the adventures of pandora paddington - 1. a walk in the rain
by laurene de lampeduse
illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq
there once lived, in a remote area of the kingdom of ireland, a gentleman named john paddington, who, having inherited the most modest estate imaginable to support a gentleman in a condition just above that of total poverty, and being wholly devoid of energy or ambition, resolved to live out his days sitting in his front parlor and gazing out at the weather, which in that particular place was generally very dreary indeed.
besides looking out the window, his chief amusements were reading old plays, particularly those of massinger, and of beaumont and fletcher, and taking an occasional sip of very weak claret (weak to begin with, and made even weaker by the depredations - and infusions of water to cover up the depredations - made by his rascally manservant ).
all this was well enough - who are you or i, dear reader, to condemn or even comment on the worthy gentleman's mode of existence? except for a pair of curious events which transpired as mr paddington was approaching his forty-fourth year.
perhaps i should say trio of curious events, for the first noteworthy event only occurred because of a circumstance which may seem unremarkable in itself, but was quite exceptional in the particular situation - namely, that mr paddington suddenly decided to go for a walk.
exactly why mr paddington decided to go for a walk - though no doubt "not beyond all conjecture" - might not easily be determined, mr paddington himself being of a decidedly unreflective nature and not given to analyzing his actions or disclosing his thoughts, even had he someone to disclose them to. in any case, it was an exceptionally overcast day and a sudden wind had come up, bending the bare trees outside the window, an indication of a possibly violent storm. he rang for his manservant, and that personage appeared forthwith.