"Archer," said Mrs. Flanders with that tenderness which mothers so often display
towards their eldest sons, "will be at Gibraltar to-morrow."
The post for which she was waiting (strolling up Dods Hill while the random church bells
swung a hymn tune about her head, the clock striking four straight through the circling
notes; the glass purpling under a storm-cloud; and the two dozen houses of the village
cowering, infinitely humble, in company under a leaf of shadow), the post, with all its
variety of messages, envelopes addressed in bold hands, in slanting hands, stamped
now with English stamps, again with Colonial stamps, or sometimes hastily dabbed with
a yellow bar, the post was about to scatter a myriad messages over the world. Whether
we gain or not by this habit of profuse communication it is not for us to say. But that
letter-writing is practised mendaciously nowadays, particularly by young men travelling
in foreign parts, seems likely enough.
For example, take this scene.
Here was Jacob Flanders gone abroad and staying to break his journey in Paris. (Old
Miss Birkbeck, his mother's cousin, had died last June and left him a hundred pounds.)
"You needn't repeat the whole damned thing over again, Cruttendon," said Mallinson,
the little bald painter who was sitting at a marble table, splashed with coffee and ringed
with wine, talking very fast, and undoubtedly more than a little drunk.
"Well, Flanders, finished writing to your lady?" said Cruttendon, as Jacob came and
took his seat beside them, holding in his hand an envelope addressed to Mrs. Flanders,
near Scarborough, England.
"Do you uphold Velasquez?" said Cruttendon.
"By God, he does," said Mallinson.
"He always gets like this," said Cruttendon irritably.
Jacob looked at Mallinson with excessive composure.
"I'll tell you the three greatest things that were ever written in the whole of literature,"
Cruttendon burst out. "'Hang there like fruit my soul.'" he began. ...
"Don't listen to a man who don't like Velasquez," said Mallinson.
"Adolphe, don't give Mr. Mallinson any more wine," said Cruttendon.