“Why do you say ’if Mr. Lenox succeeds’?” asked Mrs. Carling.
“It was his suggestion,” Miss Blake answered. “We had been talking about Julius, and he finally told me he thought he would be the better of an occasional interval of masculine society, and I quite agreed with him. You know how much he enjoyed being with George Nollis, and how much like himself he appeared.”
“That is true,” said Mrs. Carling.
“And you know that just as soon as he got alone again with us two women he began backing and filling as badly as ever. I believe Mr. Lenox is right, and that Julius is just petticoated to death between us.”
“Did Mr. Lenox say that?” asked Mrs. Carling incredulously.
“No,” said her sister, laughing, “he didn’t make use of precisely that figure, but that was what he thought plainly enough.”
“What do you think of Mr. Lenox?” said Mrs. Carling irrelevantly. “Do you like him? I thought that he looked at you very admiringly once or twice to-night,” she added, with her eyes on her sister’s face.
“Well,” said Mary, with a petulant toss of the head, “except that I’ve had about an hour’s talk with him, and that I knew him when we were children—at least when I was a child—he is a perfect stranger to me, and I do wish,” she added in a tone of annoyance, “that you would give up that fad of yours, that every man who comes along is going to—to—be a nuisance.”
“He seems very pleasant,” said Mrs. Carling, meekly ignoring her sister’s reproach.
“Oh, yes,” she replied indifferently, “he’s pleasant enough. Let us go up and have a walk on deck. I want you to be sound asleep when Julius comes in.”
John found his humane experiment pleasanter than he expected. Mr. Carling, as was to be anticipated, demurred a little at the coffee, and still more at the cigarette; but having his appetite for tobacco aroused, and finding that no alarming symptoms ensued, he followed it with a cigar and later on was induced to go the length of “Scotch and soda,” under the pleasant effect of which—and John’s sympathetic efforts—he was for the time transformed, the younger man being surprised to find him a man of interesting experience, considerable reading, and, what was most surprising, a jolly sense of humor and a fund of anecdotes which he related extremely well. The evening was a decided success, perhaps the best evidence of it coming at the last, when, at John’s suggestion that they supplement their modest potations with a “night-cap,” Mr. Carling cheerfully assented upon the condition that they should “have it with him”; and as he went along the deck after saying “Good night,” John was positive that he heard a whistled tune.
The next day was equally fine, but during the night the ship had run into the swell of a storm, and in the morning there was more motion than the weaker ones could relish. The sea grew quieter as the day advanced. John was early, and finished his breakfast before Miss Blake came in. He found her on deck about ten o’clock. She gave him her hand as they said good morning, and he turned and walked by her side.