“Meet anyone interesting?” queried Bret.
“Well, not there, exactly.” he replied. “But in New York, I met the love of my life.” Reaching into his coat pocket, he pulled out the picture of Olivia. “Here she is. Isn’t she a beauty?”
“Wow!” agreed Bart. “She sure is.”
“So!” asserted Artemus. “The old bachelor has finally gone and got himself hitched!”
Mark held up his right hand in protest. “No, no, it’s nothing like that yet. I’m not even sure how she feels—or her father, either.”
“What’s he got to do with it?” asked Steve.
“I fear he may have a lot to do with it, if he doesn’t approve of me. He seems to be quite a religious old gent. I only met him once. Then I only had one date with her. So, as I say, nothing is definite.” He glanced at her picture and sighed. “But, I sure wish it was.”
“Well, what are y’ doin’ back here? Why don’t you go back to New York and grab her up.”
“I plan to, just as soon as I can settle things with the papers here. Maybe the Alta California will keep me on as their New York correspondent.”
The next day found Mark in the offices of the Alta California and the Call. The Alta California earnestly requested a report on his trip abroad, so he started writing a column called “Innocents Abroad.” But then, he thought better of only making it a column. Why not turn it into a book—a sort of travelogue, he thought. He kept working at it day and night—but not the last thing at night—that time was reserved for his letter writing to his dear Olivia in New York. He kept her picture on his dresser in front of him and every time he thought of her he got a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. He couldn’t get her out of his mind. She was even in the back of his mind as he was writing his travelogue.
They continued to correspond by letter. She would always write him back, but her letters were filled with news of what was going on in New York in her family and of the church services they attended, giving a short summary of the sermons. Once in a while there was a slight hint of her feeling for him—just enough to lead him on but nothing definite. He realized that in order to win her over he would have to pretend to go along with her faith. He had been around enough church people, especially on the Quaker City, that he knew the language quite well.
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