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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPomona's Travels - Letter Number Nineteen
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Pomona's Travels - Letter Number Nineteen Post by :Truman Category :Long Stories Author :Frank R Stockton Date :May 2012 Read :701

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Pomona's Travels - Letter Number Nineteen

BUXTON

I have a good many things to tell you, for we leave Buxton to-morrow, but I will first finish the story of Angelica and Pomeroy. I think the men who pulled the bath-chairs of the lovers knew pretty much how things was going, for whenever they got a chance they brought their chairs together, and I often noticed them looking out for the old father, and if they saw him coming they would move away from each other if they happened to be together.

If Snortfrizzle's puller had been one of the regular bath-chair men they might have made an agreement with him so that he would have kept away from them; but he was a man in livery, with a high hat, who walked very regular, like a high-stepping horse, and who, it was plain enough to see, never had anything to do with common bath-chair men. Old Snortfrizzle seemed to be smelling a rat more and more--that is, if it is proper to liken Cupid to such an animal--and his nose seemed to get purpler and purpler. I think he would always have kept close to Angelica's chair if it hadn't been that he had a way of falling asleep, and whenever he did this his man always walked very slow, being naturally lazy. Two or three times I have seen Snortfrizzle wake up, shout to his man, and make him trot around a clump of trees and into some narrow path where he thought his daughter might have gone.

Things began to look pretty bad, for the old man had very strong suspicions about Pomeroy, and was so very wide awake when he was awake, that I knew it couldn't be long before he caught the two together, and then I didn't believe that Angelica would ever come into these gardens again.

It was yesterday morning that I saw old Snortfrizzle with his chin down on his shirt bosom, snoring so steady that his hat heaved, being very slowly pulled along a shady walk, and then I saw his daughter, who was not far ahead of him, turn into another walk, which led down by the river. I knew very well that she ought not to turn into that walk, because it didn't in any way lead to the place where Pomeroy was sitting in his bath-chair behind a great clump of bushes and flowers, with his face filled with the most lively emotions, but overspread ever and anon by a cloudlet of despair on account of the approach of the noontide hour, when Angelica and Snortfrizzle generally went home.

(Illustration: "Your brother is over there")

The time was short, and I believed that love's young dream must be put off until the next day if Angelica could not be made aware where Pomeroy was sitting, or Pomeroy where Angelica was going; so I got right up and made a short cut down a steep little path, and, sure enough, I met her when I got to the bottom. "I beg your pardon very much, miss," said I, "but your brother is over there in the entrance to the cave, and I think he has been looking for you." "My brother?" said she, turning as red as her ribbons was blue. "Oh, thank you very much! Robertson, you may take me that way."

It wasn't long before I saw those two bath-chairs alongside of each other, and covered from general observation by masses of blooming shrubbery. As I had been the cause of bringing them together I thought I had a right to look at them a little while, as that would be the only reward I'd be likely to get, and so I did it. It was as I thought; things was coming to a climax; the bath-chair men standing with much consideration with their backs to their vehicles, and, united for the time being by their clasped hands, the lovers grew tender to a degree which I would have fain checked, had I been nearer, for fear of notice by passers-by.

But now my blood froze within my veins. I would never have believed that a man in a high hat and livery a size too small for him could run, but Snortfrizzle's man did, and at a pace which ought to have been prohibited by law. I saw him coming from an unsuspected quarter, and swoop around that clump of flowers and foliage. Regardless of consequences I approached nearer. There was loud voices; there was exclamations; there was a rattling of wheels; there was the sundering of tender ties!

In a moment Pomeroy, who had backed off but a little way, began to speak, but his voice was drowned in the thunder of Snortfrizzle's denunciations. Angelica wept, and her head fell upon her lovely bosom, and I am sure I heard her implore her man to remove her from the scene. Pomeroy remained, his face firm, his eyes undaunted, but Snortfrizzle shook his fist in unison with his nose, and, hurling an anathema at him, followed his daughter, probably to incarcerate her in her apartments.

All was over, and I returned to Jone with a heavy heart and faltering step. I could not but feel that I had brought about the sad end of this tender chapter in the lives of Pomeroy and Angelica. If I had let them alone they would not have met and they would not have been discovered together. I didn't tell Jone what had happened, because he does not always sympathize with me in my interest in others, and for hours my heart was heavy.

It was about a half an hour before dinner that day when I thought that a little walk might raise my spirits, and I wandered into the gardens, for which we each have a weekly ticket, and there, to my amazement, not far from the gate I saw Angelica in tears and her bath-chair. Her man was not with her, and she was alone. When she saw me she looked at me for a minute, and then she beckoned to me to come to her. I flew. There were but few people in the gardens, and we was alone.

"Madam," said she, "I think you must be very kind. I believe you knew that gentleman was not my brother. He is not."

"My dear miss," said I--I was almost on the point of calling her Angelica--"I knew that. I know that he is something nearer and dearer than even a brother."

She blushed. "Yes," said she, "you are right, and we are in great trouble."

"Oh, what is it? Tell me quick. What can I do to help you?"

"My father is very angry," said she, "and has forbidden me ever to see him again, and he is going to take me home to-morrow. But we have agreed to fly together to-day. It is our only chance, but he is not here. Oh, dear! I do not know what I shall do."

"Where are you going to fly to?" said I.

"We want to take the Edinburgh train this evening if there is one," she said, "and we get off at Carlisle, and from there it is only a little way to Gretna Green."

"Gretna Green!" I cried. "Oh, I will help you! I will help you! Why isn't the gentleman here, and where has he gone?"

"He has gone to see about the trains," she said, almost crying, "and I don't see what keeps him. I could not get away until father went into his room to dress for dinner, and as soon as he is ready he will call for me. Where can he be? I have sent my man to look for him."

"Oh, I'll go look for him! You wait here," I cried, forgetting that she would have to, and away I went.

As I was hurrying out of the gates of the gardens I looked in the direction of the railroad station, and there I saw Pomeroy pulled by one bath-chair man and the other one talking to him. In twenty bounds I reached him. "Go back for your young lady," I cried to Robertson, Angelica's man, "and bring her here on the run. She sent me for you." Away went Robertson, and then I said to the astonished Pomeroy, "Sir, there is no time for explanations. Your lady-love will be with you in a minute. My husband and I are going to Edinburgh to-morrow, and I have looked up all the trains. There is one which leaves here at twenty minutes past six. If she comes soon you will have time to catch it. Have you your baggage ready?"

He looked at me as if he wondered who on earth I was, but I am sure he saw my soul in my face and trusted me.

"Yes," he said, "she has a little bag in her bath-chair, and mine is here."

"Here she comes," said I, "and you must fly to the station."

In a moment Angelica was with us, her face beaming with delight.

"Oh, thank you, thank you!" she cried, but I would not listen to her gratitude. "Hurry!" I said, "or you will be too late. Joy go with you."

They hastened off, and I walked back to the gardens. I looked at my watch, and to my horror I saw it was five minutes past six. Fifteen minutes left yet. Fifteen minutes in which they might be overtaken. I stopped for a moment irresolutely. What should I do? I thought of running after them to the station. I thought in some way I might help them--buy their tickets or do something. But while I was thinking I heard a rattle, and down the street came the man in livery, and Snortfrizzle's bottle-nose like a volcano behind him. The minute they reached me, and there was nobody else in the street, the old man shouted, "Hi! Have you seen two bath-chairs with a young man and a young woman in them?"

I was on the point of saying No, but changed my mind like a flash. "Did the young lady wear a hat with blue ribbons?" I asked.

"Yes!" he roared. "Which way did they go?"

"And did the young man with her wear eyeglasses and a brown moustache?"

"With her, was he?" screamed Snortfrizzle. "That's the rascal. Which way did they go? Tell me instantly."

When I was a very little girl I knew an old woman who told me that if a person was really good at heart, the holy angels would allow that person, in the course of her life, twelve fibs without charge, provided they was told for the good of somebody and not to do harm. Now at such a moment as this I could not remember how many fibs of that kind I had left over to my credit, but I knew there must be at least one, and so I didn't hesitate a second. "They have gone to the Cat and Fiddle," said I. "I heard them tell their bath-chair men so, as they urged them forward at the top of their speed. They stopped for a second here, sir, and I heard the gentleman send a cabman for a clergyman, post haste, to meet them at the Cat and Fiddle."

(Illustration: TO THE CAT AND FIDDLE)

If the sky had been lighted up by the eruption of Snortfrizzle's nose I should not have been surprised.

"The fools! They can't! Cat and Fiddle! But they can't be half way there. Martin, to the Cat and Fiddle!"

The man touched his hat. "But I couldn't do that, sir. I couldn't run to the Cat and Fiddle. It's long miles, sir. Shall I get a carriage?"

"Carriage!" cried the old man, and then he began to look about him.

Horror struck me. Perhaps they would go to the station for one! Just then a boy driving a pony and a grocery cart came up.

"There you are, sir," I cried. "Hire that boy to tow you. Your butler can sit in the back of the cart and hold the handle of your bath-chair. It may take long to get a carriage, and the cart will go much faster. You may overtake them in a mile."

Old Snortfrizzle never so much as thanked me or looked at me. He yelled to the boy in the cart, offered him ten shillings and sixpence to give him a tow, and in less time than I could take to write it, that flunky with a high hat was sitting in the tail of the cart, the pony was going at full gallop, and the old man's bath-chair was spinning on behind it at a great rate.

I did not leave that spot--standing statue-like and looking along both roads--until I heard the rumble of the departing train, and then I repaired to the Old Hall, my soul uplifted. I found Jone in an awful fluster about my being out so late; but I do stay pretty late sometimes when I walk by myself, and so he hadn't anything new to say.

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