“Do you see it?” he asked.
“Trees? Aren’t those trees?”
“I see nothing.”
“You do. You must. They are there.” He spoke almost roughly, as if she irritated him.
“Oh, yes. I think I do see something,” she said, and started. “Like a speck?—a film?—a bird’s wing, perhaps?”
In the bow the blanket again stirred. Then, as from the dull chrysalis emerge brightness and beauty, so from those dun folds sprang into the morning light a red-lipped, lovely vision.
“Trees,” repeated the steersman to Sonia Turgeinov. “I am positive—” he went on, but lost interest in his own words. Fatigue seemed to fall from him in an instant; he stared.
From beneath her golden hair Betty Dalrymple’s eyes flashed full upon him.
“You!” she said.
Mr. Heatherbloom appeared to relapse; his expression—that smile—vague, indefinite—again partook of the somnambulistic.
AN ANOMALOUS SITUATION
The most unexpected and extraordinary thing in the world had happened, yet Betty Dalrymple asked no questions. Had she done so, it is probable that Mr. Heatherbloom would have been physically unequal to the labyrinthine explanation the occasion demanded. For a brief spell the girl had continued to regard him and she had seemed about to speak further. Then the blue light of her gaze had slowly turned and her lips remained mute. He was glad of this; of course he would later have to tell something, but sufficient unto that unlucky hour were the perplexities thereof. Sonia Turgeinov had been surprised, too, but it was Betty Dalrymple’s surprise that had most awakened her wonder. “Why, didn’t you know it was he?” the dark eyes seemed to say to the young girl. “Who else, on earth, did you think it was?” The mystery for her, as well as for Betty Dalrymple, deepened. Only for Mr. Heatherbloom there existed no mystery; it was all now clear as day. He had done what he had set out to do. She would soon be enabled to find her way back to civilization. His present concern lay with the occupation of the moment.
The tree was a tree; this was the most momentous immediate consideration; a few more miles had established that fact with positiveness. But distances on the water are long, and they three would have to journey together on the sea yet a while. He bethought him of his duties, as host; these—his two passengers-were in his care.
“You should find biscuits in a basket and water in a cask,” he said, speaking to both of them, and, at the same time, to immeasurable distance. “If you don’t mind looking—I can’t very well.”