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The square shape around the seriffed letter S is formed out of interlacing ribbons with terminal foliation of acanthus leaves and pomegranate buds. The decoration is created in thin black lines, leaving the letters, vines, and leaves white. It appears to be a wood engraving.

SOME of the little residential towns which lie
just outside the great zone of the London
suburbs are, if possible, more staunchly re-
spectable than the suburbs themselves. In
the latter, as everybody knows, society is at
times apt to be a little mixed, and it is not
always safe for well-bred people with sub-
scriptions at Mudie’s to call on the occupants
                                                   of the villa next their own unless they have
been first of all specially introduced to them by other thoroughly ‘nice’
persons. But in these little country towns which dot the home counties,
gentility and refinement are not thus imperilled. In Thegnhurst, for
instance, the lordly lady of Colonel Cholmondeley-Smith knows herself
perfectly safe in the drawing-room of the new tenant next door. For
that new tenant is the pretty, plaintive little widow of a something high
up in the Civil Service, and as such she is a supporter of noblesse and
clergé, and is received with open arms by the circle of the Anglo-Indian
matron. The Hon. and Rev. Parker Cope, a light of local society, a
cricketer and a curate, need never fear a fallen ‘H’ or a gauche allusion
in the house of the new-comer opposite him. For Mr. Philpott Burlegh
is an old gentleman of unimpeachable antecedents among those
mysterious collocations of exalted persons known as the ‘county
families.’ Even Mrs. Ponsonby Baker, the lady of a Thegnhurst
professional man, who having herself risen in some forgotten past from
the bar-parlour of the ‘Horse and Groom,’ is consequently a stricter
guardian of local social proprieties than a woman of bluer blood would
be—even Mrs. Ponsonby Baker need never be outraged by the arrival
in the town of a matron whose antecedents are too similar to her own.
No newly-wedded ex-lady of the ballet has ever ventured, as a resi-
dent, among the terraces of Thegnhurst. No gentleman with wealth
derived from a Regent Street emporium has ever brought a question-
able bride into the seclusion of those pleasant country haunts.
Gentility may indeed be said to run riot in dear little towns such
as these, as though in revenge for the continued existence upon earth
of vulgarity and eccentricity, of Brummagem sectarianism, of faddist
politics, of science, scepticism, the Bohemianism of the arts, and ’Appy
’Ampstead on a Sunday. There is something very charming to the
superficial eye in the air of ci-devant dignity which pervades their


residential quarters. The very children, who all know one another,
who are all so healthy, sturdy, pretty, and well dressed, and who play
lawn tennis with big rackets in front of the gabled red-brick villas,—
the very children suggest an ancien regime full of cavalier memories
and Grandisonian traditions. The little sailor boys have the prettiest
manners towards the local ladies, albeit they occasionally thump their
nurses or one another. The little fair-haired girls are models of
wholesomeness and of grace of the healthier and less ideal kind. Mr.
Du Maurier might do worse than draw his child-types from Thegn-
hurst. Nor need his satire on their elders be anything but of
the most delicate kind; for such coarse motifs as those inspired by
the shoddy Sir Gorgius Midas, or the ambitious Mrs. Ponsonby de
Tomkyns, are unknown in the town. Society there is poor—too poor
to fall into the courses which so often bring down upon Mayfair the
charge of crude snobbishness or positive vulgarity. The snobbishness
of Thegnhurst is of a shade so subtle that it is difficult to apprehend it
with the naked eye of criticism. It is there certainly—it exists, but
so mingled with better things, with honest pride in honourable birth
and honourable tradition, that the man who in conversation tries to
satirise it is often fain to give up the attempt with a blush and the
sense of having said something stupidly ill-bred.

    But if Thegnhurst is unimpeachably genteel—using the term in
all good faith, just as Miss Austen might have used it—it is also
unconquerably unidea-ed. As we have indicated above, it revenges it-
self upon vulgarity and eccentricity alike, and is inclined to class in the
latter category all the interests and achievements of Mind. Wagner,
Darwin, Browning, Renan—to jot down at haphazard sufficiently diverse
types—are as much anathema to it as the Rev. Jehoram Stiggins of
revivalist fame, or the secularist orator who was once caned by Colonel
Cholmondeley-Smith for trying to institute Sunday morning cricket on
Thegnhurst Common. It loathes genius, and it loathes isms, as frankly
and unquestionably as it loathes Demos.

    Thus when, a few years ago, Mr. Hugo Peele and his daughter
Octavia came to live in a little cottage in the Mudleigh Road, an
unfashionable part of Thegnhurst, the young lady at any rate was from
the first destined to suffer social martyrdom. Mr. Hugo Peele and
daughter were not, it is true, guilty of any overt acts of intellectual
Bohemianism. They apparently neither wrote nor published books!
Nay, he was very old, feeble, and quiet: she was an inoffensive spinster.
Nevertheless, it became apparent at once to the ladies and gentlemen

of Thegnhurst that they were not ‘sound.’ In the first place, nobody
‘knew about them.’ They came to Thegnhurst like thieves in the
night, without those introductions or social relationships which usually
draw people to a particular place of residence. They had no relations
in the town, no friends, no acquaintances. They seemed even more
impecunious than the generality of Thegnhurstians. They dressed
shabbily. They kept only one servant. Many cases of books came
with them, and seemed to form the chief part of their belongings. Mr.
Peele never went to church, and when Miss Peele appeared there it
was observed that she sat down during the Creeds, and was moreover
a very plain girl. Had she been pretty, the male Thegnhurstians would
have forgiven her this little piece of heterodoxy, and even the more
severe among the ladies would have been too intent on finding fault
with her good looks to notice her theological aberrations. But, in that
she was a very plain girl, her sitting down during the Creed was voted
an enormity. Matrons began to ask one another whether they really
ought to call on Miss Peele. Orthodoxy decided against her, but
Curiosity decided against Orthodoxy, and the vicar’s wife determined
to call after a due and proper lapse of weeks.

    Three months after the young lady’s first appearance in church the
visit took place. The vicar’s wife brought with her some little black
collecting books, intending, in case she should find her hostess an
undesirable acquaintance, at any rate to secure subscriptions for her
blanket society and her coal club before giving her the cold shoulder
in future. But Miss Peele did not appear wholly undesirable. She
was shy, ladylike, well educated, and explained her father’s absence
from the scene, and from church on Sundays, in the most natural way.
The vicar’s wife departed from the Peeles’ drawing-room with two or
three half-crowns and a fairly good opinion of at least one of the new
arrivals within the limits of her jurisdiction. When asked at the next
working-party in aid of the Zenana Mission whether she did not find
Miss Peele very odd, she replied almost charitably in her behalf:
‘She isn’t such an odd girl as she looks. Indeed, I rather like her!
She seems a ladylike girl, although she does sit down during the

    Other ladies, notably Mrs. Cholmondeley-Smith and the sweet little
widow, her neighbour, thereupon determined to call on this winner
of the vicaress’s good opinion. The month’s end saw the stately
Anglo-Indian local dignitary slowly mounting the three steps before
the Peeles’ front door. And a fortnight later the widow paid her visit.


Other ladies, armed mostly with little black collecting books, from time
to time followed suit, and at the end of a year Octavia Peele had
attained to a nodding acquaintance with nearly all the society of the
place. Only Mrs. Ponsonby Baker held aloof, but then such a very
eclectic society lady could not be expected to come to terms under five
or six years at the very least. Such a period, by the by, is a mere
nothing in the placid etfernities of rural existence at Thegnhurst, where
social standing is as often measured by length of residence as not.

    But though everybody had called upon Miss Peele, it cannot be
said that they had been all prepossessed precisely in the same way
as the vicaress. A gay young grass-widow and a frisky old maid
or two had been bored by her to the verge of openly expressed con-
tempt. She had no cricket, no lawn tennis, no dancing conversation.
She appeared never to have seen a horse or a golf club. She took no
interest in dashing young military men or brisk young curates. Having
no brothers, she never referred fascinatingly to ‘dear Jack out in
Lahore,’ or ‘that silly Tom at the Cape.’ She had no ideas on dress.
Above all, she was gravely plain, not unpleasantly or grotesquely so,
but simply gravely plain, quietly lacking in good looks. In the esti-
mation of some women, as we all know, the absence of these is as
unpardonable as their presence in a too marked degree. The gay grass-
widows and sprightly old maids of Thegnhurst were perhaps not quite
so hard to please; still, what had they to do with plain girls like Miss

    Charming young married women, stately matrons, authoritative
mothers in Israel with six or seven strapping sons at the army
crammers’, in the backwoods, and elsewhere—matrons of all kinds
could make nothing of Octavia. If they talked to her of primrose
politics, they found her delicately inattentive. A tirade against servants
only served to elicit the fact that she considered Abigail in the light of
a sister woman. A general discussion on Church work found her
lamentably ignorant of distinctions of sect and party. Eulogy of the
vicar seemed to pall on her.

    Young unmarried ladies between the ages of seventeen and thirty
found themselves even more out of touch with her than the foregoing.
By her plainness, her distance from the possibility of being admired by
the other sex, they were unconsciously estranged. Her lack of interest
in Anglicanism and athletics set her on an icy, unfashionable pinnacle,
which they certainly did not envy as one usually envies pinnacles.
Above all, her unmistakable culture was a stumbling-block to them.


Lilly Cranley, daughter of old General Cranley, late of the Bombay
Army, a thoroughly sensible girl in the estimation of the matrons, was
one day calling on Octavia—it was her first call and her last—and
happened in the course of a few remarks on her favourite novels to
make the then fashionable inquiry, ‘Have you read Pace? My
brothers think it ’s not quite the thing for girls to read, so, of course,
I’ve got it at the Railway Library.’

    ‘No, I am sorry to say I haven’t read it,’ said Miss Peele, with her
pleasant smile, which somehow or other always seemed insincere.
‘I’ve been making out Theocritus with the help of a lexicon this

    ‘Who was Theocritus?’ said bright Lilly Cranley (educated by
governesses and at Brighton).

    ‘Oh,’ said Octavia, her eyes—she had fine eyes—brightening ex-
tremely. ‘Do you really care to talk about him? He was a poet, a
Sicilian Greek’ And she went off at score, talking with eloquent
animation for quite ten ecstatic minutes.

    ‘Greek!’ ejaculated Miss Cranley, whose unmoved face had finally
chilled Octavia into silence. ‘Greek! How deep!’ And with that,
timidly, as though in dread of further appeals to that tiresome, un-
fashionable part of her, the brain, she bade our heroine farewell, and
with hastily gathered up gloves and parasol beat a precipitate retreat.

    Alas, poor Octavia! In homely phrase, she had let the cat out of
the bag at last. Her attacks on the Greek language and literature
were now open to public comment. In less than a week Thegnhurst
drawing-rooms were able to add point to their vague general feeling
against Miss Peele. They had always guessed—they now knew she
was a blue-stocking, a strong-minded woman. She was a finished
Greek scholar. Nay, she knew Hebrew, Sanscrit, Arabic! What did
she not know indeed? She was an unmitigated mass of learning.
She was deep!

    Her eccentric course of conduct during the Creed, long ago given
up by her in common with other passing phases, was avidly remembered.
She was undoubtedly an unbeliever as well as a blue-stocking! ‘She
is a what-you-call-’em—a—a Positivist Darwinite!’ gasped Mrs. Chol-

    ‘She’s a frump!’ ejaculated her neighbour, the dear little widow.
‘I know it’s not nice to say so, but she is!’

    Calls, which had occurred in Miss Peele’s life like the rare detona-
tions of a dying fusillade, now ceased almost altogether. Octavia’s


Greek lexicon had achieved her isolation. She was now as much
disregarded as a fallen minister at the court of a despot.

    But, though scarcely called upon, she was not actually cut. The
kind of honour, of esprit-de-corps, which actuates Thegnhurstians to a
creditable extent, forbade that. Having once made her acquaintance,
they did not cease to receive her; they did not even exclude her from
their more formal gatherings. To the squire’s yearly ball Miss Peele
was duly invited, albeit, when there, her wall-flower presence was a
delicate irritation to many. To Mrs. Cholmondeley-Smith’s annual
picnic Miss Peele, surrounded by an irksome aura of knowledge and
wisdom, also went, as well as to an ‘At Home’ at the vicarage arid a
‘Small and Early’ at the little widow lady’s, both of which entertain-
ments were biennial. But outside the pale of these, there was no social
life for Octavia in Thegnhurst. Months at a time would pass without
bringing her those little spells of polite intercourse with her kind, which,
in the country, are such a relief to all but hermits. Weeks—nay,
irregular periods, verging on three calendar months—would pass with-
out her being visited by anybody more clubbable than district visitors
in search of small donations. Time began to hang leaden on Octavia’s
hands. Her spirits began to droop fearfully. Old Hugo Peele could
give her no comfort. Absorbed as he was in the study of an abstruse
and antiquated branch of science, which he pursued with senile per-
sistence, the dull non-human atmosphere of Thegnhurst was entirely
congenial to him. When, with an old man’s feeble pace, he left his
study to walk abroad in the world, it was the fields, the common side,
the hills which he sought—not the society of his kind. He avoided
people, and they equally avoided him. To the generality of Thegn-
hurstians he was indeed a sort of superannuated necromancer,
dowered with much dark knowledge which it was just as well not to
examine too closely. And to him Thegnhurst society meant simply a
succession of masks without import of any kind.

    For many months Octavia walked out every other day with her
father. The pair paced along very slowly, and talked very little as
they went, and the effect of these solemn perambulations on the young
lady’s spirits was not hopeful. At the close of one of them, when the
red December sunset was dyeing the westward heavens, and all the
landscape of winter fields looked brown and chill as some uninhabited
desert, Hugo awoke from abstraction to find his daughter in tears.

    ‘What’s the matter, child?’ he queried affectionately, for to him this
daughter was dearer even than his mistress Science.


‘Oh, nothing,’ said she; ‘nothing, except that ’

    ‘Well, dear?’ said Mr. Peele, weakly fumbling with his boots round
the rickety door-scraper at the top of the cottage steps in Mudleigh

    ‘Except that I wish I were anywhere but in Thegnhurst,’ she
almost cried.

    ‘Why, where else would you be, little one?’ was the half-querulous

    ‘Oh, anywhere,’ said ‘little one,’ who, by the by, was some five or
six-and-twenty; ‘anywhere among intelligent, sympathetic people!’

    ‘Nonsense,’ said the old man, with a touch of irritation in his voice.
‘ Among intelligent people, as you call them, you meet with nothing
but intellectual arrogance and literary jealousy. Do you remember
London and its crowd and smoke?’ And he cleared his old throat
energetically at the thought.

    Octavia remembered the delights of the British Museum Reading-
Room—they were delights to her—enjoyed for all too short a season
years ago, and a genuine sob choked her further utterance.

    At supper-time the old gentleman discoursed at some length on the
beauty of the rural life.

    ‘The country is always sublime,’ he said, as he peeled his orange.
‘And solitude is good, and so are books, and so is study. What I
always am saying to you, Octavia, is, “Engross yourself in some great
overmastering study,” as I do. Take up any subject you like, but
engross yourself in it when once you have taken it up! Man muss
immer etivas studiren!—you know Professor Schweinfleisch’s motto:
“One ought ever to be studying something.” Ah, there is all Germany
in that saying!’

    Octavia wept silently in her bedroom at night, but her tears this
time were not for herself. They were for that dear, feeble, white-haired
father, that ineffectual, indefatigable follower after truths which men had
discredited. Her father’s lonely, ascetic life, his severity of ideal, his
practical failure, thronged her imagination like the several movements
of a romance. Her heart was wrung with infinite tenderness, infinite
pity, and in an access of soft-hearted remorse she determined never
again to sadden him with her discontents.

    It was during ever drearier growing months, each day and hour of
which made Octavia feel more petrified in heart and head, that good
news reached the cottage at Thegnhurst. A cousin of Miss Peele’s, a
bright little worldly-wise woman, wrote to say that she and Tom, her


husband, were thinking of coming to live in Thegnhurst, ‘as Jimmy
and Alec are both being sent to Harrow, and we want to exist as
cheaply as possible till such time as they can shift for themselves or
Tom can get something to do.’ Further on in the same letter she men-
tioned that, as there was a good preparatory school at Thegnhurst, they
were thinking of sending Dodo there.

    Dodo was the name by which these lovers of sobriquets knew
Master Eustace MacLeod Featherstonehaugh Peele, their youngest
born. And Octavia brightened up considerably at the thought of
seeing the dear little lad again. She was stirred into cheerful activity
too by the house-hunting and school-hunting expeditions she was now
called upon to undertake in her cousin’s behalf.

    In another fortnight Tom Peele arrived on the scene. Tom was a
most deliberate man, whose sentences took many minutes at a time to

    ‘Octavia,’ he said, with sharp solemnity, as at close of day they
stood in the roadway outside Hugo Peele’s cottage. ‘Octavia, listen
to me! Pay attention, please!’

    Miss Peele listened, bowing her head with the meekness which was
characteristic of her.

    ‘I think—that—that—urn er!—that’ (a pause, during which his wife
would have impatiently counted sixty below her breath)— ‘that the
houses you have been looking at for us won’t suit us at all!’

    The last part of this rather chilling sentence came with a rush, and
after its delivery Tom drew a long breath, and rested in the manner of
a finished orator.

    ‘I think,’ he continued, ‘we want a cheaper house! This one’ (a
pause, during which his mind seemed to wander dreamily over the
scenes of a happy past)—‘this one—this little crib next door to yours—
will—um er—will’ (his wife would have got to sixty-five here)—‘will
exactly suit us!’

    The crib in question was even smaller and less convenient than the
Peeles’, and Octavia felt a little feminine thrill of pleasure at the
thought that this mysterious and experienced Tom and his socially
brilliant wife were going to descend thereto. Together the cousins
went and looked over the house. Tom approved its every shabbiness,
and became its tenant before leaving for town by the last train.

    A few days afterwards Maggie, his wife, and Dodo, his youngest
born, came and took possession. ‘You great goose,’ Maggie had said
to Tom in the tender privacy of midnight, ‘what made you take that


wretched little box next door to them ? You know, the whole thing’s
an experiment! They may be well in with the Thegnhurst set, or they
mayn’t. If they’re not, where are we?’

    However, after her instalment in the said box, Maggie behaved, to
all appearances, admirably. She fell on Octavia’s neck, wept a very
little, poured out a pathetic tale of narrowed means, and ended by the
hope that in future they would be able to face the miseries of shabby
gentility shoulder to shoulder, as behoved cousins and next-door

    Octavia, after listening to this confession, felt herself a new creature.
The coming into her quiet life of this brilliant, bustling lady filled her
with intimate excitement. She kissed Maggie with an effusion of
grateful sympathy, and repaid her tears with heartfelt words and many
pressures of the hand.

    For some months after the arrival, Tom Peele’s wife was never out
of Hugo Peele’s house except at meal-times. But gradually very
gradually at first, then with increasing swiftness—a change began to
come over the cordial relations existing between the two households.
Octavia noticed that Maggie came seldomer and seldomer to see her.
She noticed, as she looked out of the dining-room window, that the
élite of Thegnhurst were calling on Maggie. She noticed, too, that
Maggie went out presumably to return their calls, and that in passing
Hugo Peele’s garden-gate she looked straight ahead of her, and hurried
her pace, as though not wishing to be recognised and stopped.

    The little worldly woman was in fact making great social way in
Thegnhurst. People were charmed with her. They were seduced by
her bright and apparently artless allusions to her grand relations—to
my dear old grandfather General Sir Monro this, and my poor dear
friend the Countess that. They adored the particular kind of poverty
she practised. For poverty with Maggie Peele was practised as an art.
She knew how to make it pretty, almost fashionable. Her clear-cut
well-bred English was never more pleasant to listen to than when
economy, and the Civil Service Stores, and the revivification of last
year’s gowns, were under discussion. Her caustic wit was never more
mirth-provoking than when she mimicked the rustic tones of her poor
little Salvationist housemaid, or described the ejectment from her
premises of the tipsy cook. Maggie, by the by, somehow managed
to keep three servants, a very grand establishment, according to Thegn-
hurst ideas. Above all, people liked and approved her religious views,
her politics, her contemptuous attitude towards prigs, faddists, geniuses,


and the socially shabby. They were indeed never more happy than
when they found themselves sitting in her aesthetic little back drawing-
room, drinking tea out of some rare old china, which Maggie sometimes
declared had been bought at ‘dear old Simla,’ and sometimes boasted
to be a present sent by the Duke of Punchestown from ‘one of those
funny tumbledown places in Italy, you know.’ In the end their
approving affection found voice through Mrs. Cholmondeley-Smith.
That lady, sitting glorious by Maggie’s fireside, where the dearest of
brass kettles reflected itself in the art tiles within the fender,—that great
lady was moved to cry out, ‘O Mrs. Peele! why don’t you come and
live among us? The Grove is such a way from this! Do come and
live in the Grove: we shall feel that you are really our neighbour then!’
The ‘Grove,’ be it said, is the Mayfair of Thegnhurst. To live in
the Grove is to be among the socially elect. It is the boast of the
‘Grovites,’ as they are enviously named, that they all call one another
by their Christian names, that they are always in and out of one
another’s houses, and that, towards the outer world of commerce and
ungentility, they oppose an impenetrable and unchanging front.

    ‘Your neighbours surely won’t prevent your joining us,’ said the
plaintive little widow. To which Mrs. Maggie replied with an
indescribable little grimace, delightful to the delicately humorous
sense of the company. These other Peeles were never definitely
named to Maggie by her new allies. It was tacitly felt that to ask
such a dear, clever woman whether she was any relation of that odd
girl, Octavia Peele, would be to insult her. And Maggie, on her side,
adroitly took advantage of this delicacy, and left her relationship to
her next-door neighbours a matter of the supremest doubt. She had
early guessed that the Hugo Peele element was indifferently regarded,
nay, even unpopular, in Thegnhurst, and neither by word nor deed did
she ever connect herself too irrevocably therewith. Well, the upshot of
all this was that, in no long time, the Tom Peeles left their cottage in
Mudleigh Road, and ascended into the charmed liberties of the Grove.

    ‘Darling Tavie,’ said Maggie to our heroine, who had been slaving
to pack up Dodo’s school-books and cricket-bats on the day of the
flitting, ‘we must see as much of one another as ever when I am
settled in the Grove!’

    ‘I do hope so,’ said Octavia disconsolately. ‘But I know what
going to live in the Grove means!’

    ‘Oh, nonsense,’ said the other.

    Still, ‘darling Tavie’ was right. From the very day that her


cousins settled in the patrician quarter, in a little house standing
midway between the demesnes of the Cholmondeley-Smiths and the
Ponsonby Bakers, they began to treat her as did the rest of Thegnhurst.
So little indeed did she see of them that she grew shy at the mere
thought of walking the quarter of a mile separating her father’s house
from the terraced Grove, and contented herself with asking curly-
haired Dodo, whom she met in the fields, about his parents’ health and
doings. The child did not always respond very willingly. When he
chanced to be running about with other sailor boys he even tried to
shun cousin Tavie. The fact was that his new companions, having
often heard her rather unmercifully discussed by their elders, shouted
at the mere mention of her name in a way that chilled and puzzled his
poor little wits.

    Tavie noticed that the child too was estranged from her, and her
poor heart, craving always for sympathy, was sometimes fit to break
outright. There is a nadir in the existences of those many quiet
women who are not unendowed with nerves or a critical faculty to
which men can never wholly sink. Men are always able to escape to a
certain extent at least from the gnawings of the introspective tendency
which is born of nerves. But women in Tavie’s position cannot. A
hundred bonds bind them to the rack — bonds of filial duty and
affection, bonds of helpless dependence and inexperience. Octavia,
in her wildest moments of revolt against her chilling unsocial existence,
was always sure to be pricked by a sort of conscience which spoke to
her of her father and of his foibles as of something unutterably sacred.
Her father’s chief foible was, of course, a delight in rural Thegnhurst,
lonesome Thegnhurst, and this delight was an iron law to her.

    Under similar circumstances a more commonplace girl would have
turned to religion for solace. But religion, in the ordinary parochial
sense of the term, was impossible for this highly critical nature.
Octavia’s nearest approach to the religious state was a certain self-
pity, a certain constant soreness of mind and heart, a certain half-
mystical, half-pessimistic affection for failure and weakness in others.

    It was while Miss Peele was deeply affected by this long-drawn,
morbid phase that Tom’s wife, who was now fashionably metamor-
phosed into Mrs. Hatherley-Peele, came down upon her with an offer.

    ‘O Tavie dearest,’ she said in her most émpresse manner, ‘you are
just the body who can do me a service. The vicar has asked me to
take a Sunday-school class for him. Now you know I can’t bear
children, especially poor children. It’s very wrong, but I can’t help it.


Now I know you are a dear obliging creature, and won’t mind helping
me, will you, Tavie? I want you to take the class for me—there!
They are all little boys; you can easily teach them. Just talk seriously
to them about Catholic doctrine, and try and knock Dissent out of
them. You know the kind of thing!’

    Octavia loved children sentimentally, and the children of the poor
touched her above all others. But how could she undertake Sunday-
school work? However, her timid objections passed off the hard
narrow surfaces of Mrs. Hatherley-Peele’s mind like water off a duck’s
back, and at last the young lady agreed to accept the ‘offer,’ subject to
the vicar’s decision.

    Maggie marched off in high feather. She felt she had done an act of
supererogation in thus offering what she did not want to her eccentric and
uncomfortable cousin. Octavia, on the other hand, feared she had half
promised where she could nowise perform. So she wrote to the vicar to
explain her scruples. It was a bold stroke, and the reverend gentleman
thought it a very odd one. The letter was of the kind a George Eliot
might have written at the age of twenty, supposing, of course, that the
great authoress had been other than evangelical at that age. It was a
clever letter, a subtle, almost a profound letter, and its every sentence
put the question whether it was not permissible for an Agnostic, touched
to the heart by the love of little helpless children, to influence them
under Christian auspices.

    The vicar, good, worldly, scarcely literate man that he was, could
make nothing of it. He handed it to his wife; she discussed it with
other ladies; and the highly logical upshot of their deliberations was
that it was very ‘deep,’ but that Miss Peele ought none the less to
come and teach in the Sunday-school, as its educational staff was
always short-handed, especially during the lawn-tennis season, which
was then in full swing, and had proved up to date a tiring, flirting,
marrying affair, involving much late rising on the Day of Rest.

    So Octavia began to teach in Thegnhurst Sunday-school. And we
venture to opine that during the whole history of those laudable insti-
tutions they never boasted a stranger exponent of divine truth, as it is
understood by young ladies in the country. The classes were all held
in one large parish room, and it was perplexing to notice how all the
children who did not happen to be under Octavia’s care constantly
stole envious glances in her direction. Miss Cranley’s pupils were
allowed to kiss her pretty frequently; but that privilege did not
prevent them from openly expressing their wish to join Miss Peek’s


little band of urchins. Miss Cholmondeley-Smith’s and the little
widow’s pupils were initiated into the mysteries of St. Athanasius’
Creed by means of sundry ‘bobs and nips,’ and small but sounding
slaps; and they, of course, longed to go and group themselves round
Octavia. It seemed as though she commanded a charmed circle. Her
half-dozen sturdy little disciples seemed to the other children to be
sitting in elysium. Their miniature smock frocks or velveteen jackets
appeared to excited childish imaginations in the light of heavenly
garments. Their ruddy, earnest faces, their linten curls, and solemn
eyes suggested transfigurations on a small scale.

    And no wonder. These Sunday mornings with Octavia Peele were
the most charming, easy, social affairs imaginable. Fancy this! a
mention of David and the lion would lead in the most natural way
to a discussion upon lions in general.

    ‘Oi’ve seen a loyun!’ little Albert Edward Ockenden would shout,
in imitation of the bluff manner of his father, the ploughman.

    ‘So’ve us!’ the others would hasten to inform him.

    ‘So’ve oi!’ would pipe a minute rustic, all by himself, after the
chorus had subsided.

     ‘Oi’ve seen a menadgerry!’ some one would add with vanity in his

    ‘No, ye ha’n’t!’

    ‘Yes, I seen un!’

    ‘Yeou dunno a cammul when yeou sees un! My father’s a soldier:
he’ve rode on un in Americky!’

    ‘Well, but tell me about David,’ Miss Peele would gently remon-
strate. ‘What was he?’

    ‘He wur a bwoy, Miss! He frighted birds, he did. I’m a goin to
the bird-scarin’ when Oi be big. Then oi’m goin’ to droive ingines! My
brother Sam’l— he droives’un! Sh! Sh! Sh! ’

    What did David do when he saw the lion? Now, Charles Pottin-
ger, you know the answer!’

    ‘Yes, Miss. He tuk a rock and fotched him one over the nose, he
did! He did’n run away! I should have! I’da gone up a tree like
a flash o’ lightnin’ if I’d a seed a loyun. Oh!’ and the youthful
aspirant to theological culture shuddered again. It was all very
irregular, and not a little profane, but the children adored Miss
Peele for it with a loyalty passing description. They brought her
in quantities of the field-flowers she loved; they smiled towards her
when they met her in the road, as though their little rustic hearts


would burst with pleasure. All this homage was warmth to Octavia’s
heart, and her sole fear—a foolish, aching, feminine fear—was that some
one should tell these masculine babes that she was not pretty, and
so really not admirable at all.

    Thegnhurst was vastly nonplussed by Miss Peele’s success in her
new and undreamt-of sphere. To quote their own phrase, people
‘couldn’t make her out at all.’ She was ladylike—they had long ago
admitted that. She had seen something of the world in the ordinary
polite way; and now she was teaching in the Sunday-school, and
presumably teaching the proper thing, to judge by the children’s appro-
bation. And yet she was ‘Miss Peele,’ a name with a connotation!
What a strange puzzle she was, to be sure! Yet the very fact that she
puzzled the Thegnhurstians so began at length almost to interest them.
They made some advances to her, and Miss Cranley, without com-
mitting herself to a call, even asked her to help at a bazaar.

    It was at this rather dreary function that Octavia, who felt less in
touch with the other Thegnhurst ladies than ever, was presented to Mr.
Cyril Bertram, of Trinity, Cambridge. The introduction was part of
one of those distinctly spiteful little plots which amuse the Grovites
when, as is sometimes the case even among such well-bred people,
their better feelings chance to be in abeyance. Mr. Cyril Bertram, tutor
to the vicar’s little boys, was looked upon among the governing ladies
of the Grove as a prig of the worst order. He was certainly the full-blown
product of certain kinds of academic coteries. That is to say, he wore a
wavy mane of hair and a terra-cotta-coloured tie, professed ‘earnest’
views as to politics and ethics, spoke much of ‘Economics’ and of the
‘Purpose of Life,’ and was understood to know more about Ibsen,
Hegelian thought, the exact sciences, and the inner meaning of Robert
Browning, than most other clever young men of four-and-twenty.

    He was now presented to ‘that odd girl Tavie Peele’ in order that
the governing ladies might have the fun of watching two birds of one
feather flocking together.

    ‘I do believe the creatures will flirt,’ said the plaintive widow to Mrs.
Cholmondeley-Smith, to whom she always allowed herself the most
intimate confidences in public. And certainly poor Octavia went as
near flirting that day as she ever did in the whole course of her life.
Cyril Bertram began by professing himself quite too bored with the
Thegnhurst people.

    ‘They are awfully unintellectual!’ he sighed. Octavia echoed him
with a certain diffidence, for she was not, after all, a University man of


repute, and did not therefore venture on strong opinions of that kind.
A species of mutual forbearance for the Thegnhurst set, their ideals
and point of view, became apparent as the pair talked, and greatly
assisted the give and take of culture. It is lamentable, but true, that
people always sympathise most when they nurse some contempt or
dislike in common! Octavia, poor simple Octavia, was no exception
to the rule, and she glowed again as she listened to this modern
Crichton’s discourses on all things under the sun—the academic sun,
we should say.

    ‘Oh, if I could only have gone to Girton or Newnham!’ she sighed
with genuine naive regret.

    The Thegnhurst ladies who watched the colloquy were delighted.
Whenever feasible they exchanged little mutual signs, and some very
young ladies even giggled! But Octavia was too excited to notice
anything; and when Mr. Bertram went home to teach his charges
Latin, she too walked off in the direction of the Mudleigh Road, feeling
as though she trod on air. Soon, however, a change came over her
thoughts, and by bedtime, in a weary fit of self-distrust, she could not
help reflecting that she was the plainest of unfashionable creatures.
‘Oh, such a plain girl! Oh, so unlike the rest of the world!’ she
ejaculated, feeling more bitterly sensitive as to her shortcomings and
defects than ever before. ‘He will never think one thought of me!
Next time we meet he’ll have forgotten!’ But this was not the case.

    At the squire’s formal dance, which occurred in a few days, Mr.
Bertram singled her out from among the wall-flowers, and boldly
proposed that they should sit out the lancers. Having done so, they
sat out a valse and a polka, and two other valses; and, at last, Octavia’s
head seemed fairly turning with excited interest.

    It was during one of her most ecstatic gushes of conversation that
Cyril, slightly yawning, dropped a fateful suggestion.

    ‘I wonder,’ he said unemotionally, ‘why you do not read more
obvious books than those you have mentioned. Spanish is very
charming of course; but literature, like charity, should begin at home.
Should it not, Miss Peele? Now why do you not go through a course
of English poetry from Chaucer onwards?’

    Cyril Bertram dropped his suggestion carelessly, inattentively, as
became a professional giver of good advice. But Octavia seized on it
as on an oracular utterance. When the Thegnhurst fly had dropped
her at her father’s door that night she was ready for action, and going
into the dining-room, seized on the first book that met her eye, a


volume of Coleridge, and began furiously to read. It was very strange,
she thought, that the extreme beauty of certain lines had never struck
her before.

    It was stranger still that when she took up Keats, and read through
the ‘Ode to a Nightingale,’ the words seemed to take to themselves
wings, and to soar away through a luminous haze thrilling with
unutterably melodious sound. Then a rain of many perfumes fell
around her; the walls of the room melted away; she was walking in a
gorgeous and mystical paradise.

             •     •     •     •     •

    The little servant, coming downstairs in the morning to shovel old
Hugo’s tobacco-ashes out of the grate, and, generally speaking, to make
pretence of dusting, was startled half out of her five wits at seeing Miss
Peele, with dishevelled hair and staring eyes, half sitting, half lying on
the hearth-rug among a heap of open books.

    ‘What is the matter, Miss V she gasped at length.
i Oh nothing, Mary,’ said Miss Peele, but her voice was so strange
and shaky, and she followed up her disclaimer by such a manifestly
hysterical laugh, that Mary, like a wise girl, bundled her off to bed
without asking any further questions.

    Miss Peele, heir as she was to a long line of neurotic students and
eccentrics, surcharged too as she was by a tumult of novel feelings, had
simply paid a penalty to exasperated nature in the shape of an attack
of hysteria. Yet, alas! there was no one but Mary, poor ignorant
Mary, to warn her of the danger, in her instance, of such attacks. After
a day in her bedroom Octavia thought she was herself again. Indeed,
she was loth to admit that she had been anything but herself on that
strange night of poetry and ecstasy. She felt herself a woman of
balanced and rational mind; feminine weaknesses were therefore, as
she imagined, beneath her notice, if not wholly impossible in her case.

    Keats, Coleridge, Rossetti, and a host of others became her daily
reading. She went through their pages with a passion of eagerness
which lacked sanity, with delight which thrilled her abnormally. At
the end of a month she had discovered and acclimatised herself in an
atmosphere hitherto unknown to her — the atmosphere of the poets of
beauty. The strange névrose excitement in which she constantly found
herself had its effect on her speech, her point of view, her very looks.
Next time Bertram saw her—it was at the widow’s ‘At Home,’ next
door to Mrs. Cholmondeley-Smith’s—she looked so strangely distin-
uished, and spoke with such wit, such brilliant sureness, that even the


accomplished apostle of things in general was startled into a sense of

    Almost in a tone of admiration he cried out, ‘You should write a
book, Miss Peele!’ the writing of a book being, in his estimation, the
supreme end of all emotion and effort. Octavia thrilled and thrilled
with pleasure at his words. ‘Fancy his thinking me worthy to write a
book!’ she reflected.

    And with his august image in her heart, and his approving words
ringing in her ears, she set about composing that extraordinary collec-
tion of Letters to my Lover—letters never posted, be it said—which has
since made her fame.

    In societies such as that of Thegnhurst everybody is in some
sort under the surveillance of everybody else. Having thrown ‘that
conceited young Bertram and that odd creature Octavia Peele’
together, the Thegnhurst ladies watched over them with the eyes of
lynxes, if we may be permitted a metaphor so rude. They watched
over their little bouts of conversation; they saw Miss Peele waxing
excited and animated beyond the limit prescribed by the code of their
drawing-rooms. And they decided, firstly, that she was by way of
flirting in a desperate manner; and, secondly, that her flirtation must
be nipped in the bud.

    ‘Miss Peele trying to flirt!’—the thought shocked them; it was
abnormal. So, without consciously taking counsel together, they each
and all began to make things more uncomfortable than usual for Cyril
and Octavia. Mrs. Hatherley-Peele was foremost in this almost imper-
ceptible crusade, for her ‘dear Tavie’ was becoming unpleasantly
prominent as a subject of small talk, and she feared that in no long
time the odious word ‘cousin’ might be breathed abroad. Accordingly
she arranged for Cyril Bertram’s exclusion from two or three functions,
which was an easy matter, seeing that the ladies of the Grove always
submitted their lists of guests to her before actually issuing their invita-
tion cards. And, in the next place, she boldly, bluffly, twitted Octavia
with her odd conduct towards ‘that ridiculous young university man,’
and warned her that she was in danger of becoming a laughing-stock.

    At this our heroine winced terribly; and the next time she was in
the same room with Mr. Bertram felt far too self-conscious and miser-
able to notice him. He, on his side, had been admonished by Mr.
Parker Cope, the curate, who as a rival coxcomb detested him cordially
enough. And on the occasion poor Tavie cut him he felt quite relieved.
A fortnight or so afterwards he was travelling off to higher spheres,


where young ladies, who were pretty as well as clever, would be sure to
worship him as of old, and where dons’ wives would pour out his tea.
As he had bade farewell to his tiresome charges at the vicarage, no
thought of Octavia Peele had crossed his mind beyond the vague
reflection that she had been ‘somebody to talk to.’ He had had no
time to leave cards in the Mudleigh Road; and indeed, seeing that he
professed a revolutionary code of etiquette, that did not matter in the

    The final removal from the Thegnhurst scene of this superior person
plunged Octavia first into the sweet sorrow of imagined parting, and
then into an ever-deepening melancholy. Would he ever return? No.
Would he ever think of her? No. Would they ever meet in the
outer world, if ever this weary exile should cease? Again, in all
probability, No! As during sleepless nights and dawns this hopeless
catechism unrolled itself in Octavia’s mind, the image of the vanished
god defined itself ever more gloriously upon her mental retina. If she
had admired him in awestruck fashion when they were in the habit of
meeting, now that they were parted she adored and loved him with the
intense force of a pent-up heart. A ‘Letter to my Lover’ was written
in tears every night, and a new and cruelly emotional book was
devoured with heartache during the day. The little Sunday-school
children were often startled by a shower of tears, which Octavia could
no longer keep back; but in other respects their lessons were the same
as last year. Nay, they were even pleasanter than of old, for Octavia
now spoke and read with an intenser tenderness. Indeed, these chil-
dren were a great solace to her. ‘They keep me alive,’ she wrote, ‘they
love me so! Months went by, during which Octavia steadily overworked
herself, overwept herself, overwrought herself. And then the crisis arrived.

    It was an autumn morning that Maggie met her cousin in the
Mudleigh Road. These chance meetings were a pleasure to the little
worldly woman, for they always brought with them their small triumphs.
On one occasion she would tell her Tavie of a grand ‘At Home’ to
which she was going. On another she would beg her to be so good
as to come and help dress Dodo for a children’s fancy ball. On
another she would discourse of the doings of the local picnic club,
tennis club, and amateur dramatic society. In proportion as her dear
Tavie expressed a simple regret that she was not about to share in
any of these gaieties would Maggie’s descriptions wax eloquent and
full of magnificent suggestion. On the present occasion her news
for Tavie was of a kind purely personal to the younger woman.


    ‘Have you heard the latest on dit?’ said Maggie, laughing with
pretty contempt.


    ‘Well, think of it! That awful Mr. Cyril Bertram is engaged to
a dowdy, aesthetic, socialistic creature, a Miss Althea Papworth! It’s
too screaming! The Grove can’t get over it!’

    That evening Octavia wrote in her book of Letters to my Lover
the wonderful ‘Farewell’ which we have all been discussing of late.
Then she sat down to the piano, and sang to her father—sang sweetly,
pathetically, passionately, till the old man rose feebly from his chair
and kissed her as she sang. The dear, palpable, strangely-excited
daughter kissed him back with an anguish of gesture which he could
not understand. It was her real, not her written, good-bye to the only
man who had ever felt affection towards her, for in the grey early
hours of the morning Octavia had passed into that trance from which
she never woke.

    Maggie, sitting at breakfast with Tom and Dodo, was startled,
seeing Hugo Peele tottering up the garden path in front of their
cottage in the high places of the Grove.

    ‘What is it, uncle?’ she almost gasped, seeing the old savant’s
grey face at the low French window, and momentarily forgetting to
address him as though he were a little child of narrowed com-

    ‘Come with me for God’s sake,’ he made answer hoarsely. ‘Octavia
is ill—insensible. I cannot conceive what is the matter with her.’

    Now, Maggie was not lacking in a certain perverse goodness of
heart. She was shocked at the old man’s looks and words, and
without more ado made ready to accompany him. On their way to
Mudleigh Road he seemed to grow dizzy. He walked unsteadily
as one drunken with new wine, and Maggie had to pass an arm
round his shoulder and support him by main force.

    Once at the Peeks’ cottage, the worldly woman, trained by long
years of parochial good works, did not allow the grass to grow under-
foot for a moment. She bustled off the weeping maid in search of the
medical man whom no one had as yet summoned. She pushed and
coaxed her old uncle back into his study, assuring him that all was,
or would be, well. She went up to the sickroom and made her patient
comfortable. She dived down to the kitchen and prepared the beef-
tea and other needments which the exigencies of the moment suggested.
In fact, minus the picturesque dress, the tender associations, and the


unworldly spirit, she became for the time a most effective sister of

    For a week, for a fortnight, Maggie was constantly at Octavia’s
bedside. She was a most devoted nurse, a model watcher. But a
time came, alas! when the pure enthusiasm of nursing began to fade
and give place to a mixture of motives. A ‘Retreat’ for married
ladies was to be held at the convent of an Anglican sisterhood near
Thegnhurst, and it was to be conducted by Father Alphege himself!
To miss his ministrations implied very severe self-denial, but Maggie
determined not to desert her post. She wrote, begging him not to
expect her presence among her fellow-penitents. Many of these
being Thegnhurst ladies, the Father naturally advised with them as
to the cause of Mrs. Hatherley-Peele’s absence, and was as naturally
informed of her devotion to a sick friend, ‘not quite in our set,’ as
the plaintive widow explained, forgetting whom she addressed. Father
Alphege commended Maggie’s kindness, but the Thegnhurst ladies
went further; they silently voted it the supreme of supererogation!

    To a reputation for noble self-martyrdom was soon added that
spice of humiliation without which no moral triumph can be accounted
perfect. For, when Octavia had been desperately ill a week, the
Grove began to call and make kind inquiries in Mudleigh Road with
a frequency smacking of remorse for past neglects. Amongst others
came the vicaress, not this time armed with a little black collecting-
book, but carrying instead baskets of grapes, and jellies, and other
invalid necessaries, for she too was kind-hearted at extreme crises.
The greybeard at whom she had so often shaken a dubious head
received her at the front door; and in the nervous excitement peculiar
to the time, and without in the least recognising an adversary in his
visitor, poured out to her his almost certain hopes of Octavia’s recovery
under his niece’s kind and devoted care.

    ‘Your niece, Mr. Peele!’ cried the vicaress. ‘I had no idea Mrs.
Hatherley-Peele was related to you!’

    So what had been a vague rumour among the few now became
an established fact among the many.

    To think of them being related!’ cried Mrs. Cholmondeley-Smith
when, on emerging from ‘Retreat,’ she was informed of old Hugo’s
speech about his niece. ‘To think of it! Poor Mrs. Hatherley-

    Meanwhile she who was the cause of all this display of Christian
virtues lay very still and white upon her bed. Only at intervals a


twitching of the pale hands showed that the body suffered a strange
reflex anguish. As to the finer essence of the mind, it suffered not
at all. Deep down, beyond the outer bulwarks of consciousness, it
was alive and at ease; for Octavia, the real Octavia, was dreaming a
beautiful dream. All day and all night it seemed that she and her
lover were walking in an enchanted land, as little children might,
confidingly. And at last it seemed to her that together they passed
into soft and sudden darkness, and that he, kissing her on the cheek,
whispered, ‘I am Death.’

    And then Octavia lay even more white and still than before, and
when Maggie came back into the bedroom she knew that this was
the end.

             •     •     •     •     •

    Miss Peele’s funeral was an almost sensational event. In her
decent, brisk, charming way, Mrs. Hatherley-Peele went as near
performing the part of master of the ceremonies as it is possible for
a lady to do. And the result of her efforts in whipping up mourners
and marshalling the procession beforehand bore abundant fruit; for
when the day of the obsequies arrived, all the grown-up Grove and
all the pretty little sailor boys, their offspring, turned out in order
to follow the cortége to the grave. Poor old Mr. Peele, looking dimly
out of the window of his mourning coach, remarked the concourse of
amateur mourners, as, headed by General Cranley and Colonel
Cholmondeley-Smith, they wound up the road in the rear of the
carriages. And he turned to Hatherley-Peele, his nephew in the eye
of the world now, and thanked him painfully for kindness at once
so signal and so unforeseen.

    ‘How good they have all been to us,’ he groaned, ‘to you and
me, my child!’

    That he failed, however, to include the sincerest of the day’s
mourners in this expression of gratitude is hardly to be wondered at;
for certain small children, who erewhile had discoursed about ‘loyuns,’
were walking quite out of sight, behind all the tall gentlefolks, at
the extreme tail-end of the procession, where cowslip wreaths fading
in hot little hands, corduroy habiliments, and heartfelt rustic weeping
were not likely to mar Maggie’s grand principal effects !

             •     •     •     •     •

    But Miss Peele’s Apotheosis was not yet! In about a year’s time,
when Hugo himself had quietly and unostentatiously dropped from
what he had deemed the fighting line of science into an obscure and


unmourned grave, certain papers came, with books and other valuables,
into the hands of his next-of-kin, the Hatherley-Peeles. Maggie,
busy, sensible, little lady that she was, voted at once that all MSS.
should be burnt as rubbish, but her husband was not entirely of her
opinion. He had heard somewhere that literary matter sometimes
sells profitably, if not in a decent place like Thegnhurst, then at
any rate in the eccentric outer world. Hence, after much slow debate,
punctured by counting, and the endurance of infinite snubs rappingly
delivered by his more intellectual half, he was allowed to select from
the pyre in the back kitchen two or three large notebooks, bound in
black leather, and adorned with decent clasps. These he submitted,
over an evening pipe and game of whist, to his ally the vicar; but
the latter could make nothing of them. A month afterwards, however,
young Mr. Cyril Bertram and his bride came to visit the vicarage at
the close of a prolonged honeymoon. Now, however odd, a bride is
a bride in Thegnhurst, and Althea found this out to her comfort. She
was feted by all the best people, and her husband shared in her

    At a small, cleverly managed dinner, given in their honour at the
Hatherley-Peeles’, Maggie, talking literature for the nonce—she prided
herself on being able to parody most kinds of shop—mentioned the
MS. notebooks to her guests.

    ‘I am sure there must be something in them,’ she said, addressing
the incomparable Cyril, who sat on her right. ‘Dear Mr. Bertram,
perhaps you would be so good as to glance them over. The dear vicar
has them in his desk. They are lying idle in fact, and I am sure we
should all be so obliged to you if you would see whether anything can
be made of them. It would only take you ten minutes.’

    The hint was negligently enough given. Indeed, Maggie only
dropped it for the sake of something to say. But Cyril was quick to
take it; for he is, as many of us know, a promising and not too scrupu-
lous editor of certain sorts of latter-day literature. He spent the desired
ten minutes, and a good many more besides, over the black notebooks,
which he found had been crammed into one of the good vicar’s largest
disused tobacco jars. And the upshot of his reading was the publica-
tion of Octavia Peele’s Letters to my Lover, a work which for long made
a noise in cultured circles, and is now famous amongst the Philistines.

    The book, as we all know, is dedicated to Mrs. Hatherley-Peele
by the joint editors, Althea and Cyril Bertram, and is prefaced by a
charming notice of Miss Peele by one who ‘had often the privilege of


meeting her,’ etc., etc. It is, of course, full of Thegnhurst allusions,
which have made that pretty cynosure of villadom famous wherever
people read English. Pilgrims stream thither in the summer, and with
the exception of the mere American tourists, the Thegnhurstians are
pleased to rejoice at sight of them, for they feel that a Thegnhurstian is
being honoured. The Letters may be deep, shaky, dangerous—what
you will, but you must remember ‘they were written by one of us,’ as
the autochthonous Mrs. Ponsonby Baker is never tired of remarking.
The ‘Peele Boom,’ as her friend the cricketing curate has sometimes
jokingly called it, is as much one of the glories of Thegnhurst as the
Grove. Indeed, the last-mentioned suburb is in some danger of paling
into insignificance beside the Mudleigh Road, where rents are rising in
a manner at once fashionable and inordinate.

    ‘Our dear Miss Peele lived there,’ murmur the Thegnhurstians as
they pass the shabby little house where she and her father dwelt, and
with extended lawn-tennis rackets point it out to the vistors to their
garden parties. ‘Such a sweet girl! And the father so charming!
Relations of dear Mrs. Hatherley-Peele’s. Ah, dear me, how sad it all
was for Maggie! And how splendidly she bore it!’

                                                                                                VICTOR PLARR.

MLA citation:

Plarr, Victor. “Miss Peel’s Apotheosis: A Study in Extra-Suburban Amenities.” The Pageant, 1897, pp. 32-62. Pageant Digital Edition, edited by Frederick King and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2019-2021. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021.