I laughed and rose and told him he ought to go, though at the bottom of my heart I was wishing him to stay, and thinking how little and lonely I was, while here was a big brave man who could protect me from every danger.
We walked together to the door, and there I took his hand and held it, feeling, like a child, that if I let him go he might be lost in the human ocean outside and I should see no more of him.
At last, struggling hard with a lump that was gathering in my throat, I said:
“Martin, I have been so happy to see you. I’ve never been so happy to see anybody in my life. You’ll let me see you again, won’t you?”
“Won’t I? Bet your life I will,” he said, and then, as if seeing that my lip was trembling and my eyes were beginning to fill, he broke into a cheerful little burst of our native tongue, so as to give me a “heise” as we say in Ellan and to make me laugh at the last moment.
“Look here—keep to-morrow for me, will ye? If them ones” (my husband and Alma) “is afther axing ye to do anything else just tell them there’s an ould shipmate ashore, and he’s wanting ye to go ‘asploring.’ See? So-long!”
It had been like a dream, a beautiful dream, and as soon as I came to myself in the hall, with the visitors calling at the bureau and the page-boys shouting in the corridors, I found that my telegraph-form, crumpled and crushed, was still in the palm of my left hand.
I tore it up and went in to breakfast.
I FALL IN LOVE
During our first day in London my husband had many visitors, including Mr. Eastcliff and Mr. Vivian, who had much to tell and arrange about.
I dare say a great many events had happened during our six months’ absence from England; but the only thing I heard of was that Mr. Eastcliff had married his dancing-girl, that she had retired from the stage, and that her public appearances were now confined to the box-seat of a four-in-hand coach, which he drove from London to Brighton.
This expensive toy he proposed to bring round to the hotel the following day, which chanced to be Derby Day, when a party was to be made up for the races.
In the preparations for the party, Alma, who, as usual, attracted universal admiration, was of course included, but I did not observe that any provision was made for me, though that circumstance did not distress me in the least, because I was waiting for Martin’s message.
It came early next morning in the person of Martin himself, who, running into our sitting-room like a breath of wind from the sea, said his fellow officers were separating that day, each going to his own home, and their commander had invited me to lunch with them on their ship, which was lying off Tilbury.
It did not escape me that my husband looked relieved at this news, and that Alma’s face brightened as she said in her most succulent tones: