“Dear! Don’t call me dear,” he rasped.
“Why, Hugh, dear,—Mr. Veath looked everywhere for you this morning. I said I would not go unless he could find you. You would have enjoyed it so much.”
“And you really wanted me?” he asked guiltily.
“Of course, I did—we both did. Won’t you ever understand that I love you—and you alone?”
“I guess I’ll never understand love at all,” he mused.
“Now where were you all morning?” she demanded.
“He didn’t look in the right place, that’s all.”
“Where was the right place?”
“It happened to be in the wrong place,” he said. He had been playing a social game of bridge in the room of one of the passengers. At this moment Veath was heard at the door. Hugh heartily called out to him, bidding him to enter.
“Why, here you are! Been looking everywhere for you, old man. Sorry you were not along this morning,” said the newcomer, shaking Ridgeway’s hand.
“I didn’t care to see the ship,” said Hugh hastily.
“Why, how funny!” cried Grace. “How did you know we had been over the ship?”
“Instinct,” he managed to gulp in the confusion.
Veath started for the dining-room, followed by Grace and Hugh, the latter refraining from mentioning that he had already lunched—insufficiently though it had been; but with the return of reason had come back his appetite and gradually he felt the old happiness sifting into his heart.
THE BEAUTIFUL STRANGER
They were now well along in the Mediterranean. The air was cool and crisp, yet there were dozens of people on deck watching the sunset and the sailors who were trimming the ship. There were passengers on board for China, Japan, India and Australia. A half hundred soldiers, returning to the East, after a long furlough at home, made the ship lively. They were under loose discipline and were inclined to be hilarious. A number were forward now, singing the battle songs of the British and the weird ones of the natives. Quite a crowd had collected to listen, including Ridgeway and Veath, who were strolling along the deck, arm in arm, enjoying an after-dinner smoke, and had paused in their walk near the group, enjoying the robust, devil-may-care tones of the gallant subalterns.
Miss Vernon was in her stateroom trying to jot down in a newly opened diary the events of the past ten days. She was up to ears in the work, and was almost overcome by its enthusiasm. It was to be a surprise for Hugh at some distant day, when she could have it printed and bound for him alone. There was to be but one copy printed, positively, and it was to belong to Hugh. Her lover as he strode the deck was unconscious of the task unto which she had bent her energy. He knew nothing of the unheard-of intricacies in punctuation, spelling and phraseology. She was forced at one time to write Med and a dash, declaring, in chagrin, that she would add the remainder of the word when she could get to a place where a dictionary might tell her whether it was spelled Mediterranean or Mediteranian.