Hide and Seek | Wilkie Collins | Literary Fiction | Soundbook | English | 2/10

Hide and Seek | Wilkie Collins | Literary Fiction | Speaking Book | English | 4/10



book one chapter ten of hide-and-seek by will he Collins this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Anna Simone mr. Bligh's drawing Academy when the week of the lay had elapsed and when mrs. Blythe felt strong enough to receive company in a room Valentine sent the promised invitation to Zack which summoned him to his first drawing lesson the locality in which the family drawing Academy was to be held deserves a word of preliminary notice it formed the narrow world which bounded by day and night alike the existence of the painters wife by throwing down a petition wall mrs. Blythe room had been so enlarged as to extend along the whole breadth one side of the house measuring from the front to the back garden windows considerable as the space was which had been does obtained every part of it from floor to ceiling was occupied by objects of beauty proper to the sphere in which they were placed some solid and serviceable wear usefulness was demanded others lights and elegant wear ornament alone was necessary and all one gloriously by Valentine's brush by the long loving unselfish industry of many years mrs. Blythe bed like everything else that she used in a room was so arranged as to offer her the most perfect comfort and luxury attainable in her suffering condition the framework was broad enough to include within its dimensions the couch for day and a bed for night her reading easel and work table could be moved within reach in whatever position she lay immediately above her hung an extraordinary complication of loose cords which ran through ornamental pulleys of the quaintest kind fixed at different places in the ceiling and communicating with the Bell the door and a pane of glass in the window which opened easily on hinges these were Valentine's own contrivance 'as to enable his wife to summon attendants admit visitors and regulate the temperature of a room at will by merely pulling at any one of the loops hanging within reach of her hand and neatly labeled with tablets inscribed bell door/window the courts comprising this rigging for infant use were at least five times more numerous than was necessary for the purpose they were designed to serve but mrs. Blythe would never allow them to be simplified by dexterous hands clumsy as their arrangement might appear to others in her eyes it was without a fold every useless quote was sacred from the reforming knife for Valentine's sake in present to one room as she had now been for years she'd not lost her natural womanly interest in a little occupations and events of household life from the studio to the kitchen she managed everyday through channels of communication invented by herself to find out the latest domestic news to be present in spirit at least if not embody at family consultations which could not take place in a room to know exactly how her husband was getting on downstairs with his pictures to rectify in time any omission of which mr. Blythe or Madonna might be guilty in making the dinner arrangements or in sending orders it tradespeople to keep the servants attentive to their work and to indulge or control them as the occasion might require neither by look nor manner that she betray any of the son listlessness or fretful impatience sometimes attendant on long incurable illness her voice low as its tones where was always cheerful and varied musically and pleasantly with her varying thoughts on her days of weakness when she suffered much on her malady she was accustomed to be quite still and quiet and to keep her room darkened these being the only signs by which any increase in her disorder could be detected by those about her she never complained when the bad symptoms came on and never voluntarily admitted even on being questioned that the spine was more painful to her than usual she was dressed very prettily for the opening night of the drawing Academy wearing a delicate lace cap and a new silk gown of Valentine's choosing made fool enough to hide the initiation of her figure her husband's love faithful through fliction and change to the girlish image of its first worship still affectionately exact it from her as much attention to the graces and luxuries of dress as she might have bestowed on them of her own accord in the best and gayest days of youth and health she had never looked happier and better in any new gown than in that which mr. Blythe had insisted on giving her to commemorate the establishment of the domestic drawing school in her own room seven o'clock had been fixed as the hour at which the business of the Academy was to begin always punctual wherever his professional engagements were concerned Valentine put the finishing touch to his preparations as the clock struck and purging himself gaily on a corner of mrs. supplies couch surveyed his drawing boards his lamps and a plaster cast set up for his pupils to draw from with bland artistic triumph now Levy he said before Zac comes and confuses me I'll just check off all the drawing things one after another to make sure that nothing's left downstairs in the studio which ought to be up here as her husband said these words mrs. Blythe touched Madonna gently on the shoulder for some little time the girl had been sitting thoughtfully with her head bend down her cheek resting on her hand and a bright smile just parting her lips very prettily the affliction which separated her from the worlds of hearing and speech which set her apart among her fellow creatures a solitary living being in his fear of death silence that others might approach but might never enter gave it touching significance to the deep meditative stillness that often passed over her suddenly even in the Society of her adopted parents and of friends who were all talking around her sometimes the thoughts by which he was thus absorbed thoughts only indicated to others by the shadow of their mysterious presence moving in the expression that passed over her face held her alone under their influence sometimes they seemed to die away in her mind almost as suddenly as they had arisen to life in it it was one of Valentine's many eccentric fancies that she was not meditating at such times as these but that deaf and dumb but she was with the creatures of this world she could talk with the angels and could hear what the heavenly voice is said to her and return the moment she was touched on the shoulder she looked up and nestled close to her adopted mother who passing one arm round her neck explained to her by means of the manual signs of the deaf and dumb alphabet what Valentine was saying at that moment nothing was more characteristic of my supplies warm sympathies and affectionate consideration for Madonna than this little action the kindest people rarely think it necessary however well practiced in communicating by the fingers with the Deaf to keep them informed of any ordinary conversation which may be proceeding at their presence why is disquisitions witty sayings curious stories are conveyed to their minds by sympathizing friends and relatives as a matter of course but the little chatting nothings of everyday talk which most pleasantly and constantly employ our speaking and address our hearing faculties are thought to slight and fugitive in their nature to be worthy of transmission by interpreting fingers or pens and are consequently seldom or never communicated to the deaf no deprivation attending their affliction is more severely felt by them and the special deprivation which doesn't ooze and which excels their sympathies in a great measure from all share in the familiar social interests of life around them mrs. Bly is kind hard quick intelligence and devoted affection for her adopted child had long since impressed on her as the first of duties and pleasures to prevent Madonna from feeling the excluding influences of her calamity while in the Society of others by keeping her well informed of every one of the many conversations with a jesting or earnest that were held in her presence in the invalid room for years and years past miss Bligh's nimble fingers have been accustomed to interpret all that was set by her bedside before the deaf and dumb girl as they were interpreting for her now just stop me Alavi if I miss anything out there making sure that I've got all that's wanted for every drawing lesson said Valentine preparing to reckon up the list of his materials correctly by placing his right forefinger on his left thumb first there's the statue that all my students are to draw from the dying gladiator secondly that drawing boards and paper thirdly the black and white chalk fourthly where are the poor crayons to hold the chalk down in the painting room of course no no don't trouble Madonna to fetch them tell her to poke the fire instead I'll be back directly and mr. Blythe skipped out of the rooms nimbly as if he had been 15 instead of 50 no sooner was Valentine's back turned that mrs. plights hand was passed under the prettiest ones down coverlet that lay over her couch as if in search of something hidden beneath it in a moment the hand reappeared holding a talk drawing very neatly framed it was Madonna's copy from the head of the Venus de Medici the same copy which Zack had honored with his most superlative exaggeration of praise at his last visit to the studio she had not since forgotten or altered her purpose of making him a present of the drawing which had admired so much it had been finished with the utmost care and completeness which he could bestow upon it have been put into a very pretty frame which he had paid for out of her own little savings of pocket money and was now hidden under mrs. plights coverlet to be drawn forth as a grand surprise for Zack and for a Valentine to all at the very evening after looking once or twice backwards and forwards between the copyist and the copy her pale kind face beaming with the quiet merriment that overspread it was supplied laid down the drawing and began talking with her fingers to Madonna so you will not even let me tell Valentine who this is a present fool were the first words which he signed the girl was sitting with her back half turned on the drawing glancing it quickly from time to time with a strange shyness and indecision as if the work of her own hands had undergone some transformation which made her doubt whether she was any longer privileged to look at it she shook her head in reply to the question just put her then moved round suddenly on her chair her fingers playing nervously with the fringes of the coverlet at her side we all like Zach preceded mrs. Blythe enjoying the amusement which are womanly instincts extracted from Madonna's confusion but you must like him very much love to take more pains with this particular drawing than with any drawing you ever did before this time Madonna neither looked up nor moved an inch in her chair her fingers working more and more nervously amid the fringe her treach's cheeks neck and bosom answered for her mrs. Blythe touched her shoulder gaily and after placing the drawing again under the coverlet made her look up while signing these words I shall give the drawing to Zac very soon after he comes in it is sure to make him happy for the rest of the evening and fonder of you than ever Madonna's eyes followed mrs. blights fingers eagerly to the last letter they formed then rose softly to her face with the same wistful questioning look which they are assumed before Valentine years and years ago when he first interfered to protect her in the Traveling Circus there was such an irresistible tenderness in a faint smile that wavered about her lips such as sadness of innocent beauty on her face now growing a shade paler that it was want to be that mrs. blinds expression the game series the instant their eyes met she drew the girl forward and kissed her the case was returned many times with a passionate warmth and eagerness remarkably at fir Ryan's with the usual gentleness of all Madonna's actions what had changed her thus before it was possible to inquire or to think she had broken away from the kind arms that were round her and was kneeling with her face hidden in the pillows that lay over the head of the couch I must quiet her directly I ought to make her feel that this is wrong sup mrs. Blythe to herself looking startled and grieved as she withdrew her hand wet with tears after trying vainly to raise the girl's face from the pillows she's been thinking too much lately too much about that drawing too much I'm afraid about Zach just at that moment mr. Blythe opened the door feeling the slight shock as he let it bang after entering Madonna instantly started up and rented the fireplace Valentine did not notice her when he came in he puzzled about the neighborhood of the dying gladiator talking incessantly arranging his poured crayons by the drawing board and trimming the lamps that hit the model mrs. Blythe cast many an anxious look towards the fireplace after the lapse of a few minutes Madonna turned round and came back to the couch the traces of Tears are almost entirely disappeared from her face she made a little appealing gesture that asked mrs. Blythe to be silent about what had happened while they were alone kissed as a sign that she wished to be forgiven the hand that was held out there and then set down quietly again in her accustomed place at the same moment her voice was heard talking and laughing boisterously in the hall then followed along whispering succeeded by a burst of giggling from the housemaid who presently ascended to mrs. blights room alone and entered after an explosion of suppressed laughter behind the door holding out at arm's length a pair of boxing gloves if you please sir said the girl addressing Valentine and tittering hysterically at every third word master's ex downstairs on the landing and he says you're to be so kind as put on these things he's putting another pair on his self and given the pleasure of your company for a few minutes in the painting room come on Blythe cried the voice from the stairs I told you I should bring the gloves and make a fighting man of you last time I was here you know come on I don't know want to open your chest by knocking you about a little in the painting room before it begins a draw the servant still held the gloves away from her the full stretch of her arm as if she feared they were yet alive with the pugilistic energies that had been imparted to them by their last wear mrs. Blythe burst out laughing Valentine followed her example the housemaid began to look bewildered and back to know if her master would be so kind as to take the things away from her did you say come upstairs continued the voice outside all right I have no objection if mrs. Blythe hasn't hears that came in with his boxing gloves fitted on how are you Blythe these are the pills for that sluggers old liver of yours that you're always complaining of put them on stand with your left leg forward keep your right leg easily bent and fix your eye on me hold your tongue cried mr. Blythe at last recovering breath enough to assert his dignity as master of the new drawing school take off those things directly what do you mean sir by coming into my Academy which is devoted to the peaceful arts in the attitude of a prizefighter don't lose your temper My dear fellow rejoined slack you'll never learn to use your fists prettily if you do here patty the boxing lessons put off till tomorrow take the gloves upstairs into your masters dressing room and put them in a drawer where his clean shirts are because they must be kept nice and dry shake hands mrs. Blythe it is one good to see you laugh like that you look so much the better for it and how's Madonna I'm afraid she's been sitting before the fire and trying to spoil her pretty complexion why what's the matter with her poor little darling her hands are quite cold come to your lesson sir directly said Valentine assuming his most despotic voice and leading the disorderly student by the color to his appointed place hello cried Zack looking at the dying gladiator the gentleman in plasters making her face our afraid he isn't quite well I say Blythe is that a statue of an ancient Greek patient suffering another prescription of an ancient Greek physician will you hold your tongue and take up your drawing board cried mr. Blythe you young barbarian you deserve to be expelled my academy for talking in that way of that dying gladiator now then where's Madonna no stop where you are I'll show her her place and give her the drawing board wait a minute levy let me prop you up comfortably with the pillows before you begin there I never saw a more beautiful effect of light and shape idea and there is on your view of the model has everybody got a poor crayon and two bits of chalk yes everybody has order order order shouted Valentine suddenly forgetting his assumed dignity in the exultation at the moment mr. Blythe drawing Academy for the promotion of family art is now open and ready for general inspection hooray hooray echoed Zack hooray for family art I say Blythe which talk do I begin with the white or the black the black I do I start with the what's-his-name's wry face and her so where I might begin with his eyes or his nose or his mouth or the top of his hat or the bottom of his chin or what first sketch in the general form with a light and flowing stroke and without attention to details Missa Blythe illustrating these directions by waving his hand gracefully about his own person then measure with the I assisted occasionally by the port crayon the proportion of the parts then put dots on the paper a dot where his head comes another dot wears elbows and knees come and so forth then strike it all in boldly it's impossible to give you better advice than that strike it in Zack strike it in boldly here goes at his head and shoulders to begin with zette Zack taking one comprehensive and confident look at the dying gladiator and drawing a huge half circle with a preliminary flourish of his hand on the paper Oh confound it I've broken the chalk of course you have retorted Valentine take another bit the academy groans supplementary talk to ignorant students who dig their lines on the paper instead of drawing them now break off a bit of that breadcrumb and rub out what you've done buy a penny loaf and wrap it all out mr. fusilli once said to me in the schools of the Royal Academy when I showed him my first drawing and was excessively conceited about it I remember except mrs. Blythe well my father was working at his grade engraving for mrs. Campbell's picture of the fair Gleaner surprised that he used often to say how much harder his art was then drawing because you couldn't drop out a fall's line on copper like he could on paper we all thought he never would get that print done he used to groan over it so in the front drawing-room where he was then at work and the publishers paid him infamously all in bills which he had to get discounted and the people who gave him money cheated him my mother said it served him right her being always so imprudent which I thought very hard on him and I took his part so harassed too as he was by the tradespeople at that time I can feel for him my love said Valentine pointing a piece of chalk for Zack the trades people have harassed me not because I could not pay them certainly but because I could not add up their bills never Oh any man enough Zack to give him the chance of punishing you for being in his death with a sum to do in simple addition at the time when I had bills go on with your drawing you can listen and draw – I used of course to think it necessary to check the tradespeople and see that their total was right he will hardly believe me but I don't remember ever making the somewhat the shop made it on more than about three occasions and what was worse if I tried a second time I could not even get it to agree with what I made it myself the first time thank heaven are no difficulties of that sort to grapple with now everything's paid for the moment it comes in if the butcher hands a leg of mutton to the cook over the area railings the cook hands him back six and nine or whatever it is it takes his bill receipt I eat my dinners now with a bless of conviction that they won't all disagree with me in arithmetic appoint of view at the end of the year what are you stopping and scratching your head for in that way hey it's no use replied Zack I've tried it a dozen times and I find I can't draw a gladiators nose can't cried mr. Blythe what do you mean by applying the word can't to any process of art in my presence there that's the line of the gladiators nose go over it yourself with this fresh piece of chalk now wait a minute come here first and see how Madonna is striking in the figure the front view of it remember which is the most difficult she hasn't worked as as usual though do you find your view of the model a little too much for you my love continued Valentine transferring the last words to his fingers to communicate them to Madonna she shook her head in answer it was not the difficulty of drawing from the cast before her but the difficulty of drawing at all which was retarding her progress her thoughts would wander to the copy of the Venus de Medici that was hidden under mrs. Blythe's coverlet would vibrate between trembling eagerness to see it presented without longer delay and groundless apprehension that Zach might after all not remember it or not care to have it when it was given to him and as our thoughts wandered so her eyes followed them now she still anxious inquiring look mrs. Blythe to see if her hand was straying too it's the hidden drawing now she glanced shyly at Zach only by moments at a time and only when he was hardest at work with his port crayon to assure herself that he was always in the same good humor and likely to receive her little present kindly and with some appearance of being pleased to see what pains she had taken with it in this way her attention wandered incessantly from her employment unless it was that she made so much less progress unusual and caused mr. Blythe to suspect that the task he'd set her was almost beyond her abilities splendid beginning isn't it that Zach looking over her drawing I defy the whole royal academy to equal it continued the young gentleman scrolling this uncompromising expression of opinion on the blank space at the bottom of Madonna's drawing and signing his name with a magnificent flourish at the end his arm touched her shoulder while he wrote she color little and glanced at him playfully affecting to look very proud of his sentence of approval then hurriedly resumed her drawing as their eyes met he was sent back to his place by Valentine before he could write anything more she took some of the breadcrumb near her to her about what he had written hesitated as her hand approached the lines colored more deeply than before and went on with her drawing leaving letters beneath it to remain just as young soul but raised them I shall never be able to draw as well as she does said Zach looking at a little he had done with a groan of despair the fact is I don't think groans my 40 it's color depend upon it only wait till I come to that and see how a lay on the paint didn't you find drawing in friendly difficult Blythe when you first began I find it difficult still master Zach replied mr. Blythe art wouldn't be the glorious thing it is if it wasn't all difficulty from beginning to end if it didn't force out all the fine points in a man's character as soon as he takes to it just eight o'clock continued Valentine looking at his watch put down your drawing boards for the present I pronounced the sitting of this Academy to be suspended till after T Valentine dear said mrs. Blythe smiling mysteriously as she slipped her hand under the coverlet of the couch I can't get Madonna to look at me and I want her here will you oblige me by bringing her to my bedside certainly my love returned mr. Blythe but being the request you have a double claim on my services tonight for you've shown yourself the most promising of my pupils come here Zack and see what mrs. Blythe has done the best drawing of the evening just what I thought it would be the best drawing of the evening Zack who had been yawning disconcertingly over his own copy with his fists stuck into his cheek and his elbows on his knees wrestled up to the couch directly as he approached Madonna tried to get back to her former position at the fireplace but was prevented by mrs. Blythe who kept tight hold of her hand just then Zack fixed his eyes on her and increased her confusion she looks prettier than ever tonight don't she mrs. life he said sitting down and yawning again I always liked her best when her eyes brighten up and look twenty different ways in a minute just as they're doing now she may not be so like Raphael's pictures at such times I dare say here he owned once more but for my part what she wanted to get away full what are you laughing about mrs. blah life I say Valentine there's some Joe going on here between the ladies do you remember this Lac asked mrs. life tightening her hold of Madonna with one hand and producing the frame drawing of the Venus de Medici with the other Madonna's copy from my bust the Venus quite Valentine interposing with his usual readiness and skipping forward with his accustomed alacrity Madonna's copy from Blythe busted the Venus echoed Zack coolly his slippery memory not hadn't preserved the slightest recollection of the drawing at first sight of it dear me how nicely it's framed and how beautifully she has finished it pursued Valentine gently patting Madonna's shoulder in token of his high approval and admiration very nicely framed and beautifully finished as you say Blythe glibly repeated Zack rising from his chair and looking rather perplexed as he noticed the expression with which mrs. Blythe was regarding him but who got it framed asked Valentine she would never have any of her drawings framed before I don't understand what it all means no more do I said Zack dropping back into his chair and lazy astonishment is it some riddle missus life something about wise Madonna like the Venus de Medici n if it is I object to the riddle because she's a deal prettier than any plaster face that ever was made your face beats Venus's hallo continued Zack communicating this bluntly sincere compliment to Madonna by the signs of the deaf and dumb alphabet she smiled as she watched the motion of his fingers perhaps at his mistakes for he made to in expressing one short sentence of five words perhaps at the compliment homely as it was oh you men how dreadfully stupid you are sometimes exclaimed his wife why Valentine dear it's the easiest thing in the world to guess what she has had the drawing framed fool to make it a present to somebody of course and who does she mean to give it to ah who indeed interrupted Zack sliding down cozily in his chair resting his head on the back rail and spreading his legs out before him at full stretch I have a great mind to throw that drawing at your head instead of giving it to you crack mrs. Blythe losing all patience you don't mean to say that drums are present to me exclaims ACK starting from his chair with one per digit jump of astonishment you deserve to have your ears well boxed for not having guessed that it was long ago rhetoric miss Blythe have you forgotten how you praise that very drawing when you saw it begun in the studio didn't you tell Madonna oh the dear good generous jolly little soul cried Zack snatching up the drawing for the couch as a truth burst upon him at last in a flash of conviction tell her on your fingers mrs. Blythe how proud I am of my present I can't do with mine because I can't let go of the drawing here look here make her a look here and see how I like it and Zack Huck the copy of the Venus de Medici to his waist by way of showing how highly he prized it at this outbursts of sentimental pantomime Madonna raised her head and glanced at young hope her face downcast anxious and averted even from mrs. blights eyes during the last few minutes as if she'd guessed everywhere that could pain her out of all that had been said in her presence now brightened again with pleasure as she looked up with innocent childish pleasure that affected no reserve dreaded no misconstruction foreboded no disappointment her eyes turning quickly from Zack and appealing gaily to Valentine beamed with triumph when he pointed to the drawing has finally raised his hands in astonishment as a sign that he'd been pleasantly surprised by the presentation of her drawing to his new pupil mrs. Blythe felt the hand which he still held in hers and which had hitherto trembled a little from time to time grouse steady and warm in her grasp had dropped it there was no fear that Madonna would now leave the side of the couch and steal away by herself to the fireplace go on mrs. Blythe you never make mistakes in talking on your fingers and I always do go on please and tell her how much I thanked her continued Zack holding out the drawing at arm's length and looking at it with his head on one side by way of imitating Valentines studying his own pictures tell her I'll take such care of it as I never took of anything before in my life tell her I'll hang it up on my bedroom where I can see it every morning as soon as I wake have you told her that or shall I write it on her slate hello he across the T M I haven't a whole back full of muffins what the kitchen fires to black to toast them I'll undertake the whole lot in the drawing Academy here patty gives the toasting fork I'm going to begin I never saw such a splenic fire for toasting muffins before in my life rum dan did you room D dum diddy num and zac fell on his knees at the fireplace humming Rule Britannia and toasting his first muffin in triumph utterly forgetting that he had left Madonna's drawing lying neglected with its face downwards on the end of mrs. Vyse couch Valentine who in the innocence of his heart suspected nothing burst out laughing at this new specimen of Zacks inveterate flightiness his kind instincts however guide his hand the same moment to the drawing he took it up carefully and place it on a low bookcase at the opposite side of the room if any increase had been possible in his wife's affection frame she would have loved him better than ever at the moment when he performed that one little action as her husband removed the drawing miss Blythe looked at Madonna the poor girls took shrinking close to the couch with her hands clasped tightly together in front of her with no trace of our natural lovely color left on her cheeks her eyes followed Valentine listlessly to the bookcase then turned towards Eck not reproachfully nor angrily not even tearfully but again with that same look of patient sadness of gentle resignation to sorrow which used to mark their expression so tenderly in the days of her bondage among the mountebanks of the travelling circus so she stood looking towards the fireplace and the figure kneeling at it bearing her new disappointment just as she had borne many a former mortification that had tried her sorely while she was yet a little child how carefully she'd labor that that neglected drawing in the secrecy of her own room how happy she been in anticipating the moment when it would be given to young hope in imagining what he would say on receiving it and how he would communicate his thanks to her in wondering what he would do with it when he got it where he would hang it and whether he would often look at his present after he'd got used to seeing it on the wall thoughts such as these had made the moment of presenting that drawing the moment of a great event in her life and there it was now placed on one side by other hands and the hands into which he had been given laid down carelessly at the mere entrance of a servant with a tea tray neglected for the childish pleasure of kneeling on the hearth rug and toasting a muffin at a clear cold fire mrs. Blythe generous impulsive nature a sensitivity tempered affection for her adopted child impelled her to take instant and not very merciful notice of Zechs unpardonable thoughtlessness her face flushed her dark eyes sparkled as he turned quickly on her couch towards the fireplace but before she could utter a word Madonna's hand was on her lips her Madonna's eyes were fixed with a terrified imploring expression on her face the next instant the girls trembling fingers rapidly signed these words pray pray don't say anything I would not have you speak to him just now for the world mrs. Blythe hesitated and looked towards her husband but he was away at the other end of the room amusing himself professionally by casting the drapery of the window curtains hither and thither it to all sorts of picturesque Falls she looked next at Zack just at that moment he was turning his muffin and singing louder than ever the temptation to start him out of his provoking gaiety by a good sharp reproof was almost too strong to be resisted but mrs. Blythe forced herself to resist it nevertheless from Adana sake she did not however communicate with the girl either by signs or writing until she had settled herself again in her former position then her fingers expressed these sentences of reply if you promise not to let his thoughtlessness distress you my love I promise not to speak to him about it do you agree to that bargain if you do give me a kiss Madonna only pause the represses sire that was just stealing from her before she gave the required pledge her cheeks did not recover their color nor her lips the smile that had been playing on them earlier in the evening but she arranged mrs. Blythe pillow even more carefully than usual before she left the couch and went away to performance neatly and prettily as ever her own little household duty of making the tea Zack entirely unconscious of having given pain to one lady and cause of anger to another had got on to his second muffin and had changed his accompanying song from Rule Britannia to the lass of a gallery when the hollow ringing sound of rapidly running wheels penetrated into the room from the frosty road outside advancing nearer and nearer and then suddenly seizing opposite mr. Bligh's own doll dear me Cherie that's at our gate exclaimed Valentine who can be coming to see us so late on such a cold night as this and in a carriage – it's a cab by the rattling of the wheels and it brings us the lesser airy sank black combining the original text of his song and suggestion of a possible visitor in his concluding words do leave off singing nonsense out of tune and let us listen when the door opens mrs. Blythe glad to seize the slightest opportunity of administering the smallest reproof to Zack suppose it should be mr. Gimbel come – dealer last for that picture of mine he has talked of buying so long exclaimed Valentine suppose it should be my father cried Zack suddenly turn around on his knees with a very blank face or that infernal old Europe with his gooseberry eyes and his hands full of tracts there both of them quite equal to coming after me and spoiling my pleasure here just as they spoil it everywhere else hush submissive life the visitor has come in whoever it is can't be mr. Gimbel Valentine he always runs up to stairs at a time and this is one of the heavyweights not an ounce less than sixteen still and I should say why a step remarked Zack letting his muffin burn while he listened it can't be that tiresome old lady bramble done come to worry again about altering her picture said mrs. Blythe stop surely it isn't began Valentine but before he could say another word the door opened and to the utter amazement of everybody but the poor girl whose ear no voice could reach the servant announced mrs. Peck over end of chapter 10 eleven of hide and seek by Wilkie Collins this LibriVox recording is the public domain recording by Anna Simon the brewing of the storm time had lavishly added to mrs. Beck oversized but had generously taken little or nothing from her in exchange her hair had certainly turned gray since the period when Valentine first met her at the circus but the good humoured face beneath was just as hard to look at now as ever it had been in former days her cheeks had readily expanded her chin had passed from the double to the triple stage of jovial development and he feigned traces of a waste which he might formerly have possessed were utterly obliterated but it was pleasantly evident to judge only from the manner of her bustling entry into miss lights room that her active disposition had lost nothing of its only energy and could still gaily defy all corporeal obstructions to the very last nodding and smiling at mr. and mrs. Blythe and Zack to her vast country bonnet trembled anguish ly on her head the good woman advanced shaking every movable object in the room straight to the tea table and enfolded madonna in her capacious arms the girls light figure seemed to disappear in a smothering circumambient mass of bonnet ribbons and unintelligible drapery as mrs. Beck over saluted her with a rattling fire of kisses the report of which was audible above the voluble talking of mr. Blythe and the boisterous laughter of Zack I'll tell you all about how I came here directly sir only I couldn't help saying how do you do in the old way to little Mary to begin with so miss speck over apologetically it had been found impossible to prevail on her to change the familiar name of little Mary which she had pronounced so often and so funky in past years for the name which had superseded it in Valentine's house the truth was that this worthy creature knew nothing whatever about Rafael and considering Madonna to be an outlandish foreign word intimately connected with Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot we believe that no respectable English woman ought to compromise her character by attempting to pronounce it I'll tell you sir I'll tell you directly why I've come to London repeated miss Peck over backing majestically from the tea table and rolling round easily on her own axes in the direction of the couch to ask for the fullest particulars of the state of mrs. blights help much better my good friend much better was a cheerful answer but do tell us we're so glad to see you how you came to surprise us all in this way well man began mrs. Beck over it's almost as great as a price to me to be in London as it is be quiet young good-for-nothing I won't even shake hands with you if you don't behave yourself these last words she addressed to Zack whose favorite joke had always been from the day of their first acquaintance at Valentines House to pretend to be violently in love with her he was now standing with his arms wide open the toasting fork in one hand and the muffin he had burned and the other trying to look languishing and entreating mrs. Beck over to give him a kiss when you know how to toast a muffin properly perhaps I may give you one said she chuckling as triumphantly over her own small retold as if she'd been professed with do mr. Blythe sir please to keep him quiet or I shall be able to get on with a single word of what I've got to say well you see ma'am dr. Joyce how is he interrupted Valentine handing mrs. Peck over a cup of tea he's the best gentleman the world sir but he will have his glass of port after dinner and the end of it is is laid up again with the gout and mrs. Joyce laid up too sir it's a dreadful sick house at the rectory laid up with the infil Enza have any of the children caught the influenza – asked mrs. Blythe I hope not no ma'am they're all nicely except the youngest and it's on account of her don't you remember her sir growing so fast when he was last at the rectory that I'm up in London is the child ill asked Valentine anxiously she's such a picture little creature lovey I longed to paint her I'm afraid sir she's not fit to be put into a picture now said mrs. Peck over mrs. Joyce isn't sad trouble about her because of one of her shoulders which has grown out somehow the doctor a trouble food don't doubt but what it maybe got right again but he said she ought to be shown to some great London doctor as soon as possible so neither her papa nor mama being able to take her up to her aunt's house they trusted her to me as she knows her ever since dr. Joyce got my husband that situation a trouble food I've been about directory' helping with the children the housekeeping and all that and miss Lucy being used to me we come along together in the railroad quite pleasant and comfortable I was glad enough you may be sure of the chance of getting here after not having seen that of Mary for so long so I just left Miss Lucy at her aunt's where they were very kind and wanted me to stop all night but I told them that thanks to your goodness I always had a bed here when I was in London and I took the cab on after seeing little girls safe and comfortable upstairs that's the whole story of how I come to surprise you in this way ma'am and now I'll finish my tea haven't got to the bottom of her cup and to the end of a muffin amorously presented to her by the encourage Abele's ACK mrs. Peck over had leisure to turn again to Madonna who having relieved her of her bonnet and shawl was now sitting close at her side I didn't think she was looking quite so well as usual when I first come in said mrs. Peck over patting the girls cheek with a chubby fingers but she seems to have brightened up again now this was true the sad stillness had left Madonna's face at sight of the friend and mother of her early days perhaps she's been sticking a little too close to her drawing lately by the by talking of drawings what's become of my drawing cried sac suddenly recalled for the first time to the remembrance of Madonna's gift dear me pursued mrs. Peck over looking towards the three drawing boards which have been pleased together round the pedestal of the cast are all those little Mary's doings she's clever at it I suppose by this time than ever ah Lord what old woman I feel when I think of the many years ago come on look at what she's done tonight interrupted Valentine taking mrs. Peck over by the arm and pressing it very significantly as he glanced at the part of the table where young thug was sitting my drawing where's my drawing repeated Zack who put it away when T came in oh there it is all save on the bookcase I congratulate you sir on having succeeded at last there remembering that there is such a thing in the world as Madonna's present SEP mrs. Blythe sarcastically Zack looked up a bullet from his tee and asked directly what those words meant I will never mind except mrs. Blythe in the same tune they're not worth explaining did you ever hear of a young gentleman who sold more of a plate of muffins than of a lady's gift I dare say not I never did it's too ridiculously improbable to be true isn't it there don't speak to me I've got a book here that I want to finish no it's no use I shall say another word what have I done that's wrong asked Zack looking piteously perplexed as he began to suspect that it committed some unpardonable mistake earlier in the evening I know I burnt a muffin but what does that got to do with Madonna's present to me mrs. Blythe shook her head and opening her book became quite absorbed over it in a moment didn't I thanked her properly for it I'm sure I meant to here he stopped but mrs. Blythe took no notice of him I suppose I've got myself into some scrape make as much fun as you like about it but tell you what it is you won't then I'll find out all about it from Adana she knows of course and she'll tell me look here mrs. Blythe I'm not going to get up till she's told me everything and Zack with a comic gesture of entreaty dropped on his knees by Madonna's chair preventing her from leaving it which he tried to do by taking immediate possession of the slate that hung at her side while young soul was scribbling questions protestations and extravagances of every kind in rapid succession on the slate and while Madonna her face half smiling of tearful as she felt that he was looking up at it was reading what he wrote trying hard at first not to believe in him too easily when he scribbled an explanation and not to look down on him to leniently when he followed it up by an entreaty and ending at last in defiance of mrs. flights private science the country in forgiving his carelessness and letting him take her hand again as usual in token that she was sincere while this little scene of home drama was proceeding at one end of the room the scene of another kind a dialogue and mysterious whispers was in full progress between mr. Blythe and his visitor from the country at the other time had in no respect lessened Valentine's morbid anxiety about the strict concealment of every circumstance attending mrs. Becker of his first connection with Madonna and Madonna's mother the years that had now passed and left him undisputed possession of his adopted child had not diminished that excess of caution in keeping secret all the little that was known of her early history would it even impelled him to pledge doctoral mrs. Joyce never to mention in public any particulars of the narrative related at the rectory still he had not got over his first dread that she might one day be traced claimed and taken away from him is that narrative meager as it was should ever be trusted to other ears than those would had originally listened to it still he kept the hair bracelet and handkerchief that had belonged to her mother carefully locked up out of sight in his Bureau and still he doubted mrs. Becker his discretion in the government of her tongue as he had doubted it in the bygone days when the little girl was first established in his own home after making a pretense of showing her the drawings begun that evening mr. Blythe artfully contrived to lead mrs. Beck over past them into her recess at the extreme end of the room well he said speaking in an unnecessarily soft whisper considering the distance which now separated him from Zack well I suppose you're quite sure of not having led out anything by chance since I last saw you about how you first met without Merlin girl are about her poor mother or what your edit again sir interrupted mrs. Peck over love sorry but dropping her voice in imitation of mr. Blythe a clever man too like you dear dear me how often must I keep on telling you that I'm old enough to be able to hold my tongue how much longer are you going to worry yourself about hiding but nobody's seeking after I'm afraid I shall always worry myself about it replied Valentine seriously whenever I see you my good friend I fancy I hear all that manically story over again about our darling child and that poor lost forsaken mother of hers whose name even we don't know I feel too when you come and see us almost more than other times how inexpressibly precious the daughter whom you have given to us is to Le'Veon me and I think with Mordred that I well know how to describe of the horrible chance if anything was in costly said and carried her mouth to mouth about where you met with her mother for instance or what time of the year it was and so forth that it might lead nobody knows how to some claim being later by somebody who might be able to prove the right to make it Lord sir after all these years what earthly need have you to be anxious about such things of that I never anxious lungs is back over my good spirits always get the better of every anxiety great and small but while I don't know that relations of hers perhaps evolve father himself may not be still alive and seeking for her bless your heart mr. Blythe none of our relations are alive or if they are none of them care about her poor lamb I'll answer for it I hope in God you're right said Valentine earnestly but let us think no more about it now he added resuming his usual manner I've asked my regular question that I can't help asking whenever I see you and you have forgiven me as usual for putting it and now I'm quite satisfied take my our missus back over I mean to give the students of my new drawing Academy a whole for the rest of the night in honor of your arrival what do you say to devoting the evening in the old way to a game at cards just what I was thinking I should like myself as long as it's only sixpence a game sir said mrs. Peck / gaily I say young gentleman she continued addressing Zack after mr. Blythe had left her to look for the cards What nonsense are you writing on our darlings slate that puts her all in a flutter and makes her blush up to the eyes when she's only looking at her poor old pack bless her heart she's just as easily amused now as when she was a child give us another kiss my own little love you understand what I mean don't you though you can't hear me ah dear dear when he stands and looks at me with her eyes like that she's the living image of cribbage brightness of life knocking a triangular board for three players on the table and regarding mrs. speck over with the most reproachful expression that his features could assume she felt that the look had been deserved and approached the card table rather confused Lee without uttering another word but for Valentine's second interruption she would have declared before young fool that little Mary was the living image of her mother Madame was going to play as usual will you make the third levy inquired Valentine shuffling the cards is no use asking Zack he can't even count yet No thank you dear I shall have quite enough to do in going on with my book and trying to keep master madcap in order while you play replied mrs. byph the game began it was a regular custom whenever mrs. Beck over came to Miss oblige house that cribbage should be played and that Madonna should take a share in it this was done on her part principally in affection of remembrance of the old times when she lived under the care of the clown's wife and when she had learned cribbage from mr. peck over to amuse her while the frightful accident which I / fool her in the circus was still a recent event it was characteristic of the happy peculiarity of her disposition of the days of suffering and affliction and the after period of hard tasks in public with which cards were connected in her case never seemed to recur to her remembrance painfully when she sold them in late life but Pleasant their associations which belong to them and which reminded her of homely kindness that had suited her in pain and self-denying affection that had consoled her in sorrow where the associations instinctively dwelled all by her heart to the exclusion of all others to mrs. Blythe great astonishment Zack for full 10 minutes required no keeping in order whatever while the rest were playing at cards it was the most marvellous of human phenomena but there he certainly was standing quietly by the fireplace with the drawing in his hand actually thinking mrs. Blythe's amazement at this an example change in his manner so completely overcame her that she fairly laid down her book to look at him he noticed the action and approached the couch directly that's right he said don't read anymore I want to have a serious consultation with you first a visit from mrs. Beck over then the serious consultation with Zack this is a night of Wonders thought mrs. Blythe I've made it all right with Madonna Zack continued she don't think a bit the words of me because I went on like a fool about the muffins at tea time but that's not what I want to talk about now it's a sort of secret in the first place do you usually mention your secrets in a voice that everybody can hear ask mrs. Blythe laughing oh never mind about that he replied not lowering his tone in the least it's only a secret from Madonna and we can talk before her poor little soul just as if she wasn't in the room now this is the thing she's made me a present and I think I ought to show my gratitude by making her another in return he resumed his ordinary manner as he warmed with the subject and began to walk up and down the room in his usual flighty way well I've been thinking what the present ought to be something pretty of course I can't do a drawing worth of farthing and even though I could suppose you come here and sit down Zack interposed mrs. Blythe while you're wandering backwards and forwards in that way before the car table you take Madonna's attention off the game no doubt he did how could she see him walking about close by her and carrying her drawing with him wherever he went as if he prized it too much to be willing to put it down without feeling gratified in more than one of the innocent little vanities of her sex without looking after him much too often to be properly alive to the interests of her game Zach took mrs. bytes advice and sat down by her with his back towards the cribbage players well the question is what present am I to give her he went on i've been twisting and turning it over in my mind and the long and the short of it is 15 to 15 full and a pairs six set Valentine reckoning up the tricks he had in his hand at that moment did you ever notice that she has a particularly pretty hand and arm preceded Zach somewhat evasive Lee I'm rather a judge of these things myself and of all the other girls I ever saw never mind about other girls said mrs. Blythe tell me what you mean to give Madonna to for his heels cried mrs. Peck over turning up a nave with great Glee I mean to give her a bracelet set Zach Valentine looked up quickly from the car table play please sir said mrs. Peck over little Mary's waiting for you well Zach rejoined mrs. Blythe your idea of returning a present only airs on the side of generosity I should recommend something less costly don't you know that it's one of Madonna's oddities not to care about jewelry she might have bought herself a bracelet long ago out of her own savings if trinkets have been things to tempt her wait a bit mrs. Blythe said Zach you haven't heard the best of my notion yet all the pith and marrow of it has got to come the bracelet I mean to give her is one that you'll prize to the day of her death or she's not the affectionate warm-hearted girl I take a fool what do you think of a bracelet that reminds her of you and Valentine and jolly old pact there and a little of me to which I hope will make her think the words of it got to sign against all your heads he continued imitating the cutting action of a pair of scissors with to his fingers and raising his voice and high triumph it's a splendid idea I mean to give Madonna a hair bracelet mrs. Becker very mr. Blythe started back in their chairs and stared at each other as amazingly as his ex last words had sprung from a charged battery and it struck them both at the same moment with a smart electrical shock of all the things in the world how came he ever to think of giving her that ejaculated mrs. Beck over on her breath her memory reverting while she spoke to the mournful day when strangers had searched the body of Madonna's mother and had found the hair bracelet hidden away in a corner of the dead woman's pocket hush let's go on with the game said Valentine he too was thinking of the hair bracelet thinking of it and it now lay locked up in his Bureau downstairs remembering how he would fain have destroyed it years ago but that is conscience and sense of honour forbade him pondering on the fatal discoveries to which by bear possibility it might yet lead if ever it should fall into stranger's hands a hair bracelet continued Zack quite unconscious of the effect he was producing on two of the car players behind him and such hair too as I mean it to be made of why Madonna will thinking more precious than all the diamonds in the world I defy anybody to have hit on a better idea of the sort of present she's sure to like it's elegant than appropriate and all that sort of thing isn't it oh yes very nice and pretty indeed replied mrs. Blythe brought her absently and confusedly she knew as much of Madonna's history as her husband did and was wondering what he would think of the present which young thaw proposed giving to their adopted child the thing I want most to know said Zack is what you think would be the best pattern for the bracelet though week two kinds of hair in it which can be made into any shape of course your hair and mrs. Beck overs not a morsel of my hair shall go towards the bracelet but mrs. Beck over who was listening to or said while she went on playing that difficult heads bring in will be mine Valentine's pursuits lack Minds low enough to be sure I ought to have got a month ago but it's so stiff and curly and Blythe keeps his cropped so short I don't see what they can do with it do you unless they make rings or stars or knobs or something stumpy in the way of a cross pattern of it the people that this shock will know best submissive life resolving to proceed cautiously one thing I'm determined on though beforehand cried Zack the clasp the clasp shall be a serpent with turquoise eyes and a carbuncle tail and all our initials schooled up somehow on his scales won't that be splendid I should like to surprise Madonna with it this very evening you shall never give it to her if I can help it Graham old mrs. Beck over still soliloquizing under her breath if anything in this world can bring her ill luck it will be a hair bracelet these last words were spoken perfect seriousness for they were the result of the strongest superstitious conviction from the time when the hair bracelet was found on Madonna's mother mrs. Beck over had persuaded herself not unnaturally in the absence of any information to the contrary but it had been in some way connected with the rune and shame which had driven it unhappy possessor forth as an outcast to die amongst strangers to believe in consequence that a hair bracelet had brought ill luck to the mother and to derive from that belief the conviction that a hair bracelet would therefore also bring in luck to the child was a perfectly direct and inevitable deductive process to miss speck overs superstitious mind the motives which had formerly influenced her to forbid her little Mary ever to begin anything important on a Friday or ever to imperil her prosperity by walking under a letter were precisely the murders by which she was now actuated in determining to prevent the presentation of young Souls ill-omened gift although Valentine had only called a word here and there to guide him to the subject of mrs. peco's mutterings to herself while the game was going on he guessed easy enough the general tenor of her thoughts and suspect that she would ere long begin to talk louder than was at all desirable is that proceeded much further with his present topic of converse accordingly he took advantage of a pause in the game and have a relapse into another Restless fit of walking about the room on young souls part 2 approached his wife's couch as if he wanted to find something lying near it and the whispered to her stop is talking anymore about that present to Madonna I'll tell you why another time mrs. Blythe very readily and easily complied with his injunction by telling Zack with perfect truth that she'd been already a little too much excited by the events of the evening and that she must put off all further listening or talking on her part till the next night when she promised to advise him about the bracelet to the best of her power he was however still too full of his subject to relinquish it easily under no stronger influence and the influence of a polite hint having lost one listener in mrs. Blythe he boldly tried the experiment of inviting two others to replace her by addressing himself to the players at the car table I daresay you've heard what I've been talking about to mrs. Blythe he began lord-master Zack accept mrs. Beck over do you think we haven't had something else to do here besides listening to you there now don't talk to her please till we're done or he'll throw us out altogether don't sir on any account because we're playing for money sixpence a game repelled on both sides Zack was obliged to give way he walked off to try and muse himself at the bookcase mrs. Beck over with a very time fan heir nodded and winked several times at Valentine across a table desiring by these signs to show him that she could not only be silent herself when the conversation was in danger approaching a forbidden subject but could make other people hold their tongues – the room was now perfectly quiet and the game with cribbage proceeded smoothly enough but not so pleasantly as usual on other occasions Valentine did not regain his customary good spirits and with speck over relapsed into whispering discontentedly to herself now and then looking towards the bookcase where young Thorpe was sitting sleepily with a volume of engravings on his knee it was more or less a relief to everybody when the supper tray came up and the cards were put away for the night Zach becoming quite lively again the prospect of little eating and drinking tried to return to the dangerous subject to the hair bracelet addressing himself on this occasion directly to Valentine he was interrupted however before it spoken three words mr. Blythe suddenly remembered that he had an important communication of his own to make the young Thorpe excuse me Zack he said I have some news to tell you which mrs. Becker overs arrival drove out of my head and which I must mention at once while I have the opportunity both my pictures are done what do you think of that done and in their frames I set up the titles yesterday the classical landscape is to be called the Golden Age which is a pretty poetic all sort of name and the figure subjects to be Columbus inside of the new world which is I think simple effecting and grant wait a minute the best of it has yet to come I'm going to exhibit both the pictures in the studio to my friends and my friends friends as early as Saturday next he don't mean it exclaims ACK why it's only dinner now and you always used to have your private view of your own pictures in April just before they were sent into the Academy exhibition quite right into post Valentine but I'm going to make a change this year the fact is I've got a job to do in the provinces which will prevent me from having my pictures show at the usual time so I mean to have it now the cards of invitation are coming home from the printers tomorrow morning I shall reserve a packet of course for you and your friends when we see you tomorrow night just as mr. Blythe spoke those words the clock on the mantelpiece struck the half hour after 10:00 having his own private reasons for continuing to preserve the appearance of perfect obedience to his father's domestic regulations Zach rose at once to say good night in order to ensure being home before the house door was bolted at 11 o'clock this time he did not forget the Donna's drawing but on the contrary showed such unusual carefulness in tying his pocket handkerchief over the frame to preserve it from injury as he carried it through the streets that she could not help in the fearless innocence of her heart unreservedly betraying to him both by Luke and mana how warmly she appreciated his anxiety for the safe preservation of her gift never had the bright kind young face been lovelier in its artless happiness than it appeared at the moment when she was shaking hands with Zack just as Valentine was about to follow his guests out of the room this is life called him back reminding him that he had a cold and begging him not to expose himself to the wintry night air by going down to the door but the servants must be going to bed by this time and somebody ought to fasten the bolts Herrmann straited mr. Blythe I'll go sir sup mrs. Beck over rising with extraordinary alacrity I'll see master Zack out and do up the door bless your heart is no trouble to me I'm always moving about at home for morning tonight to prevent myself getting fatter don't say no mr. Blythe unless you're afraid of trusting an old gossip like me alone with your visitors the last words were intended as a sarcasm and were whispered into Valentine's ear he understood the allusion to their private conversation together easily enough I felt that unless he let her have her own way without further contest he must risk offending an old friend by implying a mistrust of her which would be simply ridiculous and that the circumstances in which they were placed so when his wife nodded to him to take advantage of the offer just made he accepted it forthwith now I'll stop his giving Mary her bracelet thought mrs. Beck over as she puzzled out after young fool and closed the room door behind her wait a bit young gentlemen she said arresting his further progress on the first landing just leave off talking a minute and let me speak I've got something to say to you you really mean to give Mary that hair bracelet ah then you did hear something at the car table about it after all said Zack mean of course I mean and you want to put some of my hair in it to be sure I do Madonna wouldn't like it without then you'd better make up your mind at once to give her some other present for not one morsel of my hair shall you have there now what do you think of that I don't leave it my old darling it's true enough I can tell you not a hair of my head shall you have why not never mind why I've got my own reasons very well if you come to that I've got my reasons for giving the bracelet and I mean to give it if you won't let any of your hair be plated up along with the rest it's Madonna you'll disappoint not me mrs. Peck oversaw that she must change our tactics or be defeated don't you be so dreadful obstinate master Zack and I'll tell you the reason she said an older to leading the way lower down into the passage I don't want you to give her her hair bracelet because I believe will bring ill luck to her there Zack burst out laughing do you call that a reason whoever heard of a hair bracelet being an unlucky gift at this moment the door of mrs. Blythe room opened anything wrong with the lock asked Valentine from above he was rather surprised at the time that elapsed without his hearing the house door shut all quite right sir said mrs. Becker over adding in a whisper to Zack Ashe don't say a word don't let him keep you in the cold with his nonsense said Valentine my nonsense began Zack indignantly he's going sir interrupted mrs. Peck over I shall be upstairs in a moment come in dear pray you're letting all the cold air into the room exclaimed the voice of Miss life the door of the room closed again what are you driving at asked Zack in extreme bewilderment I only want you to give her some other present sup mrs. Beck over in her most persuasive Tunes you may think it all the whim of mine if you like I dare say I'm an old fool but I don't want you to give her a hair present a whim of yours repeated Zack with a look which made mrs. Becker was cheeks reddened with rising in the nation what a woman at your time of life subject to whims my darling Peck over it won't do my mind's made up to give her the hair bracelet nothing in the world can stop me except of course module having a hat bracelet already which I know she hasn't oh you know that do you you mischievous imp then for once in a way you just know wrong exclaimed mrs. Peck over losing her temper altogether he doped me to say so how very remarkable to think of her having a pair bracelet already and of my not knowing it mrs. Peck over continued slack mimicking the tone and manner of his old clerical enemy the Reverend Aaron yollop what I am now about to say grieves me deeply but I have a solemn duty to discharge and in the conscientious performance of that Duty I now unhesitatingly express my conviction that the remark you have just made is a flam it isn't monkey returned mrs. back over her anger fairly boiling over as she nodded her head faintly in Zechs face just then Valentine's stack became audible in the room above first moving towards the door then suddenly retreating from it as if he had been called back I haven't let out what I owned have I thought mrs. back over calming down directly when she heard the movement upstairs oh you stick to it do you continued Zack rather all old lady that mrs. Blythe should have said nothing about this newly discovered hair bracelet of yours while I was talking to her but she doesn't know of course and Valentine doesn't know either I suppose by Jove he's not gone to bed yet I'll run back and ask him if Madonna really has got a hair bracelet for God's sake don't don't say a word about it or you'll get me into dreadful trouble exclaimed mrs. Beck over turning pale as she thought of possible consequences and catching young Thor by the arm when he tried to pass her in the passage the step upstairs crossed the room again well upon my life cried Zack of all the extraordinary old women hush he's going to open the door this time he is indeed never My dear he does I won't say anything whispered young Thorpe his natural good nature prompting him to relieve mrs. Micawber's distress the moment he became convinced that it was genuine that's a good that's a dear good chap exclaimed mrs. Pecola squeezing Zach's hand in a fervor of unbounded gratitude the door of mrs. lights room opened for the second time he's gone sir he's gone at last cried mrs. Beck over shutting the house door on the parting guest with inhospitable rapidity and locking it with elaborate care and extraordinary noise I must manage to make it all safe with master Zach tomorrow night though I don't believe I've said a single word i oughtn't to say thought she slowly ascending the stairs but mr. Blythe makes such fusses and works himself into such fidgets about the poor thing being traced and taken away from him which is all stuff and nonsense that he would go half this record if he knew what I said just now Damaso Zach not that so much what I said to him as what he made out somehow and said to me but they are so sharp these young London chaps they're so awful sharp here she stopped on the landing to recover her breath then whisper to herself as she went on and approached mr. Bligh's though but one thing army determined on that'll marry shan't have that hair bracelet even as mrs. Beck over walked thinking all the way upstairs so that Zach walk wandering all the way home what the deuce could these extraordinary remonstrance –is about this present to Madonna possibly mean was it not at least clear from mrs. Micawber's terror when he talked of asking Blythe whether Madonna really had a hair bracelet that she had told the truth after all and was it not even plainer still that she had let out a secret and telling that truth which Blythe must have ordered her to keep why keep it was this mysterious hair bracelet mixed up somehow with the grand secret about Madonna's past history which Valentine had always kept from him and from everybody very likely it was but why cudgel his brains about what didn't concern him was it not considering the fact previously forgotten they had but 15 shillings and threepence of disposable money in the world rather lucky than otherwise at mrs. Beck over had taken it into her head to stop him from buying what he hadn't the means of paying for what other present could he buy from Adana that was pretty and cheap enough to suit the present state of his pocket which he liked it symbol or an almanac or a pair of cuffs or a pot of bears grease here Zach suddenly paused in his mental interrogatories for he had arrived with inside of his home in bear Grove square a change passed over his handsome face he frowned and his colour deepened as he looked up at the light in his father's window I'll slip out again tonight and sealife he muttered doggedly to himself approaching the door the more I'm bullied at home the offer I'll go out on the sly this rebellious speech was occasioned by the recollection of a domestic scene which had contributed barely that evening to swell the list of the tribulations of Zach mr. Thorpe had moral objections to mr. Blythe's profession and moral doubts on the subject mr. Blythe himself these last being strengthened by that gentleman's own refusal to explain away the mystery which enveloped the birth and parentage of his adopted child as a necessary consequence mr. Thorpe considered the painter to be no fit companion for a devout young man and expressed severely enough his unmeasured surprise at finding that his son had accepted an invitation from a person of doubtful character Zach's rejoined it to his father's reproof was decisive if it was nothing else he denied everything alleged or suggested against his friends irritation lost his temper of being sharply rebuked for the indecent famines of his language and left the paternal tea table in defiance to go and cultivate the Fine Arts in the doubtful company of mr. Valentine life just in time sir set the page grinning at his young master as he opened the door it's on the stroke of eleven Zach muttered something savage in reply which is not perhaps advisable to report the servant secured the lock and bolts while he put his hat on the hall table and led his bedroom candle rather more than an hour after this time or in other words a little past midnight the were opened again softly and Zack appeared on the step equipped for his nocturnal expedition he hesitated as he put the key into the lock from outside before he closed the door behind him he had never done this on former occasions he could not tell why he did it now we are mysteries even to ourselves and there are times when the voices of the future that are in us yet not ours speak and make the earthly part of us conscious of their presence often estar mortal sense feels that they are breaking their dread silence at those supreme moments of existence when on the choice between two apparently trifling alternators hangs suspended the whole future of a life and thus it was now with the young man who stood on the threshold his home doubtful whether he should pursue or abandon the purpose which was then a proposed in his mind on his choice between the two alternatives of going on or going back which the closing of a door would decide depended the future of his life and of other lives that were mingled with it he waited a minute undecided for the warning voices within him were stronger than his own will he waited looking up thoughtfully at the starry loveliness of the winter's night then closed the door behind him as softly as usual hesitated again at the last step that led on to the pavement and then fairly set forth from him walking at a rapid pace through the streets he was not in his usual good spirits he felt no inclination to sing this was his want while passing through the fresh frosty air and he wondered why it was so the voices were still speaking faintly and more faintly within him but we must die before we can become immortal as they are and their language to us in this life is often as an unknown tongue end of chapter 11 end of book 1 book 2 chapter 1 of hide and seek by Wilkie Collins this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Anna Simone book to the seeking chapter 1 the man with a black skullcap the Roman poet who writing of vice described its influence entirely to allurement of the fair disguises that at war and assorted that it only needed to be seen with a mask off to excite the hatred of all mankind at at a very plausible moral sentiment which wants nothing to recommend it to the admiration of posterity but a seasoning of practical truth even in the most luxurious days of old Rome it may safely be questioned whether vice could ever afford to disguise itself to win recruits except from the wealthier classes of the population but in these modern times it may be decidedly asserted as a fact that vice in accomplishing the vast majority of its seductions uses no disguise at all appears impudently in its naked deformity and instead of horrifying all beholders in accordance with the prediction of the classical satirist absolutely attracts a much more numerous congregation of worships than has ever yet been brought together by the divinest beauties that virtue can display for the allurement of mankind that famous plays of public amusement known a few years since the late roaming youth of London by the name of this snugger II affords among hosts of other instances which might be cited a notable example to refute the assertion of the ancient poet the place was principally devoted to the exhibition of musical talent and opined that a period of the night when the performances of the theatres were over the orchestral arrangements were comprised in one bag piano to which were occasionally added by way of increasing the attractions performances on the banjo and guitar all the singers were called ladies and gentlemen and the one long room in which the performances took place was simply furnished with a double row of benches bearing troughs at their backs for the reception of glasses of liquor innocence itself must have seen at a glance that the snobbery was a utterly vicious place vice never so much as thought of wearing any disguise here no glimmer of wit played over the foul substance of the songs that were stung and hid it in dazzle from too close observation no relic of youth and freshness no artfully assumed innocence incapacity concealed the squalid deterioration of the worn-out human counterfeits which stood up to sing and were coarsely painted and padded to look like fine women their fellow performers among the men was such sudden faced blaggards as no shop boy who applauded them at night would dare to walk out with in the morning the place itself had as little of the illumined of elegance and beauty about it as the people here was no bright gilding on the ceiling no charm of ornament no comfort of construction even in the furniture here were no viciously attractive pictures on the walls no innovating sweet odors in the atmosphere no contrivances of ventilation to cleanse away the stench of bad tobacco smoke and brandy flavored human breath with which the room wreaked all night long here in short was vice holy undisguised recklessly showing itself to every eye without the varnish of beauty without the tinsel wit without even so much as the flavour of cleanliness to recommend it were all be holders instinctively overcome by horror at the sight far from it the snobbery was cramped its last benches every night and the proprietor filled his pockets from the purses of applauding audiences for let classical moralists say what they may vice gathers followers as easily in modern times with the mask off as ever it gathered them in ancient times with the mask on it was two o'clock in the morning and the entertainments in the snobbery were fast rising to the climax of joviality the favorite comic song had just been sung by a bloated old man with a bald head and a hairy chin there was a brief lull for pose before the amusements resumed their noisy progress orders for drink were flying abroad in all directions friends were talking at the tops of their voices and strangers was staring at each other except at the lower end of the room where the whole tension of the company was concentrated strangely upon one man the person who thus attracted to himself the wandering curiosity of all his neighbors had come in late had taken the first vacant place he could find near the door and had sat there listening and looking about him very quietly he drank and smoked like the rest of the company but never applauded never laughed never exhibited the slightest symptom of astonishment or pleasure or impatience or disgust though it was evident from his manner of entering and giving his orders to the waiters that he visited the snobbery that night for the first time he was not in mourning for there was no band around his head but he was dressed nevertheless a black frock coat waistcoat and trousers and wore black kid gloves he seemed to be very little at his ease in this costume moving his limbs whenever he changed his position as cautiously and constrain Utley as if he'd been clothed in gossamer instead of stout black broadcloth shining with its first new gloss on it his face was turned to a perfectly Moorish Brown was scarred in two places by the marks of old wounds and was overgrown by cool iron grey whiskers which met Andres chin his eyes were light a rather large and seemed to be always quietly but vigilantly on the watch indeed the whole expression of his face chorus and heavy as it was in form was remarkable for its acuteness for its cool collected penetration for its habitually observant passively watchful look anyone guessing at his calling from his manner and appearance would have set him down immediately as the captain of a merchantman I would have been willing to lay any wager that had been several times around the world but it was not his face or stress or as Menna that drew on him the attention of all his neighbors it was his head under his hat which was brand new like everything else he wore there appeared fitting tight around his temples and behind his ears a black velvet skullcap not a vestige of hair peeped from under it all round his head as far as could be seen beneath his head which he wore far back over his coat-collar there was nothing but bare flesh and circled by a rim of black velvet from a great proposal for reform to a small eccentricity in costume the English are the most intolerant people in the world in their reception of anything which presents itself to them under the form of a perfect novelty that any man display a new project before the Parliament of England or a new pair of light green trousers for the inhabitants of London let the project proclaim itself as useful to all listening ears and the trousers eloquently assert themselves as beautiful to all beholding eyes the nation will shrink suspiciously nevertheless both room the one and the other will order prefers to lie on the table and will hoot laugh and stare at the second will insured resent other novelty as an unwarrantable intrusion for no other discernible reason and that people in general are not used to it quietly as a strange man and black had taken a seat in the snobbery he and his skullcap attracted general attention and our national weakness displayed itself immediately nobody paused a reflect that he probably wore his black velvet headdress from necessity nobody gave him credit for having objections to a wig which might be perfectly sensible a well-founded and nobody even in this free country was liberal enough to consider that he had really is much right to put on a skullcap under his hat if he chose as any other man present had to put on a shirt under his waistcoat the audience saw nothing but the novelty in the way of a headdress which the stranger war and they resented it unanimously because it was a novelty first they express this resentment by staring indignantly at him then by laughing at him then by making sarcastic remarks on him he bore their ridicule with the most perfect and provoking coolness he did not expostulate or retort will look angry or grow red in the face or fidget in his seat or get up to go away he just said smoking and drinking as quietly as ever not taking the slightest notice of any of the dozens of people who were all taking notice of him his unassailable composure only served encourages neighbors to take further liberties with him one rickety little man with a spirit ears nose and watery eyes urged on by some women near him advanced the strangers bench and expressing his admiration of a skullcap as it become an ornamental addition to a hat announced with a bow of mock politeness his anxiety to feel the quality of the velvet he stretched out his hand as he spoke not a word of warning or expostulation being uttered by the victim of the intended insult but the moment his fingers touched the skullcap the strange man still without speaking without even removing his cigar from his mouth very deliberately threw all that remained of the glass of hot brandy and water before him in the rickety gentleman's face with a scream of pain as the hot liquor flew into his eyes the miserable little man struck out helplessly with both his fists and fell down between the benches a friend who was with him advanced to avenge his injuries and was thrown sprawling on the floor yells off turn him out and police followed people at the other end of the room jumped up excitedly on their seats the women screamed the men shouted in Sawle glasses were broken sticks were waved benches were cracked and in one instant the stranger was assailed by every one of his neighbors who could get near him on pretence of turning him out just as it seemed a matter of certainty that he must yield to numbers in spite of his gallant resistance and be hurled out of the door down a flight of stairs that led to it the tall young gentleman with a quantity of light curly hair on his headless head left up on one of the benches at the opposite side of the gangway running down the middle of the room and apostrophized the company around them with vermin fistic gesticulation alas for the tranquility of parents with pleasure loving sons alas for mr. Valentine Blythe's idea of teaching his pupil to be steady by teaching him to draw this furious young gentleman was no other than mr. Zachary Thorpe junior of bear Grove Square damn you all you cowardly counter jumping scoundrels roared sack his eyes aflame with vela generosity and gin and water what do you mean by setting on one man in that way hit out sir hit out right and left I saw you insulted and I'm coming to help you with these words Zack tucked up his cuffs and jumped into the crowd about him his height strength and signs as a boxer carried him triumphantly to the opposite bench two or three blows on the ribs and one on the nose which drew blood plentifully only served to stimulate his ardour and increased the pugilistic ferocity of his expression in a minute he was by the side of the man with a skull cap and the two were fighting back to back amid roars of applause from the audience at the upper end of the room who were only spectators at the disturbance in the meantime the police have been summoned but the wait is downstairs in their anxiety to see a struggle between two men on one side and somewhere about two dozen on the other had neglected to close the street door the consequence was that all the cab man on the stand outside and all the vagabond night idlers in a vagabond neighborhood of the snobbery poured into the narrow passage and got up an impromptu riot of their own with the waiters who tried too late to turn them out just as the police were forcing their way through the throng below Zack and the stranger had fought their way out of the throne above and it got clear of the room on the right of the landing as they approached it was a door through which the man with the skull cap now darted dragging Zack after him his temper was just as cool his quick eye just as vigilant as ever the key of the door was inside he locked it and made a roar of applauding laughter from the people in the staircase mixed with cries of police and stopped him in the court from the waiters the two then descended a steep flight of stairs at headlong speed and found themselves in a kitchen confronting an astonished man cook and two female servants Zack knocked the man down before he could use the rolling pin which yet snatched up on their appearance while the stranger coolly took a hat that stood on the dresser and jammed it tight with one smack of his large hand on young forbes bare head the next moment they were out in a court into which the kitchen opened and were running a top of their speed the police on their side else no time but they had to get out of the crowd in the passage and go around the front of the house before they could arrive at the turning which led into the cord from the street this gave the fugitives a start and the neighborhood of alleys lanes and by streets in which their flight immediately involved them was a neighborhood of all others to favor their escape while the springing of rattles and the cries of stop thief we're ending the frosty night air in one direction Zack and the stranger walking away quietly arm and arm in the other the man with the skullcap had taken the lead hitherto and he took it still though from the manner in which he stared about him at corners of streets and involved himself in his companion every now and then in blind alleys it was clear enough that he was quite unfamiliar with the part of the town through which they were now walking Zack having treated himself that night to his fatal third glass of grog and having finished half of it before the fight began was by this time in no condition to care about following any particular part in the great labyrinth of London he walked on talking thickly and incessantly to the stranger who never once answered him it was of no use to applaud his bravery to criticise his style of fighting was anything but scientific to express astonishment at his skill in knocking his head on again all through the struggle every time it was knocked off and to declare admiration of his quickness in taking the cook's hat to cover his companions her head which might have exposed him to suspicion and capture as he passed through the streets it was a new use to speak on these subjects or on any others the imperturbable hero who had not added a word all through the fight was as imperturbable as ever and would not utter a word after it they strayed at last into Fleet Street and walked to the foot of lüt gate he'll hear the stranger stopped glanced towards the open space on the right where the river ran gave a rough gasp of relief and satisfaction and made directly for Blackfriars Bridge he let Zack who was still thick in his utterance and unsteady on his legs to the parapet wall that go was armed there and looking steadily in his face by the light of the Gaslamp addressed him for the first time in a remarkably grave deliberate voice in these words now then Johann suppose you pull a breath and wiped that bloody nose of yours Zack instead of presenting this unceremonious manner of speaking to him which you might have done had he been sober burst into a frantic fit of laughter the remarkable gravity and composure of the strangest tone and manner contrasted with the oddity of the proposition by which he opened the conversation would have been irresistible ludicrous even to a man whose faculties were not in an intoxicated condition while Zack was laughing till the tears rolled down his cheeks his odd companion was leaning over the parapet of the bridge and pulling off his black kid gloves which had suffered considerably during the progress of the fight having rolled them up into a bull he jerked them contemptuously into the river there goes the first pair of gloves as ever I had on and the last as ever I mean to wear he said spreading out his brawny hands the sharp night breeze young thaw heaved a few last expiring gasps of laughter then became quiet and serious from sheer exhaustion go it again said the man with scull kept staring at him as gravely as ever I like to hear you I can't it again answered Zach faintly I'm out of breath I say old boy you're quite a character who are you I ain't nobody in particular and I don't know as I've got a single friend to care about Who I am in all england replied the other give us your hand Yellin in the foreign parts where i come from when one man stands by another as you stood by me tonight then to our brothers together afterwards you needn't be a brother to me if you don't like I mean to be a brother to you whether you like it or not my name's Matt what's yours zach returned young fool clapping his new acquaintance on the back with brotherly familiarity already you're a glorious fellow and i like your way of talking where do you come from Matt now what do you wear that queer cap Andrew a headful I come from America last replied Matt as grave and deliberate as ever and I wear this cap because I haven't got no scalp on my head what do you mean quite Zach started into temporary sobriety and taking his hand off his new friends shoulder as quickly as if he had put it on red-hot iron I always mean what I say continued Matt I've got that much good about me if I haven't got no more me and my scalp parted company years ago I'm here on a bridge in London talking to a young chap of the name of Zach my scalps on the top of a high pole in some Indian village anywhere you like about the Amazon country there's any puffs of wind going there like there's here it's rattling just now like a bit of dry parchment and all my hairs are flip-flopping about like a horse's tail when the flies is in season I don't know nothing more about my scalp or my hair than that if you don't believe me just lay hold of my hats and I'll show you no thank you exclaims Zach recoiling from the offered hat I don't want to see it but how the tea is do you manage without a scalp I never heard of such a thing before in my life how is it you're not there day it takes a deal more to kill a tough man than your London chaps think said Matt I was found before my head got cool and Placid / with leaves in ointment they'd left a bit of scalp at the back being in rather too great a hurry to do their work as handily as usual and a new skin groped over after little a baby is short of skin that wasn't half thick enough I wouldn't bear no new crop of hair so I had to eke out and keep my head comfortable with an old yellow handkerchief which I always wore till I got to San Francisco on my way back here I met with a priest at San Francisco who told me that I should look a little less like a savage if I wore a skullcap like his instead of a hand catcher when I got back into what he called the civilized world so I took his advice and bought this cap I suppose it looks better than my old yellow handkerchief but it ain't half as comfortable but how did you lose your scalp asked Zack tell us all about it but for my life you're the most interesting fellow I ever met with and I say let's walk about while we talk I feel steadier on my legs now and it's so infernally cold standing here which way can we soon as get out of this muck of houses and streets asked Matt surveying the lung and view around him with an expression of grim disgust there ain't no room even on this bridge for the wind to blow fairly over a man I'd just as soon be smothered up in a bed as mothered up in smoke and stink here what a delightful fellow you are so entirely out of the common way study my dear friend the grogs not quite out of my head yet and I find I've got the hiccups here's my way home and your way into the fresh air if you really wanted come along and tell me how you lost your scalp there ain't nothing particular to tell what's your name again Zack well Zach I was out on the tramp dodging about after any game that turned up on the banks of the Amazon Amazon what's that a woman or a place did you ever hear South America I can't possibly swear to it but to the best of my belief I think I have well the Amazons a longest bit of a river and those parts I was out as I told you on the Tramp so I should think you look like the sort of man who has tramped everywhere and done everything you're about right there for a wonder I've drove cattle in Mexico been out with a gang that went to find an overland road to the North Pole I've worked through a season or two in catching wild horses on the pampas and another season or two and digging gold in California I went away from England a tidy lad aboard ship and Here I am back again now an old vagabond US hasn't a friend to own him if you want to know exactly who I am and what I've been up to all my life that's about as much as I can tell you he don't say so wait a minute though there's one thing you're not troubled with the hiccups are you after eating supper I've been a martyr to hiccups ever since I was a child but I see there's one thing you haven't told me yet you haven't told me what your other name is besides Matt mine Thorpe I haven't heard the sound of the other name you're asking after for a matter of better than 20 year and I don't care if I never hear it again his voice sank huskily and he turned his head a little away from Zack as he said those words they nicknamed me marksman when I used to go out with the exploring gangs because I was the best shot of all of them you call me marksman too if you don't like Matt mr. Matthew marksman if you please everybody seems to be a mister here you're one of course I don't mean to call you mister for all that I shall stick to Zack it sure and there's no bother about it alright old fellow and I'll stick to Matt which is shorter still buy a whole letter but I say you haven't told the story yet about how you lost your scalp there's no story in it do you know what it is to have a man dodging after you through these odds and ends of streets here I dare say you do well I had three skulking thieves of Indians dodging after me over better than 400 miles of lonesome country where I might have bowled for help for a whole week on end and never made anybody hear me they wanted my scalp and they wanted my rifle and they got those at last at the end of their manhunt because I couldn't get any sleep not get any sleep why not because they was three and I was only one to be sure one of them kept watch while the other two slept I had nobody to keep watch for me and my life depended on my eyes being open night and day I took a dog's news once I was woke out of it by an arrow in my face I kept on a long time after that before I give out but at last I got the horrors and thought the parry was all afire I run from it I don't know how long I run on in that mad state I only know that the horse turned out to be the saving of my life I missed my own Trail and struck into another which was a trail of friendly Indians people I traded with you know and I came up with him somehow near enough for the stragglers of their hunting party to hear me screech when my scalp was took now you know as much about it as I do I can't tell you no more except that I woke up like in an Indian wigwam with a crop of cool leaves of my head instead of a crop of hair a crop of leaves what jolly old jack in the green you must have looked like which of those scars on your face is the arrow wounded oh that's it isn't high sailed boy you've got a black eye that any of those fellows in the snugger he hit hard enough to hurt you heard me chaps like them hurt me take away the extravagance of the idea which Zacks question suggested to him Matt shook his sturdy shoulders and indulged himself in a gruff chuckle which seemed to claim some sort of barbarous relationship with a laugh of course they haven't heard you I didn't think they had said Zach whose petit allistic sympathies were deeply touched by the contempt with which his new friend treated the bumps and bruises received in the fight go on Matt I like Adventures of your sword what did you do after her head healed up well I got tired of dodging about the Amazon and went south and learned to throw a lasso and took a turn at the wild horses galloping did my head good it's just what will do my head good too yours is the sort of life Matt for me how did you first come to lead it did you run away from home no I served a board ship where I was put out being to idle of vagabond to be kept at home I always wanted to run wild somewheres for a change but I didn't really go to do it till I picked up a letter which was waiting for me in Port at the Brazil's there was news in that letter which sickened me of going home again so I deserted I went off on the Tramp and I've been mostly on the Tramp ever since till I got here last Sunday what have you only been in England since Sunday that's all I made a good time of it in California where I've been last digging gold my mate this was with me got a talking about the old country I rolled on me so that I went back with him to see it again so instead of gambling away all my money over there Matt Cathy jerks hand in a westerly direction I've come to spend it over here and I'm going down into the country tomorrow to see if anybody lives to own me at the old place and suppose nobody does what then then I shall go back again after 20 years among the savages were a little better I'm not fit for the sort of thing as goes on among you here I can't sleep in a bed I can't stop in a room I can't be comfortable in decent clothes I can't stray into a singing shop as I did tonight without a dust being kicked up all around me because I haven't got a proper head of hair like everybody else I can't shake up along with the rest of you know how I'm used to hard lines in a wild country I should go back and die over there among the lonesome places where there's plenty of room for me and again Matt jerked his hand carelessly in the direction of the American continent oh don't talk about going back cried Zach you're sure to find somebody left at home don't you think so your selves old fellow Matt made no answer he suddenly slackened then as suddenly increased his pace dragging you ensue with him at a headlong rate you're sure to find somebody continued Zach in his offhand familiar way I don't know gently we're not walking for a wager I don't know whether you're married or not Matt still made no answer and walked faster than ever but if you haven't got wife or child every fellas got a father and mother you know and most fellows have got brothers and sisters good night said Matt stopping short and abruptly holding out his hand why what's the matter now asked Zach in astonishment what do you want to part company for already we're not near the end of the streets yet have I said anything that's offended you no you haven't you can come and talk to me if you like the day after tomorrow or shall we back then whatever happens I said I'd be like a brother to you and that means in my lingo doing anything you ask come and smoke a pipe along with me as soon as I'm back again do you know Kirk Street it's not on the market you know a backhoe shop and Kirk Street it's got a green door and fourteen written on it in yellow paint when I am shut up in a room of my own which isn't often I'm shut up there give you the key of the house because I wanted myself Kirk Street that's my way why can't we go on together what do you want to say good night here for because I want to be left by myself it's not your fault but you've set me thinking of something that don't make me easy in my mind I've let alone some live of it yarn straying away months and months out in the wilderness without a human being to speak to I dare say that wasn't the right sort of life for a man to take up with but I did take up with it I can't get over liking it sometimes still when I'm not easy in my mind I want to be left lonesome as I used to be I want it now good night before Zack could enter his new friends address in his pocketbook Matt had crossed the road and had disappeared in the dark distance dotted with gas lights in another moment the last thump of his steady footstep died away on the pavement in the morning stillness of the street that's rather an odd fellow thought Zack as he pursued his own Road we've got acquainted with each other and rather an odd way I shall certainly go and see him though on Thursday something may come of it one of these days Zack was a careless guesser but in this case he guessed right something did carve it end of chapter 1 book 2

One thought on “Hide and Seek | Wilkie Collins | Literary Fiction | Speaking Book | English | 4/10

  1. Hide and Seek | Wilkie Collins | Literary Fiction | Speaking Book | English | 4/10
    11: [00:00:00] – Book I – Chapter X. Mr Blyth's drawing academy
    12: [00:38:26] – Book I – Chapter XI. The brewing of the storm
    13: [01:20:40] – Book II – Chapter I. The man with the black skull-cap

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