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Chapter 28


CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE next morning Coleman awoke with a sign of a
resolute decision on his face, as if it had been a
development of his sleep. He would see Marjory as soon
as possible, see her despite any barbed-wire entanglements
which might be placed in the way by her
mother, whom he regarded as his strenuous enemy.
And he would ask Marjory's hand in the presence of
all Athens if it became necessary.

He sat a long time at his breakfast in order to see
the Wainwrights enter the dining room, and as he was
about to surrender to the will of time, they came in,
the professor placid and self-satisfied, Mrs. Wainwright
worried and injured and Marjory cool, beautiful,
serene. If there had been any kind of a storm there
was no trace of it on the white brow of the girl.
Coleman studied her closely but furtively while his
mind spun around his circle of speculation.
Finally he noted the waiter who was observing him
with a pained air as if it was on the tip of his tongue
to ask this guest if he was going to remain at breakfast
forever. Coleman passed out to the reading
room where upon the table a multitude of great red
guide books were crushing the fragile magazines of
London and Paris. On the walls were various
depressing maps with the name of a tourist agency
luridly upon them, and there were also some pictures
of hotels with their rates-in francs-printed beneath.
The room was cold, dark, empty, with the trail of the
tourist upon it.

Coleman went to the picture of a hotel in Corfu
and stared at it precisely as if he was interested. He
was standing before it when he heard Marjory's voice
just without the door. "All right! I'll wait." He
did not move for the reason that the hunter moves
not when the unsuspecting deer approaches his hiding
place. She entered rather quickly and was well
toward the centre of the room before she perceived
Coleman. " Oh," she said and stopped. Then she
spoke the immortal sentence, a sentence which,
curiously enough is common to the drama, to the
novel, and to life. " I thought no one was here."
She looked as if she was going to retreat, but it would
have been hard to make such retreat graceful, and
probably for this reason she stood her ground.

Coleman immediately moved to a point between
her and the door. "You are not going to run away
from me, Marjory Wainwright," he cried, angrily.
" You at least owe it to me to tell me definitely that
you don't love me-that you can't love me-"

She did not face him with all of her old spirit, but
she faced him, and in her answer there was the old
Marjory. " A most common question. Do you ask
all your feminine acquaintances that? "

"I mean-" he said. "I mean that I love you
and-"

"Yesterday-no. To-day-yes. To-morrow-who
knows. Really, you ought to take some steps to
know your own mind."

" Know my own mind," he retorted in a burst of in-
dignation. "You mean you ought to take steps to
know your own mind."

" My own mind! You-" Then she halted in
acute confusion and all her face went pink. She had
been far quicker than the man to define the scene.
She lowered her head. Let me past, please-"

But Coleman sturdily blocked the way and even
took one of her struggling hands. "Marjory-"
And then his brain must have roared with a thousand
quick sentences for they came tumbling out, one
over the other. * * Her resistance to the grip of his
fingers grew somewhat feeble. Once she raised her
eyes in a quick glance at him. * * Then suddenly
she wilted. She surrendered, she confessed without
words. " Oh, Marjory, thank God, thank God-"
Peter Tounley made a dramatic entrance on the
gallop. He stopped, petrified. "Whoo!" he cried.
"My stars! " He turned and fled. But Coleman
called after him in a low voice, intense with agitation.

" Come back here, you young scoundrel! Come baok
here I "

Peter returned, looking very sheepish. " I hadn't
the slightest idea you-"

" Never mind that now. But look here, if you tell
a single soul-particularly those other young
scoundrels-I'll break-"

" I won't, Coleman. Honest, I won't." He was
far more embarrassed than Coleman and almost equally
so with Marjory. He was like a horse tugging at a
tether. "I won't, Coleman! Honest!"

" Well, all right, then." Peter escaped.

The professor and his wife were in their sitting room
writing letters. The cablegrams had all been answered,
but as the professor intended to prolong his
journey homeward into a month of Paris and London,
there remained the arduous duty of telling their
friends at length exactly what had happened. There
was considerable of the lore of olden Greece in the
professor's descriptions of their escape, and in those
of Mrs. Wainwright there was much about the lack of
hair-pins and soap.

Their heads were lowered over their writing when
the door into the corridor opened and shut quickly,
and upon looking up they saw in the room a radiant
girl, a new Marjory. She dropped to her knees by
her father's chair and reached her arms to his neck.
" Oh, daddy! I'm happy I I'm so happy! "

" Why-what-" began the professor stupidly.

" Oh, I am so happy, daddy!

Of course he could not be long in making his conclusion.
The one who could give such joy to Marjory
was the one who, last night, gave her such grief.
The professor was only a moment in understanding.
He laid his hand tenderly upon her head " Bless my
soul," he murmured. "And so-and so-he-"

At the personal pronoun, Mrs. Wainwright lum-
bered frantically to her feet. " What ? " she shouted.
Coleman ? "

" Yes," answered Marjory. " Coleman." As she
spoke the name her eyes were shot with soft yet
tropic flashes of light.

Mrs. Wainwright dropped suddenly back into her
chair. "Well-of-all-things!"
The professor was stroking his daughter's hair and
although for a time after Mrs. Wainwright's outbreak
there was little said, the old man and the girl seemed
in gentle communion, she making him feel her happiness,
he making her feel his appreciation. Providentially
Mrs. Wainwright had been so stunned by the
first blow that she was evidently rendered incapable of
speech.

" And are you sure you will be happy with him?
asked her father gently.

" All my life long," she answered.

" I am glad! I am glad! " said the father, but even
as he spoke a great sadness came to blend with his
joy. The hour when he was to give this beautiful
and beloved life into the keeping of another had been
heralded by the god of the sexes, the ruthless god
that devotes itself to the tearing of children from the
parental arms and casting them amid the mysteries of
an irretrievable wedlock. The thought filled him
with solemnity.

But in the dewy eyes of the girl there was no question.
The world to her was a land of glowing promise.

" I am glad," repeated the professor.

The girl arose from her knees. " I must go away
and-think all about it," she said, smiling. When
the door of her room closed upon her, the mother
arose in majesty.

" Harrison Wainwright," she declaimed, "you are
not going to allow this monstrous thing! "

The professor was aroused from a reverie by these
words. "What monstrous thing ? " he growled.

" Why, this between Coleman and Marjory."

" Yes," he answered boldly.

" Harrison! That man who-"

The professor crashed his hand down on the table.
"Mary! I will not hear another word of it! "

" Well," said Mrs. Wainwright, sullen and ominous,
" time will tell! Time will tell!"

When Coleman bad turned from the fleeing Peter
Tounley again to Marjory, he found her making the
preliminary movements of a flight. "What's the
matter? " he demanded anxiously.

" Oh, it's too dreadful"

" Nonsense," lie retorted stoutly. " Only Peter
Tounley! He don't count. What of that ? "

' Oh, dear! " She pressed her palm to a burning
cheek. She gave him a star-like, beseeching glance.
Let me go now-please."

" Well," he answered, somewhat affronted, " if you
like--"

At the door she turned to look at him, and this
glance expressed in its elusive way a score of things
which she had not yet been able to speak. It explained
that she was loth to leave him, that she asked
forgiveness for leaving him, that even for a short absence
she wished to take his image in her eyes, that
he must not bully her, that there was something now
in her heart which frightened her, that she loved him,
that she was happy---

When she had gone, Coleman went to the rooms of
the American minister. A Greek was there who
talked wildly as he waved his cigarette. Coleman
waited in well-concealed impatience for the dvapora-
tion of this man. Once the minister, regarding the
correspondent hurriedly, interpolated a comment.
" You look very cheerful ? "

" Yes," answered Coleman, " I've been taking your
advice."

" Oh, ho ! " said the minister.

The Greek with the cigarette jawed endlessly.
Coleman began to marvel at the enduring good man-
ners of the minister, who continued to nod and nod in
polite appreciation of the Greek's harangue, which,
Coleman firmly believed, had no point of interest
whatever. But at last the man, after an effusive farewell,
went his way.

" Now," said the minister, wheeling in his chair
tell me all about it."

Coleman arose, and thrusting his hands deep in his
trousers' pockets, began to pace the room with long
strides. He, said nothing, but kept his eyes on the
floor.

" Can I have a drink ? " he asked, abruptly pausing.

" What would you like? " asked the minister, benevolently,
as he touched the bell.

" A brandy and soda. I'd like it very much. You
see," he said, as he resumed his walk, " I have no kind
of right to burden you with my affairs, but, to tell the
truth, if I don't get this news off my mind and into
somebody's ear, I'll die. It's this-I asked Marjory
Wainwright to marry me, and-she accepted, and-
that's all."

" Well, I am very glad," cried the minister, arising
and giving his hand. "And as for burdening me with
your affairs, no one has a better right, you know,
since you released me from the persecution of Washington
and the friends of the Wainwrights. May good
luck follow you both forever. You, in my opinion,
are a very, very fortunate man. And, for her part
she has not done too badly."

Seeing that it was important that Coleman should
have his spirits pacified in part, the minister continued:
" Now, I have got to write an official letter, so you
just walk up and down here and use up this surplus
steam. Else you'll explode."

But Coleman was not to be detained. Now that he
had informed the minister, he must rush off some.
where, anywhere, and do-he knew not what.

All right," said the minister, laughing. " You
have a wilder head than I thought. But look here,"
he called, as Coleman was making for the door. " Am
I to keep this news a secret? "

Coleman with his hand on the knob, turned im.
pressively. He spoke with deliberation. " As far as
I am concerned, I would be glad to see a man paint it
in red letters, eight feet high, on the front of the king's
palace."

The minister, left alone, wrote steadily and did not
even look up when Peter Tounley and two others
entered, in response to his cry of permission. How
ever, he presently found time to speak over his
shoulder to them. "Hear the news?"

"No, sir," they answered.

" Well, be good boys, now, and read the papers and
look at pictures until I finish this letter. Then I will tell you."

They surveyed him keenly. They evidently
judged that the news was worth hearing, but, obediently,
they said nothing. Ultimately the minister
affixed a rapid signature to the letter, and turning,
looked at the students with a smile.
" Haven't heard the news, eh ?"

"No, Sir."

"Well, Marjory Wainwright is engaged to marry
Coleman."

The minister was amazed to see the effect of this
announcement upon the three students. He had expected
the crows and cackles of rather absurd
merriment with which unbearded youth often greets,
such news. But there was no crow or cackle. One
young man blushed scarlet and looked guiltily at the
floor. With a great effort he muttered: " Shes too
good for him." Another student had turned ghastly
pate and was staring. It was Peter Tounley who relieved
the minister's mind, for upon that young man's
face was a broad jack-o-lantern grin, and the minister
saw that, at any rate, he had not made a complete
massacre.

Peter Tounley said triumphantly: "I knew it ! "

The minister was anxious over the havoc he had
wrought with the two other students, but slowly the
colour abated in one face and grew in the other.  To
give them opportunity, the minister talked busily to
Peter Tounley. "And how did you know it, you
young scamp ?"

Peter was jubilant. " Oh, -I knew it! I knew it I
I am very clever."

The student who had blushed now addressed the
minister in a slightly strained voice. " Are you positive
that it is true, Mr. Gordner?,"

" I had it on the best authority," replied the minister gravely.

The student who had turned pale said: " Oh, it's
true, of course."

" Well," said crudely the one who had blushed,
she's a great sight too good for Coleman or anybody
like him. That's all I've got to say."

" Oh, Coleman is a good fellow," said Peter Tounley,
reproachfully. " You've no right to say that-exactly.
You don't know where you'd. be now if it were not for
Coleman."

The, response was, first, an angry gesture. " Oh,
don't keep everlasting rubbing that in.  For heaven's
sake, let up. - Supposing I don't. know where I'd be
now if,it were not for Rufus Coleman? What of it?
For the rest of my life have I got to--"

The minister saw. that this was the embittered speech
of a really defeated youth, so, to save scenes, he gently
ejected the trio. " There, there, now ! Run along
home like good boys. I'll be busy until luncheon.
And I -dare say you won't find Coleman such a bad
chap."'

In the corridor, one of the students said offensively
to Peter Tounley : " Say, how in hell did you find
out all this so early ? "

Peter's reply was amiable in tone. " You are a
damned bleating little kid and you made a holy show
of yourself before Mr. Gordner. There's where you
stand.  Didn't you see that he turned us out because
he didn't know but what you were going to blubber
or something. - you are a sucking pig, and if you
want to know how I find out things go ask the Delphic
Oracle, you blind ass."

" You better look out or you may get a punch in
the eye!,"

"You take one punch in the general direction of
my eye, me son," said -Peter cheerfully, " and I'll
distribute your remains, over this hotel in a way that will
cause your, friends years of trouble to collect you.
Instead of anticipating an attack upon my eye, you
had much better be engaged in improving your mind,
which is at present not a fit machine to cope with exciting
situations. There's Coke! Hello, Coke, hear
the news? Well, Marjory Wainwright and Rufus
Coleman , are engaged.. Straight ? Certainly ! Go
ask the minister."

Coke did not take Peter's word. "Is that so ? " he
asked the others.

" So the minister told us," they answered, and then
these two, who seemed so unhappy, watched Coke's
face to see if they could not find surprised misery
there. But Coke coolly said: " Well, then, I suppose
it's true."

It soon became evident that the students did not
care for each other's society.  Peter Tounley was
probably an exception, but the others seemed to long
for quiet corners. They were distrusting each other,
and, in a boyish way, they were even capable of maligant
things. Their excuses for separation were badly
made.

"I-I think I'll go for a walk."
" I'm going up stairs to read."
" Well, so long, old man.' " So long." There was
no heart to it.

Peter Tounley went to Coleman's door, where he
knocked with noisy hilarity. " Come in I " The correspondent
apparently had just come from the street,
for his hat was on his head and a light top-coat was on
his back. He was searching hurriedly through some,
papers. " Hello, you young devil What are you
doing here ?

Peter's entrance was a somewhat elaborate comedy
which Coleman watched in icy silence. Peter after a
long,and impudent pantomime halted abruptly and
fixing Coleman with his eye demanded: "Well?"

"Well-what?." said Coleman, bristling a trifle.

" Is it true ?"

" Is what true ?"

" Is it true? " Peter was extremely solemn.
" Say, me bucko," said Coleman suddenly, " if
you've. come up here to twist the beard of the patriarch,
don't you think you are running a chance? "

"All right. I'll be good," said Peter, and he sat on
the bed. " But-is it true?

" Is what true? "

" What the whole hotel is saying."

]     "I haven't heard the hotel making any remarks
lately. Been talking to the other buildings, I sup-
pose."

"Well, I want to tell you that everybody knows
that you and Marjory have done gone and got
yourselves engaged," said Peter bluntly.

"And well? " asked Coleman imperturbably.

" Oh, nothing," replied Peter, waving his hand.
" Only-I thought it might interest you."

Coleman was silent for some time. He fingered his
papers. At last he burst out joyously. "And so
they know it already, do they? Well-damn them-
let them know it. But you didn't tell them yourself ? "

" I ! " quoth Peter wrathfully. " No! The minister told us."

Then Coleman was again silent for a time and Peter
Tounley sat on the. bed reflectively looking at the
ceiling. " Funny thing, Marjory 'way over here in
Greece, and then you happening over here the way
you did."

" It isn't funny at all."

" Why isn't it ? "

" Because," said Coleman impressively,, " that is
why I came to Greece. It was all planned. See?"

"Whirroo," exclaimed Peter. "This here is
magic."

" No magic at all." Coleman displayed some complacence.
" No magic at all. just pure, plain--
whatever you choose to call it."

" Holy smoke," said Peter, admiring the situation.
"Why, this is plum romance, Coleman. I'm blowed
if it isn't."

Coleman was grinning with delight. He took a
fresh cigar and his bright eyes looked at Peter through
the smoke., "Seems like it, don't it? Yes. Regular
romance. Have a drink, my boy, just to celebrate
my good luck. And be patient if I talk a great deal
of my-my-future. My head spins with it." He
arose to pace the room flinging out bis arms in a great
gesture. " God! When I think yesterday was not
like to-day I wonder how I stood it." There was a
knock at the door and a waiter left a note in Coleman's hand

"Dear Ruf us:-We are going for a drive this afternoon
at three, and mother wishes you to come, if you.
care to. I too wish it, if you care to. Yours,
" MARJORY."

With a radiant face, Coleman gave the note a little
crackling flourish in the air. " Oh, you don't know
what life is, kid."

" S-steady the Blues," said Peter Tounley seriously.
You'll lose your head if you don't watch out."

" Not I" cried Coleman with irritation. " But a
man must turn loose some times, mustn't he?"

When the four, students had separated in the corri-
dor, Coke had posted at once to Nora Black's sitting
room. His entrance was somewhat precipitate, but
he cooled down almost at once, for he reflected that
he was not bearing good news. He ended by perching
in awkward fashion on the brink of his chair and
fumbling his hat uneasily. Nora floated to him in a
cloud of a white dressing gown. She gave him
a plump hand. "Well, youngman? "she said, with a
glowing smile. She took a chair, and the stuff of her
gown fell in curves over the arms of it.,

Coke looked hot and bothered, as if he could have
more than half wanted to retract his visit. " I-aw-
we haven't seen much of you lately," he began, sparing.
He had expected to tell his news at once.

No," said Nora, languidly. " I have been resting
after that horrible journey-that horrible journey.
Dear, dear! Nothing,will ever induce me to leave
London, New York and Paris. I am at home there.
But here I Why, it is worse than living in Brooklyn.
And that journey into the wilds! No. no; not for
me! "

" I suppose we'll all be glad to get home," said
Coke, aimlessly.

At the moment a waiter entered the room and began
to lay the table for luncheon. He kept open the
door to the corridor, and he had the luncheon at a
point just outside the door. His excursions to the
trays were flying ones, so that, as far as Coke's purpose
was concerned, the waiter was always in the
room. Moreover, Coke was obliged, naturally, to depart
at once. He had bungled everything.

As he arose he whispered hastily: " Does this
waiter understand English ? "

"Yes," answered Nora. "Why?"

"Because I have something to tell you-important."

"What is it? " whispered Nora, eagerly.

He leaned toward her and replied: " Marjory
Wainwright and Coleman are engaged."

To his unfeigned astonishment, Nora Black burst
into peals of silvery laughter, " Oh, indeed? And
so this is your tragic story, poor, innocent lambkin?
And what did you expect? That I would faint?" -

" I thought-I don't know-" murmured Coke in
confusion.

Nora became suddenly business-like. " But how do
you know? Are you sure? Who told you? Anyhow,
stay to luncheon. Do-like a good boy. Oh,
you must."

Coke dropped again into his chair. He studied her
in some wonder. " I thought you'd be surprised,"
he said, ingenuously.

" Oh, you did, did you ? Well, you see I'm not.
And now tell me all about it."

"There's really nothing to tell but the plain fact.
Some of the boys dropped in at the minister's
rooms a little while ago, and, he told them of it.
That's all."

Well, how did he know?

"I am sure I can't tell you. Got it first hand, I
suppose. He likes Coleman, and Coleman is always
hanging up there."

" Oh, perhaps Coleman was lying," said Nora
easily. Then suddenly her face brightened and she
spoke with animation. " Oh, I haven't told you how
my little Greek officer has turned out. Have I?
No? Well, it is simply lovely. Do you know, he belongs
to one of the best families in Athens? Hedoes.
And they're rich-rich as can be. My courier tells
me that the marble palace where they live is enough
to blind you, and that if titles hadn't gone out of
style-or something-here in Greece, my little officer
would be a prince! Think of that! The courier
didn't know it until we got to Athens, and the little
officer-the prince-gave me his card, of course. One
of the oldest, noblest and richest families in Greece.
Think of that! There I thought he was only a
bothersome little officer who came in handy at times,
and there he turns out to be a prince. I could hardly
keep myself from rushing right off to find him and
apologise to him for the way I treated him. It was
awful! And-" added the fair Nora, pensively, "if
he does meet me in Paris, I'll make him wear that
title down to a shred, you can bet. What's the good
of having a title unless you make it work?"


Stephen Crane

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