Beyond the City (Chapter 5, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 5

It was the habit of the Doctor and the Admiral to accompany each other
upon a morning ramble between breakfast and lunch. The dwellers in those
quiet tree-lined roads were accustomed to see the two figures, the long,
thin, austere seaman, and the short, bustling, tweed-clad physician,
pass and repass with such regularity that a stopped clock has been reset
by them. The Admiral took two steps to his companion's three, but the
younger man was the quicker, and both were equal to a good four and a
half miles an hour.

It was a lovely summer day which followed the events which have been
described. The sky was of the deepest blue, with a few white, fleecy
clouds drifting lazily across it, and the air was filled with the low
drone of insects or with a sudden sharper note as bee or bluefly shot
past with its quivering, long-drawn hum, like an insect tuning-fork. As
the friends topped each rise which leads up to the Crystal Palace,
they could see the dun clouds of London stretching along the northern
skyline, with spire or dome breaking through the low-lying haze. The
Admiral was in high spirits, for the morning post had brought good news
to his son.

"It is wonderful, Walker," he was saying, "positively wonderful, the way
that boy of mine has gone ahead during the last three years. We heard
from Pearson to-day. Pearson is the senior partner, you know, and my boy
the junior--Pearson and Denver the firm. Cunning old dog is Pearson,
as cute and as greedy as a Rio shark. Yet he goes off for a fortnight's
leave, and puts my boy in full charge, with all that immense business
in his hands, and a freehand to do what he likes with it. How's that for
confidence, and he only three years upon 'Change?"

"Any one would confide in him. His face is a surety," said the Doctor.

"Go on, Walker!" The Admiral dug his elbow at him. "You know my weak
side. Still it's truth all the same. I've been blessed with a good wife
and a good son, and maybe I relish them the more for having been cut off
from them so long. I have much to be thankful for!"

"And so have I. The best two girls that ever stepped. There's Clara, who
has learned up as much medicine as would give her the L.S.A., simply
in order that she may sympathize with me in my work. But hullo, what is
this coming along?"

"All drawing and the wind astern!" cried the Admiral. "Fourteen knots if
it's one. Why, by George, it is that woman!"

A rolling cloud of yellow dust had streamed round the curve of the road,
and from the heart of it had emerged a high tandem tricycle flying along
at a breakneck pace. In front sat Mrs. Westmacott clad in a heather
tweed pea-jacket, a skirt which just{?} passed her knees and a pair of
thick gaiters of the same material. She had a great bundle of red papers
under her arm, while Charles, who sat behind her clad in Norfolk jacket
and knickerbockers, bore a similar roll protruding from either pocket.
Even as they watched, the pair eased up, the lady sprang off, impaled
one of her bills upon the garden railing of an empty house, and then
jumping on to her seat again was about to hurry onwards when her nephew
drew her attention to the two gentlemen upon the footpath.

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