Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/31

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Some Emotions and a Moral.
15
 

have had an adventure. This noon I started for a walk over the common with its big board of bye-laws lame in the leg but awful with penalties) and on to the high road. Then, for no other reason than my constitutional love for the crooked, I branched off into a winding lane. I must have walked ten minutes or more when I suddenly found myself facing a gate: curiosity or my guardian angel prompted me to look over it. I saw a small, old-fashioned garden, a broad, flat house of the bungalow type, and a girl sitting on the lawn. At first I noticed that she was bored and what women call untidy; then that she was mysteriously, surprisingly, uncomfortably beautiful. I suppose I stared too hard—she looked up, caught my eye, blushed, tugged her dress, which was certainly short, over her ankles and tried to smooth her hair; for she wore no hat. Well, it was clearly impossible for me to stand any longer at the gate; it was equally impossible for me to walk away—at least from my point of view. I took off my hat, endeavoured to look innocent, and touched the gate. L'inconnue rose from her chair, and with one more tug at her gown walked towards me. 'I beg your pardon,' said I, 'but can you direct me to East Sheerwell? I think I have lost my way.' She began to smile, and looked steadily beyond me. 'You are quite in the wrong direction,' she said; 'East Sheerwell is ten miles from here and lies at your back.' I thanked her, took off my hat again, and went on my way rejoicing. Is that all? you will say. Have I not used the word 'rejoicing,' and applied it to myself? Don't laugh at me—I am laughing at myself enough for both of us.—Yours, G. P.
"P.S.—I have forgotten something. Whom should