“Father, whom do you think I have brought to see you—look!”
To my concern and discomfiture my father’s reception of Martin was very cool, and at first he did not even seem to know him.
“You don’t remember me, sir?” said Martin.
“I’m afraid I can’t just place you,” said my father.
After I had made them known to each other they sat talking about the South Pole expedition, but it was a chill and cheerless interview, and after a few minutes Martin rose to go.
“I find it kind of hard to figure you fellows out,” said my father. “No money that I know of has ever been made in the Unknown, as you call it, and if you discover both Poles I don’t just see how they’re to be worth a two-cent stamp to you. But you know best, so good-bye and good luck to you!”
I went out to the lift with Martin, who asked if he could take me for a walk in the morning. I answered yes, and inquired what hour he would call for me.
“Twelve o’clock,” he replied, and I said that would suit me exactly.
The Bishop came to dine with us that night, and after dinner, when I had gone to the window to look out over the city for the three lights on the Loggia of the Vatican, he and my father talked together for a long time in a low tone. They were still talking when I left them to go to bed.
At breakfast next morning my father told me that something unexpected had occurred to require that we should return home immediately, and therefore he had sent over to Cook’s for seats by the noon express.
I was deeply disappointed, but I knew my father too well to demur, so I slipped away to my room and sent a letter to Martin, explaining the change in our plans and saying good-bye to him.
When we reached the station, however, I found Martin waiting on the platform in front of the compartment that was labelled with our name.
I thought my father was even more brusque with him than before, and the Bishop, who was to travel with us, was curt almost to rudeness. But Martin did not seem to mind that this morning, for his lower lip had the stiff setting which I had seen in it when he was a boy, and after I stepped into the carriage he stepped in after me, leaving the two men on the platform.
“Shall you be long away?” I asked.
“Too long unfortunately. Six months, nine—perhaps twelve, worse luck! Wish I hadn’t to go at all,” he answered.
I was surprised and asked why, whereupon he stammered some excuse, and then said abruptly:
“I suppose you’ll not be married for some time at all events?”
I told him I did not know, everything depending on my father.
“Anyhow, you’ll see and hear for yourself when you reach home, and then perhaps you’ll. . . .”
I answered that I should have to do what my father desired, being a girl, and therefore. . . .