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Chapter 30


CHAPTER XXX

IT seems strange that the one who was the most
hilarious over the engagement of Marjory and Cole-
man should be Coleman's dragoman who was indeed
in a state bordering on transport. It is not known
how he learned the glad tidings, but it is certain that
he learned them before luncheon. He told all the
visible employes of the hotel and allowed them to
know that the betrothal really had been his handi-work
He had arranged it. He did not make quite
clear how he had performed this feat, but at least he
was perfectly frank in acknowledging it.

When some of the students came down to luncheon,
they saw him but could not decide what ailed him.
He was in the main corridor of the hotel, grinning
from ear to ear, and when he perceived the students
he made signs to intimate that they possessed in com-
mon a joyous secret. " What's the matter with that
idiot?" asked Coke morosely. " Looks as if his
wheels were going around too fast."
Peter Tounley walked close to him and scanned
him imperturbably, but with care. " What's up,
Phidias ? " The man made no articulate reply. He
continued to grin and gesture. "Pain in oo tummy?
Mother dead? Caught the cholera? Found out
that you've swallowed a pair of hammered brass and
irons in your beer? Say, who are you, anyhow? "
But he could not shake this invincible glee, so he
went away.

The dragoman's rapture reached its zenith when
Coleman lent him to the professor and he was
commissioned to bring a carriage for four people to the
door at three o'clock. He himself was to sit on
the box and tell the driver what was required of
him. He dashed off, his hat in his hand, his hair flying,
puffing, important beyond everything, and apparently
babbling his mission to half the people he met
on the street. In most countries he would have
landed speedily in jail, but among a people who exist
on a basis of'jibbering, his violent gabble aroused no
suspicions as to his sanity. However, he stirred
several livery stables to their depths and set men running
here and there wildly and for the most part
futiltiy.

At fifteen minutes to three o'clock, a carriage with
its horses on a gallop tore around the corner and up
to the . front of the hotel, where it halted with the
pomp and excitement of a fire engine. The dragoman
jumped down from his seat beside the driver and
scrambled hurriedly into the hoiel, in the gloom of
which hemet a serene stillness which was punctuated
only by the leisurely tinkle of silver and glass in the
dining room. For a moment the dragoman seemed
really astounded out of specch. Then he plunged
into the manager's room. Was it conceivable that
Monsieur Coleman was still at luncheon? Yes; in
fact, it was true. But the carriage, was at the door!
The carriage was at the door! The manager,
undisturbed, asked for what hour Monsieur Coleman had
been pleased to order a carriage. Three o'clock !
Three o'clock? The manager pointed calmly at the
clock. Very well. It was now only thirteen minutes
of three o'clock. Monsieur Coleman doubtless would
appear at three. Until that hour the manager would
not disturb Monsieur Coleman. The dragoman
clutched both his hands in his hair and cast a look of
agony to the ceiling. Great God! Had he accomplished
the herculean task of getting a carriage for
four people to the door of the hotel in time for a drive
at three o'clock, only to meet with this stoniness, this
inhumanity? Ah, it was unendurable? He begged
the manager; he implored him. But at every word.
the manager seemed to grow more indifferent, more
callous. He pointed with a wooden finger at the
clock-face. In reality, it is thus, that Greek meets
Greek.

Professor Wainwright and Coleman strolled together
out of the dining room. The dragoman rushed ecstatically
upon the correspondent. " Oh, Meester Coleman!
The carge is ready !"

"Well, all right," said Coleman, knocking ashes
from his cigar. "Don't be in a hurry. I suppose
we'll be ready, presently." The man was in despair.

The departure of the Wainwrights and Coleman on
this ordinary drive was of a somewhat dramatic and
public nature, No one seemed to know how to prevent
its being so. In the first place, the attendants
thronged out en masse for a reason which was plain
at the time only to Coleman's dragoman. And, rather
in the background, lurked the interested students.
The professor was surprised and nervous. Coleman
was rigid and angry. Marjory was flushed and some
what hurried, and Mrs. Wainwright was as proud as
an old turkey-hen.

As the carriage rolled away, Peter Tounley turned
to his companions and said: " Now, that's official!
That is the official announcement! Did you see Old
Mother Wainwright? Oh, my eye, wasn't she puffed
up ! Say, what in hell do you suppose all these jay
hawking bell-boys poured out to the kerb for? Go
back to your cages, my good people-"

As soon as the carriage wheeled into another
street, its occupants exchanged easier smiles, and
they must have confessed in some subtle way of
glances that now at last they were upon their own
mission, a mission undefined but earnest to them all.
Coleman had a glad feeling of being let into the family,
or becoming one of them

The professor looked sideways at him and smiled
gently. " You know, I thought of driving you to
some ruins, but Marjory would not have it. She flatly
objected to any more ruins. So I thought we would
drive down to New Phalerum."
Coleman nodded and smiled as if he were immensely
pleased, but of course New Phalerum was to him no
more nor-less than Vladivostok or Khartoum.
Neither place nor distance had interest for him.
They swept along a shaded avenue where the dust lay
thick on the leaves; they passed cafes where crowds
were angrily shouting over the news in the little papers;
they passed a hospital before which wounded
men, white with bandages, were taking the sun; then
came soon to the and valley flanked by gaunt naked
mountains, which would lead them to the sea. Sometimes
to accentuate the dry nakedness of this valley,
there would be a patch of grass upon which poppies
burned crimson spots. The dust writhed out from
under the wheels of the carriage; in the distance the
sea appeared, a blue half-disc set between shoulders of
barren land. It would be common to say that Coleman
was oblivious to all about him but Marjory. On
the contrary, the parched land, the isolated flame of
poppies, the cool air from the sea, all were keenly
known to him, and they had developed an extraordinary
power of blending sympathetically into his
mood. Meanwhile the professor talked a great deal.
And as a somewhat exhilarating detail, Coleman perceived
that Ms. Wainwright was beaming upon him.

At New Phalerum-a small collection of pale square
villas-they left the carriage and strolled, by the sea.
The waves were snarling together like wolves amid
the honeycomb rocks and from where the blue plane
sprang level to the horizon, came a strong cold breeze,
the kind of a breeze which moves an exulting man or
a parson to take off his hat and let his locks flutter
and tug back from his brow.

The professor and Mrs. Wainwright were left to
themselves.

Marjory and Coleman did not speak for a time. It
might have been that they did not quite know where
to make a beginning.  At last Marjory asked:
"What has become of your splendid horse?"

"Oh, I've told the dragoman to have him sold as
soon as he arrives," said Coleman absently.

" Oh. I'm sorry  * * I liked that horse."

"Why? "

"Oh, because-"

"Well, he was a fine-" Then he, too, interrupted
himself, for he saw plainly that they had not
come to this place to talk about a horse. Thereat he
made speech of matters which at least did not afford
as many opportunities for coherency as would the
horse. Marjory, it can't be true * * * Is it true,
dearest * * I can hardly believe it. -I-"

" Oh, I know I'm not nearly good enough for you."

" Good enough for me, dear?

" They all told me so, and they were right ! Why,
even the American minister said it. Everybody thinks
it."

"Why, aren 't they wretches To think of them
saying such a thing! As if-as if anybody could be
too--"

" Do you know-" She paused and looked at
him with a certain timid challenge. " I don't know
why I feel it, but-sometimes I feel that I've been
I've been flung at your head."

He opened his mouth in astonishment. " Flung at
my head!

She held up her finger. "And if I thought you
could ever believe it ! "

" Is a girl flung at a man's head when her father
carries her thousands of miles away and the man
follows her all these miles, and at last-"

" Her eyes were shining. "And you really came to
Greece-on purpose to-to-"

" Confess you knew it all the time! Confess!"
The answer was muffled. " Well, sometimes I
thought you did, and at other times I thought you-
didn't."

In a secluded cove, in which the sea-maids once had
played, no doubt, Marjory and Coleman sat in silence.
He was below her, and if he looked at her he had to
turn his glance obliquely upward. She was staring at
the sea with woman's mystic gaze, a gaze which men
at once reverence and fear since it seems to look into
the deep, simple heart of nature, and men begin to feel
that their petty wisdoms are futile to control these
strange spirits, as wayward as nature and as pure as
nature, wild as the play of waves, sometimes as unalterable
as the mountain amid the winds; and to
measure them, man must perforce use a mathematical
formula.

He wished that she would lay her hand upon his
hair. He would be happy then. If she would only,
of her own will, touch his hair lightly with her
fingers-if she would do it with an unconscious air it
would be even better. It would show him that she
was thinking of him, even when she did not know she
was thinking of him.

Perhaps he dared lay his head softly against her knee.  
Did he dare?

As his head touched her knee, she did not move.
She seemed to be still gazing at the sea. Presently
idly caressing fingers played in his hair near the
forehead. He looked up suddenly lifting his arms.
He breathed out a cry which was laden with a kind of
diffident ferocity. " I haven't kissed you yet-"


Stephen Crane

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