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   Chapter 16 IN PORT

The Honorable Percival By Alice Caldwell Hegan Rice Characters: 5416

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


The next morning the long voyage of the Saluria came to an end. The steamer docked at Hong-Kong just as the first pink streaks of dawn crept over the bay and the terraced city.

Bobby was up with the officers, and breakfasted alone with the captain.

"Can you spare me five minutes?" she asked as he was hurrying through his second cup of coffee.

"What for?"

"For a talk. I've got something to tell you."

"It'll have to wait," said the captain, gruffly. "We are landing a cargo of sugar machinery here, and I've got my hands full."

"I don't want your hands," said Bobby, quietly; "I want your ears. There's something I've just got to tell you."

"I can't listen. I'm due on the bridge now."

He escaped for the time being, but later In the morning, when the commotion of arrival was at its height, and the passengers were beginning to go ashore, he found Bobby on the bridge beside him. He fancied he saw defiance written all over her, from the crown of her white hat to the tip of her white shoes.

"Captain," she said, "It won't take a minute."

He was on the point of refusing when she laid her hand on his.

"Cut away!" he said, looking straight ahead of him. "Make it short."

"It's about Mr. Hascombe. He's-he's asked me to marry him."

The captain jerked his hand away and brought it down on the rail with a resounding blow.

"You sha'n't do it!" he thundered. "I'd see you sewed up in a bag and dropped alongside first."

"But, Captain-"

"I won't have it! There's no use arguing. The idea of a girl of mine being carried away by a condescending, conceited jack-in-the-box-"

"He isn't! He's a darling!" Bobby flashed out hotly. "It's just that you don't understand him."

"What's more, I don't want to. I've had enough of him and his kind. If I'd known you were going to run amuck of a thing like this, I'd have let you bury yourself on the ranch for the rest of your life."

"Well," agreed Bobby, carefully studying her pink palm, and weighing her words as one who is quite open to reason, "I think I could have been happy with Hal; but you thought we were both too young and that I ought to see some other men first."

"Yes, but I didn't know you were going to get your head turned by the first fool that came lording it around with a valet and a title. The Fords may be plain people, but, by Jugs! they are the sort to tie up to in a squall."

Bobby smiled broadly under the brim of her hat.

"Then you advise me to take Hal?"

"I advise you to let me send this fellow Hascombe about his business. I'll make short work of him."

Bobby slipped her arm through his, and looked up saucily.

"You needn't bother, dear," she said. "Now that it's a

ll settled about Hal, I don't mind telling you that I refused Mr. Hascombe last night."

* * *

On the gangway below, the passengers were slowly filing ashore. Among the last to debark was the Honorable Percival Hascombe, followed by a fur coat, a gun-case, two pigskin bags, a hat-box, and a valet. On his face was an expression of unutterable ennui. As he reached the wharf he turned and casually surveyed the steamer. On the bridge he discerned a small alert figure, clad in white, her dark head framed by the broad brim of a Panama hat. She waved her hand and smiled, and he waved back, but he did not smile.

"Judson," said the Honorable Percival as they handed their bags to Sister Cordelia's footman, "quite unnecessary to mention any-er-any incidents of the voyage. You understand?"

"Quite so, sir," said Judson.

FINIS

* * *

"When Alice Hegan Rice writes a little book, lovers of whimsical fiction rejoice with open rejoicing."-Chicago Tribune.

"Mrs. Rice has been paid the compliment of being compared with Dickens. Those who appreciate her real merits will see that she is more natural, more lifelike, and more unaffectedly humorous than the author of 'Pickwick Papers.'"-Rochester Post-Express.

"There is a delicious humor in everything she writes, and it has the virtue of non-boisterousness and sobriety in tone. There is no straining for wit: everything has the merit of spontaneity and naturalness."-Philadelphia Record.

"She is one of the real humorists, for at the bottom of her humor there is a deep well of human kindness."-The Metropolitan.

See next page for complete list of Mrs. Rice's books

* * *

Books by Alice Hegan Rice

MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH

"A sure cure for the blues, and a gay challenge to pessimists in general."-Chicago Herald.

Price $1.00

LOVEY MARY

"For fun and pathos, for crisp wit and serene philosophy, and for the charm that holds the reader spellbound, 'Lovey Mary' is as notable as 'Mrs. Wiggs.'"-The Christian Intelligencer.

Price $1.00

MR. OPP

"He is a figure that might hang without insidious comparison in George Eliot's own immortal character portrait gallery."-New York Sun.

Price $1.00

A ROMANCE OF BILLY-GOAT HILL

"The love story has the fragrance of a wild rose, and every character in the book is worth knowing."-Chicago Record-Herald.

Price $1.25 net, postage 10 cents

SANDY

Sandy is a lovable Irish waif, and his story overflows with sunshine and humor.

Price $1.00

CAPTAIN JUNE

A happy story of a dear little American lad who has all kinds of interesting and unusual experiences in Japan.

Price $1.00

At all booksellers. Published by

THE CENTURY CO.

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