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An Old Meerschaum by David Christie Murray

Barndale held a conference with him


'You are not pained at that,' he said. 'I have loved you ever since that day you were at my place in Surrey, when you came down with Jimmy, and my poor old dad was there.'

'Yes,' she said, looking up again, and smiling through the dimness of her eyes, 'I know.'

And so it came about that, when Leland Senior awoke, Barndale held a conference with him, which terminated in a great shaking of hands. There was another conference between Lilian and her mother, which ended, as it began, in tears, and kisses, and smiles. Tears, and kisses, and smiles made a running accompaniment to that second conference, and tender embraces broke in upon it often. It was settled between them all--papa, and mamma, and the lovers--that they should finish the journey together, and that the marriage should be solemnised a year after their arrival at home. It goes without saying that Barndale looked on this delay with very little approval. But Leland Senior insisted on it stoutly, and carried his point. And even in spite of this the young people were tolerably happy. They were together a good deal, and, in the particular stage at which they had arrived, the mere fact of being together is a bliss and a wonder. Leigh Hunt--less read in these days than he deserves to be--sings truly--

Heaven's in any roof that covers On any one same night two lovers.

They went about in a state of Elysian beatitude, these young people. Love worked strange metamorphoses, as he does always. They found new joys in Tennyson, and rejoiced in the wonderful colours of the waves. I am not laughing at them for these things. I first read Tennyson when I was in love, and liked him, and understood him a great deal better than I have been able to do since I came out of Love's dear bondages. To be in love is a delicious and an altogether admirable thing. I would be in love again to-morrow if I could. You should be welcome to your foolish laugh at my raptures. Ah me! I shall never know those raptures any more; and the follies you will laugh at in me will be less noble, less tender, less innocently beautiful than those of young love. But to them, who were so sweet to each other, the moonlight was a revelation of marvellous sanctity, and the sea was holy by reason of their passionate hearts that hallowed it.

CHAPTER II.

Incidental mention has been made of the fact that Leland Junior engaged in a pronounced flirtation with a little Greek girl aboard the vessel wherein Barndale made love so stupidly and so successfully. It was out of this incident that the strange story which follows arose. It would not have been easy to tell that story without relating the episode just concluded; and when one has to be tragic it is well to soften the horrors by a little love-making, or some other such emollient. I regret to say that the little Greek girl--who was tyrannously pretty by the way--was as thorough-paced a little flirt as ever yet the psychic philosopher dissected. She had very large eyes, and very pretty lips, and a very saucy manner with a kind of inviting shyness in it. Jimmy Leland's time had not yet come, or I know no reason why he should not have succumbed to this charming young daughter of Hellas. As it was, he flirted hugely, and cared not for her one copper halfpenny. She was a little taken with him, and was naturally a little indiscreet. Otherwise surely she would never have consented to meet James at the Concordia Garden on the evening of their arrival at Constantinople. He had been in Constantinople before, and was 'down to the ropes,' as he preferred to say. He made his appointment with the young lady and kept it, slipping out from Misserie's, and leaving the other members of his party trifling with their dessert at that dreary table d'hote, and lost in wonder at the execrable pictures which are painted in distemper upon the walls of that dismal salle a manger. He strolled down the Grande Rue de Pera, drank a liqueur at Valori's, and turned into the Concordia in the summer dusk. He sat down at one of the little wooden tables, and aired his Turkish before the waiter by orders for vishnap, limoni, and attesh. Then he crossed his legs, lit his cigar, and waited and watched for the little Greek lady. The little Greek lady came not; but in her stead, as he watched the entrance place, appeared the manly form of his chum Barndale, clad in loose white serge. Barndale caught sight of Leland almost at the moment of his own entrance, and took a seat beside him.


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