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Christopher and Columbus

CHAPTER XXIV
Yet another harassing experience awaited Mr. Twist before the end of that week.
It had been from the first his anxious concern that nothing should occur at the
Cosmopolitan to get his party under a cloud; yet it did get under a cloud, and on the
very last afternoon, too, before Mrs. Bilton's arrival. Only twenty-four hours more and
her snowy-haired respectability would have spread over the twins like a white whig.
They would have been safe. His party would have been unassailable. But no; those
Twinklers, in spite of his exhortation whenever he had a minute left to exhort in, couldn't,
it seemed, refrain from twinkling,—the word in Mr. Twist's mind covered the whole of
their easy friendliness, their flow of language, their affable desire to explain.
He had kept them with him as much as he could, and luckily the excited interest they
took in the progress of the inn made them happy to hang about it most of the time of the
delicate and dangerous week before Mrs. Bilton came; but they too had things to do,—
shopping in Acapulco choosing the sea-blue linen frocks and muslin caps and aprons in
which they were to wait at tea, and buying the cushions and flower-pots and canary that
came under the general heading, in Anna-Rose's speech, of feminine touches. So they
sometimes left him; and he never saw them go without a qualm.
"Mind and not say anything to anybody about this, won't you," he would say hastily,
making a comprehensive gesture towards the cottage as they went.
"Of course we won't."
"I meant, nobody is to know what it's really going to be. They're to think it's just a pied-à-
terre. It would most ruin my advertisement scheme if they—"
"But of course we won't. Have we ever?" the twins would answer, looking very smug
and sure of themselves.
"No. Not yet. But—"
And the hustled man would plunge again into technicalities with whichever expert was
at that moment with him, leaving the twins, as he needs must, to God and their own
discretion.
Discretion, he already amply knew, was not a Twinkler characteristic. But the week
passed, Mrs. Bilton's arrival grew near, and nothing had happened. It was plain to the
watchful Mr. Twist, from the pleasant looks of the other guests when the twins went in
and out of the restaurant to meals, that nothing had happened. His heart grew lighter.
On the last afternoon, when Mrs. Bilton was actually due next day, his heart was quite
 
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