A Bicycle of Cathay (Chapter 3, page 2 of 13)


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Chapter 3

"It's of no use for him to try to dry himself," she said, "for he's
wet to the bone. He must change his clothes, and hang those he's got
on before the fire."

"Change his clothes!" exclaimed the man. "How ever can he do that?
I've nothing that'll fit him, and of course he has brought nothing
along with him."

"Never you mind," said she. "Something's got to be got. Take him into
the little chamber. And don't consider the floor; that can be wiped
up."

She came into the kitchen and spoke to me. "You must come and change
your clothes," she said. "You'll catch your death of cold, else.
You're the school-master from Walford, I think, sir? Indeed, I'm sure
of it, for I've seen you on your wheel."

Smiling at the idea that through the instrumentality of my bicycle I
had been making myself known to the people of the surrounding
country, I followed the man into a small bed-chamber on the
ground-floor.

"Now," said he, "the quicker you get off your wet clothes and give
yourself a good rub-down the better it will be for you. And I'll go
and see what I can do in the way of something for you to put on."

I asked him to bring me the bag from my bicycle, and after doing so he
left me.

Very soon I heard talking outside of my door, and as both my
entertainers had clear, high voices, I could hear distinctly what they
said.

"Go get him the corduroys," said she. "He's a well-made man, but he's
no bigger than your father was."

"The corduroys?" he said, somewhat doubtfully, I thought.

"Yes," she replied. "Go get them! I should be glad to have them put to
some use."

"But what for a coat?" said he. "There's nothing in the house that he
could get on."

"That's true," said she. "But he must have something. You can get him
the Duke's dressing-gown."

"What!" exclaimed the man. "You don't mean--"

"Yes, I do mean," said she. "It's big enough for anybody, and it'll
keep him from ketching cold. Go fetch it!"

In a short time there was a knock at my door, and the little man
handed me in a pair of yellow corduroy trousers and a large and gaudy
dressing-gown. "There!" said he. "They'll keep you warm until your own
clothes dry."

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