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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 617 pages of information about John Caldigate.

But he was engaged to marry Mrs. Smith.  Then he got up, and walked backwards and forwards along the deck, asking himself whether this could really be the truth.  Was he bound to this woman for his life?  And if so, had he done a thing of which he already repented himself?  He tried to persuade himself that she was admirably fitted for the life which he was fated to lead.  She was handsome, intellectual, a most delightful companion, and yet capable of enduring the hardships of an adventurous uncertain career.  Ought he not to think himself peculiarly lucky in having found for himself so eligible a companion?  But there is something so solemn, so sacred, in the name of wife.  A man brought up among soft things is so imbued with the feeling that his wife should be something better, cleaner, sweeter, holier than himself that he could not but be awe-struck when he thought that he was bound to marry this all but nameless widow of some drunken player,—­this woman who, among other women, had been thought unfit for all companionship!

But things arrange themselves.  How probable it was that he would never be married to her.  After all, this might be but an incident, and not an unpleasant incident, in his life.  He had had his amusement out of it, and she had had hers.  Perhaps they would part to meet no more.  But when he thought that there might be comfort in this direction, he felt that he was a scoundrel for thinking so.

‘And this is to say good-bye?’ ’Twas thus she greeted him again that night.  ‘Good-bye—­’

‘Good-bye, my love.’

’My love! my love!  And now remember this; my address will be, Post-office, Melbourne.  It will be for you to write to me.  You will not hear from me unless you do.  Indeed I shall know nothing of you.  Let me have a line before a month is over.’  This he promised, and then they parted.

At break of day on the following morning the Goldfinder rode over the Rip into Hobson’s Bay.  There were still four hours before the ship lay at her moorings; but during all that time Mrs. Smith was not seen by Caldigate.  As he got into the boat which took him and Shand from the ship to the pier at Sandridge she kissed her hand to him over the side of the vessel.  Before eleven o’clock Dick Shand and his companion were comfortably put up at the Miners’ Home in Flinders Lane.

Chapter IX

Nobble

During the two days which Dick and Caldigate spent together in Melbourne Mrs. Smith’s name was not mentioned between them.  They were particularly civil each to the other and went to work together, making arrangements at a bank as to their money, taking their places, despatching their luggage, and sorting their belongings as though there had been no such woman as Mrs. Smith on board the Goldfinder.  Dick, though he had been inclined to grumble when his mystery had been taken out of his hands,—­who had, of course, been jealous when he saw that the lady had

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