Anthony Newton was a soldier at eighteen; at twenty-eight he was a
beggar of favours, a patient waiter in outer offices, a more or less meek
respondent to questionnaires which bore a remarkable resemblance one to
'What experience have you?'
'What salary would you require?'
There were six other questions, all more or less unimportant, but all
designed to prove that a Public School education and a record of minor
heroisms were poor or no qualification for any job that produced a living
wage and the minimum of interest, unless the applicant was in a position
to deposit fabulous sums for the purchase of partnerships, secretaryships
'I am afraid, Mr Newton, we haven't a place for you at the moment, but if
you will leave your address, we will communicate with you just as soon as
something comes along.'
Tony Newton struggled through eight years of odd jobs. His gratuity had
been absorbed in a poultry farm which as everybody knows, is a very
simple method of making money. In theory. And at the end of the eighth
year he discussed the situation with himself and soberly elected for
brigandage of a safe and more or less unobjectionable variety. His final
decision was taken on a certain morning.
Mrs Cranboyle, his landlady, presented a bill and an ultimatum. The bill
was familiar--the ultimatum, not altogether unexpected, was both novel
He looked at his landlady thoughtfully, and his good-looking face wore
an unaccustomed expression of doubt. As for Mrs Cranboyle, a solid, stout
woman with a flinty eye and a large, determined chin, she was very
definitely beyond any kind of doubt whatever.
Anthony heaved a sigh, and his gaze wandered from his landlady's face to
the various features of his small and comfortless room. From the knobbly
bed to the 'What is home without a mother?' (a masterpiece of German
lithographic art) above the bed board, to the 'All we like sheep have
gone astray' above the mantelpiece, to the two china dogs thereon, to the
skimpy little hearth-rug before the polished and fireless grate, and
then back to Mrs Cranboyle.
'You can't expect me to keep you, Mr Newton,' she said significantly, not
for the first time that morning.
'Hush,' said Anthony testily. 'I am thinking.'
Mrs Cranboyle shivered.
'I have worked very hard for all I've got,' she went on, 'and a young man
like you should know better than to impose upon a widow who doesn't know
where her next pound is coming from--'
'You've got seven hundred and fifty pounds in Government Bonds, two
hundred and fifty in the Post Office, and a deposit account at the London
and Manchester Bank of nearly five hundred pounds,' said Anthony calmly,
and Mrs Cranboyle gasped.
'What--how--' she stammered.
'I was looking through your passbook,' explained Anthony without shame.
'You left it in the drawing-room one day, and I spent a very pleasant
afternoon examining it.'
For a moment Mrs Cranboyle was incapable of speech.
'Well, you've got a cheek!' she gasped at last. 'And that settles it! You
leave my house today.'
'Very good,' said Anthony with a shrug. 'I'll go along and find other
rooms, and I'll send a man for my luggage.'
'Send the six weeks' rent you owe,' said Mrs Cranboyle, 'or don't trouble
to send at all. If you think I'm going to keep a house open for a
Anthony raised his hand with some dignity.
'You are speaking to one of your country's defenders,' he said, loftily,
'one who has endured the terrific strain of war, one who, whilst you
slept snug in your bed, was dithering through the snow, the sleet, the
slush, the fog and the gunfire. Always remember that, Mrs Cranboyle. You
can't be sufficiently thankful to men like me.' He glared at her. 'Where
would you be if the Germans had won?'
Mrs Cranboyle was quite incapable of speech. She wanted to remind him,
for the third time, of the manner in which he had wasted his substance,
but he saved her the trouble.
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