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A Sleep And A Forgetting
by [?]

I

Matthew Lanfear had stopped off, between Genoa and Nice, at San Remo in the interest of a friend who had come over on the steamer with him, and who wished him to test the air before settling there for the winter with an invalid wife. She was one of those neurasthenics who really carry their climate–always a bad one–with them, but she had set her mind on San Remo; and Lanfear was willing to pass a few days in the place making the observations which he felt pretty sure would be adverse.

His train was rather late, and the sunset was fading from the French sky beyond the Italian shore when he got out of his car and looked round for a porter to take his valise. His roving eye lighted on the anxious figure, which as fully as the anxious face, of a short, stout, elderly man expressed a sort of distraction, as he stood loaded down with umbrellas, bags, bundles, and wraps, and seemed unable to arrest the movements of a tall young girl, with a travelling-shawl trailing from her arm, who had the effect of escaping from him towards a bench beside the door of the waiting-room. When she reached it, in spite of his appeals, she sat down with an absent air, and looked as far withdrawn from the bustle of the platform and from the snuffling train as if on some quiet garden seat along with her own thoughts.

In his fat frenzy, which Lanfear felt to be pathetic, the old gentleman glanced at him, and then abruptly demanded: “Are you an American?”

We knew each other abroad in some mystical way, and Lanfear did not try to deny the fact.

“Oh, well, then,” the stranger said, as if the fact made everything right, “will you kindly tell my daughter, on that bench by the door yonder”–he pointed with a bag, and dropped a roll of rugs from under his arm–“that I’ll be with her as soon as I’ve looked after the trunks? Tell her not to move till I come. Heigh! Here! Take hold of these, will you?” He caught the sleeve of a facchino who came wandering by, and heaped him with his burdens, and then pushed ahead of the man in the direction of the baggage-room with a sort of mastery of the situation which struck Lanfear as springing from desperation rather than experience.

Lanfear stood a moment hesitating. Then a glance at the girl on the bench, drooping a little forward in freeing her face from the veil that hung from her pretty hat, together with a sense of something quaintly charming in the confidence shown him on such purely compatriotic grounds, decided him to do just what he had been asked. The girl had got her veil up by this time, and as he came near, she turned from looking at the sunset over the stretch of wall beyond the halting train, and met his dubious face with a smile.

“It is beautiful, isn’t it?” she said. “I know I shall get well, here, if they have such sunsets every day.”

There was something so convincingly normal in her expression that Lanfear dismissed a painful conjecture. “I beg your pardon,” he said. “I am afraid there’s some mistake. I haven’t the pleasure–You must excuse me, but your father wished me to ask you to wait here for him till he had got his baggage–“

“My father?” the girl stopped him with a sort of a frowning perplexity in the stare she gave him. “My father isn’t here!”

“I beg your pardon,” Lanfear said. “I must have misunderstood. A gentleman who got out of the train with you–a short, stout gentleman with gray hair–I understood him to say you were his daughter–requested me to bring this message–“

The girl shook her head. “I don’t know him. It must be a mistake.”