AS IT MAY BE
"My dear." said the duke, pausing in the task of blackleading his Sunday boots, " don't you think 5 we might find time for a little walk this afternoon; iust a simple, inexpensive stroll in the grounds?" (writes J. J. Bell, in "Lloyd's Sunday News").
"Quite impos., Wilfrid," returned the duchess. "As soon as I have got this blanc-mango out of the tin and peeled the potatoes, I must tidy up the scullery and dust what is '.left of the drawing-room, and then I must change my blouse in case the general should' call. Besides, you know, you have got to clean tlie henhouse."
"I hate cleaning the henhouse," the duke said, a little crossly. " I can't see the use of cleaning the henhouse. The hens seem to prefer it dirty, and, anyway, they don't lay n bit faster. Not a d— —d egg to-day ! It's simply rotten !" ,' I
" Swearing wdm't help." remarked her Grace. " Oh, bother this blancmange ! It won't come out !"
" Can't you prise it out with something ?"
" I can't bear to spoil its shape. It's all we've got for din-sup to-night, except the potatoes and that soup tablet; Now where did I put the blessed thing ?"
" In the soap dish," said the duke, pointing. " You put it there to remind you of- something you had forgotten/ "So I did. . . . Oh, this fiendish bl;i.n£ Mange • !.,- Will it never cqrics out?»A: ■■ ' •'•"
'■* can't imagine,"- saict ttie duke, peering closet*, '.'why, I don't get a Better shine" oh these 1 htfots." Aiid ho threw the liriisli into the stOckpot, and .sighed . henrib?. ." Ermyntrude, have you any lioJ!>e that the good old days may Wt'ret&rn; that, for example, we shall once more, in comfort and decendy, <£he ?" "The answer is in the ueg.," replied the duchess, who, with the best intentions. %id once, .stood..for Parliament, only to*4rop £100, thereby finishing the fortunes, of a noble house. "How," slue Went on. "can any sane person hone to dine, in the old sense of tho word, when one's income is next to nothing a year, and .when even a grandmother's help won't, work more than 21 hours a week- :?" '
".And whisky three guineas per bot.! Too true !" wailed his Grace. "Wo can never dine agai^. . . . " Ermyntrude ', no longer do I fear, dissolution!"
"Come, come, cheer up, • Wilfrid ! Things niight bo worse. -.; Remember that our,children arc all.earning money, and, some day, may be able to spare us a little. Also, our old age pensions are not so very far away."
" Well, well," said the duke, "if you can stick it I suppose ■ I must make one moro effort. By the way, isn't there something left in the cellar ? I would fain drink 'a ■ glass to-night with your delishtful blanc-mange."
" I'm afraid we'll have to eat the brute out of the tin—can't think what has gone wrong," said the duchess. "No. Wilfrid; I'm sorry to disappoint you. but there's nothing in the cellar except a *mall bottle of ipecacuanha wine, and I fear it has gone queer.' A
"But—what about the bottle .of famous ' Three Bobs ' brandy laid down by my father in the year ——.?"
"The bottle is there all right,' bi'iL your father, my, poor Wilfrid, must have laid it down carelessly, for it is cracked and empty."
With a majestic gesture of despair, the duke threw up his hands and knocked five pot-lids from their pegs.
Within the instant the blanc-mange came out With-a " flupp," and a bell ranrr loudly.
"Mercy ! it's the front door," cried her Grace, "and me not dressed I"
"I'll go," said,the duke, gallantly
"You can't. The point of your nose is absolutely black !" said the duchess, and hurriedly deposited the blancmange on a convenient chair.
; , "Must.have rubbed'it on a boot. A curse on my ancestors who bequeathed to me little more than a 'long nose and short sight I"
" You'll find turpontine in the larder." said his wife, and ftt«w upstairs.
"To-night," soliliquised the duke, "when I co to bed I shall turn off the gas—and turn.it on again." And with a weary groan he sank slowly upon the nearest chair and "fell asleep.
A few minutes later the 'duchess burst into the scullery, waving a registered letter.
"Wilfrid !" "Oh. don't wake me." he murmured. "I'm so comfortable."
" But-.' Wilfrid; it's the most splendid news."
"I dreamed," came, tho drowsy response, "I was resting on a couch that had no' broken -springs'."
; " Listen ,! Geoffrey lias cot a rise, and has sent us five pounds !" "Five pounds'!" His Grace rose and embraced her ditto. "May Heaven reward the boy ! Ermyhtrude, to-night, after din-sup, we -must' do a picture-house."
"Oh, my poor blanc-mange !" shrieked the.'duchess.
But even as they ga.zed in dismay, tho blanc-mange resumed its pristine shape.
" Squeezed, not squashed I" murmured the duke, quoting the ancestral motto. '
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HIGH LIFE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9589, 19 April 1919
HIGH LIFE. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9589, 19 April 1919
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