Beyond the City (Chapter 10, page 2 of 6)

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Chapter 10

"I give you my word that I had forgotten about her," cried the Doctor,
flushing. "One such pet may no doubt be endured, but two are more than I
can bear. Ida has a monkey which lives on the curtain rod. It is a most
dreadful creature. It will remain absolutely motionless until it sees
that you have forgotten its presence, and then it will suddenly bound
from picture to picture all round the walls, and end by swinging down
on the bell-rope and jumping on to the top of your head. At breakfast
it stole a poached egg and daubed it all over the door handle. Ida calls
these outrages amusing tricks."

"Oh, all will come right," said the widow reassuringly.

"And Clara is as bad, Clara who used to be so good and sweet, the very
image of her poor mother. She insists upon this preposterous scheme of
being a pilot, and will talk of nothing but revolving lights and hidden
rocks, and codes of signals, and nonsense of the kind."

"But why preposterous?" asked his companion. "What nobler occupation can
there be than that of stimulating commerce, and aiding the mariner to
steer safely into port? I should think your daughter admirably adapted
for such duties."

"Then I must beg to differ from you, madam."

"Still, you are inconsistent."

"Excuse me, madam, I do not see the matter in the same light. And
I should be obliged to you if you would use your influence with my
daughter to dissuade her."

"You wish to make me inconsistent too."

"Then you refuse?"

"I am afraid that I cannot interfere."

The Doctor was very angry. "Very well, madam," said he. "In that case I
can only say that I have the honor to wish you a very good morning." He
raised his broad straw hat and strode away up the gravel path, while the
widow looked after him with twinkling eyes. She was surprised herself to
find that she liked the Doctor better the more masculine and aggressive
he became. It was unreasonable and against all principle, and yet so it
was and no argument could mend the matter.

Very hot and angry, the Doctor retired into his room and sat down to
read his paper. Ida had retired, and the distant wails of the bugle
showed that she was upstairs in her boudoir. Clara sat opposite to him
with her exasperating charts and her blue book. The Doctor glanced at
her and his eyes remained fixed in astonishment upon the front of her

"My dear Clara," he cried, "you have torn your skirt!"

His daughter laughed and smoothed out her frock. To his horror he saw
the red plush of the chair where the dress ought to have been. "It is
all torn!" he cried. "What have you done?"

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