Chapter 162318113

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162318113
Full Date1896-06-06
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count2394
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Fly
article text

THE FLY.

BY S. BAKING GOULD,

Author of "Mehalab," " John-Herring, "&c

CHAPTER IIL

I suppose that Mr. Wiggles felt tfaat^—not to put too fine a point on it, his nose had been put out .of joint by Mr. Adolphus Vere do Vere, for after he left there appeared in him a certain energy and urgency of his suit that I had not noticed before. He had been gal vanized into temporary jealousy.

The result was that I received a letter from

him. _ . .

Why he wrote when we saw each other twice if not thrice daily I am at a loss to say. How ever, write he did. And this was the letter I received fromliim -.—'

" Honoured Madam—

" It must have been obvious to your keen in telligence that £ have not for some time been insensible to your charms, both personal and conversational. It lies with you to make hie the most happy or the most miserable of men. I lay myself and my future at your feet, with expressions of the sincerest admiration and hope of the most assured happiness.

" Believe me, madam, to remain

" Your most respectful servant,

"Horatio Wig&les."

Now, it was really too bad, this letter. If it had _ been original, I might have condoned his writing in place of falling on one knee, and putting his band to his heart, waving the other—addressing me in terms of fervent sen

timent.

But it was not original. I knew the letter intimately. It was copied out of " The Polite Letter Writer." Wiggles was so devoid of genuine sentiment that he was forced to apply to a book of formulas to obtain one in which to make application for ray hand and heart. I was hurt. I was indignant. Mr. Vere de Vere would not have acted thus. But a De Voro is a Do Vere and a Wiggles is a Wiggles. You cannot make silk purses out of sows' ears. What is born in the bone comes out in the flesh. I did not answer him immediately. I determined to torture him first. He deserved it.

At supper that evening I led the conversa tion to names; and I said that, in my opinion, the name had much to do with the determina tion of a man's character, personal appear ance, and elevation of mind. Turning to my mother, I asked her if she were not of my opinion.

" My dear Jane," she said, " I have not the smallest idea in the world."

"Why,"observed Mr. Wiggles, "there are the Smiths of the Castle; who can lie nicer, more respected than they? And there are in the family not only characters of the highest description, but also a certain measure of good

looks."

" Yes, sir," said I severely; "all that is due to the fact that they are Fitz-Auberons. Smith is nothing; Fitz-Auberon is everything. Even in finest gold there is an amount of alloy. Smith is only the alloy to the pure aristocratic

metal of Fitz-Auberon."

"Well, I don't know," said Mr. Wiggles. '"A rose by any other namo would smell as sweet.'"

"Pardon me,"said I. "The cabbage rose is scentless."

"Then the Fits-Auberon Smiths should be oharacterless and featureless," retorted the clerk. " Set Smith against cabbage, and Fitz Auberon against rose."

As he pushed his plate away he saw a letter

under it." «

"Oh, my bill," he said.

I tossed my head. His bill, indeed ' It was ray reply to his letter.

This was my reply " Dear Sir—

"I beg most respectfully to notify the acceptance of yours of 9 p.m. ultimo, and beg, with the-same respect, to assure you that I could never be induced to change tho name of Tompkins for that of Wiggles. With senti ments of esteem and gratitude that you should have condescended to think of me,

" I remain, Sir,

"Yours obediently,

"Jake Tompkixs."

Mr. Wiggles took his conr/i well. It did not make him lose his appetite. This I parti cularly noticed. Next day we bad sausagesTtrr breakfast, and he ate two, whereas my mother pecked at half a ono, and I consumed another half. Herbert took but one—I daresay • he would have eaten another, but there was none for him left. To think of a rejected lover eat

ing two sausages and enjoying them after being refused! But what fineness of feeling, what delicacy of conduct can be expected of a Wiggles? We received no letter from Mr. "Verc do Vere. This rather disconcerted me. I had hoped that he would have written and disclosed his heart shortly after leaving. Then, oh, what a contrast would his letter have been to that of Horatio Wiggles!

But he did not write. Ho left the

declaration to his return at the I>egilining of

November.

Mr. Wiggles did not seem to he particularly pleased to hear that our infirm lodger was coming hack again. He gave vent to sarcastic remarks, which wore uncalled for, and calcu lated to wound my feelings. If he had con fined himself to speaking like this to me alone I should have know hown to set him down, but he perverted Herbert's mind, and gave it a turn against the man who in all probability would lie his brother-in-law.

Herbert very fond of Mr. Wiggles, and whenever the clerk had spare time he would take tho boy for walks on the cliffs or downs, and the creature had really some knowledge of tho ways of Birds and insects, and could discourse in an interesting manner thereon to a boy, and

engage his attention and awake his intellect. - Ho taught Herbert to observe and to think. This was true education; at school boys are taught to acquire by heart and go along a cur riculum of studies in an unreasoning routine. Consequently, I was really grateful to Mr. Wig gles for what he did for Herbert. His mind woke up under the impuLse given it by the clerk in a manner it never would have done under the chalk and blackboard system at the little grammar school to which we now sent

him.

I may here mention a couple o? circum stances that were very much talked about in oar town. I have not spoken of thwu already.

because theaffairaof my heart claimed a first ? place in my notes. But having said what I' desirfed to say concerning Mr. Veto de Vote" and Mr. Wiggles, J will now address myselfto these other matters. "X " .

It appeared that the robbery at the Castle was not the only thing of the kind that occurred about the same time—a most daring attempt on the Bank, a branch of a large county concern. The lower windows of the Bank are all barricaded with iron, and no one could' break through them. But above the offices of the Bank are the apartmenfa of the Manager^ The windows of these are hot* barred. His sitting-room occujtes the front towards the street, the bedrooms being to the

rear.

Now it seems that one night ju3t before the affair at the Castle one of these drawing-room windows was .entered, and the burglars having passed through the room descended to the Bank offices, where they forced the door, got in, and endeavoured to break open the iron safe in which were kept a certain amount of gold and securities, &c. The attempt was un successful. The lock resisted all efforts to open it, and it was not found possible to prise open the doo& The burglars took only a few trifles, and decamped. This was kept quiet ; the Manager attempted to hush the matter up, as there had been no material loss; neverthe less it leaked out after the affair of the Smiths, and was much commented upon. It was the opinion of the police and the public generally that a desperato gang of burglars was in the neighbourhood. But the discovery of them was difficult, not to say impossible. In the case of the Bank no collusion with servants wa8 thought of. The entry had been made by the window; marks of the tool winch had turned back the hasp of the sash were visible on the paint. The sash had been raised, and the burglars had entered the window.

How the fellows had succeeded in reaching the window was a puzzle^ it could only have been effected by a ladder. But the head of the police started a most ingenious system of ex planation. He held that such a thin£ as a telescopic ladder was possible, made of the finost steel tubes, which could be shut up into a space so small as to "be carried under one of those long greatcoats so much in vogue now. This telescopic ladder would, he said, consist of itemovaWle steel rungs, the two sides would be elongated, and the rungs run through hole3 in the sides, and in five minutes the whole ladder would be ready for use, and could bo dismantled more rapidly than put together. By this means he believed the Bank had been

entered. This theory hardly applied to the robbery at the Castle, as the height there was more than double that of the Bank, and it was

inconceivable that a light, portable telescopic

ladder would have served for so considerable an elevation. No fine steel bars could bear a man's weight at such a height—they must bend under nim; whereas at the Bank the first story was but thirteen feet from the

street.

This was what was talked about after, or along with, the affair at the Castle,

The other matter was rather too absurd to deserve mention, nevertheless I do mention it.

A very queer rumour spread like wildfire through the town that it was haunted, that a ghost had been seen at night coming down this or that street; but no sooner did the person who was walking in the street and observed it draw nigh, than whiah ! away went the ghost up the walls, over the roofs, and vanished into the clouds, for all the world like a shadow.

It was asserted that this apparition was not in a winding sheet, but was black; that it was not seen save on dark nights. Here it was that the difficulty arose. How was it that it was only seen when the nights were top ob scure for any one to see anything? The story wa3 not only intrinsically absurd, but it was aUo contradictory, and was dismissed by all intelligent and educated persons, and was only talked about with seriousness by the vulgar and ignorant.

Do you know how that, at the end of autumn, the flies congregate against a wall, buzz in myriads at a window, cover the coiling, and get into every warm corner? Whence they all corne is a wonder. They most of them die—the window-sill is a charnel-house every day of dead flics. Why they die one does not see, because the cold is not as yet intense, and there is as much food about as in summer.

Herbert was much interested in the flics. Mr. Wiggles pointed out to him one on a window pane surrounded by a white cloud on the glass, and he told Herbert that this was due to disease. The fly had eaten some seeds of a fungus, and this fungus grow in the system of the fly and penetrated through all its veins and pores, and at last pushed out micro scopic filaments, each of which was a seed .pod. He told Herbert that if ho had a good lens the fly would bo seen to be a very hedgehog, bristling with the little points of this fungus, and the white circle about the fly on the glass, ho said, were the seeds deposited.

Ho also showed Herbert the eye of the fly, and, holding it in the sunshine, let him observe how composite the organ was. According to Mr, Wigglas, each eye was made up of—I can't say now many hundreds of retinas. Her bert asked whether the fly saw everything multiplied to many hundreds. But ho replied that all the little nerves from these, retinas were twisted before they entered the brain, and so conveyed but a single impression to the fly. Next, Herbert remarked the flics on the wall and ceiling, and lie said to Mr. Wiggles, " How is it that the flies don't fall? They run up the side of the room and along the ceiling just as easily as we can walk on a level floor. I should have thought thov would have lost balance, and come down croppers."

"Cropper," said I, "is a vulgarism, Her

bert. Ia it not mamma?"

"My dear, I have no notion," answered my

mother.

"J. believe it is," said I, " so please, Herbert, not toemploy that slang expression again."

" The way in which it is contrived that flies should run where they like, up walls and along ceilings," said Mr. Wiggles, "is this, Herbert. By the power of suction implanted in their feet, f will go to the shoemaker and get you a bit of leather, and show you how their

feet, act."

The next day Mr. Wiggles bought a round piece of flexible leather to which in the centre was attached a thread. This he moistened and

Cut it on a stone, and to the surprise of Her

ert the stone could be raised.

"This," said Mr. Wiggles, "is a sucker. And the feet of the flies are suckers. By means of this simple contrivance they can go where they like."

" I've seen things like that," said Herbert. "Mr. Vere deVere has them in his room. He

put them on the table one day when the sun

shone in his window. He went out with old

Grubb wheeling him, and I peeped into his

room."

" Mr. Yere had suckers!"

" I only Baw them that once," said Herbert. "He used to keep his things in a portmantoau always locked, but that day he want out in a hurry between showers, and had not put the things away."

"In-dead!" said Wigglas, and his sandy eyebrows went. i,p. "Indeed! How very sin gular. In-deed