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Table d'Hôte

Table d'Hôte
Title: Table d'Hôte
Release Date: 2018-06-18
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Table d'Hôte, by W. Pett RidgeThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and mostother parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms ofthe Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org.  If you are not located in the United States, you'll haveto check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.Title: Table d'HôteAuthor: W. Pett RidgeRelease Date: June 18, 2018  [eBook #57349]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK TABLE D'HÔTE***

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TABLE D’HÔTE

 

BY
W. PETT RIDGE

 

HODDER AND STOUGHTON
LONDON      NEWYORK      TORONTO

 

p. ivPrintedin 1911

p. vTABLED’HÔTE

 

 

PAGE

HORS D’ŒUVRES

The Target

17

 

Surroundings

65

 

The Usurper

95

 

The Leading Lady

121

 

Scotter’s Luck

149

 

Young Nuisances

193

JOINTS

Change of Government

1

 

Moving Pictures

25

 

Country Confederates

49

 

Retiring Inspector

75

 

Time’s Methods

131

 

Means of Transport

159

 

My Brother Edward

203

 

Savoir Faire

223

SWEETS

Jules Zwinger

105

 

Irene Mercer

179

SAVOURY

Magnificent Remedies

241

p.viiCONTENTS

 

 

PAGE

I

Change of Government

1

II

The Target

17

III

Moving Pictures

25

IV

Country Confederates

49

V

Surroundings

65

VI

Retiring Inspector

75

VII

The Usurper

95

p. viiiVIII

Jules Zwinger

105

IX

The Leading Lady

121

X

Time’s Method

131

XI

Scotter’s Luck

149

XII

Means of Transport

159

XIII

Irene Mercer

179

XIV

Young Nuisances

193

XV

My Brother Edward

203

XVI

Savoir Faire

223

XVII

Magnificent Remedies

241

p.1I—CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT

p.3Boots!” heroared, for the second time.  His wife, opening the kitchendoor, looked in, and surveyed him.

“If I have to order you,” said Mr. Baynes,speaking with great distinctness, “to come and take off myboots again, I shall dock half a crown off your weekly allowanceto-morrow.”

She did not answer.

“My best plan,” he went on, “will be to drawit all up in black and white, so that we can have a clear andproper understandin’ one with the other.  We must havea proper system of fines, same as they do in every well-regulatedbusiness.  Fetch the pen and ink and paper.”

“How would it be to fetch it for yourself?”

He stared at her amazedly.  Searching his pockets, hefound there a small memorandum-book and a short piece ofpencil.

p.4“I’m going to keep calm with you,” hesaid deliberately, “because, so far as I can see,you’ve taken leave, for the present, of your senses. You’ll be sorry for it when you come back to’em.  Now then, let’s make out a list. ‘For not answering when called, oneshilling.’”

He wrote this carefully on a page, regarding it withsatisfaction at the finish.  “See what thatmeans?  That means, for every time you pretend to be deafwhen I shout at you, you’ll be docked a bob at the end ofthe week.”

“I see.”

“Just as well you do,” remarked Baynesthreateningly.  “We will now proceed to the next item:‘Food not cooked to W. B.’s satisfaction,one-and-six.’  How many t’s in‘satisfaction’?”

“Many as you like.”

“Impudence,” he continued, writing as he spoke,“one-and-three.  Wait a bit; I haven’t finishedyet.  ‘Clean collar not ready when required,sixpence.’”

“There won’t be anything left,” mentionedhis wife, “if you put many more down.”

“Rests with you,” giving a careless gesture. “All you’ve got to do is to see that none of theserules are broken.  I shall take the trouble presently ofcopying out the list, and you’ll do well to stick it up onthe wall in some prominent position, so that you can p. 5be reminded ofit several times in the course of the day.”

“And when any of my relatives look in they can see ittoo?”

“Reminds me,” he said, taking his pencilagain.  “‘Relations, two a month.  All inexcess of this number, fourpence per relation.’  Takethe list and read it out to me, and then kneel down and take offmy boots as I ordered you to do some considerable timeago.”

Mrs. Baynes accepted the list, inspected it; then tore thepage into several pieces and threw these into thefireplace.  In the pocket of an underskirt she found apurse, and from this brought four new banknotes.

“Have a good look at them, William,” shesaid.  “You won’t get a chance of seeing themagain.  I’m just going along to the Post Office to putthem away before it closes.”

“How—how did you come by them?”

“I’m not bound to answer you,” remarked Mrs.Baynes, “but perhaps I may as well.  The money hascome to me from poor Uncle Ernest, who popped off lastmonth.  He’s left a sim’lar amount to my twosisters.”

“You was his favourite,” said Baynes, “andif he’d got money to leave—and this is the firstI’ve heard of it—he ought to have left it all toyou.  I must have a glance at his will and see whether wecan’t dispute it.”

“You’ll do nothing of the kind.”

p. 6“Inany case,” he went on, “there is, I’m bound toadmit, a very decent little nest-egg for us.”

“Not for us.  For me,” corrected Mrs.Baynes.  “It belongs to me and only to me.  Youhaven’t anything to do with it.”

“I’ve heard,” he remarked, “of suddenriches affecting the brain, but this is the first time I’veactually come across such an instance.”  He bent andstarted to unlace his boots.  “We’ll talk thematter over again later on.  By the by,” relacing hisboots, “there’s no reason why you should go out on awet night like this and catch your death of cold. I’ll trot along to the Post Office for you.  I’mmore used to handling money than what you are.”

“That’s been the case hitherto,” sheadmitted, “but I must learn how to do it now.  Youstay here and enjoy your pipe, and when I come back I’lltell you how you’ve got to behave to me in thefuture.”

“I suppose,” he inquired with some bitterness,“I’ve got your precious sisters to thank for allthis?”

“No,” she answered, “poor UncleErnest.”

Baynes, on the following morning, before proceeding to work,denied himself the luxury of issuing commands to his wife fromthe front gate in a tone of voice that could be heard byneighbours; instead he p. 7blew a kiss in her direction andwalked off, whistling in a thoughtful way.  Later in the dayhe brought home the proportion of his weekly wage and placed iton the mantelpiece, announcing no deductions and giving nowarning to make it last out.  He tried to assist his wife inthe performance of domestic duties, persisting in this until shebegged him to go out into the park and give her a chance offinishing the work.  On the next day he accompanied her tochapel in the evening, and borrowed threepence from her to putinto the plate.  Meeting two or three friends on the wayback, he declined their invitations and went home with his wife,discussing the sermon and the singing.  In response to herappeal he agreed to abstain on future occasions from joining inthe hymns.  The Sunday paper was still on the hat-stand, andon entering the house he asked whether she would mind if he had alook at it during supper, his general habit being to secure thejournal and keep it for his own use throughout the day.

“This is very nice and comfortable,” he said,after the meal.  “Somehow, that little legacy ofyours, if you’ll pardon the expression, my dear, seems tome likely to prove a blessing in disguise.”

“No disguise about it.”

“You don’t quite follow me,” he remarkedpatiently.  “What I mean is that it’s going p. 8to have biggerresults than I at first anticipated.  Of course, it’sa pity there isn’t more of it.”

“Seeing that I never expected nothing—”

“Quite so, quite so.  Only that the Post Officepays such a trifling rate of interest.”

“The money’s safe there,” she interrupted,“that’s the great thing.”

“I should be the last to recommend anything thatwasn’t perfectly and absolutely sound,” declaredBaynes.  “We’re on good terms with each othernow, and your interests are my interests.  We two are one,so to speak.  Only that, getting about as I do, I keep myears open—”

“Listeners never hear any good of themselves.”

“But sometimes they hear good about other matters. Two chaps were talking on the tramcar last week, and I wassitting just at the back.  Jockeys from the look of’em.  They didn’t know I was taking in all theywere saying, and they talked quite freely to each other, just asI might to you in this room.  Vinolia was what they werechatting about.”

“Old Brown Windsor is as good as anything.”

“Vinolia, it appears,” he continued, “isbeing kept very dark, but the owner’s made an arrangement,so far as I could gather, for it to win the race it’srunning in next p.9week, and no one except those that are in thestable—  Why, bless my soul, if this isn’t therummiest coincidence I ever come across in all my borndays.  I’m talking to you about Vinolia, and here myeye lights on the very name.  Thirty-three to one. Let’s see what it says about it.  ‘Vinoliaappears to stand no earthly chance, and we are at a loss tocomprehend why the owner should take the trouble to runhim.’”

“What does thirty-three to one mean, William?”

“Thirty-three to one means,” he explained,“that if you handed me your money and I placed it for you,and Vinolia came in first, you’d get thirty-three times theamount, together with your original money, back.  But therisk is a jolly sight too great, and I recommend you, speaking asa friend, to have nothing whatever to do with it.  Besides,with me, it’s a matter of principle.  I object togambling in toto.  I look on gambling as one of thecurses of the country.  People win money at it, and itthor’ly demoralises ’em.  They bring offsomething successful that means they’ve cleared as much asthey could earn by honest labour in six or seven weeks, perhapsmore; consequence is that they get altogether unhinged. Upsets ’em.  Knocks ’em off the main line. So my advice to you, old girl, is to put what I’ve beensaying clean out of your head, and not p. 10trouble any further about it. After all, supposing you had thirty-three times as much asyou’ve got at present, it doesn’t by any means followyou’d be thirty-three times as happy.  That’sthe way you’ve got to look at it!”

“But supposing—”

“My dear,” he said, putting down the newspaper,“we’ve been getting on particular well together thislast forty-eight hours or so; don’t let us begin arguingand spoil it.  I’ve been into the law of the matter,and I find I’ve got no right to touch your money in any waywhatsoever, but it’s my positive duty to see that youdon’t do anything silly and stupid with it.”

“It’s mine to do what I like with.”

“Let’s change the subject,” urged Baynes,“and have a nice talk over old times.  When do youreckon it was you first felt drawn towards me?”

Mrs. Baynes brought downstairs an hour later her Post Officebook, and announced that she had been giving five minutes ofserious thought to the matter.  Seemed to her that here wasa chance of a lifetime, and to neglect it would only meanperpetual remorse.  He pointed out once more the seriousrisks run by those who backed horses, and submitted a largenumber of objections.  These she brushed aside.  Onasking how she proposed to set about backing Vinolia, p. 11it wasadmitted that here his help would be required.  Baynesdeclared he intended to take no share or part in theundertaking.

“Very well, then,” she said, “I shall haveto make inquiries and see about doing it myself.”

“Rather than you should be taken in by a set ofrogues,” he conceded, “I’ll do as youwish.  But, mind you, I’m acting in entire oppositionto my better judgment!”

 

Baynes, back from work on the day of the race, found his wifewaiting at the front gate, tapping at it impatiently;

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