A Bicycle of Cathay (Chapter 2, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 2

It was about the middle of the afternoon that I found myself bowling
along a smooth highway, bordered by trees and stretching itself almost
upon a level far away into the distance. Had I been a scorcher, here
would have been a chance to do a little record-breaking, for I was a
powerful and practised wheelman. But I had no desire to be extravagant
with my energies, and so contented myself with rolling steadily on at
a speed moderate enough to allow me to observe the country I was
passing through.

There were not many people on the road, but at some distance ahead of
me I saw a woman on a wheel. She was not going rapidly, and I was
gaining on her. Suddenly, with no reason whatever that I could see,
her machine gave a twist, and, although she put out her foot to save
herself, she fell to the ground. Instantly I pushed forward to assist
her, but before I could reach her she was on her feet. She made a step
towards her bicycle, which lay in the middle of the road, and then she
stopped and stood still. I saw that she was hurt, but I could not help
a sort of inward smile. "It is the old way of the world," I thought.
"Would the Fates have made that young woman fall from her bicycle if
there had been two men coming along on their wheels?"

As I jumped from my machine and approached her she turned her head and
looked at me. She was a pale girl, and her face was troubled. When I
asked her if she had hurt herself, she spoke to me without the
slightest embarrassment or hesitation.

"I twisted my foot in some way," she said, "and I do not know what I
am going to do. It hurts me to make a step, and I am sure I cannot
work my wheel."

"Have you far to go?" I asked.

"I live about two miles from here," she answered. "I do not think I
have sprained my ankle, but it hurts. Perhaps, however, if I rest for
a little while I may be able to walk."

"I would not try to do that," said I. "Whatever has happened to your
foot or ankle, you would certainly make it very much worse by walking
such a distance. Perhaps I can ride on and get you a conveyance?"

"You would have to go a long way to get one," she answered. "We do not
keep a horse and I really--"

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