Next morning Arthur cashed his cheque, and started on his travels. He had no very clear idea why he was going back to Madeira, or what he meant to do when he got there; but then, at this painful stage of his existence, none of his ideas could be called clear. Though he did not realize it, what he was searching for was sympathy, female sympathy of course; for in trouble members of either sex gravitate instinctively to the other for comfort. Perhaps they do not quite trust their own, or perhaps they are afraid of being laughed at.
Arthur’s was not one of those natures that can lock their griefs within the bosom, and let them lie there till in process of time they shrivel away. Except among members of the peerage, as pictured in current literature, these stern, proud creatures are not common. Man, whether he figures in the world as a peer or a hedge-carpenter, is, as a matter of fact, mentally as well as physically, gregarious, and adverse to loneliness either in his joys or sorrows.
Decidedly, too, the homoeopathic system must be founded on great natural facts, and there is philosophy, born of the observation of human nature, in the somewhat vulgar proverb that recommends a “hair of the dog that bit you.” Otherwise, nine men out of every ten who have been badly treated, or think that they have been badly treated, by a woman, would not at once rush headlong for refuge to another, a proceeding which also, in nine cases out of ten, ends in making confusion worse confounded.
Arthur, though he was not aware of it, was exemplifying a natural law that has not yet been properly explained. But, even if he had known it, it is doubtful if the knowledge would have made him any happier; for it is irritating to reflect that we are the slaves of natural laws, that our action is not the outcome of our own volition, but of a vague force working silently as the Gulf Stream—since such knowledge makes a man measure his weakness, and so strikes at his tenderest point, his vanity.
But, whilst we have been reflecting together, my reader and I, Arthur was making his way to Madeira, so we may as well all come to a halt off Funchal.
Very shortly after the vessel had dropped her anchor, Arthur was greeted by his friend, the manager of “Miles’ Hotel.”
“Glad to see you, sir, though I can’t say that you look well. I scarcely expected to find anybody for us at this time of year. Business is very slack in the summer.”
“Yes, I suppose that Madeira is pretty empty.”
“There is nobody here at all, sir.”
“Is Mrs. Carr gone, then?” asked Arthur, in some alarm.
“No; she is still here. She has not been away this year. But she has been very quiet; no parties or anything, which makes people think that she has lost money.”
By this time the boat was rising on the roll of the last billow, to be caught next moment by a dozen hands, and dragged up the shingle. It was evening, or rather, verging that way, and from under the magnolia-trees below the cathedral there came the sound of the band summoning the inhabitants of Funchal to congregate, chatter, and flirt.