“Why,” the vice-consul pleaded, “it’s only about forty francs for the whole thing—”
“I don’t care if it’s only fotty cents. And I must say, Mr. Bennam, you’re about the strangest vice-consul, to want me to do it, that I eva saw.”
The vice-consul laughed unresentfully. “Well, shall I send you a lawyer?”
“No!” Mrs. Lander retorted; and after a moment’s reflection she added, “I’m goin’ to stay my month, and so you may tell him, and then I’ll see whetha he can make me pay for that breakage and the candles and suvvice. I’m all wore out, as it is, and I ain’t fit to travel, now, and I don’t know when I shall be. Clementina, you can go and tell Maddalena to stop packin’. Or, no! I’ll do it.”
She left the room without further notice of the consul, who said ruefully to Clementina, “Well, I’ve missed my chance, Miss Claxon, but I guess she’s done the wisest thing for herself.”
“Oh, yes, she’s not fit to go. She must stay, now, till it’s coola. Will you tell the landlo’d, or shall—”
“I’ll tell him,” said the vice-consul, and he had in the landlord. He received her message with the pleasure of a host whose cherished guests have consented to remain a while longer, and in the rush of his good feeling he offered, if the charge for breakage seemed unjust to the vice-consul, to abate it; and since the signora had not understood that she was to pay extra for the other things, he would allow the vice-consul to adjust the differences between them; it was a trifle, and he wished above all things to content the signora, for whom he professed a cordial esteem both on his own part and the part of all his family.
“Then that lets me out for the present,” said the vice-consul, when Clementina repeated Mrs. Lander’s acquiescence in the landlord’s proposals, and he took his straw hat, and called a gondola from the nearest ‘traghetto’, and bargained at an expense consistent with his salary, to have himself rowed back to his own garden-gate.
The rest of the day was an era of better feeling between Mrs. Lander and her host than they had ever known, and at dinner he brought in with his own hand a dish which he said he had caused to be specially made for her. It was so tempting in odor and complexion that Mrs. Lander declared she must taste it, though as she justly said, she had eaten too much already; when it had once tasted it she ate it all, against Clementina’s protestations; she announced at the end that every bite had done her good, and that she never felt better in her life. She passed a happy evening, with renewed faith in the air of the lagoon; her sole regret now was that Mr. Lander had not lived to try it with her, for if he had she was sure he would have been alive at that moment.