Ulysses hastened to disappear. He would soon send some one to collect those valises. And taking another carriage, he betook himself to the albergo of S. Lucia.... What an unexpected blow!
The porter made a gesture of surprise and astonishment upon seeing him enter. Before Ferragut could inquire for Freya, with the vague hope that she might have taken refuge in the hotel, this man gave him some news.
“Captain, your son has been here waiting for you.”
The captain stuttered in dismay, “What son?...”
The man with the embroidered keys brought the register, showing him one line, “Esteban Ferragut, Barcelona.” Ulysses recognized his son’s handwriting, and at the same time his heart was oppressed with indefinable anguish.
Surprise made him speechless, and the porter took advantage of his silence to continue speaking. He was such a charming and intelligent lad!... Some mornings he had accompanied him in order to point out to him the best things in the city. He had inquired among the consignees of the Mare Nostrum, hunting everywhere for news of his father. Finally convinced that the captain must already be returning to Barcelona, he also had gone the day before.
“If you had only come twelve hours sooner, you would have found him still here.”
The porter knew nothing more. Occupied in doing errands for some South American ladies, he had been unable to say good-bye to the young man when he left the hotel, undecided whether to make the trip in an English steamer to Marseilles or to go by railroad to Genoa, where he would find boats direct to Barcelona.
Ferragut wished to know when he had arrived. And the porter, rolling his eyes, gave himself up to long mental calculation.... Finally he reached a date and the sailor, in his turn, concentrated his powers of recollection.
He struck himself on the forehead with his clenched hand. It must have been his son then, that youth whom he had seen entering the albergo the very day that he was going to take charge of the schooner, to carry combustibles to the German submarines!
THE YOUNG TELEMACHUS
Whenever the Mare Nostrum returned to Barcelona, Esteban Ferragut had always felt as dazzled as though a gorgeous stained glass window had opened upon his obscure and monotonous life as the son of the family.
He now no longer wandered along the harbor admiring from afar the great transatlantic liners in front of the monument of Christopher Columbus, nor the cargo steamers that were lined up along the commercial docks. An important boat was going to be his absolute property for some weeks, while its captain and officers were passing the time on land with their families. Toni, the mate, was the only one who slept aboard. Many of the seamen had begged permission to live in