Beyond the City (Chapter 10, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 10

From that day the Doctor's peace was gone. Never was a quiet and orderly
household transformed so suddenly into a bear garden, or a happy man
turned into such a completely miserable one. He had never realized
before how entirely his daughters had shielded him from all the friction
of life. Now that they had not only ceased to protect him, but had
themselves become a source of trouble to him, he began to understand how
great the blessing was which he had enjoyed, and to sigh for the happy
days before his girls had come under the influence of his neighbor.

"You don't look happy," Mrs. Westmacott had remarked to him one morning.
"You are pale and a little off color. You should come with me for a ten
mile spin upon the tandem."

"I am troubled about my girls." They were walking up and down in the
garden. From time to time there sounded from the house behind them the
long, sad wail of a French horn.

"That is Ida," said he. "She has taken to practicing on that dreadful
instrument in the intervals of her chemistry. And Clara is quite as bad.
I declare it is getting quite unendurable."

"Ah, Doctor, Doctor!" she cried, shaking her forefinger, with a gleam
of her white teeth. "You must live up to your principles--you must give
your daughters the same liberty as you advocate for other women."

"Liberty, madam, certainly! But this approaches to license."

"The same law for all, my friend." She tapped him reprovingly on the arm
with her sunshade. "When you were twenty your father did not, I presume,
object to your learning chemistry or playing a musical instrument. You
would have thought it tyranny if he had."

"But there is such a sudden change in them both."

"Yes, I have noticed that they have been very enthusiastic lately in the
cause of liberty. Of all my disciples I think that they promise to be
the most devoted and consistent, which is the more natural since their
father is one of our most trusted champions."

The Doctor gave a twitch of impatience. "I seem to have lost all
authority," he cried.

"No, no, my dear friend. They are a little exuberant at having broken
the trammels of custom. That is all."

"You cannot think what I have had to put up with, madam. It has been a
dreadful experience. Last night, after I had extinguished the candle
in my bedroom, I placed my foot upon something smooth and hard, which
scuttled from under me. Imagine my horror! I lit the gas, and came upon
a well-grown tortoise which Clara has thought fit to introduce into the
house. I call it a filthy custom to have such pets."

Mrs. Westmacott dropped him a little courtesy. "Thank you, sir," said
she. "That is a nice little side hit at my poor Eliza."

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