During their descent upon the Metropolis
of England, Mr. Walkingshaw and his son were residing
at the Hotel Gigantique, that stately new pile in
Piccadilly, so styled, it is understood, from the bills
presented when you leave. On the morning after
his evening spent with Charlie Munro, they met as
usual at breakfast. Fortunately, the state of
Mr. Walkingshaw’s health did not in the least
seem to justify the forebodings of his friend.
On the contrary, he tackled a fried sole with confidence,
even with ardor, and put a great deal of cream into
“What were you about last night?” he inquired
“I dined with one or two fellows at the Rag,”
“Doesn’t sound very lively,”
observed his father, “that’s to say, at
your age,” he hastened to add; for he still believed
in retaining the confidence of his children.
Frank smiled dreamily. This “bust”
in town was proving less solacing than he had hoped.
Now that he had got here, he found himself too lovelorn
to bust with any relish. At the same time, it
was pleasant and soothing to enjoy each day the society
of so charming a parent. Any disquietude he felt
at the singular nature of the change had been allayed
by one of his friends, an R.A.M.C. man, who assured
him that a serious illness at his father’s time
of life was not infrequently followed by a marked
rejuvenation of the patient; so that he was able to
regard with unqualified gratitude the generosity and
kindness of the truant Writer to the Signet.
“What were you doing yourself?” he inquired
“Dining with Colonel Munro,”
replied his father, truthfully if a trifle meagerly.
He sipped his coffee, and then remarked-
“Poor Charlie Munro is growing
old, I’m afraid. He knocks up very easily.”
He sighed and added, “It’s
a melancholy thing, Frank, my boy, to see one’s
old friends slipping away from one.”
“What! Is he seriously ill?” asked
“Oh, I don’t mean that.
I mean-well, everything has its compensating
disadvantages. Mine is that my contemporaries
are outgrowing me. Charlie and I started the
evening in capital style; he was up to anything, and
I was on for anything. But by the end of the night
we were quite out of sympathy. The fact is, he
is still in the sixties. However, my duty has
been done; I’ve seen him, and that’s over.”
He helped himself to some more fish,
and continued with animation-
“Now I can carry out my idea!
I may or may not set about it the right way, but I
do want to make you all happy Frank.”
It was perhaps well for his continued
equanimity that during the first part of this speech
Frank was lost in contemplation of a singularly vivid
image of Ellen Berstoun. She had a distracting
habit of appearing like that to the young soldier,
of which he was unable to cure her. He started
out of his reverie with the last words.
“My dear father, you’re
the best sportsman I know,” he replied warmly.
Mr. Walkingshaw looked highly gratified
at this compliment.
“That’s what I’m aiming at,”
He leaned over the table and continued confidentially-
“Of course you are happy, Frank.
There’s really nothing Providence could do for
you except put a little money in your pocket, and give
you a good time-eh?”
“What’s the matter? That doesn’t
sound very cheerful.”
“I assure you I’m as cheerful
said Frank heroically.
“I was sure of it. But poor Jean-she’s
got her troubles, eh, Frank?”
Frank warmed up at his sister’s name.
“She has,” he admitted.
Mr. Walkingshaw thoughtfully piled
several slices of bacon on his plate. It would
have reassured Colonel Munro greatly to have seen him.
“I wish I was sure that Vernon was good enough
Frank looked up quickly.
“I don’t think anybody
is quite good enough for Jean; but Lucas Vernon is
really a deuced fine fellow.”
Mr. Walkingshaw still seemed doubtful.
“A bit lazy, I’m afraid.”
“I assure you he’s not,”
said Frank. “He works, sir, like the very
“He can’t sell his pictures,”
replied his father. “I’ll never believe
in an artist till he can sell what he paints.”
“The difficulty for a painter
is to get hold of the right man-the fellow
with the money,” urged Frank.
“That’s a mere matter
of time,” said his father; “they are sure
to meet sooner or later, and then the point is, has
he painted anything worth selling? If Vernon
can manage to prove that, I may begin to believe in
him. If he’s a fraud it is time the thing
was stopped for Jean’s sake.”
He looked much more like the old Heriot
Walkingshaw than he had for some weeks. Then
he smiled, though still with an exceedingly shrewd
“Well,” he concluded, “we’ll