He turned and looked at her. There was a little smile upon her lips and on her downcast eyes.
“No, by Heaven!” he exclaimed desperately, “I have not, and I am not sorry. Whether I ought to have said what I did or not, it was true, and I wanted you to know——”
He broke off as she turned to him with a smile and a blush. The smile was almost a laugh.
“But, John,” she said, “I am not Mrs. Edward Ruggles. I am Mary Blake.”
* * * * *
The parapet was fifty feet above the terrace. The hedge of box was an impervious screen.
* * * * *
Well, and then, after a little of that sort of thing, they both began hurriedly to admire the view again, for some one was coming. But it was only one of the gardeners, who did not understand English; and confidence being once more restored, they fell to discussing—everything.
“Do you think you could live in Homeville, dear?” asked John after a while.
“I suppose I shall have to, shall I not?” said Mary. “And are you, too, really happy, John?”
John instantly proved to her that he was. “But it almost makes me unhappy,” he added, “to think how nearly we have missed each other. If I had only known in the beginning that you were not Mrs. Edward Ruggles!”
Mary laughed joyously. The mistake which a moment before had seemed almost tragic now appeared delightfully funny.
“The explanation is painfully simple,” she answered. “Mrs. Edward Ruggles—the real one—did expect to come on the Vaterland, whereas I did not. But the day before the steamer sailed she was summoned to Andover by the serious illness of her only son, who is at school there. I took her ticket, got ready overnight—I like to start on these unpremeditated journeys—and here I am.” John put his arm about her to make sure of this, and kept it there—lest he should forget. “When we met on the steamer and I saw the error you had made I was tempted—and yielded—to let you go on uncorrected. But,” she added, looking lovingly up into John’s eyes, “I’m glad you found out your mistake at last.”
A fortnight later Mr. Harum sat at his desk in the office of Harum & Co. There were a number of letters for him, but the one he opened first bore a foreign stamp, and was postmarked “Napoli.” That he was deeply interested in the contents of this epistle was manifest from the beginning, not only from the expression of his face, but from the frequent “wa’al, wa’als” which were elicited as he went on; but interest grew into excitement as he neared the close, and culminated as he read the last few lines.
“Scat my CATS!” he cried, and, grabbing his hat and the letter, he bolted out of the back door in the direction of the house, leaving the rest of his correspondence to be digested—any time.