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|Dead Men Tell No Tales||E. W. Hornung|
Chapter VII I Find a Friend
|Page 5 of 6||
"And I'm glad of it," said I. "A man in my state ought not to look at spirits, or he may never look past them again. Thank goodness, there are other medicines. Only this morning I consulted the best man on nerves in London. I wish I'd gone to him long ago."
"Harley Street, was it?"
"Saw you on his doorstep, by Jove!" cried Rattray at once. "I was driving over to Hampstead, and I thought it was you. Well, what's the prescription?"
In my satisfaction at finding that he had not been dogging me intentionally (though I had forgotten the incident till he reminded me of it), I answered his question with unusual fulness.
"I should go abroad," said Rattray. "But then, I always am abroad; it's only the other day I got back from South America, and I shall up anchor again before this filthy English winter sets in.
Was he a sailor after all, or only a well-to-do wanderer on the face of the earth? He now mentioned that he was only in England for a few weeks, to have a look at his estate, and so forth; after which he plunged into more or less enthusiastic advocacy of this or that foreign resort, as opposed to the English cottage upon which I told him I had set my heart.
He was now, however, less spontaneous, I thought, than earlier in the night. His voice had lost its hearty ring, and he seemed preoccupied, as if talking of one matter while he thought upon another. Yet he would not let me go; and presently he confirmed my suspicion, no less than my first impression of his delightful frankness and cordiality, by candidly telling me what was on his mind.
"If you really want a cottage in the country," said he, "and the most absolute peace and quiet to be got in this world, I know of the very hing on my land in Lancashire. It would drive me mad in a week; but if you really care for that sort of thing - "
"An occupied cottage?" I interrupted.
"Yes; a couple rent it from me, very decent people of the name of Braithwaite. The man is out all day, and won't bother you when he's in; he's not like other people, poor chap. But the woman s all there, and would do her best for you in a humble, simple, wholesome sort of way."
"You think they would take me in?"
"They have taken other men - artists as a rule."
"Then it's a picturesque country?"
"Oh, it's that if it's nothing else; but not a town for miles, mind you, and hardly a village worthy the name."
"Yes - trout - small but plenty of 'em - in a beck running close behind the cottage."
"Come," cried I, "this sounds delightful! Shall you be up there?"
"Only for a day or two," was the reply. "I shan't trouble you, Mr. Cole."
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|Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung
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