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MR. GRENFALL LORRY SEEKS ADVENTURE
Mr. Grenfall Lorry boarded the east-bound express at Denver with all the air of a martyr. He had traveled pretty much all over the world, and he was not without resources, but the prospect of a twenty-five hundred mile journey alone filled him with dismay. The country he knew; the scenery had long since lost its attractions for him; countless newsboys bad failed to tempt him with the literature they thrust in his face, and as for his fellow-passengers--well, he preferred to be alone. And so it was that he gloomily motioned the porter to his boxes and mounted the steps with weariness.
As it happened, Mr. Grenfall Lorry did not have a dull moment after the train started.
He stumbled on a figure that leaned toward the window in the dark passageway. With reluctant civility he apologized; a lady stood up to let him pass, and for an instant in the half light their eyes met, and that is why the miles rushed by with incredible speed.
Mr. Lorry had been dawdling away the months in Mexico and California. For years he had felt, together with many other people, that a sea-voyage was the essential beginning of every journey; he had started round the world soon after leaving Cambridge; he had fished through Norway and hunted in India, and shot everything from grouse on the Scottish moors to the rapids above Assouan. He had run in and out of countless towns and countries on the coast of South America; he had done Russia and the Rhone valley and Brittany and Damascus; he had seen them all --but not until then did it occur to him that there might be something of interest nearer home. True he had thought of joining some Englishmen on a hunting tour in the Rockies, but that had fallen through. When the idea of Mexico did occur to him he gave orders to pack his things, purchased interminable green tickets, dined unusually well at his club, and was off in no time to the unknown West.
There was a theory in his family that it would have been a decenter thing for him to stop running about and settle down to work. But his thoughtful father had given him a wealthy mother, and as earning a living was not a necessity, he failed to see why it was a duty. "Work is becoming to some men," he once declared, "like whiskers or red ties, but it does not follow that all men can stand it." After that the family found him "hopeless," and the argument dropped.
He was just under thirty years, as good-looking as most men, with no one dependent upon him and an income that had withstood both the Maison Doree and a dahabeah on the Nile. He never tired of seeing things and peoples and places. "There's game to be found anywhere," he said, "only it's sometimes out of season. If I had my way--and millions--I should run a newspaper. Then all the excitements would come to me. As it is--I'm poor, and so I have to go all over the world after them."
This agreeable theory of life had worked well; he was a little bored at times--not because he had seen too much, but because there were not more things left to see. He had managed somehow to keep his enthusiasms through everything--and they made life worth living. He felt too a certain elation--like a spirited horse--at turning toward home, but Washington had not much to offer him, and the thrill did not last. His big bag and his hatbox--pasted over with foolish labels from continental hotels --were piled in the corner of his compartment, and he settled back in his seat with a pleasurable sense of expectancy. The presence in the next room of a very smart appearing young woman was prominent in his consciousness. It gave him an uneasiness which was the beginning of delight. He had seen her for only a second in the passageway, but that second had made him hold himself a little straighter. "Why is it," he wondered, "that some girls make you stand like a footman the moment you see them?" Grenfall had been in love too many times to think of marriage; his habit of mind was still general, and he classified women broadly. At the same time he had a feeling that in this case generalities did not apply well; there was something about the girl that made him hesitate at labelling her "Class A, or B, or Z." What it was he did not know, but--unaccountably-she filled him with an affected formality He felt like bowing to her with a grand air and much dignity. And yet he realized that his successes had come from confidence.
At luncheon he saw her in the dining car. Her companions were elderly persons--presumably her parents. They talked mostly in French--occasionally using a German word or phrase. The old gentleman was stately and austere--with an air of deference to the young woman which Grenfall did not understand. His appearance was very striking; his face pale and heavily lined; moustache and imperial gray; the eyebrows large and bushy, and the jaw and chin square and firm. The white-haired lady carried her head high with unmistakable gentility. They were all dressed in traveling suits which suggested something foreign, but not Vienna nor Paris; smart, but far from American tastes.
Lorry watched the trio with great interest. Twice during luncheon the young woman glanced toward him carelessly and left an annoying impression that she had not seen him. As they left the table and passed into the observation car, he stared at her with some defiance. But she was smiling, and her dimples showed, and Grenfall was ashamed. For some moments he sat gazing from the car window--forgetting his luncheon-dreaming.
When he got back to his compartment he rang vigorously for the porter. A coin was carelessly displayed in his fingers. "Do you suppose you could find out who has the next compartment, porter?"
"I don't know their name, sub, but they's goin' to New York jis as fas' as they can git thuh. I ain' ax um no questions, 'cause thuh's somethin' 'bout um makes me feel's if I ain' got no right to look at um even."
The porter thought a moment.
"I don' believe it'll do yuh any good, suh, to try to shine up to tha' young lady. She ain' the sawt, I can tell yuh that. I done see too many guhls in ma time--"
"What are you talking about? I'm not trying to shine up to her. I only want to know who she is--just out of curiosity." Grenfall's face was a trifle red.
"Beg pahdon, suh; but I kind o' thought you was like orh' gent'men when they see a han'some woman. Allus wants to fin' out somethin' 'bout huh, suh, yuh know. 'Scuse me foh misjedgin' yuh, suh. Th' lady in question is a foh'ner--she lives across th' ocean, 's fuh as I can fin' out. They's in a hurry to git home foh some reason, 'cause they ain' goin' to stop this side o' New York, 'cept to change cahs."
"Where do they change cars?"
"St. Louis--goin' by way of Cincinnati an' Washin'ton."
Grenfall's ticket carried him by way of Chicago. He caught himself wondering if he could exchange his ticket in St. Louis.
"Traveling with her father and mother, I suppose?"
"No, suh; they's huh uncle and aunt. I heah huh call 'em uncle an' aunt. Th' ole gent'man is Uncle Caspar. I don' know what they talk 'bout. It's mostly some foh'en language. Th' young lady allus speaks Amehican to me, but th' old folks cain't talk it ver' well. They all been to Frisco, an' the hired he'p they's got with 'em say they been to Mexico, too. Th' young lady's got good Amehican dollahs, don' care wha' she's been. She allus smiles when she ask me to do anythin', an' I wouldn' care if she nevah tipped me, 's long as she smiles thataway."
"Servants with them, you say?"
"Yas, suh; man an' woman, nex' section t'other side the ole folks. Cain't say mor'n fifteen words in Amehican. Th' woman is huh maid, an' the man he's th' genial hustler fer th' hull pahty."
"And you don't know her name?"
"No, sun, an' I cain't ver' well fin' out."
"In what part of Europe does she live?"
"Australia, I think, suh."
"You mean Austria."
"Do I? 'Scuse ma ig'nance. I was jis' guessin' at it anyhow; one place's as good as 'nother ovah thuh, I reckon."
"Have you one of those dollars she gave you?"
"Yes, sub. Heh's a coin that ain' Amehican, but she says it's wuth seventy cents in our money. It's a foh'en piece. She tell me to keep it till I went ovah to huh country; then I could have a high time with it--that's what she says--'a high time'--an' smiled kind o" knowin' like."
"Let me see that coin," said Lorry, eagerly taking the silver piece from the porter's hand. "I never saw one like it before. Greek, it looks to me, but I can't make a thing out of these letters. She gave it to you?"
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