“All right.” He took his hat, and set it on the back of his head before he left her without other salutation.
Then Clementina opened her letter. It was in a woman’s hand, and the writer made haste to explain at the beginning that she was George W. Hinkle’s sister, and that she was writing for him; for though he was now out of danger, he was still very weak, and they had all been anxious about him. A month before, he had been hurt in a railroad collision, and had come home from the West, where the accident happened, suffering mainly from shock, as his doctor thought; he had taken to his bed at once, and had not risen from it since. He had been out of his head a great part of the time, and had been forbidden everything that could distress or excite him. His sister said that she was writing for him now as soon as he had seen Clementina’s letter; it had been forwarded from one address to another, and had at last found him there at his home in Ohio. He wished to say that he would come out for Clementina as soon as he was allowed to undertake the journey, and in the meantime she must let him know constantly where she was. The letter closed with a few words of love in his own handwriting.
Clementina rose from reading it, and put on her hat in a bewildered impulse to go to him at once; she knew, in spite of all the cautions and reserves of the letter that he must still be very sick. When she came out of her daze she found that she could only go to the vice-consul. She put the letter in his hands to let it explain itself. “You’ll undastand, now,” she said. “What shall I do?”
When he had read it, he smiled and answered, “I guess I understood pretty well before, though I wasn’t posted on names. Well, I suppose you’ll want to layout most of your capital on cables, now?”
“Yes,” she laughed, and then she suddenly lamented, “Why didn’t they telegraph?”
“Well, I guess he hadn’t the head for it,” said the vice-consul, “and the rest wouldn’t think of it. They wouldn’t, in the country.”
Clementina laughed again; in joyous recognition of the fact, “No, my fatha wouldn’t, eitha!”
The vice-consul reached for his hat, and he led the way to Clementina’s gondola at his garden gate, in greater haste than she. At the telegraph office he framed a dispatch which for expansive fullness and precision was apparently unexampled in the experience of the clerk who took it and spelt over its English with them. It asked an answer in the vice-consul’s care, and, “I’ll tell you what, Miss Claxon,” he said with a husky weakness in his voice, “I wish you’d let this be my treat.”
She understood. “Do you really, Mr. Bennam?”
“I do indeed.”
“Well, then, I will,” she said, but when he wished to include in his treat the dispatch she sent home to her father announcing her coming, she would not let him.
He looked at his watch, as they rowed away. “It’s eight o’clock here, now, and it will reach Ohio about six hours earlier; but you can’t expect an answer tonight, you know.”