A Damsel in Distress (Chapter 6, page 1 of 18)


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Chapter 6

At about the time that George Bevan's train was leaving Waterloo, a
grey racing car drew up with a grinding of brakes and a sputter of
gravel in front of the main entrance of Belpher Castle. The slim
and elegant young man at the wheel removed his goggles, pulled out
a watch, and addressed the stout young man at his side.

"Two hours and eighteen minutes from Hyde Park Corner, Boots. Not
so dusty, what?"

His companion made no reply. He appeared to be plunged in thought.
He, too, removed his goggles, revealing a florid and gloomy face,
equipped, in addition to the usual features, with a small moustache
and an extra chin. He scowled forbiddingly at the charming scene
which the goggles had hidden from him.

Before him, a symmetrical mass of grey stone and green ivy, Belpher
Castle towered against a light blue sky. On either side rolling
park land spread as far as the eye could see, carpeted here and
there with violets, dotted with great oaks and ashes and Spanish
chestnuts, orderly, peaceful and English. Nearer, on his left, were
rose-gardens, in the centre of which, tilted at a sharp angle,
appeared the seat of a pair of corduroy trousers, whose wearer
seemed to be engaged in hunting for snails. Thrushes sang in the
green shrubberies; rooks cawed in the elms. Somewhere in the
distance sounded the tinkle of sheep bells and the lowing of cows.
It was, in fact, a scene which, lit by the evening sun of a perfect
spring day and fanned by a gentle westerly wind, should have
brought balm and soothing meditations to one who was the sole
heir to all this Paradise.

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