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The Bishop's Jaegers


Thorne Smith



THE naked people, when they saw their quarry go to earth, promptly lost interest in dancing and stood gazing down at the two strangely twisted figures with friendly concern.

'What's the matter?' one of them asked. 'Resting?' Peter groaned aloud at this, and Josephine, a small white ball, giggled to herself at the questioner's simplicity.

'No,' she replied. 'We're looking for edelweiss.'

'Edelweiss grows in the Alps,' the man informed her.

'Does it?' Jo said innocently. 'Then if you'll go your way we'll go ours.'

'There must be something wrong,' another voice declared.

'I suppose it would be quite hopeless,' said Peter, bitterly addressing his words to a cluster of bare feet. 'I daresay it would be positively ridiculous to try to make you understand even the most obvious things that are wrong with the situation.'

'Not at all,' a pair of feet replied. 'We're an exceptionally intelligent group.'

'I don't see how that can be,' protested Peter. 'Tearing about all exposed isn't especially intelligent.'

'In pairs it might be, Peter,' said Jo, 'but not in large, impersonal masses.'

'So that's it!' cried a voice. 'You don't like being naked, eh? Embarrasses you?'

'Worse than that,' said Peter. 'It paralyses me.'

'If you can't guess what's wrong with us,' Josephine offered, 'I'll tell you under three separate and distinct headings so you won't get confused. A: We're naked. B: You're naked. C: We're all naked together. And if that doesn't make it clear, I'll toss in another letter. D: There isn't so much as a doll's handkerchief to cover a dozen adult members of the male, female, and indeterminate sexes.'

'There's more of us than that,' some one remarked.

'Well, after you've reached a dozen naked bodies,' replied Jo, 'it takes a cooler brain than mine to keep an accurate count.'

'Tell 'em to go away, Jo,' said Peter. 'I don't like it here.'

'Go away,' Jo told the naked people. 'He doesn't like it here. The grass tickles.'

'I didn't say that,' said Peter. 'However, it does.'

'What's wrong with him now?' asked a female member of the party. 'Has he lost his voice?'

'I've lost everything but an audience,' Peter retorted. 'And I don't want that. Honour, hope, and decency are gone, all gone. I wish you would go, too.'

'If you don't like being naked,' inquired a hitherto silent member of the group, 'why did you come here?'

'Didn't know anything about it,' declared Peter. 'I was partly drunk and partly delirious, and I wish to God I was in that happy state right now.'

'Yes,' supplied Josephine. 'We were lured into this fix. A fully clad gentleman met us on the beach and offered us the hospitality of his home overnight. When I woke up, my clothes were gone. Immediately, I suspected a bad house. I still do, a little.'

'Mine were gone, too,' proclaimed Peter dramatically, 'and in their place was a man—a naked man with a funny little black bag. What a pretty sight that was, first thing in the morning! A naked man with a black bag. My word!'

'That would be our doctor,' a voice said proudly.

'He pretty nearly make a wreck of me,' snapped Peter.

'Yes. That was Dr. Wolf,' another voice declared.

'He looked like one,' replied Peter, 'without the sheep's clothing.'

'He's a very nice doctor,' cried a girlish voice. 'He believes in nuts.'

'So do I,' said Peter, 'after this morning.'

'You're actually brilliant, Peter,' Josephine told him. 'If they'd provide us with a pair of blankets we could talk like this indefinitely.'

'Then you are not voluntary nudists, we take it?' a lady inquired.

'That's right, lady,' put in Jo. 'You can take it or leave it. Lying here naked like this is one of the most involuntary acts in my life. It's almost instinctive.'

'Well,' announced a new voice authoritatively, 'you'll have to come along now voluntarily or otherwise. The leader wants to see you.'

'The leader?' laughed Jo sarcastically. 'Do you mean that smooth little snake in the grass who lured us into his establishment? If so, I'm anxious to see him, too. I'll claw the clothes from his body.'

'He doesn't wear any,' continued the man.

'He did last night,' said Jo.

'I know,' continued the other impatiently. 'He had just returned from a trip to town. Now he's like the rest of us.'

'He won't be long,' cried Jo, thoughtlessly springing up in her eagerness for action. 'His skin will be in shreds when I get through with him—in tatters.'

'I won't get up,' groaned Peter. 'I can't get up. It's against every instinct in my being. Can't we call on this procurer alone?'

'You seem to have got used to the little lady,' said an insinuating voice.

'She's an old friend,' explained Peter. 'She knew my father.'

'And I fancy he would approve of your conduct?' the voice continued. 'You were in the same room together behind a locked door.'

'Sure,' retorted Peter. 'My father used to do that himself.'

'How do you mean? He used to do what?'

'Why go into details?' cried Peter. 'He was a man who craved privacy—liked naked bodies and everything behind locked doors.'

'We go in for naked bodies here,' the man replied, 'and leave everything else alone.'

'That hardly seems logical,' said Jo. 'If true, why the naked bodies? Strikes me as living in the lap of an anticlimax.'

'We dance and exercise as God intended us,' the man explained.

'Don't tell me that,' declared Jo, warming to the argument. 'When God made a man and woman He had a lot more in His mind than dancing and silly exercises. He might not have said it in so many words, being quite content to leave a few things to the imagination.'

'I won't attempt to explain,' replied the man with offended dignity. 'I fear it would be quite useless.' Here he paused and turned to two companions. 'If you two,' he resumed, 'will be good enough to drag that body up from the grass we will bring it along with us.'

'Keep your hands off of me,' cried Peter. 'If I must get up I'll do so under my own steam.'

Painfully Peter rose from the grass and stood huddled up beside Josephine, his eyes ruefully fixed on his feet. A realization of the ordered madness of life was growing in his mind. He had started this naked business himself by dashing unclad down his own stairs in pursuit of a syphon-squirting pickpocket. Destiny, seeing in him a willing subject, had since that unconsidered moment done with him as it pleased. What, exactly, would Aunt Sophie or Sanders do under similar conditions? It stultified his imagination to think of them standing naked on a lawn in the presence of a group of equally naked strangers. How was Yolanda taking it? Not at all well, he felt sure. Not nearly so well as Josephine, but then the latter was of different clay—much coarser and nicer.

The naked people gathered companionably round him —too companionably for Peter's comfort. In spite of his morning's introduction to the flesh he still shrank from promiscuous contact with it, still objected to being bumped and jostled by naked bodies. Such alarming experiences were occurring with increasing frequency as the party approached the long white house. Deep verandas flared from its sides upon the cool green of the lawn—deep verandas with well-tailored awnings picked out in stripes of white and orange.

'Not unlike your drawers,' observed Josephine, pointing to the awnings.

'Wish I had a pair right now,' was Peter's wistful answer. 'They would give me a slight shade of moral ascendency at least.'

'If you can't maintain your morals naked,' a tall, scholarly individual cut in, 'you will lose them entirely when dressed,'

'That,' said Peter, 'would disturb me very little. I don't care how many morals I lose so long as I retrieve my clothes.'

'Not an edifying attitude,' replied the man. 'Why don't you stand erect like the rest of us? Why not throw out your chest and shoulders? You walk like a man with knots in his bowels.'

'What!' Peter almost screamed, recoiling from the speaker's side. 'A man with knots in his what? No. Don't speak. I'd rather you wouldn't.'

'My friend finds your words even less comforting than your body,' Josephine informed the man. 'And so do I.'

'It's disgraceful,' muttered Peter, 'the way these men and women strut along just as if nothing was wrong with them. They throw everything out—chests and all. Wherever I turn my eyes some horrid section of anatomy fairly leaps into view.'

'But you really are walking like a camel in labour,' Josephine reminded him.

'If I could walk with my head between my legs I'd feel all dressed up,' said Peter.

'That sight would be even more memorable than the present one,' his red-headed companion replied.

By this time they had reached the house, which they entered, only to find themselves in the presence of a fresh burst of nudity. Naked people were sitting, squatting, and reclining wherever Peter tried to rest his eyes from the sight of flesh. Had he been able to discover the Bishop bereft of garments he might have found some comfort there. Even an unclad Aspirin Liz would have provided a slight kick, but the only member of the party who was present was his valet-pickpocket, Little Arthur. This small individual was standing miserably behind a high-back chair, and Peter could not but envy the felon's tactical position.

The room was long, low, and raftered. It was luxuriously furnished and decorated with quite good taste. There was nothing mad about the room, a fact which rather than comforting Peter increased his sense of alarm. Perhaps these people instead of being crazy were merely depraved. A stout bronzed gentleman, Peter noticed, was reading the financial section of the morning paper with as much absorption as if he had been fully clad. Peter could not understand it. At a small table a huge grey-haired lady whose seemingly endless expanses of flesh should have been covered by yards of black brocaded satin was diligently cheating her way through some involved game of solitaire. True to form, reflected Peter, if not to convention. Still another figure—a sharp-cornered gentleman dressed only in a pencil—was engrossed in a cross-word puzzle. He was entirely unconscious of his surroundings.

Scattered here and there on pillows, young women were combing each other's hair and twisting it in odd fashions. A man wearing only a pink beret was making a sketch from which Peter promptly turned his eyes. Several men were standing in a group by a large buffet. They were engaged in drinking coffee, and one of them was asserting that Al Smith might still have a chance to be President if he would discard his brown derby. In view of the fact that the speaker had discarded everything himself, Peter decided he was exercising admirable restraint in regard to the ex-governor's wearing apparel. Peter would not have been at all surprised had the man stated that if Al Smith discarded all his clothes he could walk into the White House, the unanimous choice of all parties. Through a long window he could see a number of naked children wandering about the lawn. They did not seem elated. Some of the older ones, Peter thought, looked far more self-conscious than their elders. Evidently they had not yet been entirely claimed by the general depravity. This was quite natural, children being instinctively conservative like all other self-respecting animals.

But by far the most arresting figure in the room was that of a young man reclining a little apart from the others on a large divan. Even in his unclad state there was a sense of satanic polish about this person. In his eyes dwelt a dangerously amused light, and his agreeable-looking mouth seemed capable of uttering quite acceptably the most objectionable blasphemies. Dark hair and dark eyes, remarkably fine, white teeth. The only suggestion of degeneracy about him, Peter concluded, was a duck, a large, self-possessed-looking bird squatting by its master, its long purple neck extended snake-like across the man's flanks. This duck had a pair of the most disconcertingly probing eyes Peter had ever seen in the head of man or beast. These bright beady eyes were now turned on Peter, who felt with an uneasy pang that they were reading him through and through and not altogether approving of the subject-matter. Nor was there anything degenerate in either the duck's manner or appearance. It was the bond of perfect understanding that seemingly existed between master and fowl that impressed Peter unpleasantly. About both of them there was something severely sinister. For some reason the man's naked body suggested a perfectly fitting dress suit, while the duck brought to mind visions of some especially discreditable form of witchcraft.

'My name is Jones,' said the suave-looking individual on the divan in a detached yet decently cultivated voice. 'You are perhaps wondering, my dear sir, and also you, my red-headed young lady, how a person as naked as myself could bear such a simple name as Jones. However, as you grow to know me better you will understand that simplicity is the keynote of my character. My duck waddles through her days quite cheerfully with the name of Havelock Ellis. A pardonable whim of mine. Her attitude is so opposed to the Dance of Life.'

'All this information may seem important to you,' Peter replied in the true Van Dyck manner, 'but to us it is ponderously superfluous. What is important to us is the whereabouts of our clothes and our friends.'

Jones made a smooth gesture in the direction of Little Arthur, while the duck, slightly elevating her sleek head, looked directly at the partly concealed criminal as if he were one bug too many.

'Is that one of your friends?' asked Jones. 'Don't hesitate to admit it if he is. Almost any peculiarity passes uncriticized here.'

'That's just as well,' Josephine spoke up. 'Otherwise you'd be too busy.'

'Yes,' agreed the gentleman called Jones. 'We would. But to return to that strange, almost human object—'

'Cut out yer wisecracking,' retorted Little Arthur. 'You're no better than a naked lounge lizard yourself.'

'If as good,' replied Jones easily; then, turning once more to Peter: 'Your other three friends seem disinclined to leave their rooms. You two, I understand, succeeded in visiting each other. For your sakes as well as ours we won't go into that. We will try not even to think about it. However, I see no reason why we should longer deprive ourselves of the company of your friends. We shall send for them.'

Jones clapped his hands, and two oppressively large-looking individuals appeared at his summons. They were innocent of garments but not unconscious of their absence. At that they were more fully clad than the others, being decorated with light blue armbands, the uniform dress of attendants.

'Drag 'em down, boys,' Jones told them briefly.

The boys paddled heavily up a long flight of stairs, and presently sounds of vituperation were heard in the hall above.

'Keep your nasty talons off me,' came the voice of Aspirin Liz. 'I've been naked in front of real gentlemen, I'll have you to understand, and they never laid a hand on me unless—' At this point in Liz's narrative there was a momentary pause, then she resumed: 'It's none of your filthy business. I've learned some mighty dirty tricks in my time, you pot-bellied bucks, and unless you take your hands off me I'll play them all at once.'

Apparently the boys must have doubted the extent of the model's learning, for the next few moments were devoted to deep-throated cries of anguish and indignation.

'I wonder what she could have done to them?' Jones mused aloud to his duck, who significantly lowered the lids over two yellow eyes.

At this moment Aspirin Liz, shaking with coarse laughter, appeared at the head of the staircase. Holding with one hand to the banister, she slapped with the other enough thigh to make at least three of the average large woman, which, it must be admitted, is a stupefying amount of thigh.

'For once I don't need an aspirin,' she announced mirthfully to the company below. 'That did me a world of good.'

'May I ask what you did to my men?' Jones asked, considering the figure with respectful eyes.

This question produced in Liz another spasm of mirth.

'Better ask them,' she said at last, 'but believe me, mister, I did plenty. And I'll do the same to you if you lay a hand on me.'

Even the imperturbable Jones appeared to be momentarily disconcerted by this possibility.

'I shall endeavour to restrain my eager hands,' he assured her as the mountain of a woman moved down the stairs.

'Oh, dear,' she exclaimed, catching sight of Josephine and surveying her with critical approval. 'What a glorious figure you have, child. Why, you should go naked all the time. And if it isn't Mr. Van Dyck himself all undressed and no place to go.'

'That's just the trouble, Liz,' said Peter. 'There's no place to go—nowhere to turn.'

'Cheer up,' Aspirin Liz replied in her hearty voice as she joined them before the divan. 'Look at me. I'm three times as naked as you are—that is, I'm showing three times as much—and I don't mind at all.'

'You're fortunate,' Peter told her. 'The relatively small amount I am showing bothers me a lot.'

'That's because you never posed in the nude,' Liz assured him. 'You'll quickly get used to all this. It doesn't matter at all. And who may this naked reptile be? Did he send those heels after me?'

'I realize my mistake too late,' murmured Jones. 'I'm sorry, madam.'

'It's too late for them,' Liz retorted. 'They'll never be the same.'

Looking as if Liz had spoken nothing but the truth, the two attendants weakly appeared on the stairs and stood looking down with pain-ravaged eyes upon the room below. The two men were in turn subjected to the interested scrutiny of many pairs of eyes intent on ascertaining the full extent of the calamity that had befallen them.

'The lady is locked in her room,' said one of the men in a hoarse voice, 'and we're too weak at present to drag her out, Mr. Jones. The other party who calls himself a bishop says he won't come down unless we give him back his drawers.'

A lean, sun-tanned person bearing the head of a Greek philosopher now spoke.

'If the gentleman is a bishop,' he observed in a deep musical voice, 'I think he should be allowed his drawers if only out of respect for his cloth.'

'It does seem as if the situation justifies a slight deviation from our usual custom,' Jones replied. 'We have never had a bishop with us before, and I say better a bishop in drawers than no bishop at all.'

'Give the Bishop back his drawers,' several voices readily responded. 'We want to see him.'

'It seems agreed,' continued Jones, 'that the Bishop should retain his drawers. Very well, boys. Give him back his drawers and leave the lady alone until you feel a little stronger. Sorry about that other business. Women have rather—er—let us say, painfully primitive methods of retaliation.'

A short time thereafter the Bishop, clothed in jaegers and righteous wrath, stood at the head of the stairs and like Moses from the mountain looked scornfully down on his naked audience.

'Although they are only drawers,' Mr. Jones observed coolly, 'there seems to be no end to them.'

'My dear Bishop,' exclaimed a lady volubly, 'what a remarkable pair of drawers you are wearing. Tell me. Don't they tickle?'

'Probably the Bishop is thick-skinned,' put in Jones, thoughtfully scratching his duck's head. 'Bishops usually get that way.'

'There is nearly enough material in these drawers,' drawled a voice, 'to make all of us in this room feel almost overdressed.'

'There's not enough material in all the world to make me feel overdressed,' said Peter. 'As silly-looking as these drawers may be, I long to have them on.'

'If I ever found you in drawers like these,' Josephine declared, 'there'd be no room for you in my life.'

'I'm not usually found in my drawers,' replied Peter.

'No,' Jo admitted with confounding simplicity. 'I never found you in a pair except once in the office.'

'Don't let them kid you, Bishop,' Aspirin Liz called encouragingly. 'I've seen more peculiar-looking drawers than these in my day.'

'Thank you, madam,' said the Bishop icily.

'It must have been a mirthful day,' the philosophical gentleman observed.

'There ain't a thing funny about them drawers,' Little Arthur suddenly and sincerely proclaimed from behind his chair. 'If any one gave me my choice of drawers, I'd pick a pair exactly like them—only lots smaller!'

'Of course,' murmured Mr. Jones politely. 'The mere sight of them makes me feel like panting.'

Bishop Waller cleared his throat and raised an admonitory hand. It was a gesture that had silenced many a godless congregation before as it now silenced this one spread out nakedly at his feet.

'It is a sad commentary indeed,' he said in a voice vibrant with emotion, 'on your good taste as well as moral character that of you all only a recently converted criminal has sufficient discernment to recognize an honest pair of drawers when he sees one.'

'What did I tell yer?' put in Little Arthur complacently.' You said it, Bishop. Them are good, honest drawers, yer reverence.'

'Even better than that, Little Arthur,' amended Bishop Waller, his voice rich with pride and approval. 'They are quality drawers, my man. No finer jaegers made.'

'And certainly no funnier,' a brazen voice put in.

'Don't listen to them, yer honour—I mean yer reverence,' the small crook continued heavily on the side of righteousness. 'They ain't got a pair of drawers between 'em. Why, there ain't even a blessed pocket in the whole horrid outfit.'

'Ah!' exclaimed the Bishop, beaming brightly upon his disreputable little convert. 'No pockets at all. What a relief that must be for you, my fine fellow. No pockets at all—a blessing in disguise.'

'This lot don't even trouble to disguise,' Little Arthur muttered as his glance drifted disgustedly about the room.

'Nevertheless,' went on the good Bishop, 'God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.'

Little Arthur looked a trifle shocked. He hated to think of God as having had anything to do with this stark naked household.

'Perhaps,' he agreed rather gloomily. 'He's certainly made it impossible for me to perform any of my wonders. Yards and yards of naked flesh where pockets ought to be. What a place for a dip!'

'An ex-dip, Little Arthur,' heartily replied the Bishop. 'Never forget that, my fine fellow. An ex-dip.'

At this point in the conversation Mr. Jones rose gracefully from the divan and, carrying Havelock Ellis carelessly under one arm, advanced to the foot of the stairs, where he stood looking courteously up at the Bishop, who in turn had descended a few steps.

'Bishop Waller,' said Mr. Jones in a voice of the most convincing sincerity, 'believe me, sir, we consider ourselves greatly honoured to add one of your exalted station to our little group.'

'Your naked rout,' the Bishop corrected. 'I refuse to be added to it.'

'I hope you will later revise your judgment,' said Mr. Jones. 'And I trust you will also believe me when I say that it was not our intention to imply that your drawers were not strictly honest.'

'Of course they're honest,' exploded the Bishop. 'But why waste time discussing my drawers when you are not wearing so much as a glove?'

'Quite,' continued the smooth nude known as Jones. 'Naturally your drawers would be unusually honest. As you say, there is really no need to discuss them.'

'I don't hold with you there,' broke in the man with the philosopher's head. 'To advance as a premise that, because a man is honest himself, the drawers he is wearing are equally honest, is entirely false and indefensible. In actual fact the wearer of the drawers may have a character of the highest integrity, whereas the drawers themselves may be utterly vile.'

'I beg your pardon,' expostulated the Bishop.

'By that I mean, my dear sir,' the philosopher continued, 'the drawers may be the product of non-union labour, of intolerable factory conditions, of unfair price competition, sweat-shop methods, horrid industrial slavery —who knows? There are more ways of making drawers dishonest than one.'

'There's only one really diverting way,' Josephine vouchsafed.

Aspirin Liz looked at the girl for a moment, then shattered the uncomfortable silence with her laughter. Peter sank down on the divan the impeccable Jones had abandoned and covered his face with his hands. He was too much of a coward to show in public his appreciation of Jo's unconscious revelation. The duck was looking at Aspirin Liz with glassily staring eyes. As accustomed as the bird was to flesh, she found it objectionable to contemplate so much of it in one body, one huge, swaying, cascading figure.

'That last remark may be stricken from the records,' Mr. Jones resumed imperturbably, 'if not from our minds. Let me go on to state, Bishop Waller, that the subject of your drawers would not have been brought up at all had it not been for our realization that to ignore totally a manifestation so peculiar—perhaps unique would be a better word—would have been so unnatural a suppression of emotion as to become in itself noticeable. You yourself, sir, might have experienced a sense of having been cheated, and that would have been too bad. Will you join our little gathering?'

Bishop Waller, not at all sure in what spirit to accept the invitation of the polished speaker, was about to comply rather than to stand isolated any longer on the stairs, when further independent action was taken out of his hands.

The wild cry of a desperate woman suddenly rang through the house. Turning, he was electrified to see Yolanda Wilmont, in a dishevelled condition, appear waveringly at the head of the stairs hardly a foot in advance of an extremely active and naked man. After this the good Bishop saw nothing save a swiftly revolving universe composed entirely of stairs and contorted members of the human body. He was brought back to an unpleasant awareness of his surroundings by a sensation of insecurity round his waistline and a violent tugging at the back. Havelock Ellis, the duck, excited beyond endurance by the turmoil of the triple descent, had launched herself into action which centred itself on the rear part of the excellent Bishop's jaegers. Also, in the course of his swift passage down the stairs the Bishop had sustained the loss of his most invaluable button. Unable to rise for fear of losing his only protection, yet disinclined to remain prostrated and endure the envenomed assaults of the duck, Bishop Waller found himself in the unique position of one being torn on the horns of a dilemma about midway between Scylla and Charybdis. It is a position that even a bishop can scarcely face with an overabundance of fortitude. Bishop Waller feared that his supply was being rapidly exhausted.

'Will some one give me a safety pin,' he asked in a weak voice, 'and at the same time remove this infuriated duck?'

'Why, Havelock Ellis is actually pecking at the Bishop,' a voice exclaimed.

'Both actually and viciously,' gasped the Bishop. 'And in an exceedingly mortifying spot, let me assure you.'

'There could be worse,' the philosopher observed.

'Let's not become involved in a long academic discussion as to what part of one's body is the most mortifying to have pecked by a duck,' protested the Bishop, becoming slightly involved himself. 'Suffice it to say that the spot this duck is at present pecking with the utmost determination is both mortifying and painful enough to convince even the most sceptical observer that something should be done about it. And,' added the Bishop, 'done without delay.'

'You have convinced me,' said the philosopher.

'Thank God for that,' murmured the Bishop. 'And the pin? The pin is most essential.'

Now, to find a safety pin in a nudist colony is a task that would baffle the best minds of Scotland Yard. So hopeless was it that no one present made any attempt to look for one. Instead, Peter removed what remained of the bandage from his wounded arm and passed it to the red-headed girl who in turn conveyed it to the Bishop.

'Thanks, my dear,' said the Bishop, eagerly snatching, the bandage from her hand. 'God will forgive you much for this.'

'There will still remain plenty to be forgiven,' said Jo, with a pretty show of humility.

'No doubt,' replied the Bishop, securing his jaegers with the bandage. 'We will deal with that later if someone will collect this bird whose egg was indubitably hatched in hell.'

Mr. Jones thereupon collected the squawking Havelock Ellis and at the same time assisted the Bishop to stagger to his feet.

'There are holes in the back, perhaps?' the Bishop delicately suggested in a low voice.

Mr. Jones, cocking his head at an angle, took a quick survey of the recent scene of action.

'No holes,' he murmured to the Bishop.

'I find that difficult to believe,' said the reverend gentleman. 'There would have been soon—a great many, I feel assured. These jaegers, my dear Mr. Jones, are but recently purchased.'

'They are exquisite,' replied Mr. Jones.

Yolanda furiously confronted the speaker. She had been too long neglected.

'Does it matter to you if I'm assaulted beneath your own roof?' she demanded.

'Not at all, my dear lady,' Mr. Jones replied with admirable urbanity, considering the nature of the question. Make yourself entirely at home.'

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