Fresh Red Dog Pieface and Red Dog Pieface are Chris Church publications.
Fresh Red Dog Pieface: Sunday, July 15, 2001
My dear Mrs. Hunter,
Much as I rejoiced, as you know, at the bestowal of the O.M., the picture of Lord Stamfordham making the recommendation to the king did rather -- though I am personally unacquainted with neither of these worthies -- -- amuses and tickles me as it might have been developed by H.J. himself. The result of which is a piece of writing in H.J.'s later manner. I think this might interest you as a fellow-student, so I have a neat and legible copy for you. Please keep it or throw it away, but on no account trouble to send it back...
With all best messages from us both,
Yours ever sincerely,
That it hardly, that it at all bleakly and unbeguilingly wasn't for "the likes" of him -- poor dear decent Stanfordham -- to rep out queries about the owner of the to him so unknown and suggestive name that had, in these days, been thrust on him with such a wealth of commendatory gesture, was precisely what now, as he took, with his prepared list of New Year colifichets and whatever, his way to the great gaudy palace, fairly flicked his cheek with the sense of his having never before so let himself in, as he ruefully phrased it, without lettin anything, by the same token out. "Anything" was after all only another name for the thing. But he was to ask himself what earthly good it was, anyhow, to have kept in its confinement the furred and clawed, the bristling and now all but audibly scratching domestic pet, if he himself had to be figured as bearing it company inside the bag. There wasn't, he felt himself blindly protesting, in there, room for the two of them; and the imminent addition, the ramming and cramming in, of a third person -- who was, in further addition, a Personage -- fairly caused our friend to bristle in the manner of the imagined captive that had till now symbolized well enough for him his whole dim blank ignorance of the matter in hand. Hadn't he all the time been reckoning precisely without that Personage, without the greater dimness that was to be expected of him -- without, above all, that dreadfully lesser blandness in virtue of which said Personages tend to come down on you, as it were, straight, with demands for side-lights? There wasn't a "bally" glimmer of a side-light, heaven help him, that he could throw. He hadn't the beginning of a notion -- since it had been a point of pride with him, as well as of urbanity, not to ask -- who was the fellow, the so presumably illustrious and deserving chap in question, was. This omission loomed for him that he was to be conscious, as he came to the end of the great moist avenue, of a felt doubt as to whether he could, in his bemusement, now "place" anybody at all; to which condition of his may have been due to the impulse that, at the reached gates of the palace, caused him to pause and all vaguely, all peeringly to inquire of one of the sentries: "To whom do you beautifully belong?"
The put question was, however, to answer itself, then and there, to the effect that this functionary belonged to whom he belonged to: and the converse of this remainder, presenting itself simultaneously to his consciousness, was to make him feel, where he was a few minutes later ushered into the Presence, that he had never, so intensely, for general abjectness and sheer situational funk, belonged as now. He caught himself wondering whether, on this basis, he were even animate, so strong was his sense of being a "bit" of the furniture of the great gloomy "study" -- of being some oiled and ever so hand object moving on casters or revolving, at the touch of a small and royal finger, on a pivot. It would be placed questioningly, that finger -- and his prevision held him with the long-drawn pang of nightmare -- on the cryptic name. That it occurred, this name, almost at the very end of the interminable list, figured to him not as a respite but as a prolongment of the perspirational agony. So that when, at long last, that finger was placed, with a roll toward him of the blue, the porminent, the vitreous yet so lack-lustre eye of the seated reader, it was with a groan of something like relief that he faintly uttered an "Oh well, Sir, he is, you know -- and with all submission, hang it, just isn't he, though? -- of an eminence!"
It was in the silence following this fling that there budded for him the wild, the all but unlooked-for hope that "What sort, my dear man, of eminence?" was a question not, possibly, going to be asked at all. It fairly burst for him and blossomed, this bud, as the royal eye rolled away from his into space. It never, till beautifully now, had struck our poor harassed friend that his master might, in some sort, be prey to those very, those inhibitive delicacies that he had played, from first to last, so eminently the deuce with him. He was to see, a moment later, that the royal eye had poised -- had from it's slow flight around the mouldings of the florid Hanoverian ceiling, positively swooped -- on the fat scarlet book of reference which, fraught with a title that was a very beam of the catchy and the chatty, lay beside his blotting-pad. The royal eye rested, the royal eye even dilated, to such an extent that Stamfordham had anticipatively the sense of being commanded to turn for a few moments his bavk and of overhearing in that interval the rustle of the turned leaves. That no such command came, that there was no recourse to the dreadful volume, somewhat confirmed for him his made guess that on the great gray beach of the hesitational and renunciational he was not -- or wasn't all deniably not -- the only pebble. For an instant, nevertheless, during which the prominent blue eye rested on a prominent blue pencil, it seemed that this guess might yet be, by an imminent coup de roi, terrifiucally shattered. Our friend held, as for an eternity, his breath. He was to form, in later years, a theory that the name really had stood in peril of erasure, and that what save it was that the good little men, as doing in the glare shed by his predecessors, the grreat dynastic "job," in a land that had been under two Jameses and no less than eight Henrys, had all humbly and meltingly resolved to "let it go at that."
posted 7:42 PM
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