Beasts and Super-Beasts
I'VE asked Latimer Springfield to spend Sunday with us and stop the night," announced
Mrs. Durmot at the breakfast-table.
"I thought he was in the throes of an election," remarked her husband.
"Exactly; the poll is on Wednesday, and the poor man will have worked himself to a
shadow by that time. Imagine what electioneering must be like in this awful soaking rain,
going along slushy country roads and speaking to damp audiences in draughty
schoolrooms, day after day for a fortnight. He'll have to put in an appearance at some
place of worship on Sunday morning, and he can come to us immediately afterwards and
have a thorough respite from everything connected with politics. I won't let him even
think of them. I've had the picture of Cromwell dissolving the Long Parliament taken
down from the staircase, and even the portrait of Lord Rosebery's 'Ladas' removed from
the smoking-room. And Vera," added Mrs. Durmot, turning to her sixteen-year-old niece,
"be careful what colour ribbon you wear in your hair; not blue or yellow on any account;
those are the rival party colours, and emerald green or orange would be almost as bad,
with this Home Rule business to the fore."
"On state occasions I always wear a black ribbon in my hair," said Vera with crushing
Latimer Springfield was a rather cheerless, oldish young man, who went into politics
somewhat in the spirit in which other people might go into half-mourning. Without being
an enthusiast, however, he was a fairly strenuous plodder, and Mrs. Durmot had been
reasonably near the mark in asserting that he was working at high pressure over this
election. The restful lull which his hostess enforced on him was decidedly welcome, and
yet the nervous excitement of the contest had too great a hold on him to be totally
"I know he's going to sit up half the night working up points for his final speeches," said
Mrs. Durmot regretfully; "however, we've kept politics at arm's length all the afternoon
and evening. More than that we cannot do."
"That remains to be seen," said Vera, but she said it to herself.
Latimer had scarcely shut his bedroom door before he was immersed in a sheaf of notes
and pamphlets, while a fountain-pen and pocket-book were brought into play for the due
marshalling of useful facts and discreet fictions. He had been at work for perhaps thirty-
five minutes, and the house was seemingly consecrated to the healthy slumber of country
life, when a stifled squealing and scuffling in the passage was followed by a loud tap at
his door. Before he had time to answer, a much- encumbered Vera burst into the room
with the question; "I say, can I leave these here?"