“Ralph,” said Mrs. Cliff, “that is horrible. Don’t you ever say anything like that again. I hope you are not going to distress your sister with such remarks.”
“You need not say anything about Edna!” he exclaimed. “I shall not worry her with any criticisms of the performance. The fact is, she will need cheering up, and if I can do it I will. She’s captain now, and I’ll stand up for her like a good fellow.”
Edna stood on the beach, gazing out on the ocean illuminated by the rays of the setting sun, keeping her eyes fixed on the captain’s boat until it became a mere speck. Then, when it had vanished entirely among the lights and shades of the evening sea, she still stood a little while and watched. Then she turned and slowly walked up to the plateau. Everything there was just as she had known it for weeks. The great stone face seemed to smile in the last rays of the setting sun. Mrs. Cliff came to meet her, her face glowing with smiles, and Ralph threw his arms around her neck and kissed her, without, however, saying a word about that sort of thing having been omitted in the ceremony of the afternoon.
“My dear Edna,” exclaimed Mrs. Cliff, “from the bottom of my heart I congratulate you! No matter how we look at it, a rare piece of good fortune has come to you.”
Edna gazed at her for a moment, and then she answered quietly, “Oh, yes, it was a fine thing, no matter what happens. If he does not come back, I shall make a bold stroke for widowhood; and if he does come back, he is bound, after all this, to give me a good share of that treasure. So, you see, we have done the best we can do to be rich and happy, if we are not so unlucky as to perish among these rocks and sand.”
“She is almost as horrible as Ralph,” thought Mrs. Cliff, “but she will get over it.”
MRS. CLIFF IS AMAZED
After the captain set sail in his little boat, the party which he left behind him lived on in an uneventful, uninteresting manner, which, gradually, day by day, threw a shadow over the spirits of each one of them.
Ralph, who always slept in the outer chamber of the caves, had been a very faithful guardian of the captain’s treasure. No one, not even himself, had gone near it, and he never went up to the rocky promontory on which he had raised his signal-pole without knowing that the two negroes were at a distance from the caves, or within his sight.
For a day or two after the captain’s departure Edna was very quiet, with a fancy for going off by herself. But she soon threw off this dangerous disposition, and took up her old profession of teacher, with Ralph as the scholar, and mathematics as the study. They had no books nor even paper, but the rules and principles of her specialty were fresh in her mind, and with a pointed stick on a smooth stretch of sand diagrams were drawn and problems worked out.