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Bat Wing

12.
Morning Mists
The man known as Manoel awakened me in the morning. Although
characteristically Spanish, he belonged to a more sanguine type than the butler
and spoke much better English than Pedro. He placed upon the table beside me
a tray containing a small pot of China tea. an apple, a peach, and three slices of
toast.
"How soon would you like your bath, sir?" he enquired.
"In about half an hour," I replied.
"Breakfast is served at 9.30 if you wish, sir," continued Manoel, "but the ladies
rarely come down. Would you prefer to breakfast in your room?"
"What is Mr. Harley doing?"
"He tells me that he does not take breakfast, sir. Colonel Don Juan Menendez
will be unable to ride with you this morning, but a groom will accompany you to
the heath if you wish, which is the best place for a gallop. Breakfast on the south
veranda is very pleasant, sir, if you are riding first."
"Good," I replied, for indeed I felt strangely heavy; "it shall be the heath, then,
and breakfast on the veranda."
Having drunk a cup of tea and dressed I went into Harley's room, to find him
propped up in bed reading the Daily Telegraph and smoking a cigarette.
"I am off for a ride," I said. "Won't you join me?"
He fixed his pillows more comfortably, and slowly shook his head.
"Not a bit of it, Knox," he replied, "I find exercise to be fatal to concentration."
"I know you have weird theories on the subject, but this is a beautiful morning."
"I grant you the beautiful morning, Knox, but here you will find me when you
return."
I knew him too well to debate the point, and accordingly I left him to his
newspaper and cigarette, and made my way downstairs. A housemaid was busy
in the hall, and in the courtyard before the monastic porch a negro groom
awaited me with two fine mounts. He touched his hat and grinned expansively as
I appeared. A spirited young chestnut was saddled for my use, and the groom,
who informed me that his name was Jim, rode a smaller, Spanish horse, a
beautiful but rather wicked- looking creature.
We proceeded down the drive. Pedro was standing at the door of the lodge,
talking to his surly-looking daughter. He saluted me very ceremoniously as I
passed.
Pursuing an easterly route for a quarter of a mile or so, we came to a narrow lane
which branched off to the left in a tremendous declivity. Indeed it presented the
appearance of the dry bed of a mountain torrent, and in wet weather a torrent this
lane became, so I was informed by Jim. It was very rugged and dangerous, and
here we dismounted, the groom leading the horses.
Then we were upon a well-laid main road, and along this we trotted on to a
tempting stretch of heath-land. There was a heavy mist, but the scent of the
heather in the early morning was delightful, and there was something exhilarating
 
 
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