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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 87 pages of information about The Adventures Harry Richmond Volume 2.

A FREE LIFE ON THE ROAD

I woke very early, though I had taken kindly to my pillow, as I found by my having an arm round my companion’s neck, and her fingers intertwisted with mine.  For awhile I lay looking at her eyes, which had every imaginable light and signification in them; they advised me to lie quiet, they laughed at my wonder, they said, ‘Dear little fellow!’ they flashed as from under a cloud, darkened, flashed out of it, seemed to dip in water and shine, and were sometimes like a view into a forest, sometimes intensely sunny, never quite still.  I trusted her, and could have slept again, but the sight of the tent stupefied me; I fancied the sky had fallen, and gasped for air; my head was extremely dizzy too; not one idea in it was kept from wheeling.  This confusion of my head flew to my legs when, imitating her, I rose to go forth.  In a fit of horror I thought, ’I ‘ve forgotten how to walk!’

Summoning my manful resolution, I made the attempt to step across the children swaddled in matting and straw and old gowns or petticoats.  The necessity for doing it with a rush seized me after the first step.  I pitched over one little bundle, right on to the figure of a sleeping woman.  All she did was to turn round, murmuring, ‘Naughty Jackie.’  My companion pulled me along gravely, and once in the air, with a good breath of it in my chest, I felt tall and strong, and knew what had occurred.  The tent where I had slept struck me as more curious than my own circumstances.  I lifted my face to the sky; it was just sunrise, beautiful; bits of long and curling cloud brushed any way close on the blue, and rosy and white, deliciously cool; the grass was all grey, our dell in shadow, and the tops of the trees burning, a few birds twittering.

I sucked a blade of grass.

‘I wish it was all water here,’ I said.

‘Come and have a drink and a bathe,’ said my companion.

We went down the dell and over a juniper slope, reminding me of my day at John Salter’s house and the last of dear Heriot.  Rather to my shame, my companion beat me at running; she was very swift, and my legs were stiff.

‘Can you swim?’ she asked me.

‘I can row, and swim, and fence, and ride, and fire a pistol,’ I said.

‘Oh, dear,’ said she, after eyeing me enviously.  I could see that I had checked a recital of her accomplishments.

We arrived at a clear stream in a gentleman’s park, where grass rolled smooth as sea-water on a fine day, and cows and horses were feeding.

‘I can catch that horse and mount him,’ she said.

I was astonished.

‘Straddle?’

She nodded down for ‘Yes.’

‘No saddle?’

She nodded level for ‘No.’

My respect for her returned.  But she could not swim.

‘Only up to my knees,’ she confessed.

‘Have a look at me,’ said I; and I stripped and shot into the water, happy as a fish, and thinking how much nicer it was than champagne.  My enjoyment made her so envious that she plucked off her stockings, and came in as far as she dared.  I called to her.  ‘You’re like a cow,’ and she showed her teeth, bidding me not say that.

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