Scene. Deck of an ocean steamer.
Mrs. Jerrold, matron and chaperon in general.
Edith Jerrold, her daughter.
Albert Madden, a young man on study intent.
Eric, his brother, on pleasure bent.
Norman Mann, cousin of the Jerrolds, old classmate of the
Mae Madden, sister of the brothers and leading lady.
“It’s something like dying, I do declare,” said Mae, and as she spoke a suspicious-looking drop slid softly across her cheek, down over the deck-railing, to join its original briny fellows in the deep below.
“What is like dying?” asked Eric.
“Why, leaving the only world you know. There, you see, papa and mamma are fast fading away, and here we are traveling off at the rate of ever so many miles an hour.”
“Knots, Mae; do be nautical at sea.”
“Away from everything and everybody we know. I do really think it is like dying,—don’t you, Mr. Mann?” Mae turned abruptly and faced the young man by her side.
“People aren’t apt to die in batches or by the half-dozen,” he replied, coolly. “If you were all by yourself, it would be more like it, I suppose, but you are taking quite a slice of your own world along with you, and really—”
“And really pity is the very last article I have any use for. You are right. I was only sorry for the moment. ‘Eastward Ho’ is a very happy cry. How differently we shall all take Europe,” she continued, in a moment. “There is Albert, I honestly believe he will live in his Baedeker just because he can see no further than the covers of a book. You need not laugh, for it is a fact that people confined for years to a room can’t see beyond its limits when they are taken out into broader space, and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be the same with a man who lives in his books as Albert does.”
“He sees the world in his books,” said Mr. Mann, with a little spirit.
“He gets a microscopic view of it, yes,” replied Mae, grandiloquently, “and Edith—”
“Always sees just what he does,” suggested Eric maliciously.
“Now, boys,” said Miss Mae, assuming suddenly a mighty patronage, “I will not have you hit at Albert and Edith in this way. It will be very annoying to them. They have a right to act just as absurdly as they choose. We none of us know how people who are falling in love would act.”
No, the boys agreed this was quite true.
“And I really do suppose they are falling in love, don’t you?” queried Mae.
Yes, they did both believe it.
Just here, up came the two subjects of conversation, looking, it must be confessed, as much like one subject as any man and wife.
“What are you talking of?” asked Edith, “Madame Tussaud or a French salad? No matter how trivial the topic, I am sure it has a foreign flavor.”