OUR AGREEABLE FELLOW PASSENGER
n the same spirit in which a solicitous mamma or benevolent middle-aged friend will sometimes draw forth from the misty past some youthful misdeed, and set the faded picture up before a girl's eyes, framed in fiery retribution—for an object lesson and a terrible example—so will I, benevolent, if not middle-aged, put before the eyes of my sisters a certain experience of mine. I expect my little act of self-abasement for the instruction of my sex to have this merit: the picture I will show you is not dim with age, and not cut and cramped to fit the frame of a special case. The colours are hardly dry, and both picture and tale are quite unvarnished.
I am a plain American girl of twenty. I am not so plain, as I come to think of it, as one or two others I know—not being distinguished even by unusual or commanding ugliness. I spent last winter in San Francisco with relatives, and intended returning home as I came—overland. But the invalid friend who was asked to chaperon me back to New York, was advised by her physicians to take the trip by sea via Panama, for health's sake, and I was easily induced to change my arrangements and bear her company.
It was on a sunny April morning that our friends met us at the wharf of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company to bid us God-speed on our month's voyage from the Golden Gate to the harbour of New York.
Fruits and flowers, boxes of salted almonds and Maskey's best bonbons, as well as books, from Prescott's "Conquest of Mexico" to the latest novels, were showered upon us, with the understanding that it was to be a long and tedious voyage, and we should need all the comfort obtainable to support existence, with the knowledge that if we survived, we might be the better for the journey. The signal for visitors to leave the ship had been given, and Major Sanford, turning to go, stood face to face with a tall, foreign-looking young man, who smiled with quick recognition, showing small white teeth like a woman's.
"You raimembair me, Major?"
Major Sanford did "raimembair," and, turning to me, presented "Baron de Bach."
"—he knows all our good friends, was here four years ago on his way round the world in his steam yacht—glad to think you'll have such good company. Good-bye!" And Major Sanford was the last to run down the gangway. How little he knew what entertainment he was providing in coupling my farewell to him with "hail" to Baron de Bach!
Slowly we moved away from the dense crowd that covered the wharf. In the cloud of fluttering handkerchiefs, our friends' faces grew dim and slowly faded; the fair city at our Western portal looked like dreamland in a haze.
"You air not sorry dthat you go?" says a voice over my shoulder.
"No," I say, without turning; "I'm always glad of a change. You must have had a good time in that yacht of yours, going where you liked, and getting up steam the moment you had seen enough."
"Yes," says the new acquaintance meditatively, coming forward to the side of the vessel where I can see his face, "Mais je suis très fatigué....