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6. Quite at Home
The day had brightened very much, and still brightened as we went westward. We went
our way through the sunshine and the fresh air, wondering more and more at the extent
of the streets, the brilliancy of the shops, the great traffic, and the crowds of people
whom the pleasanter weather seemed to have brought out like many-coloured flowers.
By and by we began to leave the wonderful city and to proceed through suburbs which,
of themselves, would have made a pretty large town in my eyes; and at last we got into
a real country road again, with windmills, rick-yards, milestones, farmers' waggons,
scents of old hay, swinging signs, and horse troughs: trees, fields, and hedge-rows. It
was delightful to see the green landscape before us and the immense metropolis
behind; and when a waggon with a train of beautiful horses, furnished with red trappings
and clear-sounding bells, came by us with its music, I believe we could all three have
sung to the bells, so cheerful were the influences around.
"The whole road has been reminding me of my name-sake Whittington," said Richard,
"and that waggon is the finishing touch. Halloa! What's the matter?"
We had stopped, and the waggon had stopped too. Its music changed as the horses
came to a stand, and subsided to a gentle tinkling, except when a horse tossed his
head or shook himself and sprinkled off a little shower of bell-ringing.
"Our postilion is looking after the waggoner," said Richard, "and the waggoner is coming
back after us. Good day, friend!" The waggoner was at our coach-door. "Why, here's an
extraordinary thing!" added Richard, looking closely at the man. "He has got your name,
Ada, in his hat!"
He had all our names in his hat. Tucked within the band were three small notes--one
addressed to Ada, one to Richard, one to me. These the waggoner delivered to each of
us respectively, reading the name aloud first. In answer to Richard's inquiry from whom
they came, he briefly answered, "Master, sir, if you please"; and putting on his hat again
(which was like a soft bowl), cracked his whip, re-awakened his music, and went
melodiously away.
"Is that Mr. Jarndyce's waggon?" said Richard, calling to our post- boy.
"Yes, sir," he replied. "Going to London."
We opened the notes. Each was a counterpart of the other and contained these words
in a solid, plain hand.
"I look forward, my dear, to our meeting easily and without constraint on either side. I
therefore have to propose that we meet as old friends and take the past for granted. It
will be a relief to you possibly, and to me certainly, and so my love to you.