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CHAPTER 7: I FIND A FRIEND
The night after I consulted the specialist I was quite determined to sleep. I had laid in a bundle of the daily papers. No country cottage was advertised to let but I knew of it by evening, and about all the likely ones I had already written. The scheme occupied my thoughts. Trout-fishing was a desideratum. I would take my rod and plenty of books, would live simply and frugally, and it should make a new man of me by Christmas. It was now October. I went to sleep thinking of autumn tints against an autumn sunset. It must have been very early, certainly not later than ten o'clock; the previous night I had not slept at all.
Now, this private hotel of mine was a very old fashioned house, dark and dingy all day long, with heavy old chandeliers and black old oak, and dead flowers in broken flower-pots surrounding a grimy grass-plot in the rear. On this latter my bedroom window looked; and never am I likely to forget the vile music of the cats throughout my first long wakeful night there. The second night they actually woke me; doubtless they had been busy long enough, but it was all of a sudden that I heard them, and lay listening for more, wide awake in an instant. My window had been very softly opened, and the draught fanned my forehead as I held my breath.
A faint light glimmered through a ground-glass pane over the door; and was dimly reflected by the toilet mirror, in its usual place against the window. This mirror I saw moved, and next moment I had bounded from bed.
The mirror fell with a horrid clatter: the toilet-table followed it with a worse: the thief had gone as he had come ere my toes halted aching amid the debris.
A useless little balcony - stone slab and iron railing - jutted out from my window. I thought I saw a hand on the railing, another on the slab, then both together on the lower level for one instant before they disappeared. There was a dull yet springy thud on the grass below. Then no more noise but the distant thunder of the traffic, and the one that woke me, until the window next mine was thrown up.
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