The ladies would sigh.

“I do hope if ever he does marry, it will be somebody nice. Men are so easily deceived.”

“I shouldn’t be surprised myself a bit if something came of it with Bridget. She’s a dear girl, Bridget—so genuine.”

“Well, I think myself, dear, if it’s anyone, it’s Gladys. I should be so glad to see poor dear Gladys settled.”

The unmarried kept their thoughts more to themselves. Each one, upon reflection, saw ground for thinking that Joseph Loveredge had given proof of feeling preference for herself. The irritating thing was that, on further reflection, it was equally clear that Joseph Loveredge had shown signs of preferring most of the others.

Meanwhile Joseph Loveredge went undisturbed upon his way. At eight o’clock in the morning Joseph’s housekeeper entered the room with a cup of tea and a dry biscuit. At eight-fifteen Joseph Loveredge arose and performed complicated exercises on an indiarubber pulley, warranted, if persevered in, to bestow grace upon the figure and elasticity upon the limbs. Joseph Loveredge persevered steadily, and had done so for years, and was himself contented with the result, which, seeing it concerned nobody else, was all that could be desired. At half-past eight on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Joseph Loveredge breakfasted on one cup of tea, brewed by himself; one egg, boiled by himself; and two pieces of toast, the first one spread with marmalade, the second with butter. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays Joseph Loveredge discarded eggs and ate a rasher of bacon. On Sundays Joseph Loveredge had both eggs and bacon, but then allowed himself half an hour longer for reading the paper. At nine- thirty Joseph Loveredge left the house for the office of the old-established journal of which he was the incorruptible and honoured City editor. At one-forty-five, having left his office at one-thirty, Joseph Loveredge entered the Autolycus Club and sat down to lunch. Everything else in Joseph’s life was arranged with similar preciseness, so far as was possible with the duties of a City editor. Monday evening Joseph spent with musical friends at Brixton. Friday was Joseph’s theatre night. On Tuesdays and Thursdays he was open to receive invitations out to dinner; on Wednesdays and Saturdays he invited four friends to dine with him at Regent’s Park. On Sundays, whatever the season, Joseph Loveredge took an excursion into the country. He had his regular hours for reading, his regular hours for thinking. Whether in Fleet Street, or the Tyrol, on the Thames, or in the Vatican, you might recognise him from afar by his grey frock-coat, his patent-leather boots, his brown felt hat, his lavender tie. The man was a born bachelor. When the news of his engagement crept through the smoky portals of the Autolycus Club nobody believed it.

“Impossible!” asserted Jack Herring. “I’ve known Joey’s life for fifteen years. Every five minutes is arranged for. He could never have found the time to do it.”

“He doesn’t like women, not in that way; I’ve heard him say so,” explained Alexander the Poet. “His opinion is that women are the artists of Society—delightful as entertainers, but troublesome to live with.”

“I call to mind,” said the Wee Laddie, “a story he told me in this verra room, barely three months agone: Some half a dozen of them were going home together from the Devonshire. They had had a joyous evening, and one of them—Joey did not notice which—suggested their dropping in at his place just for a final whisky. They were laughing and talking in the diningroom, when their hostess suddenly appeared upon the scene in a costume—so Joey described it—the charm of which was its variety. She was a nice- looking woman, Joey said, but talked too much; and when the first lull occurred, Joey turned to the man sitting nighest to him, and who looked bored, and suggested in a whisper that it was about time they went.

“ ‘Perhaps you had better go,’ assented the bored-looking man. ‘Wish I could come with you; but, you see, I live here.’ ”

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.