Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/23

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The Centaurians

Middleton & Co. They demanded my return and conveyed the impression it was a matter of necessity, causing me to vaguely meditate upon the possibility if I had really reached the end of my powerful fortune. This was laughable, but Middleton & Co. had some strong reason—they always had strong reasons, and had entirely upset the rather flimsy plans I had formed for the future. I used some irritable language, though right down in my heart I had a hankering to see the old boys again.

Leisurely I journeyed homeward and tremendously enjoyed the trip across the ocean. The voyage was remarkably calm and I strode upon deck, inhaling great quantities of fresh, vigorous, salt air, and giving a passing glance at the class of people to whom I belonged, saw what is seen always among the rich and idle. Well-dressed self-satisfaction, without interest or idea beyond their own narrow little world; fashionable, complacent boredom, a certain well-bred discontent, idiotic, polite repartee, stifled yawns.… A kindly old gentleman interested me considerably. We were together constantly and I learned he had squandered three fortunes and enjoyed the superb satisfaction of regretting it. He had a wife and mature family somewhere and delighted in the thought that they had not the remotest idea of his whereabouts. I knew very well who he was, but did not allude to it as he traveled incognito and I feared to annoy him. He was an aristocrat—such men usually are. Our acquaintance ended with the voyage, but as we parted he gave me original, wholesome advice,