4. "It's Just the very Biggest Thing in the World"
Hardly was it shut when Mrs. Challenger darted out from the dining-room. The small
woman was in a furious temper. She barred her husband's way like an enraged chicken in
front of a bulldog. It was evident that she had seen my exit, but had not observed my
"You brute, George!" she screamed. "You've hurt that nice young man."
He jerked backwards with his thumb.
"Here he is, safe and sound behind me."
She was confused, but not unduly so.
"I am so sorry, I didn't see you."
"I assure you, madam, that it is all right."
"He has marked your poor face! Oh, George, what a brute you are! Nothing but scandals
from one end of the week to the other. Everyone hating and making fun of you. You've
finished my patience. This ends it."
"Dirty linen," he rumbled.
"It's not a secret," she cried. "Do you suppose that the whole street--the whole of London,
for that matter---- Get away, Austin, we don't want you here. Do you suppose they don't
all talk about you? Where is your dignity? You, a man who should have been Regius
Professor at a great University with a thousand students all revering you. Where is your
"How about yours, my dear?"
"You try me too much. A ruffian--a common brawling ruffian-- that's what you have
"Be good, Jessie."
"A roaring, raging bully!"
"That's done it! Stool of penance!" said he.
To my amazement he stooped, picked her up, and placed her sitting upon a high pedestal
of black marble in the angle of the hall. It was at least seven feet high, and so thin that she
could hardly balance upon it. A more absurd object than she presented cocked up there