It threatened to suffuse him, choke him, rob him of his senses; he wanted to cry out. Her name was Chiquita. He repeated it over and over in time to his steps. Was there ever such a beautiful name? Was there ever such a ravishing little wood-sprite? And her sweet, hesitating accent that rang in his ears! How could human tongue make such caressing music of the harshest language on the globe? She had called him “Senor Antonio,” and invited him to come again to-morrow. Would he come? He doubted his ability to wait so long. Knowing that she agreed to the tryst, no power on earth could deter him.
What a day it had been! He had started out in the morning, vaguely hoping to divert his mind with some of those trite little happenings that for lack of a better term we call adventures in this humdrum world. And then, with the miraculous, unbelievable luck of youth, he had stumbled plump into the middle of the most wondrous adventure it was possible to conceive. And yet this wasn’t adventure, after all—it was something bigger, finer, more precious. With a suddenness that was blinding he realized that he was in love! Yes, that was it, beyond the shadow of a doubt. This mischief-ridden, foreign-born little creature was the one and only woman in the world for whom the fates had made him and brought him across two oceans.
That evening he sat for a long time alone on the gallery of his hotel, his spirit uplifted with the joy of it, a thousand whispering voices in his ears. And when at last he fell asleep it was to dream of an olive, oval face with eyes like black pansies.
THE PATH THAT LED NOWHERE
When “Senor Antonio” awoke the next morning he lay for an instant striving to recall what it was that had haunted his sleeping hours, what great event awaited him. Then, as it rushed through his mind, he leaped out of bed and dashed headlong into the bath-room. This was to-morrow! It had been ages in coming—he recalled how even his slumbers had dragged—but it was here at last, and he would see Chiquita.
He sang as he stepped under his shower, and whistled blithely as he dressed himself. What a glorious country this Panama was, anyhow! How good it was to be young and to be in love! He never had been so happy. A man must be in love to sing before breakfast. But the afternoon was still a long way off, and he must be content to dream until the hour came.
He was too early for the Cortlandts, and he breakfasted alone. When he strolled out upon the veranda for his smoke he found Allan waiting for him, as usual. The Jamaican had not missed a morning so far, and it was only by a show of downright firmness that Kirk had been able to get rid of him at any time during the day. The black boy seemed bent upon devoting his every waking hour to his hero, and now, finding himself regarded with friendly eyes, he expanded joyously.