The sun was taking its time, the ship nosing steadily A through the thin veil of mist. Miranda reluctantly left the deck and vent below. I can’t wait forever, I must finish everything in the cabin, and get some breakfast”.
When she presently came back again she was dressed for going ashore in her trim little suit and white hat and small white shoes with the flat heels to which she was addicted. The fog had cleared at last and she made her way forward to where a number of people were looking out over the ship’s bows.
Frederick Clayton, standing in a group among whom were Mr. Willison and the Hungarian trio, saw her coming, walking with that peculiar lightness which once had enchanted him. Fairylike, elusive, he had called it. She still retained an elusive quality; Freddy wasn’t given to flights of fancy but he had a momentary vision of dark-haired Miranda moving silently through dim, deserted rooms, her face intent, her grey eyes glimmering palely—he gave his shoulders a quick shake. What on earth had conjured up so improbable and spectral an apparition ?
‘Gaga,’ he told himself.
There was nothing spectral in Miranda’s eager figure, pressing against the rail as the others made room for her, nor in her enraptured face as she gazed at the city across the wide bay. A city rising placidly from the green-brown river that swept in a great arm to the right.
“That’s the famous Tagus,” someone said instructively.
Miranda had no eyes for the Tagus, or the busy little ferry plying from a distant wooded shore and the various shipping in the harbor. She saw only Lisbon, very still, clear cut in the sunshine under a sky whose luminous blue was like no sky she had ever before seen.
“Love at first sight, Miranda?” Mr. Willison asked, amusedly.
She turned to him, nodding assent. “Is it as lovely as it seems?”
“More so. You can’t see the color from here. You are lucky today in your first impression; the fog has its uses. One is generally blown off one’s feet crossing this harbor.”
“But that would be too much,” the Countess Radizlo cried with animation. “To arrive in a gale of wind, after leaving that so cold and stormy England. Brrrr—not once was I warm—a terrible country. But I should perhaps not say so” she sent Miranda a laughing, apologetic glance.
“Miss Rendle will agree that England has had an unusually drastic spring,” Mr. Willison said. “By the way—I don’t think you have met” he introduced them. “And this is the Princess Tamara.”
“Already we have met,” Tamara said, coming to stand beside the elder girl. “Such a foolishness, I do not know what you think of me.”
“Nothing very bad,” Miranda replied, smiling down into the eyes that were raised to hers. Eyes like brown pansies, and in charming contrast with the bright golden hair. “Are you feeling all right now?”
“Yes, thank you. The stewardess—oh, my, what she make me do—I think I will not again have hangover.” She made a mischievous little grimace, and continued, “Do you leave the ship at Lisbon, Mees Rendle?” “Yes. You, also, I understand.”
“It is so. Bela and Olga have friends, who meet us and take us to where they live. Again some new place, and this time where is warm and sunnee. Do you come as touriste, for holiday?”
“I have a brother here and am staying with him.”
“Is good to have a brother and to arrive at a home,” the princess said cordially. She spoke in the polite, impersonal fashion of one making conversation with a casual acquaintance; there was no hint of self-pity in her voice. But the words went to Miranda’s heart; poor little homeless waif. And not less in need of compassion because she herself bore out the truth of Mrs. Sangster’s pronouncement; utterly irresponsible, living for the day. Tamara dancing so joyously last evening, gaily amused at her predicament this morning, going to ‘some new place’ and happy because it was a warm and sunny one, giving no thought as to what might happen next. Insensitive, Miranda concluded and, all things considered, perhaps fortunately so.
There was a stir along the deck, the ship was drawing in. Countess Radizlo called : Come, Mara, it is time”
“I come, Olga. Goodbye, Mees Rendle, or au revoir. Maybee I have pleasure some time to see you again.”