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The Debit Account   By: (1873-1961)

The Debit Account by Oliver [pseud.] Onions

First Page:

E text prepared by Suzanne Shell, Martin Pettit, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net) from page images generously made available by Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries (http://www.archive.org/details/toronto)

Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/debitaccount00oniouoft

THE DEBIT ACCOUNT

by

OLIVER ONIONS

Author of "In Accordance With the Evidence," "The Exception," etc.

George H. Doran Company New York

Publishers in America for Hodder & Stoughton

Copyright, 1913 By George H. Doran Company

TO PHILIP CONNARD

CONTENTS

PART ONE PAGE THE COBDEN CORNER 7

PART TWO VERANDAH COTTAGE 69

PART THREE WELL WALK 149

PART FOUR IDDESLEIGH GATE 239

ENVOI 289

PART I

THE COBDEN CORNER

THE DEBIT ACCOUNT

I

One day in the early June of the year 1900 I was taking a walk on Hampstead Heath and found myself in the neighbourhood of the Vale of Health. About that time my eyes were very much open for such things as house agents' notice boards and placards in windows that announced that houses or portions of houses were to let. I was going to be married, and wanted a place in which to live.

My salary was one hundred and fifty pounds a year. I figured on the wages book of the Freight and Ballast Company as "Jeffries, J. H., Int. Ex. Con.," which meant that I was an intermediate clerk of the Confidential Exchange Department, and to this description of myself I affixed each week my signature across a penny stamp in formal receipt of my three pounds. I could have been paid in gold had I wished, but I had preferred a weekly cheque, and I took care never to cash this cheque at our own offices in Waterloo Place. I did not wish it to be known that I had no banking account. As a matter of fact, I now had one, though I should not have liked to disclose it to the Income Tax Commissioners. The reason for this reticence lay in the smallness, not in the largeness, of my balance. I had learned that in certain circumstances it pays you to appear better off than you are.

It was a Sunday, a Whit Sunday, on which I took my walk, and on my way up from Camden Town across the Lower Heath I had passed among the canvas and tent pegs and staked out "pitches" that were the preparation for the Bank Holiday on the morrow. Tall chevaux de frises of swings were locked back with long bars; about the caravans picked out with red and green, the proprietors of cocoanut shies and roundabouts smoked their pipes; and up the East Heath Road there rumbled from time to time, shaking the ground, a traction engine with its string of waggons and gaudy tumbrils.

I was alone. Both my fiancée and the aunt with whom she lived in a boarding house in Woburn Place had gone down to Guildford to attend the funeral of a friend of the family a Mrs Merridew; and as I had known the deceased lady by name only, my own attendance had not been considered necessary. So until lunch time, when I had an engagement, I was taking my stroll, with a particular eye to the smaller of the houses I passed, and many conjectures about the rent of them.

You will remember, if you happen to know that north western part of London, that away across the Heath, on the Highgate side, there stands up among the trees a lordly turreted place, the abode (I believe it then was) of some merchant prince or other. My eyes had wandered frequently to this great house, but I had lost it again as I had descended to the pond with the swans upon it, and approached the tea garden that, with its swings and automatic machines, makes a sort of miniature standing Bank Holiday all the year round. During the whole of a youth and early manhood of extraordinary hardship (I was now nearing thirty five) I had been consumed with a violent but ineffectual ambition, of which those distant turrets now reminded me... Continue reading book >>




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