Beasts and Super-Beasts
Clovis On Parental Responsibilities
MARION EGGELBY sat talking to Clovis on the only subject that she ever willingly
talked about - her offspring and their varied perfections and accomplishments. Clovis was
not in what could be called a receptive mood; the younger generation of Eggelby,
depicted in the glowing improbable colours of parent impressionism, aroused in him no
enthusiasm. Mrs. Eggelby, on the other hand, was furnished with enthusiasm enough for
"You would like Eric," she said, argumentatively rather than hopefully. Clovis had
intimated very unmistakably that he was unlikely to care extravagantly for either Amy or
Willie. "Yes, I feel sure you would like Eric. Every one takes to him at once. You know,
he always reminds me of that famous picture of the youthful David - I forget who it's by,
but it's very well known."
"That would be sufficient to set me against him, if I saw much of him," said Clovis. "Just
imagine at auction bridge, for instance, when one was trying to concentrate one's mind on
what one's partner's original declaration had been, and to remember what suits one's
opponents had originally discarded, what it would be like to have some one persistently
reminding one of a picture of the youthful David. It would be simply maddening. If Eric
did that I should detest him."
"Eric doesn't play bridge," said Mrs. Eggelby with dignity.
"Doesn't he?" asked Clovis; "why not?"
"None of my children have been brought up to play card games," said Mrs. Eggelby;
"draughts and halma and those sorts of games I encourage. Eric is considered quite a
"You are strewing dreadful risks in the path of your family," said Clovis; "a friend of
mine who is a prison chaplain told me that among the worst criminal cases that have
come under his notice, men condemned to death or to long periods of penal servitude,
there was not a single bridge-player. On the other hand, he knew at least two expert
draughts-players among them."
"I really don't see what my boys have got to do with the criminal classes," said Mrs.
Eggelby resentfully. "They have been most carefully brought up, I can assure you that."
"That shows that you were nervous as to how they would turn out," said Clovis. "Now,
my mother never bothered about bringing me up. She just saw to it that I got whacked at
decent intervals and was taught the difference between right and wrong; there is some
difference, you know, but I've forgotten what it is."
"Forgotten the difference between right and wrong!" exclaimed Mrs. Eggelby.