It is idle to expect every one to know everything in the world without being told. If we had been brought up in the country we should have known that it is not done–to hunt the fox in August. But in the Lewisham Road the most observing boy does not notice the dates when it is proper to hunt foxes.
And there are some things you cannot bear to think that anybody would think you would do; that is why I wish to say plainly at the very beginning that none of us would have shot a fox on purpose even to save our skins. Of course, if a man were at bay in a cave, and had to defend girls from the simulaerous attack of a herd of savage foxes it would be different. A man is bound to protect girls and take care of them–they can jolly well take care of themselves really it seems to me–still, this is what Albert’s uncle calls one of the “rules of the game,” so we are bound to defend them and fight for them to the death, if needful.
Denny knows a quotation which says:
“What dire offence from harmless causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trefoil things.”
He says this means that all great events come from three things–three-fold, like the clover or trefoil, and the causes are always harmless. Trefoil is short for three-fold.
There were certainty three things that led up to the adventure which is now going to be told you. The first was our Indian uncle coming down to the country to see us. The second was Denny’s tooth. The third was only our wanting to go hunting; but if you count it in it makes the thing about the trefoil come right. And all these causes were harmless.
It is a flattering thing to say, and it was not Oswald who said it, but Dora. She said she was certain our uncle missed us, and that he felt he could no longer live without seeing his dear ones (that was us).
Anyway, he came down, without warning, which is one of the few bad habits that excellent Indian man has, and this habit has ended in unpleasantness more than once, as when we played Jungles.
However, this time it was all right. He came on rather a dull kind of day, when no one had thought of anything particularly amusing to do. So that, as it happened to be dinner-time and we had just washed our hands and faces, we were all spotlessly clean (compared with what we are sometimes, I mean, of course).
We were just sitting down to dinner, and Albert’s uncle was just plunging the knife into the hot heart of the steak pudding, when there was the rumble of wheels, and the station fly stopped at the garden gate. And in the fly, sitting very upright, with his hands on his knees, was our Indian relative so much beloved. He looked very smart, with a rose in his buttonhole. How different from what he looked in other days when he helped us to pretend that our currant pudding was a wild boar we were killing with our forks. Yet, though tidier, his heart still beat kind and true. You should not judge people harshly because their clothes are tidy. He had dinner with us, and then we showed him round the place, and told him everything we thought he would like to hear, and about the Tower of Mystery, and he said:
“It makes my blood boil to think of it.”
Noel said he was sorry for that, because everyone else we had told it to had owned, when we asked them, that it froze their blood.
“Ah,” said the Uncle, “but in India we learn how to freeze our blood and boil it at the same time.”