EM EM : monthly magazine - 01.07.1941, Blaðsíða 31

EM EM : monthly magazine - 01.07.1941, Blaðsíða 31
Em Em 31 you aoing nere r~ sne' spöKe al- most as though she were glad to see me—and yet the last time I had talked to hér, on the way home from the ratty little Rico’s ball, she had told me I was an unman- nerly boor. ’ “X’m taking over the S-52 at Coco Solo,” I said. ! She stood staring at me, frown- 'ing. “You mean—you are through at Caimora?” “Through. Finished Washed up.” j j She took my arm, without say-; !ing a word, and we walked over! |to the rail. I looked down at thei 'rush of water, bright with phos- iphorescence, which slipped along !the side of the smoothly speeding jship. I felt her eyes on me, study-i ling me, and I suddenly felt mean and small and—and boorish. i 1 “You lcft Calmora,” she saidj jsoftly at last, “without telling me! ígoodby?” I shrugged, without looking up.i ! “You seem to have left there—i without telling me goodby.” í “But I’m only going to Panamaj for a week, One of my friends, a igirl X knew in college is stationed jat Coco Solo with her husband. ÍPerhaps you know him. He’s a jflyer. Lieutenant Achison.” “Never hear of him,” X said un- jgxaciously. “Didn’t your father jtell you I was shoving oif on the jAlderbaron? My orders came jthrough a week ago.” Her father, Colonel Baird, is American minister to Andegoya. I knew then, without glancing up, that she had stopped looking at me. Her voice seemed to come from a Iong way off. "My father, I imagine, supposed that you had told me.” “I didn’t think you’d care to know.” I stood there ieaning against the rail, staring at the bright, rushing foam. She seemed withdrawn now. She seemed a million miles away. X waited for her to speak, but she didn’t say anything. “Lnok here!” I said finally. "After all, you know, it was my dance.” “Yes, it was your dance,” she said clearly. "Then why," I demanded, "did you have to chuck me over and give it to that greasy rat? Yes, that dance and the next one and the next. Why did you have to iet yourself be mauled by that smirk- ing—" “You mean Senor Carretos?” Mildred asked ealmly. "Who else ? Oh, I know Car- iretos is minister of flnance and jrich as the devil and may some av ba nresldent of Andepnva And know the obligations -of the Idaughter of the American min- iister. But I don’t see why—” . She broke in, iaughing coldly. “All this, Ray, has a very familiar ring.” “I guess it has,” 1 said, fighting to make my voice as cold as her laugh had been. "Heavens knows, we went over it enough on the way home that night.” “We covered the subject,” Mil- dred said, “very thoroughly.” “We did!” I retorted. “And then you ask me why I didn’t come around and tell you goodby.” “I won’t ask you again, Ray,” she said quietly. "I understand— now.” X looked at her. She was stand- ing straight and still, one hand on the rail, her chin high, her fin« eyes staring far away across the dark waters. X caught her arm and swung her around. I made her iook at me and I saw her teeth slose on her lip. “What do you mean by that?” t asked. “Mildred! What do you mean?” Her small white teeth closed more tightly on her lip. Her eyes shone mistily in the dimness. X shook her a little, but still she did not answer me. At that mo- ment the door of the smoking room swung open. I dropped my hand •from her arm as a broad beam of jlight fell across the deck. I waited. The door did not close. Irritated, I iooked around finally !and saw Francisco Carretos stand- iing in the doorway. A good six feet tall, with the broad shoulders :and narrow hips of an athlete, he made a handsome figure in his ispotless white ducks. His dark, bright, sardonic eyes were on us, and he was smiling. “Well!” he said, and came toward us. "I ’ave been wondering w’at happen to you, Mees Baird. The dreenk, the absinthe frappe, ees jpoured and waiting. . . . Good eve- ning, Lieut. Leslie.” I didn’t say anything. 1 felt hurt and sick as I watched Mil- dred. I knew that before Carre- tos’ appearance she had been shaken, by what emotion I could not be sure. Now I saw her draw- ing herself together, smiiing i forced little smiie. “Coming, Mr. Carretos,” she said cheerily. And to me: "Good night, Ray.” I watched him put his dark hand on her bare white arm and guide her toward the door. I wanted to iiit him. I wanted to bury my fist in his smooth dark face. But I didn’t do it, of course. Isn’t there an article in the Navy regulations about officers and gentlemen ? X knew tOQ aa avarv qiiæ ba Caimora knew, tnax irrancisco Carretos was seheduled to attend (an important cabinet meeting to- morrow. It must have been some- thing very pressing, and very un- jexpeeted, which brought him aboard the Alderbaron, Panama mnd, tonight. Mildred Baird? CHAPTER II I wandered along the deck, heartsick and depressed. For two veeks X had been trying to forget Mildred Baird, forget her fine dark eyes and the way her hair waved back over her temples, forget her slim tanned hands and the curve of her neck and throat. I said to myself for the thousandth time: "If she thinks more of Carretos than she does of me—oh, the devil with it!” I recalled that Captain Eldridge, when I came aboard, had asked me to drop around and have a drink with him. Tired of myself and of my thoughts, I went for- ward, climbed ,to the boat deck, found his cabin abaft the bridge and knocked on the door. I heard a cheerful “Come in!” I went in and found the captain at his desk, his uniform coat un- buttoned, his cap shoved far back on his gray head. He was a small man, and rather thin, but he iooked hard and competent. I liked the cut of his square jaw. I liked the directness of his keen gray eyes. “Oh! Hello, lieutenant!” he greeted me cheerfully, and waved me to a seat on the transom set- tee. “Well, how does it feel to have a good deck under your feet again?” X sat down. His heartiness was relaxing, cheering. The picture of Mildred Baird began to fade a little. "It feels great,” 1 said. “Understand you were stuck in Caimora for two years.” “Yes, two years.” “A long time in that smelly hole.” “You said it, captain. Much too iong a time.” “Old Colonel Baird doesn’t seem to mind it. Let’s see. It must be 15 years since he first took over the legation. Don’t see how he stands it ” “He likes it. He’s interested in the country and the people. He had plenty of ehances for a better post, but he’s turned them all down.” “Understand his daughter is aboard.” “Yes.” “What does she think of the country ?" “Oh. I euess she likea U waU


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