Twelve Stories and a Dream
4. The Truth About Pyecraft
He sits not a dozen yards away. If I glance over my shoulder I can see him. And if I catch
his eye--and usually I catch his eye-- it meets me with an expression.
It is mainly an imploring look--and yet with suspicion in it.
Confound his suspicion! If I wanted to tell on him I should have told long ago. I don't tell
and I don't tell, and he ought to feel at his ease. As if anything so gross and fat as he
could feel at ease! Who would believe me if I did tell?
Poor old Pyecraft! Great, uneasy jelly of substance! The fattest clubman in London.
He sits at one of the little club tables in the huge bay by the fire, stuffing. What is he
stuffing? I glance judiciously and catch him biting at a round of hot buttered tea-cake,
with his eyes on me. Confound him!--with his eyes on me!
That settles it, Pyecraft! Since you WILL be abject, since you WILL behave as though I
was not a man of honour, here, right under your embedded eyes, I write the thing down--
the plain truth about Pyecraft. The man I helped, the man I shielded, and who has
requited me by making my club unendurable, absolutely unendurable, with his liquid
appeal, with the perpetual "don't tell" of his looks.
And, besides, why does he keep on eternally eating?
Well, here goes for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!
Pyecraft--. I made the acquaintance of Pyecraft in this very smoking- room. I was a
young, nervous new member, and he saw it. I was sitting all alone, wishing I knew more
of the members, and suddenly he came, a great rolling front of chins and abdomina,
towards me, and grunted and sat down in a chair close by me and wheezed for a space,
and scraped for a space with a match and lit a cigar, and then addressed me. I forget what
he said--something about the matches not lighting properly, and afterwards as he talked
he kept stopping the waiters one by one as they went by, and telling them about the
matches in that thin, fluty voice he has. But, anyhow, it was in some such way we began
He talked about various things and came round to games. And thence to my figure and
complexion. "YOU ought to be a good cricketer," he said. I suppose I am slender, slender
to what some people would call lean, and I suppose I am rather dark, still--I am not
ashamed of having a Hindu great-grandmother, but, for all that, I don't want casual
strangers to see through me at a glance to HER. So that I was set against Pyecraft from
But he only talked about me in order to get to himself.