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CHAPTER 9: MY CONVALESCENT HOME
The man Braithwaite met me at the station with a spring cart. The very porters seemed to expect me, and my luggage was in the cart before I had given up my ticket. Nor had we started when I first noticed that Braithwaite did not speak when I spoke to him. On the way, however, a more flagrant instance recalled young Rattray's remark, that the man was "not like other people." I had imagined it to refer to a mental, not a physical, defect; whereas it was clear to me now that my prospective landlord was stone-deaf, and I presently discovered him to be dumb as well. Thereafter I studied him with some attention during our drive of four or five miles. I called to mind the theory that an innate physical deficiency is seldom without its moral counterpart, and I wondered how far this would apply to the deaf-mute at my side, who was ill-grown, wizened, and puny into the bargain. The brow-beaten face of him was certainly forbidding, and he thrashed his horse up the hills in a dogged, vindictive, thorough-going way which at length made me jump out and climb one of them on foot. It was the only form of protest that occurred to me.
The evening was damp and thick. It melted into night as we drove. I could form no impression of the country, but this seemed desolate enough. I believe we met no living soul on the high road which we followed for the first three miles or more. At length we turned into a narrow lane, with a stiff stone wall on either hand, and this eventually led us past the lights of what appeared to be a large farm; it was really a small hamlet; and now we were nearing our destination. Gates had to be opened, and my poor driver breathed hard from the continual getting down and up. In the end a long and heavy cart-track brought us to the loneliest light that I have ever seen. It shone on the side of a hill - in the heart of an open wilderness - as solitary as a beacon-light at sea. It was the light of the cottage which was to be my temporary home.
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