Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion 295
the side of his nose, spread the gaunt fingers wide in triumph, and dropped back dead. That picture sticks by me yet. The " situation " is unique.
The next morning, at what seemed a very early hour, the little white table-waiter appeared suddenly in my room and shot a single word out of himself: " Breakfast !''
This was a remarkable boy in many ways. He was about eleven years old ; he had alert, intent black eyes ; he was quick of movement; there was no hesitation, no uncertainty about him anywhere; there was a military decision in his lip, his manner, his speech, that was an astonishing thing to see in a little chap like him; he wasted no words; his answers always came so quick and brief that they seemed to be part of the question that had been asked instead of a reply to it. When he stood at table with his fly-brush, rigid, erect, his face set in a cast-iron gravity, he was a statue till he detected a dawning want in somebody's eye; then he pounced down, supplied it, and was instantly a statue again. When he was sent to the kitchen for anything, he marched upright till he got to the door; he turned hand-springs the rest of the way.
I thought I would make one more effort to get some conversation out of this being.
" Have you called the Reverend, or are—"
"Is it early, or is—"
"Do you have to do all the 'chores,' or is there somebody to give you a—"
" Is there only one parish in this island, or are there—"