A Bicycle of Cathay (Chapter 10, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 10

I think I did not have to wait ten seconds after her departure, for a
stable-man had seen us approach and immediately came forward. I jumped
down from the cart and looked in the direction of the road. I thought
if I were to make a cross-cut over the lawn and some adjacent fields I
should get back to my bear much quicker than if I returned the way I
had come. But this thought had scarcely shaped itself in my mind when
I heard the approach of hurrying feet, and in the next moment a little
army had thrown itself upon me.

There was a tall, bright-faced man, with side whiskers and a flowing
jacket, who came forward with long steps and outstretched hand; there
was a lady behind him, with little curls on the side of her head; and
there were some boys and girls and other people. And nearly in front
of the whole of them was the young lady I had brought to the house.
Each one of them seized me by the hand; each one of them told me what
a great thing I had done; each of them thanked me from the bottom of
his or her heart for saving the life of his or her daughter or sister,
and not one of them gave me a chance to say that as I had done all the
mischief I could not be too thankful that I had been able to avert
evil consequences. From the various references to the details of the
incident I concluded that the young lady had dashed into the house and
had given a full account of everything which had happened in less time
than it would have taken me to arrange my ideas for such a recital.

As soon as I could get a chance I thanked them all for their gracious
words, and said that as I was in a hurry I must take my leave.
Thereupon arose a hubbub of voices. "Not at dinner-time!" exclaimed
Mr. Larramie. "We would never listen to such a thing!"

"And you need not trouble yourself about your bear," cried my young
lady, whose Christian name I soon discovered to be Edith. "He can live
on barks and roots until we have time to attend to him. He is used to
that in his native wilds."

Now everybody wanted to know everything about the bear, and great was
the hilarity which my account occasioned.

"Come in! Come in!" exclaimed Mr. Larramie. "The bear will be all
right if you tied him well. You have just time to get ready for
dinner." And noticing a glance I had given to my garments, he
continued: "You need not bother about your clothes. We are all in
field costume. Oh, I did not see you had a valise. Now, hurry in, all
of you!"

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