Bones in London (Chapter 2, page 1 of 18)


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Chapter 2

Mrs. Staleyborn's first husband was a dreamy Fellow of a Learned
University.

Her second husband had begun life at the bottom of the ladder as a
three-card trickster, and by strict attention to business and the
exercise of his natural genius, had attained to the proprietorship of a
bucket-shop.

When Mrs. Staleyborn was Miss Clara Smith, she had been housekeeper to
Professor Whitland, a biologist who discovered her indispensability,
and was only vaguely aware of the social gulf which yawned between the
youngest son of the late Lord Bortledyne and the only daughter of
Albert Edward Smith, mechanic. To the Professor she was Miss H.
Sapiens--an agreeable, featherless plantigrade biped of the genus
Homo. She was also thoroughly domesticated and cooked like an angel,
a nice woman who apparently never knew that her husband had a Christian
name, for she called him "Mr. Whitland" to the day of his death.

The strain and embarrassment of the new relationship with her master
were intensified by the arrival of a daughter, and doubled when that
daughter came to a knowledgeable age. Marguerite Whitland had the
inherent culture of her father and the grace and delicate beauty which
had ever distinguished the women of the house of Bortledyne.

When the Professor died, Mrs. Whitland mourned him in all sincerity.
She was also relieved. One-half of the burden which lay upon her had
been lifted; the second half was wrestling with the binomial theorem at
Cheltenham College.

She had been a widow twelve months when she met Mr. Cresta Morris, and,
if the truth be told, Mr. Cresta Morris more fulfilled her conception
as to what a gentleman should look like than had the Professor. Mr.
Cresta Morris wore white collars and beautiful ties, had a large gold
watch-chain over what the French call poetically a gilet de fantasie,
but which he, in his own homely fashion, described as a "fancy weskit."
He smoked large cigars, was bluff and hearty, spoke to the widow--he
was staying at Harrogate at the time in a hydropathic establishment--in
a language which she could understand. Dimly she began to realize that
the Professor had hardly spoken to her at all.

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