V
SENTIMENTAL EXCHANGE

If Lorry slept that night he was not aware of it. The next morning, after he had breakfasted with his mother, he tried in vain to recall a minute of the time between midnight and eight a.m. in which he did not think of the young woman who had flown away with his tranquillity. All night long he tossed and thought. He counted ten thousand black sheep jumping over a pasture fence, but, after the task was done and the sheep had scattered, he was as far from sleep as ever. Her face was everywhere. Her voice filled his ear with music never-ceasing, but it was not the lulling music that invites drowsiness. He heard the clock strike the hours from one to eight, when he arose, thoroughly disgusted with himself. Everything seemed to taste bitter or to look blue. That breakfast was a great strain on his natural politeness. He worshipped his mother, but in several instances that morning he caught himself just in time to prevent the utterance of some sharp rejoinder to her pleasant, motherly queries. Twice she was compelled to repeat questions, his mind being so far away that he heard nothing save words that another woman had uttered, say twenty-four hours before. His eyes were red, and there was a heavy droop to the lids; his tones were drawling and his voice strangely without warmth; his face was white and tired.

“You are not well, Grenfall,” his mother said, peering anxiously into his eyes. “The trip has done you up. Now, you must take a good, long rest and recover from your vacation.”

He smiled grimly.

“A man never needs a rest so much as he does at the end of his vacation, eh, mother? Well, work will be restful. I shall go to the office this morning and do three days' work before night. That will prove to you that I am perfectly well.”

He made a pretence of reading the morning paper. There was nothing to interest him on' those cold, commonplace pages, not one thing—but wait! A thought struck him suddenly, and for ten minutes he searched the columns assiduously, even nervously. Then he threw down the paper with a sigh of relief.

There was nothing to indicate that her train had been wrecked. She had undoubtedly reached New York in safety. He looked at his watch. She was probably enjoying her breakfast at that very moment. Perhaps she was thinking of him and—perhaps not. The memory of that last tender hand clasp and the soft glow in her eyes stood like a wall between the fear that she had forgotten and the certainty that she remembered. Had not this memory kept him awake? That and the final, mysterious emotion which had shown itself in her face as he had last looked upon it? A thousand times had he pondered over that startled look and the signs of agitation. Was it fear? Was it dismay? Was it renunciation? Whatever it was, it sorely disturbed him; it had partly undone the charm of the moment before—the charm that could not and would not be gainsaid.

True to his intention, he went to the office early, virtuously inclined to work. His uncle greeted him warmly and a long conference over business affairs followed. To Lorry's annoyance and discomfiture he found himself frequently inattentive. Several important cases were pending, and in a day or two they were to go into court with a damage suit of more than ordinary consequence. Lorry, senior, could not repress his gratification over the return of his clever, active nephew at such an opportune time. He had felt himself unable to handle the case alone; the endurance of a young and vigorous mind was required for the coming battle in chancery.

They lunched together, the elder eager and confidential, the other respectful and—absent-minded. In the afternoon the junior went over the case, and renewed search for authorities and opinions, fully determined to be constant in spite of his inclination to be fickle. Late in the day he petulantly threw aside the books, curtly informed his astonished uncle that he was not feeling well, and left the office. Until dinner time he played billiards atrociously at his club; at dinner his mother sharply reproved him for flagrant inattentions; after dinner he smoked and wondered despondently. To-morrow she was to sail! If he could but see her once more!

At 7:30 his mother found him in the library, searching diligently through the volume of the encyclopedia that contained the G's. When she asked what he was looking for he laughed idiotically, and, in confusion, informed her that he was trying to find the name of the most important city in Indiana. She was glancing at the books in the case when she was startled by hearing him utter an exclamation and then lean to his feet.

“Half-past seven! I can make it!”

“What is the matter, Gren dear?”

“Oh!” he ejaculated, bringing himself up with a start. “I forgot—er—yes, mother, I'll just have time to catch the train, you know. Will you kindly have Mary clean up this muss of books and so forth? I'm off, you see, to New York—for a day only, mother,—back tomorrow! Important business—just remembered it, you know,—ahem! Good-by, mother! Good-by!” he had kissed her and was in the hall before she fairly understood what he was talking about. Then she ran after him, gaining the hallway in time to see him pass through the street door, his hat on the side of his head, his overcoat fluttering furiously as he shoved his arms into the sleeves. The door slammed, and he was off to New York.

The train was ready to pull out when he reached the station, and it was only by a hard run that he caught the last platform, panting but happy. just twenty-four hours before she had left Washington, and it was right here that she had smiled and said she would expect him to come to Edelweiss. He had had no time to secure a berth in the sleeper, but was fortunately able to get one after taking the train. Grenfall went to sleep feeling both disappointed and disgusted. Disappointed because of his submission to sentiment; disgusted because of the man who occupied the next section. A man who is in love and in doubt has no patience with the prosaic wretch who can sleep so audibly.

After a hasty breakfast in New York he telephoned to the steamship company's pier and asked the time of sailing for the Kaiser Wilhelm. On being informed that the ship was to cast off at her usual hour, he straightway called a cab and was soon bowling along toward the busy waterway. Directly he sat bolt upright, rigid and startled to find himself more awakened to the realization of his absurd action. Again it entered his infatuated head that he was performing the veriest schoolboy trick in rushing to a steamship pier in the hope of catching a final, and at best, unsatisfactory glimpse of a young woman who had appealed to his sensitive admiration. A love-sick boy could be excused for such a display of imbecility, but a man—a man of the world'. Never!

“The idea of chasing down to the water's edge to see that girl is enough to make you ashamed of yourself for life, Grenfall Lorry,” he apostrophized. “It's worse than any lovesick fool ever dreamed of doing. I am blushing, I'll be bound. The idiocy, the rank idiocy of the thing! And suppose she should see me staring at her out there on the pier? What would she think of me? I'll not go another foot! I won't be a fool!”

He was excited and self-conscious and thoroughly ashamed of the trip into which his impetuous adoration had driven him. Just as he was tugging at the door in the effort to open it that he might order the driver to take him back to the hotel, a sly tempter whispered something in his ear; his fancy was caught, and he listened:

“Why not go down to the pier and look over the passenger list, just to see if she has been booked safely? That would be perfectly proper and sensible, and besides it will be a satisfaction to know that she gets off all right. Certainly! There's nothing foolish in that.... Especially as I am right on the way there.... And as I have come so far... there's no sense in going back without seeing whether she has secured passage.... I can find out in a minute and then go home. There won't be anything wrong in that. And then I may have a glimpse of her before the ship leaves the pier. She must not see me, of course. Never! She'd laugh at me! How I'd hate to see her laughing at me!” Then, sinking back again with a smile of justification on his face, he muttered: “We won't turn back; we'll go right ahead. We'll be a kind of a fool, but not so foolish as to allow her to see us and recognize us as one.”

Before long they arrived at the wharf, and he hurried to the office near by. The clerk permitted him to look over the list. First he ran through the first-class passengers, and was surprised to find that there was no such name as Guggenslocker in the list. Then he went over the second class, but still no Guggenslocker.

“Hasn't Mr. Guggenslocker taken passage?” he demanded, unwilling to believe his eyes.

“Not on the Kaiser Wilhelm, sir.”

“Then, by George, they'll miss the boat!” Lorry exclaimed. “Maybe they'll be here in a few minutes.”

“They can't get anything but steerage now, sir. Everything else is gone.”

“Are you sure they haven't taken passage?” asked the bewildered Lorry, weakly.

“You can see for yourself,” answered the young man, curtly. Lorry was again in a perspiration, this time the result of a vague, growing suspicion that had forced itself into his mind. He wandered aimlessly away, his brain a chaos of speculation. The suspicion to which he had given countenance grew, and as it enlarged he suffered torment untold. Gradually he came to the conclusion that she had fooled him, had lied to him. She did not intend to sail on the Wilhelm, at all. It was all very clear to him now, that strangeness in her manner, those odd occasional smiles What was she? An adventuress! That sweet-faced girl a little ordinary coquette, a liar? He turned cold with the thought. Nor was she alone in her duplicity. Had not her uncle and aunt been as ready to deceive him? Were they trying to throw him off their track for some subtle purpose? Had they done something for which they were compelled to fly the country as quickly as possible? No! Not that! They certainly were not fleeing from justice. But why were they not on board the Kaiser Wilhelm?

Suddenly he started as if he had been struck, and an involuntary exclamation of pain and horror escaped his lips. Perhaps something unforeseen had happened—an accident—illness—even death!

The clanging of bells broke upon his ears and he knew that the great ship was about to depart. Mechanically, disconsolately he walked out and paced the broad, crowded wharf. All was excitement. There was the rush of people, the shouts, the cheers, the puffing of tugs, the churning of water, and the Kaiser Wilhelm was off on its long voyage. Half-heartedly, miserably and in a dazed condition he found a place in the front row along the rail. There were tears in his eyes, tears of anger, shame and mortification. She had played with him!

Moodily he watched the crowd of voyagers hanging over the rails of the moving leviathan of the deep. A faint smile of irony came to his lips. This was the boat on which his heart was to have been freighted from native shores. The craft was sailing, but it was not carrying the cargo that he had, in very good faith, consigned to Graustark. His heart was certainly not on board the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse.

Gloomily his disappointed eyes swept along the rail of the big steamer, half interested in spite of themselves. Twice they passed a certain point on the forward deck, unconscious of a force that was attracting them in that direction. The third time he allowed them to settle for an instant on the group of faces and figures and then stray off to other parts of the ship. Some strange power drew them again to the forward deck, and this time he was startled into an intent stare. Could he believe those eyes? Surely that was her figure at the rail—there between the two young women who were waving their handkerchiefs so frantically. His heart began to jump up and down, wildly, doubtingly, impatiently. Why could not that face be turned toward the wharf as the others were? There was the blue coat but not the blue cap. A jaunty sailor hat sat where the never-to-be-forgotten cap had perched. The change was slight, but it was sufficient to throw him into the most feverish state of uncertainty. An insane desire to shout a command to this strange young woman came over him.

The ship was slowly opening a gap between herself and the wharf, and he knew that in a few moments recognition would be impossible. Just as he was losing hope and was ready to groan with despair, the face beneath the sailor hat was turned squarely in his direction. A glaze obscured his eyes, a numbness attacked his brain. It was Miss Guggenslocker!

Why was her name omitted from the passenger list? That question was the first to whirl through his addled brain. He forgot the questionings, forgot everything a moment later, for, to his amazement and delight and discomfiture, he saw that she was peering intently at him. A pair of big glasses was leveled at him for a second and then lowered. He plainly saw the smile on her face, and the fluttering cambric in her hand. She had seen him, after all,—had caught him in a silly exhibition of weakness. Her last impression of him, then, was to be one of which he could not feel proud. While his heart burned with shame, it could not have been suspected from the appearance of his face. His eyes were dancing, his mouth was wide open with joy, his lips were quivering with a suppressed shout, his cheeks were flushed and his whole aspect bespoke ecstacy. He waved his hat and then his handkerchief, obtaining from her vigorous and unrestrained signs of approbation. Her face was wreathed in smiles as she leaned far over the rail, the picture of animated pleasure.

Making sure that her uncle and aunt were not visible, he boldly placed his fingers to his lips and wafted a kiss out over the water!

“Now she'll crush me,” he cried to himself, regretting the rash act and praying that she had not observed it.

Her handkerchief ceased fluttering in an instant, and, with sinking heart, he realized that she had observed. There was a moment of indecision on the part of the fair one going out to sea, and then the little finger tips of both hands went to her lips and his kiss came back to him!

The people near him were surprised to hear a wild yell from his lips and then to see him wave his hat so madly that there was some danger of its being knocked to pieces against the railing or upon the persons of those who stood too close to escape the whirling consequences. So unexpected had been her reception of what he considered a calamitous indiscretion that he was to be pardoned for the ebullition of relief and joy that followed. Had she drawn a revolver and fired angrily at him he could not have been more astounded. But, to actually throw a kiss to him—to meet his imprudence in the same spirit that had inspired it! Too much to believe! In the midst of his elation, however, there came a reminder that she did not expect to see him again, that she was playing with him, that it was a merry jest and not a heartache that filled her bosom at the parting.

While he was still waving his handkerchief, debating savagely and joyously the wisdom of the act, she became a part of the distant color scheme; the blue figure faded and blended into the general tone and could no longer be distinguished. She was gone, but she had tossed him a kiss from lips that he should always see. As he turned away from the water he found himself wondering if there had been tears in her eyes, but the probability was so remote that he laughed foolishly and aloud A couple of girls heard the laugh and giggled in sympathy, but he turned a scowling face upon them and disappeared in the throng.

Uppermost in his bewildered mind was the question: Why is she not in the passenger list? Acting on a sudden impulse, he again sought out the clerk in charge and made a most thorough inspection. There was no Guggenslocker among the names. As a last resort h asked:

“They could not have sailed under an assumed name, could they?”

“I can't say as to that. Where are they going?”

“Graustark.”

But the young man shook his head slowly, Lorry's shaking in unconscious accord.

“Are you sure that you saw the young lady on board?”

“Well, rather!” exclaimed Lorry, emphatically.

“I was going to say there are a lot of Italian and German singers on the ship, and you might have been mistaken. But since you are so positive, it seems very strange that your friends are not on the list.”

So Lorry went away discouraged and with a vague fear that she might have been a prima donna whose real name was Guggenslocker but whose stage name was something more euphonious. He instantly put away the thought and the fear. She was certainly not an opera singer—impossible! He drove back to his hotel, and made preparations for his return to Washington. Glancing casually over the register he came to the name that had been haunting him—Guggenslocker! There were the names, “Caspar Guggenslocker and four, Graustark.” Without hesitation he began to question the clerk.

“They sailed on the Kaiser Wilhelm to-day;” said that worthy. “That's all I know about them. They came yesterday and left to-day.”

Mr. Grenfall Lorry returned to Washington as in a dream—a fairy dream. The air of mystery that had grown from the first was now an impenetrable wall, the top of which his curiosity could not scale. Even his fancy, his imagination, served him not. There was but one point on which he was satisfied: he was in love. His own condition was no mystery.

Several weeks later he went to New York to question the Captain of the Wilhelm, hoping to clear away the clouds satisfactorily. To his amazement, the captain said there had been no Guggenslockers on board nor had there been persons answering the description, so far as he could tell.

Through the long hot summer he worked, and worried, and wondered. In the first, he did little that was satisfactory to himself or to his uncle; in the second, he did so much that he was advised by his physician to take a rest; in the last, he indulged himself so extensively that it had become unbearable. He must know all about her? But how?

The early months of autumn found him pale and tired and indifferent alike to work and play. He found no pleasure in the society that had known him as a lion. Women bored him; men annoyed him; the play suffocated him; the tiresome club was ruining his temper; the whole world was going wrong. The doctor told him he was approaching nervous prostration; his mother's anxious eyes could no longer be denied, so he realized grimly that there was but one course left open to him.

He suggested it to the doctor, to his mother and to his uncle, and they agreed with him. It involved Europe.

Having fully decided again to cross the sea, his spirits revived. He became more cheerful, took an interest in things that were going on, and, by the time the Kaiser Wilhelm sailed in September, was the picture of health and life.

He was off for Edelweiss—to the strange Miss Guggenslocker who had thrown him a kiss from the deck that sailing-day.

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