Towards The Continent
“Aren’t you tired of hearing people wonder when we shall arrive at Gibraltar?”
“They needn’t wonder. This is a slow boat, but we have averaged about three hundred and twenty-five miles every day, so we must get in early Tuesday unless something unusual happens.
A high wind may spring up, but even then we are pretty certain to come in sight of Gibraltar before night.”
“Oh, I can hardly wait until then,” began Irma. “I hope we can go up on top of the Rock, and down in the dungeons, and everywhere.” Muriel, who was walking with Irma and Marion, looked surprised at her friend’s enthusiasm, and even a trifle bored.
“Don’t talk like a school book,” she whispered, and Irma, reddening, glanced up at Marion, to see if he shared Muriel’s strange distaste for history. But he gave no sign.
Since leaving the Azores, Muriel’s frank friendliness for Irma had added much to the pleasure of the two girls. Though they had been brought up so differently, they had much in common.
Muriel’s winters were usually spent there, but she had also travelled widely. She had been educated by governesses, and yet Irma could but notice that she was less well informed in history and had less interest in books than many of her own friends at home. Irma did not compare her own knowledge with Muriel’s, but an impartial critic would probably have decided that, whatever might be the real merits of the two systems, Irma had profited the more from the education given her.
In modern French and German, however, Muriel certainly was proficient, and when she complained of Mademoiselle Potin, Irma would tell her to be thankful that she had so good a chance to practice French.
Since the day at St. Michael’s, Marion had ceased to avoid Irma, and though he spent little time with her, he was evidently trying to be friendly.
He never referred to his misadventure coming on board. Aunt Caroline had brought Irma his thanks.
“He is very nervous, as you must have noticed,” she said, “and he may be unable to talk to you about this.
For he feels that he has disgraced himself again; and though he is incorrect in this, still I appreciate his feelings, and hope you will accept his thanks.”
“Why, there’s really nothing to thank me for,” began Irma.
“Oh, yes, my dear, we all think differently. You certainly have great presence of mind. Poor Marion.”
In spite of Aunt Caroline’s sympathetic tones, Irma did not pity Marion.
He was a fine, manly-looking boy, and the sea air had brought color to his face, while his fretful expression had almost gone.
After the first day or two at sea Irma had begun to make new acquaintances.
Among them was a little girl who greatly reminded her of Tessie as she had been a few years earlier.
So one day she called her to listen to the steamer letter from Tessie, that she had found under her plate that morning.
“Dear Irma, when you read this—for I hope Uncle Jim will give my letter to you—you will be far out on the ocean, where it is very deep, with no islands or peninsulas in sight, and I hope you will be careful not to fall overboard.
But please look over the edge of the boat once in a while to see if there are any whales about.
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