Christopher and Columbus HTML version

Uncle Arthur was the husband of Aunt Alice. He didn't like foreigners, and said so. He
never had liked them and had always said so. It wasn't the war at all, it was the
foreigners. But as the war went on, and these German nieces of his wife became more
and more, as he told her, a blighted nuisance, so did he become more and more
pointed, and said he didn't mind French foreigners, nor Russian foreigners; and a few
weeks later, that it wasn't Italian foreigners either that he minded; and still later, that nor
was it foreigners indigenous to the soil of countries called neutral. These things he said
aloud at meals in a general way. To his wife when alone he said much more.
Anna-Rose, who was nothing if not intrepid, at first tried to soften his heart by offering to
read aloud to him in the evenings when he came home weary from his daily avocations,
which were golf. Her own suggestion instantly projected a touching picture on her
impressionable imagination of youth, grateful for a roof over its head, in return
alleviating the tedium of crabbed age by introducing its uncle, who from his remarks was
evidently unacquainted with them, to the best productions of the great masters of
English literature.
But Uncle Arthur merely stared at her with a lacklustre eye when she proposed it, from
his wide-legged position on the hearthrug, where he was moving money about in
trouser-pockets of the best material. And later on she discovered that he had always
supposed the "Faery Queen," and "Adonais," and "In Memoriam," names he had heard
at intervals during his life, for he was fifty and such things do sometimes get mentioned
were well-known racehorses.
Uncle Arthur, like Onkel Col, was a very good man, and though he said things about
foreigners he did stick to these unfortunate alien nieces longer than one would have
supposed possible if one had overheard what he said to Aunt Alice in the seclusion of
their bed. His ordered existence, shaken enough by the war, Heaven knew, was shaken
in its innermost parts, in its very marrow, by the arrival of the two Germans. Other
people round about had Belgians in their homes, and groaned; but who but he, the most
immensely British of anybody, had Germans? And he couldn't groan, because they
were, besides being motherless creatures, his own wife's flesh and blood. Not openly at
least could he groan; but he could and did do it in bed. Why on earth that silly mother of
theirs couldn't have stayed quietly on her Pomeranian sand-heap where she belonged,
instead of coming gallivanting over to England, and then when she had got there not
even decently staying alive and seeing to her children herself, he at frequent intervals
told Aunt Alice in bed that he would like to know.
Aunt Alice, who after twenty years of life with Uncle Arthur was both silent and sleek (for
he fed her well), sighed and said nothing. She herself was quietly going through very
much on behalf of her nieces. Jessup didn't like handing dishes to Germans. The
tradespeople twitted the cook with having to cook for them and were facetious about