A Damsel in Distress (Chapter 7, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 7

The first requisite of an invading army is a base. George, having
entered Belpher village and thus accomplished the first stage in
his foreward movement on the castle, selected as his base the
Marshmoreton Arms. Selected is perhaps hardly the right word, as it
implies choice, and in George's case there was no choice. There are
two inns at Belpher, but the Marshmoreton Arms is the only one that
offers accommodation for man and beast, assuming--that is to
say--that the man and beast desire to spend the night. The other
house, the Blue Boar, is a mere beerhouse, where the lower strata
of Belpher society gather of a night to quench their thirst and to
tell one another interminable stories without any point whatsoever.
But the Marshmoreton Arms is a comfortable, respectable hostelry,
catering for the village plutocrats. There of an evening you will
find the local veterinary surgeon smoking a pipe with the grocer,
the baker, and the butcher, with perhaps a sprinkling of
neighbouring farmers to help the conversation along. There is a
"shilling ordinary"--which is rural English for a cut off the joint
and a boiled potato, followed by hunks of the sort of cheese which
believes that it pays to advertise, and this is usually well
attended. On the other days of the week, until late in the evening,
however, the visitor to the Marshmoreton Arms has the place almost
entirely to himself.

It is to be questioned whether in the whole length and breadth of
the world there is a more admirable spot for a man in love to pass
a day or two than the typical English village. The Rocky Mountains,
that traditional stamping-ground for the heartbroken, may be well
enough in their way; but a lover has to be cast in a pretty stem
mould to be able to be introspective when at any moment he may meet
an annoyed cinnamon bear. In the English village there are no such
obstacles to meditation. It combines the comforts of civilization
with the restfulness of solitude in a manner equalled by no other
spot except the New York Public Library. Here your lover may wander
to and fro unmolested, speaking to nobody, by nobody addressed, and
have the satisfaction at the end of the day of sitting down to a
capitally cooked chop and chips, lubricated by golden English ale.

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