Leo excused himself for the night, Lucille saying the last words in low tones, and then, liveried attendants conducted the Harris family to their suite of rooms. It was half past eight when the Harrises sat down to their first meal in their private dining-room. As Mrs. Harris waited for her hot clam soup to cool a little, she said, “Reuben, this exclusiveness and elegance is quite to my liking. After our return from Europe, why can’t we all spend our winters in New York?”
“No, mother,” said Gertrude, “we have our duties to the people of Harrisville, and father, I am sure, will never stay long away from his mills.”
But Lucille approved her mother’s plan, and was seconded by her brother. Colonel Harris was interested in the views expressed, but with judicial tone, he replied, “The Harrises better wait till the right time comes. Great financial changes are possible in a day.”
The dinner, though late, was excellent. Before ten o’clock all were glad to retire, except the head of the family, who hoped the night would be short, as the next day might witness very important business transactions.
Colonel Harris took the elevator down to the gentlemen’s cafe, adjoining the beautiful Garden Court. For a moment he stood admiring the massive fire-place and the many artistic effects, mural and otherwise. The cafe was furnished with round tables and inviting chairs. Guests of the hotel, members of city clubs, and strangers, came and went, but the colonel’s mind was in an anxious mood, so he sought a quiet corner, lighted a cigar, and accidently picked up the Evening Post. Almost the first thing he read was an item of shipping news:
“No word yet from the overdue steamship
‘Majestic;’ she is already
forty-eight hours late, and very likely has experienced bad weather.”
The “Majestic” is one of the largest and best of the famous White Star Line fleet. Colonel Harris expected an English gentleman to arrive by this boat, and he had come on to New York to meet him, as the two had business of great importance to talk over. “I wonder,” thought the colonel, “if such a thing could happen, that my cherished plan of retiring with millions, might possibly be frustrated by ship-wreck or any unlooked-for event?” Whereupon he pulled from his pocket a cablegram, to make himself doubly sure that his was not a fool’s errand, and again read it in audible tones:
London, May 24, 18—.
Col. Reuben Harris,
Hotel Waldorf, New York.
Hugh Searles, our agent, sails May twenty-fifth
on Majestic. Meet him
at Hotel Waldorf, New York.
Guerney & Barring.