“Yes, they unquestionably desire to publicly show their appreciation of your services, and I for one feel proud to be an American this day.”
“Excuse me, my dear. John, my boy, allow me to lead you out.”
“One minute, please,” says Lady Ruth, who has made a comfortable sling of a long white silk kerchief, which she wore around her neck.
This she insists on securing over John’s shoulder.
“That arm must be painful. I know it from my long experience as the reliable assistant of my surgeon uncle. You will be glad to have this.”
“But—for such a mere scratch—people will laugh at me,” he protests, feebly, though it may be noticed that he makes no effort to deliver himself from the silk sling which she is now tying.
“People laugh at you! A mere scratch! Confound it, boy, there isn’t a man living who would go through with what you have to-day for a cool, hundred thousand. I know one man a million would not tempt,” cries the professor.
“I suppose I must submit,” and accompanied by Philander, with the two women bringing up the rear, he passes out upon the balcony, where the colonel of Royal Engineers has remained, to be a curious spectator of the scene.
At sight of the hero of the street drama, those in the square before the hotel shout and cheer. They are mostly natives, but men and women feel very strongly drawn toward this young, smooth-faced American who risked his life to save a child, and that child a Maltese boy.
John bows, and presses his uninjured hand upon his heart, bows again, and retires.
Slowly the crowd disperses.
Lady Ruth completely ignores the colonel, but that veteran is not crushed by any means. He watches the capricious maiden with a quizzical light in his eye, which shows that he has not yet lost confidence in the kindness of fate, or his own charms as a beau.
Lionel Blunt’s success in life has come from the fact that he has ever been ready to watch his chance and take advantage of every possible opportunity.
So night settles over Malta, over the dreamy, blue Mediterranean, over the singular city of Valetta, where this little company of tourists have been temporarily marooned, and where Doctor Chicago, aided by fate, has been enabled to make his first charge upon the heart of the proud English girl, Lady Ruth.
A world-wide search.
It is a night of nights, destined to mark, as with a white stone, the progress of at least two life currents that have until recently flown contentedly on, each in its own individual channel.
Valetta, being a city of the Italian school, makes much ado over the coming of Lent. The people, as if to prepare for six weeks of fasting, indulge in all manner of feasting.
Even the Mohammedans, who are present in no small numbers, join the festivities, for they, too, have a period of fasting, according to the example set by the prophet, and commanded in the Koran.