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|The Wheels of Chance||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 1 of 2||
The ostler (being a fool) rushed violently down the road vociferating after them. Then he returned panting to the Vicuna Hotel, and finding a group of men outside the entrance, who wanted to know what was UP, stopped to give them the cream of the adventure. That gave the fugitives five minutes. Then pushing breathlessly into the bar, he had to make it clear to the barmaid what the matter was, and the 'gov'nor' being out , they spent some more precious time wondering 'what--EVER' was to be done! in which the two customers returning from outside joined with animation. There were also moral remarks and other irrelevant contributions. There were conflicting ideas of telling the police and pursuing the flying couple on a horse. That made ten minutes. Then Stephen, the waiter, who had shown Hoopdriver up, came down and lit wonderful lights and started quite a fresh discussion by the simple question "WHICH?" That turned ten minutes into a quarter of an hour. And in the midst of this discussion, making a sudden and awestricken silence, appeared Bechamel in the hall beyond the bar, walked with a resolute air to the foot of the staircase, and passed out of sight. You conceive the backward pitch of that exceptionally shaped cranium? Incredulous eyes stared into one another's in the bar, as his paces, muffled by the stair carpet, went up to the landing, turned, reached the passage and walked into the dining-room overhead.
"It wasn't that one at all, miss," said the ostler,"I'd SWEAR"
"Well, that's Mr. Beaumont," said the barmaid, "--anyhow."
Their conversation hung comatose in the air, switched up by Bechamel. They listened together. His feet stopped. Turned. Went out of the diningroom. Down the passage to the bedroom. Stopped again.
"Poor chap!" said the barmaid. "She's a wicked woman!"
"Sssh!" said Stephen.
After a pause Bechamel went back to the dining-room. They heard a chair creak under him. Interlude of conversational eyebrows.
"I'm going up," said Stephen, "to break the melancholy news to him."
Bechamel looked up from a week-old newspaper as, without knocking, Stephen entered. Bechamel's face suggested a different expectation. "Beg pardon, sir," said Stephen, with a diplomatic cough.
"Well?" said Bechamel, wondering suddenly if Jessie had kept some of her threats. If so, he was in for an explanation. But he had it ready. She was a monomaniac. "Leave me alone with her," he would say; "I know how to calm her."
"Mrs. Beaumont," said Stephen.
He rose with a fine surprise. "Gone!" he said with a half laugh.
"Gone, sir. On her bicycle."
"On her bicycle! Why?"
"She went, sir, with Another Gentleman."
This time Bechamel was really startled. "An--other Gentlemen! WHO?"
"Another gentleman in brown, sir. Went into the yard, sir, got out the two bicycles, sir, and went off, sir--about twenty minutes ago."
Bechamel stood with his eyes round and his knuckle on his hips. Stephen, watching him with immense enjoyment, speculated whether this abandoned husband would weep or curse, or rush off at once in furious pursuit. But as yet he seemed merely stunned.
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|The Wheels of Chance
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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