The Claxons were not able to enter into their view of the case, but if Mrs. Lander wanted to go to Florence instead of Florida they did not see why Clementina should not go with her to one place as well as the other. They were not without a sense of flattery from the fact that their daughter was going to Europe; but they put that as far from them as they could, the mother severely and the father ironically, as something too silly, and they tried not to let it weigh with them in making up their mind, but to consider only Clementina’s best good, and not even to regard her pleasure. Her mother put before her the most crucial questions she could think of, in her letter, and then gave her full leave from her father as well as herself to go if she wished.
Clementina had rather it had been too late to go with the Milrays, but she felt bound to own her decision when she reached it; and Mrs. Milray, whatever her real wish was, made it a point of honor to help get Mrs. Lander berths on her steamer. It did not require much effort; there are plenty of berths for the latest-comers on a winter passage, and Clementina found herself the fellow passenger of Mrs. Milray.
As soon as Mrs. Lander could make her way to her state-room, she got into her berth, and began to take the different remedies for sea-sickness which she had brought with her. Mrs. Milray said that was nice, and that now she and Clementina could have a good tune. But before it came to that she had taken pity on a number of lonely young men whom she found on board. She cheered them up by walking round the ship with them; but if any of them continued dull in spite of this, she dropped him, and took another; and before she had been two days out she had gone through with nearly all the lonely young men on the list of cabin passengers. She introduced some of them to Clementina, but at such times as she had them in charge; and for the most part she left her to Milray. Once, as the girl sat beside him in her steamer-chair, Mrs. Milray shed a wrap on his knees in whirring by on the arm of one of her young men, with some laughed and shouted charge about it.
“What did she say?” he asked Clementina, slanting the down-pulled brim of his soft hat purblindly toward her.
She said she had not understood, and then Milray asked, “What sort of person is that Boston youth of Mrs. Milray’s? Is he a donkey or a lamb?”
Clementina said ingenuously, “Oh, she’s walking with that English gentleman now—that lo’d.”
“Ah, yes,” said Milray. “He’s not very much to look at, I hear.”
“Well, not very much,” Clementina admitted; she did not like to talk against people.
“Lords are sometimes disappointing, Clementina,” Milray said, “but then, so are other great men. I’ve seen politicians on our side who were disappointing, and there are clergymen and gamblers who don’t look it.” He laughed sadly. “That’s the way people talk who are a little disappointing themselves. I hope you don’t expect too much of yourself, Clementina?”