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A Lame Dog's Diary by S. Macnaughtan

Produced by Al Haines

[Frontispiece: "But, Hugo dear," she said, "why did you not tell me long ago?"]


S. Macnaughtan

Thomas Nelson and Sons,

London, Edinburgh, and New York




Perhaps curiosity has never been more keen, nor mystery more baffling, than has been the case during the last few weeks. There have been "a few friends to tea" at almost every house in the village to see if in this way any reasonable conclusions can be arrived at, and even Palestrina is satisfied with the number of people who have taken the trouble to walk up the hill and chat by my sofa in the afternoons. But although each lady who has called has remarked that she is in the secret, but at present is not at liberty to say anything about it, we are inclined to think that this is vain boasting, or at least selfish reticence.

The two Miss Traceys have announced to almost every caller at their little cottage during the last two years that they intend to build.

We have all been naturally a good deal impressed by this statement, and although it was never plainly said what the structure was to be, we had had for a long time a notion of a detached house on the Common. And surely enough the foundation-stone was laid last year by Miss Ruby Tracey with some ceremony, and the first turf of the garden was cut by Miss Tracey, and only last month the whole of the Fern Cottage furniture was removed in a van to Fairview, as the new house is called--the handsomer pieces placed upon the outside of the van, and the commoner and least creditable of the bedroom furniture within. Every one was at his or her window on the day that the Miss Traceys' furniture, with the best cabinet and the inlaid card-table duly displayed, was driven in state by the driver of the station omnibus through the town. A rumour got abroad that even more beautiful things were concealed from view inside the van, and the Miss Traceys satisfied their consciences by saying, "We did not spread the rumour, and we shall not contradict it."

But the mystery concerns the furniture in quite a secondary sort of way, and it is only important as being the means of giving rise to the much-discussed rumour in the town. For mark, the drawing-room furniture was taken at once and stored in a spare bedroom, and the drawing-room was left unfurnished. This fact might have remained in obscurity, for in winter time, at least, it is not unusual for ladies to receive guests in the dining-room with an apology, the drawing-room being a cold sitting-room during the frost. But Mrs. Lovekin, the lady who acts as co-hostess at every entertainment in our neighbourhood, handing about her friends' cakes and tea, and taking, we are inclined to think, too much upon herself, did, in a moment of expansion, offer to show the Traceys' house to the Blinds, who happened to call there on the day when she was paying her respects to Miss Tracey. Mrs. Lovekin always removes her bonnet and cloak in every house, and this helps the suggestion that she is in some sort a hostess everywhere.

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