- Software name: appdown
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Both the boys declared that the travel under such circumstances was excellent, and that it was fully up to what the average horse could accomplish in America.
Mr. Charlton's melancholy eyes seemed to be fixed on space. Just for the moment he had forgotten that he was not alone. Lawrence gave a sympathetic cough. As a matter of fact, he had not yet explained what he was doing there, and the longer the explanation was postponed the better he would be pleased.
They left the river at Fushimi, and followed what seemed to be an almost continuous street for six miles or more. Formerly the great route for travellers and commerce between Osaka and Kioto was by way of the river as far as Fushimi, and thence by the road. The result of this state of affairs for centuries was to build up a long village largely composed of hotels and tea-houses. Their business has somewhat fallen off since the[Pg 289] completion of the railway from Kioto to Osaka and Kobe; but there is still enough to maintain a considerable number of them. There is one large hotel, at the foot of the Inari hill, about two miles from the centre of Kioto, where the jin-riki-sha coolies invariably stop for a short rest, and to take tea at the expense of their employers. The custom was carefully observed in the present instance, and our friends were shown to the rear of the hotel, where there was a pretty garden with a little fountain supplied from the hill above. They sipped their tea, and gave side-glances at the black-eyed maids that were moving around the house; and when John announced that the coolies were rested, the journey was resumed.
"A most extraordinary thing, sir," he stammered. "Those notes that Sergeant Prout came about just now are----"
"I desire to be sworn, sir," he said. "It so happens that I can throw a little light on this matter. I did not leave the office of my paper till four in the morning of the day to which this young lady alludes. The clock on Gregory's store struck five as I reached Garrett Street, which, as you know, runs into Raven Street. A few seconds later a fast motor passed me without the slightest noise."I snapped my eyes. He smiled and then frowned. "I don't want a clumsy job, now, mind! I don't want you to get captured if you can possibly avoid it; but all the same they mustn't get this so easily as to suspect it's a bait. So I want you to give those villains that half-chance to rob you, but not the other half, or they may--oh, it's no play! You must manage to have this despatch taken from you totally against your will! Then you must reach Clifton shortly after daylight. Ferry's scouts are there, and you'll say to Lieutenant Ferry the single word, Rodney. Understand?" He pretended to be reconsidering. "I--don't know but--after all--I'd better send one of my staff instead of you."
He rescued his trousers from underneath the mattress. It was only recently that he had discovered this obvious substitute for a trouser press, and so added one more nuisance to existence. It was something else to be remembered. He grinned pleasantly at the thought of the circumstance which had brought about these careful habits. Rose Lomas liked him to look smart, and he had managed it somehow. There were plenty of dapper youths in Great Wymering, and Arthur had been astute enough to notice wherein he had differed from them, in the first stages of his courting. Early rebuffs had led him to perceive that the[Pg 69] eye of love rests primarily upon a promising exterior, and only afterwards discovers the interior qualities that justify a wise choice. Arthur had been spurned at first on account of a slovenliness that, to do him justice, was rather the result of personal conviction, however erring, than mere carelessness. He really had felt that it was a waste of life even to spend half an hour a month inside a barber's shop. Not only that, but the experience was far-reaching in its unpleasant consequences. You went into the shop feeling agreeably familiar with yourself, conscious of intense personality; and you came out a nonentity, smelling of bay-rum. The barber succeeded in transforming you from an individual brimming over with original reflections and impulses into a stranger without a distinctive notion in your head. The barber, in fact, was a Delilah in trousers; he ravished the locks from your head and bewitched you into the bargain.