A Bicycle of Cathay (Chapter 6, page 2 of 5)


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Chapter 6

"I was just inquiring," I said, with a bow--for I saw that the
new-comer was not a servant--"if I could be accommodated here for the
night, but the boy informed me that cyclers are not received here."

"What!" she exclaimed, and turned as if she would speak to the boy,
but he had vanished. "That is a mistake, sir," she said to me. "Very
few wheelmen do stop here, as they prefer a hotel farther on, but we
are glad to entertain them when they come."

It was not very light in the hall in which we stood, but I could see
that this lady was young, that she was of medium size, and
good-looking.

"Will you walk in, sir, and register?" she said. "I will have your
wheel taken around to the back."

I followed her into a large apartment to the right of the
hall--evidently a room of general assembly. Near the window was a desk
with a great book on it. As I stood before this desk and she handed me
a pen, her face was in the full light of the window, and glancing at
it, the thought struck me that I now knew why Miss Putney did not wish
me to stop at the Holly Sprig Inn. I almost laughed as I turned away
my head to write my name. I was amused, and at the same time I could
not help feeling highly complimented. It cannot but be grateful to the
feelings of a young man to find that a very handsome woman objects to
his making the acquaintance of an extremely pretty one.

When I laid down the pen she stepped up and looked at my name and
address.

"Oh," said she, "you are the schoolmaster at Walford?" She seemed to
be pleased by this discovery, and smiled in a very engaging way as she
said, "I am much interested in that school, for I received a great
part of my education there." "Indeed!" said I, very much surprised.
"But I do not exactly understand. It is a boys' school."

"I know that," she answered, "but both boys and girls used to go
there. Now the girls have a school of their own."

As she spoke I could not help contrasting in my mind what the school
must have been with what it was now.

She stepped to the door and told a woman who was just entering the
room to show me No. 2. The woman said something which I did not hear,
although her tones indicated surprise, and then conducted me to my
room.

This was an exceedingly pleasant chamber on the first floor at the
back of the house. It was furnished far better than the quarters
generally allotted to me in country inns, or, in fact, in hostelries
of any kind. There was great comfort and even simple elegance in its
appointments.

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