He tried it when the captain came in unexpectedly a few minutes later, and with the most gratifying results. He obtained consent to go with a plain-clothes man to a nearby restaurant for a “bite to eat.” In the meantime he was to send a messenger boy with a note to an influential friend in Brooklyn, requesting him to hurry over and give security for their appearance. If this failed, they were to go to a hotel under guard.
“The only thing that sounds fishy about your story, Mr. Smith, is that you say you are brother and sister,” said the captain. “Driving all afternoon in the park with your own sister? Queer.”
“She’s from Missouri, you know,” said Hugh with a fine inspiration. The captain laughed, even though he was not convinced.
“Now, Grace, dear,” said Hugh as they waited for the cab to be called, “our adventure is on in dead earnest. We have to give this plain-clothes man the slip and get aboard the Saint Cloud before they have time to think. They won’t look for us there and we’re safe.”
“Hugh, I’m frightened half to death,” she whispered. “Can we do it? Would it not be wiser to give up the whole plan, Hugh, and—”
“Oh, Grace!” he cried, deep regret in his voice. “What a cad I am to be dragging you into all this sort of thing! Yes, dear. We’ll give it up. We’ll go back to Chicago. It’s too much to ask of you. I’ll—”
“No, no, Hugh! Forgive me. I’ll be strong and firm. I wouldn’t give it up for all the world. I—I was just a bit weak for a second, you know. It does look pretty big and wild, dear,—all that is ahead of us. But, after all, it’s like any sea voyage, isn’t it? Only we’re going to be married when it’s over. We Wouldn’t think anything of taking a trip to Manila under ordinary circumstances, would we? It’s all right, isn’t it?” He squeezed her hand cautiously but fervently.
To their disgust the plain-clothes man took the seat opposite them in the brougham, remarking as he did so that he had sense enough to get in out of the rain. They had no opportunity to concoct a plan for escape, and it was necessary for them to go on to the restaurant in Longacre Square. It occurred to Hugh that it would be timely to explain why they were not dressed for dinner. They were on their way to the hotel to dress when the fracas took place. The plain-clothes man was not interested. Evidently the authorities did not apprehend much trouble from the two young people; their guardian performed his duties perfunctorily and considerately. He even disappeared from view after they entered the restaurant.
“We’ll have that bird,” said Hugh, “before we do anything else. I’m hungry. Haven’t eaten since last night, dear. I’ve been too excited to think of eating—or sleeping.”
In a quiet corner of the big cafe they had their bird and just enough champagne to give them the courage that counts. With their heads close together they planned and plotted until they forgot the rain that pattered against the window panes, and dreariness turned to rosy assurance.