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The Harmsworth Magazine, v. 1, 1898-1899, No. 2   By:

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[Illustration: "WILL HE COME?"

From the Painting by Marcus Stone, R.A.

By Permission of the Berlin Photographic Co., London, W. ]




VOLUME 1, 1898 9. No 2.

My travelling companion



Illustrated by Fred. Pegram.

It was a miserable day in November the sort of day when, according to the French, splenetic Englishmen flock in such crowds to the Thames, in order to drown themselves, that there is not standing room on the bridges. I was sitting over the fire in our dingy dining room; for personally I find that element more cheering than water under depressing circumstances.

My eldest sister burst upon me with a letter in her hand: "Here, Tommy, is an invitation for you," she cried.

My name is Charlotte; but I am generally called Tommy by my unappreciative family, who mendaciously declare it is derived from the expression "tom boy."

"Oh, bother invitations," was my polite answer. "I don't want to go anywhere. Why, it's a letter from Mysie Sutherland! How came you to open it?"

"If she will address it to Miss Cornwall, of course I shall open it. I've read it, too it's very nice for you."

"Awfully jolly," put in Dick, who had followed my sister Lucy into the room.

"Oh, I don't want to go a bit."

"Well, then, you'll just have to. It's disgraceful of you, Tom; why, you may never get such a chance again. You'll meet lots of people in a big country house like that, and perhaps who knows? marry a rich Scotchman."

"I declare, Lucy, you are quite disgusting with your perpetual talk about marrying! Why, I shan't have the time to get fond of anyone!"

"You're asked for a month; and if that isn't time enough, I don't know what is."

"Time enough to be married and divorced again," cried Dick.

"But I shan't come to that; and besides, I have no clothes fit to be seen."

"Oh, never mind; I'll lend you my white silk for evenings." And my sister, who was always good natured, carried me off to ransack her wardrobe.

There was no help for it; remonstrances were useless; I had to go. The invitation was from a schoolfellow of mine, Mysie Sutherland by name. She lived near Inverness, and asked me to go and stay a month with her. The idea filled me with apprehension. She was the only daughter, and lived in style in a large house: I was one of a numerous family herded together in a small house in Harley Street. Her father was a wealthy landed proprietor: mine was a struggling doctor. Altogether I was shy and nervous, and would much have preferred to remain at home; but Lucy and Dick had decided I should go, and I knew there was no appeal.

A few days afterwards I was at Euston Station, on my way to the North. My mother and sister had come to see me off, and stood at the carriage door, passing remarks upon the people.

A knot of young men standing by the bookstall attracted our attention, from their constant bursts of laughter. There was evidently a good joke amongst them, and they were enjoying it to the full. The time was up, and the train was just about to start, when one of them rushed forward and jumped into my carriage. The guard slammed the door, his friends threw some papers after him in at the window, and we were off.

For some time we sat silent, then a question about the window or the weather opened a conversation. My companion was a good looking young man, with thick, curly brown hair. He had neither moustache, beard, nor whiskers, which gave him a boyish appearance, and made me think he might be an actor. His eyes were peculiar they were kind eyes, honest eyes, laughing eyes, but there was something about them that I could not make out. As he sat nearly opposite to me I had every opportunity of studying them, but not till we had travelled at least a hundred miles did I discover what it was. They were not quite alike. There was no cast not the slightest suspicion of a squint no, nothing of that kind; only they were not a pair one eye was hazel, the other grey; and yet the difference in colour varied so much that sometimes I thought I must be mistaken... Continue reading book >>

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