A Bicycle of Cathay (Chapter 4, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 4

The next morning I awoke about seven o'clock. My clothes, neatly
brushed and folded, were on a chair near the bed, with my
brightly-blackened shoes near by. I rose, quickly dressed myself, and
went forth into the morning air. I met no one in the house, and the
hall door was open. For an hour or more I walked about the beautiful
grounds. Sometimes I wandered near the house, among the flower-beds
and shrubs; sometimes I followed the winding path to a considerable
distance; occasionally I sat down in a covered arbor; and then I
sought the shade of a little grove, in which there were hammocks and
rustic chairs. But I met no one, and I saw no one except some men
working near the stables. I would have been glad to go down to the
lodge and say "Good-morning" to my kind entertainers there, but for
some reason or other it struck me that that neat little house was too
much out of the way.

When I had had enough walking I retired to the piazza and sat there,
until Brownster, with a bow, came and informed me that breakfast was
served.

The young lady, in the freshest of summer costumes, met me at the door
and bade me "Good-morning," but the greeting of her father was not by
any means cordial, although his manner had lost some of the stiff
condescension which had sat so badly upon him the evening before. The
mother was a very pleasant little lady of few words and a general air
which indicated an intimate acquaintance with back seats.

The breakfast was a remarkably good one. When the meal was over, Mr.
Putney walked with me into the hall. "I must now ask you to excuse me,
sir," said he, "as this is the hour when I receive my manager and
arrange with him for the varied business of the day. Good-morning,
sir. I wish you a very pleasant journey." And, barely giving me a
chance to thank him for his entertainment, he disappeared into the
back part of the house.

The young lady was standing at the front of the hall. "Won't you
please come in," she said, "and see mother? She wants to talk to you
about Walford."

I found the little lady in a small room opening from the parlor, and
also, to my great surprise, I found her extremely talkative and
chatty. She asked me so many questions that I had little chance to
answer them, and she told me a great deal more about Walford and its
people and citizens than I had learned during my nine months'
residence in the village. I was very glad to give her an opportunity
of talking, which was a pleasure, I imagined, she did not often enjoy;
but as I saw no signs of her stopping, I was obliged to rise and take
leave of her.

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