CHAPTER V (Continuation)

It was too bright and sunny on this especial morning for George\'s blood-curdling readings about "Bar. falling," "atmospheric disturbance, passing in an oblique line over Southern Europe," and "pressure increasing," to very much upset us; and so, finding that he could not make us wretched, and was only wasting his time, he sneaked the cigarette that I had carefully rolled up for myself, and went.

Then Harris and I, having finished up the few things left on the table, carted out our luggage on to the doorstep, and waited for a cab.

There seemed a good deal of luggage, when we put it all together. There was the Gladstone and the small hand-bag, and the two hampers, and a large roll of rugs, and some four or five overcoats and macintoshes, and a few umbrellas, and then there was a melon by itself in a bag, because it was too bulky to go in anywhere, and a couple of pounds of grapes in another bag, and a Japanese paper umbrella, and a frying pan, which, being too long to pack, we had wrapped round with brown paper.

It did look a lot, and Harris and I began to feel rather ashamed of it, though why we should be, I can\'t see. No cab came by, but the street boys did, and got interested in the show, apparently, and stopped.

Biggs\'s boy was the first to come round. Biggs is our greengrocer, and his chief talent lies in securing the services of the most abandoned and unprincipled errand-boys that civilisation has as yet produced. If anything more than usually villainous in the boy-line crops up in our neighbourhood, we know that it is Biggs\'s latest. I was told that, at the time of the Great Coram Street murder, it was promptly concluded by our street that Biggs\'s boy (for that period) was at the bottom of it, and had he not been able, in reply to the severe cross-examination to which he was subjected by No. 19, when he called there for orders the morning after the crime (assisted by No. 21, who happened to be on the step at the time), to prove a complete alibi, it would have gone hard with him. I didn\'t know Biggs\'s boy at that time, but, from what I have seen of them since, I should not have attached much importance to that alibi myself.

Biggs\'s boy, as I have said, came round the corner. He was evidently in a great hurry when he first dawned upon the vision, but, on catching sight of Harris and me, and Montmorency, and the things, he eased up and stared. Harris and I frowned at him. This might have wounded a more sensitive nature, but Biggs\'s boys are not, as a rule, touchy. He came to a dead stop, a yard from our step, and, leaning up against the railings, and selecting a straw to chew, fixed us with his eye. He evidently meant to see this thing out.

In another moment, the grocer\'s boy passed on the opposite side of the street. Biggs\'s boy hailed him:
"Hi! ground floor o' 42\'s a-moving."

The grocer\'s boy came across, and took up a position on the other side of the step. Then the young gentleman from the boot-shop stopped, and joined Biggs\'s boy; while the empty-can superintendent from "The Blue Posts" took up an independent position on the curb.

\"They ain\'t a-going to starve, are they? " said the gentleman from the boot-shop.

\"Ah! you\'d want to take a thing or two with you," retorted "The Blue Posts," "if you was a-going to cross the Atlantic in a small boat."

\"They ain\'t a-going to cross the Atlantic," struck in Biggs\'s boy; "they\'re a-going to find Stanley."

By this time, quite a small crowd had collected, and people were asking each other what was the matter. One party (the young and giddy portion of the crowd) held that it was a wedding, and pointed out Harris as the bridegroom; while the elder and more thoughtful among the populace inclined to the idea that it was a funeral, and that I was probably the corpse\'s brother.

At last, an empty cab turned up (it is a street where, as a rule, and when they are not wanted, empty cabs pass at the rate of three a minute, and hang about, and get in your way), and packing ourselves and our belongings into it, and shooting out a couple of Montmorency\'s friends, who had evidently sworn never to forsake him, we drove away amidst the cheers of the crowd, Biggs\'s boy shying a carrot after us for luck.

We got to Waterloo at eleven, and asked where the eleven-five started from. Of course nobody knew; nobody at Waterloo ever does know where a train is going to start from, or where a train when it does start is going to, or anything about it. The porter who took our things thought it would go from number two platform, while another porter, with whom he discussed the question, had heard a rumour that it would go from number one. The station-master, on the other hand, was convinced it would start from the local.

To put an end to the matter, we went upstairs, and asked the traffic superintendent, and he told us that he had just met a man, who said he had seen it at number three platform. We went to number three platform, but the authorities there said that they rather thought that train was the Southampton express, or else the Windsor loop. But they were sure it wasn\'t the Kingston train, though why they were sure it wasn\'t they couldn\'t say.

Then our porter said he thought that must be it on the high-level platform; said he thought he knew the train. So we went to the high-level platform, and saw the engine-driver, and asked him if he was going to Kingston. He said he couldn\'t say for certain of course, but that he rather thought he was. Anyhow, if he wasn\'t the 11.5 for Kingston, he said he was pretty confident he was the 9.32 for Virginia Water, or the 10 a.m. express for the Isle of Wight, or somewhere in that direction, and we should all know when we got there. We slipped half-a-crown into his hand, and begged him to be the 11.5 for Kingston.

\"Nobody will ever know, on this line," we said, "what you are, or where you\'re going. You know the way, you slip off quietly and go to Kingston."

\"Well, I don\'t know, gents," replied the noble fellow, "but I suppose some train\'s got to go to Kingston; and I\'ll do it. Gimme the half-crown."

Thus we got to Kingston by the London and South-Western Railway.

We learnt, afterwards, that the train we had come by was really the Exeter mail, and that they had spent hours at Waterloo, looking for it, and nobody knew what had become of it.

Our boat was waiting for us at Kingston just below bridge, and to it we wended our way, and round it we stored our luggage, and into it we stepped.

\"Are you all right, sir?" said the man.

\"Right it is," we answered; and with Harris at the sculls and I at the tiller-lines, and Montmorency, unhappy and deeply suspicious, in the prow, out we shot on to the waters which, for a fortnight, were to be our home.



VOCABULARY:



blood-curdling: frightening, terrifying

cart: (carting, carted) carry sth heavy

catch sight: notice

curb: krawężnik

ease up: (easing up, eased up) to slow down

frown: (frowning, frowned) marszczyć brwi

giddy: frivolous

Macintosh: a rain coat

populace: public

prow: the front part of a boat

retort: (retorting, retorted) reply angrily

shy: (shying, shied) old-fashioned: to throw

stare: (staring, stared) look intently, watch

villainous: wicked, bad

wend your way: (wending, wended) to move slowly from one place to another



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