Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything


Books Menu

Author Catalog
Title Catalog
Sectioned Catalog


- The Unclassed - 21/74 -

talking, and, as soon as she saw that Waymark had finished, made a sign to him to pay quickly (with a sovereign she pushed across the table) and let them be gone. They rose, accordingly, and left. The man watched them, but remained seated.

"Are you in a hurry to get home?" the girl asked, when they were in the street again.

"No; time is of no consequence to me."

"Do you live far off?"

"In Kennington. And you?"

"If you like, I'll show you. Let us walk quickly. I feel rather cold."

She led the way into the Strand. At no great distance from Temple Bar she turned off into a small court.

"This is a queer place to live in," observed Waymark, as he looked up at the dark houses.

"Don't be afraid," was the good-humoured reply, as she opened the door with a latch-key. They went up two flights of stairs, then entered a room where a bright fire was burning. Waymark's conductor held a piece of paper to the flame, and lit a lamp. It was a small, pleasantly furnished sitting-room.

"Do you play?" Waymark asked, seeing an open piano, with music upon it.

"I only wish I could. My landlady's daughter is giving me lessons. But I think I'm getting on. Listen to me do this exercise."

She sat down, and, with much conscientious effort, went over some simple bars. Then she looked up at her companion and caught him smiling.

"Well," she exclaimed, in a pet, "you must begin at the beginning in everything, mustn't you? Come and let me hear what you can do."

"Not even so much."

"Then don't laugh at a poor girl doing her best. You have such a queer smile too; it seems both ill-natured and good-natured at the same time. Now wait a minute till I come back."

She went into an inner room, and closed the door behind her. In five minutes it opened again. She appeared in a dressing gown and with her feet in slippers. Her fine hair fell heavily about her shoulders; in her arms she held a beautiful black cat, with white throat and paws.

"This is my child. Don't you admire him? Shake hands, Grim."

"Why Grim?"

"It's short for Grimalkin. the name of a cat in a hook of fairy tales I used to be fond of reading. Don't you think he's got a beautiful face, and a good deal more intelligent than some people we could mention? I picked him up on our door-step, two months ago. Oh, you never saw such a wretched little object, dripping with rain, and with such a poor starved little face, and bones almost coming through the skin. He looked up at me, and begged me as plain as plain could be to have pity on him and help him; didn't you, Grimmy? And so I brought him upstairs, and made him comfortable, and now we shall never part.--Do you like animals?"


The door of the room suddenly opened, and there sprang in a fresh-coloured young girl in hat and jacket, short, plump, pretty, and looking about seventeen. She started back on seeing that the room was occupied.

"What is it, Sally?" asked Grim's mistress, with a good-natured laugh.

"Why, Mrs. Walter told me you wasn't in yet; I'm awful sorry, I beg your pardon."

She spoke with a strong south-west-country accent.

"Do you want me?"

"It's only for Grim," returned Sally. showing something which she held wrapped up in paper. "I'd brought un home a bit o' fish, a nice bit without bone; it'll just suit he."

"Then come and give it he," said the other, with a merry glance at Waymark. "But he mustn't make a mess on the hearthrug."

"Oh, trust un for that," cried Sally. "He won't pull it off the paper."

Grim was accordingly provided with his supper, and Sally ran away with a "good-night."

"Who's that?" Waymark asked. "Where on earth does she come from?"

"She's from Weymouth. They talk queerly there, don't they? She lives in the house, and goes to business. Sally and I are great friends."

"Do you come from the country?" Waymark inquired, as she sat down in an easy-chair and watched the cat eating.

"No, I'm a London girl. I've never been out of the town since I was a little child."

"And how old are you now?"


"Not twenty."

"Eighteen a month ago. All my life before me, isn't it?"

Waymark kept silence for a moment.

"How do you like my room?" she asked suddenly, looking round.

"It's very comfortable. I always thought there were nothing but business places all about here. I should rather like to live in the very middle of the town, like this."

"Should you? That's just what I like. Oh, how I enjoy the noise and the crowds! I should be ill if I had to live in one of those long, dismal streets, where the houses are all the same shape, and costermongers go bawling about all day long. I suppose you live in a place like that?"

"Very much the same."

In taking his handkerchief out, Waymark just happened to feel a book in his overcoat-pocket. He drew it forth to see what it was, having forgotten entirely that he had been carrying the volume about with him since morning.

"What's that?" asked the girl. "Will you let me look? Is it a tale? Lend it me; will you?"

"Do you read books?"

"Oh yes; why not? Let me keep this till you come again. Is this your name written here--Osmond Waymark?"

"Yes. And what is your name?"

"Ida Starr."

"Ida? That's a beautiful name. I was almost afraid to ask you, for fear it should be something common."

"And why shouldn't I have a common name?"

"Because you are by no means a common girl."

"You think not? Well, perhaps you are right. But may I keep the book till I see you again?"

"I had better give it you, for it isn't very likely you will see me again."

"Why not?"

"My acquaintance would be anything but profitable to you. I often haven't enough money to live on, and--"

Ida stooped down and played for a few moments with Grim, who turned over lazily on to his back, and stroked his mistress's hands delicately with his soft white paws.

"But you are a gentleman," she said, rising again, and rustling over the pages of the book she still held. "Are you in the city?"

"The Lord deliver me!"

"What then?"

"I am nothing."

"Then you must be rich."

"It by no means follows. Yesterday I was a teacher in a school. To-day I am what is called out of work."

"A teacher. But I suppose you'll get another place."

"No. I've given it up because I couldn't endure it any longer."

"And how are you going to live?"

"I have no idea."

"Then you must have been very foolish to give away your money like that to-night."

"I don't pretend to much wisdom. If I had had another sovereign in my pocket, no doubt I should have given it you before this, and you

The Unclassed - 21/74

Previous Page     Next Page

  1   10   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   30   40   50   60   70   74 

Schulers Books Home

 Games Menu

Dice Poker
Tic Tac Toe


Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything