Chapter 1

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

Hewalkedattheother’sheelswithaswingtohisshoulders,andhislegsspreadunwittingly, asifthelevelfloorsweretiltingupandsinkingdowntotheheaveandlungeofthesea. Thewideroomsseemedtoonarrowforhisrollinggait, andtohimselfhewasinterrorlesthisbroadshouldersshouldcollidewiththedoorways orsweepthebric-a-bracfromthelowmantel. Herecoiledfromsidetosidebetweenthevariousobjectsandmultipliedthehazards thatinrealitylodgedonlyinhismind. Betweenagrandpianoandacentre-tablepiledhighwithbooks wasspaceforahalfadozentowalkabreast,yetheessayeditwithtrepidation. Hisheavyarmshunglooselyathissides. Hedidnotknowwhattodowiththosearmsandhands, andwhen,tohisexcitedvision,onearmseemedliabletobrushagainstthebooksonthetable,helurchedawaylikeafrightenedhorse, barelymissingthepianostool. Hewatchedtheeasywalkoftheotherinfrontofhim, andforthefirsttimerealizedthathiswalkwasdifferentfromthatofothermen. Heexperiencedamomentarypangofshamethatheshouldwalksouncouthly. Thesweatburstthroughtheskinofhisforeheadintinybeads,andhepausedandmoppedhisbronzedfacewithhishandkerchief.  

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

Страница 1 из 527