“No,” he said, “I don’t suppose you can tell me much. Except—”
“Eh?” said Mr. Howland.
“Except—you read the despatch. It speaks of Captain Merrithew as Miss Howland’s fiance.”
“Yes.” Mr. Howland’s years of business resource and acumen were beginning to assert themselves. “Oh, fiance! I see. Romance will help your article. Well, there isn’t any. Captain Merrithew and my daughter were engaged before we started on this Tampico jaunt.” He looked at the reporter steadily. “Merrithew, you know, is really the Assistant Marine Superintendent of the Coastwise Company; also a stock-holder. He was sailing the Tampico merely for experience.”
The reporter smiled at Mr. Howland.
“Merrithew is to be congratulated,” he said.
“I fancy so,” replied Mr. Howland. “In fact,” he added, “do you know, I have reason to be quite sure of it.”