New Page 1

LA GRAMMATICA DI ENGLISH GRATIS IN VERSIONE MOBILE • TEL. 02-78622122 • info@englishgratis.com -  INFORMATIVA PRIVACY

  Telefono: 02-78622122       # LOGIN ELINGUE
  Email:

Selettore risorse   

   


IN OMAGGIO CON 20 ORE
• 6 RIVISTE ENGLISH4LIFE
• 1 ANNO DI ELINGUE

 Oggi con ogni corso 20 ORE in omaggio ELINGUE e 6 RIVISTE+5 CD


                                         IL Metodo  |  Grammatica  |  RISPOSTE GRAMMATICALI  |  Multiblog  |  INSEGNARE AGLI ADULTI  |  INSEGNARE AI BAMBINI  |  AudioBooks  |  RISORSE SFiziosE  |  Articoli  |  Tips  | testi pAralleli  |  VIDEO SOTTOTITOLATI
                                                                                         ESERCIZI :   Serie 1 - 2 - 3  - 4 - 5  SERVIZI:   Pronunciatore di inglese - Dizionario - Convertitore IPA/UK - IPA/US - Convertitore di valute in lire ed euro
 
  
                                            AREA SHOP  ABBONAMENTO ELINGUE-ALL INCLUDED | RIVISTA ENGLISH4LIFE  | CORS0 20 ORE DI INGLESE |  CORSO 20 ORE DI SPAGNOLO | CORSO 20 ORE DI TEDESCO  | CORSO 20 ORE DI FRANCESE  | CORSO 20 ORE DI RUSSO

 

 

Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica, economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore automatico interattivo FGA Translate

  1. Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
  2. Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
  3. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
  4. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
  5. Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
  6. Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
  7. Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
  8. Anonimo - BEOWULF
  9. Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
  10. Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
  11. Austen, Jane - EMMA
  12. Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
  13. Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
  14. Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
  15. Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
  16. Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
  17. Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
  18. Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
  19. Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
  20. Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
  21. Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
  22. Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
  23. Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
  24. Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
  25. Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
  26. Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
  27. Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
  28. Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
  29. Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
  30. Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
  31. Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
  32. Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
  33. Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
  34. Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
  35. Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
  36. Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
  37. Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
  38. Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
  39. Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
  40. Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
  41. Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
  42. Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
  43. Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  44. Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
  45. Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
  46. Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
  47. Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
  48. Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
  49. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
  50. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
  51. Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
  52. Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
  53. Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
  54. Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
  55. Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
  56. Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
  57. Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
  58. Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
  59. Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
  60. Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
  61. Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
  62. Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  63. Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY OF LIFE
  64. Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
  65. Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
  66. Collodi - PINOCCHIO
  67. Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
  68. Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  69. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
  70. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  71. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
  72. Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
  73. Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
  74. Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
  75. Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
  76. Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
  77. Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
  78. Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
  79. Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
  80. Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
  81. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
  82. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
  83. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
  84. Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
  85. Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
  86. Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
  87. Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
  88. Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
  89. Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
  90. Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
  91. Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
  92. Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
  93. Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
  94. Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
  95. Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
  96. Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
  97. Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
  98. Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
  99. Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
  100. Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
  101. Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
  102. Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
  103. Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
  104. Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
  105. Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
  106. Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
  107. Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
  108. Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
  109. Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
  110. Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
  111. Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
  112. Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
  113. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
  114. Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
  115. Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
  116. Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
  117. Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
  118. Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
  119. Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
  120. Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
  121. Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
  122. Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
  123. Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  124. Esopo - FABLES
  125. Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
  126. Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
  127. France, Anatole - THAIS
  128. France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
  129. France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
  130. France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
  131. Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
  132. Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
  133. Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  134. Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
  135. Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
  136. Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
  137. Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
  138. Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
  139. Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
  140. Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
  141. Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
  142. Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
  143. Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
  144. Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
  145. Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
  146. Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
  147. Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
  148. Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
  149. Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
  150. Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
  151. Goethe - FAUST
  152. Gogol - DEAD SOULS
  153. Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
  154. Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
  155. Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
  156. Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
  157. Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
  158. Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
  159. Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
  160. Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
  161. Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
  162. Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
  163. Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
  164. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
  165. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
  166. Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
  167. Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
  168. Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
  169. Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
  170. Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
  171. Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
  172. Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
  173. Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
  174. Homer - THE ILIAD
  175. Homer - THE ODYSSEY
  176. Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
  177. Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
  178. Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
  179. Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
  180. Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
  181. Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
  182. Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
  183. Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
  184. Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
  185. Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
  186. Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
  187. Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
  188. Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
  189. Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
  190. James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
  191. James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
  192. James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
  193. James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
  194. James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
  195. James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
  196. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
  197. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
  198. Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
  199. Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
  200. Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
  201. Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
  202. Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
  203. Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
  204. Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
  205. Joyce, James - ULYSSES
  206. Keats, John - ENDYMION
  207. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
  208. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
  209. King James - THE BIBLE
  210. Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
  211. Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
  212. Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
  213. Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
  214. Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
  215. Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
  216. Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
  217. Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
  218. Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
  219. Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
  220. Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
  221. Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
  222. Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
  223. Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
  224. Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
  225. Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
  226. Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
  227. Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
  228. Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
  229. Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
  230. Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
  231. Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
  232. Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
  233. Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
  234. Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
  235. Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
  236. Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
  237. London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
  238. London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
  239. London, Jack - WHITE FANG
  240. Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
  241. Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
  242. Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
  243. Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
  244. Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
  245. Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
  246. Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
  247. Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
  248. Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
  249. Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
  250. Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
  251. Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
  252. Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
  253. More, Thomas - UTOPIA
  254. Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
  255. Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
  256. Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
  257. Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
  258. Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
  259. Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
  260. Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
  261. Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
  262. Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
  263. Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
  264. Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
  265. Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
  266. Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
  267. Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
  268. Plato - THE REPUBLIC
  269. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
  270. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
  271. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
  272. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
  273. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
  274. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
  275. Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
  276. Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
  277. Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
  278. Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
  279. Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
  280. Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
  281. Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
  282. Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
  283. Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
  284. Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
  285. Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
  286. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
  287. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
  288. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
  289. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
  290. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
  291. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
  292. Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
  293. Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
  294. Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
  295. Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
  296. Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
  297. Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
  298. Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
  299. Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
  300. Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
  301. Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
  302. Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
  303. Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
  304. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
  305. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  306. Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
  307. Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
  308. Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
  309. Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
  310. Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
  311. Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
  312. Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
  313. Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
  314. Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
  315. Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
  316. Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
  317. Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
  318. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
  319. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
  320. Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
  321. Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
  322. Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
  323. Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
  324. Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
  325. Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
  326. Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
  327. Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
  328. Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
  329. Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
  330. Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
  331. Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
  332. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
  333. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
  334. Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
  335. Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
  336. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
  337. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
  338. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
  339. Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
  340. Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
  341. Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
  342. Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
  343. Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  344. Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
  345. Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
  346. Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
  347. Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
  348. Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
  349. Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
  350. Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
  351. Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
  352. Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
  353. Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
  354. Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
  355. Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
  356. Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
  357. Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
  358. Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
  359. Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
  360. Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
  361. Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
  362. Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
  363. Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
  364. Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
  365. Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
  366. Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
  367. Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
  368. Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
  369. Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
  370. Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
  371. Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
  372. Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
  373. Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
  374. Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
  375. Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
  376. Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
  377. Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
  378. Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
  379. Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
  380. White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
  381. Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
  382. Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
  383. Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
  384. Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
  385. Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
  386. Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
  387. Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
  388. Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
  389. Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
  390. Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
  391. Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
  392. Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
  393. Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
  394. Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
  395. Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
  396. Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
  397. Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
  398. Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
  399. Wordsworth, William - POEMS
  400. Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
  401. Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN

 




Clicca sul pulsante qui sopra per iscriverti alla nostra newsletter gratuita che ti informerà su tutte le nostre novità e iniziative!


Non si può dire di conoscere l'inglese se non si è in grado di capire le grandi opere che sono state scritte in questa lingua: i classici. E in questa sezione te ne offriamo una notevole selezione. Come strumenti ausiliari per la comprensione e la pronuncia trovi il dizionario di Babylon, il lettore automatico di ReadSpeaker e la traduzione interattiva di FGA Translate. Per attivarla basta selezionare una porzione qualsiasi di testo e, immediatamente, la traduzione in italiano comparirà in una finestrella. Qualora si desideri evitare la sovrapposizione della traduzione e dell'audio di ReadSpeaker è possibile deselezionare la casella della traduzione interattiva on/off. Dato che la pagina contiene tutta l'opera, per ascoltare le porzioni di testo successive a quelle iniziali anziché premere il pulsante Ascolta il testo si può selezionare la porzione di testo che si vuole ascoltare e poi cliccare sul simbolino di altoparlante che apparirà vicino alla porzione di testo selezionato.
NB: PER LEGGERE I CLASSICI NELLA VECCHIA VERSIONE FRAMMENTATA
CLICCA QUI


KIPPS
H. G. Wells
traduzione di FGA Translate on/off


ReadSpeaker: legge il testo inglese con una perfetta pronuncia britannica e con il magico effetto karaoke. Per attivarlo clicca sul pulsante Ascolta il testo che si trova qui sotto. Puoi anche selezionare una parola, frase o porzione di testo e ascoltare solo quella cliccando sul simbolino di altoparlante che apparirà vicino alla porzione di testo selezionata.
FGA Translate: selezionando con il mouse una qualsiasi porzione di testo, FGA Translate te la traduce istantaneamente in una finestrella pop-up. Per evitare eventuali conflitti tra ReadSpeaker e FGA Translate puoi deselezionare quest'ultimo togliendo la spunta qui sopra.


ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
Clicca qui

KIPPS - THE STORY OF A SIMPLE SOUL

BY H. G. WELLS

CHAPTER I

THE LITTLE SHOP AT NEW ROMNEY

§1

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 people....

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 fair play.

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.

§2

"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 unfamiliar type.

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 freedom!

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 tears.

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.

§3

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 evermore.

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 tomtit.

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 the day.

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."

"What--not Sid?"

"No. Father's made him dust all his boxes again."

"What for?"

"I dunno. Father's in a stew 'smorning."

"Oh!"

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 pause.

"Yes."

"So's Sid."

The conversation languished. Ann put her hands on the top of the gate, and began a stationary hopping, a sort of ineffectual gymnastic experiment.

"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.

"Here?"

"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.

§4

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!"

"Smell?"

"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 abruptly.

"It's rather nice 'aving sisters," remarked one perishing mariner.

Sid turned round and regarded him thoughtfully. "Not it!" he said.

"No?"

"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 sisters--no!"

"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 that."

"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.

"Ah!"

Kipps let a moment elapse before he did his duty. "Tell us!"

Sid eyed him and hesitated. "Secret?" he said.

"Secret."

"Dying solemn?"

"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.

"What--truth?"

""Truth.""

Kipps scrutinised his face. "Reely?"

Sid touched wood, whistled, and repeated a binding doggerel with great solemnity.

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 meditation.

"I "would" like to 'ave a girl," said Kipps. "I mean just to talk to and all that...."

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.

§5

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 love.

"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.

"Like...?"

"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----"

He stopped.

"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 upstairs.

"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 unnatural cheerfulness.

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.

§6

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!"

"Business?"

"Yes."

Pause.

"I say, Sid. You going 'ome?"

"Straight now."

"D'you mind? Ask Ann about that."

"About what?"

"She'll know."

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 hand.

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 happy.

CHAPTER II

THE EMPORIUM

§1

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 Mr. Shalford.

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 shop.

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 eye.

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 relief.

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 fumble!

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 lives.

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?"

"Dunno, sir."

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 and despatch.

"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.

§2

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 philosophy.

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 nagged.

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 his mind....

The front door was locked at half-past ten, and the gas in the dormitory extinguished at eleven.

§3

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 another!

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.

§4

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 'em."

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.

§5

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 seniority.

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.

§6

For a tailpiece to this chapter one may vignette one of those little affairs.

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."

"Not plain?"

"No."

"You don't mean to say I'm roundabout?"

"No. I mean to say ... though----"

Pause.

"Well?"

"You're not a bit plain--you're" (his voice jumps up to a squeak) "pretty. See?"

"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.

"Knew----?"

"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."

"Couldn't I?"

"No!"

"Guess it in three."

"Not the name."

"Ah!"

""Ah!""

"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 her hand.

She glances at the face of the approaching man. They maintain a bashful silence until he has passed.

CHAPTER III

THE WOOD-CARVING CLASS

§1

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.

§2

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 phase.

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.

§3

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 courtyard below.

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 a giggle.

"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 know it.

"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 doing."

"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 opulently.

"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 design.

""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 that?"

Pause.

"I'm afraid you won't be able to go on carving to-night," said Miss Walshingham.

"I'll try," said Kipps. "It reelly doesn't hurt--not anything to matter."

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.

§4

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 you are!"

"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 mouthful.

"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 chance."

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 anæsthetics.

"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 adores you."

"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.

CHAPTER IV

CHITTERLOW

§1

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 having happened.

"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 them.

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 came forward.

"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 details.

"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.

§2

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 the page.

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 whiskey.

"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 something.

"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 recently acquired.

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 world.

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."

And then----!

"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 whiskey."

"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...."

§3

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 out.

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 likely."

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 opulence.

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"! "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.

§4

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 Ibsen.

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 ever did.

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 vivid situation.

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 a beginning----"

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----."

CHAPTER V

"SWAPPED"

§1

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 encouragement.

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.

§2

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, I know."

"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. See?"

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.

§3

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 umbrella....

"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."

§4

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 to hear.

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.

CHAPTER VI

THE UNEXPECTED

§1

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, Kipps?"

"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.

"What man?"

"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.

"Your mother's."

"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 generally.

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."

"Not Waddy?"

"No!"

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 'Waddy.'"

"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. Read it!"

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----"

"Get what?"

"Whatever it is."

Kipps sought his moustache. "You'd write?" he asked.

"Ra-ther."

"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? Eh?"

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 door.

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."

"Now this----?"

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 the customers.

"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, absolutely forgotten.

§2

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?"

"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 had resolved.

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.

"Crib hunting?"

"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 votes."

"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 hundred pounds!

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.

"But----"

"I'd hide."

"Er?"

"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!

§3

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! "Servants", eh?

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" reasserted itself.

An impulse overwhelmed him. "I say," he said, leaning forward, to the old gentleman.

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, neither."

"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."

"What game?"

"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 reason!

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.

"Guess."

"You've slipped out because Teddy's in London."

"Something more."

"What?"

"Been left a fortune."

"Garn!"

"I 'ave."

"Get out!"

"Straight. I been lef' twelve 'undred pounds--twelve 'undred pounds a year!"

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.

§4

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 less."

"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 first-class club."

"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. Kipps."

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 don't."

"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 them all!

But the sight of upturned chins and glasses pulled him together again....

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 porter's cap....

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.

§5

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 than Kipps.

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" 'ome?"

"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.

"No fear."

"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 up."

"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 pounds."

Pause.

"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 'ere?"

"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.

Pause.

"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 withered face.

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 that sort."

(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 hither?

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 all--perhaps--it's true!"

""'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...."

§6

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 beneath 'im."

"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 ye."

"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 Buggins, nothing!

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?" he whispered.

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 Walshingham....

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

BOOK II

MR. COOTE, THE CHAPERON

CHAPTER I

THE NEW CONDITIONS

§1

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 looks away.

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 way...."

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 know."

"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 income----?"

"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 it."

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 stuffed.

"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 and write."

"Books?"

"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....

§2

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 first."

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 of times."

"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," he said.

"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 frankness, "never!"

"No?"

"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 wanted done.

"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 comes along----"

"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 away."

"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 to "do"."

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, proper way."

His beautiful modesty awakened nothing but benevolence in the mind of Chester Coote.

"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 been----"

"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----"

"Yes, but----"

""I" want a Friend, too."

"Reely?"

"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."

"No?"

"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 convulsed.

§3

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? Millionnaires?...

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.

§4

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 Chitterlow.

§5

"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 sideboard.

"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 one night."

"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. Better!"

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 towards protest.

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 own.

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 household.

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 of date.

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, now.

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.

CHAPTER II

THE WALSHINGHAMS

§1

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 bell.

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 her.

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...."

§2

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 Bruges."

"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 like."

"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.

§3

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 hand.

Then with knitted brows he began to read onward from a mark, his lips moving.

"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.

§4

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 smiles.

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 left Folkestone."

"I'm not leaving Folkestone for a bit, and any'ow, I should have called on you."

"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 autumn."

"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 gesture.

"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."

"What?"

"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 account----!"

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 position.

"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 get chairs.

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.

CHAPTER III

ENGAGED

§1

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 getting hot.

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.

§2

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 fell silent.

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 me feel----"

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."

"Why not?"

"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 must know----"

"What?"

"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 break.

"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 whispered, ""dear"."

"Me?"

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 descent.

§3

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

 

♥ FINE AREA VOCALIZZATA CON READSPEAKER       







    Prodotti straordinari per le tue lingue




Leggi gratis online il primo numero di English4Life, l'anglorivista che mette il turbo al tuo inglese, l'unica con pronuncia guidata e doppia traduzione italiana per capire sempre tutto!

 

  1. A chi serve
  2. Leggi il n. 1 gratis!
  3. Acquista gli arretrati
  4. Cosa dicono i lettori
  5. Il  metodo


Scopri Total Audio, la versione del corso 20 ORE fatta apposta per chi come te passa tanto tempo viaggiando! Ideale per chi fa il pendolare o compie ogni giorno lunghi tragitti sui mezzi. Sfrutta anche tu i tempi morti per imparare o migliorare il tuo inglese!



CORSI 20 ORE - I corsi di lingue più completi per una preparazione di base superiore alla media in 5 lingue: Inglese - Francese - Spagnolo - Tedesco - Russo


 

  


 

 
CONDIZIONI DI USO DI QUESTO SITO
L'utente può utilizzare il nostro sito solo se comprende e accetta quanto segue:

  • Le risorse linguistiche gratuite presentate in questo sito si possono utilizzare esclusivamente per uso personale e non commerciale con tassativa esclusione di ogni condivisione comunque effettuata. Tutti i diritti sono riservati. La riproduzione anche parziale è vietata senza autorizzazione scritta.
  • Il nome del sito EnglishGratis è esclusivamente un marchio e un nome di dominio internet che fa riferimento alla disponibilità sul sito di un numero molto elevato di risorse gratuite e non implica dunque alcuna promessa di gratuità relativamente a prodotti e servizi nostri o di terze parti pubblicizzati a mezzo banner e link, o contrassegnati chiaramente come prodotti a pagamento (anche ma non solo con la menzione "Annuncio pubblicitario"), o comunque menzionati nelle pagine del sito ma non disponibili sulle pagine pubbliche, non protette da password, del sito stesso.
  • La pubblicità di terze parti è in questo momento affidata al servizio Google AdSense che sceglie secondo automatismi di carattere algoritmico gli annunci di terze parti che compariranno sul nostro sito e sui quali non abbiamo alcun modo di influire. Non siamo quindi responsabili del contenuto di questi annunci e delle eventuali affermazioni o promesse che in essi vengono fatte!
  • Coloro che si iscrivono alla nostra newsletter (iscrizione caratterizzatalla da procedura double opt-in) accettano di ricevere saltuariamente delle comunicazioni di carattere informativo sulle novità del sito e, occasionalmente, delle offerte speciali relative a prodotti linguistici a pagamento sia nostri che di altre aziende. In ogni caso chiunque può disiscriversi semplicemente cliccando sulla scritta Cancella l'iscrizione che si trova in fondo alla newsletter, non è quindi necessario scriverci per chiedere esplicitamente la cancellazione dell'iscrizione.
  • L'utente, inoltre, accetta di tenere Casiraghi Jones Publishing SRL indenne da qualsiasi tipo di responsabilità per l'uso - ed eventuali conseguenze di esso - degli esercizi e delle informazioni linguistiche e grammaticali contenute sul siti. Le risposte grammaticali sono infatti improntate ad un criterio di praticità e pragmaticità più che ad una completezza ed esaustività che finirebbe per frastornare, per l'eccesso di informazione fornita, il nostro utente.

     

    ENGLISHGRATIS.COM è un sito di Casiraghi Jones Publishing SRL
    Piazzale Cadorna 10 - 20123 Milano - Italia
    Tel. 02-78622122 - email:
    Iscritta al Registro Imprese di MILANO - C.F. e PARTITA IVA: 11603360154
    Iscritta al R.E.A. di Milano n.1478561 • Capitale Sociale
    10.400 interamente versato

    Roberto Casiraghi           
    INFORMATIVA SULLA PRIVACY              Crystal Jones


    Siti amici:  Lonweb Daisy Stories English4Life  
    Sito segnalato da INGLESE.IT