“What a change!” she murmured, looking around.
“Wonderful, isn’t it?” he assented. “And what a gloriously salt breeze!”
“I declare,” she said, “I am positively hungry! I believe, after all, that I am going to enjoy this voyage.”
After luncheon she hesitated for a moment, and then with a little sigh turned into her stateroom. She sat down upon her bunk, and leaning her elbow on the round space, gazed thoughtfully out of the open port-hole. Had she been foolish to forget for a little while, and was she in danger of being more foolish still! Her thoughts travelled back to the little farmhouse so far removed from civilization. She thought of the altered life they were all living there, her father freed from care, her brother at college, her mother with that anxious light banished from her eyes, no more having to scheme day by day how to pay the tradesmen’s slender bills which so quickly became formidable. To think that the old days might return was a nightmare to her. She felt that she would do anything, dare anything, to win her way back to her old position with her uncle. Only a few words had passed between them at parting. She had asked him to let her people know nothing, to let them believe that she had gone on a journey for him.
“Let them have a few more months!” she begged. “Then if I succeed in what I am going to try, it will be all right. If I fail, well, they will have been happy for a little longer.”
He had spoken no word of hope to her. He had made no promises. All that he had said had been curt and to the point.
“What you lost it is open for you to find. If it is found, it will be as though it were not lost.”
But what a wild-goose chase it seemed! How could she hope for success! Even Stella would laugh at her; and Vine,—she had seen him only once, but she could imagine the smile with which he would greet any entreaties she could frame. She shook her head at her own thoughts. Entreaties! She would have to choose other weapons than these. By force and cunning she had been robbed; her only chance of effective reply would be to use the same means, only to use them more surely. Meanwhile she told herself that she must keep away from these distractions. After all, she was only a child, and she had had so little kindness from any one. Her head sank a little lower, and her hands went up before her eyes. What an idiot she was, after all! Then she locked the door, and cried herself to sleep.
“Will you marry me?”
“This time,” he said firmly, “you cannot escape me. Will you sit down in your chair, or shall we talk here?”
She glanced up at him, and the words which she had prepared died away on her lips. She led the way quite meekly to where their chairs remained side by side.
“We will sit down if you like, for a short time,” she said, hesitatingly. “I cannot stay long. I still have a good deal of packing to do.”