Forgive me. I am afraid I can never find the words to tell you how important it seemed to interest you in my letters—to make you feel that I am an entertaining person worthy of your notice. That morning when you entered the Carlton breakfast room was really the biggest in my life. I felt as though you had brought with you through that doorway— But I have no right to say it. I have the right to say nothing save that now—it is all left to you. If I have offended, then I shall never hear from you again.
The captain will be here in a moment. It is near the hour set and he is never late. He is not to return to India, but expects to be drafted for the Expeditionary Force that will be sent to the Continent. I hope the German Army will be kinder to him than I was!
My name is Geoffrey West. I live at nineteen Adelphi Terrace—in rooms that look down on the most wonderful garden in London. That, at least, is real. It is very quiet there to-night, with the city and its continuous hum of war and terror seemingly a million miles away.
Shall we meet at last? The answer rests entirely with you. But, believe me, I shall be anxiously waiting to know; and if you decide to give me a chance to explain—to denounce myself to you in person—then a happy man will say good-by to this garden and these dim dusty rooms and follow you to the ends of the earth—aye, to Texas itself!
Captain Fraser-Freer is coming down the stairs. Is this good-by forever, my lady? With all my soul, I hope not.
Yourcontrite strawberry man.
Words are futile things with which to attempt a description of the feelings of the girl at the Carlton as she read this, the last letter of seven written to her through the medium of her maid, Sadie Haight. Turning the pages of the dictionary casually, one might enlist a few—for example, amazement, anger, unbelief, wonder. Perhaps, to go back to the letter a, even amusement. We may leave her with the solution to the puzzle in her hand, the Saronia a little more than a day away, and a weirdly mixed company of emotions struggling in her soul.
And leaving her thus, let us go back to Adelphi Terrace and a young man exceedingly worried.
Once he knew that his letter was delivered, Mr. Geoffrey West took his place most humbly on the anxious seat. There he writhed through the long hours of Wednesday morning. Not to prolong this painful picture, let us hasten to add that at three o’clock that same afternoon came a telegram that was to end suspense. He tore it open and read:
Strawberry man: I shall never, never forgive, you. But we are sailing tomorrow on the Saronia. Were you thinking of going home soon? Marian A. Larned.
Thus it happened that, a few minutes later, to the crowd of troubled Americans in a certain steamship booking office there was added a wild-eyed young man who further upset all who saw him. To weary clerks he proclaimed in fiery tones that he must sail on the Saronia. There seemed to be no way of appeasing him. The offer of a private liner would not have interested him.