Peggy beckoned to the new arrival who managed to slip around the aisle and come to her end of the seat. If she minced with a rather affected step it was not commented upon. Most people were too fascinated by her beauty to criticise her walk. The look which the two exchanged puzzled Mr. Stewart more than ever. Peggy’s lips were quivering as she said:
“Miss—er, Miss Leroux, I want you to know Mrs. Howland and my father.”
“So delighted to,” replied “Miss” Leroux, but at the words Mrs. Rowland gave a little gasp and Mr. Stewart who had risen to meet Peggy’s friend, started as though some one had struck him, for the voice, even with Durand’s best attempts to disguise it to a feminine pitch, held a quality which no girl’s voice ever held.
“Well I’ll be—I’ll be—why you unqualified scamp, who are you, and what do you mean by looking so exactly like my girl here that I don’t know whether I’ve one daughter or two?” Then Durand fled, laughing as only Durand could—with eyes, lips and an indescribable expression which made both the laugh and himself absolutely irresistible.
The following week sped away and before any one quite knew where it had gone the great June ball was a thing of the past and the morning had come which would mean the dividing of the ways for many.
Happy, Wheedles, and Shortie had graduated and would have a month’s leave. Durand was now a second-classman, Ralph a youngster, and about to start upon the summer practice cruise.
The ships were to run down to Hampton Roads and then up to New London, where Mrs. Harold and all her party were to meet them, she and Mrs. Howland having taken rooms at the Griswold for the period the ships would be at New London.
They had asked Peggy to go with them and when “Daddy Neil” arrived he was included in the invitation.
But Daddy Neil had a plan or two of his own, and these plans he was not long in turning over with Mr. Harold to the satisfaction of all concerned, and they all decided that they “beat the first ones out of sight.”
As Daddy Neil was a man of prompt action he was not long in carrying them into effect, and they were nothing more nor less than a big house party in New London rather than the hotel life which had been planned. So telegraph wires were kept busy, and in no time one of the Griswold cottages was at the disposal of the entire party.
OFF FOR NEW LONDON
“Now I’m going to run this show, Harold, and you may just as well pipe down,” rumbled Neil Stewart in his deep, wholesome voice. “Besides, I’m your ranking officer and here’s where I prove it,” he added, forcing Mr. Harold into his pet Morris chair and towering above him, his genial laugh filling the room.
It was the Sunday afternoon following graduation. Many, indeed the greater portion of the graduates, had left for their homes, or to pay visits to friends before joining their ships at the end of their month’s leave, though some still lingered, their plans as yet unformed.