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A Tragedy In Little
by [?]

IV. It should be taken out for a trot at least once every day.

V. It simply loathes artificial light and artificial heat. If you keep it in your drawing-room, see that it is situated as far as possible from the chandelier and the gas-stove.

VI. It also detests noise. Do not place it on the top of the pianola.

VII. It loves moonlight. Leave it outside when you go to bed, in case the moon should come out.

VIII. On the other hand, it hates lightning. Cover it up with the canary’s cloth when the lightning begins.

IX. If it shows signs of drooping, a course of massage will generally bring it round.

X. But in no case offer it buns.

Well, I read these instructions carefully, and saw at once that I should have to hand over the business of rearing Sidney to another. I have my living to earn the same as anybody else, and I should never get any work done at all if I had constantly to be rushing home from the office on the plea that it was time for Master Sidney’s sun-bath.

So I called up my housekeeper, and placed the matter before her.

I said: “Let me introduce you to Sidney. He is very dear to me; dearer to me than a–a brother. No, on second thoughts my brother is perhaps–well, anyhow, Sidney is very dear to me. I will show my trust in you by asking you to tend him for me. Here are a few notes about his health. Frankly he is delicate. But the doctors have hope. With care, they think, he may live to be a hundred-and-fifty. His future is in your hands.”

My housekeeper thanked me for this mark of esteem and took the card of instructions away with her. I asked her for it a week afterwards and it appeared that, having committed the rules to memory, she had lost it. But that she follows the instructions I have no doubt; and certainly she and Sidney understand each other’s ways exactly. Automatically she gives him his bath, his massage, his run in the park. When it rains or snows or shines, she knows exactly what to do with Sidney.

But as a consequence I see little of him. I suppose it must always be so; we parents must make these sacrifices for our children. Think of a mother only seeing her eldest-born for fifteen weeks a year through the long period of his schooling; and think of me, doomed to catch only the most casual glimpses of Sidney until he is ninety.

For, you know, I might almost say that I never see him at all now. As I go to my work I may, if I am lucky, get a fleeting glance of him on the tiles, where he sits drinking in the rain or sun. In the evening, when I return, he is either out in the moonlight or, if indoors, shunning the artificial light with the cloth over his head. Indeed, the only times when I really see him to talk to are when Celia comes to tea with me. Then my housekeeper hurries him in from his walk or his sun-bath, and puts him, brushed and manicured, on my desk; and Celia and I whisper fond nothings to him. I believe Celia thinks he lives there!

. . . . .

As I began by saying, I weep for Sidney’s approaching end. For my housekeeper leaves this week. A new one takes her place. How will she treat my poor Sidney? The old card of instructions is lost; what can I give her in its place? The legend that Sidney’s is a precious life–that he must have his morning bath, his run, his glass of hot water after meals! She would laugh at it. Besides, she may not be at all the sort of foster-mother for a Japanese dwarf-tree….

It will break my heart if Sidney dies now, for I had so looked forward to celebrating his ninetieth birthday with him. It will hurt Celia too. But her grief, of course, will be an inferior affair. In fact, a couple of pairs of silk stockings will help her to forget him altogether.