It was an hour afterward, and Poor Jr. had knocked twice at my door, when I lighted the room and opened it to him. He came in, excitedly flushed, and, instead of taking a chair, began to walk quickly up and down the floor.
“I’m afraid I forgot all about you, Ansolini,” he said, “but that girl I ran into is a—a Miss Landry, whom I have known a long—”
I put my hand on his shoulder for a moment and said:
“I think I am not so dull, my friend!”
He made a blue flash at me with his eyes, then smiled and shook his head.
“Yes, you are right,” he answered, re-beginning his fast pace over the carpet. “It was she that I meant in Lucerne—I don’t see why I should not tell you. In Paris she said she didn’t want me to see her again until I could be—freiendly—the old way instead of something considerably different, which I’d grown to be. Well, I’ve just told her not only that I’d behave like a friend, but that I’d changed and felt like one. Pretty much of a lie that was!” He laighed, without any amusement. “But it was successful, and I suppose I can keep it up. At any rate we’re going over to Venice with her and her mother to-morrow. Afterwards, we’ll see them in Naples just before they sail.”
“To Venice with them!” I could not repress crying out.
“Yes; we join parties for two days,” he said, and stopped at a window and looked out attentively at nothing before he went on: “It won’t be very long, and I don’t suppose it will ever happen again. The other man is to meet them in Rome. He’s a countryman of yours, and I believe—I believe it’s—about—settled!”
He pronounced these last words in an even voice, but how slowly! Not more slowly than the construction of my own response, which I heard myself making:
“This countryman of mine—who is he?”
“One of your kind of Kentucky Colonels,” Poor Jr. laughed mournfully. At first I did not understand; then it came to me that he had sometimes previously spoken in that idiom of the nobles, and that it had been his custom to address one of his Parisian followers, a vicomte, as “Colonel.”
“What is his name?”
“I can’t pronounce it, and I don’t know how to spell it,” he answered. “And that doesn’t bring me to the verge of the grave! I can bear to forget it, at least until we get to Naples!”
He turned and went to the door, saying, cheerfully: “Well, old horse-thief” (such had come to be his name for me sometimes, and it was pleasant to hear), “we must be dressing. They’re at this hotel, and we dine with them to-night.”