Four hundred feet and more she measured from stem to stern, and in that space were crowded and packed all the luxuries of a palace, and all the conveniences of an American hotel. She was a beautiful and a wonderful thing to look on; as, with her holds full of costly merchandise and her decks crowded with her living freight of about a thousand human beings, she steamed slowly out to sea, as though loth to leave the land where she was born. But presently she seemed to gather up her energies and to grow conscious of the thousands and thousands of miles of wide tossing water, which stretched between her and the far-off harbour where her mighty heart should cease from beating and be for a while at rest. Quicker and quicker she sped along, and spurned the churning water from her swift sides. She was running under a full head of steam now, and the coast-line of England grew faint and low in the faint, low light, till at last it almost vanished from the gaze of a tall, slim girl, who stood forward, clinging to the starboard bulwark netting and looking with deep grey eyes across the waste of waters. Presently Augusta, for it was she, could see the shore no more, and turned to watch the other passengers and think. She was sad at heart, poor girl, and felt what she was—a very waif upon the sea of life. Not that she had much to regret upon the vanished coast-line. A little grave with a white cross over it—that was all. She had left no friends to weep for her, none. But even as she thought it, a recollection rose up in her mind of Eustace Meeson’s pleasant, handsome face, and of his kind words, and with it came a pang as she reflected that, in all probability, she should never see the one or hear the other again. Why, she wondered, had he not come to see her again? She should have liked to bid him “Good-bye,” and had half a mind to send him a note and tell him of her going. This, on second thoughts, however, she had decided not to do; for one thing, she did not know his address, and—well, there was an end of it.
Could she by the means of clairvoyance have seen Eustace’s face and heard his words, she would have regretted her decision. For even as that great vessel plunged on her fierce way right into the heart of the gathering darkness, he was standing at the door of the lodging-house in the little street in Birmingham.
“Gone!” he was saying. “Miss Smithers gone to New Zealand! What is her address?”
“She didn’t leave no address, sir,” replies the dirty maid-of-all-work with a grin. “She went from here two days ago, and was going on to the ship in London.”
“What was the name of the ship?” he asked, in despair. “Kan—Kon—Conger-eel,” replies the girl in triumph, and shuts the door in his face.