Beyond the City (Chapter 7, page 2 of 3)

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Chapter 7

"Then why write it?"

"It wasn't my own composition."

"Whose then? Your aunt's?"

"Oh, no. It was a person of the name of Slattery."

"Goodness! Who is he?"

"I knew it would come out, I felt that it would. You've heard of
Slattery the author?"


"He is wonderful at expressing himself. He wrote a book called `The
Secret Solved; or, Letter-writing Made Easy.' It gives you models of all
sorts of letters."

Ida burst out laughing. "So you actually copied one."

"It was to invite a young lady to a picnic, but I set to work and soon
got it changed so that it would do very well. Slattery seems never
to have asked any one to ride a tandem. But when I had written it, it
seemed so dreadfully stiff that I had to put a little beginning and end
of my own, which seemed to brighten it up a good deal."

"I thought there was something funny about the beginning and end."

"Did you? Fancy your noticing the difference in style. How quick you
are! I am very slow at things like that. I ought to have been a woodman,
or game-keeper, or something. I was made on those lines. But I have
found something now."

"What is that, then?"

"Ranching. I have a chum in Texas, and he says it is a rare life. I am
to buy a share in his business. It is all in the open air--shooting, and
riding, and sport. Would it--would it inconvenience you much, Ida, to
come out there with me?"

Ida nearly fell off her perch in her amazement. The only words of which
she could think were "My goodness me!" so she said them.

"If it would not upset your plans, or change your arrangements in any
way." He had slowed down and let go of the steering handle, so that the
great machine crawled aimlessly about from one side of the road to the
other. "I know very well that I am not clever or anything of that sort,
but still I would do all I can to make you very happy. Don't you think
that in time you might come to like me a little bit?"

Ida gave a cry of fright. "I won't like you if you run me against a
brick wall," she said, as the machine rasped up against the curb "Do
attend to the steering."

"Yes, I will. But tell me, Ida, whether you will come with me."

"Oh, I don't know. It's too absurd! How can we talk about such things
when I cannot see you? You speak to the nape of my neck, and then I have
to twist my head round to answer."

"I know. That was why I put `You in front' upon my letter. I thought
that it would make it easier. But if you would prefer it I will stop the
machine, and then you can sit round and talk about it."

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