The City of Fire (Chapter 7, page 1 of 13)


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Chapter 7

Laurence Shafton awoke late to the sound of church bells come alive and
singing hymn tunes. There was something strangely unreal in the sound,
in the utter stillness of the background of Sabbath Valley atmosphere
that made him think, almost, just for an instant, that he had stumbled
somehow into the wrong end of the other world, and come into the fields
of the blessed. Not that he had any very definite idea about what the
fields of the blessed would look like or what would be going on there,
but there was something still and holy between the voices of the bells
that fairly compelled his jaded young soul to sit up and listen.

But at the first attempt to sit up a very sharp very decided twinge of
pain caught him, and brought an assorted list of words which he kept
for such occasions to his lips. Then he looked around and tried to take
in the situation. It was almost as if he had been caught out of his own
world and dropped into another universe, so different was everything
here, and so little did he remember the happenings of the night before.
He had had trouble with his car, something infernal that had prevented
his going farther--he recalled having to get out and push the thing
along the road, and then two loutish men who made game of him and sent
him here to get his car fixed. There had been a man, a queer man who
gave him bread and butter instead of wine--he remembered that--and he
had failed to get his car fixed, but how the deuce did he get landed on
this couch with a world of books about him and a thin muslin curtain
blowing into the room, and fanning the cheeks of a lovely rose in a
long stemmed clear glass vase? Did he try to start and have a smash up?
No, he remembered going down the steps with the intention of starting,
but stay!

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