“Only about six months,” she replied. “We have been at one or another of the German Spas most of the time, as we went abroad for Mr. Carling’s health, and we are on our way home on about such an impulse as that which started us off—he thinks now that he will be better off there.”
“I am afraid you have not derived much pleasure from your European experiences,” said John.
“Pleasure!” she exclaimed. “If ever you saw a young woman who was glad and thankful to turn her face toward home, I am that person. I think that one of the heaviest crosses humanity has to bear is to have constantly to decide between two or more absolutely trivial conclusions in one’s own affairs; but when one is called upon to multiply one’s useless perplexities by, say, ten, life is really a burden.
“I suppose,” she added after a pause, “you couldn’t help hearing our discussions at dinner the other night, and I have wondered a little what you must have thought.”
“Yes,” he said, “I did hear it. Is it the regular thing, if I may ask?”
“Oh, yes,” she replied, with a tone of sadness; “it has grown to be.”
“It must be very trying at times,” John remarked.
“It is, indeed,” she said, “and would often be unendurable to me if it were not for my sense of humor, as it would be to my sister if it were not for her love, for Julius is really a very lovable man, and I, too, am very fond of him. But I must laugh sometimes, though my better nature should rather, I suppose, impel me to sighs.’”
“‘A little laughter is much more worth,’” he quoted.
They were leaning upon the rail at the stern of the ship, which was going with what little wind there was, and a following sea, with which, as it plunged down the long slopes of the waves, the vessel seemed to be running a victorious race. The sea was a deep sapphire, and in the wake the sunlight turned the broken water to vivid emerald. The air was of a caressing softness, and altogether it was a day and scene of indescribable beauty and inspiration. For a while there was silence between them, which John broke at last.
“I suppose,” he said, “that one would best show his appreciation of all this by refraining from the comment which must needs be comparatively commonplace, but really this is so superb that I must express some of my emotion even at the risk of lowering your opinion of my good taste, provided, of course, that you have one.”
“Well,” she said, laughing, “it may relieve your mind, if you care, to know that had you kept silent an instant longer I should have taken the risk of lowering your opinion of my good taste, provided, of course, that you have one, by remarking that this was perfectly magnificent.”
“I should think that this would be the sort of day to get Mr. Carling on deck. This air and sun would brace him up,” said John.