The Red-headed League: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery

Finding a news paper ad regarding a job offered only for red-headed men, a pawnbroker approaches Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Read this enchanting mystery of the red-headed men further to know the meaning of the message: "THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE IS DISSOLVED".



The Red Headed League
Written by: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I had called upon my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, one day in the autumn of last year and found him in deep conversation with a very stout, florid-faced, elderly gentleman with fiery red hair. With an apology for my intrusion, I was about to withdraw when Holmes pulled me abruptly into the room and closed the door behind me.

"You could not possibly have come at a better time, my dear Watson," he said cordially.

"I was afraid that you were engaged."

"So I am. Very much so."

"Then I can wait in the next room."

"Not at all. This gentleman, Mr. Wilson, has been my partner and helper in many of my most successful cases, and I have no doubt that he will be of the utmost use to me in yours also."

The stout gentleman half rose from his chair and gave a bob of greeting, with a quick little questioning glance from his small fat-encircled eyes.

"Try the settee," said Holmes, relapsing into his armchair and putting his fingertips together, as was his custom when in judicial moods. "I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum routine of everyday life. You have shown your relish for it by the enthusiasm which has prompted you to chronicle, and, if you will excuse my saying so, somewhat to embellish so many of my own little adventures."

"Your cases have indeed been of the greatest interest to me," I observed.

"You will remember that I remarked the other day, just before we went into the very simple problem presented by Miss Mary Sutherland, that for strange effects and extraordinary combinations we must go to life itself, which is always far more daring than any effort of the imagination."

"A proposition which I took the liberty of doubting."

"You did, Doctor, but none the less you must come round to my view, for otherwise I shall keep on piling fact upon fact on you until your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges me to be right. Now, Mr. Jabez Wilson here has been good enough to call upon me this morning, and to begin a narrative which promises to be one of the most singular which I have listened to for some time. You have heard me remark that the strangest and most unique things are very often connected not with the larger but with the smaller crimes, and occasionally, indeed, where there is room for doubt whether any positive crime has been committed. As far as I have heard it is impossible for me to say whether the present case is an instance of crime or not, but the course of events is certainly among the most singular that I have ever listened to. Perhaps, Mr. Wilson, you would have the great kindness to recommence your narrative. I ask you not merely because my friend Dr. Watson has not heard the opening part but also because the peculiar nature of the story makes me anxious to have every possible detail from your lips. As a rule, when I have heard some slight indication of the course of events, I am able to guide myself by the thousands of other similar cases which occur to my memory. In the present instance I am forced to admit that the facts are, to the best of my belief, unique."

The portly client puffed out his chest with an appearance of some little pride and pulled a dirty and wrinkled newspaper from the inside pocket of his greatcoat. As he glanced down the advertisement column, with his head thrust forward and the paper flattened out upon his knee, I took a good look at the man and endeavored, after the fashion of my companion, to read the indications which might be presented by his dress or appearance.

I did not gain very much, however, by my inspection. Our visitor bore every mark of being an average commonplace British tradesman, obese, pompous, and slow. He wore rather baggy gray shepherd's check trousers, a not over-clean black frock-coat, unbuttoned in the front, and a drab waistcoat with a heavy brassy Albert chain, and a square pierced bit of metal dangling down as an ornament. A frayed top-hat and a faded brown overcoat with a wrinkled velvet collar lay upon a chair beside him. Altogether, look as I would, there was nothing remarkable about the man save his blazing red head, and the expression of extreme chagrin and discontent upon his features.

Sherlock Holmes's quick eye took in my occupation, and he shook his head with a smile as he noticed my questioning glances. "Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing else."

Mr. Jabez Wilson started up in his chair, with his forefinger upon the paper, but his eyes upon my companion.

"How, in the name of good-fortune, did you know all that, Mr. Holmes?" he asked. "How did you know, for example, that I did manual labour. It's as true as gospel, for I began as a ship's carpenter."

"Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size larger than your left. You have worked with it, and the muscles are more developed."

"Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?"

"I won't insult your intelligence by telling you how I read that, especially as, rather against the strict rules of your order, you use an arc-and-compass breastpin."

"Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing?"

"What else can be indicated by that right cuff so very shiny for five inches, and the left one with the smooth patch near the elbow where you rest it upon the desk?"

"Well, but China?"

"The fish that you have tattooed immediately above your right wrist could only have been done in China. I have made a small study of tattoo marks and have even contributed to the literature of the subject. That trick of staining the fishes' scales of a delicate pink is quite peculiar to China. When, in addition, I see a Chinese coin hanging from your watch-chain, the matter becomes even more simple."

Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. "Well, I never!" said he. "I thought at first that you had done something clever, but I see that there was nothing in it, after all."

"I begin to think, Watson," said Holmes, "that I make a mistake in explaining. 'Omne ignotum pro magnifico,' you know, and my poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so candid. Can you not find the advertisement, Mr. Wilson?"

"Yes, I have got it now," he answered with his thick red finger planted halfway down the column. "Here it is. This is what began it all. You just read it for yourself, sir."

I took the paper from him and read as follows.

TO THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE: On account of the bequest of the late Ezekiah Hopkins, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., there is now another vacancy open which entitles a member of the League to a salary of 4 pounds a week for purely nominal services. All red-headed men who are sound in body and mind and above the age of twenty-one years, are eligible. Appiy in person on Monday, at eleven o'clock, to Duncan Ross, at the offices of the League, 7 Pope's Court, Fleet Street.

"What on earth does this mean?" I ejaculated after I had twice read over the extraordinary announcement.

Holmes chuckled and wriggled in his chair, as was his habit when in high spirits. "It is a little off the beaten track, isn't it?" said he. "And now, Mr. Wilson, off you go at scratch and tell us all about yourself, your household, and the effect which this advertisement had upon your fortunes. You will first make a note, Doctor, of the paper and the date."

"It is The Morning Chronicle of April 27, 1890. Just two months ago."

"Very good. Now, Mr. Wilson?"

"Well, it is just as I have been telling you, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said Jabez Wilson, mopping his forehead; "I have a small pawnbroker's business at Coburg Square, near the City. It's not a very large affair, and of late years it has not done more than just give me a living. I used to be able to keep two assistants, but now I only keep one; and I would have a job to pay him but that he is willing to come for half wages so as to learn the business."

"What is the name of this obliging youth?" asked Sherlock Holmes.

"His name is Vincent Spaulding, and he's not such a youth, either. It's hard to say his age. I should not wish a smarter assistant, Mr. Holmes; and I know very well that he could better himself and earn twice what I am able to give him. But, after all, if he is satisfied, why should I put ideas in his head?"

"Why, indeed? You seem most fortunate in having an employee who comes under the full market price. It is not a common experience among employers in this age. I don't know that your assistant is not as remarkable as your advertisement."

"Oh, he has his faults, too," said Mr. Wilson. "Never was such a fellow for photography. Snapping away with a camera when he ought to be improving his mind, and then diving down into the cellar like a rabbit into its hole to develop his pictures. That is his main fault, but on the whole he's a good worker. There's no vice in him."

"He is still with you, I presume?"

"Yes, sir. He and a girl of fourteen, who does a bit of simple cooking and keeps the place clean--that's all I have in the house, for I am a widower and never had any family. We live very quietly, sir, the three of us; and we keep a roof over our heads and pay our debts, if we do nothing more.

"The first thing that put us out was that advertisement. Spaulding, he came down into the office just this day eight weeks, with this very paper in his hand, and he says:

"'I wish to the Lord, Mr. Wilson, that I was a red-headed man.'

"'Why that?' I asks.

"'Why,' says he, 'here's another vacancy on the League of the Red-headed Men. It's worth quite a little fortune to any man who gets it, and I understand that there are more vacancies than there are men, so that the trustees are at their wits' end what to do with the money. If my hair would only change color, here's a nice little crib all ready for me to step into.'

"'Why, what is it, then?' I asked. You see. Mr. Holmes, I am a very stay-at-home man, and as my business came to me instead of my having to go to it, I was often weeks on end without putting my foot over the door-mat. In that way I didn't know much of what was going on outside, and I was always glad of a bit of news.

"'Have you never heard of the League of the Red-headed Men?' he asked with his eyes open.

"'Never.'

"'Why, I wonder at that, for you are eligibile yourself for one of the vacancies.'

"'And what are they worth?' I asked.

"'Oh, merely a couple of hundred a year, but the work is slight, and it need not interfere very much with one's other occupations.'

"Well, you can easily think that that made me prick up my ears, for the business has not been over-good for some years, and an extra couple of hundred would have been very handy.

"'Tell me all about it,' said I.

"'Well ' said he, showing me the advertisement, 'you can see for yourself that the League has a vacancy, and there is the address where you should apply for particulars. As far as I can make out, the League was founded by an American millionaire, Ezekiah Hopkins, who was very peculiar in his ways. He was himself red-headed, and he had a great sympathy for all red-headed men; so when he died it was found that he had left his enormous fortune in the hands of trustees, with instructions to apply the interest to the providing of easy berths to men whose hair is of that color. From all I hear it is splendid pay and very little to do.'

"'But,' said I, 'there would be millions of red-headed men who would apply.'

"'Not so many as you might think,' he answered. 'You see it is really confined to Londoners, and to grown men. This American had started from London when he was young, and he wanted to do the old town a good turn. Then, again, I have heard it is no use your applying if your hair is light red, or dark red, or anything but real bright, blazing, fiery red. Now, if you cared to apply, Mr. Wilson, you would just walk in; but perhaps it would hardly be worth your while to put yourself out of the way for the sake of a few hundred pounds.'

"Now, it is a fact, gentlemen, as you may see for yourselves, that my hair is of a very full and rich tint, so that it seemed to me that if there was to be any competition in the matter I stood as good a chance as any man that I had ever met. Vincent Spaulding seemed to know so much about it that I thought he might prove useful, so I just ordered him to put up the shutters for the day and to come right away with me. He was very willing to have a holiday, so we shut the business up and started off for the address that was given us in the advertisement.

"I never hope to see such a sight as that again, Mr. Holmes. From north, south, east, and west every man who had a shade of red in his hair had tramped into the city to answer the advertisement. Fleet Street was choked with red-headed folk, and Pope's Court looked like a coster's orange barrow. I should not have thought there were so many in the whole country as were brought together by that single advertisement. Every shade of color they were--straw, lemon, orange, brick, Irish-setter, liver, clay; but, as Spaulding said, there were not many who had the real vivid flame-colored tint. When I saw how many were waiting, I would have given it up in despair; but Spaulding would not hear of it. How he did it I could not imagine, but he pushed and pulled and butted until he got me through the crowd, and right up to the steps which led to the office. There was a double stream upon the stair, some going up in hope, and some coming back dejected; but we wedged in as well as we could and soon found ourselves in the office."

"Your experience has been a most entertaining one," remarked Holmes as his client paused and refreshed his memory with a huge pinch of snuff. "Pray continue your very interesting statement."

"There was nothing in the office but a couple of wooden chairs and a deal table, behind which sat a small man with a head that was even redder than mine. He said a few words to each candidate as he came up, and then he always managed to find some fault in them which would disqualify them. Getting a vacancy did not seem to be such a very easy matter, after all. However, when our turn came the little man was much more favorable to me than to any of the others, and he closed the door as we entered, so that he might have a private word with us.

"'This is Mr. Jabez Wilson,' said my assistant, 'and he is willing to fill a vacancy in the League.'

"'And he is admirably suited for it,' the other answered. 'He has every requirement. I cannot recall when I have seen anything so fine.' He took a step backward, cocked his head on one side, and gazed at my hair until I felt quite bashful. Then suddenly he plunged forward, wrung my hand, and congratulated me warmly on my success.

"'It would be injustice to hesitate,' said he. 'You will, however, I am sure, excuse me for taking an obvious precaution.' With that he seized my hair in both his hands, and tugged until I yelled with the pain. 'There is water in your eyes,' said he as he released me. 'I perceive that all is as it should be. But we have to be careful, for we have twice been deceived by wigs and once by paint. I could tell you tales of cobbler's wax which would disgust you with human nature.' He stepped over to the window and shouted through it at the top of his voice that the vacancy was filled. A groan of disappointment came up from below, and the folk all trooped away in different directions until there was not a red-head to be seen except my own and that of the manager.

"'My name,' said he, 'is Mr. Duncan Ross, and I am myself one of the pensioners upon the fund left by our noble benefactor. Are you a married man, Mr. Wilson? Have you a family?'

"I answered that I had not.

"His face fell immediately.

"'Dear me!' he said gravely, 'that is very serious indeed! I am sorry to hear you say that. The fund was, of course, for the propagation and spread of the red-heads as well as for their maintenance. It is exceedingly unfortunate that you should be a bachelor.'

"My face lengthened at this, Mr. Holmes, for I thought that I was not to have the vacancy after all; but after thinking it over for a few minutes he said that it would be all right.

"'In the case of another,' said he, 'the objection might be fatal, but we must stretch a point in favor of a man with such a head of hair as yours. When shall you be able to enter upon your new duties?'

"'Well, it is a little awkward, for I have a business already,' said I.

"'Oh, never mind about that, Mr. Wilson!' said Vincent Spaulding. 'I should be able to look after that for you.'

"'What would be the hours?' I asked.

"'Ten to two.'

"Now a pawnbroker's business is mostly done of an evening, Mr. Holmes, especially Thursday and Friday evening, which is just before pay-day; so it would suit me very well to earn a little in the mornings. Besides, I knew that my assistant was a good man, and that he would see to anything that turned up.

"'That would suit me very well,' said I. 'And the pay?'

"'Is 4 pounds a week.'

"'And the work?'

"'Is purely nominal.'

"'What do you call purely nominal?'

"'Well, you have to be in the office, or at least in the building, the whole time. If you leave, you forfeit your whole position forever. The will is very clear upon that point. You don't comply with the conditions if you budge from the office during that time.'

"'It's only four hours a day, and I should not think of leaving,' said I.

"'No excuse will avail,' said Mr. Duncan Ross; 'neither sickness nor business nor anything else. There you must stay, or you lose your billet.'

"'And the work?'

"'Is to copy out the Encyclopaedia Britannica. There is the first volume of it in that press. You must find your own ink, pens, and blotting-paper, but we provide this table and chair. Will you be ready to-morrow?'

"'Certainly,' I answered.

"'Then, good-bye, Mr. Jabez Wilson, and let me congratulate you once more on the important position which you have been fortunate enough to gain.' He bowed me out of the room and I went home with my assistant, hardly knowing what to say or do, I was so pleased at my own good fortune.

"Well, I thought over the matter all day, and by evening I was in low spirits again; for I had quite persuaded myself that the whole affair must be some great hoax or fraud, though what its object might be I could not imagine. It seemed altogether past belief that anyone could make such a will, or that they would pay such a sum for doing anything so simple as copying out the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Vincent Spaulding did what he could to cheer me up, but by bedtime I had reasoned myself out of the whole thing. However, in the morning I determined to have a look at it anyhow, so I bought a penny bottle of ink, and with a quill-pen, and seven sheets of foolscap paper, I started off for Pope's Court.

"Well, to my surprise and delight, everything was as right as possible. The table was set out ready for me, and Mr. Duncan Ross was there to see that I got fairly to work. He started me off upon the letter A, and then he left me; but he would drop in from time to time to see that all was right with me. At two o'clock he bade me good-day, complimented me upon the amount that I had written, and locked the door of the office after me.

"This went on day after day, Mr. Holmes, and on Saturday the manager came in and planked down four golden sovereigns for my week's work. It was the same next week, and the same the week after. Every morning I was there at ten, and every afternoon I left at two. By degrees Mr. Duncan Ross took to coming in only once of a morning, and then, after a time, he did not come in at all. Still, of course, I never dared to leave the room for an instant, for I was not sure when he might come, and the billet was such a good one, and suited me so well, that I would not risk the loss of it.

"Eight weeks passed away like this, and I had written about Abbots and Archery and Armour and Architecture and Attica, and hoped with diligence that I might get on to the B's before very long. It cost me something in foolscap, and I had pretty nearly filled a shelf with my writings. And then suddenly the whole business came to an end."

"To an end?"

"Yes, sir. And no later than this morning. I went to my work as usual at ten o'clock, but the door was shut and locked, with a little square of card-board hammered on to the middle of the panel with a tack. Here it is, and you can read for yourself."

He held up a piece of white card-board about the size of a sheet of note-paper. It read in this fashion:

THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE

IS

DISSOLVED.

October 9, 1890.

Sherlock Holmes and I surveyed this curt announcement and the rueful face behind it, until the comical side of the affair so completely overtopped every other consideration that we both burst out into a roar of laughter.

"I cannot see that there is anything very funny," cried our client, flushing up to the roots of his flaming head. "If you can do nothing better than laugh at me, I can go elsewhere."

"No, no," cried Holmes, shoving him back into the chair from which he had half risen. "I really wouldn't miss your case for the world. It is most refreshingly unusual. But there is, if you will excuse my saying so, something just a little funny about it. Pray what steps did you take when you found the card upon the door?"

"I was staggered, sir. I did not know what to do. Then I called at the offices round, but none of them seemed to know anything about it. Finally, I went to the landlord, who is an accountant living on the ground-floor, and I asked him if he could tell me what had become of the Red-headed League. He said that he had never heard of any such body. Then I asked him who Mr. Duncan Ross was. He answered that the name was new to him.

"'Well,' said I, 'the gentleman at No. 4.'

"'What, the red-headed man?'

"'Yes.'

"'Oh,' said he, 'his name was William Morris. He was a solicitor and was using my room as a temporary convenience until his new premises were ready. He moved out yesterday.'

"'Where could I find him?'

"'Oh, at his new offices. He did tell me the address. Yes, 17 King Edward Street, near St. Paul's.'

"I started off, Mr. Holmes, but when I got to that address it was a manufactory of artificial knee-caps, and no one in it had ever heard of either Mr. William Morris or Mr. Duncan Ross."

"And what did you do then?" asked Holmes.

"I went home to Saxe-Coburg Square, and I took the advice of my assistant. But he could not help me in any way. He could only say that if I waited I should hear by post. But that was not quite good enough, Mr. Holmes. I did not wish to lose such a place without a struggle, so, as I had heard that you were good enough to give advice to poor folk who were in need of it, I came right away to you."

"And you did very wisely," said Holmes. "Your case is an exceedingly remarkable one, and I shall be happy to look into it. From what you have told me I think that it is possible that graver issues hang from it than might at first sight appear."

"Grave enough!" said Mr. Jabez Wilson. "Why, I have lost four pound a week."

"As far as you are personally concerned," remarked Holmes, "I do not see that you have any grievance against this extraordinary league. On the contrary, you are, as I understand, richer by some 30 pounds, to say nothing of the minute knowledge which you have gained on every subject which comes under the letter A. You have lost nothing by them."

"No, sir. But I want to find out about them, and who they are, and what their object was in playing this prank--if it was a prank--upon me. It was a pretty expensive joke for them, for it cost them two and thirty pounds."

"We shall endeavor to clear up these points for you. And, first, one or two questions, Mr. Wilson. This assistant of yours who first called your attention to the advertisement--how long had he been with you?"

"About a month then."

"How did he come?"

"In answer to an advertisement."

"Was he the only applicant?"

"No, I had a dozen."

"Why did you pick him?"

"Because he was handy and would come cheap."

"At half-wages, in fact."

"Yes."

"What is he like, this Vincent Spaulding?"

"Small, stout-built, very quick in his ways, no hair on his face, though he's not short of thirty. Has a white splash of acid upon his forehead."

Holmes sat up in his chair in considerable excitement. "I thought as much," said he. "Have you ever observed that his ears are pierced for earrings?"

"Yes, sir. He told me that a gypsy had done it for him when he was a lad."

"Hum!" said Holmes, sinking back in deep thought. "He is still with you?"

"Oh, yes, sir; I have only just left him."

"And has your business been attended to in your absence?"

"Nothing to complain of, sir. There's never very much to do of a morning."

"That will do, Mr. Wilson. I shall be happy to give you an opinion upon the subject in the course of a day or two. To-day is Saturday, and I hope that by Monday we may come to a conclusion."

"Well, Watson," said Holmes when our visitor had left us, "what do you make of it all?"

"I make nothing of it," I answered frankly. "It is a most mysterious business."

"As a rule," said Holmes, "the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify. But I must be prompt over this matter."

"What are you going to do, then?" I asked.

"To smoke," he answered. "It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won't speak to me for fifty minutes." He curled himself up in his chair, with his thin knees drawn up to his hawk-like nose, and there he sat with his eyes closed and his black clay pipe thrusting out like the bill of some strange bird. I had come to the conclusion that he had dropped asleep, and indeed was nodding myself, when he suddenly sprang out of his chair with the gesture of a man who has made up his mind and put his pipe down upon the mantelpiece.

"Sarasate plays at the St. James's Hall this afternoon," he remarked. "What do you think, Watson? Could your patients spare you for a few hours?"

"I have nothing to do to-day. My practice is never very absorbing."

"Then put on your hat and come. I am going through the City first, and we can have some lunch on the way. I observe that there is a good deal of German music on the programme, which is rather more to my taste than Italian or French. It is introspective, and I want to introspect. Come along!"

We travelled by the Underground as far as Aldersgate; and a short walk took us to Saxe-Coburg Square, the scene of the singular story which we had listened to in the morning. It was a poky, little, shabby-genteel place, where four lines of dingy two-storied brick houses looked out into a small railed-in enclosure, where a lawn of weedy grass and a few clumps of faded laurel-bushes made a hard fight against a smoke-laden and uncongenial atmosphere. Three gilt balls and a brown board with "JABEZ WILSON" in white letters, upon a corner house, announced the place where our red-headed client carried on his business. Sherlock Holmes stopped in front of it with his head on one side and looked it all over, with his eyes shining brightly between puckered lids. Then he walked slowly up the street, and then down again to the corner, still looking keenly at the houses. Finally he returned to the pawnbroker's, and, having thumped vigorously upon the pavement with his stick two or three times, he went up to the door and knocked. It was instantly opened by a bright-looking, clean-shaven young fellow, who asked him to step in.

"Thank you," said Holmes, "I only wished to ask you how you would go from here to the Strand."

"Third right, fourth left," answered the assistant promptly, closing the door.

"Smart fellow, that," observed Holmes as we walked away. "He is, in my judgment. the fourth smartest man in London, and for daring I am not sure that he has not a claim to be third. I have known something of him before."

"Evidently," said I, "Mr. Wilson's assistant counts for a good deal in this mystery of the Red-headed League. I am sure that you inquired your way merely in order that you might see him."

"Not him."

"What then?"

"The knees of his trousers."

"And what did you see?"

"What I expected to see."

"Why did you beat the pavement?"

"My dear doctor, this is a time for observation, not for talk. We are spies in an enemy's country. We know something of Saxe-Coburg Square. Let us now explore the parts which lie behind it."

The road in which we found ourselves as we turned round the corner from the retired Saxe-Coburg Square presented as great a contrast to it as the front of a picture does to the back. It was one of the main arteries which conveyed the traffic of the City to the north and west. The roadway was blocked with the immense stream of commerce flowing in a double tide inward and outward, while the footpaths were black with the hurrying swarm of pedestrians. It was difficult to realize as we looked at the line of fine shops and stately business premises that they really abutted on the other side upon the faded and stagnant square which we had just quitted.

"Let me see," said Holmes, standing at the corner and glancing along the line, "I should like just to remember the order of the houses here. It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of London. There is Mortimer's, the tobacconist, the little newspaper shop, the Coburg branch of the City and Suburban Bank, the Vegetarian Restaurant, and McFarlane's carriage-building depot. That carries us right on to the other block. And now, Doctor, we've done our work, so it's time we had some play. A sandwich and a cup of coffee, and then off to violin-land, where all is sweetness and delicacy and harmony, and there are no red-headed clients to vex us with their conundrums."

My friend was an enthusiastic musician, being himself not only a very capable perfomer but a composer of no ordinary merit. All the afternoon he sat in the stalls wrapped in the most perfect happiness, gently waving his long, thin fingers in time to the music, while his gently smiling face and his languid, dreamy eyes were as unlike those of Holmes, the sleuth-hound, Holmes the relentless, keen-witted, ready-handed criminal agent, as it was possible to conceive. In his singular character the dual nature alternately asserted itself, and his extreme exactness and astuteness represented, as I have often thought, the reaction against the poetic and contemplative mood which occasionally predominated in him. The swing of his nature took him from extreme languor to devouring energy; and, as I knew well, he was never so truly formidable as when, for days on end, he had been lounging in his armchair amid his improvisations and his black-letter editions. Then it was that the lust of the chase would suddenly come upon him, and that his brilliant reasoning power would rise to the level of intuition, until those who were unacquainted with his methods would look askance at him as on a man whose knowledge was not that of other mortals. When I saw him that afternoon so enwrapped in the music at St. James's Hall I felt that an evil time might be coming upon those whom he had set himself to hunt down.

"You want to go home, no doubt, Doctor," he remarked as we emerged.

"Yes, it would be as well."

"And I have some business to do which will take some hours. This business at Coburg Square is serious."

"Why serious?"

"A considerable crime is in contemplation. I have every reason to believe that we shall be in time to stop it. But to-day being Saturday rather complicates matters. I shall want your help to-night."

"At what time?"

"Ten will be early enough."

"I shall be at Baker Street at ten."

"Very well. And, I say, Doctor, there may be some little danger, so kindly put your army revolver in your pocket." He waved his hand, turned on his heel, and disappeared in an instant among the crowd.

I trust that I am not more dense than my neighbors, but I was always oppressed with a sense of my own stupidity in my dealings with Sherlock Holmes. Here I had heard what he had heard, I had seen what he had seen, and yet from his words it was evident that he saw clearly not only what had happened but what was about to happen, while to me the whole business was still confused and grotesque. As I drove home to my house in Kensington I thought over it all, from the extraordinary story of the red-headed copier of the Encyclopaedia down to the visit to Saxe-Coburg Square, and the ominous words with which he had parted from me. What was this nocturnal expedition, and why should I go armed? Where were we going, and what were we to do? I had the hint from Holmes that this smooth-faced pawnbroker's assistant was a formidable man--a man who might play a deep game. I tried to puzzle it out, but gave it up in despair and set the matter aside until night should bring an explanation.

It was a quarter-past nine when I started from home and made my way across the Park, and so through Oxford Street to Baker Street. Two hansoms were standing at the door, and as I entered the passage I heard the sound of voices from above. On entering his room I found Holmes in animated conversation with two men, one of whom I recognized as Peter Jones, the official police agent, while the other was a long, thin, sad-faced man, with a very shiny hat and oppressively respectable frock-coat.

"Ha! Our party is complete," said Holmes, buttoning up his peajacket and taking his heavy hunting crop from the rack. "Watson, I think you know Mr. Jones, of Scotland Yard? Let me introduce you to Mr. Merryweather, who is to be our companion in to-night's adventure."

"We're hunting in couples again, Doctor, you see," said Jones in his consequential way. "Our friend here is a wonderful man for starting a chase. All he wants is an old dog to help him to do the running down."

"I hope a wild goose may not prove to be the end of our chase," observed Mr. Merryweather gloomily.

"You may place considerable confidence in Mr. Holmes, sir," said the police agent loftily. "He has his own little methods, which are, if he won't mind my saying so, just a little too theoretical and fantastic, but he has the makings of a detective in him. It is not too much to say that once or twice, as in that business of the Sholto murder and the Agra treasure, he has been more nearly correct than the official force."

"Oh, if you say so, Mr. Jones, it is all right," said the stranger with deference. "Still, I confess that I miss my rubber. It is the first Saturday night for seven-and-twenty years that I have not had my rubber."

"I think you will find," said Sherlock Holmes, "that you will play for a higher stake to-night than you have ever done yet, and that the play will be more exciting. For you, Mr. Merryweather, the stake will be some 30,000 pounds; and for you, Jones, it will be the man upon whom you wish to lay your hands."

"John Clay, the murderer, thief, smasher, and forger. He's a young man, Mr. Merryweather, but he is at the head of his profession, and I would rather have my bracelets on him than on any criminal in London. He's a remarkable man, is young John Clay. His grandfather was a royal duke, and he himself has been to Eton and Oxford. His brain is as cunning as his fingers, and though we meet signs of him at every turn, we never know where to find the man himself. He'll crack a crib in Scotland one week, and be raising money to build an orphanage in Cornwall the next. I've been on his track for years and have never set eyes on him yet."

"I hope that I may have the pleasure of introducing you to-night. I've had one or two little turns also with Mr. John Clay, and I agree with you that he is at the head of his profession. It is past ten, however, and quite time that we started. If you two will take the first hansom, Watson and I will follow in the second."

Sherlock Holmes was not very communicative during the long drive and lay back in the cab humming the tunes which he had heard in the afternoon. We rattled through an endless labyrinth of gas-lit streets until we emerged into Farrington Street.

"We are close there now," my friend remarked. "This fellow Merryweather is a bank director, and personally interested in the matter. I thought it as well to have Jones with us also. He is not a bad fellow, though an absolute imbecile in his profession. He has one positive virtue. He is as brave as a bulldog and as tenacious as a lobster if he gets his claws upon anyone. Here we are, and they are waiting for us."

We had reached the same crowded thoroughfare in which we had found ourselves in the morning. Our cabs were dismissed, and, following the guidance of Mr. Merryweather, we passed down a narrow passage and through a side door, which he opened for us. Within there was a small corridor, which ended in a very massive iron gate. This also was opened, and led down a flight of winding stone steps, which terminated at another formidable gate. Mr. Merryweather stopped to light a lantern, and then conducted us down a dark, earth-smelling passage, and so, after opening a third door, into a huge vault or cellar, which was piled all round with crates and massive boxes.

"You are not very vulnerable from above," Holmes remarked as he held up the lantern and gazed about him.

"Nor from below," said Mr. Merryweather, striking his stick upon the flags which lined the floor. "Why, dear me, it sounds quite hollow!" he remarked, looking up in surprise.

"I must really ask you to be a little more quiet!" said Holmes severely. "You have already imperilled the whole success of our expedition. Might I beg that you would have the goodness to sit down upon one of those boxes, and not to interfere?"

The solemn Mr. Merryweather perched himself upon a crate, with a very injured expression upon his face, while Holmes fell upon his knees upon the floor and, with the lantern and a magnifying lens, began to examine minutely the cracks between the stones. A few seconds sufficed to satisfy him, for he sprang to his feet again and put his glass in his pocket.

"We have at least an hour before us," he remarked, "for they can hardly take any steps until the good pawnbroker is safely in bed. Then they will not lose a minute, for the sooner they do their work the longer time they will have for their escape. We are at present, Doctor--as no doubt you have divined--in the cellar of the City branch of one of the principal London banks. Mr. Merryweather is the chairman of directors, and he will explain to you that there are reasons why the more daring criminals of London should take a considerable interest in this cellar at present."

"It is our French gold," whispered the director. "We have had several warnings that an attempt might be made upon it."

"Your French gold?"

"Yes. We had occasion some months ago to strengthen our resources and borrowed for that purpose 30,000 napoleons from the Bank of France. It has become known that we have never had occasion to unpack the money, and that it is still lying in our cellar. The crate upon which I sit contains 2,000 napoleons packed between layers of lead foil. Our reserve of bullion is much larger at present than is usually kept in a single branch office, and the directors have had misgivings upon the subject."

"Which were very well justified," observed Holmes. "And now it is time that we arranged our little plans. I expect that within an hour matters will come to a head. In the meantime Mr. Merryweather, we must put the screen over that dark lantern."

"And sit in the dark?"

"I am afraid so. I had brought a pack of cards in my pocket, and I thought that, as we were a partie carree, you might have your rubber after all. But I see that the enemy's preparations have gone so far that we cannot risk the presence of a light. And, first of all, we must choose our positions. These are daring men, and though we shall take them at a disadvantage, they may do us some harm unless we are careful. I shall stand behind this crate, and do you conceal yourselves behind those. Then, when I flash a light upon them, close in swiftly. If they fire, Watson, have no compunction about shooting them down."

I placed my revolver, cocked, upon the top of the wooden case behind which I crouched. Holmes shot the slide across the front of his lantern and left us in pitch darkness--such an absolute darkness as I have never before experienced. The smell of hot metal remained to assure us that the light was still there, ready to flash out at a moment's notice. To me, with my nerves worked up to a pitch of expectancy, there was something depressing and subduing in the sudden gloom, and in the cold dank air of the vault.

"They have but one retreat," whispered Holmes. "That is back through the house into Saxe-Coburg Square. I hope that you have done what I asked you, Jones?"

"l have an inspector and two officers waiting at the front door."

"Then we have stopped all the holes. And now we must be silent and wait."

What a time it seemed! From comparing notes afterwards it was but an hour and a quarter, yet it appeared to me that the night must have almost gone and the dawn be breaking above us. My limbs were weary and stiff, for I feared to change my position; yet my nerves were worked up to the highest pitch of tension, and my hearing was so acute that I could not only hear the gentle breathing of my companions, but I could distinguish the deeper, heavier in-breath of the bulky Jones from the thin, sighing note of the bank director. From my position I could look over the case in the direction of the floor. Suddenly my eyes caught the glint of a light.

At first it was but a lurid spark upon the stone pavement. Then it lengthened out until it became a yellow line, and then, without any warning or sound, a gash seemed to open and a hand appeared; a white, almost womanly hand, which felt about in the centre of the little area of light. For a minute or more the hand, with its writhing fingers, protruded out of the floor. Then it was withdrawn as suddenly as it appeared, and all was dark again save the single lurid spark which marked a chink between the stones.

Its disappearance, however, was but momentary. With a rending, tearing sound, one of the broad, white stones turned over upon its side and left a square, gaping hole, through which streamed the light of a lantern. Over the edge there peeped a clean-cut, boyish face, which looked keenly about it, and then, with a hand on either side of the aperture, drew itself shoulder-high and waist-high, until one knee rested upon the edge. In another instant he stood at the side of the hole and was hauling after him a companion, lithe and small like himself, with a pale face and a shock of very red hair.

"It's all clear," he whispered. "Have you the chisel and the bags? Great Scott! Jump, Archie, jump, and I'll swing for it!"

Sherlock Holmes had sprung out and seized the intruder by the collar. The other dived down the hole, and I heard the sound of rending cloth as Jones clutched at his skirts. The light flashed upon the barrel of a revolver, but Holmes's hunting crop came down on the man's wrist, and the pistol clinked upon the stone floor.

"It's no use, John Clay," said Holmes blandly. "You have no chance at all."

"So I see," the other answered with the utmost coolness. "I fancy that my pal is all right, though I see you have got his coat-tails."

"There are three men waiting for him at the door," said Holmes.

"Oh, indeed! You seem to have done the thing very completely. I must compliment you."

"And I you," Holmes answered. "Your red-headed idea was very new and effective."

"You'll see your pal again presently," said Jones. "He's quicker at climbing down holes than I am. Just hold out while I fix the derbies."

"I beg that you will not touch me with your filthy hands," remarked our prisoner as the handcuffs clattered upon his wrists. "You may not be aware that I have royal blood in my veins. Have the goodness, also, when you address me always to say 'sir' and 'please.'"

"All right," said Jones with a stare and a snigger. "Well, would you please, sir, march upstairs, where we can get a cab to carry your Highness to the police-station?"

"That is better," said John Clay serenely. He made a sweeping bow to the three of us and walked quietly off in the custody of the detective.

"Really, Mr. Holmes," said Mr. Merryweather as we followed them from the cellar, "I do not know how the bank can thank you or repay you. There is no doubt that you have detected and defeated in the most complete manner one of the most determined attempts at bank robbery that have ever come within my experience."

"I have had one or two little scores of my own to settle with Mr. John Clay," said Holmes. "I have been at some small expense over this matter, which I shall expect the bank to refund, but beyond that I am amply repaid by having had an experience which is in many ways unique, and by hearing the very remarkable narrative of the Red-headed League."

"You see, Watson," he explained in the early hours of the morning as we sat over a glass of whisky and soda in Baker Street, "it was perfectly obvious from the first that the only possible object of this rather fantastic business of the advertisement of the League, and the copying of the Encyclopaedia, must be to get this not over-bright pawnbroker out of the way for a number of hours every day. It was a curious way of managing it, but, really, it would be difficult to suggest a better. The method was no doubt suggested to Clay's ingenious mind by the color of his accomplice's hair. The 4 pounds a week was a lure which must draw him, and what was it to them, who were playing for thousands? They put in the advertisement, one rogue has the temporary office, the other rogue incites the man to apply for it. and together they manage to secure his absence every morning in the week. From the time that I heard of the assistant having come for half wages, it was obvious to me that he had some strong motive for securing the situation."

"But how could you guess what the motive was?"

"Had there been women in the house, I should have suspected a mere vulgar intrigue. That, however, was out of the question. The man's business was a small one, and there was nothing in his house which could account for such elaborate preparations, and such an expenditure as they were at. It must, then, be something out of the house. What could it be? I thought of the assistant's fondness for photography, and his trick of vanishing into the cellar. The cellar! There was the end of this tangled clew. Then I made inquiries as to this mysterious assistant and found that I had to deal with one of the coolest and most daring criminals in London. He was doing something in the cellar--something which took many hours a day for months on end. What could it be, once more? I could think of nothing save that he was running a tunnel to some other building.

"So far I had got when we went to visit the scene of action. I surprised you by beating upon the pavement with my stick. I was ascertaining whether the cellar stretched out in front or behind. It was not in front. Then I rang the bell, and, as I hoped, the assistant answered it. We have had some skirmishes, but we had never set eyes upon each other before. I hardly looked at his face. His knees were what I wished to see. You must yourself have remarked how worn, wrinkled, and stained they were. They spoke of those hours of burrowing. The only remaining point was what they were burrowing for. I walked round the corner, saw the City and Suburban Bank abutted on our friend's premises, and felt that I had solved my problem. When you drove home after the concert I called upon Scotland Yard and upon the chairman of the bank directors, with the result that you have seen."

"And how could you tell that they would make their attempt to-night?" I asked.

"Well, when they closed their League offices that was a sign that they cared no longer about Mr. Jabez Wilson's presence--in other words, that they had completed their tunnel. But it was essential that they should use it soon, as it might be discovered, or the bullion might be removed. Saturday would suit them better than any other day, as it would give them two days for their escape. For all these reasons I expected them to come to-night."

"You reasoned it out beautifully," I exclaimed in unfeigned admiration "It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true."

"It saved me from ennui," he answered, yawning. "Alas! I already feel it closing in upon me. My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so."

"And you are a benefactor of the race," said I.

He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, perhaps, after all, it is of some little use," he remarked. " 'L'homme c'est rien--l'oeuvre c'est tout,' as Gustave Flaubert wrote to George Sand."



Courtesy: Project Gutenberg.
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How to Prepare for Blogging in Travel? Seven Tips

As bloggers, with some earnings, you may find time to travel a lot. Professional bloggers have this great flexibility that they can work from anywhere. They only need a laptop and an Internet connection. Blogging in travel can instantly churn out great content for your readers, as you will be able to share your experiences through pictures, recordings, and videos.

Let's see in this post some preparations you should make for perfect blogging on travel.

1. Do Keep All Equipments Ready

When on travel, nothing helps you more than your equipments. Your laptop, video camera, recording equipment, still camera, etc., are very important in a blogging trip. Snap up anything you find interesting and record short narrations.

2. Keep Traditional Writing Equipments Ready Too!

Just as those mentioned earlier, traditional writing and drafting equipments are also important on a trip. Let's assume you are in a museum into which no electronic equipment is allowed. How would you depict your experiences? You don't have a camera, a voice recorder, or even your cell phone.

In such cases, nothing other than a pen and a notepad will help you.

Being a good doodler will help you draw small sketches of what you see inside. Take short notes and draw pictures. You can edit it later and even post your doodles on to your blog.

3. Don't Waste Free Time

You are sure to get free time on your travel. You may get to wait at the airport or at the hotel reception. Such are times when you can fine-tune your scribbles and doodles. Don't just sit daydreaming or napping at those times.

4. Communication and Interviews (Keep Your Business Cards Ready)

It is in times of your travel that you get to meet and talk to a lot of people. Simply take a note of some of your old posts that you can add some juice to by interviewing any expert, in the topic, you meet. Don't forget to seek their permission before posting their names and other details. This is how you research for your posts.

You will also find people interested in the topic of your blog. Invite them to check out your blog and be regular readers. This is why I recommend that you print out and keep a few business cards all the time. Take them out and let anyone interested in your blog have one.

5. Look out for Topic Ideas

Since the main idea of travel is gathering information and inspiration, you can always seek new topic ideas from the people you meet. If they wish to read about any particular topic in your niche, you can note it down and let them know when you post about it.

6. Note Down and Visit Specific Locations

You may not be a travel blogger, but a medical blogger. Still, you have specific locations to visit to spice up your posts. You can visit any medical institution, meet up with important personalities with specialization and experience, and take pictures and videos. I believe every niche has its own specific places worth visiting.

You can depict these experiences in your blog posts, and may well draw a few hundred more visitors.

7. Make Good Use of Your Guide

If you have a guide on travel, be sure to make good use of him. Have him translate anything interesting to you. Tell your guide upfront about whatever things you are interested in, so that he can translate for you anything relevant he finds on the way. Sometimes, a wall poster, a local gossip, or an announcement can be valuable to you.

Conclusion

Those were the seven tips I have for you, traveling blogger. Keep yourself subscribed so you won't miss my future posts while on travel. Be sure to post your comments as well.
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Which Is Your Favorite Web Host? Twitter Followers Talk

Our follower question yesterday was:

Question to Followers: Which hosting company and plan do you use and recommend?

Here are the insightful replies we received from our followers.



@Phil_peretz: I really like GoDaddy because of the professionalism and general helpfulness of their support staff.

@Colttrickle: I would say the deluxe plan with GoDaddy.com.

@Markerlove: Dreamhost. Easy to use, but frequent and unexplained downtime.

@AlaskaArtist: I use Yahoo. It is a great host. Also, you can build your own site with Yahoo site builder.

@Ameliamichelle: I use Netrillium. I have had resellers and/or shared hosting through them for the better part of last 6 years.

@Ahdchild: Dreamhost. It's cheap. You get tons of space and bandwith. They give you lots of power to run whatever apps you want.

@Jpeters0: I have been with Hostgator for a year, great service no downtime issues and handles my 30+ sites no problem.

@Braingain: I recommend my web hosting company, One and One.

@Shouldbenapping: Recommended hosting is GoDaddy - WordPress-friendly, cheap, great tech support.

@Hostgator_deals: Hostgator for web hosting and the Baby plan for Linux hosting.

@Deauxmain: I'd recommend the one I use. Unlimited space & domains on one acct. Great text chat support. Bluehost.

@Sandyface: Heart Internet with reseller plan.

@Matteagar: We just switched to Mosso. Lots of redundancy, and prices are pretty good, thanks to reseller Found Line.

@DezignMaven: I echo the sentiments of @phil_peretz, but prefer to build my own pages (no Site Builder Plans here THX).



Thanks for all those replies. For more such Twitter follower questions, please follow us: @vjlenin and @laurelshere.
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John Updike Is No More With Us

This is our tribute to one of the greatest authors of our time, John Updike, who passed away yesterday.
John Updike

Pulitzer-prize-winning Updike died at the age of 76 of lung cancer. Updike, who frequented the best-seller lists, wrote 23 novels and 15 short fiction collections. His most important works include the Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Two of this series have also acquired the famed Pulitzer prize.

Updike concentrated a lot on the middle-class America's sexuality, marriages, and workplace. Famous for his depiction of sex, he was awarded 2008's lifetime achievement award at Literary Review's annual Bad Sex in Fiction award, which is bestowed upon people writing "crude, tasteless, or ridiculous sexual passages in modern literature".

We mourn the death of Mr Updike.
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Which Is Your Favorite News Source? Twitter Followers Talk

Yesterday, we posted a question to our Twitter followers thus:

Question to Followers: Which major news services do you use to get current affairs? CNN, BBC, Fox, CNBC, or any other?

Here are the replies we received.



@PhilStratton: I use as many as I can get info from to filter out what bias they have. I also look for alternate sources.

@DYHGarden: whitehouse.gov! [Not a great resource for all types of news, is it?]

@Underdogz: CNN

@Jezarnold: Its a cross.. Guardian Online to BBC News to Times online. The only newspaper is The Times, and of course the Metro.

@Tangokdesign: CNN online, plus I check our local paper online every other day or so.

@Gyris: BBC, mostly.

@TchrEric: CNN, HNN, Fox, and various internet sites; rarely print newspapers.

@FacingTheStreet: Re news sources: on Twitter I'm partial to @globeandmail and @cbcnews, as well as the usual CNN.

@Wsredneck: MSNBC money, Fox and CNN any paper that has a lot of pics I like coloring. Where did I put my crayons.

@Shaunabe: Daylife, Huffington Post, CNN, Google news, Google RSS reader with various sources (need to consolidate as its disorganized)

@Madbaker: Google news, Twitter, Google reader. Huffpost for us news and CBC.ca for Canada are well behind. No TV news for years and years.

@Fiberartisan: BBC and NPR

@Sarahmaeblogs: www.drudgereport.com

@Bikelady: I mostly watch CNN and MSNBC, sometimes Fox. Wish I got the BBC.

@Docmcfly: Fox is the best out here in New York.

@BunE: The New York Times e-mail subscription, morning , then afternoon update. CNN on telly, Japan Times email sub.

@Dpwilliams: BBC website. Trust it more than any of the others and it's really easy to use. I can always find what I want really quickly.

@Dashaver: MSNBC is my favorite especially Keith Olbermann.

@Shwee4: BBC

@Jenrik06: I use CNN and Fox. Hubby likes Yahoo News

@D_vsuresh: I do follow BBC, Google News and even some online local news portals.

@Digitalpublius: Fox is the only one I can watch for more that 10 minutes without wanting to throw something. [That's funny! I also used to be averse to news in childhood.]

@Tedtoal: Fox & Yahoo Finance

@ScLoHo: CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Drudge, Local Radio.



Thanks to all those replies, friends. Here are my sources: BBC (of course), CNN, Google News (and alerts), Fox News, RSS feeds of a large number of topic-specific blogs and company blogs, some magazines such as Wired, and certain important local newspapers.

If you don't want to miss such Twitter follower questions, please follow us @vjlenin and @laurelshere.
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How to Plan and Write Your News Reports Well?

There have been quite a few requests here by some readers about writing a good news report. News stories are very different from normal articles. There are no gimmicks of rhetoric, assumptions, or beliefs. There are only facts and testimonies: hard, tangible facts and testimonies from people involved and experts. Let's see how a few-paragraph news story evolves from a newsworthy event.

BBC tells the news script involves 3 c's of journalism: Clear, Concise, and Correct. A news report should be clear, without any difficult words or constructions as maybe found in articles like those written by G B Shaw. The second C tells us the news story should not be expanded with unneeded assumptions or beliefs. There should only be facts expressed as concisely as possible. And the third C tells the report should be composed only of verifiable facts. Here are the steps to writing a news report correctly.

Step 1: Get All Facts Right

First thing you need to do is obviously collecting the facts. What help you in this are questions: What, when, where, who, why, and how. Simply find answers to these questions and you are done with the first step. Arrange the facts in a bulleted list or better, beside these question words.

Step 2: Create Your All-inclusive Title & First Sentence

The title and your first sentence should provide ample hook for your readers to delve deep into your news story. Writing a catchy title is of course a difficult job, and is the most enchanting. This comes with a lot of writing and experience.

Popular belief is a good title should make the scanner read the first sentence, and the first sentence, the second, and so on. The title of most news stories pretty much capture the entire story in one shot. Reading popular news sources will help you get a good idea of how to write one.

Writing your first sentence is no big deal. Simply list the major facts in order. Here is an example pulled from the New York Times:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Sprint Nextel Corporation, the wireless provider, said Monday that it would eliminate about 8,000 jobs, or about 14 percent of its work force, in the first quarter as it seeks to cut annual costs by $1.2 billion.
[From New York Times]

Step 3: Put Up Answers to Subsequent Questions With Verification

Now, you can separate paragraphs on the other major questions asked above. List all the facts with verified sources of information. Verification of the sources is important, since no one can report that someone has done or said something they haven't. It can only end you up in court or into a lot of expenditure.

Step 4: Quote Experts and Involved People

As a final step, you need to quote comments made by any person(s) involved in the incident you have interviewed and opinions by any experts. If you have access to these, it will add a lot of spice to your news story.

Some Tips

The above steps pretty much wrap up how a reporter should approach the news story. Here are some tips, which will help you a lot.

  • Make it trustworthy. Don't assume anything anywhere.
  • If you have made a statement, be able to verify it with facts.
  • Be sure to follow the 3 c's rule: Clear, Concise, and Correct.
  • Don't forget rules of grammar and punctuation.
  • Don't write anything that hasn't happened or told.
  • Read a lot of news stories by professional news publications to improve your writing skills.

Conclusion

I hope the article was interesting enough for you. Please let me have your comments, and please subscribe to the RSS feed to get more such articles absolutely free.
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Pope Has a New YouTube Account for the Entire Vatican

God's arms stretch well beyond our imaginations!

Associated Press reports from Vatican that the Pope has a new YouTube account for the entire Vatican country. The channel, titled 'the Vatican' is accessible here. In his inaugural speech, Pop Benedict XVI welcomed all the viewers to his "great family that knows no borders".

Check out the channel and let us know what you think of it. The channel has editions in Italian, English, Spanish, and Dutch. It will give the coverage of the activities of the Pope and other relevant events in Vatican.
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A Few Registry Cleaning Software You Need to Check Out

Are you using Windows system to browse to this page? Are you aware of the most important database of Microsoft Windows that enables all the programs and tasks on your system? It's called Windows registry. This database can be accessed and edited using the special registry editor program supplied by Windows (Start->Run->Regedit (Regedt32)).

The registry is an extremely vulnerable area and if edited without proper knowledge, Windows may not boot at all. It may require reinstallation of the entire software. [Read the documentation of registry at Microsoft.com]

This vulnerability is the reason why many viruses, worms, and Trojans always try to capture and modify the important parts of registry, so that they can virtually destroy your entire system. Make sure you use a professional antivirus and spyware detection tool to fend your system. Let's check out some registry optimizing and fixing software available to us.

Registry cleaning and optimizing software help you clean up errors in registry, and optimize the size of it. This in turn causes your PC to load faster, remove unwanted error messages caused by registry errors, etc. Here are the best registry optimizing software programs:

  1. Registry Genius
  2. Registry Defense
  3. Registry Fix
  4. Registry Easy
  5. Registry Error Nuker
  6. RegClean

Conclusion

These products will help you keep your system clean, error-free, and fast all the time. Never attempt to edit your registry yourself.

There are certain precautions you need to take on Windows systems. Never browse to unknown websites, never install any unknown software even if it comes from one of your friends' email, never allow non-trusted websites to install any Java applet or ActiveX control on your system. But most of the time, these things happen quite automatically and without your knowledge. An example is when a third party website imitates your favorite service (such as your bank's website), and asks you to install some software. So, the best defense is to have security software installed on your PC.
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Open Authentication in the Web 3.0: OpenID and OAuth

We are soon approaching the end of the semantic web with great user interaction and user-generated content, known as Web 2.0. The web, since its beginning in the 90's, has been envisaged to go through two major generations, which we call Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. While Web 1.0 was largely related to content generated by professional websites, Web 2.0 came with a lot of social media sites and social networks, in which anyone from anywhere could interact seamlessly.

Now, we are about to move into the third generation of the Web, Web 3.0, which will strengthen the foundation laid by Web 2.0, by providing smoother authentication and identity protocols. Two major technologies enabling this form the topic of today's post: OpenID and OAuth.

What Are OpenID and OAuth?

OpenID is a user identification standard, which lets you sign on various services with the same identity. It's just like a URL, with some special code enabled in its target page. With OpenID, when you sign up on a new service (that has enabled OpenID login), you don't need to register upfront. Simply click on the OpenID login and provide your OpenID URL in the field.

You will be automatically redirected to your OpenID provider (see below) where you will sign in. Bingo! You have access to all features of the new service.

In simple terms, OpenID saves you time; you don't need to register in any OpenID-enabled services. Many web services have already adopted this type of authentication and many are about to.

On the other hand, OAuth allows you to have secure API authorization. Which means, with this technology, you can give authorization to any web-based entity to access and use your data, residing in any other platform. But this is no insecure process, as you decide on what data the third party can access and what level of usage it has. This is like the valet key of your car, which you give to the parking lot attendant; this key doesn't allow the attendant to drive the car more than about a mile, and cannot be used to open anything else in the car.

Check out more information about OAuth.

How Do I Get OpenID?

OpenID is nothing but a URL, with a special authentication code attached at the target page. Surprisingly, you may already have your OpenID. For instance, users of Blogger, AOL, Flickr, LiveJournal, Technorati, WordPress, Yahoo, etc., already have their OpenID. Here they are:

  • Blogger: Your blog URL (blogname.blogspot.com)
  • WordPress: Your blog URL (blogname.wordpress.com)
  • Yahoo: Find details at openid.yahoo.com
  • Technorati: Technorati.com/people/Technorati/username
  • AOL: openid.aol.com/screenname
  • Flickr: flickr.com/photos/username

When you go into OpenID enabled websites such as Wikitravel, Magnolia, etc., just click Log in and you will be directed to a login page, where you will find an option to log in with OpenID. Click it. Simply provide your OpenID URL (any of the above) and click Log in. You will be directed to whichever provider you use and log in there. That's it and you will be automatically authenticated at Wikitravel.

Beware of Phishing

There is always ways to cheat users in OpenID authentication. This deception can happen at the time of redirecting to your OpenID provider. Let's assume you are using Blogger. When you provide your Blogger URL at the login page of any service, check to make sure that you are actually redirected to legitimate Blogger login page itself. Check the address bar of the browser.

If it's some other page with a layout similar to Blogger, don't provide your Blogger ID and password. They are linked to all of your Google services like Gmail, Adsense, Adwords, and more. In this case, you will be divulging your information with an unknown provider, and thus will be compromising all your data. So, make sure you are redirected to original provider page itself. This type of security threat is known as Phishing attack.

How to Enable OpenID on Your Private Website?

You can use your private website URL as your OpenID. Simply follow these steps [As provided by Sam Ruby at OpenID.net]

1. Go and sign up at MyOpenID to create your own OpenID (something similar to yourname.myopenid.com)
2. Place the following code into the header of your website (anywhere after <head> and before </head> tags).
<link rel="openid.server" href="http://www.myopenid.com/server" />
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="Your OpenID at MyOpenID.com here" />

That's it. You can now use your own blog URL to log in anywhere. For more information about OpenID, please go to OpenID.net.

Conclusion

OpenID and OAuth are tomorrow's authentication and authorization protocols. Any web service that don't use this will simply be going out of business slowly and gradually.
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Make Money With Surveys: Get Your Discount Coupon Code Here!

Have you ever known that you can earn money by sharing your experiences and knowledge in market research surveys? This helps anyone earn money online, with the most basic requirements, a computer with Internet connection. You can too!

The market research firms that pay you money for their surveys are legitimate and there are thousands of them out there. But of course there are thousands and thousands of fake survey firms that show you fake identities and certification and waste your time by promising you can earn money. Be ware of them all. This product in review, Make Money Taking Surveys [Click the discount coupon button below to access it] is a professional product that has analyzed and researched hundreds of legitimate market research firms and makes all of them available to you. For a small price.

But wait a minute, there is a discount of 50 per cent for the product now, click the following button to get the coupon code for claiming this discount right away. (Feed readers, please access the button from the blog page):



What Is Survey Money?

Thousands of companies invest in products for consumers like you. They don't know if the product will be valuable to you and profitable to them without doing professional market research through surveys. Many companies undertake these surveys and reach out to a select few of the public to get opinions; companies pay millions of dollars to gather the survey data and the money is paid to people that take these surveys.

But only a select few actually get paid for these surveys, the rest of them get entrapped in fake market research firms, who in turn get paid directly from the original ones.

This underground money-making scheme has been going on for years. So, if you come across any firm that promises you money for your opinion, make sure you research about it before you sign up, because otherwise, the company may make money from your opinion and not share one penny of it with you.

Better yet, claim Make Money With Surveys (MMWS) now with this enormous 50 per cent discount and make in the order of 10–40 dollars for 15–20 minutes of answering questions.

What Questions Do You Answer?

There are different questions regarding the product being envisioned by the company. You may be asked about your personal background, experience with similar products, needs that are not yet fulfilled with similar products, improvements you can suggest, discount and shipping ideas you can suggest, etc.

Simply answer these questionnaires prepared by the market research firms themselves and get money deposited right away into your account. It's all very instant.

So, why waste time. This is entirely a passive way to create a good income. And don't get entrapped in fake firms. Just order this product now:

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Responses to the Twitter Follower Question About Guest Blogging

Yesterday, we were doing a Twitter poll through @vjlenin and @laurelshere. Here is the question:

Follower Question: Would you rather guest-blog for a professional high-traffic blog to get your voice out or simply to promote your blog?

Here are the responses we received:


@Susangiurleo: To get voice out there. That will lead traffic to my blog.

@Mbtemiz: It depends on the high-traffic blog.

@Raincoaster: For money. [My reply: That's a mean attitude, right?!]

@Colttrickle: To promote my own blog.

@LizS4ra: I'm not a professional blogger; so, I would say no. I'd be too scared of getting things wrong. [My reply: Liz, none of the guest-bloggers who blog in professional blogs are professional bloggers. And did you know that professional bloggers are always on the lookout of guests?]

@Lhrowley: I think both... promoting your blog serves the purpose of getting your voice out.

@B2beditor: I'd do a guest blog to promote my blog.

@Travelwriticus: I would guest blog for both reasons! It's too much work for doing it for one reason alone. [My reply: You said it!]


Thanks for all your responses. I agree much with the last respondent. There are advantages to guest-blog that no other promotion strategy has.

Be subscribed to @vjlenin and @laurelshere to find more such follower questions. This is a fine way to get your Twitter id here in this blog and thus promote it.
You have read this article Blogging Tips / Web 2.0 and Social Media with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://neurotica-exotica.blogspot.com.au/2009/01/responses-to-twitter-follower-question.html. Thanks!

Some Important SEO Mistakes: The Risks of Over Optimization

Here are some important SEO mistakes. The focus is on over optimization, which comes into play when you have optimized your website in the White Hat, and you have done it too much that you are on the verge of going negative with it.

  1. Do not use more than one H1 tag on any page.
  2. Keyword density should be kept below 2-5 %.
  3. Keywords on internal links should be kept discreet. Don't use keyword home, keyword details, keyword prices, etc., on all your menu links.
  4. Do not build all links from the high PageRank websites: For instance, if your site is PR4 and you build links only from PR4 sites (by link exchanges), then it can cause a fall in ranking. Build links from PR0 onwards.
  5. Build far more topic-specific links than out-of-niche links. If you have PR6 links from websites completely different from your niche, it instantly alerts Google of possibility of link purchase. So, have more than 80 per cent of topic-specific links.
  6. Do not use content hiding techniques in any way. Here is an example in CSS.

Make sure you avoid these mistakes in your sites. While SEO on page can greatly affect your site's ranking in search engines, doing it excessively can very much harm it.
You have read this article SEO with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://neurotica-exotica.blogspot.com.au/2009/01/some-important-seo-mistakes-risks-of.html. Thanks!

'Ahead of Schedule' A Short Story by P G Wodehouse

Today, we are bringing you an interesting short story by P G Wodehouse. Read 'Ahead of Schedule' now.



Ahead of Schedule
Author: P G Wodehouse

It was to Wilson, his valet, with whom he frequently chatted in airy fashion before rising of a morning, that Rollo Finch first disclosed his great idea. Wilson was a man of silent habit, and men of silent habit rarely escaped Rollo's confidences.

'Wilson,' he said one morning from the recesses of his bed, as the valet entered with his shaving-water, 'have you ever been in love?'

'Yes, sir,' said the valet, unperturbed.

One would hardly have expected the answer to be in the affirmative. Like most valets and all chauffeurs, Wilson gave the impression of being above the softer emotions.

'What happened?' inquired Rollo.

'It came to nothing, sir,' said Wilson, beginning to strop the razor with no appearance of concern.

'Ah!' said Rollo. 'And I bet I know why. You didn't go the right way to work.'

'No, sir?'

'Not one fellow in a hundred does. I know. I've thought it out. I've been thinking the deuce of a lot about it lately. It's dashed tricky, this making love. Most fellows haven't a notion how to work it. No system. No system, Wilson, old scout.'

'No, sir?'

'Now, I _have_ a system. And I'll tell it you. It may do you a bit of good next time you feel that impulse. You're not dead yet. Now, my system is simply to go to it gradually, by degrees. Work by schedule. See what I mean?'

'Not entirely, sir.'

'Well, I'll give you the details. First thing, you want to find the girl.'

'Just so, sir.'

'Well, when you've found her, what do you do? You just look at her. See what I mean?'

'Not entirely, sir.'

'Look at her, my boy. That's just the start--the foundation. You develop from that. But you keep away. That's the point. I've thought this thing out. Mind you, I don't claim absolutely all the credit for the idea myself. It's by way of being based on Christian Science. Absent treatment, and all that. But most of it's mine. All the fine work.'

'Yes, sir?'

'Yes. Absolutely all the fine work. Here's the thing in a nutshell. You find the girl. Right. Of course, you've got to meet her once, just to establish the connexion. Then you get busy. First week, looks. Just look at her. Second week, letters. Write to her every day. Third week, flowers. Send her some every afternoon. Fourth week, presents with a bit more class about them. Bit of jewellery now and then. See what I mean? Fifth week,--lunches and suppers and things. Sixth week, propose, though you can do it in the fifth week if you see a chance. You've got to leave that to the fellow's judgement. Well, there you are. See what I mean?'

Wilson stropped his master's razor thoughtfully.

'A trifle elaborate, sir, is it not?' he said.

Rollo thumped the counterpane.

'I knew you'd say that. That's what nine fellows out of ten _would_ say. They'd want to rush it. I tell you, Wilson, old scout, you _can't_ rush it.'

Wilson brooded awhile, his mind back in the passionate past.

'In Market Bumpstead, sir--'

'What the deuce is Market Bumpstead?'

'A village, sir, where I lived until I came to London.'

'Well?'

'In Market Bumpstead, sir, the prevailing custom was to escort the young lady home from church, buy her some little present--some ribbons, possibly--next day, take her for a walk, and kiss her, sir.'

Wilson's voice, as he unfolded these devices of the dashing youth of Market Bumpstead, had taken on an animation quite unsuitable to a conscientious valet. He gave the impression of a man who does not depend on idle rumour for his facts. His eye gleamed unprofessionally for a moment before resuming its habitual expression of quiet introspection.

Rollo shook his head.

'That sort of thing might work in a village,' he said, 'but you want something better for London.'

***

Rollo Finch--in the present unsatisfactory state of the law parents may still christen a child Rollo--was a youth to whom Nature had given a cheerful disposition not marred by any superfluity of brain. Everyone liked Rollo--the great majority on sight, the rest as soon as they heard that he would be a millionaire on the death of his Uncle Andrew. There is a subtle something, a sort of nebulous charm, as it were, about young men who will be millionaires on the death of their Uncle Andrew which softens the ruggedest misanthrope.

Rollo's mother had been a Miss Galloway, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.; and Andrew Galloway, the world-famous Braces King, the inventor and proprietor of the inimitable 'Tried and Proven', was her brother. His braces had penetrated to every corner of the earth. Wherever civilization reigned you would find men wearing Galloway's 'Tried and Proven'.

Between Rollo and this human benefactor there had always existed friendly relations, and it was an open secret that, unless his uncle were to marry and supply the world with little Galloways as well as braces, the young man would come into his money.

So Rollo moved on his way through life, popular and happy. Always merry and bright. That was Rollo.

Or nearly always. For there were moments--we all have our greyer moments--when he could have wished that Mr Galloway had been a trifle older or a trifle less robust. The Braces potentate was at present passing, in excellent health, through the Indian summer of life. He was, moreover, as has been stated, by birth and residence a Pittsburgh man. And the tendency of middle-aged Pittsburgh millionaires to marry chorus-girls is notoriously like the homing instinct of pigeons. Something--it may be the smoke--seems to work on them like a charm.

In the case of Andrew Galloway, Nature had been thwarted up till now by the accident of an unfortunate attachment in early life. The facts were not fully known, but it was generally understood that his fiancee had exercised Woman's prerogative and changed her mind. Also, that she had done this on the actual wedding-day, causing annoyance to all, and had clinched the matter by eloping to Jersey City with the prospective bridegroom's own coachman. Whatever the facts, there was no doubt about their result. Mr Galloway, having abjured woman utterly, had flung himself with moody energy into the manufacture and propagation of his 'Tried and Proven' Braces, and had found consolation in it ever since. He would be strong, he told himself, like his braces. Hearts might snap beneath a sudden strain. Not so the 'Tried and Proven'. Love might tug and tug again, but never more should the trousers of passion break away from the tough, masterful braces of self-control.

As Mr Galloway had been in this frame of mind for a matter of eleven years, it seemed to Rollo not unreasonable to hope that he might continue in it permanently. He had the very strongest objection to his uncle marrying a chorus-girl; and, as the years went on and the disaster did not happen, his hopes of playing the role of heir till the fall of the curtain grew stronger and stronger. He was one of those young men who must be heirs or nothing. This is the age of the specialist, and years ago Rollo had settled on his career. Even as a boy, hardly capable of connected thought, he had been convinced that his speciality, the one thing he could do really well, was to inherit money. All he wanted was a chance. It would be bitter if Fate should withhold it from him.

He did not object on principle to men marrying chorus-girls. On the contrary, he wanted to marry one himself.

It was this fact which had given that turn to his thoughts which had finally resulted in the schedule.

***

The first intimation that Wilson had that the schedule was actually to be put into practical operation was when his employer, one Monday evening, requested him to buy a medium-sized bunch of the best red roses and deliver them personally, with a note, to Miss Marguerite Parker at the stage-door of the Duke of Cornwall's Theatre.

Wilson received the order in his customary gravely deferential manner, and was turning to go; but Rollo had more to add.
'Flowers, Wilson,' he said, significantly.

'So I understood you to say, sir. I will see to it at once.'

'See what I mean? Third week, Wilson.'

'Indeed, sir?'

Rollo remained for a moment in what he would have called thought.

'Charming girl, Wilson.'

'Indeed, sir?'

'Seen the show?'

'Not yet, sir.'

'You should,' said Rollo, earnestly. 'Take my advice, old scout, and see it first chance you get. It's topping. I've had the same seat in the middle of the front row of the stalls for two weeks.'

'Indeed, sir?'

'Looks, Wilson! The good old schedule.'

'Have you noticed any satisfactory results, sir?'

'It's working. On Saturday night she looked at me five times. She's a delightful girl, Wilson. Nice, quiet girl--not the usual sort. I met her first at a lunch at Oddy's. She's the last girl on the O.P. side. I'm sure you'd like her, Wilson.'

'I have every confidence in your taste, sir.'

'You'll see her for yourself this evening. Don't let the fellow at the stage-door put you off. Slip him half a crown or a couple of quid or something, and say you must see her personally. Are you a close observer, Wilson?'

'I think so, sir.'

'Because I want you to notice particularly how she takes it. See that she reads the note in your presence. I've taken a good deal of trouble over that note, Wilson. It's a good note. Well expressed. Watch her face while she's reading it.'

'Very good, sir. Excuse me, sir.'

'Eh?'

'I had almost forgotten to mention it. Mr Galloway rang up on the telephone shortly before you came in.'

'What! Is he in England?'

Mr Galloway was in the habit of taking occasional trips to Great Britain to confer with the general manager of his London branch. Rollo had grown accustomed to receiving no notice of these visits.

'He arrived two days ago on the _Baltic_, sir. He left a message that he was in London for a week, and would be glad if you would dine with him tomorrow at his club.'

Rollo nodded. On these occasions it was his practice to hold himself unreservedly at Mr Galloway's disposal. The latter's invitations were royal commands. Rollo was glad that the visit had happened now. In another two weeks it might have been disastrous to the schedule.

The club to which the Braces King belonged was a richly but gloomily furnished building in Pall Mall, a place of soft carpets, shaded lights, and whispers. Grave, elderly men moved noiselessly to and fro, or sat in meditative silence in deep arm-chairs. Sometimes the visitor felt that he was in a cathedral, sometimes in a Turkish bath; while now and then there was a suggestion of the waiting-room of a more than usually prosperous dentist. It was magnificent, but not exhilarating.

Rollo was shown into the smoking-room, where his uncle received him. There was a good deal of Mr Andrew Galloway. Grief, gnawing at his heart, had not sagged his ample waistcoat, which preceded him as he moved in much the same manner as Birnam Woods preceded the army of Macduff. A well-nourished hand crept round the corner of the edifice and enveloped Rollo's in a powerful grip.

'Ah, my boy!' bellowed Mr Galloway cheerfully. His voice was always loud. 'Glad you've come.'

It would be absurd to say that Rollo looked at his uncle keenly. He was not capable of looking keenly at anyone. But certainly a puzzled expression came into his face. Whether it was the heartiness of the other's handshake or the unusual cheeriness of his voice, he could not say; but something gave him the impression that a curious change had come over the Braces King. When they had met before during the last few years Mr Galloway had been practically sixteen stone five of blood and iron--one of those stern, soured men. His attitude had been that of one for whom Life's music had ceased. Had he then inserted another record? His manner conveyed that idea.

Sustained thought always gave Rollo a headache. He ceased to speculate.

'Still got the same _chef_ here, uncle?' he said. 'Deuced brainy fellow. I always like dining here.'

'Here!' Mr Galloway surveyed the somnolent occupants of the room with spirited scorn. 'We aren't going to dine in this forsaken old mausoleum. I've sent in my resignation today. If I find myself wanting this sort of thing at any time, I'll go to Paris and hunt up the Morgue. Bunch of old dead-beats! Bah! I've engaged a table at Romano's. That's more in my line. Get your coat, and let's be going.'

In the cab Rollo risked the headache. At whatever cost this thing must be pondered over. His uncle prattled gaily throughout the journey. Once he whooped--some weird, forgotten college yell, dragged from the misty depths of the past. It was passing strange. And in this unusual manner the two rolled into the Strand, and drew up at Romano's door.

Mr Galloway was a good trencherman. At a very early date he had realized that a man who wishes to make satisfactory braces must keep his strength up. He wanted a good deal here below, and he wanted it warm and well cooked. It was, therefore, not immediately that his dinner with Rollo became a feast of reason and a flow of soul. Indeed, the two revellers had lighted their cigars before the elder gave forth any remark that was not purely gastronomic.

When he did jerk the conversation up on to a higher plane, he jerked it hard. He sent it shooting into the realms of the soulful with a whiz.

'Rollo,' he said, blowing a smoke-ring, 'do you believe in affinities?'

Rollo, in the act of sipping a liqueur brandy, lowered his glass in surprise. His head was singing slightly as the result of some rather spirited Bollinger (extra sec), and he wondered if he had heard aright.

Mr Galloway continued, his voice rising as he spoke.

'My boy,' he said, 'I feel young tonight for the first time in years. And, hang it, I'm not so old! Men have married at twice my age.'

Strictly speaking, this was incorrect, unless one counted Methuselah; but perhaps Mr Galloway spoke figuratively.

'Three times my age,' he proceeded, leaning back and blowing smoke, thereby missing his nephew's agitated start. 'Four times my age. Five times my age. Six--'

He pulled himself together in some confusion. A generous wine, that Bollinger. He must be careful.

He coughed.

'Are you--you aren't--are you--' Rollo paused. 'Are you thinking of getting married, uncle?'

Mr Galloway's gaze was still on the ceiling.

'A great deal of nonsense,' he yelled severely, 'is talked about men lowering themselves by marrying actresses. I was a guest at a supper-party last night at which an actress was present. And a more charming, sensible girl I never wish to meet. Not one of your silly, brainless chits who don't know the difference between lobster Newburg and canvas-back duck, and who prefer sweet champagne to dry. No, sir! Not one of your mincing, affected kind who pretend they never touch anything except a spoonful of cold _consomme_. No, sir! Good, healthy appetite. Enjoyed her food, and knew why she was enjoying it. I give you my word, my boy, until I met her I didn't know a woman existed who could talk so damned sensibly about a _bavaroise au rhum_.'

He suspended his striking tribute in order to relight his cigar.

'She can use a chafing-dish,' he resumed, his voice vibrating with emotion. 'She told me so. She said she could fix chicken so that a man would leave home for it.' He paused, momentarily overcome. '_And_ Welsh rarebits,' he added reverently.

He puffed hard at his cigar.

'Yes,' he said. 'Welsh rarebits, too. And because,' he shouted wrathfully, 'because, forsooth, she earns an honest living by singing in the chorus of a comic opera, a whole bunch of snivelling idiots will say I have made a fool of myself. Let them!' he bellowed, sitting up and glaring at Rollo. 'I say, let them! I'll show them that Andrew Galloway is not the man to--to--is not the man--' He stopped. 'Well, anyway, I'll show them,' he concluded rather lamely.

Rollo eyed him with fallen jaw. His liqueur had turned to wormwood. He had been fearing this for years. You may drive out Nature with a pitchfork, but she will return. Blood will tell. Once a Pittsburgh millionaire, always a Pittsburgh millionaire. For eleven years his uncle had fought against his natural propensities, with apparent success; but Nature had won in the end. His words could have no other meaning. Andrew Galloway was going to marry a chorus-girl.

Mr Galloway rapped on the table, and ordered another kummel.

'Marguerite Parker!' he roared dreamily, rolling the words round his tongue, like port.

'Marguerite Parker!' exclaimed Rollo, bounding in his chair.

His uncle met his eye sternly.

'That was the name I said. You seem to know it. Perhaps you have something to say against the lady. Eh? Have you? Have you? I warn you to be careful. What do you know of Miss Parker? Speak!'

'Er--no, no. Oh, no! I just know the name, that's all. I--I rather think I met her once at lunch. Or it may have been somebody else. I know it was someone.'

He plunged at his glass. His uncle's gaze relaxed its austerity.

'I hope you will meet her many more times at lunch, my boy. I hope you will come to look upon her as a second mother.'

This was where Rollo asked if he might have a little more brandy.

When the restorative came he drank it at a gulp; then looked across at his uncle. The great man still mused.

'Er--when is it to be?' asked Rollo. 'The wedding, and all that?'

'Hardly before the Fall, I think. No, not before the Fall. I shall be busy till then. I have taken no steps in the matter yet.'

'No steps? You mean--? Haven't you--haven't you proposed?'

'I have had no time. Be reasonable, my boy; be reasonable.'

'Oh!' said Rollo.

He breathed a long breath. A suspicion of silver lining had become visible through the clouds.

'I doubt,' said Mr Galloway, meditatively, 'if I shall be able to find time till the end of the week. I am very busy. Let me see. Tomorrow? No. Meeting of the shareholders. Thursday? Friday? No. No, it will have to stand over till Saturday. After Saturday's matinee. That will do excellently.'

***

There is a dramatic spectacle to be observed every day in this land of ours, which, though deserving of recognition, no artist has yet pictured on canvas. We allude to the suburban season-ticket holder's sudden flash of speed. Everyone must have seen at one time or another a happy, bright-faced season-ticket holder strolling placidly towards the station, humming, perhaps, in his light-heartedness, some gay air. He feels secure. Fate cannot touch him, for he has left himself for once plenty of time to catch that 8.50, for which he has so often sprinted like the gazelle of the prairie. As he strolls, suddenly his eye falls on the church clock. The next moment with a passionate cry he is endeavouring to lower his record for the fifty-yard dash. All the while his watch has been fifteen minutes slow.

In just such a case was Rollo Finch. He had fancied that he had plenty of time. And now, in an instant, the fact was borne in upon him that he must hurry.

For the greater part of the night of his uncle's dinner he lay sleepless, vainly endeavouring to find a way out of the difficulty. It was not till early morning that he faced the inevitable. He hated to abandon the schedule. To do so meant changing a well-ordered advance into a forlorn hope. But circumstances compelled it. There are moments when speed alone can save love's season-ticket holder.

On the following afternoon he acted. It was no occasion for stint. He had to condense into one day the carefully considered movements of two weeks, and to the best of his ability he did so. He bought three bouquets, a bracelet, and a gold Billiken with ruby eyes, and sent them to the theatre by messenger-boy. With them went an invitation to supper.

Then, with the feeling that he had done all that was possible, he returned to his flat and waited for the hour.

He dressed with more than usual care that night. Your wise general never throws away a move. He was particular about his tie. As a rule, Wilson selected one for him. But there had been times when Wilson had made mistakes. One could not rely absolutely on Wilson's taste in ties. He did not blame him. Better men than Wilson had gone wrong over an evening tie. But tonight there must be no taking of chances.

'Where do we keep our ties, Wilson?' he asked.

'The closet to the right of the door, sir. The first twelve shallow shelves, counting from the top, sir. They contain a fair selection of our various cravats. Replicas in bulk are to be found in the third nest of drawers in your dressing-room, sir.'

'I only want one, my good man. I'm not a regiment. Ah! I stake all on this one. Not a word, Wilson. No discussion. This is the tie I wear. What's the time?'

'Eight minutes to eleven, sir.'

'I must be off. I shall be late. I shan't want you any more tonight. Don't wait for me.'

'Very good, sir.'

Rollo left the room, pale but determined, and hailed a taxi.

***

It is a pleasant spot, the vestibule of the Carlton Hotel. Glare--glitter--distant music--fair women--brave men. But one can have too much of it, and as the moments pass, and she does not arrive, a chill seems to creep into the atmosphere. We wait on, hoping against hope, and at last, just as waiters and commissionaires are beginning to eye us with suspicion, we face the truth. She is not coming. Then out we crawl into cold, callous Pall Mall, and so home. You have been through it, dear reader, and so have I.

And so, at eleven forty-five that evening, had Rollo. For a full three-quarters of an hour he waited, scanning the face of each new arrival with the anxious scrutiny of a lost dog seeking its master; but at fourteen minutes to twelve the last faint flicker of hope had died away. A girl may be a quarter of an hour late for supper. She may be half an hour late. But there is a limit, and to Rollo's mind forty-five minutes passed it. At ten minutes to twelve a uniformed official outside the Carlton signalled to a taxi-cab, and there entered it a young man whose faith in Woman was dead.

Rollo meditated bitterly as he drove home. It was not so much the fact that she had not come that stirred him. Many things may keep a girl from supper. It was the calm way in which she had ignored the invitation. When you send a girl three bouquets, a bracelet, and a gold Billiken with ruby eyes, you do not expect an entire absence of recognition. Even a penny-in-the-slot machine treats you better than that. It may give you hairpins when you want matches but at least it takes some notice of you.

He was still deep in gloomy thought when he inserted his latchkey and opened the door of his flat.

He was roused from his reflections by a laugh from the sitting-room. He started. It was a pleasant laugh, and musical, but it sent Rollo diving, outraged, for the handle of the door. What was a woman doing in his sitting-room at this hour? Was his flat an hotel?

The advent of an unbidden guest rarely fails to produce a certain _gene_. The sudden appearance of Rollo caused a dead silence.

It was broken by the fall of a chair on the carpet as Wilson rose hurriedly to his feet.

Rollo stood in the doorway, an impressive statue of restrained indignation. He could see the outlying portions of a girl in blue at the further end of the table, but Wilson obscured his vision.

'Didn't expect you back, sir,' said Wilson.

For the first time in the history of their acquaintance his accustomed calm seemed somewhat ruffled.

'So I should think,' said Rollo. 'I believe you, by George!'

'You had better explain, Jim,' said a dispassionate voice from the end of the table.

Wilson stepped aside.

'My wife, sir,' he said, apologetically, but with pride.

'Your wife!'

'We were married this morning, sir.'

The lady nodded cheerfully at Rollo. She was small and slight, with an impudent nose and a mass of brown hair.

'Awfully glad to meet you,' she said, cracking a walnut.

Rollo gaped.

She looked at him again.

'We've met, haven't we? Oh yes, I remember. We met at lunch once. And you sent me some flowers. It was ever so kind of you,' she said, beaming.

She cracked another nut. She seemed to consider that the introductions were complete and that formality could now be dispensed with once more. She appeared at peace with all men.

The situation was slipping from Rollo's grip. He continued to gape.

Then he remembered his grievance.

'I think you might have let me know you weren't coming to supper.'

'Supper?'

'I sent a note to the theatre this afternoon.'

'I haven't been to the theatre today. They let me off because I was going to be married. I'm so sorry. I hope you didn't wait long.'

Rollo's resentment melted before the friendliness of her smile.

'Hardly any time,' he said, untruthfully.

'If I might explain, sir,' said Wilson.

'By George! If you can, you'll save me from a brainstorm. Cut loose, and don't be afraid you'll bore me. You won't.'

'Mrs Wilson and I are old friends, sir. We come from the same town. In fact--'

Rollo's face cleared.

'By George! Market what's-its-name! Why, of course. Then she--'

'Just so, sir. If you recollect, you asked me once if I had ever been in love, and I replied in the affirmative.'

'And it was--'

'Mrs Wilson and I were engaged to be married before either of us came to London. There was a misunderstanding, which was entirely my--'

'Jim! It was mine.'

'No, it was all through my being a fool.'

'It was not. You know it wasn't!'

Rollo intervened.

'Well?'

'And when you sent me with the flowers, sir--well, we talked it over again, and--that was how it came about, sir.'

The bride looked up from her walnuts.

'You aren't angry?' she smiled up at Rollo.

'Angry?' He reflected. Of course, it was only reasonable that he should be a little--well, not exactly angry, but--And then for the first time it came to him that the situation was not entirely without its compensations. Until that moment he had completely forgotten Mr Galloway.

'Angry?' he said. 'Great Scott, no! Jolly glad I came back in time to get a bit of the wedding-breakfast. I want it, I can tell you. I'm hungry. Here we all are, eh? Let's enjoy ourselves. Wilson, old scout, bustle about and give us your imitation of a bridegroom mixing a "B. and S." for the best man. Mrs Wilson, if you'll look in at the theatre tomorrow you'll find one or two small wedding presents waiting for you. Three bouquets--they'll be a bit withered, I'm afraid--a bracelet, and a gold Billiken with ruby eyes. I hope he'll bring you luck. Oh, Wilson!'

'Sir?'

'Touching this little business--don't answer if it's a delicate question, but I _should_ like to know--I suppose you didn't try the schedule. What? More the Market Thingummy method, eh? The one you described to me?'

'Market Bumpstead, sir?' said Wilson. 'On those lines.'

Rollo nodded thoughtfully.

'It seems to me,' he said, 'they know a thing or two down in Market Bumpstead.'

'A very rising little place, sir,' assented Wilson.



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