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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesKathleen - Chapter 7
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Kathleen - Chapter 7 Post by :chrisf Category :Long Stories Author :Christopher Morley Date :May 2012 Read :2024

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Kathleen - Chapter 7


As Johnny Blair approached number 318, Bancroft Road, a little before seven o'clock that bland March evening, he bore within his hardy breast certain delicacies, remorses, doubts, and revulsions. But all these were transcended by his overmastering determination to see this superb and long-worshipped maiden near at hand.

Bancroft Road proved to be a docile suburban thoroughfare, lined with comfortable villas and double houses, each standing a little back from the street with a small garden in front. A primrose-coloured afterglow lingered in the sky, and the gas lights along the pavement still burned pale and white. Just as the Rhodes Scholar passed number 302 he saw a feminine figure run down the steps of a house fifty yards farther on, cross the pavement, and drop a letter into the red pillar box standing there. Even at that distance, he distinguished a lively slimness in the girlish outline that could belong to no other than the Incomparable Kathleen. He hastened his step, casting hesitance to the wind. But she had already run back into the house.

It would have added to the problems Mr. Blair was pondering could he have read the letter which had just dropped into the post-box. Perhaps it will somewhat advance the course of the narrative to give the reader a glimpse of it.

Sunday Afternoon.


Goodness knows what has happened to this usually placid house. Never again will I complain to you that there is no excitement in Wolverhampton.

I got home from Birmingham yesterday noon and since then everything has been perfectly absurd. I can only believe you have gone balmy.

First comes your wire about Mr. Blair and your having hurt your arm playing soccer. What you can have been doing at soccer I can't conceive. I supposed it was a mistake for hockey, or else some kind of a twit. Well, I couldn't see what I could do to help a historical student but I showed Dad the wire and the old dear said he would write Mr. Blair a line.

I had just settled down to help Mother with some sewing when along comes your second wire, addressed to her. Mother and I threw up our hands and screamed! Certainly we thought you were off your crumpet. Why on earth should you send us another cook when you know Ethel has been here for so long? I read the wire forward and backward but it could mean nothing else. It said: _Have found very good cook out of place am sending her to you earnestly recommend give her a trial reliable woman but eccentric name Eliza Thick will call Sunday morning_.

Well, we all had a good laugh over this, and wondered what kind of a joke you were up to. Then, after supper, to our amazement, came a third wire--not from you, this one, but to Dad, and who do you suppose from? The Bishop of Oxford if you please! Dad was so flustered (you know how telegrams excite him: they offend all his antiquarian instincts!)--well, the Bishop said--_Am sending my favourite curate to call on you magnificent young fellow excellent family very worthy chap will be in Wolverhampton a day or two anxious to have him meet your family_.

Well, this rather flabbergasted us, but Dad took it rather as a matter of course, after the first surprise. He used to know the Bishop well--in fact, he dedicated his book to him. "Quite all right, my dear," Dad kept saying. "I dare say the young man has some antiquarian problems to talk over. Too bad I'm so crippled with rheumatism."

After supper along came Mr. Dunton, and began to talk about a charming young American who had been calling on him, and who did it prove to be but your friend Mr. Blair, who had been quite put out of our minds by the later telegrams. So Dad sat down right away and wrote a note to Mr. Blair at the Blue Boar asking him for luncheon to-day, and sent it up by the gardener's boy.

But this morning, when I had just decided not to go to church (you'll see why in a minute) comes your perfectly mad message to Fred, about hurting your leg at soccer and all the rest of it. This convinced us that you are quite crazy. How could we send Fred all that way alone! And when did you take up soccer anyway?

But we know what a mad creature you are anyway, so we simply suspected some deep-laid twit. Now I come to the queerest thing of all!

Ethel went out last night, for her usual Saturday evening off, and hasn't returned! In all the years she's been with us, Mother says, it's the first time such a thing ever happened. And before breakfast this morning, turns up this Eliza Thick person of yours, with a note from Ethel to say that she was sick but that her friend Eliza would see us through for a day or so. Well, you surely have a queer eye for picking out domestics! Of all the figures of fun I ever imagined, she is the strangest. I don't think she's quite right in her head. I'll tell you all about her when I see you. Really, I roar with laughter every time I look at her!

I haven't got time to say more. With this Eliza person in the kitchen goodness knows what may happen. We had to send a note to Mr. Blair not to come for luncheon, the house was so upset. We heard a fearful uproar in the lower regions this afternoon and found Eliza engaged in ejecting some kind of gas-man who said he had come to see the meter (on Sunday, if you please!)

Everything seems quite topsy turvy. And Mr. Blair is coming to supper in a few minutes, and that favourite curate of the Bishop's, too. I think I shall have to stay down in the kitchen to see that Eliza Thick gets through with it all right. I can forgive you almost anything except her!

Never, never say again that nothing happens in Bancroft Road!


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CHAPTER IIIBy the time that Carter and King had written their chapters and read them aloud, the Scorpions were all frankly adorers of Kathleen; by midterm she had become an obsession. Eric Twiston and Bob Graham, "doing a Cornstalk" (as walking on Cornmarket Street is elegantly termed) were wont to dub any really delightful girl they saw as "a Kathleen sort of person." At the annual dinner of the club, which took place in a private dining room at the "Clarry" (the Clarendon Hotel) in February, Forbes was called upon to respond to the toast "The Real Kathleen." His voice, tremulous