When the train from Colon came in, Miss Proudleigh was one of the first
to step on to the platform, closely followed by her niece and brother.
The old man was dressed in a suit once black, but now of a greenish tint
and shiny as though it had been polished; he also wore a bowler hat of a
pattern that had probably been fashionable thirty years before, but of
which few specimens could at this time have been extant.
Catherine and her aunt were attired in white ironed dresses and new
straw hats trimmed with black ribbon. Samuel saw that they had come
ready-dressed for the funeral, which must take place on the following
morning. The severity of Miss Proudleigh’s demeanour indicated that she
was about to officiate at a very important function, and the large straw
fan which she carried in her right hand would have informed anyone who
knew the lady that she had not brought forth her favourite symbol of
authority without a determination to establish her claim to precedence
and power at any cost.
Jones approached the little group. “I was waiting for you,” he said.
“Then you mean to tell me y’u not arrested?” was the startling question
of Miss Proudleigh. “There seems to be no law at all in Panama!”
She edged away from Jones as she spoke, looking as she did so towards an
American policeman who was strolling about the platform.
“What am I to be arrested for?” asked the young man, surprised. “What’s
the matter with you’ aunt?” he said to Catherine. “She takin’ leave of
“Didn’t you’ telegram say that Mackenzie dead?” asked Catherine.
“Yes; but what is that to do with me?”
“I know it wasn’t you dat kill him, me son,” Mr. Proudleigh now
observed. “When I get you’ telegram, I said to meself: ‘Mister Jones is
a man like me. Him talk a lot, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly: him is too
afraid of de court-house.’ But Deborah would insist it was you dat kill
Mackenzie, for you leave the house last night in a blind temper, an’ you
come up here to-day, an’ Mackenzie dead very sudden.”
“It is very suspicious,” said Miss Proudleigh. “I don’t understand it at
“Well, it is not everything y’u can understand,” said Catherine
practically; “and it couldn’t be Mr. Jones that kill Mackenzie,
otherwise him would be in jail.”
“Dat is so,” agreed her father; “only, I hear dat in Panama y’u can pay
ten dollars an’ kill anybody you like.”
“That is all stupidness,” said Jones impatiently; “it is the Canal that
kill Mackenzie, not me. What was I goin’ to kill him for?”
A snort from Miss Proudleigh was her only comment on this speech. She
was not willing to be persuaded that Mackenzie had not been a victim of
the machinations of Samuel and her niece.
As they went on, Jones explained how Mackenzie had come by his death,
and how he himself had been a witness of the tragedy. All of them had
heard before of the lives which the Culebra Cut had claimed, and now as
Jones spoke doubts rose once more in the minds of Mr. Proudleigh and his
sister as to the wisdom and propriety of human beings attempting to
unite two oceans.
“I always thought that some great disaster would occur because of the
iniquity of man in trying to join what God separate,” said Miss
Proudleigh; “but I never dream that de disaster was to come on me own
family; for, after all, Mackenzie was my nephew-in-law.”
But she did not seem unduly oppressed by the calamity. She found
abundant comfort in the prospect of a funeral, and in the opportunity
now given her of bewailing in public her irreparable loss. She could now
proclaim her past forebodings and hint at other tragedies that would
shortly follow upon this one. Properly managed, this funeral could not
fail to afford some edifying exhibitions of religious fortitude,
Christian resignation, and personal piety, mingled discreetly with an
insulting attitude towards those whom she might happen to dislike.
As for Mr. Proudleigh, at that moment he was chiefly afflicted with
fears for his personal safety. If a landslide or something like it could
kill Mackenzie, there was nothing to prevent a landslide from killing
him. This was a dangerous country.
“We will have to leave this place as soon as poor Mackenzie is in de
grave,” he remarked, as he laboured on. “What y’u goin’ to do wid
you’self, Mister Jones?”
“To-morrow. After we bury me son-in-law.”
“I don’t know,” said Jones.
“You staying up here wid Miss Susan?”
“That would not be proper,” observed Miss Proudleigh sternly. “It is
none of my business, an’ I don’t want to interfere. But if the day after
Mackenzie bury, a young man should stay in the same place with the
widder, them will put her out of any church she belong to.”
“I don’t think Susan can stay here much longer, now that Mackenzie is
dead,” said Jones. “She will have to leave soon, for the American people
will want the premises.”
“Well, she better come back to Colon wid me,” said Mr. Proudleigh; “an’
now that Mac is dead, Mister Jones——”
But Samuel, guessing the nature of the old man’s forthcoming
proposition, hastily interrupted him with another recital of that day’s
tragedy. He was still speaking when they arrived at Susan’s house.
All the doors and windows were open, and three or four persons were
moving about within. These were friendly neighbours who had come over to
help Susan with her dead.
She was expecting her family. As a matter of fact she had telegraphed to
them. But having received Jones’s message earlier, they had left for
Culebra before Susan’s telegram was delivered at their house.
She was very quiet and composed. When the news of Mackenzie’s death had
been broken to her she had shrieked in terror. Her first thought was
that there had been a fight between Samuel and her husband, and that the
latter had been murdered. A few words of explanation relieved her mind
of this horrible fear, then she wept bitterly as if stricken to the
heart. She had never cared greatly for her husband; but his sudden
death, the overwhelming memory of how, that very day, she had had to
fight against the temptation to abandon him, the recollection of all his
kindnesses, touched her to genuine sorrow and regret. She recovered her
self-possession a little later on and straightway set about making
preparations for the funeral. She was still engaged on these when Samuel
and her family arrived.
She hardly appeared to notice Jones, who kept himself in the background.
She suffered herself to be embraced by her father, who thought it proper
to assure her that he had hastened to comfort her, though he himself was
grief-stricken and could not say when he should be able to take an
interest in life any more. Mr. Proudleigh then deposited his hat on a
table and elaborately wiped his eyes. This ceremony being gone through,
he sat down.
But Miss Proudleigh would not sit down. She took Susan by the hand. “It
is the will of God,” she loudly proclaimed, “an’ men can only say, ‘Thy
will be done.’ We must be prepared to meet our God. We must take up our
cross an’ follow Him. Husband-o, son-o, mother-o, wife-o, when the call
come we must give them all up to Him who gave them life. We cannot
rebel, for the Lord gave an’ the Lord taketh away—blessed be the name
of the Lord. We cannot prevent the tears from flowing, for that is
nature; but the heart must be submissive.”
She paused to note the effect of her words, which she considered
sufficiently stirring to move Susan to tears and the other people in the
house to sympathy. But most of the people there did not know Miss
Proudleigh and were paying no attention to her; Susan remained dry-eyed;
Catherine appeared unsympathetic. Only her brother seemed attentive, and
as she did not regard him as an audience worth having, she concluded
that spiritual consolations had better be reserved for a later occasion.
“You can go into the dining-room an’ wash you’ hands an’ face if you
like, Aunt Deborah,” said Susan quietly. “It is fixed up.”
“What about the body?” demanded Miss Proudleigh.
“The body fixed up already. Everything is arranged. Some of Mackenzie’s
friends looking after the funeral.”
It was bitterly disappointing to Miss Proudleigh to find that she had
been forestalled; still, opportunities for usefulness might present
themselves later on. She went into the dining-room as invited, feeling
that Susan’s calmness was most unbecoming at such a moment. A widow,
with a proper sense of what was expected of her, should have given way
to a wild outburst of grief at the sight of her sympathizing family.
Presently Susan asked her aunt to go into the room where Mackenzie’s
body was laid out. Mackenzie had been struck mainly by descending masses
of earth; thus he had escaped disfigurement. Miss Proudleigh glanced at
the set face, saying with real feeling, “Poor fellow; just as if he was
sleeping.” Then she mastered this inclination to weakness, and, laying
her hand upon the cold, sheeted figure, she shook her head determinedly.
“Not enough ice,” she said.
“Quite enough,” replied one of Susan’s helpers, a young woman who had
developed a marked fondness for assisting at funerals.
“You will excuse me,” said Miss Proudleigh with great firmness. “I bury
a lot of my relatives an’ friends, an’ therefore it stands to reason
that I must know about de treatment of corpses.
“Mr. Mackenzie was my nephew-in-law, an’ I know he would like to bury
decently an’ in a good condition; in consequence of which I would advise
his wife to take my foolish advice an’ get some more ice. Susan, ’ave
you a little gurl?”
“One is outside,” Susan answered.
“Send ’er for more ice!”
“All right, Aunt Deborah,” said Susan resignedly; “you can send ’er.”
This was a victory of considerable importance; it placed Miss Proudleigh
in charge of all arrangements affecting the corpse. She adapted her
voice to suit her new dignity and now spoke in impressive stage
But where was Samuel? Susan had lost sight of him; he had quietly
slipped out of the house after observing how she was conducting herself;
he was glad to see her calm and collected, but a certain delicacy of
feeling warned him that he should not remain in the house just now. He
was damp and dirty; but there were shops in the town where he could buy
some ready-made clothing. He bought a suit and was allowed to put it on
in a room behind the shop; if it did not fit him well, at least it was
clean and dry.
The day’s work was over in the Cut; everybody he met was talking about
the accident. He noticed that they all spoke well of Mackenzie; he
wondered whether, if he had died like Mackenzie, his acquaintances would
have spoken like that of him.
The rain had ceased entirely, but the sky was sombre still. He
remembered that he had eaten nothing from morning, but he had no
appetite, did not feel like eating. He lingered about the houses and the
shops till long after darkness had fallen. At about eight o’clock, he
went back to Susan’s house.
He entered and silently took one of the many chairs that had been
borrowed from friendly neighbours for the accommodation of the people
who had come and were coming to sit up for a few hours with Susan. Every
one was quiet and reverential, and those who talked did so in low and
A solitary light was burning in the room where the body of the dead man
lay. Those who wished to do so, stole into the room and peeped at it,
then stole back gloomily to their seats. The subdued conversation was
about Mackenzie in particular and death in general, and when an elderly
woman remarked that Mackenzie was a man who could always be depended
upon, and groaned by way of emphasizing her remark, Miss Proudleigh
groaned also, as though parting with Mackenzie had been one of the most
awful experiences of her life.
Then the young woman who had contradicted Miss Proudleigh in the matter
of the ice felt it incumbent upon her to say something.
“I remember poor Mr. Mackenzie when he first come up to Culebra,” she
said. “Such a quiet, mannerly gentleman. And to think he die so sudden!”
“In the midst of life we are in death!” retorted Miss Proudleigh
“I not stayin’ here one day longer than I can help it,” said Mr.
Proudleigh earnestly. “I never did want much to come to Colon at any
time; but me children wishin’ to see if them could make a good living
over here, I say to meself, ‘I mustn’t desert them. Don’t care what
happen to me, it is me juty to go wid dem.’ So I come here, but I not
goin’ to stop any longer, because it must be a very funny country where
a hill-side broke down without nothing do it, and kill me son-in-law. Ef
I are to die, I want to die in me bed in Jamaica.”
“Parents must devote themselves to their children,” said one of Susan’s
“That is what I ’ave always done,” said Mr. Proudleigh with dignity.
“But if Susan take my advice, she will go back wid me to Jamaica as soon
as she bury her husban’. I can’t teck any more risk in Panama.”
“The Lord is strong to save, wherever His people are,” remarked Miss
Proudleigh rebukingly. Her laundry was proving very profitable, and she
needed no further evidence to assure her of the omnipresent care of
Just then the young woman who had already angered Miss Proudleigh,
feeling that she was being eclipsed, went up to Susan, and, throwing her
arms about the widow’s neck, exclaimed, “My heart bleed for you,” and
audibly wept. But Miss Proudleigh was mistress of ceremonies, and Susan
herself was now subject to her aunt’s authority. That a stranger, an
insolent stranger, should have dared to set the example of tears in the
midst of a conversation, was more than Miss Proudleigh could stand.
Extraneous sympathy must not be allowed to pass the bounds set by
decorum and established practice. Happily Miss Proudleigh knew that she
was equal to any emergency. Whipping out of her pocket a hymn-book which
she had thoughtfully brought with her from Colon, in a shrill and
belligerent treble she began to sing “Peace, Perfect Peace.” The hymn
sounded like a declaration of war without quarter, and the sobbing young
lady recognized it as such and struggled by means of louder sobs to
maintain the position she had won. But Miss Proudleigh had great allies.
For most of the guests, tired of talking or sitting still, joined in the
hymn, singing with genuine feeling.
Rising and falling in measured cadence, the sound floated far away, and
men and women in other houses listened, thinking perhaps of the days
when they too had watched beside the corpse of some one dear to them.
Perhaps their memory was touched, and they thought of a grave somewhere
on a mountain-side, under the shade of rustling trees, in some far-off
West Indian island which they called home.
The singing ceased; then another hymn, even more pathetic than the
first, was started: All took it up, singing softly:
“Days and moments quickly flying
Blend the living with the dead,
Soon shall you and I be lying
Each within his narrow bed.”
A picture of Mackenzie lying alone in the room, cold, motionless,
swathed in dripping cerements; a picture of him as he went forth that
morning, cheerful, confident, strong, with never a thought of death in
his mind, rose before Susan’s mental vision.
She broke down and cried.
Jones wiped his eyes repeatedly.
Others were crying quietly. For the first time that night they felt
themselves to be strangers in a strange land, men and women who had come
to seek a livelihood in a foreign country from which, for all they knew,
they might never return.
When Susan lifted her head a little while after, her eyes caught those
of Jones. Each knew what the other was thinking of. In the forenoon of
that same day they had wronged Mackenzie in thought, almost in act, and
he had died without knowing it. But did he not know? Did he not know
now? Neither one could boast of being free from superstition: what if
Mackenzie’s spirit were near, reading all that was passing in their
minds and hearts? Susan shuddered. Samuel’s heart failed him in spite of
his desperate inward struggle with his fears. They lowered their eyes
Twelve o’clock came, and most of the people rose to leave. Only a few
would remain until the morning. Some, however, would return in time for
the funeral. They all endeavoured to persuade Susan to go and lie down,
and try to sleep, but she was afraid. She might dream. In her sleep
Mackenzie’s spirit might accuse her!
So all night she and Samuel sat in the same room, wakeful, alert,
thinking over and over again of what had taken place between them a few
hours before, and of the tragedy in Culebra Cut.
At six o’clock in the morning Miss Proudleigh began to set things in
order, and, shortly after, the men who were looking after Mackenzie’s
funeral arrived. They worked quickly: by seven the body was in the
coffin, which was lifted into the sitting-room uncovered, in order that
all who knew Mackenzie might take last leave of him. Flowers were scarce
at Culebra, but the mourners had gathered a few. These they strewed over
the corpse, and the evergreens they had brought were arranged here and
there about the room, giving to it a fresh and verdant appearance.
One by one the men and women who had come to attend the funeral stepped
up to the coffin, gazed a little while at the dead man’s face, and
turned away. Then the minister, a young Englishman connected with
Jamaica, who had followed the people to Panama that they might still be
kept in touch with the religion of their own country, arrived. The
people made way for him respectfully, glancing at him with pride and
admiration; he went up to Susan and shook hands with her
sympathetically, speaking a few words which he meant to be consoling,
but feeling, not for by any means the first time in his life, how poorly
words express real sympathy. Then he was taken possession of by Miss
Proudleigh, who led him to a chair which she had covered, for no very
obvious reason, with a white lace curtain.
“Ready?” he asked her quietly, book in hand.
“Yes, minister; but” (she hesitated a little) “don’t it is right to read
the will first?”
“That depends,” said the parson. “Does Mrs. Mackenzie want it read? Is
there a will?”
Miss Proudleigh looked at Susan inquiringly. It was not usual to read
the will before a funeral; but Miss Proudleigh feared that if she did
not make use of the present opportunity she might never know what
Mackenzie had left, and whether he had bequeathed his property to Susan
alone or not. As for Susan, she was not anxious that her private affairs
should be exposed, but her aunt was now the predominant person in the
house, and she did not want to appear secretive. “My husband used to
keep his papers in his own trunk,” she said; “I will look.”
In a minute or two she returned with a document which she thought must
be the will; which it was. Miss Proudleigh took it from her and handed
it to the minister, asking him to read it.
So the will was read. A small house in Kingston, ten acres of land in
St. Andrew (not far from Kingston), a life insurance policy worth a
hundred pounds, and all the money lodged in Mackenzie’s name in a bank
in Panama—everything was left to Susan. His will had been made three
weeks after Mackenzie’s marriage, and Susan knew that he had at least
eighty pounds in the bank. She was well-off! That was her thought as the
parson ceased reading. “It is my old luck!”—the words formed themselves
in her mind: her good fortune, her luck, never seemed to desert her for
long. She was a woman with property, money. She saw in the faces of the
people in the room that they were surprised that Mackenzie had left so
Miss Proudleigh was conscious of a feeling of resentment, born of envy.
But with it struggled a feeling of pride: she was glad that she had
asked that the will should be read. For was she not related to all these
riches; was it not she who had directed the funeral arrangements in the
house of a man who had left his widow in so comfortable a position?
There was dignity in her look and voice as she said to the minister:
“Minister, will we proceed?”
The offices of the dead took up but little time. Six strong men lifted
the coffin, and, headed by the minister, the funeral cortège moved
slowly out of the house.
Susan and her father walked immediately behind the coffin, the rest of
the mourners following without regard to precedence. Mr. Proudleigh’s
thoughts were not of an unpleasant nature. Never had he heard of any
young widow like Susan possessing so much riches. He concluded that she
must be worth hundreds of pounds, and to a mind which, for some years,
had been content to think financially in terms of sixpence, shilling and
eighteenpence, a hundred pounds meant nearly as much as a million. Never
had he thought so highly of Mackenzie, never had he felt so pleased with
Susan’s marriage. Jones? What was Jones compared with Mackenzie? When
would a man like Jones ever be able to accumulate a fortune? He was more
likely to waste one; and here Mr. Proudleigh began seriously to think
that Susan ought to be warned against having anything to do with Samuel
Josiah in the future. Mr. Proudleigh saw his duty as a father plain
before him, but gravely doubted whether he should ever muster enough
courage to perform it. However, he, as Susan’s father, a parent too who
had always been tender and considerate, should now be comfortable for
life. He marched bravely on, forgetting to be fatigued. Panama was not
such a bad place after all, if you knew just when to leave it.
Catherine wondered at her sister’s luck. She was not of an envious
disposition; she felt quite able to make her own way in the world. But
Susan seemed to be extraordinarily lucky; even incidents that at first
appeared unfortunate were afterwards seen to have contributed to Susan’s
good fortune. Catherine wondered why this was so. She had been told at
school that there was no such thing as luck, that one only got what one
worked for or deserved. She was by no means assured that that was true.
And Jones? He too since the reading of the will had realized that a
great change had taken place in Susan’s financial situation. She was
actually better off than he was—very much better off. She might care
for him. But he could not forget that she had left him to marry
Mackenzie, and only yesterday had refused to desert Mackenzie for him.
Now therefore that she knew herself to be independent, how would she
act? Many men would be glad enough to marry her now: she could afford to
wait, and to pick and choose. She was vain; she would try to make the
most of her improved position. She was very lucky. But there seemed no
end to his ill fortune.
Susan alone, during that procession to the cemetery, did not dwell on
her good fortune. After her first thrill of pleasure on hearing the
terms of the will, she had become depressed and sad: she was again
realizing that Mackenzie’s kindness and thoughtfulness were of sterling
worth. And he was dead, dead and gone for ever, this man who had done so
much for her, and it was of him she thought. Soon they came to the
cemetery. The funeral service was read, the grave filled, and Susan
turned away, the one real mourner there that morning. But not the most
demonstrative, for Miss Proudleigh, feeling that full justice had not
been done to Mackenzie’s memory, burst into loud sobs when the last
spadeful of earth was thrown upon the grave, and had to be led away by
two unnecessarily sympathetic men.
“What a lot of things happen to me since I come to Panama,” said Susan,
as with her hands she smoothed out the black skirt, heavily trimmed with
crape, which she wore.
“This is a world where y’u don’t know to-day what goin’ to happen
to-morrow,” remarked her father, his tone suggesting that in
better-regulated worlds one would know beforehand everything that was
likely to occur.
“A few months ago I was only Susan Proudleigh,” the widow continued,
“an’ I had to work for me living; now I am a widow and everybody respect
me an’ sympathize with me.”
“You are more than a widder,” said Mr. Proudleigh; “you are a young
ooman of property, an’ there is very few that can say de same thing.”
“For which we must be thankful,” Miss Proudleigh interposed. “Providence
is always looking after the widow an’ the orphant; but sometimes they
don’t deserve it, and that is why, peradventure, that some widows with
their money go like butter against the sun. But Sue is not goin’ to be
one of those.”
Since the reading of Mackenzie’s will Miss Proudleigh had come to see
qualities in Susan which she had not been able to perceive during all
the previous months she had lived in Panama. Cordial relations had
therefore been re-established between the two, and Miss Proudleigh had
now reverted to her long-ignored habit of seeing most things that
concerned Susan from Susan’s point of view.
“I am glad y’u make up you’ mind to go back home, Sue, now that you not
married any more, for the house which you’ husband, who is now in
heaven, leave to you in Kingston, needs somebody to look after it, an’
you ’ave other property in Jamaica to see about. An’ you can’t trust no
strange person to do it, for them will rob your eye out of you’ head;
and if you take them to law the judge may tell you to make up the case
peacefully, like that time when you bring up Maria. Therefore,” Miss
Proudleigh concluded, “go and look after your business you’self.”
“I ’ave nothing more to do with court-house,” said Susan, “nor wid Maria
and her mother either. They can’t trouble me again.”
“They have not troubled you at all,” said her aunt. “All their
wickedness have been turned aside, an’ you have not dashed your foot
against a stone. That is what I say from the first. You see what it is
to ’ave faith?”
In her cheap black muslin dress (provided by Susan) Miss Proudleigh
looked as though, by faith, she would be able to move mountains, if only
she should determine to exert herself to that extent.
“Even Tom try to make mischief against me,” continued Susan, still bent
upon recounting her experiences; “but he didn’t succeed any more than
Maria an’ her mother.”
“Well, me dear daurter,” said Mr. Proudleigh, “dat was because I was
always having y’u in me thoughts. I don’t know what you could do without
me. Tom was a bad young man; but when I kneel down every night an’
thoughted about him, an’ pray dat some harm would befall him because he
was tryin’ to disturb y’u, I felt that my pr’yer would be answered.”
“Anything happen to him?” asked Susan.
“Not exactly—yet,” replied her father; “but I hear this morning that
him gone away to de capital with a female who used to beat her other
intended; an’ don’t you see dat if she could beat one, she will do de
same with Tom?”
Susan, knowing Tom as she did, thought it highly probable.
“Let him go about his business,” she said, thus dismissing Tom and his
affairs from her mind. “I am sorry, Aunt Deborah, that you an’ Kate
won’t come home with me; but of course you can do better here.”
Miss Proudleigh nodded affirmatively. “But next year, please God,” she
said, “I will take a trip home to see how everybody is getting on.”
It was the ninth day after Mackenzie’s death. Susan had been allowed to
remain for a few days in the house at Culebra, during which she had made
arrangements for her departure from Panama. She had determined to go to
Jamaica without delay, to see after her property there, and she was
leaving to-morrow. But before going there was one function to be
attended to; this was Mackenzie’s Ninth Night, the final taking leave of
Mackenzie’s spirit, the last ceremony to be held in his honour. For this
purpose she had come to Colon.
This Ninth Night is a survival of an African purification ceremony, the
origin and meaning of which neither Susan nor her relatives knew. All
that they did know was that the Ninth Night was a custom which it was
not considered altogether proper to neglect, and yet which it was not
considered altogether proper to observe after the manner of the lower
classes. With these it tended sometimes to degenerate into an orgy; in
Miss Proudleigh’s view it should only be a quiet prayer-meeting, a sort
of love-feast, eminently respectable and edifying. The theory was that
Mackenzie’s spirit, though ultimately destined for heaven, was for some
nine days fated to hover near those who had been connected with him, and
might continue so to do for years unless the Ninth Night ceremony was
performed. This theory not being countenanced by the churches, Miss
Proudleigh defended it by pointing out that the soul was not the spirit;
and that though the soul went straight to heaven or to hell, after the
decease of the body, the spirit, assuming the form of a ghost, might be
unpleasantly present on earth. When this explanation was held to be
unsatisfactory by some sceptic, Miss Proudleigh took refuge in asserting
that it was all very well to scoff, but that plenty of people had seen
ghosts and every one was afraid of them. Then she would instance the
raising of Samuel’s spirit by the Witch of Endor, a fact which could
only be got rid of by being dismissed as untrue.
On Ninth Nights both Susan and Catherine looked with some disrespect;
they were of the younger generation. But Mr. Proudleigh stood up for
them, not only on religious grounds, but because he knew from experience
that much good cheer was provided at them, and many opportunities
afforded for oratory. Therefore a Ninth Night was highly desirable. So
Susan had decided to wait for the Ninth Night; and Jones, knowing that,
had waited also, and had booked his passage by the same steamer in which
she was going to Jamaica.
Susan and her people were now waiting for the guests. The room in which
they sat was provided with a number of extra chairs; in the centre was a
table covered with a white cloth; on the table were a few hymn-books and
a Bible. The lamps were lighted, for it was already dark.
“Everything is prepared,” said Miss Proudleigh, after she had announced
her intention of going to Jamaica on a visit in the following year. “The
chocolate is good chocolate, an’ I parch ah’ grind the coffee meself.”
“You ’ave any rum?” inquired Mr. Proudleigh anxiously.
“Plenty. You think we could ask people to come an’ have a little quiet
pr’yer and talk with us, and don’t treat them decently?”
“No,” agreed her brother heartily, and would have launched out into a
lengthy account of those Ninth Nights at which he had not been treated
decently, but that his sister refused him the chance of doing so.
“We have bread, an’ bun, an’ cake, an’ fish, cheese, bananas, an’ rum,
an’ a bottle of whisky, an’ lemonade, besides coffee an’ chocolate,”
recited Miss Proudleigh with pride. “Mackenzie can’t feel ashamed
Mr. Proudleigh inwardly determined that, when the time came, he would
make all these good things “look foolish.” He complacently disposed
himself to wait for that happy hour.
Presently Catherine came in, accompanied by a tall young man of her own
complexion, who appeared to be very attentive to her. These were
followed by other persons, and then the ceremony of the evening began.
Miss Proudleigh suggested a hymn, which was sung; then she volunteered
to lead in prayer. This she did, taking the opportunity of reminding her
audience, under guise of a general supplication, that she was not as
other women were, but might more properly be likened to the ancient
Deborah or to some other equally superior character, having been
strenuous in following the light, and having, beyond the shadow of a
doubt, set a noble example to all with whom she had come in contact.
She prayed for Susan, Catherine, and for all her other relatives, and
she informed the angelic host that she knew that Mackenzie was in
heaven, enjoying all the felicities prepared for the righteous before
the foundations of the world were laid. Then she proceeded to review the
events of the times as she had heard of them, and asked earnestly that
peace should be established on earth. She did not forget the King and
all the Royal Family. Jamaica was included as a place which sadly needed
regeneration. It seemed as if she would never cease, and her brother,
who himself had prepared a nice little prayer for the occasion, began to
feel jealous; Deborah had touched upon every subject he had intended to
deal with, and more besides. Susan felt decidedly bored. The guests
began to shuffle uneasily on their knees. Warned by certain slight
though ominous sounds, Miss Proudleigh at last brought her eloquence to
a close. As she rose from her knees she began chanting the Hundredth
Psalm. Everybody joined her. At that moment Samuel Josiah Jones entered
Jones had left Culebra immediately after the burial of Mackenzie, and,
yielding to the urgent advice of Miss Proudleigh, had not returned
thither to see Susan. He had written to her, and had received in reply a
brief letter telling him that she was going to Colon, to her relatives,
as soon as her affairs at Culebra were settled. It was from Mr.
Proudleigh that he had learnt when Susan was leaving for Jamaica.
Susan’s aloofness, he thought, might be due to grief, or to the
circumstance that her husband was only a few days dead, or to her
improved financial position, and a determination, the result of that
improved position to have nothing more to do with Samuel Josiah. Well,
he would find out what it was. No woman should say that her money
frightened him. He could always earn a good living, either in Jamaica or
in Panama; in a few years he could save as much as Mackenzie had saved,
though he did not see any good reason why he should.
All eyes were turned on him as he entered the room and deliberately
asked a youth to let him have his chair. The youth had been sitting next
to Susan. Jones installed himself in his place.
“Sorry I am late,” he whispered, wishing at the same time that the
people would sing more loudly. Miss Proudleigh seemed to divine his
wish. Her voice shrilled out astonishingly.
“You are quite in time,” said Susan quietly.
“No; I miss you every minute I am not with y’u.”
“Sh-h. People will hear y’u.”
“It is all _in camera_.”
“You mustn’t talk, Mr. Jones.”
The “Mr. Jones” was disconcerting. But he would not be repulsed.
“I want to talk to _you_,” he said.
“Later on,” she answered, and would not pursue the conversation.
Hymn followed hymn, and the good things so freely provided by Miss
Proudleigh (who had received an advance for that purpose from Susan)
were duly handed round. The guests enjoyed them, eating and drinking to
their hearts’ content; and Mr. Proudleigh, reflecting that it might be
long before he should assist at another Ninth Night, worthily led them
on in this satisfactory effort. Then, when it was nearly twelve o’clock,
he thought he saw his opportunity, and, forestalling his sister, he rose
and intimated that it was his intention to make a few remarks.
“It is shortly toward midnight, dear friends,” he began, “an’ before we
finish an’ terminate this firs’ part of our gathering, we must call to
mind certain things. Every meeting have an end, an’ every end has a
termini.” (He paused to allow this term to have its full effect upon the
audience. It was one he had learnt from Jones.) “But before we proceed
to bid Mackenzie good-bye,” he went on, “an’ the younger folkses begin
to enjie themself, which is natural, for I remember that in de old days,
which I always tell my fambily, for none of them know what I know, an’
so to speak a man like me is expected to ’ave experience, an’ as I was
saying——” But the difficulty was that he could not for the life of him
remember what he had been saying. His sister had given him no
opportunity of speaking earlier that night, and in the meantime sundry
glasses of rum and water had inflamed his ambition without strengthening
his mind. There was now, therefore, a struggle between the orator and
the liquor, and his refusal to own himself vanquished as he strove to
recall what he had intended to say would have been magnificent had it
not appeared to the audience supremely ludicrous. Mr. Proudleigh wanted
to pronounce a eulogy upon Mackenzie. He had an idea that Mackenzie’s
spirit was hovering near, and he would have liked it to hear his speech.
He felt that Mackenzie deserved special posthumous praise for having
left Susan so comfortably off. He bravely began once more.
“Mackenzie was me son-in-law. He was a very kind young man. An’ when he
write me for Miss Susan” (here Susan stared) “I wouldn’t refuse him. I
say to him . . . I say . . .” Once again Mr. Proudleigh halted, and in
the midst of the momentary silence the little clock on the shelf just
above his head struck the midnight hour. A hush fell on the company as
Miss Proudleigh sank upon her knees. That lady afterwards declared that
as the last stroke of the clock died away she had felt something like a
cold wind rushing by her, as though an invisible presence were leaving
this mundane sphere for ever; and after hearing of her experience Mr.
Proudleigh also asserted that he too had been touched by Mackenzie’s
departing spirit that night. His sister, recollecting his condition,
secretly doubted his story; but as moral support is always of value when
proof is not forthcoming, she never contradicted him.
“Let us pray,” said Miss Proudleigh when the clock had ceased to strike.
This time she prayed that all wandering spirits might find eternal rest,
and that the dead might never be allowed to intervene in the affairs of
the living. She made it known to all and sundry whose place was another
world that, however much their company may have been pleasant and
interesting when they were alive, the proper sphere for their activities
now was heaven, where, she indirectly assured them, they would be far
more happy than if they returned to earth. This prayer closed with a
loud Amen from the assembled guests, who entirely shared the sentiments
expressed by Miss Proudleigh. “Well, we are done wid poor Mackenzie
now,” she said, satisfied, as she rose from her knees.
Mr. Proudleigh, with his undelivered speech still in mind, understood
from these words that the end of that speech would never be heard by
that audience. He felt that an advantage had been taken of him, and his
bitterness was intense.
* * * * *
It was a relief to the younger guests and members of the family when
Miss Proudleigh signified that the religious portion of the Ninth Night
ceremony was over, and Mackenzie finally dismissed to his last home. In
a moment their emotions changed from grave to gay, and they all settled
themselves down to gossip, joke, laugh, and otherwise enjoy themselves,
while more refreshments were handed round. Every one present addressed
Susan punctiliously as Mrs. Mackenzie. Jones still sat by her side, and
his gestures and movements were marked by the company, whose chief
diversion was to discuss the private affairs of their neighbours and
“We can’t always mourn,” sententiously observed one young lady, who saw
in Samuel a suitor for Susan’s hand, and who wished to gain merit by
indirectly suggesting that she personally knew of no reason for
unlimited grief. “Life is short, an’ when we ’ave done our best, we must
do what we can.”
An enigmatical speech, but well understood by those who heard it, and
who saw the significant glance which the speaker directed towards Susan
“Sorrow endureth for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” commented
Miss Proudleigh. “Sue, will you take a little ginger-wine? Or do you
“She prefer love,” said Jones shamelessly. “Love is better than wine.”
“Behave you’self!” cried Susan. “Y’u forget where you are?”
“After a storm there comes a calm, after a funeral, why not a wedding?”
said the lady who had previously suggested the futility of endless
“That’s not the sort of conversation for a Nine-Night,” primly suggested
Susan. “I will never marry again, an’ so what y’u say don’t concern me;
but still, this is not the time to talk about weddings.”
“I don’t know dat I agrees wid Sue,” said her father. “Mister Mac is
dead, an’ if Mister Jones write me for y’u, I——”
But the old man, doomed it would appear to perpetual interruptions, was
not allowed to complete his remark. Miss Proudleigh felt that the limits
of decorum were in danger of being overstepped. She immediately and
loudly began to tell of an arrest she had witnessed a day or two before
in Colon, an arrest which had almost caused the death of the prisoner,
he having been unmercifully clubbed by the policemen. This was an
interesting topic of conversation, and while the company were discussing
the demerits of the Republic’s peace officers, Jones quietly suggested
to Susan that they might go and sit together for a little while on the
She agreed, and they went out, remarked by all. But such pairings-off
were customary; it was felt, moreover, that the widow had the right to
do as she pleased, on account of her youth and her superior financial
She and Samuel sat on the chairs they took out with them, and, leaning
over the veranda, looked down into the silent street. They had placed
themselves where they could not easily be seen by the people in the
room, though the door stood open. After a few seconds Jones stretched
out his hand and placed it on Susan’s shoulder. “Sue,” he whispered,
“when you going to Jamaica?”
“To-morrow. Don’t you know it already?”
“I am going with you.”
“I can’t stop y’u, Sam. The ship is for you as well as for me.”
“Stop that foolishness, Sue. It is all very well when you makin’ fun to
talk like that. But now I am talking in the Predicate and in the verb To
Be; I am serious. I am going to marry you.”
“But suppose I don’t want to get married again? I know what marriage
mean, an’ you don’t. Besides that, I am all right now, an’ I can live
comfortable without anybody. When you could marry me y’u didn’t, and I
don’t forget how y’u used to leave me in the night when we was together.
It’s better we remain apart, for what ’appen once will ’appen again.”
“You know you don’t mean what y’u say,” replied Jones with conviction.
“Jamaica is not Colon, and it will be all right when we get there. I
will be steadier. I was steady there.”
“Cho!” exclaimed Susan, but there was something in her voice which
denoted satisfaction. “Y’u going to go on the same way in Jamaica as you
went on here,” she added.
“Well, we will have to make the best of it,” said Jones philosophically,
“though you know quite well I am not a drunkard. We will get married in
Fully a minute passed before she replied—
“As poor Mackenzie is just dead, don’t tell anybody here about it.”
* * * * *
When, two days after the Ninth Night ceremony, Susan and Jones, with Mr.
Proudleigh standing between them, saw the grey-green mountains of
Jamaica rising into view as the ship drew nearer the shore, they felt
for the first time in their lives what a homecoming meant. Susan eagerly
pointed out object after object as her eyes roved over the scene
stretched out in front of her; Jones was enthusiastic; Mr. Proudleigh,
contrary to his habit, was silent. But when the ship entered the
harbour, and Kingston appeared, and he saw again the houses and the
piers with which he had been familiar all his life, he broke his silence
and spoke the thoughts that were in his mind.
“Fancy a old man like me go quite to Colon an’ come back,” he said
reflectively. “Who is to tell what is gwine to happen in dis world! An’
I leave me second daurter and me sister behind me! Well, God will take
care of them, same as Him take care of me. I am glad to come back. I
“No place like home,” said Jones heartily.
“That’s a fact,” was Susan’s sincere comment.
MORRISON & GIBB LIMITED
A SERIES OF COPYRIGHT BOOKS BY EMINENT AND POPULAR
AUTHORS, PUBLISHED AS FAR AS POSSIBLE SIMULTANEOUSLY
WITH THEIR APPEARANCE IN ENGLAND
ALBANESI, E. MARIA
SUSANNAH AND ONE OTHER
I KNOW A MAIDEN
THE INVINCIBLE AMELIA
THE BLUNDER OF AN INNOCENT
PETER, A PARASITE
THE GLAD HEART
THE BELOVED ENEMY
THE GIRL ON THE GREEN
THIS DAY’S MADNESS
WIND ALONG THE WASTE
FROM BEYOND THE PALE
PERCY AND OTHERS
ARNOLD, Mrs. J. O.
A ROMAN MYSTERY
THE HOUSE OF SERRAVALLE
BAILEY, H. C.
STORM AND TREASURE
THE LONELY QUEEN
THE SEA CAPTAIN
A GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER
THE BROOM-SQUIRE Illus.
PABO THE PRIEST Illus.
IN THE MIDST OF ALARMS
THE MUTABLE MANY
THE COUNTESS TEKLA
THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
THE NEVER-NEVER LAND
ONCE OF THE ANGELS
A CHANGE IN THE CABINET
A MAN FROM THE NORTH
THE MATADOR OF THE FIVE TOWNS
WHOM GOD HATH JOINED
THE PRICE OF LOVE
BENSON, E. F.
BIRMINGHAM, G. A.
THE BAD TIMES
THE SEARCH PARTY
THE ADVENTURES OF DR. WHITTY
I WILL MAINTAIN
DEFENDER OF THE FAITH
GOD AND THE KING
THE QUEST OF GLORY
A KNIGHT OF SPAIN
THE GOVERNOR OF ENGLAND
THE PRINCE OF ORANGE
PRINCE AND HERETIC
THE CARNIVAL OF FLORENCE
WINGS OF WAX
WHY DID HE DO IT?
CASTLE, AGNES and EGERTON
FLOWER O’ THE ORANGE Illus.
THE GOLDEN BARRIER
CHESTERTON, G. K.
THE FLYING INN
THE SECRET AGENT
A SET OF SIX
UNDER WESTERN EYES
A MIXED PACK
COOK, W. VICTOR
ANTON OF THE ALPS
A WILDERNESS WOOING
A ROMANCE OF TWO WORLDS
THE SOUL OF LILITH
THE SORROWS OF SATAN
GOD’S GOOD MAN
THE LIFE EVERLASTING
THE MIGHTY ATOM
CROCKETT, S. R.
THE STANDARD BEARER
CROKER, B. M.
A NINE DAYS’ WONDER
KATHERINE THE ARROGANT
BABES IN THE WOOD
CURTOIS, M. A.
THE STORY OF A CIRCLE
JOSEPH IN JEOPARDY
DE LISSER, HERBERT G.
DOYLE, Sir A. CONAN
ROUND THE RED LAMP
DUNCAN, SARA JEANNETTE
THE BURNT OFFERING
FINDLATER, JANE H.
THE GREEN GRAVES OF BALGOWRIE
THE ROSE OF JOY
A BLIND BIRD’S NEST Illus.
THE NARROW WAY
FRANCIS, M. E.
FRY, B. and C. B.
A MOTHER’S SON
THE SECOND-CLASS PASSENGER
GIBSON, L. S.
THE OAKUM PICKERS
THE CROWN OF LIFE
THE KLOOF BRIDE Illus.
A WOMAN IN THE LIMELIGHT
THE WHITE THREAD
IN VARYING MOODS
THE SCHOLAR’S DAUGHTER
HILDA STRAFFORD Illus.
A FOOL IN CHRIST
HEATH, E. CROSBY
ENTER AN AMERICAN
HICHENS, ROBERT S.
TONGUES OF CONSCIENCE
THE PROPHET OF BERKELEY SQUARE
THE WOMAN WITH THE FAN
THE GARDEN OF ALLAH
THE BLACK SPANIEL Illus.
THE CALL OF THE BLOOD
THE DWELLER ON THE THRESHOLD
THE WAY OF AMBITION
HOLDSWORTH ANNIE E.
THE LITTLE COMPANY OF RUTH
DAME VERONA OF THE ANGELS
A MAN OF MARK
A CHANGE OF AIR
THE GOD IN THE CAR
THE CHRONICLES OF COUNT ANTONIO
SIMON DALE Illus.
THE KING’S MIRROR
A SERVANT OF THE PUBLIC Illus.
TALES OF TWO PEOPLE Illus.
THE GREAT MISS DRIVER Illus.
MRS. MAXON PROTESTS
LITTLE MRS. LEE
HYNE, C. J. CUTCLIFFE
MR. HORROCKS, PURSER Illus.
JACOBS, W. W.
A MASTER OF CRAFT Illus.
LIGHT FREIGHTS Illus.
THE SKIPPER’S WOOING Illus.
ODD CRAFT Illus.
AT SUNWICH PORT Illus.
DIALSTONE LANE Illus.
THE LADY OF THE BARGE Illus.
SAILORS’ KNOTS Illus.
SHORT CRUISES Illus.
THE FRUITS OF THE MORROW
THE WILD OLIVE
THE STREET CALLED STRAIGHT
THE WAY HOME
THE LETTER OF THE CONTRACT
THE CHOICE OF LIFE
LE QUEUX, WILLIAM
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW Illus.
BEHIND THE THRONE
THE CROOKED WAY
A PAINTER OF SOULS
A KINGDOM DIVIDED
WHAT IS LOVE?
WHITE FANG Illus.
LOWNDES, Mrs. BELLOC
THE CHINK IN THE ARMOUR
STUDIES IN LOVE AND IN TERROR
THE END OF HER HONEYMOON
LUCAS, E. V.
DERRICK VAUGHAN, NOVELIST
LYNEGROYE, R. C.
LOTTERIES OF CIRCUMSTANCE
THE NEW RELIGION
THE PRICE OF LIS DORIS
McCARTHY, JUSTIN HUNTLY
THE DUKE’S MOTTO
PETER AND JANE
MAKGILL, Sir GEORGE
THE WAGES OF SIN
THE GATELESS BARRIER
A COUNSEL OF PERFECTION
COLONEL ENDERBY’S WIFE Illus.
SIR RICHARD CALMADY
MANN, MARY E.
MRS. PETER HOWARD
THE PARISH NURSE
ASTRAY IN ARCADY
THERE WAS A WIDOW
A ROYAL INDISCRETION
LIVE MEN’S SHOES
IF IT PLEASE YOU!
MANY JUNES Illus.
THE SQUIRE’S DAUGHTER
THE ELDEST SON
THE TERRORS, AND OTHER STORIES
A DAUGHTER OF FRANCE Illus.
MAXWELL, W. B.
THE RAGGED MESSENGER
THE GUARDED FLAME
THE COUNTESS OF MAYBURY
THE REST CURE
MILNE, A. A.
THE HOLIDAY ROUND
THE DAY’S PLAY
ONCE A WEEK
THE SIGN OF THE SPIDER Illus.
MOBERLEY, L. G.
MONTAGUE, C. E.
A HIND LET LOOSE
THE MORNING’S WAR
TALES OF MEAN STREETS
A CHILD OF THE JAGO
THE HOLE IN THE WALL
TO LONDON TOWN
THE RED HOUSE
THE NORTH AFIRE
NORMAN, Mrs. GEORGE
THE SILVER DRESS
THE SUMMER LADY
OWD BOB Illus.
THE TAMING OF JOHN BLUNT
THE ROYAL ROAD
GOOD BOY SELDOM
THE TWO KISSES
A CROOKED MILE
OPPENHEIM, E. PHILLIPS
MASTER OF MEN
THE MISSING DELORA Illus.
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MR. ALFRED BURTON
A PEOPLE’S MAN
THE WAY OF THESE WOMEN
THE VANISHED MESSENGER
FIRE IN STUBBLE
THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD
A WEAVER OF WEBS Illus.
PROFIT AND LOSS Illus.
THE LONG ROAD Illus.
THE SONG OF HYACINTH
MY LADY OF SHADOWS
THE COIL OF CARNE
THE QUEST OF THE GOLDEN ROSE
THE GIFTED FAMILY
THE EXILES OF FALOO
THE TRAIL OF THE SWORD Illus.
WHEN VALMOND CAME TO PONTIAC
AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
PIERRE AND HIS PEOPLE
THE SEATS OF THE MIGHTY Illus.
THE POMP OF THE LAVILETTES
THE BATTLE OF THE STRONG Illus.
THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
THE FOOTSTEPS OF A THRONE
LOVE THE HARVESTER Illus.
PENROSE, Mrs. H. H.
CHARLES THE GREAT
A HAPPY HUNTING GROUND
SONS OF THE MORNING Illus.
CHILDREN OF THE MIST Illus.
THE RIVER Illus.
THE HUMAN BOY Illus.
THE AMERICAN PRISONER
THE PORTREEVE Illus.
THE STRIKING HOURS
SAĪD THE FISHERMAN
THE MAYOR OF TROY
RAWSON, MAUD STEPNEY
RIDGE, W. PETT
A SON OF THE STATE
NAME OF GARLAND
MRS. GALER’S BUSINESS Illus.
NINE TO SIX-THIRTY
THANKS TO SANDERSON
THE REMINGTON SENTENCE
THE HAPPY RECRUIT
RITCHIE, Mrs. DAVID G.
THE HUMAN CRY
EVERY MAN HIS PRICE
THE MYSTERY OF DR. FU-MANCHU
SCHOFIELD, Mrs. S. R.
CASSANDRA BY MISTAKE
THE EVOLUTION OF EVE
SIDGWICK, Mrs. A.
THE LANTERN BEARERS
IN OTHER DAYS
SNAITH, J. C.
THE PRINCIPAL GIRL
AN AFFAIR OF STATE
SOMERVILLE, E. Œ., and ROSS, M.
DAN RUSSEL THE FOX
THE ORLEY TRADITION
THE HAPPY FAMILY
ON THE STAIRCASE
THE JAM QUEEN
THE UNCERTAIN GLORY
TOWNSHEND, R. B.
A GIRL FROM MEXICO
VAN VORST, MARIE
THE ADVENTURES OF JIMMY BULSTRODE
A ROMAN PICTURE
WALFORD, L. B.
DAVID AND JONATHAN IN THE RIVIERA
THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE
WATSON, H. B. MARRIOTT
THE BIG FISH
THE FLOWER OF THE HEART
THE ROMANCE OF A FEW DAYS
THE ETERNAL PRIESTESS
A SPIRIT OF MIRTH
WELLS, H. G.
THE SEA LADY
WEYMAN, STANLEY J.
UNDER THE RED ROBE Illus.
THE RESULT OF AN ACCIDENT
LOVE AND THE WISE MEN
THE LOST HALO
WILLIAMSON, C. N. and A. M.
THE LIGHTNING CONDUCTOR Illus.
THE PRINCESS PASSES Illus.
MY FRIEND THE CHAUFFEUR Illus.
LADY BETTY ACROSS THE WATER Illus.
THE CAR OF DESTINY Illus.
THE BOTOR CHAPERON Illus.
SCARLET RUNNER Illus.
SET IN SILVER Illus.
LORD LOVELAND DISCOVERS AMERICA
THE GOLDEN SILENCE
THE GUESTS OF HERCULES
THE HEATHER MOON
THE LOVE PIRATE
IT HAPPENED IN EGYPT
A SOLDIER OF THE LEGION
THE PRINCESS VIRGINIA
THE WEDDING DAY
WODEHOUSE, P. G.
THE LITTLE NUGGET
THE MAN UPSTAIRS
WRENCH, Mrs. STANLEY
POTTER AND CLAY
THE PATHWAY OF THE PIONEER
THE UNOFFICIAL HONEYMOON
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The List contains books by:—
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E. V. LUCAS
SIR HIRAM MAXIM
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S. R. CROCKETT
B. M. CROKER
A. CONAN DOYLE
W. W. JACOBS
WM. LE QUEUX
MRS. BELLOC LOWNDES
E. V. LUCAS
M. E. MANN
A. E. W. MASON
W. B. MAXWELL
A. A. MILNE
SIR GILBERT PARKER
W. PETT RIDGE
MRS. ALFRED SIDGWICK
J. C. SNAITH
H. G. WELLS
C. N. & A. M. WILLIAMSON