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Through stained glass By George Agnew Chamberlain Characters: 3774

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


WHEN Lewis burst upon Folly with the news that his father had given not only consent to the marriage, but half his income to smooth the way to it, Folly frowned. What was the game? she wondered. But the first thing she asked was:

"And how much is that?"

Lewis stammered, and said really he didn't know, which made Folly laugh.

Then he told her about the six months and the trip to America. Whereupon

Folly nodded her head and said:

"Oh, that's it, is it? Well, your governor is willing to pay pretty thick for six months of you. All I want to know is, Will you come back to me?"

"Come back to you, Folly?" cried Lewis, "Of course I'll come back to you. Why, that's just what I'm going for. To sell the house and fix things so I can come back to you."

At the same hour Leighton was saying good-by to H lne. He had not really come to say good-by. He had come to thank her for her sacrifice, for the things he knew she had said to Lew. He did not try to thank her in words. A boyish glance, an awkward movement, a laugh that broke-these things said more to H lne than words.

"So you've got six months' grace," said H lne, when Leighton had told her how things stood. "Glen, do you remember this: 'All erotic love is a progression. There is no amatory affection that can stand the strain of a separation of six months in conjunction with six thousand miles. All the standard tales of grande passion and absence are-'"

"'Legendary hypotheses based on a neurotic foundation,'" finished

Leighton. "Yes, I remember that theory of mine. I'm building on it."

"I thought you were," said H lne. "Don't build too confidently. Lew has a strain of constancy in him. It's quite unconscious, but it's there. Just add my theory to yours."

"What's your theory?" asked Leighton.

"My theory," said H lne, "is that little girl Natalie. I don't suppose she's little now."

Leighton frowned.

"Do you know where Natalie is living? She's there." His brow clouded with thoughts of the scene of his bitter love.

H lne understood.

"I know. I thought so," she said.

"I'll send Lewis to her."

"No, Glen," said H lne softly, "you'll take him to her."

When all was ready for the start, Nelton appeared before Leighton.

"Please, sir," he said, "I've taken the liberty of packing my bags, too, thank, you, sir. I thought, sir, since you're both going, the flat might be locked up."

"Well," said Leighton, "I suppose it might for once. Where are you off to?"

"Why, with you, sir. If you don't mind, sir, I'd like to see this

America."

Leighton smiled.

"Come along, by all means, Nelton," he said. "Go ahead with the baggage, and see that Master Lewis and I get a compartment to ourselves. Here's half a crown."

Leighton and Lewis were not traveling with the rush of the traffic. It was too early in the year. While the boat was not crowded, it was by no means deserted. It had just that number of passengers on board which an old traveler would like to stipulate for on buying his ticket; enough to keep the saloons from hollow echoes, and not enough to block even a single deck.

"Are these all Americans?" asked Lewis on their third day out.

Leighton glanced rapidly up and down the deck.

"No," he said, "there's hardly a typical American in the lot. Wrong time of year. You see there are more men than women. That's a sure sign this isn't an American pleasure-boat. There are a good many English on board, the traveling kind. They're going over to 'do' America before the heat comes on. What Americans you see are tainted."

"What's a tainted American?" asked Lewis.

"I'm a tainted American, and you are," said Leighton. "A tainted American is one who has lived so long abroad that he goes to America on business."

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