Beyond the City (Chapter 4, page 2 of 5)


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Chapter 4

Clara Walker rippled off into such a merry peal of laughter that he
forgot the evil things which he had suffered from the poet, and burst
out laughing too.

"I can't make him out," said he. "I try, but he is one too many. No
doubt it is very stupid of me; I don't deny it. But as long as I cannot
there is no use pretending that I can. And then of course she feels
hurt, for she is very fond of him, and likes to read him aloud in the
evenings. She is reading a piece now `Pippa Passes,' and I assure you,
Miss Walker, that I don't even know what the title means. You must think
me a dreadful fool."

"But surely he is not so incomprehensible as all that?" she said, as an
attempt at encouragement.

"He is very bad. There are some things, you know, which are fine. That
ride of the three Dutchmen, and Herve Riel and others, they are all
right. But there was a piece we read last week. The first line stumped
my aunt, and it takes a good deal to do that, for she rides very
straight. `Setebos and Setebos and Setebos.' That was the line."

"It sounds like a charm."

"No, it is a gentleman's name. Three gentlemen, I thought, at first, but
my aunt says one. Then he goes on, `Thinketh he dwelleth in the light of
the moon.' It was a very trying piece."

Clara Walker laughed again.

"You must not think of leaving your aunt," she said. "Think how lonely
she would be without you."

"Well, yes, I have thought of that. But you must remember that my aunt
is to all intents hardly middle-aged, and a very eligible person. I
don't think that her dislike to mankind extends to individuals. She
might form new ties, and then I should be a third wheel in the coach.
It was all very well as long as I was only a boy, when her first husband
was alive."

"But, good gracious, you don't mean that Mrs. Westmacott is going to
marry again?" gasped Clara.

The young man glanced down at her with a question in his eyes. "Oh, it
is only a remote, possibility, you know," said he. "Still, of course,
it might happen, and I should like to know what I ought to turn my hand
to."

"I wish I could help you," said Clara. "But I really know very little
about such things. However, I could talk to my father, who knows a very
great deal of the world."

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