“Great, isn’t it?” he chuckled. “Nobody on earth ever did anything like it. But before I forget it, how did you leave your aunt?”
“Poor Aunt Elizabeth! She will be so disappointed. I promised to do a lot of shopping for her. But she’s well and can endure the delay, I fancy. To prepare her for the shock, I told her that I might stay East for a couple of weeks, perhaps longer. She does not suspect a thing, but she was awfully cut up about my leaving at this time.”
“I’m glad you quieted Aunt Elizabeth, for it would be just like her to send detectives after us.” Both laughed as he whispered this to her. As the cab whirled away she said:
“What happy fools we are!”
“Sit back, quick! Cover your face,” he suddenly cried.
“What—who is it?” she giggled.
“We just passed a policeman, and he looked rather hard at the windows,” he cried, with a broad grin.
“Oh, you ninny!”
“Well, we must elope with fear and trembling or it won’t count,” he cried. “Is there anything you have to buy before we sail? If there is, we must attend to it now, because we leave at a most outlandish hour in the morning.”
Miss Vernon looked alarmed for a moment, the real enormity of the escapade striking her with full force. But she smiled in the next and said that she could make a few necessary purchases in a few minutes if he would direct the cabman. “It’s a long way to Manila, you know,” she said. “Hugh, I noticed in the paper the other day that this is the season for typhoons, or whatever you call them, in the Indian Ocean. I looked them up in the dictionary. There’s a picture of one in action, and they must be dreadful things. One of them could tear our ship to pieces in a minute, I should judge. Wouldn’t it be awful—if—if—”
“Pshaw! Typhoons are nothing! It’s a simoon that you’re thinking about, and they happen only on the desert. In what dictionary did you see that?”
“Webster’s, of course.”
Mr. Ridgeway did not continue along that line, but mentally resolved to look into Webster’s on the sly, and, furthermore, to ask the captain of the Saint Cloud to tell him all he knew about typhoons.
“Have him drive to Arnold’s, Hugh.”
She left him in the carriage in front of the store, promising to be gone not more than five minutes. Ten minutes passed and Hugh resignedly lighted a cigarette, stepping to the sidewalk to smoke. After he had smoked four cigarettes a perceptible frown approached his brow. He looked at the big doorway, then at his watch, then at the imperturbable cabman. Her five minutes had grown to half an hour. His good nature was going to the bad and he was about to follow in her footsteps when suddenly he saw her emerging from the store.
“I had to mail a letter,” she explained as they drove off. “Oh, Hugh, I’m so nervous, I know that I will do something silly before we sail.”