“Well, I must see Liakos.” he said to himself. “But where shall I find him at this time of day?”
Just then the clock on the Church of the Transfiguration struck twelve. Mr. Plateas remembered, first that his dinner was waiting for him at home, and next that his friend was in the habit of dining at a certain restaurant behind the square; and wending his way there, he met the judge at the door.
“Oh, my dear friend!” he exclaimed. “My dear friend!”
“What’s the matter? What has happened to you?” asked Mr. Liakos, anxiously.
“What has happened to me? Something I never dreamed of! I’ve just asked Mr. Mitrophanis for the hand of his elder daughter, and instead of—–”
“You asked him for his daughter’s hand?”
“Yes. Is there anything so very astonishing in that?”
“Why, didn’t you tell me yesterday that—–”
“Well, what if I did? During the night I thought it over, and became convinced that I ought to get married, and that I never shall find a better wife.”
“Listen, Plateas,” said Mr. Liakos, obviously much moved. “I understand your sudden conversion, because I understand you; but I can’t let you make such a sacrifice.”
“What sacrifice? Who said anything about sacrifice? I have made up my mind to get married, because I want to get married; and I will get married, and if her father refuses his consent I’ll run away with her!” And he gave a lively account of his meeting with Mr. Mitrophanis.
The judge smiled as he listened, for he, too, had been thinking of this match ever since the night before, and the more he thought of it the more eminently fit and proper it seemed. After rigid self-examination, he persuaded himself that he was quite disinterested in the matter, and that his sweetheart’s sister and his friend could never be happy apart. As for the father’s consent, he had little fear on that score. He rather dreaded, it is true, the mission that was thrust upon him, especially when he thought of the manner in which the old man had received his name; but he felt that he could not refuse this service to his friend, and finally promised to see Mr. Mitrophanis that very day, and to come in the evening to report the happy result of his interview.
When the professor had gone, the judge began to think with misgiving of the difficulties that beset his mission. He had so much at stake in its success that his mediation might not be accepted as impartial, or his praise of the suitor as quite unbiased. His friend’s cause ought to have been entrusted to some one less deeply interested in the event. If the professor had not been in such haste to name him as an intermediary, they could have consulted his cousin, and even placed the matter in her hands; his own appearance on the scene would only give Mr. Mitrophanis fresh offence.
But why not ask her advice in confidence? She was a woman of sense and experience, and could probably find some way out of their quandary. Mr. Liakos was on the point of going to his cousin, but he reflected that it would be a grave indiscretion to impart the secret to a third person without his friend’s consent, and he felt too that it would be very weak in him not to perform loyally the duty that he had undertaken. Forward, then! Courage!