Beyond the City (Chapter 3, page 2 of 8)


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Chapter 3

The Doctor had his compensations to make up for his loss. The great
scales of Fate had been held on a level for him; for where in all great
London could one find two sweeter girls, more loving, more intelligent,
and more sympathetic than Clara and Ida Walker? So bright were they,
so quick, so interested in all which interested him, that if it were
possible for a man to be compensated for the loss of a good wife then
Balthazar Walker might claim to be so.

Clara was tall and thin and supple, with a graceful, womanly figure.
There was something stately and distinguished in her carriage, "queenly"
her friends called her, while her critics described her as reserved and
distant.

Such as it was, however, it was part and parcel of herself, for she was,
and had always from her childhood been, different from any one around
her. There was nothing gregarious in her nature. She thought with her
own mind, saw with her own eyes, acted from her own impulse. Her face
was pale, striking rather than pretty, but with two great dark eyes, so
earnestly questioning, so quick in their transitions from joy to pathos,
so swift in their comment upon every word and deed around her, that
those eyes alone were to many more attractive than all the beauty of her
younger sister. Hers was a strong, quiet soul, and it was her firm hand
which had taken over the duties of her mother, had ordered the house,
restrained the servants, comforted her father, and upheld her weaker
sister, from the day of that great misfortune.

Ida Walker was a hand's breadth smaller than Clara, but was a little
fuller in the face and plumper in the figure. She had light yellow hair,
mischievous blue eyes with the light of humor ever twinkling in their
depths, and a large, perfectly formed mouth, with that slight upward
curve of the corners which goes with a keen appreciation of fun,
suggesting even in repose that a latent smile is ever lurking at the
edges of the lips. She was modern to the soles of her dainty little
high-heeled shoes, frankly fond of dress and of pleasure, devoted to
tennis and to comic opera, delighted with a dance, which came her way
only too seldom, longing ever for some new excitement, and yet behind
all this lighter side of her character a thoroughly good, healthy-minded
English girl, the life and soul of the house, and the idol of her sister
and her father. Such was the family at number two. A peep into the
remaining villa and our introductions are complete.

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