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An Old Meerschaum by David Christie Murray

And Barndale joined his friend


Mr.

Barndale did not look like the sort of man to be vastly shocked at these terms of irreverence, yet it is a fact that his brown and bearded cheeks flushed like any schoolgirl's.

'Stopping at the Hotel de la Ville,' said the awakener, 'and adoing of the Grand Tower, my pippin. I'm playing cicerone. Come up and have a smoke and a jaw.'

'All right,' said Mr. Barndale languidly. Nobody, to look at him now, would have guessed how fast his heart beat, and how every nerve in his body fluttered. 'I'm at the same place. When did you come?'

'Three hours ago. We're going on to Constantinople. Boat starts at six.'

'Ah!' said Barndale placidly. '_I'm_ going on to Constantinople too.'

'Now that's what I call jolly,' said the other. 'You're going to-night of course?'

'Of course. Nothing to stay here for.'

At the door of the hotel stood Barndale's servant, a sober-looking Scotchman dressed in dark tweed.

'Come with me, Bob,' said Barndale as he passed him. 'See you in the coffee-room in five minutes, Jimmy.'

In his own room Barndale sat down upon the bedside and addressed his servant.

'I have changed my mind about going home. Go to Lloyd's office and

take places for this evening's boat to Constantinople. Wait a bit. Let me see what the fare is. There you are. Pack up and get everything down to the boat and wait there until I come.'

The man disappeared, and Barndale joined his friend. He had scarce seated himself when a feminine rustling was heard outside. The door opened, a voice of singular sweetness cried, 'Jimmy, dear!' and a young lady entered. It was the young lady who blushed and started when she saw Barndale asleep in front of the restaurant. She blushed again, but held her hand frankly out to him. He rose and took it with more tenderness than he knew of. The eyes of the third person twinkled, and he winked at his own reflection in a mirror.

'This,' Barndale said, 'is not an expected pleasure, and is all the greater on that account. By a curious coincidence I find we are travelling together to Constantinople.'

Her hand still lingered in his whilst he said this, and as he ceased to speak he gave it a little farewell pressure. Her sweet hazel eyes quite beamed upon him, and she returned the pressure cordially. But she answered only--

'Papa will be very pleased,'

'Isn't it singular,' said the guilty Barndale with an air of commonplace upon him, 'that we should all be making this journey together?'

'Very singular indeed,' said pretty Miss Le-land, with so bright a sparkle of mirth in those demure hazel eyes that Barndale, without knowing why, felt himself confounded.

Mr. James Leland winked once more at his reflection in the mirror, and was discovered in the act by Barndale, who became signally disconcerted in manner.


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