“I hope that I shall not be taken ill here,” he said, gravely.
Miss Drewitt sat up with a start. “I should hope not,” she said, sharply.
“So inconvenient,” he murmured.
“Quite impossible,” said Miss Drewitt, whose experience led her to believe him capable of anything.
“I should never forgive myself,” he said, gently.
Miss Drewitt regarded him in alarm, and of her own accord gave him a third cup of tea and told him that he might smoke. She felt safer when she saw him light a cigarette, and, for fear that a worse thing might befall her, entered amiably into conversation. She even found herself, somewhat to her surprise, discussing the voyage and sympathising with Mr. Tredgold in his anxiety concerning his father’s safety.
“Mrs. Chalk and Mrs. Stobell are very anxious, too,” he said. “It is a long way for a small craft like that.”
“And then to find no treasure at the end of it,” said Miss Drewitt, with feminine sweetness.
Mr. Tredgold stole a look at her. “I did not mean to say that the captain had no treasure,” he said, quietly.
“You believe in it now? “said the girl, triumphantly.
“I believe that the captain has a treasure,” admitted the other, “certainly.”
“Worth half a million?” persisted Miss Drewitt.
“Worth more than that,” said Mr. Tredgold, gazing steadily into the fire.
The girl looked puzzled. “More?” she said, in surprise.
“Much more,” said the other, still contemplating the fire. “It is priceless.”
Miss Drewitt sat up suddenly and then let herself back slowly into the depths of the chair. Her face turned scarlet and she hoped fervently that if Mr. Tredgold looked at her the earth might open and swallow him up. She began to realize dimly that in the absence of an obliging miracle of that kind there would never be any getting rid of him.
“Priceless,” repeated Mr. Tredgold, in challenging tones.
Miss Drewitt made no reply. Rejoinder was dangerous and silence difficult. In a state of nervous indignation she rang for Mr. Tasker and instructed him to take away the tea-things; to sweep the hearth; and to alter the position of two pictures. By the time all this was accomplished she had regained her wonted calm and was airing some rather strong views on the subject of two little boys who lived with a catapult next door but one.
Month by month the Fair Emily crept down south. The Great Bear and other constellations gave way to the stars of the southern skies, and Mr. Chalk tried hard not to feel disappointed with the arrangement of those in the Southern Cross. Pressed by the triumphant Brisket, to whom he voiced his views, he had to admit that it was at least as much like a cross as the other was a bear.