A Bicycle of Cathay (Chapter 7, page 4 of 8)


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Chapter 7

It really did not seem necessary to give the matter much thought. Here
was a place of public entertainment, and, as I was one of the public,
why should I not be entertained? I had stopped at many a road-side
hostelry, and in each one of them I knew I would be welcome to stay as
long as I was willing to pay.

Still, there was something, some sort of an undefined consciousness,
which seemed to rise in the way of an off-hand proposal to stay at
this inn for several days, when I had clearly stated that I wished to
stop only for the night.

While I was still turning over this matter in my mind Mrs. Chester
came into the room. I had expected her. The natural thing for her to
do was to come in and receive the amount I owed her for her
entertainment of me, but as I looked at her I could not ask her for my
bill. It seemed to me that such a thing would shock her sensibilities.
Moreover, I did not want her bill.

It was plain enough, however, that she expected me to depart, for she
asked me where I proposed to stop in the middle of the day, and she
suggested that she should have a light luncheon put up for me. She
thought probably a wheelman would like that sort of thing, for then he
could stop and rest wherever it suited him.

"Speaking of stopping," said I, "I am very glad that I did not do as I
was advised to do and go on to the Cheltenham. I do not know anything
about that hotel, but I am sure it is not so charming as this
delightful little inn with its picturesque surroundings."

"I am glad you did not," she answered. "Who advised you to go on to
the Cheltenham?"

"Miss Putney," said I. "Her father's place is between here and
Walford. I stopped there night before last." And then, as I was glad
of an opportunity to prolong the interview, I told her the history of
my adventures at that place.

Mrs. Chester was amused, and I thought I might as well tell her how I
came to be delayed on the road and so caught in the storm, and I
related my experience with Miss Burton. I would have been glad to go
still farther back and tell her how I came to take the school at
Walford, and anything else she might care to listen to.

When I told her about Miss Burton she sat down in a chair near by and
laughed heartily.

"It is wonderfully funny," she said, "that you should have met those
two young ladies and should then have stopped here."

"You know them?" I said, promptly taking another chair.

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