Contains What I Meant to Write in Chapter Twenty. or Nearly.



My friend St. Louis (alias Spiritus Sanctus) tells me that the Snow of Heaven only makes his nose cold, like a healthy dog's. He does not complain; he merely records the observation. But I'll bet him that his nose was not so cold as good Sir Roger Bloxam's, that third night after Christmas '95. For the boy was tired o' skating. He knew nobody in Stockholm but the stuffy old British minister, and his cappy shawly spouse; and he couldn't speak a word of Swedish, and he didn't like Punch. So as you all know, after about three hours trying the Inside Back Loop and Rocker for the love of the thing, you wish you had never seen a skate in your life. Sir Roger Bloxam was tired and cold and hungry. Cardinal Mentula and his little suite were with him, to be sure, but to all intents and purposes they had retired to their apartments. It's a hell of a life, isn't it, sometimes? Enthusiasm somehow flops When neither love nor dream outcrops From white or crimson poppy-tops. Hooray! I'm a poet. Well, he stood there, and dolefully executed a very inferior Outside Back Q, L forward Inside Counter, R forward Inside Loop, L Outside Back Bracket, missed the turn and set down with a fine British Damn. Forthwith on all sides to his aid was run By skaters many and strong; but the first to arrive, reminding me of Outram (wasn't it? my father was a great pal of the old boy's) at Lucknow, was James L. Dickson. L. stood for something Scottish, Laurie, or Leslie, or Levy, I think. Anyhow, 'twas a compatriot of sorts that rescued him; and that same British Damn, declaring Sir Roger Bloxam to be a colliguary of Chaucer and John Galsworthy (Oh God!) he said to him “God save thee, lad! Zoops! hast harmed thee? Nay, th'art a gay lad and a gallant, 'ods fish, 'ods bodikins, 'ods teeth and whiskers; and may I be eternally damned if I'm not glad to hear me honest English speech in this country of Tandstickors and Smorgasbord!” You'd have been glad in his place, too, wouldn't you? And Sir Roger was comely and graceful, lissome as an ounce, playful as a kitten. And he was drest in his skating suit (kneebreeches and tunic with an Astrakhan roll collar, dbld silk, extr. pockt, 44 gs – or so Nash of Savile Row was always telling him) with the most darling coquettish cap to match, like a Badenoch with out the knob and ribbons; and he wore it perched on one side of his head; oh yet! if you've guts in you, reader, which you must have, since you've come thus far in Our Story, you'd have beaten James L. Dickson by a short head on the post, with a little luck at the fall of the flag. So the new friends talked of England, home and beauty; for their paradox was to delight in the association of incompatible ideas. And Sir Roger Bloxam (the innocent) never guessed that James was clairvoyant. But he was. He could not see her, but he divined that Porphyria Poppoea was not far away – and he determined to obtain an introduction. Well, why not? James L. Dickson was an exceedingly nice man.

That night he dined with Sir Roger; the next night Sir Roger dined with him; on New Year's Eve he dined with Sir Roger again, and almost on the very stroke of the bell of St. Somebody's Cathedral that rang the Old Year out – I don't remember my Swedish Saints – he obtained the desired introduction to Porphyria Poppoea.

No, it doesn't sound very exciting; but there's nothing else to tell; why should I embroider to please you? Devil take you! James L. Dickson was satisfied; so would you have been – that at least I swear by the faith of the Universal Testimony of all those who have been similarly favoured. Shut up!

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