So he dallies over his breakfast, hoping that something will turn up to lead their thoughts in another channel, and at least give them a longer respite. Perhaps a message will come from the steamer announcing an immediate sailing.
He is eager to be off. Whatever was in the note Philander picked up in the house of the Strada Mezzodi, it has given John a feverish anxiety to reach some other port.
Ah! here is the good captain of the Hyperion himself, a jolly sea-dog whom every passenger clings to in time of storm and trouble, and who buoys up trembling souls, fearful of the worst, with his hearty, good-natured manner.
He announces aloud for the benefit of his passengers that a notice just posted in the office of the hotel gives the time of the vessel’s sailing at seven in the evening, and all passengers are requested to be on board before that hour, if possible.
This means another day on shore. It means that John Craig cannot longer elude the recital of his night’s adventures to Lady Ruth.
Lady Ruth captures him very soon after breakfast by means of a clever little piece of diplomacy. John is really amused at the manner in which she manages this affair, and allows himself to be carried off to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the harbor which she has discovered at the end of the piazza, and which he must pass an opinion upon.
The others do not follow, Philander and Aunt Gwen, because they know what is going on, and Sir Lionel, on account of a bore of a British nobleman who has fastened upon him, and talks an incessant streak.
Miss Caprice, as Aunt Gwen has christened Lady Ruth, suddenly develops a new phase in the conversation.
“Do you know what time it was when you came in last night?” she says, shaking a finger at him, whereat John laughingly declares his ignorance, having failed to take note of it.
“Just a quarter of two.”
“Is it possible? Really, I—”
“Now, it would be only justice to myself to tell how I happened to know. Awaking from sleep with a slight headache, I arose to get my smelling-salts, and noted the time.
“Just then I heard Aunt Gwen’s angelic voice calling down. My first fear was that Uncle Philander had gone off on some sort of racket, and was returning in no condition for a gentleman, for which suspicion I humbly beg his pardon, for he’s just as lovely as a man ever could be.”
“A fine little fellow, I’ll declare, and he stood by me like a hero,” declares John, with great earnestness.
“Well, I’m a woman, you know, and curious. I poked my head out of the window, and saw that you were with the professor. Of course, I knew he was all right, then.”
The charming naivette with which she makes this engaging remark almost takes John’s breath away. He feels a mad desire to take her in his arms, and to call her “you blessed darling,” or some other similarly foolish pet name.