Plashers Mead A Novel

Publisher: DigiLibraries.com
ISBN: N/A
Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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SEPTEMBER

The slow train puffed away into the unadventurous country; and the bees buzzing round the wine-dark dahlias along the platform were once again audible. The last farewell that Guy Hazlewood flung over his shoulder to a parting friend was more casual than it would have been had he not at the same moment been turning to ask the solitary porter how many cases of books awaited his disposition. They were very heavy, it seemed; and the porter, as he led the way towards the small and obscure purgatory through which every package for Shipcot must pass, declared he was surprised to hear these cases contained merely books. He would not go so far as to suggest that hitherto he had never faced the existence of books in such quantity, for the admission might have impugned official omniscience; yet there was in his attitude just as much incredulity mingled with disdain of useless learning as would preserve his dignity without jeopardizing the financial compliment his services were owed.

"Ah, well," he decided, as if he were trying to smooth over Guy's embarrassment at the sight of these large packing-cases in the parcel-office. "You'll want something as'll keep you busy this winter—for you'll be the gentleman who've come to live down Wychford way?"

Guy nodded.

"And Wychford is mortal dead in winter. Time walks very lame there, as they say. And all these books, I suppose, were better to come along of the 'bus to-night?"

Guy looked doubtful. It was seeming a pity to waste this afternoon without unpacking a single case. "The trap...." he began.

But the porter interrupted him firmly; he did not think Mr. Godbold would relish the notion of one of these packing-cases in his new trap.

"I could give you a hand...." Guy began again.

The porter stiffened himself against the slight upon his strength.

"It's not the heffort," he asserted. "Heffort is what I must look for every day of my life. It's Mr. Godbold's trap."

The discussion was given another turn by the entrance of Mr. Godbold himself. He was not at all concerned for his trap, and indeed by an asseverated indifference to its welfare he conveyed the impression that, new though it were, it was so much firewood, if the gentleman wanted firewood. No, the trap did not matter, but what about Mr. Hazlewood's knees?

"Ah, there you are," said the porter, and he and Mr. Godbold both stood dumb in the presence of the finally insuperable.

"I suppose it must be the 'bus," said Guy. On such a sleepy afternoon he could argue no longer. The books must be unpacked to-morrow; and the word lulled like an opiate the faint irritation of his disappointment. The porter's reiterated altruism was rewarded with a fee so absurdly in excess of anything he had done, that he began to speak of a possibility if, after all, the smallest case might not be squeezed ... but Mr. Godbold flicked the pony, and the trap rattled up the station road at a pace quite out of accord with the warmth of the afternoon. Presently he turned to his fare:

"Mrs. Godbold said to me only this morning, she said, 'You ought to have had a luggage-flap behind and that I shall always say,' And she was right....