She opened her eyes wide and asked with the utmost innocence “For what?”
Paul was disconcerted. “Last night!” he said faintly.
She colored, painfully.
“No, Paul, listen! I don’t blame you a bit!—not a bit! A man would be a downright fool not to take—what he wanted—— But if you want to be—friends with me, you’ll just forget all about—last night—or at any rate, ignore it, and never refer to it again.”
He extended his hand, and she placed hers in it for the briefest possible instant.
And then their tete-a-tete was interrupted, and they sat down for their last breakfast at sea.
Opal Ledoux was not visible again until the Lusitania docked in New York, when she waved her companion de voyage a smiling but none the less reluctant au revoir!
But Paul was too far away to see the tears in her eyes, and only remembered the smile.
New York’s majestic greatness and ceaseless, tireless activity speedily engrossed the Boy and opened his eager eyes to a wider horizon than he had yet known. There was a new influence in the whir and hum of this metropolis of the Western world that set the wheels of thought to a more rapid motion, and keyed his soul to its highest tension.
It was not until his first letter from the homeland had come across the waters that he paused to wonder what the new factor in his life meant for his future. He had not allowed his reason to assert itself until the force of circumstances demanded that he look his soul in the face, and learn whither he was drifting. Paul was no coward, but he quailed before the ominous clouds that threatened the happiness of himself and the girl he loved.
For now he knew that he loved Opal Ledoux. It was Fate. He had guessed it at the first sound of her voice; he had felt it at the first glance of her eye; and he had known it beyond the peradventure of a doubt at the first touch of her lips.
Yet this letter from his kingdom was full of suggestions of duties to be done, of responsibilities to be assumed, of good still to be brought out of much that was petty and low, and of helpless, miserable human beings who were so soon to be dependent upon him.
“I will make my people happy,” he thought. “Happiness is the birthright of every man—be he peasant or monarch.” And then the thought came to him, how could he ever succeed in making them truly happy, when he himself had so sorely missed the way! There was only one thing to do, he knew that—both for Opal’s sake and for his own—and that was to go far away, and never see the face again that had bewitched him so.