St. George held his peace as they made their adieux. A great many things remained to be thought out, but one was clear enough.
The boy servant ran before them to the door. They made their way to the street in the early dusk. A hurdy-gurdy on the curb was bubbling over with merry discords, and was flanked by garrulous Italians with push-carts, lighted by flaring torches. Men were returning from work, children were quarreling, women were in doorways, and a policeman was gossiping with the footman in a knot of watching idlers. With a sigh that was like a groan, Mrs. Hastings sank back on the cushions of the brougham.
“I feel,” she said, eyes closed, “as if I had been in a pagan temple where they worship oracles and what’s-his-names. What time is it? I haven’t an idea. Dear, dear, I want to get home and feel as if my feet were on land and water again. I want some strong sleep and a good sound cup of coffee, and then I shall know what’s actually what.”
To St. George the slow drive up town was no less unreal than their visit. His head was whirling, a hundred plans and speculations filled his mind, and through these Mrs Hastings’ chatter of forebodings and the lawyer’s patterned utterance hardly found their way. At his own street he was set down, with Mrs. Hastings’ permission to call next day.
Miss Holland gave him her hand.
“I can not thank you,” she said, “I can not thank you. But try to know, won’t you, what this has been to me. Until to-morrow.”
Until to-morrow. St. George stood in the brightness of the street looking after the vanishing carriage, his hand tingling from her touch. Then he went up to his apartment and met Rollo—sleek, deferential, the acme of the polite barbarism in which the prince had made St. George feel that he and his world were living. Ah, he thought, as Rollo took his hat, this was no way to live, with the whole world singing to be discovered anew.
He sat down before the trim little white table with its pretty china and silver and its one rose-shaded candle, but the doubtful content of comfort was suddenly not enough. The spirit of the road and of the chase was in his veins, and he was aglow with “the taste for pilgriming.” He looked about on the simple luxury with which he had surrounded himself, and he welcomed his farewell to it. And when Rollo had gone up stairs to complain in person of the shad-roe, St. George spoke aloud:
“If Miss Holland sails for Yaque to-morrow on the prince’s submarine,” he said, “The Aloha and I will follow her.”
TWO LITTLE MEN
Next morning St. George was early astir. He had slept little and his dreams had been grotesques. He threw up his blind and looked across buildings to the grey park. The sky was marked with rose, the still reservoir gave back colour upon its breast, and the tower upon its margin might have been some guttural-christened castle on the Rhine. St. George drew a deep breath of good, new air and smiled for the sake of the things that the day was to bring him. He was in the golden age when the youthful expectation of enjoyment is just beginning to be savoured by the inevitable longing for more light, and he seemed to himself to be alluringly near the verge of both.