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Nine Double Three One
(* signifies a new contribution)

*Mrs Williams turned her attention to

*the state of the roads

*   for the third time since breakfast. Her swarthy bulk conveyed a remarkable agitation of emotion for one usually so sedentary. She stirred on the chaise, shiney from her long residence, and sent Charlotte to the pine house to discover from the Doctor and the Commodore the cause of the delay.

        "All this snow and there they spend all the morning. Brushes and little bags, forsooth," she said to the air in front of her. "Clever is as clever does, but fiddling with flowers', with, with flowers...peas...unnatural...in the extreme

*conditions we are experiencing and a shocking waste of coal at tuppence the hundreweight and who's to say but that we shall all be brought upon the parish and what will His Botanical Cleverness have to say then to peas I wonder with the girls' dowries all ate up look at the time and little Jack set to polishing shoes in Green Park. Mr Williams" she made a brief, uncharacteristic attempt to recall anything in particular about her late husband, but his face and character were more of a blank to her than the face of the full-case pendulum clock, "Mr Williams would not have countenanced peas he was never a man for greenstuff and squandering money on flowers - had nothing at all to say to the boom in tulips". i    Charlotte had returned, bursting with news. "I say, Mr Williams had nothing at all to say to tulips" she told her grand daughter "and

*.
     "No, gran-mere, I am sure he did not," began Charlotte.
     "Dutch. Dutch! Dutch is as dutch does, says I         wicked foreigners and their schemes     half of them jay ee double yous         not as who should say that some merchants are not clever, very clever indeed      that nice man in the city -- he will return twelve per centum per annum         per annum do you attend Charlotte dear?     Charlotte dear please sit just a little further from the fire or you will darken         place that nice screen by your face        we must do what we can to preserve what looks we have my treasure     must infallibly return twelve     has never returned less than twenty four, so it stands to reason, does it not of course it does my dear."
         Here Mrs Williams paused to withdraw a froth of handkerchief from some niche of her costume and blow her nose, quite overcome by the thought of twenty four percent.
        "Yes, gran-mere, I am sure it does," said Charlotte, "but do you know..."
        "Oh yes I know        I know indeed     who better?    here I sit all morning     working as hard as ever I can to make your portions grow        I am quite worn out as you see        the effort has near destroyed me        I don't mind at all, except for my health, but we will not touch on that     it is nothing        nothing to me        Charlotte dear please help gran-mere a little closer to the fire I do feel the cold so         but someone must watch out for the children         someone must nuture your little all        while others gallivant about the ocean or take up their time at home with peas     oh yes my dear someone must."
        "Yes, gran-mere." Charlotte sighed, inwardly, and took up her bargello. Mrs Williams fell back into her revery, her theoretical financial revery which saw her, through a series of completely unexpected circumstances and brilliant investments, able to recoup all her losses, evict the tenant from Mapes Court and set up her coach and six, reigning over her daughters and grandaughters in the viceregal splendour that was her due. So deep was she in her future glory that the shouting voices had nearly reached the parlour door before she attended to them.

* "The cottage! The cottage ahoy! Bring fire buckets!"
"And hoses! Hoses to the pine house!" "
And save my valuable specimens! My valuable specimens are to be saved, I say!"
Mrs Williams was aroused with a start     where was she?        why was she?         what had broken into her reflections?     oh yes, the fire was dying         but she could hardly get closer to it without taking up residence in the chimney place     and it was so shockingly small        and nothing to boast of in the way of a mantlepiece either      this was not what she had been used to     this is what came of canals and natural science             she must have that Killick fetch coals from the pine house         her son in law and the doctor had provided the most frivolous of excuses for warming the pine house         now what had she been thinking of?            and why was it in those funny short phrases as if somebody had been dictating to her?          to her!        dictating to her!          she never could abide a dictator            that impertinent doctor or so he called himself from New York who had asked her about her dreams         and his incomprehensibe Irish friend     Stephen Something     Deadloss?        Diddlelus? Daedalus, that was something very near his outlandish Papist name          and yet there had been a certain something about his 100,000 pounds in the 4 percents that had made him strangely attractive        but not, alas, to Frances, the ungrateful child        wonder if he would do for...

"Charlotte, my dear, you who are so fond of potatoes, have you ever considered"

*crossing a potato with a tomato        why, imagine        the Economy!         fruit above and vegetable below     my word there's something your fine Dublin physician never thought of I am sure my dear but really all this shouting" and then in a very slightly diminished voice clearly audible throughout the parlour but understood by all to be unspoken    "and why shouldn't I set my thoughts in neat little phrases I should like to know         no ink wasted on upper case or punctuation        nor electrons         nor bandwidth        the Economy!    what joys, what Joyce a poor body can take in a few small economies" and then in her normal fine, strong carrying voice, the bane and terror of unemployed servants throughout London and Sussex, "so much shouting         it is a wonder the Commodore does not                 fire buckets?     flower buckets?    La! but there is the coach at last     come my dear         all this horrid snow."
     Stephen walked in, followed by Killick, Bonden and the Grunidae bearing burnished copper pails piled deep with chrysanthemums, gold, yellow and white.
     "There you are, ma'am. Good morning to you, and to you Charlotte my dear. All is well: the horses have taken the little cart to the pinehouse so they have and now we may use them to bear up, bear away, bear off. I am content: my specimens are drying in their press."
        "Press, Doctor?" cried Jack, walking in. "Let us press this one," and advanced upon Charlotte, who, shrieking, darted behind her grandmother, whose small eyes drizzled steadily on the proceedings and instantly brought Jack back to himself. He must be content with a wink and a "All a-tanto then?" to the ladies as Sophie and Diana emerged from their boudoirs: it had been poor Charlotte's turn to keep company with Mrs Williams. They climbed into the fine carriage, the flower buckets carefully arranged around their feet. Two of the Grunidae, those brilliant Albanian horsemen, drove, while the youngest ran alongside, all three singing the indescribably weird harmonies which both inspired the horses and shut Mrs Williams up in her own sulk -- "Most irregular" -- a combination of circumstances infinitely satisfying to Jack as they rolled along the road past the snowy potato
 
 

*-white door of the pinehouse from whose chimney issued cheerful chrysanthemum shaped puffs of smoke.

Stephen turned his gaze from the puffs of smoke to the flowers at his feet and thence to the whitey-yellowy-goldeny Grunida prancing and hallooing beside the coach, brisk with the vitality of his mixed inheritance. What, oh what had been the essence of last night's dream, full of portent and stranger and more satisfying than any he had known?    What was the image that had returned to him in the pinehouse and would very likely have found expression had he not upset the unfortunate flagon of alcohol.

"Jack",    he murmured abstractedly, "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosopy". Jack moved Charlotte's drooping head to a more comfortable position on his shoulder and leant closer towards    his friend, "Do you know brother, I have felt the same thing. Only last night I had a dream in which I saw your peas and their young ordered mathematically very like ... but I find that the idea is fading and the words won't come or... but yes! I have it!!! Oh, but it must be committed to paper immediately! Would you have such a thing as an ink horn about you, Stephen?"

"Captain, that is to say, Commodore Aubrey you must find yourself prodigiously at your ease in the coach with your legs stretched out in that incovenient way". Mrs Williams grasped the opportunity to emerge from her sulk and to feign shrinking herself into the upholstery, " Pray do not bother to re-arrange yourself , I am not one to complain of being so crowded though my pelisse is sadly crushed and what were you saying? What is that you were whispering about with Dr Maturin?"     

"We were merely speculating on ...

"Speculating! I have no patience with this craze for speculation. Nothing good ever came of it and I should be ashamed was I to speculate with my daughters' portions.    Oh, _I_ was not taken in by the South Sea Company. _ I_ am not one for your speculating and I shall be entrusting _my_ capital to a sound merchant in an enterprise..." she paused to steady her voice and blow a nose tickling with avarice and chrysanthemums.

"No, no, mama," Sophie directed a placating smile at Stephen which almost absolved her mother from the sin of having so outrageously disrupted his thoughts, " I think the conversation was of dreams, of the prophetical nature of dreams. You know how you yourself mentioned to me in the parlour while you were attempting to rise from the chaise longue of an excellent notion that had just come to you in a dream".

"Yes. That is true, child. But then _my_ dreams are of more use than _some_ people's and so I shall be entrusting, as I have been wishing    to tell you all morning only I was left quite alone except for Charlotte poor lamb, _my_ ten thousand to the care of Mr Montefiore of the City just as soon as ever we get to London cannot those Albinos drive the horses quicker? In an enterprise of great value and", Mrs Williams paused emphatically to gain the full attention of the coach, " NO ONE TO KNOW WHAT IT IS."

         *Sophie, sensing the disruption in Jack's conversation, drew her mother into a long, rambling and highly if not specifically detailed account of this venture. Jack turned to Stephen: "My dream was thus. Your peas have two characters each with two states, making four combinations. Do you follow, Stephen?" Stephen nodded, rapidly doing the sums in his head.    "But there are two parents, and thus sixteen combinations," Jack said.
"Two fours are sixteen. Just so," said Stephen.
"Why no," cried Jack. "What a fellow you are, upon my word. Fourfours are sixteen."
"But there are only two parents, Jack. A pox on your four. I emasculated and bagged them myself and carried the pollen across on my little brush, so I did."
"Yes, yes. But each parent has four possible combinations crossed against the four of the other parent."
"Ah! Of course, I see it clearly now," said Stephen, though he did not, quite
A vague unease stirred in his bosom. Natural philosophy was his interest; mathematics was Jack's, and although, in principle, it was not impossible that the two should converge at some point, some highly distant and remotely theoretical point, his limited grasp of his times-table did not allow him to follow Jack as closely as he would have liked.
"So sixteen, you see, was in my dream. Four fours, ten and six, and so on, and, and this is the important part, Stephen, old fellow: a nine,two threes and a one." Stephen's mind worked as rapidly as it could with nines, threes, ones, fours and sixteens, peas, fleas, powers, flowers, fires, Albinos, Albanians, and their unearthly minor-key songs, but his outward appearance of deep discrimination was quite destroyed by Mrs Williams repeating herself:         "...we are all quite with child Doctor: why peas? Why not potatoes? So much more economical."
"Why not, ma'am?" he smiled. "Perhaps we will turn to potatoes presently. Perhaps even beatles. For the time being, however, all we are saying is: give peas a chance."

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