Chapter 1

Theoneopenedthedoorwithalatch-keyandwentin,followedbyayoungfellowwhoawkwardlyremovedhiscap.Heworeroughclothesthatsmackedofthesea,andhewasmanifestlyoutofplaceinthespacioushallinwhichhefoundhimself.Hedidnotknowwhattodowithhiscap,andwasstuffingitintohiscoatpocketwhentheothertookitfromhim.Theactwasdonequietlyandnaturally,andtheawkwardyoungfellowappreciatedit.“Heunderstands,”washisthought.“He’llseemethroughallright.”

Hewalkedattheother’sheelswithaswingtohisshoulders,andhislegsspreadunwittingly,asifthelevelfloorsweretiltingupandsinkingdowntotheheaveandlungeofthesea.Thewideroomsseemedtoonarrowforhisrollinggait,andtohimselfhewasinterrorlesthisbroadshouldersshouldcollidewiththedoorwaysorsweepthebric-a-bracfromthelowmantel.Herecoiledfromsidetosidebetweenthevariousobjectsandmultipliedthehazardsthatinrealitylodgedonlyinhismind.Betweenagrandpianoandacentre-tablepiledhighwithbookswasspaceforahalfadozentowalkabreast,yetheessayeditwithtrepidation.Hisheavyarmshunglooselyathissides.Hedidnotknowwhattodowiththosearmsandhands,andwhen,tohisexcitedvision,onearmseemedliabletobrushagainstthebooksonthetable,helurchedawaylikeafrightenedhorse,barelymissingthepianostool.Hewatchedtheeasywalkoftheotherinfrontofhim,andforthefirsttimerealizedthathiswalkwasdifferentfromthatofothermen.Heexperiencedamomentarypangofshamethatheshouldwalksouncouthly.Thesweatburstthroughtheskinofhisforeheadintinybeads,andhepausedandmoppedhisbronzedfacewithhishandkerchief.

“Holdon,Arthur,myboy,”hesaid,attemptingtomaskhisanxietywithfacetiousutterance.“Thisistoomuchallatonceforyourstruly.

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