The Project Gutenberg eBook, Mixed Grill, 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: Mixed GrillAuthor: W. Pett RidgeRelease Date: August 16, 2018 [eBook #57704]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIXED GRILL***
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W. PETT RIDGE
AUTHOR OF “MORD EM’LY,”ETC.
“If you can’t make up your mind whatto
order,” said the City waiter, “how about trying
the mixed grill? You may not like all of it, but
what you don’t care for you can easily leave!”
HODDER AND STOUGHTON
NEW YORK AND LONDON
Third Person Singular
A Benevolent Character
The Wonderful Start
Price of James McWinter
A Case of Suspicion
Question of Temperature
Hero of Hammerton Street
Damages for Libel
The Rest Cure
Reward for Courage
I met him when I was in town at aparty, where he and I were about the only grownups; he took agood deal of trouble over the youngsters, doing conjuring tricksto amuse them, and singing songs at the pianoforte that made themlaugh. Later in the evening, when some of the kids had beenfetched, he and I became friendly, and we had a most interestingchat. He agreed with my views regarding the Australian teamof the previous summer; he was in full sympathy concerning thedifficulty of making one pair of white gloves do for twoevenings. I asked for his name and address.
“Don’t think I have a card to spare, oldchap,” he said, in his easy way. “Daresay weshall meet again.”
“I’d awfully like to make sure of it,” I
“That’s a different matter. Here’s apencil; write it on something. Or allow me. I’mcoming back here at ten,” he went on. “Youwon’t be gone before that, I hope?”
“I must,” I replied. “My governesswill call at half-past nine to take me home.”
“What an existence we men about town do live, to besure. Always hurrying from one place to another.”
“If my mother writes to you, Mr. Cartwright,” Isaid, offering my hand, “you won’t fail to comealong.”
My mater is peculiar; she has a fixed and permanent idea thatany suggestion coming from me must necessarily be overruled andtreated as of no serious importance; I fancy this comes from thefeeling, often expressed by her, that she has to be both fatherand mother. It is rather a lonely life for her, with onlymy governess and the servants for company. I have heard themaids saying more than once to each other that they wonderedmistress did not marry again. “She could well affordto,” remarked cook.
p. 3I dothink I showed cleverness and tact—something very like highdiplomacy. I reminded my mother of the parties I hadattended, and said I felt glad there was no necessity for us tohave our house turned upside down and to give an evening inreturn. At lunch time I referred to the matter again. Later I said good-night to her, and once more made similarallusion to the subject.
Cards of invitation went out the next day, and my governessstarted on the preparation of a charade. My governess isnot, if I may say so, possessed of incredible cleverness, andafter writing out the charade and starting rehearsals, she foundshe had forgotten the word, and as no one could guess it, and sheappeared unable to think of another, it became evident that wecould not rely upon this as a source of entertainment. Itwas then I announced to my mother that I had already sent a noteto a friend of mine, a man whose equal for entertaining a partywas rarely encountered, and that I expected a reply from him inthe course of a post or two. She blamed me for taking thestep without asking permission, and praised me for coming to therescue with such an excellent idea.
“Yes, mother. Do you know him?”
“I don’t think I have met the name.”
When Mr. Cartwright’s postcard arrived, and the maid putit by the side of my plate, my mother, glancing down the tablebefore opening her own letters, asked quickly from whom it hadcome, and when I told her she contradicted me, quoting, ratherexcitedly, the usual Biblical and historical cases where severepunishment had been given for the telling of lies, orcommendation awarded for the statement of exact truth. Iventured to repeat the information, and passed the card to her asa document in support; she looked at it, cried a little, andasked me to forgive her for being so cross. I begged hernot to mention it.
“Just for the moment,” she explained, “ittook me back about twelve years.”
“Before my time, mother?”
“Yes. You were not thought of then. Doesyour friend sign himself Cartwright?”
“My dear mother, how else could he signhimself?”
“Send him another line, and say that your
“You must tell me how to spell some of the words,”I said.
The carriage was to meet some of the guests who came fromLondon, and I went down to the station myself and arranged withone of the cabmen there, so that Mr. Cartwright should be broughtup alone and without being crowded by the children. Mymother said I could ask him to stay the night, and ordered a roomat the hotel; but he wrote to say he had another engagement intown, and he desired to catch the seven fifty-four back. Iremarked that this showed how popular he was in society; mymother gave a word approving businesslike habits. It seemedexactly like Mr. Cartwright that he should arrive in the cab atthe precise hour arranged.
“Had a good journey?” I cried, running to him inthe hall as he was getting out of his thick overcoat. “I was afraid, somehow, that you’d back out of it atthe last moment.”
“Never disappoint the public,” he repliedcheerfully. “Sometimes I disappoint myself, but thatis another matter.”
“Brought down a figure; thought perhaps a littleventriloquism would be a novelty.”
“Anything you do will be sure to be appreciated. I’ve been thinking ever since I met you of the perfectlysplendid way you entertained at that party.”
“And I do feel it’s most awfully kind of you tocome all this distance just to oblige me. Let’s goupstairs, shall we, Mr. Cartwright? I’ll take you tothe room that used to be called the nursery.”
He got rid of his overcoat there, and, asking me for a pair ofscissors, went carefully with them around the edge of his shirtcuffs. I inquired whether he had been going out to manyparties since I last saw him: he replied that he had no right tocomplain; there were plenty of exceedingly clever people aboutand he could only regard himself as cleverish. I exhibitedthe soldiers that mother had given me for my birthday. Hetook the blue men, I took the red, and he was Napoleon and IWellington. We sat upon the floor, and he was so very goodas to show me exactly what happened at the battle of
“But, Mr. Cartwright, how is it you know so much aboutthis?” He was moving some dominoes up from the rightto represent the approach of Blucher and the German troops.
“Used to be a soldier man,” he replied.
“Why ever didn’t you stay in the army, and becomea Field Marshal?”
“By Jove!” he cried, “that would have been arattling good idea. Wonder I didn’t think of it atthe time.”
“Is it too late now?”
“Surely not,” he answered promptly, “forsuch an exceptionally fortunate person as I am. Anyway, sofar as 1815 is concerned, Blucher, you see, had Grouchy tocompete with—this double-six is Grouchy, with thirty-fivethousand men—but Blucher outmarched him, came up,and—” He swept the rest of his blue men downwith a wave of the hand, and hummed “Rule,Britannia.”
I expressed a wish that he had selected the reds, so that hemight have won; but he
“Lent my watch to a relative,” he mentioned. “A rather distant relative; but I see a good deal of him,from the waist upwards.”
And he went to the mantelpiece to inspect the clock.
“Little man,” in a sharp voice, “who isthis?”
“That? Oh, that’s dear mother.”
He looked at it closely, whistled a tune softly.
“I shall have to catch an earlier train,” heannounced suddenly. “I’m sorry. You makemy apologies to every one, and say the muddle was entirelymine.”
“But you can’t, Mr. Cartwright. There’s nothing before the six minutes to eight.”
My governess came in, and he replaced the frame quickly. My governess has sometimes complained that the house is lackingin male society; she took advantage of this opportunity to talkwith great vivacity, and, in tones very different from those sheuses in p.9addressing me, inquired with affectation concerning thetheatres in town, and entertainments generally. Fearing shewould try Mr. Cartwright’s patience, as she has often triedmine, I endeavoured to detach her; but the task proved one beyondmy abilities, and she went on to submit, with deference, thatwhat was required was an increase of merriment in life, a viewthat, coming from her, amazed me into silence. Mr.Cartwright answered that in his opinion life was full ofrollicking fun, completely furnished with joy.
“What a gift,” cried my governess, “to beable always to see the cheerful side! It means, of course,that you have been singularly free from anything likedisaster. Tell me, now, what is the nearest to a sadexperience that you ever had?”
“I expect we ought to be getting downstairs,” heremarked.
In the hall I introduced Mr. Cartwright, with pride, to mymother.
“Charmed to meet you,” she said, offering herhand. My mother can be very pleasant, and if, at themoment, she gave signs of agitation, it was not to be wonderedat; I myself felt nervous. “My boy tells me that
“I was glad,” he said, “to find he had notforgotten me. It isn’t everybody who has a goodmemory.”
“It isn’t everybody who cares to possessone,” she said, with some spirit. “I have heardof cases where men forget their real names.”
“I have heard of cases,” he remarked, “wherewomen have been in a great hurry to change theirs.”
It struck me they were not hitting it off, as one might say,and I took his hand and led him into the drawing-room, where thechildren were having refreshment between the dances. Hemade himself at home with them at once, danced a quadrille withthe smallest girl, consulted with my governess about the playingof some accompaniments, and amused her by a remark which hemade. A man who could make my governess laugh was a mancapable of anything. Going to the end of the room, he tooka figure of a boy in a Tam o’ Shanter cap out of his bag,and, setting it upon his knee,