplewaddle getting a beetle down his neck and rushing
about, I've made him a collector--collects butterflies, and this one you
know's a rare one. Comes in at window, centre." Chitterlow began to
illustrate with appropriate gestures. "Pop rushes about after it.
Forgets he mustn't let on he's in the house. After that----. Tells 'em.
Rare butterfly, worth lots of money. Some are, you know. Everyone's on
to it after that. Butterfly can't get out of room, every time it comes
out to have a try, rush and scurry. Well, I've worked on that. Only----"
He came very close to Kipps. He held up one hand horizontally and tapped
it in a striking and confidential manner with the fingers of the other.
"Something else," he said. "That's given me a Real Ibsenish Touch--like
the Wild Duck. You know that woman--I've made her lighter--and she sees
it. When they're chasing the butterfly the third time, she's on! She
looks. 'That's me!' she says. Bif! Pestered Butterfly. "She's" the
Pestered Butterfly. It's legitimate. Much more legitimate than the Wild
Duck--where there isn't a duck!
"Knock 'em! The very title ought to knock 'em. I've been working like a
horse at it.... You'll have a gold mine in that quarter share, Kipps....
"I" don't mind. It's suited me to sell it, and suited you to buy. Bif!"
Chitterlow interrupted his discourse to ask, "You haven't any brandy in
the house, have you? Not to drink, you know. But I want just an
eggcupful to pull me steady. My liver's a bit queer.... It doesn't
matter, if you haven't. Not a bit. I'm like that. Yes, whiskey'll do.
Kipps hesitated for a moment, then turned and fumbled in the cupboard
of his sideboard. Presently he disinterred a bottle of whiskey and
placed it on the table. Then he put out first one bottle of soda water
and after the hesitation of a moment another. Chitterlow picked up the
bottle and read the label. "Good old Methusaleh," he said. Kipps handed
him the corkscrew and then his hand fluttered up to his mouth. "I'll
have to ring now," he said, "to get glasses." He hesitated for a moment
before doing so, leaning doubtfully as it were towards the bell.
When the housemaid appeared he was standing on the hearthrug with his
legs wide apart, with the bearing of a desperate fellow. And after they
had both had whiskeys--"You know a decent whiskey," Chitterlow remarked
and took another "just to drink."--Kipps produced cigarettes and the
conversation flowed again.
Chitterlow paced the room. He was, he explained, taking a day off; that
was why he had come around to see Kipps. Whenever he thought of any
extensive change in a play he was writing he always took a day off. In
the end it saved time to do so. It prevented his starting rashly upon
work that might have to be rewritten. There was no good in doing work
when you might have to do it over again, none whatever.
Presently they were descending the steps by the Parade "en route" for
the Warren, with Chitterlow doing the talking and going with a dancing
drop from step to step....
They had a great walk, not a long one, but a great one. They went up by
the Sanatorium, and over the East Cliff and into that queer little
wilderness of slippery and tumbling clay and rock under the chalk
cliffs, a wilderness of thorn and bramble, wild rose and wayfaring tree,
that adds so greatly to Folkestone's charm. They traversed its
intricacies and clambered up to the crest of the cliffs at last by a
precipitous path that Chitterlow endowed in some mysterious way with
suggestions of Alpine adventure. Every now and then he would glance
aside at sea and cliffs with a fresh boyishness of imagination that
brought back New Romney and the stranded wrecks to Kipps' memory; but
mostly he bored on with his great obsession of plays and playwriting,
and that empty absurdity that is so serious to his kind, his Art. That
was a thing that needed a monstrous lot of explaining. Along they went,
sometimes abreast, sometimes in single file, up the little paths, and
down the little paths, and in among the bushes and out along the edge
above the beach, and Kipps went along trying ever and again to get an
insignificant word in edgeways, and the gestures of Chitterlow flew wide
and far and his great voice rose and fell, and he said this and he said
that and he biffed and banged into the circumambient Inane.
It was assumed that they were embarked upon no more trivial enterprise
than the Reform of the British Stage, and Kipps found himself classed
with many opulent and even royal and noble amateurs--the Honourable
Thomas Norgate came in here--who had interested themselves in the
practical realisation of high ideals about the Drama. Only he had a
finer understanding of these things, and instead of being preyed upon by
the common professional--"and they "are" a lot," said Chitterlow; "I
haven't toured for nothing"--he would have Chitterlow. Kipps gathered
few details. It was clear he had bought the quarter of a farcical
comedy--practically a gold mine--and it would appear it would be a good
thing to buy the half. A suggestion, or the suggestion of a suggestion,
floated out that he should buy the whole play and produce it forthwith.
It seemed he was to produce the play upon a royalty system of a new
sort, whatever a royalty system of any sort might be. Then there was
some doubt, after all, whether that farcical comedy was in itself
sufficient to revolutionise the present lamentable state of the British
Drama. Better perhaps for such a purpose was that tragedy--as yet
unfinished--which was to display all that Chitterlow knew about women,
and which was to centre about a Russian nobleman embodying the
fundamental Chitterlow personality. Then it became clearer that Kipps
was to produce several plays. Kipps was to produce a great number of
plays. Kipps was to found a National Theatre.
It is probable that Kipps would have expressed some sort of disavowal,
if he had known how to express it. Occasionally his face assumed an
expression of whistling meditation, but that was as far as he got
In the clutch of Chitterlow and the Incalculable, Kipps came round to
the house in Fenchurch Street and was there made to participate in the
midday meal. He came to the house, forgetting certain confidences, and
was reminded of the existence of a Mrs. Chitterlow (with the finest
completely untrained Contralto voice in England) by her appearance. She
had an air of being older than Chitterlow, although probably she wasn't,
and her hair was a reddish brown, streaked with gold. She was dressed in
one of those complaisant garments that are dressing gowns or tea gowns
or bathing wraps or rather original evening robes according to the
exigencies of the moment--from the first Kipps was aware that she
possessed a warm and rounded neck, and her well-moulded arms came and
vanished from the sleeves--and she had large, expressive brown eyes that
he discovered ever and again fixed in an enigmatical manner upon his
A simple but sufficient meal had been distributed with careless
spontaneity over the little round table in the room with the photographs
and looking glass, and when a plate had by Chitterlow's direction been
taken from under the marmalade in the cupboard and the kitchen fork and
a knife that was not loose in its handle had been found for Kipps they
began and she had evidently heard of Kipps before, and he made a
tumultuous repast. Chitterlow ate with quiet enormity, but it did not
interfere with the flow of his talk. He introduced Kipps to his wife
very briefly; made it vaguely evident that the production of the comedy
was the thing chiefly settled. His reach extended over the table, and he
troubled nobody. When Mrs. Chitterlow, who for a little while seemed
socially self-conscious, reproved him for taking a potato with a jab of
his fork, he answered, "Well, you shouldn't have married a man of
Genius," and from a subsequent remark it was perfectly clear that
Chitterlow's standing in this respect was made no secret of in his
They drank old Methusaleh and syphon soda, and there was no clearing
away, they just sat among the plates and things, and Mrs. Chitterlow
took her husband's tobacco pouch and made a cigarette and smoked and
blew smoke and looked at Kipps with her large, brown eyes. Kipps had
seen cigarettes smoked by ladies before, "for fun," but this was real
smoking. It frightened him rather. He felt he must not encourage this
lady--at any rate in Chitterlow's presence.
They became very cheerful after the repast, and as there was now no
waste to deplore, such as one experiences in the windy, open air,
Chitterlow gave his voice full vent. He fell to praising Kipps very
highly and loudly. He said he had known Kipps was the right sort, he had
seen it from the first, almost before he got up out of the mud on that
memorable night. "You can," he said, "sometimes. That was why----" he
stopped, but he seemed on the verge of explaining that it was his
certainty of Kipps being the right sort had led him to confer this
great Fortune upon him. He left that impression. He threw out a number
of long sentences and material for sentences of a highly philosophical
and incoherent character about Coincidences. It became evident he
considered dramatic criticism in a perilously low condition....
About four Kipps found himself stranded, as it were, by a receding
Chitterlow on a seat upon the Leas.
He was chiefly aware that Chitterlow was an overwhelming personality. He
puffed his cheeks and blew.
No doubt this was seeing life, but had he particularly wanted to see
life that day? In a way Chitterlow had interrupted him. The day he had
designed for himself was altogether different from this. He had been
going to read through a precious little volume called "Don't" that Coote
had sent round for him, a book of invaluable hints, a summary of British
deportment that had only the one defect of being at points a little out
That reminded him he had intended to perform a difficult exercise called
an Afternoon Call upon the Cootes, as a preliminary to doing it in
deadly earnest upon the Walshinghams. It was no good to-day, anyhow,
He came back to Chitterlow. He would have to explain to Chitterlow he
was taking too much for granted, he would have to do that. It was so
difficult to do in Chitterlow's presence though; in his absence it was
easy enough. This half share, and taking a theatre and all of it, was
going too far.
The quarter share was right enough, he supposed, but even that----! A
hundred pounds! What wealth is there left in the world after one has
paid out a hundred pounds from it?
He had to recall that in a sense Chitterlow had indeed brought him his
fortune before he could face even that.
You must not think too hardly of him. To Kipps you see there was as yet
no such thing as proportion in these matters. A hundred pounds went to
his horizon. A hundred pounds seemed to him just exactly as big as any
other large sum of money.
The Cootes live in a little house in Bouverie Square with a tangle of
Virginia creeper up the verandah.
Kipps had been troubled in his mind about knocking double or single--it
is these things show what a man is made of--but happily there was a
A queer little maid, with a big cap, admitted Kipps and took him through
a bead curtain and a door into a little drawing-room, with a black and
gold piano, a glazed bookcase, a Moorish cosy corner and a draped
looking glass over-mantel bright with Regent Street ornaments and
photographs of various intellectual lights. A number of cards of
invitation to meetings and the match list of a Band of Hope cricket club
were stuck into the looking glass frame with Coote's name as a
Vice-President. There was a bust of Beethoven over the bookcase and the
walls were thick with conscientiously executed but carelessly selected
"views" in oil and water colours and gilt frames. At the end of the room
facing the light was a portrait that struck Kipps at first as being
Coote in spectacles and feminine costume and that he afterwards decided
must be Coote's mother. Then the original appeared and he discovered
that it was Coote's elder and only sister who kept house for him. She
wore her hair in a knob behind, and the sight of the knob suggested to
Kipps an explanation for a frequent gesture of Coote's, a patting
exploratory movement to the back of his head. And then it occurred to
him that this was quite an absurd idea altogether.
She said "Mr. Kipps, I believe," and Kipps laughed pleasantly and said,
"That's it!" and then she told him that "Chester" had gone down to the
art school to see about sending off some drawings or other and that he
would be back soon. Then she asked Kipps if he painted, and showed him
the pictures on the wall. Kipps asked her where each one was "of," and
when she showed him some of the Leas slopes he said he never would have
recognised them. He said it was funny how things looked in a picture
very often. "But they're awfully "good"," he said. "Did you do them?" He
would look at them with his neck arched like a swan's, his head back and
on one side and then suddenly peer closely into them. "They "are" good.
I wish I could paint." "That's what Chester says," she answered. "I tell
him he has better things to do." Kipps seemed to get on very well with
Then Coote came in and they left her and went upstairs together and had
a good talk about reading and the Rules of Life. Or rather Coote talked,
and the praises of thought and reading were in his mouth....
You must figure Coote's study, a little bedroom put to studious uses,
and over the mantel an array of things he had been led to believe
indicative of culture and refinement, an autotype of Rossetti's
"Annunciation," an autotype of Watt's "Minotaur," a Swiss carved pipe
with many joints and a photograph of Amiens Cathedral (these two the
spoils of travel), a phrenological bust and some broken fossils from the
Warren. A rotating bookshelf carried the Encyclopædia Britannica (tenth
edition), and on the top of it a large official looking, age grubby,
envelope bearing the mystic words, "On His Majesty's Service," a number
or so of the "Bookman," and a box of cigarettes were lying. A table
under the window bore a little microscope, some dust in a saucer, some
grimy glass slips and broken cover glasses, for Coote had "gone in for"
biology a little. The longer side of the room was given over to
bookshelves, neatly edged with pinked American cloth, and with an array
of books--no worse an array of books than you find in any public
library; an almost haphazard accumulation of obsolete classics,
contemporary successes, the Hundred Best Books (including Samuel
Warren's "Ten Thousand a Year") old school books, directories, the Times
Atlas, Ruskin in bulk, Tennyson complete in one volume, Longfellow,
Charles Kingsley, Smiles and Mrs. Humphry Ward, a guide book or so,
several medical pamphlets, odd magazine numbers, and much indescribable
rubbish--in fact a compendium of the contemporary British mind. And in
front of this array stood Kipps, ill-taught and untrained, respectful,
awestricken and, for a moment at any rate, willing to learn, while
Coote, the exemplary Coote, talked to him like a bishop of reading and
the virtue in books.
"Nothing enlarges the mind," said Coote, "like Travel and Books.... And
they're both so easy nowadays, and so cheap!"
"I've often wanted to 'ave a good go in at reading," Kipps replied.
"You'd hardly believe," Coote said, "how much you can get out of books.
Provided you avoid trashy reading, that is. You ought to make a rule,
Kipps, and read one Serious Book a week. Of course, we can Learn even
from Novels, Nace Novels that is, but it isn't the same thing as serious
reading. I made a rule, One Serious Book and One Novel--no more. There's
some of the serious books I've been reading lately--on that table;
Sartor Resartus--Mrs. Twaddletome's Pond Life, the Scottish Chiefs, Life
and Letters of Dean Farrar...."
There came at last the sound of a gong and Kipps descended to tea in
that state of nervous apprehension at the difficulties of eating and
drinking that his Aunt's knuckle rappings had implanted in him forever.
Over Coote's shoulder he became aware of a fourth person in the Moorish
cosy corner, and he turned, leaving incomplete something incoherent he
was saying to Miss Coote about his modest respect and desire for
literature to discover this fourth person was Miss Helen Walshingham,
hatless and looking very much at home.
She rose at once with an extended hand to meet his hesitation.
"You're stopping in Folkestone, Mr. Kipps?"
"'Ere on a bit of business," said Kipps. "I thought you was away in
"That's later," said Miss Walshingham. "We're stopping until my
brother's holiday begins and we're trying to let our house. Where are
you staying in Folkestone?"
"I got a 'ouse of mine--on the Leas."
"I've heard all about your good fortune--this afternoon."
"Isn't it a Go!" said Kips. "I 'aven't nearly got to believe its reely
'appened yet. When that Mr. Bean told me of it you could 'ave knocked me
down with a feather.... It's a tremenjous change for me."
He discovered Miss Coote was asking him whether he took milk and sugar.
""I" don't mind," said Kipps. "Just as you like."
Coote became active handing tea and bread and butter. It was thinly cut,
and the bread was rather new, and the half of the slice that Kipps took
fell upon the floor. He had been holding it by the edge, for he was not
used to this migratory method of taking tea without plates or table.
This little incident ruled him out of the conversation for a time, and
when he came to attend to it again they were talking about something or
other prodigious--a performer of some sort--that was coming, called, it
seemed, "Padrooski." So Kipps, who had quietly dropped into a chair, ate
his bread and butter, said "No, thenk you" to any more, and by this
discreet restraint got more freedom with his cup and saucer.
Apart from the confusion natural to tea, he was in a state of tremulous
excitement on account of the presence of Miss Walshingham. He glanced
from Miss Coote to her brother and then at Helen. He regarded her over
the top of his cup as he drank. Here she was, solid and real. It was
wonderful. He remarked, as he had done at times before, the easy flow of
the dark hair back from her brow over her ears, the shapeliness of the
white hands that came out from her simple white cuffs, the delicate
pencilling of her brow.
Presently she turned her face to him almost suddenly, and smiled with
the easiest assurance of friendship.
"You will go, I suppose," she said, and added, "to the Recital."
"If I'm in Folkestone I shall," said Kipps, clearing away a little
hoarseness. "I don't "know" much about music, but what I do know I
"I'm sure you'll like Paderewski," she said.
"If you do," he said, "I dessay I shall."
He found Coote very kindly taking his cup.
"Do you think of living in Folkestone?" asked Miss Coote, in a tone of
proprietorship, from the hearthrug.
"No," said Kipps, "that's jest it--I hardly know." He also said that he
wanted to look around a bit before doing anything. "There's so much to
consider," said Coote, smoothing the back of his head.
"I may go back to New Romney for a bit," said Kipps. "I got an Uncle and
Aunt there. I reely don't know."
Helen regarded him thoughtfully for a moment.
"You must come and see us," she said, "before we go to Bruges."
"Oo, rather!" said Kipps. "If I may."
"Yes, do," she said, and suddenly stood up before Kipps could formulate
an enquiry when he should call.
"You're sure you can spare that drawing board?" she said to Miss Coote,
and the conversation passed out of range.
And when he had said "Good-bye" to Miss Walshingham and she had repeated
her invitation to call, he went upstairs again with Coote to look out
certain initiatory books they had had under discussion. And then Kipps,
blowing very resolutely, went back to his own place, bearing in his arm
(1) Sesame and Lilies, (2) Sir George Tressady, (3) an anonymous book
on "Vitality" that Coote particularly esteemed. And, having got to his
own sitting-room, he opened Sesame and Lilies and read it with ruthless
determination for some time.
Presently he leant back and gave himself up to the business of trying to
imagine just exactly what Miss Walshingham could have thought of him
when she saw him. Doubts about the precise effect of the grey flannel
suit began to trouble him. He turned to the mirror over the mantel, and
then got into a chair to study the hang of the trousers. It looked all
right. Luckily, she had not seen the Panama hat. He knew that he had the
brim turned up wrong, but he could not find out which way the brim was
right. However, that she had not seen. He might perhaps ask at the shop
where he bought it.
He meditated for awhile on his reflected face--doubtful whether he liked
it or not--and then got down again and flitted across to the sideboard
where there lay two little books, one in a cheap, magnificent cover of
red and gold, and the other in green canvas. The former was called, as
its cover witnessed, "Manners and Rules of Good Society, by a Member of
the Aristocracy," and after the cover had indulged in a band of gilded
decoration, light-hearted but natural under the circumstances, it added
"TWENTY-FIRST EDITION." The second was that admirable classic, "The Art
of Conversing." Kipps returned with these to his seat, placed the two
before him, opened the latter with a sigh and flattened it under his
Then with knitted brows he began to read onward from a mark, his lips
"Having thus acquired possession of an idea, the little ship should not
be abruptly launched into deep waters, but should be first permitted to
glide gently and smoothly into the shallows, that is to say, the
conversation should not be commenced by broadly and roundly stating a
fact, or didactically expressing an opinion, as the subject would be
thus virtually or summarily disposed of, or perhaps be met with a
'Really' or 'Indeed,' or some equally brief monosyllabic reply. If an
opposite opinion were held by the person to whom the remark were
addressed, he might not, if a stranger, care to express it in the form
of a direct contradiction, or actual dissent. To glide imperceptibly
into conversation is the object to be attained."
At this point Mr. Kipps rubbed his fingers through his hair with an
expression of some perplexity and went back to the beginning.
When Kipps made his call on the Walshinghams, it all happened so
differently from the "Manners and Rules" prescription ("Paying Calls")
that he was quite lost from the very outset. Instead of the footman or
maidservant proper in these cases, Miss Walshingham opened the door to
him herself. "I'm so glad you've come," she said, with one of her rare
She stood aside for him to enter the rather narrow passage.
"I thought I'd call," he said, retaining his hat and stick.
She closed the door and led the way to a little drawing-room, which
impressed Kipps as being smaller and less emphatically coloured than
that of the Cootes, and in which at first only a copper bowl of white
poppies upon the brown tablecloth caught his particular attention.
"You won't think it unconventional to come in, Mr. Kipps, will you?" she
remarked. "Mother is out."
"I don't mind," he said, smiling amiably, "if you don't."
She walked around the table and stood regarding him across it, with that
same look between speculative curiosity and appreciation that he
remembered from the last of the art class meetings.
"I wondered whether you would call or whether you wouldn't before you
"I'm not leaving Folkestone for a bit, and any'ow, I should have called
"Mother will be sorry she was out. I've told her about you, and she
wants, I know, to meet you."
"I saw 'er--if that was 'er--in the shop," said Kipps.
"Yes--you did, didn't you!... She has gone out to make some duty calls,
and I didn't go. I had something to write. I write a little, you know."
"Reely!" said Kipps.
"It's nothing much," she said, "and it comes to nothing." She glanced at
a little desk near the window, on which there lay some paper. "One must
do something." She broke off abruptly. "Have you seen our outlook?" she
asked and walked to the window, and Kipps came and stood beside her. "We
look on the Square. It might be worse, you know. That outporter's truck
there is horrid--and the railings, but it's better than staring one's
social replica in the face, isn't it? It's pleasant in early
spring--bright green, laid on with a dry brush--and it's pleasant in
"I like it," said Kipps. "That laylock there is pretty, isn't it?"
"Children come and pick it at times," she remarked.
"I dessay they do," said Kipps.
He rested on his hat and stick and looked appreciatively out of the
window, and she glanced at him for one swift moment. A suggestion that
might have come from the Art of Conversing came into his head. "Have you
a garden?" he said.
She shrugged her shoulders. "Only a little one," she said, and then,
"perhaps you would like to see it."
"I like gardenin'," said Kipps, with memories of a pennyworth of
nasturtiums he had once trained over his uncle's dustbin.
She led the way with a certain relief.
They emerged through a four seasons coloured glass door to a little iron
verandah that led by iron steps to a minute walled garden. There was
just room for a patch of turf and a flower-bed; one sturdy variegated
Euonymus grew in the corner. But the early June flowers, the big
narcissus, snow upon the mountains, and a fine show of yellow
wallflowers shone gay.
"That's our garden," said Helen. "It's not a very big one, is it?"
"I like it," said Kipps.
"It's small," she said, "but this is the day of small things."
Kipps didn't follow that.
"If you were writing when I came," he remarked, "I'm interrupting you."
She turned round with her back to the railing and rested, leaning on her
hands. "I had finished," she said. "I couldn't get on."
"Were you making up something?" asked Kipps.
There was a little interval before she smiled. "I try--quite vainly--to
write stories," she said. "One must do something. I don't know whether I
shall ever do any good--at that--anyhow. It seems so hopeless. And, of
course, one must study the popular taste. But, now my brother has gone
to London, I get a lot of leisure."
"I seen your brother, 'aven't I?"
"He came to the class once or twice. Very probably you have. He's gone
to London to pass his examinations and become a solicitor. And then, I
suppose, he'll have a chance. Not much, perhaps, even then. But he's
luckier than I am."
"You got your classes and things."
"They ought to satisfy me. But they don't. I suppose I'm ambitious. We
both are. And we hadn't much of a springboard." She glanced over his
shoulder at the cramped little garden with an air of reference in her
"I should think you could do anything if you wanted to," said Kipps.
"As a matter of fact I can't do anything I want to."
"You done a good deal."
"Well, didn't you pass one of these here University things?"
"Oh! I matriculated!"
"I should think I was no end of a swell if "I" did, I know that."
"Mr. Kipps, do you know how many people matriculate into London
University every year?"
"How many then?"
"Between two and three thousand."
"Well, just think how many don't!"
Her smile came again, and broke into a laugh. "Oh, "they" don't count,"
she said, and then, realising that might penetrate Kipps if he was left
with it, she hurried on to, "The fact is, I'm a discontented person, Mr.
Kipps. Folkestone, you know, is a Sea Front, and it values people by
sheer vulgar prosperity. We're not prosperous, and we live in a back
street. We have to live here because this is our house. It's a mercy we
haven't to 'let.' One feels one hasn't opportunities. If one had, I
suppose one wouldn't use them. Still----"
Kipps felt he was being taken tremendously into her confidence. "That's
jest it," he said, very sagely.
He leant forward on his stick and said, very earnestly, "I believe you
could do anything you wanted to, if you tried."
She threw out her hands in disavowal.
"I know," said he, very sagely and nodding his head. "I watched you once
or twice when you were teaching that wood-carving class."
For some reason this made her laugh--a rather pleasant laugh, and that
made Kipps feel a very witty and successful person. "It's very evident,"
she said, "that you're one of those rare people who believe in me, Mr.
Kipps," to which he answered, "Oo, I "do"!" and then suddenly they
became aware of Mrs. Walshingham coming along the passage. In another
moment she appeared through the four seasons door, bonneted and
ladylike, and a little faded, exactly as Kipps had seen her in the shop.
Kipps felt a certain apprehension at her appearance, in spite of the
reassurances he had had from Coote.
"Mr. Kipps has called on us," said Helen, and Mrs. Walshingham said it
was very kind of him, and added that new people didn't call on them very
much nowadays. There was nothing of the scandalised surprise Kipps had
seen in the shop; she had heard, perhaps, he was a gentleman now. In the
shop he had thought her rather jaded and haughty, but he had scarcely
taken her hand, which responded to his touch with a friendly pressure,
before he knew how mistaken he had been. She then told her daughter that
someone called Mrs. Wace had been out, and turned to Kipps again to ask
him if he had had tea. Kipps said he had not, and Helen moved towards
some mysterious interior. "But "I" say," said Kipps; "don't you on my
Helen vanished, and he found himself alone with Mrs. Walshingham, which,
of course, made him breathless and Boreas-looking for a moment.
"You were one of Helen's pupils in the wood-carving class?" asked Mrs.
Walshingham, regarding him with the quiet watchfulness proper to her
"Yes," said Kipps, "that's 'ow I 'ad the pleasure----"
"She took a great interest in her wood-carving class. She is so
energetic, you know, and it gives her an Outlet."
"I thought she taught something splendid."
"Everyone says she did very well. Helen, I think, would do anything well
that she undertook to do. She's so very clever. And she throws herself
into things so."
She untied her bonnet strings with a pleasant informality.
"She has told me all about her class. She used to be full of it. And
about your cut hand."
"Lor'!" said Kipps; "fancy, telling that!"
"Oh, yes! And how brave you were."
(Though, indeed, Helen's chief detail had been his remarkable expedient
for checking bloodshed.)
Kipps became bright pink. "She said you didn't seem to feel it a bit."
Kipps felt he would have to spend weeks over "The Art of Conversing."
While he still hung fire Helen returned with the apparatus for afternoon
tea upon a tray.
"Do you mind pulling out the table?" asked Mrs. Walshingham.
That, again, was very homelike. Kipps put down his hat and stick in the
corner and, amidst an iron thunder, pulled out a little, rusty,
green-painted table, and then in the easiest manner followed Helen in to
So soon as he had got rid of his teacup--he refused all food, of course,
and they were merciful--he became wonderfully at his ease. Presently he
was talking. He talked quite modestly and simply about his changed
condition and his difficulties and plans. He spread what indeed had an
air of being all his simple little soul before his eyes. In a little
while his clipped, defective accent had become less perceptible to
their ears, and they began to realise, as the girl with the freckles had
long since realised, that there were passable aspects of Kipps. He
confided, he submitted, and for both of them he had the realest, the
most seductively flattering undertone of awe and reverence.
He stopped about two hours, having forgotten how terribly incorrect it
is to stay at such a length. They did not mind at all.
Within two months, within a matter of three and fifty days, Kipps had
clambered to the battlements of Heart's Desire.
It all became possible by the Walshinghams--it would seem at Coote's
instigation--deciding, after all, not to spend the holidays at Bruges.
Instead, they remained in Folkestone, and this happy chance gave Kipps
just all these opportunities of which he stood in need.
His crowning day was at Lympne, and long before the summer warmth began
to break, while indeed August still flamed on high. They had
organized--no one seemed to know who suggested it first--a water party
on the still reaches of the old military canal at Hythe, the canal that
was to have stopped Napoleon if the sea failed us, and they were to
picnic by the brick bridge, and afterwards to clamber to Lympne Castle.
The host of the gathering, it was understood very clearly, was Kipps.
They went, a merry party. The canal was weedy, with only a few inches of
water at the shallows, and so they went in three Canadian canoes. Kipps
had learned to paddle--it had been his first athletic accomplishment,
and his second--with the last three or four of ten private lessons still
to come--was to be cycling. But Kipps did not paddle at all badly;
muscles hardened by lifting pieces of cretonne could cut a respectable
figure by the side of Coote's executions, and the girl with the
freckles, the girl who understood him, came in his canoe. They raced the
Walshinghams, brother and sister; and Coote, in a liquefying state and
blowing mightily, but still persistent and always quite polite and
considerate, toiled behind with Mrs. Walshingham. She could not be
expected to paddle (though, of course, she "offered") and she reclined
upon specially adjusted cushions under a black and white sunshade and
watched Kipps and her daughter, and feared at intervals that Coote was
They were all more or less in holiday costume, the eyes of the girls
looked out under the shade of wide-brimmed hats; even the freckled girl
was unexpectedly pretty, and Helen, swinging sunlit to her paddle, gave
Kipps, almost for the first time, the suggestion of a graceful body.
Kipps was arrayed in the completest boating costume, and when his
fashionable Panama was discarded and his hair blown into disorder he
became, in his white flannels, as sightly as most young men. His
complexion was a notable asset.
Things favoured him, the day favoured him, everyone favoured him. Young
Walshingham, the girl with the freckles, Coote and Mrs. Walshingham,
were playing up to him in the most benevolent way, and between the
landing place and Lympne, Fortune, to crown their efforts, had placed a
small, convenient field entirely at the disposal of an adolescent bull.
Not a big, real, resolute bull, but, on the other hand, no calf; a young
bull, in the same stage of emotional development as Kipps, "standing
where the two rivers meet." Detachedly our party drifted towards him.
When they landed young Walshingham, with the simple directness of a
brother, abandoned his sister to Kipps and secured the freckled girl,
leaving Coote to carry Mrs. Walshingham's light wool wrap. He started at
once, in order to put an effectual distance between himself and his
companion, on the one hand, and a certain persuasive chaperonage that
went with Coote, on the other. Young Walshingham, I think I have said,
was dark, with a Napoleonic profile, and it was natural for him,
therefore, to be a bold thinker and an epigrammatic speaker, and he had
long ago discovered great possibilities of appreciation in the freckled
girl. He was in a very happy frame that day because he had just been
entrusted with the management of Kipps' affairs (old Bean inexplicably
dismissed), and that was not a bad beginning for a solicitor of only a
few months' standing, and, moreover, he had been reading Nietzsche, and
he thought that in all probability he was the Non-Moral Overman referred
to by that writer. He wore fairly large-sized hats. He wanted to expand
the theme of the Non-Moral Overman in the ear of the freckled girl, to
say it over, so to speak, and in order to seclude his exposition they
went aside from the direct path and trespassed through a coppice,
avoiding the youthful bull. They escaped to these higher themes but
narrowly, for Coote and Mrs. Walshingham, subtle chaperones both, and
each indisposed for excellent reasons to encumber Kipps and Helen, were
hot upon their heels. These two kept direct route to the stile of the
bull's field, and the sight of the animal at once awakened Coote's
innate aversion to brutality in any shape or form. He said the stiles
were too high, and that they could do better by going around by the
hedge, and Mrs. Walshingham, nothing loath, agreed.
This left the way clear for Kipps and Helen, and they encountered the
bull. Helen did not observe the bull, but Kipps did; but, that afternoon
at any rate, he was equal to facing a lion. And the bull really came at
them. It was not an affair of the bull-ring exactly, no desperate rushes
and gorings; but he came; he regarded them with a large, wicked, bluish
eye, opened a mouth below his moistly glistening nose and booed, at any
rate, if he did not exactly bellow, and he shook his head wickedly and
showed that tossing was in his mind. Helen was frightened, without any
loss of dignity, and Kipps went extremely white. But he was perfectly
calm, and he seemed to her to have lost the last vestiges of his accent
and his social shakiness. He directed her to walk quietly towards the
stile, and made an oblique advance towards the bull.
"You be orf!" he said....
When Helen was well over the stile Kipps withdrew in good order. He got
over the stile under cover of a feint, and the thing was done--a small
thing, no doubt, but just enough to remove from Helen's mind an
incorrect deduction that a man who was so terribly afraid of a teacup as
Kipps must necessarily be abjectly afraid of everything else in the
world. In her moment of reaction she went perhaps too far in the
opposite direction. Hitherto Kipps had always had a certain flimsiness
of effect for her. Now suddenly he was discovered solid. He was
discovered possible in many new ways. Here, after all, was the sort of
back a woman can get behind!...
As so these heirs of the immemorial ages went past the turf-crowned mass
of Portus Lemanus up the steep slopes towards the mediæval castle on the
crest the thing was also manifest in her eyes.
Everyone who stays in Folkestone gets, sooner or later, to Lympne. The
castle became a farmhouse long ago, and the farmhouse, itself now ripe
and venerable, wears the walls of the castle as a little man wears a big
man's coat. The kindliest of farm ladies entertains a perpetual stream
of visitors and shows her vast mangle, and her big kitchen, and takes
you out upon the sunniest little terrace garden in all the world, and
you look down the sheep-dotted slopes to where, beside the canal and
under the trees, the crumpled memories of Rome sleep forever. For hither
to this lonely spot the galleys once came, the legions, the emperors,
masters of the world. The castle is but a thing of yesterday, King
Stephen's time or thereabout, in that retrospect. One climbs the pitch
of perforation, and there one is lifted to the centre of far more than a
hemisphere of view. Away below one's feet, almost at the bottom of the
hill, the Marsh begins, and spreads and spreads in a mighty crescent
that sweeps about the sea, the Marsh dotted with the church towers of
forgotten mediæval towns and breaking at last into the low, blue hills
of Winchelsea and Hastings; east hangs France, between the sea and the
sky, and round the north, bounding the wide prospectives of farms and
houses and woods, the Downs, with their hangers and chalk pits, sustain
the passing shadows of the sailing clouds.
And here it was, high out of the world of everyday, and in the presence
of spacious beauty, that Kipps and Helen found themselves agreeably
alone. All six, it had seemed, had been coming for the Keep, but Mrs.
Walshingham had hesitated at the horrid little stairs, and then suddenly
felt faint, and so she and the freckled girl had remained below, walking
up and down in the shadow of the house, and Coote had remembered they
were all out of cigarettes, and had taken off young Walshingham into the
village. There had been shouting to explain between ground and parapet,
and then Helen and Kipps turned again to the view, and commended it and
Helen sat fearlessly in an embrasure, and Kipps stood beside her.
"I've always been fond of scenery," Kipps repeated, after an interval.
Then he went off at a tangent. "D'you reely think that was right what
Coote was saying?"
She looked interrogation.
"About my name?"
"Being really C-U-Y-P-S? I have my doubts. I thought at first----. What
makes Mr. Coote add an S to Cuyp?"
"I dunno," said Kipps, foiled. "I was jest thinking----"
She shot one wary glance at him and then turned her eyes to the sea.
Kipps was out for a space. He had intended to lead from this question to
the general question of surnames and change of names; it had seemed a
light and witty way of saying something he had in mind, and suddenly he
perceived that this was an unutterably vulgar and silly project. The
hitch about that "s" had saved him. He regarded her profile for a
moment, framed in weather-beaten stone, and backed by the blue elements.
He dropped the question of his name out of existence and spoke again of
the view. "When I see scenery, and things that are beautiful, it makes
She looked at him suddenly, and saw him fumbling for his words.
"Silly like," he said.
She took him in with her glance, the old look of proprietorship it was,
touched with a certain warmth. She spoke in a voice as unambiguous as
her eyes. "You needn't," she said. "You know, Mr. Kipps, you hold
yourself too cheap."
Her eyes and words smote him with amazement. He stared at her like a man
who awakens. She looked down.
"You mean----" he said; and then, "don't you hold me cheap?"
She glanced up again and shook her head.
"But--for instance--you don't think of me--as an equal like."
"Oo! But reely----"
His heart beat very fast.
"If I thought," he said, and then, "you know so much."
"That's nothing," she said.
Then, for a long time, as it seemed to them, both kept silence, a
silence that said and accomplished many things.
"I know what I am," he said, at length.... "If I thought it was
possible.... If I thought "you".... I believe I could do anything----"
He stopped, and she sat downcast and strikingly still.
"Miss Walshingham," he said, "is it possible that you ... could care for
me enough to--to 'elp me? Miss Walshingham, do you care for me at all?"
It seemed she was never going to answer. She looked up at him. "I
think," she said, "you are the most generous--look at what you have done
for my brother--the most generous and the most modest of men. And this
afternoon--I thought you were the bravest."
She turned her head, glanced down, waved her hand to someone on the
terrace below, and stood up.
"Mother is signalling," she said. "We must go down."
Kipps became polite and deferential by habit, but his mind was a tumult
that had nothing to do with that.
He moved before her towards the little door that opened on the winding
stairs--"always precede a lady down or up stairs"--and then on the
second step he turned resolutely. "But," he said, looking up out of the
shadow, flannel-clad and singularly like a man.
She looked down on him, with her hand upon the stone lintel.
He held out his hand as if to help her. "Can you tell me?" he said. "You
"If you care for me?"
She did not answer for a long time. It was as if everything in the
world had drawn to the breaking point, and in a minute must certainly
"Yes," she said, at last, "I know."
Abruptly, by some impalpable sign, he knew what the answer would be, and
he remained still.
She bent down over him and softened to her wonderful smile.
"Promise me," she insisted.
He promised with his still face.
"If "I" do not hold you cheap, you will never hold yourself cheap----"
"If you do not hold me cheap, you mean?"
She bent down quite close beside him. "I hold you," she said, and then
She laughed aloud.
He was astonished beyond measure. He stipulated, lest there might be
some misconception, "You will marry me?"
She was laughing, inundated by the sense of bountiful power, of
possession and success. He looked quite a nice little man to have.
"Yes," she laughed. "What else could I mean?" and, "Yes."
He felt as a praying hermit might have felt, snatched from the midst of
his quiet devotions, his modest sackcloth and ashes, and hurled neck and
crop over the glittering gates of Paradise, smack among the iridescent
wings, the bright-eyed Cherubim. He felt like some lowly and righteous
man dynamited into Bliss....
His hand tightened upon the rope that steadies one upon the stairs of
stone. He was for kissing her hand and did not.
He said not a word more. He turned about, and with something very like a
scared expression on his face led the way into the obscurity of their
Everyone seemed to understand. Nothing was said, nothing was explained,
the merest touch of the eyes sufficed. As they clustered in the castle
gateway Coote, Kipps remembered afterwards, laid hold of his arm as if
by chance and pressed it. It was quite evident he knew. His eyes, his
nose, shone with benevolent congratulations, shone, too, with the sense
of a good thing conducted to its climax. Mrs. Walshingham, who had
seemed a little fatigued by the hill, recovered, and was even obviously
stirred by affection for her daughter. There was, in passing, a motherly
caress. She asked Kipps to give her his arm in walking down the steep.
Kipps in a sort of dream obeyed. He found himself trying to attend to
her, and soon he was attending.
She and Kipps talked like sober, responsible people and went slowly,
while the others drifted down the hill together, a loose little group of
four. He wondered momentarily what they would talk about and then sank
into his conversation with Mrs. Walshingham. He conversed, as it were,
out of his superficial personality, and his inner self lay stunned in
unsuspected depths within. It had an air of being an interesting and
friendly talk, almost their first long talk together. Hitherto he had
had a sort of fear of Mrs. Walshingham, as of a person possibly
satirical, but she proved a soul of sense and sentiment, and Kipps, for
all of his abstrac
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