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|Hunted Down||Charles Dickens|
|Page 1 of 4||
For six or seven months I saw no more of Mr. Slinkton. He called once at my house, but I was not at home; and he once asked me to dine with him in the Temple, but I was engaged. His friend's assurance was effected in March. Late in September or early in October I was down at Scarborough for a breath of sea-air, where I met him on the beach. It was a hot evening; he came toward me with his hat in his hand; and there was the walk I had felt so strongly disinclined to take in perfect order again, exactly in front of the bridge of my nose.
He was not alone, but had a young lady on his arm.
She was dressed in mourning, and I looked at her with great interest. She had the appearance of being extremely delicate, and her face was remarkably pale and melancholy; but she was very pretty. He introduced her as his niece, Miss Niner.
'Are you strolling, Mr. Sampson? Is it possible you can be idle?'
It WAS possible, and I WAS strolling.
'Shall we stroll together?'
The young lady walked between us, and we walked on the cool sea sand, in the direction of Filey.
'There have been wheels here,' said Mr. Slinkton. 'And now I look again, the wheels of a hand-carriage! Margaret, my love, your shadow without doubt!'
'Miss Niner's shadow?' I repeated, looking down at it on the sand.
'Not that one,' Mr. Slinkton returned, laughing. 'Margaret, my dear, tell Mr. Sampson.'
'Indeed,' said the young lady, turning to me, 'there is nothing to tell - except that I constantly see the same invalid old gentleman at all times, wherever I go. I have mentioned it to my uncle, and he calls the gentleman my shadow.'
'Does he live in Scarborough?' I asked.
'He is staying here.'
'Do you live in Scarborough?'
'No, I am staying here. My uncle has placed me with a family here, for my health.'
'And your shadow?' said I, smiling.
'My shadow,' she answered, smiling too, 'is - like myself - not very robust, I fear; for I lose my shadow sometimes, as my shadow loses me at other times. We both seem liable to confinement to the house. I have not seen my shadow for days and days; but it does oddly happen, occasionally, that wherever I go, for many days together, this gentleman goes. We have come together in the most unfrequented nooks on this shore.'
'Is this he?' said I, pointing before us.
The wheels had swept down to the water's edge, and described a great loop on the sand in turning. Bringing the loop back towards us, and spinning it out as it came, was a hand-carriage, drawn by a man.
'Yes,' said Miss Niner, 'this really is my shadow, uncle.'
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