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Once Aboard the Lugger-- The History of George and his Mary By A. S. M. Hutchinson Characters: 4583

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

George Has A Shot At Paradise.


Two hours after George, leaving his Mary near Paltley Hill railway station, had got back to his inn at Temple Colney, a very agitated young man booked from Temple Colney to Paltley Hill and was now speeding between them in the train.

He had the carriage to himself. Sometimes he sat, hands deep in pockets, legs thrust before him, staring with wide and frightened eyes at the opposite seat. Sometimes he paced wildly from door to door, chin sunk on breast, in his eyes still that look of frantic apprehension. Sometimes he would snatch from his pocket a telegram; glare at it; pucker his brows over it; groan over it.

George was this feverish young man.

On his table in his room at the inn he had found this telegram awaiting him. He had broken the envelope, had read, and immediately a tickling feeling over his scalp had sent a dreadful shiver through his frame:

"Return at once. Cat found.-Marrapit."

He had plumped into a chair.

For a space the capacity for thought was gone. In his brain was only a heavy drumming that numbed. Beneath the window a laden cart went thumping by-thump, thump; thump, thump-cat found; cat found. The cart drubbed away and was lost. Then the heavy ticking of the clock edged into his senses-tick, tock; tick, tock-cat found; cat found.

Then thought came.

Cat found!-then all was lost. Cat found!-then some damned prowling idiot had chanced upon the hut.

This miserable George had felt certain that Professor Wyvern's arguments would overcome his Mary's scruples. That little meeting with his Mary had made him the more desperately anxious for success so that he might win her and have her. And now-cat found!-all over. Cat found! His pains for nothing!

Then came the support of a hope, and to this, hurrying back to the station, speeding now in the train, most desperately he clung. The Rose, he struggled to assure himself, had not been found at all. It was impossible that anyone had been to the hut. Some idiot had found a cat that answered to the Rose's description, and had telegraphed the discovery to his uncle; or someone had brought a cat to his uncle and his uncle was himself temporarily deluded.

Wildly praying that this might be so, George leaped from the train at Paltley

Hill; went rushing to the hut. Outside, for full ten minutes he dared not push the door. What if he saw no Rose? What if all were indeed lost?

He braced himself; pushed; entered.

At once he gave a whoop, and another whoop, and a third. He snapped his fingers; cavorted through the steps of a wild dance that considerably alarmed the noble cat that watched him.

For there was the Rose!


When George had indulged his transports till he was calmer, he took a moment's swift thought to decide his action.

Since someone was bouncing a spurious Rose on his uncle, he must delay, he decided, no longer-must dash in with the true Rose at once. Surely his uncle's delight would be sufficient to arouse in him the gratitude that would produce the sum necessary for Runnygate!

Previously, when he had reflected upon the plan he should follow on restoring the cat, he had been a little alarmed at the difficulties he foresaw. Chief among them was the fact that his uncle, and the detective, and heaven knew who else besides, would require a plausible and circumstantial story of how the Rose had been found-might wish to prosecute the thief. How to invent this story had caused George enormous anxiety. He shuddered whenever he thought upon it; had steadily put it behind him till the matter must be faced.

But this and all other difficulties he now sent flying. The relief of freedom from the badgering he had endured since he abducted the Rose; the enormous relief of finding that the Rose was not, after all, gone from the hut; the tearing excitement of the thought that he had his very fingers upon success-these combined to make him reckless of truth and blind to doubts. He relied upon his uncle's transports of delight on recovering the Rose-he felt that in the delirious excitement of that joy everything must go well and unquestioned with him who had brought it about. As to his Mary's scruples-time enough for them when the matter was done.

This was George's feeling at the end of his rapid cogitation. A heartless chuckle he gave as he thought of Bill and Mr. Brunger at the inn, closely dogging the landlord; then he seized the cat and in a second was bounding through the copse to Herons' Holt as Mrs. Major, a short space ago, had bounded before him.

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