“Well, that’s what I thought they ought to do,” said Clementina.
“And do you understand that if that’s so, you don’t come in for anything? You must excuse me for mentioning it; but she has told everybody that you were to have it, and if there is no will—”
He stopped and bent an eye of lack-lustre compassion on the girl, who replied, “Oh, yes. I know that; it’s what I always told her to do. I didn’t want it.”
“You didn’t want it?”
“Well!” The vice-consul stared at her, but he forbore the comment that her indifference inspired. He said after a pause, “Then what we’ve got to do is to advertise for the Michigan relations, and let ’em take any action they want to.”
“That’s the only thing we could do, I presume.”
This gave the vice-consul another pause. At the end of it he got to his feet. “Is there anything I can do for you, Miss Claxon?”
She went to her portfolio and produced Mrs. Lander’s letter of credit. It had been made out for three thousand pounds, in Clementina’s name as well as her own; but she had lived wastefully since she had come abroad, and little money remained to be taken up. With the letter Clementina handed the vice-consul the roll of Italian and Austrian bank-notes which she had drawn when Mrs. Lander decided to leave Venice; they were to the amount of several thousand lire and golden. She offered them with the insensibility to the quality of money which so many women have, and which is always so astonishing to men. “What must I do with these?” she asked.
“Why, keep them! returned the vice-consul on the spur of his surprise.
“I don’t know as I should have any right to,” said Clementina. “They were hers.”
“Why, but”—The vice-consul began his protest, but he could not end it logically, and he did not end it at all. He insisted with Clementina that she had a right to some money which Mrs. Lander had given her during her life; he took charge of the bank-notes in the interest of the possible heirs, and gave her his receipt for them. In the meantime he felt that he ought to ask her what she expected to do.
“I think,” she said, “I will stay in Venice awhile.”
The vice-consul suppressed any surprise he might have felt at a decision given with mystifying cheerfulness. He answered, Well, that was right; and for the second time he asked her if there was anything he could do for her.
“Why, yes,” she returned. “I should like to stay on in the house here, if you could speak for me to the padrone.”
“I don’t see why you shouldn’t, if we can make the padrone understand it’s different.”
“You mean about the price?” The vice-consul nodded. “That’s what I want you should speak to him about, Mr. Bennam, if you would. Tell him that I haven’t got but a little money now, and he would have to make it very reasonable. That is, if you think it would be right for me to stay, afta the way he tried to treat Mrs. Lander.”