In a day in June, at the hour when London moves abroad in quest
of lunch, a young man stood at the entrance of the Bandolero
Restaurant looking earnestly up Shaftesbury Avenue--a large young
man in excellent condition, with a pleasant, good-humoured, brown,
clean-cut face. He paid no attention to the stream of humanity
that flowed past him. His mouth was set and his eyes wore a
serious, almost a wistful expression. He was frowning slightly.
One would have said that here was a man with a secret sorrow.
William FitzWilliam Delamere Chalmers, Lord Dawlish, had no secret
sorrow. All that he was thinking of at that moment was the best
method of laying a golf ball dead in front of the Palace Theatre.
It was his habit to pass the time in mental golf when Claire
Fenwick was late in keeping her appointments with him. On one
occasion she had kept him waiting so long that he had been able to
do nine holes, starting at the Savoy Grill and finishing up near
Hammersmith. His was a simple mind, able to amuse itself with
As he stood there, gazing into the middle distance, an individual
of dishevelled aspect sidled up, a vagrant of almost the maximum
seediness, from whose midriff there protruded a trayful of a
strange welter of collar-studs, shoe-laces, rubber rings,
buttonhooks, and dying roosters. For some minutes he had been
eyeing his lordship appraisingly from the edge of the kerb, and
now, secure in the fact that there seemed to be no policeman in
the immediate vicinity, he anchored himself in front of him and
observed that he had a wife and four children at home, all
This sort of thing was always happening to Lord Dawlish. There was
something about him, some atmosphere of unaffected kindliness,
that invited it.
In these days when everything, from the shape of a man's hat to
his method of dealing with asparagus, is supposed to be an index
to character, it is possible to form some estimate of Lord Dawlish
from the fact that his vigil in front of the Bandolero had been
expensive even before the advent of the Benedict with the studs
and laces. In London, as in New York, there are spots where it is
unsafe for a man of yielding disposition to stand still, and the
corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly Circus is one of them.
Scrubby, impecunious men drift to and fro there, waiting for the
gods to provide something easy; and the prudent man, conscious of
the possession of loose change, whizzes through the danger zone at
his best speed, 'like one that on a lonesome road doth walk in
fear and dread, and having once turned round walks on, and turns
no more his head, because he knows a frightful fiend doth close
behind him tread.' In the seven minutes he had been waiting two
frightful fiends closed in on Lord Dawlish, requesting loans of
five shillings till Wednesday week and Saturday week respectively,
and he had parted with the money without a murmur.
A further clue to his character is supplied by the fact that both
these needy persons seemed to know him intimately, and that each
called him Bill. All Lord Dawlish's friends called him Bill, and
he had a catholic list of them, ranging from men whose names were
in 'Debrett' to men whose names were on the notice boards of
obscure clubs in connexion with the non-payment of dues. He was
the sort of man one instinctively calls Bill.
The anti-race-suicide enthusiast with the rubber rings did not call
Lord Dawlish Bill, but otherwise his manner was intimate. His
lordship's gaze being a little slow in returning from the middle
distance--for it was not a matter to be decided carelessly and
without thought, this problem of carrying the length of Shaftesbury
Avenue with a single brassy shot--he repeated the gossip from the
home. Lord Dawlish regarded him thoughtfully.
'It could be done,' he said, 'but you'd want a bit of pull on it.
I'm sorry; I didn't catch what you said.'
The other obliged with his remark for the third time, with
increased pathos, for constant repetition was making him almost
believe it himself.
'Four starving children?'
'Four, guv'nor, so help me!'
'I suppose you don't get much time for golf then, what?' said Lord
It was precisely three days, said the man, mournfully inflating a
dying rooster, since his offspring had tasted bread.
This did not touch Lord Dawlish deeply. He was not very fond of
bread. But it seemed to be troubling the poor fellow with the
studs a great deal, so, realizing that tastes differ and that
there is no accounting for them, he looked at him commiseratingly.
'Of course, if they like bread, that makes it rather rotten,
doesn't it? What are you going to do about it?'
'Buy a dying rooster, guv'nor,' he advised. 'Causes great fun and
Lord Dawlish eyed the strange fowl without enthusiasm.
'No,' he said, with a slight shudder.
There was a pause. The situation had the appearance of being at a
'I'll tell you what,' said Lord Dawlish, with the air of one who,
having pondered, has been rewarded with a great idea: 'the fact
is, I really don't want to buy anything. You seem by bad luck to
be stocked up with just the sort of things I wouldn't be seen dead
in a ditch with. I can't stand rubber rings, never could. I'm not
really keen on buttonhooks. And I don't want to hurt your
feelings, but I think that squeaking bird of yours is about the
beastliest thing I ever met. So suppose I give you a shilling and
call it square, what?'
'Gawd bless yer, guv'nor.'
'Not at all. You'll be able to get those children of yours some
bread--I expect you can get a lot of bread for a shilling. Do they
really like it? Rum kids!'
And having concluded this delicate financial deal Lord Dawlish
turned, the movement bringing him face to face with a tall girl in
- Второпях Впопыхаевич Невтерпеж
- Ольга Б
- Ангелов Владимир
Второпях Впопыхаевич Невтерпеж