“Why did you say what you did about John Graham? What did the other man mean when he said he should be hung?”
There was an intense directness in her question which for a moment astonished him. She had withdrawn her fingers from his arm, and her slim figure seemed possessed of a sudden throbbing suspense as she waited for an answer. They had turned a little, so that in the light of the moon the almost flowerlike whiteness of her face was clear to him. With her smooth, shining hair, the pallor of her face under its lustrous darkness, and the clearness of her eyes she held Alan speechless for a moment, while his brain struggled to seize upon and understand the something about her which made him interested in spite of himself. Then he smiled and there was a sudden glitter in his eyes.
“Did you ever see a dog fight?” he asked.
She hesitated, as if trying to remember, and shuddered slightly. “Once.”
“It was my dog—a little dog. His throat was torn—”
He nodded. “Exactly. And that is just what John Graham is doing to Alaska, Miss Standish. He’s the dog—a monster. Imagine a man with a colossal financial power behind him, setting out to strip the wealth from a new land and enslave it to his own desires and political ambitions. That is what John Graham is doing from his money-throne down there in the States. It’s the financial support he represents, curse him! Money—and a man without conscience. A man who would starve thousands or millions to achieve his ends. A man who, in every sense of the word, is a murderer—”
The sharpness of her cry stopped him. If possible, her face had gone whiter, and he saw her hands clutched suddenly at her breast. And the look in her eyes brought the old, cynical twist back to his lips.
“There, I’ve hurt your puritanism again, Miss Standish,” he said, bowing a little. “In order to appeal to your finer sensibilities I suppose I must apologize for swearing and calling another man a murderer. Well, I do. And now—if you care to stroll about the ship—”
From a respectful distance the three young engineers watched Alan and Mary Standish as they walked forward.
“A corking pretty girl,” said one of them, drawing a deep breath. “I never saw such hair and eyes—”
“I’m at the same table with them,” interrupted another. “I’m second on her left, and she hasn’t spoken three words to me. And that fellow she is with is like an icicle out of Labrador.”
And Mary Standish was saying: “Do you know, Mr. Holt, I envy those young engineers. I wish I were a man.”
“I wish you were,” agreed Alan amiably.
Whereupon Mary Standish’s pretty mouth lost its softness for an instant. But Alan did not observe this. He was enjoying his cigar and the sweet air.