“Yes, the ‘Colonel’ has always been a generous paymaster. I attribute much of his success to that–and to his invariable plan of providing a suitable scapegoat. A great brain,undoubtedly a great brain! And an apostle of the maxim, “If you want a thing done safely,do not do it yourself!” Here we are, every one of us incriminated up to the hilt and absolutely in his power, and not one of us has anything on him.”

Professor Beddingfield, was one of England’s greatest living authorities on  Primitive Man. He really was a genius–everyone admits that. His mind dwelt in

Palaeolithic times, and the inconvenience of

life for him was that his body inhabited the

modern world. Papa did not care for modern

man–even Neolithic Man he despised as a

mere herder of cattle, and he did not rise to

enthusiasm until he reached the Mousterian

period.

Unfortunately one cannot entirely dispense

with modern men. One is forced to have some

kind of truck with butchers and bakers and

milkmen and greengrocers. Therefore, Papa

being immersed in the past. Mama having

died when I was a baby, it fell to me to

undertake the practical side of living.

I do not know whether Papa guessed my

feelings on the subject, probably not, and in

any case he would not have been interested.

The opinion of other people never interested

him in the slightest degree. I think it was

really a sign of his greatness. In the same way,

he lived quite detached from the necessities of

daily life. He ate what was put before him in

an exemplary fashion, but seemed mildly

pained when the question of paying for it

arose. We never seemed to have any money.

His celebrity was not of the kind that brought

in a cash return. Although he was a Fellow of

almost every important society and had rows

of letters after his name, the general public

scarcely knew of his existence, and his long

learned books, though adding signally to the

sum-total of human knowledge, had no

attraction for the masses.

I yearned for adventure, for love, for

romance, and I seemed condemned to an

existence of drab utility. The village

possessed a lending library, full of tattered

works of fiction, and I enjoyed perils and

love-making at second hand, and went to

sleep dreaming of stern silent Rhodesians,

and of strong men who always “felled their

opponent with a single blow.” There was no

one in the village who even looked as though

they could “fell” an opponent, with a single

blow or with several.

 

“No, doctor, I’m going to London. If

things happen anywhere, they happen in

London. I shall keep my eyes open and,

you’ll see, something will turn up! You’ll

hear of me next in China or Timbuctoo.”

 

And a few minutes later another phrase

floated up to me, in an even more acid voice:

“I agree with you! She is certainly very goodlooking.”

It

is really a very hard life. Men will not be

nice to you if you are not good-looking, and

women will not be nice to you if you are.

My affairs did not progress very fast. The

house and furniture had been sold, and the

amount realized had just covered our debts.

As yet, I had not been successful in finding a

post. Not that I really wanted one! I had the

firm conviction that, if I went about looking

for adventure, adventure would meet me halfway.

It is a theory of mine that one always

gets what one wants.

My theory was about to be proved in

practice.

Things that one would shrink from

attempting normally are easily tackled in a

flush of anger.

For the first

time, I understood the meaning of the much used

word, “atmosphere.” There was an

atmosphere in this house, an atmosphere of

cruelty, of menace, of evil.

IT is an extraordinary thing that I never

seem to get any peace. I am a man who

likes a quiet life. I like my Club, my

rubber of Bridge, a well-cooked meal, a sound

wine. I like England in the summer, and the

Riviera in the winter. I have no desire to

participate in sensational happenings. Sometimes,

in front of a good fire, I do not object

to reading about them in the newspaper. But

that is as far as I am willing to go. My object

in life is to be thoroughly comfortable. I have

devoted a certain amount of thought, and a

considerable amount of money, to further

that end. But I cannot say that I always

succeed. If things do not actually happen to

me, they happen round me, and frequently,

in spite of myself, I become

involved. I hate

being involved.

Suzanne was more discriminating.

I talked it over with her, and she

put it down to a “fear complex.” Suzanne

goes in rather for psycho-analysis. She

pointed out to me that Sir Eustace’s whole

life was actuated by a desire to be safe and

comfortable. He had an acute sense of self

preservation. And the murder of Nadina removed certain inhibitions.

THAT was two years ago. We still live

on the island. Before me, on the rough

wooden table, is the letter that Suzanne

wrote me.

dear babes in the wood-dear lunatics

IN love,

I’m not surprised—not at all. All the time

we’ve been talking Paris and frocks I felt that

it wasn’t a bit real—that you’d vanish into the

blue some day to be married over the tongs in

the good old gipsy fashion. But you are a

couple of lunatics! This idea of renouncing a

vast fortune is absurd. Colonel Race wanted

to argue the matter, but I have persuaded him

to leave the argument to time. He can

administer the estate for Harry—and none

better. Because, after all, honeymoons don’t

last for ever—you’re not here, Anne, so I can

safely say that without having you fly out at

me like a little wild-cat—Love in the

wilderness will last a good while, but one day

you will suddenly begin to dream of houses in Park Lane, sumptuous furs, Paris frocks, the

largest thing in motors and the latest thing in

perambulators, French maids and Norland

nurses! Oh, yes, you will!

But have your honeymoon, dear lunatics,

and let it be a long one. And think of me

sometimes, comfortably putting on weight

amidst the fleshpots!

Your loving friend,

suzanne blair.

P.S.—I am sending you an assortment of

frying-pans as a wedding present, and an

enormous terrine of pate de foie gras to remind

you of me.

Anne, do you remember saying to me

once that women enjoyed doing the things

they disliked for the sake of someone they

liked?”

Anne, I didn’t want to spoil it all. I

wanted to take you back to the island. What’s

the good of money? It can’t buy happiness.

We’d have been happy on the island. I tell

you I’m afraid of that other life—it nearly

rotted me through once.”

I was afraid of all that sort of thing–

the power and fascination of wealth.

“You will excuse me,” I said, “but I never

do business with anyone but principals.”

I had read the phrase or something like it in

a moneylender’s circular, and I was rather

pleased with it. It certainly had a devastating

effect upon Mr. Chichester-Pettigrew. He

opened his mouth and then shut it again. I

beamed upon him.

“My Great-uncle George’s maxim,” I

added, as an afterthought. “Great-aunt Jane’s

husband, you know. He made knobs for brass

beds.”