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When William Came

“es Ist Verboten”
Yeovil wakened next morning to the pleasant sensation of being in a household where
elaborate machinery for the smooth achievement of one’s daily life was noiselessly and
unceasingly at work. Fever and the long weariness of convalescence in indifferently
comfortable surroundings had given luxury a new value in his eyes. Money had not
always been plentiful with him in his younger days; in his twenty-eighth year he had
inherited a fairly substantial fortune, and he had married a wealthy woman a few months
later. It was characteristic of the man and his breed that the chief use to which he had put
his newly-acquired wealth had been in seizing the opportunity which it gave him for
indulging in unlimited travel in wild, out-of-the-way regions, where the comforts of life
were meagrely represented. Cicely occasionally accompanied him to the threshold of his
expeditions, such as Cairo or St. Petersburg or Constantinople, but her own tastes in the
matter of roving were more or less condensed within an area that comprised Cannes,
Homburg, the Scottish Highlands, and the Norwegian Fiords. Things outlandish and
barbaric appealed to her chiefly when presented under artistic but highly civilised stage
management on the boards of Covent Garden, and if she wanted to look at wolves or sand
grouse, she preferred doing so in the company of an intelligent Fellow of the Zoological
Society on some fine Sunday afternoon in Regent’s Park. It was one of the bonds of
union and good-fellowship between her husband and herself that each understood and
sympathised with the other’s tastes without in the least wanting to share them; they went
their own ways and were pleased and comrade-like when the ways happened to run
together for a span, without self-reproach or heart-searching when the ways diverged.
Moreover, they had separate and adequate banking accounts, which constitute, if not the
keys of the matrimonial Heaven, at least the oil that lubricates them.
Yeovil found Cicely and breakfast waiting for him in the cool breakfast-room, and
enjoyed, with the appreciation of a recent invalid, the comfort and resources of a meal
that had not to be ordered or thought about in advance, but seemed as though it were
there, fore-ordained from the beginning of time in its smallest detail. Each desire of the
breakfasting mind seemed to have its realisation in some dish, lurking unobtrusively in
hidden corners until asked for. Did one want grilled mushrooms, English fashion, they
were there, black and moist and sizzling, and extremely edible; did one desire
mushrooms à la Russe, they appeared, blanched and cool and toothsome under their
white blanketing of sauce. At one’s bidding was a service of coffee, prepared with rather
more forethought and circumspection than would go to the preparation of a revolution in
a South American Republic.
The exotic blooms that reigned in profusion over the other parts of the house were
scrupulously banished from the breakfast-room; bowls of wild thyme and other flowering
weeds of the meadow and hedgerow gave it an atmosphere of country freshness that was
in keeping with the morning meal.
“You look dreadfully tired still,” said Cicely critically, “otherwise I would recommend a
ride in the Park, before it gets too hot. There is a new cob in the stable that you will just