Beasts and Super-Beasts HTML version
The Schartz-Metterklume Method
LADY CARLOTTA stepped out on to the platform of the small wayside station and took
a turn or two up and down its uninteresting length, to kill time till the train should be
pleased to proceed on its way. Then, in the roadway beyond, she saw a horse struggling
with a more than ample load, and a carter of the sort that seems to bear a sullen hatred
against the animal that helps him to earn a living. Lady Carlotta promptly betook her to
the roadway, and put rather a different complexion on the struggle. Certain of her
acquaintances were wont to give her plentiful admonition as to the undesirability of
interfering on behalf of a distressed animal, such interference being "none of her
business." Only once had she put the doctrine of non-interference into practice, when one
of its most eloquent exponents had been besieged for nearly three hours in a small and
extremely uncomfortable may-tree by an angry boar-pig, while Lady Carlotta, on the
other side of the fence, had proceeded with the water-colour sketch she was engaged on,
and refused to interfere between the boar and his prisoner. It is to be feared that she lost
the friendship of the ultimately rescued lady. On this occasion she merely lost the train,
which gave way to the first sign of impatience it had shown throughout the journey, and
steamed off without her. She bore the desertion with philosophical indifference; her
friends and relations were thoroughly well used to the fact of her luggage arriving
without her. She wired a vague non-committal message to her destination to say that she
was coming on "by another train." Before she had time to think what her next move
might be she was confronted by an imposingly attired lady, who seemed to be taking a
prolonged mental inventory of her clothes and looks.
"You must be Miss Hope, the governess I've come to meet," said the apparition, in a tone
that admitted of very little argument.
"Very well, if I must I must," said Lady Carlotta to herself with dangerous meekness.
"I am Mrs. Quabarl," continued the lady; "and where, pray, is your luggage?"
"It's gone astray," said the alleged governess, falling in with the excellent rule of life that
the absent are always to blame; the luggage had, in point of fact, behaved with perfect
correctitude. "I've just telegraphed about it," she added, with a nearer approach to truth.
"How provoking," said Mrs. Quabarl; "these railway companies are so careless.
However, my maid can lend you things for the night," and she led the way to her car.
During the drive to the Quabarl mansion Lady Carlotta was impressively introduced to
the nature of the charge that had been thrust upon her; she learned that Claude and
Wilfrid were delicate, sensitive young people, that Irene had the artistic temperament
highly developed, and that Viola was something or other else of a mould equally
commonplace among children of that class and type in the twentieth century.