Page:Leon Wilson - Ruggles of Red Gap.djvu/167

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153
RUGGLES OF RED GAP

shops and villas, we drove out a winding roadway along a tarn to the country club. The house was an unpretentious structure of native wood, fronting a couple of tennis courts and a golf links, but although it was tea-time, not a soul was present. Having unlocked the door, my host suggested refreshment and I consented to partake of a glass of sherry and a biscuit. But these, it seemed, were not to be had; so over pegs of ginger ale, found in an ice-chest, we sat for a time and chatted.

"You will find us crude, Ruggles, as I warned you," my host observed. "Take this deserted clubhouse at this hour. It tells the story. Take again the matter of sherry and a biscuit—so simple! Yet no one ever thinks of them, and what you mean by a biscuit is in this wretched hole spoken of as a cracker."

I thanked him for the item, resolving to add it to my list of curious Americanisms. Already I had begun a narrative of my adventures in this wild land, a thing I had tentatively entitled, "Alone in North America."

"Though we have people in abundance of ample means," he went on, "you will regret to know that we have not achieved a leisured class. Barely once in a fortnight will you see this club patronized, after all the pains I took in its organization. They simply haven't evolved to the idea yet; sometimes I have moments in which I despair of their ever doing so."

As usual he grew depressed when speaking of social Red Gap, so that we did not tarry long in the silent place that should have been quite alive with people smartly having their tea. As we drove back he touched briefly and with all delicacy on our changed relations.