accumulation of an enormous fortune brings within the view, implies a loss of happiness rather 대구오피 than an extension of it, neither Edward nor she were of that Arcadian build. They both immensely enjoyed the wider horizon; the humble establishment with parlour maids had been all very{16} well, but how much more enjoyable was the brownstone house on the outskirts of Sheffield with footmen and a carriage. For Mrs. Osborne did not find it in the least interfered with her happiness to have men to manage or “richer” things to eat. As a matter of fact she liked managing, and rejoiced in the building of a new wing to the brown stone house, in the acquisition of motor cars and in the drain on their time and resources by Edward being made Mayor of Sheffield. Neither of them ever thought that they had been happier when their means were more straitened and their establishment humbler. Both of them, in spite of an essential and innate simplicity of nature rejoiced in these establishments, and were always ready to enlarge and embellish and rejoice. They had always made the most of their current resources—though in a merely financial sense they had always saved—and it was as great a pleasure to Mrs. Osborne to see her table plentifully loaded with the most expensive food that money could provide, and press second helpings on her guests, as it had been to have a solid four courses at midday dinner on Sunday in Sheffield and tell her friends that Mr. Osborne liked nothing better than to have a good dinner on Sunday, and see a pleasant party to share it with him. She still inquired if she might not “tempt” her neighbours at table to have another quail, just as she had tried to persuade them to have a second cut of roast lamb, when in season, while from the other end of the table she would hear as a hospitable echo her husband’s voice recommending Veuve Clicquot of 1884, just as in the old days he had recommended{17} the sound whiskey which would hurt nobody, not if you drank it all afternoon.

The year of the mayoralty of Sheffield had been succeeded by seven years fatter than even Joseph had dreamed of. Edward was as sound in his business as he was in the whiskey he so hospitably pressed on his guests, and by dint of always supplying goods of the best possible workmanship and material at prices that gave him no more than a respectable profit, the profits had annually increased till in the opinion of those who did not adopt so unspeculative a quality of goods, they had almost ceased to be respectable, and became colossal instead. Then, at the end of seven fat years, Edward had realized that he was sixty, though he neither looked nor felt more than an adolescent fifty, had turned the hardware business into a company, and as vendor had received ordinary shares to an extent that would insure him an income no less than that of the fat years. He had already put by a capital that produced some ten thousand pounds a year, and he was thus not disadvantageously situated. Percy, however, still held the Art Department in his own hands. The plant and profits of that had not been offered to the public, but had been presented to Percy by his father on the occasion of his marriage, an event now six years old. For the whole idea of ornamental tin ivy and the host of collateral ideas that emanated therefrom had been Percy’s and it was now a joke between his father and him that Mrs. P. would soon have an emerald necklace that would take the shine out of the Land’s End. “Land’s End will be Mrs. P.’s{18} beginning,” said his father. “And the Sea is Britannia’s realm,” he added by a happy afterthought. “I’ll call her Mrs. C. instead of Mrs. P. Hey, Per?”

Badinage had ensued. She was called Mrs. C. instantly and there were numerous conjectures as to who C. was. Mr. Osborne said that it was curious that C. was the first letter of Co-respondent; but that joke, though Edward was usually very successful in such facetiæ, was not very well received. The momentary Mrs. C. ate her grapes with a studied air, and Mrs. Osborne from the other end of the table—this was still in Sheffield—said, “You don’t think, Eddie; you let your tongue run away with you.”

On reflection Eddie agreed with her, and there was no more heard about Mrs. C. But he always thought that his badinage had been taken a little too seriously. “A joke’s a joke,” he said to himself as he shaved his chin next morning, leaving side-whiskers. “But if they don’t like one joke, we’ll try another. Lots of jokes still left.”

So without sense of injury or of being misunderstood he tried plenty of others, which were as successful as humour should have any expectation of being. Humour comes from a well that is rarely found, but when found proves always to be inexhaustible. The numerical value, therefore, of Edward’s jokes had not been diminished and Percy inherited his father’s sense of fun.

Still in Sheffield, Mr. Osborne had, after the formation of the company, seen an extraordinary increase in business, with the result that his income, already{19} scarcely respectable, mounted and mounted. Years ago he had built a chapel of corrugated iron outside and pitch-pine inside in the middle of that district of the town which had become his and was enstreeted with the houses of his workmen, and now he turned the corrugated building into a reading room, as soon as ever the tall Gothic church with which he had superseded it was ready for use. A princess had come to the opening of it, and had declared the discarded church to be a reading room, and there was really nothing more to do in Sheffield, except to say that he did not wish to become a knight. Mr. Osborne had no opinion of knights: knighthood in his mind was the bottom shelf of a structure, where, if he took a place, it might easily become a permanent one. But he had no idea of accepting a bottom place on the shelves. With his natural shrewdness he said that he had done nothing to deserve it. But he winked in a manner that anticipated familiarity toward shelves that were higher. He had not done with the question of shelves yet, though he had nothing to say to the lowest one.

It must not be supposed that because he had retired from active connection with the hardware business, his mind slackened. The exact contrary was the case. There was no longer any need for him to exercise that shrewd member on hardware, and it only followed that the thought he had previously given to hardware was directed into other channels. He thought things over very carefully as was his habit, before taking any step, summed up his work in{20} Sheffield, settled that a knighthood was not adequate to reward him for what he had already done, but concluded that he had nothing more to do in Sheffield, just for the moment. And having come to that conclusion he had a long talk with Mrs. O. in her boudoir, where she always went after breakfast to see cook and write her letters. But that morning cook waited downstairs in her clean apron long after Mrs. Osborne had gone to her boudoir, expecting every moment to hear her bell, and no bell sounded. For more weighty matters were being debated than the question of dinner, and at first when Mr. Osborne broached the subject his wife felt struck of a heap.

“Well, Mrs. O., it’s for you to settle,” he said, “and if you’re satisfied to remain in Sheffield, why in Sheffield we remain, old lady, and that’s the last word you shall hear from me on the subject. But there’s a deal to be considered and I’ll just put the points before you again. There’s yourself to lead off with. You like seeing your friends at dinner and giving them of the best and so do I. Well, for all I can learn there’s a deal more of that going on in London where you can have your twenty people to dinner every night if you have a mind, and a hundred to dance to your fiddles afterward. And I’m much mistaken, should we agree to leave Sheffield and set up in town, if Mrs. O.’s parties don’t make some handsome paragraphs in the Morning Post before long.”

“Lor’, to think of that,” said Mrs. Osborne reflectively. She did not generally employ that interjection, which she thought rather common, and even{21} now, though she was so absorbed, she corrected herself and said “There, to think of that.”