Pettigrew's Dream

My dream (said Pettigrew) contrasts sadly with those of my young

friends. They dream of revenge, but my dream is tragic. I see my editor

writing my obituary notice. This is how it reads:

Mr. Pettigrew, M.A., whose sad death is recorded in another column, was

in his forty-second year (not his forty-fourth, as stated in the evening

papers), and had done a good deal of Jubilee work before he accepted the

ission that led to his death. It is an open secret that he wrote

seventy of the Jubilee sketches which have appeared in this paper. The

pamphlet now selling in the streets for a penny, entitled Jubilees of

the Past, was his. He wrote the introductory chapter to Fifty Years of

Progress, and his Jubilee Statesmen is now in a second edition. The

idea of a collection of Jubilee odes was not his, but the publisher's.

At the same time, his friends and relatives attach no blame to them. Mr.

Pettigrew shivered when the order was given to him, but he accepted it,

and the general impression among those who knew him was that a man who

had survived Jubilee Statesmen could do anything. As it turns out, we

had overestimated Mr. Pettigrew's powers of endurance.

As The Jubilee Odes will doubtless yet be collected by another hand,

little need be said here of the work. Mr. Pettigrew was to make his

collection as complete as the limited space at his disposal (two

volumes) would allow; the only original writing in the book being a

sketch of the various schemes suggested for the celebration of the

Jubilee. It was this sketch that killed him. On the morning of the 27th,

when he intended beginning it, he rose at an unusually early hour,

and was seen from the windows of the house pacing the garden in an

apparently agitated state of mind. He ate no breakfast. One of his

daughters states that she noticed a wild look in his eyes during the

morning meal; but, as she did not remark on it at the time, much stress

need not be laid on this. The others say that he was unusually quiet and

silent. All, however, noticed one thing. Generally, when he had literary

work to do, he was anxious to begin upon his labors, and spent little

time at the breakfast-table. On this occasion he sat on. Even after the

breakfast things were removed he seemed reluctant to adjourn to the

study. His wife asked him several times if he meant to begin The

Jubilee Odes that day, and he always replied in the affirmative. But

he talked nervously of other things; and, to her surprise--though she

thought comparatively little of it at the time--drew her on to a

discussion on summer bonnets. As a rule, this was a subject which he

shunned. At last he rose, and, going slowly to the window, looked out

for a quarter of an hour. His wife asked him again about The Jubilee

Odes, and he replied that he meant to begin directly. Then he went

round the morning-room, looking at the pictures on the walls as if for

the first time. After that he leaned for a little while against the

mantelpiece, and then, as if an idea had struck him, began to wind up

the clock. He went through the house winding up the clocks, though this

duty was usually left to a servant; and when that was over he came back

to the breakfast-room and talked about Waterbury watches. His wife had

to go to the kitchen, and he followed her. On their way back they passed

the nursery, and he said he thought he would go in and talk to the

nurse. This was very unlike him. At last his wife said that it would

soon be luncheon-time, and then he went to the study. Some ten minutes

afterward he wandered into the dining-room, where she was arranging some

flowers. He seemed taken aback at seeing her, but said, after a moment's

thought, that the study door was locked and he could not find the key.

This astonished her, as she had dusted the room herself that morning.

She went to see, and found the study door standing open. When she

returned to the dining-room he had disappeared. They searched for him

everywhere, and eventually discovered him in the drawing-room, turning

over a photograph album. He then went back to the study. His wife

accompanied him, and, as was her custom, filled his pipe for him. He

smoked a mixture to which he was passionately attached. He lighted his

pipe several times, but it always went out. His wife put a new nib into

his pen, placed some writing material on the table, and then retired,

shutting the door behind her.

About half an hour afterward Mrs. Pettigrew sent one of the children to

the study on a trifling errand. As he did not return she followed him.

She found him sitting on his father's knee, where she did not remember

ever having seen him before. Mr. Pettigrew was holding his watch to

the boy's ears. The study table was littered with several hundreds of

Jubilee odes. Other odes had slipped to the floor. Mrs. Pettigrew asked

how he was getting on, and her unhappy husband replied that he was just

going to begin. His hands were trembling, and he had given up trying to

smoke. He sought to detain her by talking about the boy's curls; but she

went away, taking the child with her. As she closed the door he groaned

heavily, and she reopened it to ask if he felt unwell. He answered in

the negative, and she left him. The last person to see Mr. Pettigrew

alive was Eliza Day, the housemaid. She took a letter to him between

twelve and one o'clock. Usually he disliked being disturbed at his

writing; but this time, in answer to her knock, he cried eagerly, Come

in! When she entered he insisted on her taking a chair, and asked her

how all her people were, and if there was anything he could do for them.

Several times she rose to leave, but he would not allow her to do so.

Eliza mentioned this in the kitchen when she returned to it. Her master

was naturally a reserved man who seldom spoke to his servants, which

rendered his behavior on this occasion the more remarkable.

As announced in the evening papers yesterday, the servant sent to

the study at half-past one to see why Mr. Pettigrew was not coming to

lunch, found him lifeless on the floor. The knife clutched in his hand

showed that he had done the fatal deed himself; and Dr. Southwick,

of Hyde Park, who was on the spot within ten minutes of the painful

discovery, is of opinion that life had been extinct for about half an

hour. The body was lying among Jubilee odes. On the table were a dozen

or more sheets of copy, which, though only spoiled pages, showed that

the deceased had not succumbed without a struggle. On one he had begun,

Fifty years have come and gone since a fair English maiden ascended the

throne of England. Another stopped short at, To every loyal Englishman

the Jubil---- A third sheet commenced with, Though there have been a

number of royal Jubilees in the history of the world, probably none has

awakened the same interest as---- and a fourth began, 1887 will be

known to all future ages as the year of Jub---- One sheet bore the

sentence, Heaven help me! and it is believed that these were the last

words the deceased ever penned.

Mr. Pettigrew was a most estimable man in private life, and will be

greatly missed in the circles to which he had endeared himself. He

leaves a widow and a small family. It may be worth adding that when

discovered dead, there was a smile upon his face, as if he had at last

found peace. He must have suffered great agony that forenoon, and his

death is best looked upon as a happy release.

Marriot, Scrymgeour and I awarded the tin of Arcadia to Pettigrew,

because he alone of the competitors seemed to believe that his dream

might be realized.