“‘Thanks, very much,’ is an entirely polite expression, but it isn’t very responsive.”
“I thought it met your cordiality quite half way,” was the rejoinder. “Of course, I am glad to be assured of Mr. and Mrs. Carling’s regard, and that they would be glad to see me, but I think I might have been justified in hoping that you would go a little further, don’t you think?”
He looked at her as he asked the question, but she did not turn her head. Presently she said in a low voice, and slowly, as if weighing her words:
“Will it be enough if I say that I shall be very sorry if you do not come?” He put his left hand upon her right, which was resting on the rail, and for two seconds she let it stay.
“Yes,” he said, “thanks—very—much!”
“I must go now,” she said, turning toward him, and for a moment she looked searchingly in his face. “Good night,” she said, giving him her hand, and John looked after her as she walked down the deck, and he knew how it was with him.
John saw Miss Blake the next morning in the saloon among the passengers in line for the customs official. It was an easy conjecture that Mr. Carling’s nerves were not up to committing himself to a “declaration” of any sort, and that Miss Blake was undertaking the duty for the party. He did not see her again until he had had his luggage passed and turned it over to an expressman. As he was on his way to leave the wharf he came across the group, and stopped to greet them and ask if he could be of service, and was told that their houseman had everything in charge, and that they were just going to their carriage, which was waiting. “And,” said Miss Blake, “if you are going up town, we can offer you a seat.”
“Sha’n’t I discommode you?” he asked. “If you are sure I shall not, I shall be glad to be taken as far as Madison Avenue and Thirty-third Street, for I suppose that will be your route.”