The words seemed to die away upon her lips. A shower of spray came glittering into the dim light, like flakes of snow falling with unexpected violence close to them. He drew her cloak around her and moved back.
“Now,” she said, “I think we will smoke, and perhaps, if you made yourself very agreeable to the steward in the smoking room, you could get some coffee.”
“One moment,” he pleaded. “Remember what? Don’t you realise that there is just one word I still need, one little word to crown all that you have said?”
She turned her head towards him. The trouble and brooding melancholy seemed to have fallen from his face. She realised more fully its sensitive lines, its poetic, almost passionate charm. She was carried suddenly away upon a wave of the emotion which she herself had created.
“Oh, but you know!” she faltered. “You see, I trust you even to know when ... Now your arm, please, until we reach the smoking room, and mind—I must have coffee.”
Philip Romilly, on the last day of the voyage, experienced to the full that peculiar sensation of unrest which seems inevitably to prevail when an oceangoing steamer is being slowly towed into port. The winds of the ocean had been left behind. There was a new but pleasant chill in the frosty, sunlit air. The great buildings of New York, at which he had been gazing for hours, were standing, heterogeneous but magnificent, clear-cut against an azure sky. The ferry boats, with their amazing human cargo, seemed to be screeching a welcome as they churned their way across the busy river. Wherever he looked, there was something novel and interesting, yet nothing sufficiently arresting to enable him to forget that he was face to face now with the first crisis of his new life. Since that brief wireless message on the first day out, there had been nothing disquieting in the daily bulletins of news, and he had been able to appreciate to the full the soothing sense of detachment, the friendliness of his fellow voyagers, immeasurably above all the daily association with Elizabeth. He felt like one awaking from a dream as he realised that these things were over. At the first sight of land, it was as though a magician’s wand had been waved, a charm broken. His fellow passengers, in unfamiliar costumes, were standing about with their eyes glued upon the distant docks. A queer sense of ostracism possessed him. Perhaps, after all, it had been a dream from which he was now slowly awaking.
He wandered into the lounge to find Elizabeth surrounded by a little group of journalists. She nodded to him pleasantly and waved a great bunch of long-stemmed pink roses which one of them had brought to her. Her greeting saved him from despair. She, at least, was unchanged.