“I don’t say but what he’s difficult to please with his Tops,” said Mr. Rake, factotum to the Hon. Bertie Cecil, of the 1st Life Guards, with that article of hunting toggery suspended in his right hand as he paused, before going upstairs, to deliver his opinions with characteristic weight and vivacity to the stud-groom, “he is uncommon particular about ’em; and if his leathers aint as white as snow he’ll never touch ’em, tho’ as soon as the pack come nigh him at Royallieu, the leathers might just as well never have been cleaned, them hounds jump about him so; old Champion’s at his saddle before you can say Davy Jones. Tops are trials, I aint denying that, specially when you’ve jacks, and moccasins, and moor boots, and Russia-leather crickets, and turf backs, and Hythe boots, and waterproofs, and all manner of varnish things for dress, that none of the boys will do right unless you look after ’em yourself. But is it likely that he should know what a worry a Top’s complexion is, and how hard it is to come right with all the Fast Brown polishing in the world? How should he guess what a piece of work it is to get ’em all of a color, and how like they are to come mottled, and how a’most sure they’ll ten to one go off dark just as they’re growing yellow, and put you to shame, let you do what you will to make ’em cut a shine over the country? How should he know? I don’t complain of that; bless you, he never thinks. It’s ‘do this, Rake,’ ‘do that’; and he never remembers ‘tisn’t done by magic. But he’s a true gentleman, Mr. Cecil; never grudge a guinea, or a fiver to you; never out of temper either, always have a kind word for you if you want, thoro’bred every inch of him; see him bring down a rocketer, or lift his horse over the Broad Water! He’s a gentleman — not like your snobs that have nothing sound about ’em but their cash, and swept out their shops before they bought their fine feathers! — and I’ll be d —— d if I care what I do for him.”
With which peroration to his born enemy the stud-groom, with whom he waged a perpetual and most lively feud, Rake flourished the tops that had been under discussion, and triumphant, as he invariably was, ran up the back stairs of his master’s lodgings in Piccadilly, opposite the Green Park, and with a rap on the panels entered his master’s bedroom.
A Guardsman at home is always, if anything, rather more luxuriously accommodated than a young Duchess, and Bertie Cecil was never behind his fellows in anything; besides, he was one of the cracks of the Household, and women sent him pretty things enough to fill the Palais Royal. The dressing-table was littered with Bohemian glass and gold-stoppered bottles, and all the perfumes of Araby represented by Breidenback and Rimmel. The dressing-case was of silver, with the name studded on the lid in turquoises; the brushes, bootjack, boot-trees, whip-stands, were of ivory and tortoiseshell; a couple of tiger skins were on the hearth with a retriever and blue greyhound in possession; above the mantel-piece were crossed swords in all the varieties of gilt, gold, silver, ivory, aluminum, chiseled and embossed hilts; and on the walls were a few perfect French pictures, with the portraits of a greyhound drawn by Landseer, of a steeple-chaser by Harry Hall, one or two of Herring’s hunters, and two or three fair women in crayons. The hangings of the room were silken and rose-colored, and a delicious confusion prevailed through it pell-mell; box-spurs, hunting-stirrups, cartridge cases, curb-chains, muzzle-loaders, hunting flasks, and white gauntlets, being mixed up with Paris novels, pink notes, point-lace ties, bracelets, and bouquets to be dispatched to various destinations, and velvet and silk bags for banknotes, cigars, or vesuvians, embroidered by feminine fingers and as useless as those pretty fingers themselves. On the softest of sofas, half dressed, and having half an hour before splashed like a waterdog out of the bath, as big as a small pond, in the dressing-chamber beyond was the Hon. Bertie himself, second son of Viscount Royallieu, known generally in the Brigades as “Beauty.” The appellative, gained at Eton, was in no way undeserved; when the smoke cleared away that was circling round him out of a great meerschaum bowl, it showed a face of as much delicacy and brilliancy as a woman’s; handsome, thoroughbred, languid, nonchalant, with a certain latent recklessness under the impressive calm of habit, and a singular softness given to the large, dark hazel eyes by the unusual length of the lashes over them. His features were exceedingly fair — fair as the fairest girl’s; his hair was of the softest, silkiest, brightest chestnut; his mouth very beautifully shaped; on the whole, with a certain gentle, mournful love-me look that his eyes had with them, it was no wonder that great ladies and gay lionnes alike gave him the palm as the handsomest man in all the Household Regiments — not even excepting that splendid golden-haired Colossus, his oldest friend and closest comrade, known as “the Seraph.”
He looked at the new tops that Rake swung in his hand, and shook his head.
“Better, Rake; but not right yet. Can’t you get that tawny color in the tiger’s skin there? You go so much to brown.”
Rake shook his head in turn, as he set down the incorrigible tops beside six pairs of their fellows, and six times six of every other sort of boots that the covert side, the heather, the flat, or the sweet shady side of “Pall Mall” ever knew.
“Do my best, sir; but Polish don’t come nigh Nature, Mr. Cecil.”
“Goes beyond it, the ladies say; and to do them justice they favor it much the most,” laughed Cecil to himself, floating fresh clouds of Turkish about him. “Willon up?”
“Yes, sir. Come in this minute for orders.”
“How’d Forest King stand the train?”
“Bright as a bird, sir; he never mind nothing. Mother o’ Pearl she worreted a little, he says; she always do, along of the engine noise, but the King walked in and out just as if the station were his own stable-yard.”
“He gave them gruel and chilled water after the shaking before he let them go to their corn?”
“He says he did, sir.”
Rake would by no means take upon himself to warrant the veracity of his sworn foe, the stud-groom; unremitting feud was between them; Rake considered that he knew more about horses than any other man living, and the other functionary proportionately resented back his knowledge and his interference, as utterly out of place in a body-servant.
“Tell him I’ll look in at the stable after duty and see the screws are all right; and that he’s to be ready to go down with them by my train tomorrow — noon, you know. Send that note there, and the bracelets, to St. John’s Wood: and that white bouquet to Mrs. Delamaine. Bid Willon get some Banbury bits; I prefer the revolving mouths, and some of Wood’s double mouths and Nelson gags; we want new ones. Mind that lever-snap breech-loader comes home in time. Look in at the Commission stables, and if you see a likely black charger as good as Black Douglas, tell me. Write about the stud fox-terrier, and buy the blue Dandy Dinmont; Lady Guinevere wants him. I’ll take him down with me, but first put me into harness, Rake; it’s getting late.”
Murmuring which multiplicity of directions, for Rake to catch as he could, in the softest and sleepiest of tones, Bertie Cecil drank a glass of Curacoa, put his tall, lithe limbs indolently off his sofa, and surrendered himself to the martyrdom of cuirass and gorget, standing six feet one without his spurred jacks, but light-built and full of grace as a deer, or his weight would not have been what it was in gentleman-rider races from the Hunt steeple-chase at La Marche to the Grand National in the Shires.
“As if Parliament couldn’t meet without dragging us through the dust! The idiots write about ‘the swells in the Guards,’ as if we had all fun and no work, and knew nothing of the rough of the Service. I should like to learn what they call sitting motionless in your saddle through half a day, while a London mob goes mad round you, and lost dogs snap at your charger’s nose, and dirty little beggars squeeze against your legs, and the sun broils you, or the fog soaks you, and you sit sentinel over a gingerbread coach till you’re deaf with the noise, and blind with the dust, and sick with the crowd, and half dead for want of sodas and brandies, and from going a whole morning without one cigarette! Not to mention the inevitable apple-woman who invariably entangles herself between your horse’s legs, and the certainty of your riding down somebody and having a summons about it the next day! If all that isn’t the rough of the Service, I should like to know what is. Why the hottest day in the batteries, or the sharpest rush into Ghoorkhas or Bhoteahs, would be light work, compared!” murmured Cecil with the most plaintive pity for the hardships of life in the Household, while Rake, with the rapid proficiency of long habit, braced, and buckled and buttoned, knotted the sash with the knack of professional genius, girt on the brightest of all glittering polished silver steel “Cut-and-Thrusts,” with its rich gild mountings, and contemplated with flattering self-complacency leathers white as snow, jacks brilliant as black varnish could make them, and silver spurs of glittering radiance, until his master stood full harnessed, at length, as gallant a Life Guardsman as ever did duty at the Palace by making love to the handsomest lady-inwaiting.
“To sit wedged in with one’s troop for five hours, and in a drizzle too! Houses oughtn’t to meet until the day’s fine; I’m sure they are in no hurry,” said Cecil to himself, as he pocketed a dainty, filmy handkerchief, all perfume, point, and embroidery, with the interlaced B. C., and the crest on the corner, while he looked hopelessly out of the window. He was perfectly happy, drenched to the skin on the moors after a royal, or in a fast thing with the Melton men from Thorpe Trussels to Ranksborough; but three drops of rain when on duty were a totally different matter, to be resented with any amount of dandy’s lamentations and epicurean diatribes.
“Ah, young one, how are you? Is the day very bad?” he asked with languid wistfulness as the door opened.
But indifferent and weary — on account of the weather — as the tone was, his eyes rested with a kindly, cordial light on the newcomer, a young fellow of scarcely twenty, like himself in feature, though much smaller and slighter in build; a graceful boy enough, with no fault in his face, except a certain weakness in the mouth, just shadowed only, as yet, with down.
A celebrity, the Zu–Zu, the last coryphee whom Bertie had translated from a sphere of garret bread-and-cheese to a sphere of villa champagne and chicken (and who, of course, in proportion to the previous scarcity of her bread-and-cheese, grew immediately intolerant of any wine less than 90s the dozen), said the Cecil cared for nothing longer than a fortnight, unless it was his horse, Forest King. It was very ungrateful in the Zu–Zu, since he cared for her at the least a whole quarter, paying for his fidelity at the tune of a hundred a month; and, also, it was not true, for, besides Forest King, he loved his young brother Berkeley — which, however, she neither knew nor guessed.
“Beastly!” replied the young gentleman, in reference to the weather, which was indeed pretty tolerable for an English morning in February. “I say, Bertie — are you in a hurry?”
“The very deuce of a hurry, little one; why?” Bertie never was in a hurry, however, and he said this as lazily as possible, shaking the white horsehair over his helmet, and drawing in deep draughts of Turkish Latakia previous to parting with his pipe for the whole of four or five hours.
“Because I am in a hole — no end of a hole — and I thought you’d help me,” murmured the boy, half penitently, half caressingly; he was very girlish in his face and his ways. On which confession Rake retired into the bathroom; he could hear just as well there, and a sense of decorum made him withdraw, though his presence would have been wholly forgotten by them. In something the same spirit as the French countess accounted for her employing her valet to bring her her chocolate in bed —“Est ce que vous appelez cette chose-la un homme?”— Bertie had, on occasion, so wholly regarded servants as necessary furniture that he had gone through a love scene, with that handsome coquette Lady Regalia, totally oblivious of the presence of the groom of the chambers, and the possibility of that person’s appearance in the witness-box of the Divorce Court. It was in no way his passion that blinded him — he did not put the steam on like that, and never went in for any disturbing emotion — it was simply habit, and forgetfulness that those functionaries were not born mute, deaf, and sightless.
He tossed some essence over his hands, and drew on his gauntlets.
“What’s up Berk?”
The boy hung his head, and played a little uneasily with an ormolu terrier-pot, upsetting half the tobacco in it; he was trained to his brother’s nonchalant, impenetrable school, and used to his brother’s set; a cool, listless, reckless, thoroughbred, and impassive set, whose first canon was that you must lose your last thousand in the world without giving a sign that you winced, and must win half a million without showing that you were gratified; but he had something of girlish weakness in his nature, and a reserve in his temperament that was with difficulty conquered.
Bertie looked at him, and laid his hand gently on the young one’s shoulder.
“Come, my boy; out with it! It’s nothing very bad, I’ll be bound!”
“I want some more money; a couple of ponies,” said the boy a little huskily; he did not meet his brother’s eyes that were looking straight down on him.
Cecil gave a long, low whistle, and drew a meditative whiff from his meerschaum.
“Tres cher, you’re always wanting money. So am I. So is everybody. The normal state of man is to want money. Two ponies. What’s it for?”
“I lost it at chicken-hazard last night. Poulteney lent it me, and I told him I would send it him in the morning. The ponies were gone before I thought of it, Bertie, and I haven’t a notion where to get them to pay him again.”
“Heavy stakes, young one, for you,” murmured Cecil, while his hand dropped from the boy’s shoulder, and a shadow of gravity passed over his face; money was very scarce with himself. Berkeley gave him a hurried, appealing glance. He was used to shift all his anxieties on to his elder brother, and to be helped by him under any difficulty. Cecil never allotted two seconds’ thought to his own embarrassments, but he would multiply them tenfold by taking other people’s on him as well, with an unremitting and thoughtless good nature.
“I couldn’t help it,” pleaded the lad, with coaxing and almost piteous apology. “I backed Grosvenor’s play, and you know he’s always the most wonderful luck in the world. I couldn’t tell he’d go a crowner and have such cards as he had. How shall I get the money, Bertie? I daren’t ask the governor; and besides I told Poulteney he should have it this morning. What do you think if I sold the mare? But then I couldn’t sell her in a minute ——”
Cecil laughed a little, but his eyes, as they rested on the lad’s young, fair, womanish face, were very gentle under the long shade of their lashes.
“Sell the mare! Nonsense! How should anybody live without a hack? I can pull you through, I dare say. Ah! by George, there’s the quarters chiming. I shall be too late, as I live.”
Not hurried still, however; even by that near prospect, he sauntered to his dressing-table, took up one of the pretty velvet and gold-filigreed absurdities, and shook out all the banknotes there were in it. There were fives and tens enough to count up 45 pounds. He reached over and caught up a five from a little heap lying loose on a novel of Du Terrail’s, and tossed the whole across the room to the boy.
“There you are, young one! But don’t borrow of any but your own people again, Berk. We don’t do that. No, no! — no thanks! Shut up all that. If ever you get in a hole, I’ll take you out if I can. Good-by — will you go to the Lords? Better not — nothing to see, and still less to hear. All stale. That’s the only comfort for us — we are outside!” he said, with something that almost approached hurry in the utterance; so great was his terror of anything approaching a scene, and so eager was he to escape his brother’s gratitude. The boy had taken the notes with delighted thanks indeed, but with that tranquil and unprotesting readiness with which spoiled childishness or unhesitating selfishness accepts gifts and sacrifices from another’s generosity, which have been so general that they have ceased to have magnitude. As his brother passed him, however, he caught his hand a second, and looked up with a mist before his eyes, and a flush half of shame, half of gratitude, on his face.
“What a trump you are! — how good you are, Bertie!”
Cecil laughed and shrugged his shoulders.
“First time I ever heard it, my dear boy,” he answered, as he lounged down the staircase, his chains clashing and jingling; while, pressing his helmet on to his forehead and pulling the chin scale over his mustaches, he sauntered out into the street where his charger was waiting.
“The deuce!” he thought, as he settled himself in his stirrups, while the raw morning wind tossed his white plume hither and thither. “I never remembered! — I don’t believe I’ve left myself money enough to take Willon and Rake and the cattle down to the Shires tomorrow. If I shouldn’t have kept enough to take my own ticket with! — that would be no end of a sell. On my word I don’t know how much there’s left on the dressing-table. Well! I can’t help it; Poulteney had to be paid; I can’t have Berk’s name show in anything that looks shady.”
The 50 pounds had been the last remnant of a bill, done under great difficulties with a sagacious Jew, and Cecil had no more certainty of possessing any more money until next pay-day should come round than he had of possessing the moon; lack of ready money, moreover, is a serious inconvenience when you belong to clubs where “pounds and fives” are the lowest points, and live with men who take the odds on most events in thousands; but the thing was done; he would not have undone it at the boy’s loss, if he could; and Cecil, who never was worried by the loss of the most stupendous “crusher,” and who made it a rule never to think of disagreeable inevitabilities two minutes together, shook his charger’s bridle and cantered down Piccadilly toward the barracks, while Black Douglas reared, curveted, made as if he would kick, and finally ended by “passaging” down half the length of the road, to the imminent peril of all passers-by, and looking eminently glossy, handsome, stalwart, and foam-flecked, while he thus expressed his disapprobation of forming part of the escort from Palace to Parliament.
“Home Secretary should see about it; it’s abominable! If we must come among them, they ought to be made a little odoriferous first. A couple of fire-engines now, playing on them continuously with rose-water and bouquet d’Ess for an hour before we come up, might do a little good. I’ll get some men to speak about it in the house; call it ‘Bill for the Purifying of the Unwashed, and Prevention of their Suffocating Her Majesty’s Brigades,’” murmured Cecil to the Earl of Broceliande, next him, as they sat down in their saddles with the rest of the “First Life,” in front of St. Stephen’s, with a hazy fog steaming round them, and a London mob crushing against their chargers’ flanks, while Black Douglas stood like a rock, though a butcher’s tray was pressed against his withers, a mongrel was snapping at his hocks, and the inevitable apple-woman, of Cecil’s prophetic horror, was wildly plunging between his legs, as the hydra-headed rushed down in insane, headlong haste to stare at, and crush on to, that superb body of Guards.
“I would give a kingdom for a soda and brandy. Bah! ye gods! What a smell of fish and fustian,” signed Bertie, with a yawn of utter famine for want of something to drink and something to smoke, were it only a glass of brown sherry and a little papelito, while he glanced down at the snow-white and jet-black masterpieces of Rake’s genius, all smirched, and splashed, and smeared.
He had given fifty pounds away, and scarcely knew whether he should have enough to take his ticket next day into the Shires, and he owed fifty hundred without having the slightest grounds for supposing he should ever be able to pay it, and he cared no more about either of these things than he cared about the Zu–Zu’s throwing the half-guinea peaches into the river after a Richmond dinner, in the effort to hit dragon-flies with them; but to be half a day without a cigarette, and to have a disagreeable odor of apples and corduroys wafted up to him, was a calamity that made him insupportably depressed and unhappy.
Well, why not? It is the trifles of life that are its bores, after all. Most men can meet ruin calmly, for instance, or laugh when they lie in a ditch with their own knee-joint and their hunter’s spine broken over the double post and rails: it is the mud that has choked up your horn just when you wanted to rally the pack; it’s the whip who carries you off to a division just when you’ve sat down to your turbot; it’s the ten seconds by which you miss the train; it’s the dust that gets in your eyes as you go down to Epsom; it’s the pretty little rose note that went by accident to your house instead of your club, and raised a storm from madame; it’s the dog that always will run wild into the birds; it’s the cook who always will season the white soup wrong — it is these that are the bores of life, and that try the temper of your philosophy.
An acquaintance of mine told me the other day of having lost heavy sums through a swindler, with as placid an indifference as if he had lost a toothpick; but he swore like a trooper because a thief had stolen the steel-mounted hoof of a dead pet hunter.
“Insufferable!” murmured Cecil, hiding another yawn behind his gauntlet; “the Line’s nothing half so bad as this; one day in a London mob beats a year’s campaigning; what’s charging a pah to charging an oyster-stall, or a parapet of fascines to a bristling row of umbrellas?”
Which question as to the relative hardships of the two Arms was a question of military interest never answered, as Cecil scattered the umbrellas right and left, and dashed from the Houses of Parliament full trot with the rest of the escort on the return to the Palace; the afternoon sun breaking out with a brightened gleam from the clouds, and flashing off the drawn swords, the streaming plumes, the glittering breastplates, the gold embroideries, and the fretting chargers.
But a mere sun-gleam just when the thing was over, and the escort was pacing back to Hyde Park barracks, could not console Cecil for fog, wind, mud, oyster-vendors, bad odors, and the uproar and riff-raff of the streets; specially when his throat was as dry as a lime-kiln, and his longing for the sight of a cheroot approaching desperation. Unlimited sodas, three pipes smoked silently over Delphine Demirep’s last novel, a bath well dashed with eau de cologne, and some glasses of Anisette after the fatigue-duty of unharnessing, restored him a little; but he was still weary and depressed into gentler languor than ever through all the courses at a dinner party at the Austrian Embassy, and did not recover his dejection at a reception of the Duchess of Lydiard–Tregoze, where the prettiest French Countess of her time asked him if anything was the matter.
“Yes!” said Bertie with a sigh, and a profound melancholy in what the woman called his handsome Spanish eyes, “I have had a great misfortune; we have been on duty all day!”
He did not thoroughly recover tone, light and careless though his temper was, till the Zu–Zu, in her diamond-edition of a villa, prescribed Crème de Bouzy and Parfait Amour in succession, with a considerable amount of pine-apple ice at three o’clock in the morning, which restorative prescription succeeded.
Indeed, it took something as tremendous as divorce from all forms of smoking for five hours to make an impression on Bertie. He had the most serene insouciance that ever a man was blessed with; in worry he did not believe — he never let it come near him; and beyond a little difficulty sometimes in separating too many entangled rose-chins caught round him at the same time, and the annoyance of a miscalculation on the flat, or the ridge-and-furrow, when a Maldon or Danebury favorite came nowhere, or his book was wrong for the Grand National, Cecil had no cares of any sort or description.
True, the Royallieu Peerage, one of the most ancient and almost one of the most impoverished in the kingdom, could ill afford to maintain its sons in the expensive career on which it had launched them, and the chief there was to spare usually went between the eldest son, a Secretary of Legation in that costly and charming City of Vienna, and the young one, Berkeley, through the old Viscount’s partiality; so that, had Bertie ever gone so far as to study his actual position, he would have probably confessed that it was, to say the least, awkward; but then he never did this, certainly never did it thoroughly. Sometimes he felt himself near the wind when settling-day came, or the Jews appeared utterly impracticable; but, as a rule, things had always trimmed somehow, and though his debts were considerable, and he was literally as penniless as a man can be to stay in the Guards at all, he had never in any shape realized the want of money. He might not be able to raise a guinea to go toward that long-standing account, his army tailor’s bill, and post obits had long ago forestalled the few hundred a year that, under his mother’s settlements, would come to him at the Viscount’s death; but Cecil had never known in his life what it was not to have a first-rate stud, not to live as luxuriously as a duke, not to order the costliest dinners at the clubs, and be among the first to lead all the splendid entertainments and extravagances of the Household; he had never been without his Highland shooting, his Baden gaming, his prize-winning schooner among the R. V. Y. Squadron, his September battues, his Pytchley hunting, his pretty expensive Zu–Zus and other toys, his drag for Epsom and his trap and hack for the Park, his crowd of engagements through the season, and his bevy of fair leaders of the fashion to smile on him, and shower their invitation-cards on him, like a rain of rose-leaves, as one of the “best men.”
“Best,” that is, in the sense of fashion, flirting, waltzing, and general social distinction; in no other sense, for the newest of debutantes knew well that “Beauty,” though the most perfect of flirts, would never be “serious,” and had nothing to be serious with; on which understanding he was allowed by the sex to have the run of their boudoirs and drawing-rooms, much as if he were a little lion-dog; they counted him quite “safe.” He made love to the married women, to be sure; but he was quite certain not to run away with the marriageable daughters.
Hence, Bertie had never felt the want of all that is bought by and represents money, and imbibed a vague, indistinct impression that all these things that made life pleasant came by Nature, and were the natural inheritance and concomitants of anybody born in a decent station, and endowed with a tolerable tact; such a matter-of-fact difficulty as not having gold enough to pay for his own and his stud’s transit to the Shires had very rarely stared him in the face, and when it did he trusted to chance to lift him safely over such a social “yawner,” and rarely trusted in vain.
According to all the canons of his Order he was never excited, never disappointed, never exhilarated, never disturbed; and also, of course, never by any chance embarrassed. “Votre imperturbabilite,” as the Prince de Ligne used to designate La Grande Catherine, would have been an admirable designation for Cecil; he was imperturbable under everything; even when an heiress, with feet as colossal as her fortune, made him a proposal of marriage, and he had to retreat from all the offered honors and threatened horrors, he courteously, but steadily declined them. Nor in more interesting adventures was he less happy in his coolness. When my Lord Regalia, who never knew when he was not wanted, came in inopportunely in a very tender scene of the young Guardsman’s (then but a Cornet) with his handsome Countess, Cecil lifted his long lashes lazily, turning to him a face of the most plait-il? and innocent demureness — or consummate impudence, whichever you like. “We’re playing Solitaire. Interesting game. Queer fix, though, the ball’s in that’s left all alone in the middle, don’t you think?” Lord Regalia felt his own similarity to the “ball in a fix” too keenly to appreciate the interesting character of the amusement, or the coolness of the chief performer in it; but “Beauty’s Solitaire” became a synonym thenceforth among the Household to typify any very tender passages “sotto quartr’ occhi.”
This made his reputation on the town; the ladies called it very wicked, but were charmed by the Richelieu-like impudence all the same, and petted the sinner; and from then till now he had held his own with them; dashing through life very fast, as became the first riding man in the Brigades, but enjoying it very fully, smoothly, and softly; liking the world and being liked by it.
To be sure, in the background there was always that ogre of money, and the beast had a knack of growing bigger and darker every year; but then, on the other hand, Cecil never looked at him — never thought about him — knew, too, that he stood just as much behind the chairs of men whom the world accredited as millionaires, and whenever the ogre gave him a cold grip, that there was for the moment no escaping, washed away the touch of it in a warm, fresh draft of pleasure.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58