The Lodger

by Marie Belloc Lowndes

"Lover and friend hast thou put far from me,

and mine acquaintance into darkness."

PSALM lxxxviii. 18


Robert Bunting and Ellen his wife sat before their dully burning,

carefully-banked-up fire.

The room, especially when it be known that it was part of a house

standing in a grimy, if not exactly sordid, London thoroughfare,

was exceptionally clean and well-cared-for. A casual stranger,

more particularly one of a Superior class to their own, on suddenly

opening the door of that sitting-room; would have thought that Mr.

and Mrs. Bunting presented a very pleasant cosy picture of

comfortable married life. Bunting, who was leaning back in a deep

leather arm-chair, was clean-shaven and dapper, still in appearance

what he had been for many years of his life--a self-respecting


On his wife, now sitting up in an uncomfortable straight-backed

chair, the marks of past servitude were less apparent; but they

were there all the same--in her neat black stuff dress, and in

her scrupulously clean, plain collar and cuffs. Mrs. Bunting, as

a single woman, had been what is known as a useful maid.

But peculiarly true of average English life is the time-worn

English proverb as to appearances being deceitful. Mr. and Mrs.

Bunting were sitting in a very nice room and in their time--how

long ago it now seemed!--both husband and wife had been proud of

their carefully chosen belongings. Everything in the room was

strong and substantial, and each article of furniture had been

bought at a well-conducted auction held in a private house.

Thus the red damask curtains which now shut out the fog-laden,

drizzling atmosphere of the Marylebone Road, had cost a mere song,

and yet they might have been warranted to last another thirty years.

A great bargain also had been the excellent Axminster carpet which

covered the floor; as, again, the arm-chair in which Bunting now sat

forward, staring into the dull, small fire. In fact, that arm-chair

had been an extravagance of Mrs. Bunting. She had wanted her husband

to be comfortable after the day's work was done, and she had paid

thirty-seven shillings for the chair. Only yesterday Bunting had

tried to find a purchaser for it, but the man who had come to look at

it, guessing their cruel necessities, had only offered them twelve

shillings and sixpence for it; so for the present they were keeping

their arm-chair.

But man and woman want something more than mere material comfort,

much as that is valued by the Buntings of this world. So, on the

walls of the sitting-room, hung neatly framed if now rather faded

photographs--photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Bunting's various former

employers, and of the pretty country houses in which they had

separately lived during the long years they had spent in a not

unhappy servitude.

But appearances were not only deceitful, they were more than

usually deceitful with regard to these unfortunate people. In

spite of their good furniture--that substantialoutward sign of

respectability which is the last thing which wise folk who fall

into trouble try to dispose of--they were almost at the end of

their tether. Already they had learnt to go hungry, and they were

beginning to learn to go cold. Tobacco, the last thing the sober

man foregoes among his comforts, had been given up some time ago

by Bunting. And even Mrs. Bunting--prim, prudent, careful woman

as she was in her way--had realised what this must mean to him.

So well, indeed, had she understood that some days back she had

crept out and bought him a packet of Virginia.

Bunting had been touched--touched as he had not been for years by

any woman's thought and love for him. Painful tears had forced

themselves into his eyes, and husband and wife had both felt in

their odd, unemotional way, moved to the heart.

Fortunately he never guessed--how could he have guessed, with his

slow, normal, rather dull mind?--that his poor Ellen had since

more than once bitterly regretted that fourpence-ha'penny, for they

were now very near the soundless depths which divide those who dwell

on the safe tableland of security--those, that is, who are sure of

making a respectable, if not a happy, living--and the submerged

multitude who, through some lack in themselves, or owing to the

conditions under which our strange civilisation has become organised,

struggle rudderless till they die in workhouse, hospital, or prison.

Had the Buntings been in a class lower than their own, had they

belonged to the great company of human beings technically known to

so many of us as the poor, there would have been friendly neighbours

ready to help them, and the same would have been the case had they

belonged to the class of smug, well-meaning, if unimaginative, folk

whom they had spent so much of their lives in serving.

There was only one person in the world who might possibly be brought

to help them. That was an aunt of Bunting's first wife. With this

woman, the widow of a man who had been well-to-do, lived Daisy,

Bunting's only child by his first wife, and during the last long two

days he had been trying to make up his mind to write to the old lady,

and that though he suspected that she would almost certainly retort

with a cruel, sharp rebuff.

As to their few acquaintances, former fellow-servants, and so on,

they had gradually fallen out of touch with them. There was but

one friend who often came to see them in their deep trouble. This

was a young fellow named Chandler, under whose grandfather Bunting

had been footman years and years ago. Joe Chandler had never gone

into service; he was attached to the police; in fact not to put too

fine a point upon it, young Chandler was a detective.

When they had first taken the house which had brought them, so they

both thought, such bad luck, Bunting had encouraged the young chap

to come often, for his tales were well worth listening to--quite

exciting at times. But now poor Bunting didn't want to hear that

sort of stories--stories of people being cleverly "nabbed," or

stupidly allowed to escape the fate they always, from Chandler's

point of view, richly deserved.

But Joe still came very faithfully once or twice a week, so timing

his calls that neither host nor hostess need press food upon him

--nay, more, he had done that which showed him to have a good and

feeling heart. He had offered his father's old acquaintance a loan,

and Bunting, at last, had taken 30s. Very little of that money

now remained: Bunting still could jingle a few coppers in his pocket;

and Mrs. Bunting had 2s. 9d.; that and the rent they would have to

pay in five weeks, was all they had left. Everything of the light,

portable sort that would fetch money had been sold. Mrs. Bunting

had a fiercehorror of the pawnshop. She had never put her feet in

such a place, and she declared she never would--she would rather

starve first.

But she had said nothing when there had occurred the gradual

disappearance of various little possessions she knew that Bunting

valued, notably of the old-fashioned gold watch-chain which had been

given to him after the death of his first master, a master he had

nursed faithfully and kindly through a long and terrible illness.

There had also vanished a twisted gold tie-pin, and a large mourning

ring, both gifts of former employers.

When people are living near that deep pit which divides the secure

from the insecure--when they see themselves creeping closer and

closer to its dread edge--they are apt, however loquacious by

nature, to fall into long silences. Bunting had always been a

talker, but now he talked no more. Neither did Mrs. Bunting, but

then she had always been a silent woman, and that was perhaps one

reason why Bunting had felt drawn to her from the very first moment

he had seen her.

It had fallen out in this way. A lady had just engaged him as

butler, and he had been shown, by the man whose place he was to

take, into the dining-room. There, to use his own expression, he

had discovered Ellen Green, carefully pouring out the glass of port

wine which her then mistress always drank at 11.30 every morning.

And as he, the new butler, had seen her engaged in this task, as he

had watched her carefully stopper the decanter and put it back into

the old wine-cooler, he had said to himself, "That is the woman for


But now her stillness, her--her dumbness, had got on the

unfortunate man's nerves. He no longer felt like going into the

various little shops, close by, patronised by him in more prosperous

days, and Mrs. Bunting also went afield to make the slender purchases

which still had to be made every day or two, if they were to be

saved from actually starving to death.

Suddenly, across the stillness of the dark November evening there

came the muffled sounds of hurrying feet and of loud, shrill shouting

outside--boys crying the late afternoon editions of the evening


Bunting turned uneasily in his chair. The giving up of a daily

paper had been, after his tobacco, his bitterest deprivation. And

the paper was an older habit than the tobacco, for servants are

great readers of newspapers.

As the shouts came through the closed windows and the thick damask

curtains, Bunting felt a sudden sense of mind hunger fall upon him.

It was a shame--a damned shame--that he shouldn't know what was

happening in the world outside! Only criminals are kept from hearing

news of what is going on beyond their prison walls. And those

shouts, those hoarse, sharp cries must portend that something really

exciting had happened, something warranted to make a man forget for

the moment his own intimate, gnawing troubles.

He got up, and going towards the nearest window strained his ears to

listen. There fell on them, emerging now and again from the confused

babel of hoarse shouts, the one clear word "Murder!"

Slowly Bunting's brain pieced the loud, indistinct cries into some

sort of connected order. Yes, that was it--"Horrible Murder!

Murder at St. Pancras!" Bunting remembered vaguely another murder

which had been committed near St. Pancras--that of an old lady by

her servant-maid. It had happened a great many years ago, but was

still vividly remembered, as of special and natural interest, among

the class to which he had belonged.

The newsboys--for there were more than one of them, a rather unusual

thing in the Marylebone Road--were coming nearer and nearer; now

they had adopted another cry, but he could not quite catch what they

were crying. They were still shouting hoarsely, excitedly, but he

could only hear a word or two now and then. Suddenly "The Avenger!

The Avenger at his work again!" broke on his ear.

During the last fortnight four very curious and brutal murders had

been committed in London and within a comparatively small area.

The first had aroused no special interest--even the second had only

been awarded, in the paper Bunting was still then taking in, quite a

small paragraph.

Then had come the third--and with that a wave of keen excitement,

for pinned to the dress of the victim--a drunken woman--had been

found a three-cornered piece of paper, on which was written, in red

ink, and in printed characters, the words,


It was then realised, not only by those whose business it is to

investigate such terrible happenings, but also by the vast world

of men and women who take an intelligent interest in such sinister

mysteries, that the same miscreant had committed all three crimes;

and before that extraordinary fact had had time to soak well into

the public mind there took place yet another murder, and again the

murderer had been to special pains to make it clear that some

obscure and terrible lust for vengeance possessed him.

Now everyone was talking of The Avenger and his crimes! Even the

man who left their ha'porth of milk at the door each morning had

spoken to Bunting about them that very day.


Bunting came back to the fire and looked down at his wife with mild

excitement. Then, seeing her pale, apathetic face, her look of

weary, mournful absorption, a wave of irritation swept through him.

He felt he could have shaken her!

Ellen had hardly taken the trouble to listen when he, Bunting, had

come back to bed that morning, and told her what the milkman had

said. In fact, she had been quite nasty about it, intimating that

she didn't like hearing about such horrid things.

It was a curious fact that though Mrs. Bunting enjoyed tales of

pathos and sentiment, and would listen with frigid amusement to

the details of a breach of promise action, she shrank from stories

of immorality or of physical violence. In the old, happy days,

when they could afford to buy a paper, aye, and more than one paper

daily, Bunting had often had to choke down his interest in some

exciting "case" or "mystery" which was affording him pleasant mental

relaxation, because any allusion to it sharply angered Ellen.

But now he was at once too dull and too miserable to care how she


Walking away from the window he took a slow, uncertain step towards

the door; when there he turned half round, and there came over his

close-shaven, round face the rather sly, pleading look with which

a child about to do something naughty glances at its parent.

But Mrs. Bunting remained quite still; her thin, narrow shoulders

just showed above the back of the chair on which she was sitting,

bolt upright, staring before her as if into vacancy.

Bunting turned round, opened the door, and quickly he went out into

the dark hall--they had given up lighting the gas there some time

ago--and opened the front door.

Walking down the small flagged path outside, he flung open the iron

gate which gave on to the damp pavement. But there he hesitated.

The coppers in his pocket seemed to have shrunk in number, and he

remembered ruefully how far Ellen could make even four pennies go.

Then a boy ran up to him with a sheaf of evening papers, and Bunting,

being sorely tempted--fell. "Give me a Sun," he said roughly, "Sun

or Echo!"

But the boy, scarcely stopping to take breath, shook his head. "Only

penny papers left," he gasped. "What'll yer 'ave, sir?"

With an eagerness which was mingled with shame, Bunting drew a penny

out of his pocket and took a paper--it was the Evening Standard--

from the boy's hand.

Then, very slowly, he shut the gate and walked back through the raw,

cold air, up the flagged path, shivering yet full of eager, joyful


Thanks to that penny he had just spent so recklessly he would pass

a happy hour, taken, for once, out of his anxious, despondent,

miserable self. It irritated him shrewdly to know that these moments

of respite from carking care would not be shared with his poor wife,

with careworn, troubled Ellen.

A hot wave of unease, almost of remorse, swept over Bunting. Ellen

would never have spent that penny on herself--he knew that well

enough--and if it hadn't been so cold, so foggy, so--so drizzly,

  • acquaintance [ə´kweintəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.相识;熟人,相识的人   (初中英语单词)
  • apparent [ə´pærənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.显然的;表面上的   (初中英语单词)
  • collar [´kɔlə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.衣领;(狗等的)项圈   (初中英语单词)
  • atmosphere [´ætməsfiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.大气;空气;气氛   (初中英语单词)
  • bargain [´bɑ:gin] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.买卖合同 v.议(价)   (初中英语单词)
  • carpet [´kɑ:pit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.地毯 vt.铺地毯   (初中英语单词)
  • yesterday [´jestədi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&ad.昨天;前不久   (初中英语单词)
  • unfortunate [ʌn´fɔ:tʃunit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不幸的,运气差的   (初中英语单词)
  • dispose [di´spəuz] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.处置;安排;布置   (初中英语单词)
  • learnt [lə:nt] 移动到这儿单词发声  learn 的过去式(分词)   (初中英语单词)
  • tobacco [tə´bækəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.烟草(叶);卷烟   (初中英语单词)
  • normal [´nɔ:məl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.正规的 n.正常状态   (初中英语单词)
  • bitterly [´bitəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.悲痛地;憎恨地   (初中英语单词)
  • grandfather [´grænd,fɑ:ðə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(外)祖父;祖先   (初中英语单词)
  • fierce [fiəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.残忍的;强烈的   (初中英语单词)
  • horror [´hɔrə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.恐怖;战栗   (初中英语单词)
  • old-fashioned [´əuld´feʃənd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.老式的;过时的   (初中英语单词)
  • mistress [´mistris] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.女主人;情妇;女能手   (初中英语单词)
  • slender [´slendə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.细长的;微薄的   (初中英语单词)
  • actually [´æktʃuəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.事实上;实际上   (初中英语单词)
  • hunger [´hʌŋgə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.饥饿;渴望   (初中英语单词)
  • intimate [´intimit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.亲密的 n.知己   (初中英语单词)
  • excitedly [ik´saitidli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.兴奋地,激动地   (初中英语单词)
  • comparatively [kəm´pærətivli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.比较地;比较上   (初中英语单词)
  • drunken [´drʌŋkən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.喝醉的;常醉的   (初中英语单词)
  • intelligent [in´telidʒənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.聪明的;理智的   (初中英语单词)
  • extraordinary [ik´strɔ:dinəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.非常的;额外的   (初中英语单词)
  • everyone [´evriwʌn] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.=everybody 每人   (初中英语单词)
  • shaken [´ʃeikən] 移动到这儿单词发声  shake的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • sentiment [´sentimənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.情绪;多愁善感   (初中英语单词)
  • amusement [ə´mju:zmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.娱乐;文娱设施   (初中英语单词)
  • physical [´fizikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.物质的;有形的   (初中英语单词)
  • violence [´vaiələns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猛烈;暴力(行)   (初中英语单词)
  • sharply [´ʃɑ:pli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.锋利地;剧烈地   (初中英语单词)
  • miserable [´mizərəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.悲惨的;可怜的   (初中英语单词)
  • uncertain [ʌn´sə:tn] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不定的;不可靠的   (初中英语单词)
  • breath [breθ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.呼吸;气息   (初中英语单词)
  • anxious [´æŋkʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.担忧的;渴望的   (初中英语单词)
  • casual [´kæʒuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.偶然的;临时的   (高中英语单词)
  • uncomfortable [ʌn´kʌmftəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不舒服的,不自在的   (高中英语单词)
  • substantial [səb´stænʃəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.实质的,真的   (高中英语单词)
  • outward [´autwəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.外面的 ad.向外   (高中英语单词)
  • prudent [´pru:dənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.谨慎的;精明的   (高中英语单词)
  • painful [´peinfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.痛(苦)的;费力的   (高中英语单词)
  • respectable [ri´spektəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可敬的;有身价的   (高中英语单词)
  • faithfully [´feiθfəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.忠实地;诚恳地   (高中英语单词)
  • hostess [´həustis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.女主人;旅馆女老板   (高中英语单词)
  • butler [´bʌtlə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(男)管家   (高中英语单词)
  • stillness [´stilnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.不动;无声,寂静   (高中英语单词)
  • shrill [ʃril] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.(声音)尖锐的   (高中英语单词)
  • damned [dæmd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.该死的 ad.非常,极   (高中英语单词)
  • fortnight [´fɔ:tnait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.两星期   (高中英语单词)
  • vengeance [´vendʒəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.报复,复仇   (高中英语单词)
  • seeing [si:iŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  see的现在分词 n.视觉   (高中英语单词)
  • hearing [´hiəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.听力;听证会;审讯   (高中英语单词)
  • horrid [´hɔrid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.令人讨厌的;极糟的   (高中英语单词)
  • breach [bri:tʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.破坏;违犯   (高中英语单词)
  • naughty [´nɔ:ti] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.顽皮的;下流的   (高中英语单词)
  • upright [´ʌprait] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.直立的 ad.直立地   (高中英语单词)
  • pavement [´peivmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.路面;铺筑材料   (高中英语单词)
  • roughly [´rʌfli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.粗糙地;毛糙地   (高中英语单词)
  • eagerness [´i:gənis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.渴望;热忱   (高中英语单词)
  • sordid [´sɔ:did] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.(指环境等)肮脏的   (英语四级单词)
  • peculiarly [pi´kju:liəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.特有地;古怪地   (英语四级单词)
  • proverb [´prɔvə:b] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.谚语;格言   (英语四级单词)
  • belongings [bi´lɔŋiŋz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.所有物;行李   (英语四级单词)
  • auction [´ɔ:kʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.拍卖   (英语四级单词)
  • extravagance [iks´trævigəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.奢侈;极端   (英语四级单词)
  • sixpence [´sikspəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.六便士(硬币)   (英语四级单词)
  • packet [´pækit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.盒 vt.…打成小包   (英语四级单词)
  • well-to-do [,weltə´du:] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.小康的,富裕的   (英语四级单词)
  • trying [´traiiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.难堪的;费劲的   (英语四级单词)
  • richly [´ritʃli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.富裕地;浓厚地   (英语四级单词)
  • jingle [´dʒiŋgəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(使)叮当响   (英语四级单词)
  • hoarse [hɔ:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.嘶哑的;嗓门粗哑的   (英语四级单词)
  • vaguely [´veigli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.含糊地,暖昧地   (英语四级单词)
  • brutal [´bru:tl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.兽性的;残暴的   (英语四级单词)
  • mournful [´mɔ:nful] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.令人沮丧的   (英语四级单词)
  • absorption [əb´sɔ:pʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.吸收;吸收作用   (英语四级单词)
  • allusion [ə´lu:ʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.暗指;提及;引喻   (英语四级单词)
  • lighting [´laitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.照明,发光   (英语四级单词)
  • remorse [ri´mɔ:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.懊悔;自责;同情   (英语四级单词)
  • bunting [´bʌntiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.旗帜;白颊鸟   (英语六级单词)
  • exceptionally [ik´sepʃənli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.异常地;极,很   (英语六级单词)
  • servitude [´sə:vitju:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.奴隶状态;苦役   (英语六级单词)
  • deceitful [di´si:tful] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.欺骗的,骗人的   (英语六级单词)
  • damask [´dæməsk] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.锦缎 a.缎子的   (英语六级单词)
  • purchaser [´pə:tʃəsə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.买主;采购人   (英语六级单词)
  • footman [´futmən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.侍应员;男仆   (英语六级单词)
  • notably [´nəutəbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.显著地;著名地   (英语六级单词)
  • uneasily [ʌn´i:zili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不安地;局促地   (英语六级单词)
  • vividly [´vividli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.活泼地;生动地   (英语六级单词)
  • hoarsely [´hɔ:sli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.嘶哑地   (英语六级单词)
  • taking [´teikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.迷人的 n.捕获物   (英语六级单词)
  • irritation [,iri´teiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(被)激怒;疼痛处   (英语六级单词)
  • shrank [ʃræŋk] 移动到这儿单词发声  shrink的过去式   (英语六级单词)
  • sorely [´sɔ:li] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.痛苦地;剧烈地   (英语六级单词)
  • respite [´respait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.暂缓 vt.缓期执行   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 18:44:00
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