This occupation was a most excellent thing for Edna and her brother, but it did not help Mrs. Cliff to endure with patience the weary days of waiting. She had nothing to read, nothing to do, very often no one to talk to, and she would probably have fallen into a state of nervous melancholy had not Edna persuaded her to devote an hour or two each day to missionary work with Mok and Cheditafa. This Mrs. Cliff cheerfully undertook. She was a conscientious woman, and her methods of teaching were peculiar. She had an earnest desire to do the greatest amount of good with these poor, ignorant negroes, but, at the same time, she did not wish to do injury to any one else. The conviction forced itself upon her that if she absolutely converted Cheditafa from the errors of his native religion, she might in some way invalidate the marriage ceremony which he had performed.
“If he should truly come to believe,” she said to herself, “that he had no right to marry the captain and Edna, his conscience might make him go back on the whole business, and everything that we have done would be undone. I don’t want him to remain a heathen any longer than it can possibly be helped, but I must be careful not to set his priesthood entirely aside until Edna’s position is fixed and settled. When the captain comes back, and we all get home, they must be married regularly; but if he never comes back, then I must try to make Cheditafa understand that the marriage is just as binding as any other kind, and that any change of religious opinion that he may undergo will have no effect upon it.”
Accordingly, while she confined her religious teachings to very general principles, her moral teachings were founded upon the strictest code, and included cleanliness and all the household virtues, not excepting the proper care of such garments as an indigent human being in a tropical climate might happen to possess.
In spite, however, of this occupation, Mrs. Cliffs spirits were not buoyant. “I believe,” she thought, “things would have been more cheerful if they had not married; but then, of course, we ought to be willing to sacrifice cheerfulness at present to future prosperity.”
It was more than a month after the departure of the captain that Ralph, from his point of observation, perceived a sail upon the horizon. He had seen sails there before, but they never grew any larger, and generally soon disappeared, for it would lengthen the course of any coasting-vessel to approach this shore. But the sail that Ralph saw now grew larger and larger, and, with the aid of his little spy-glass, it was not long before he made up his mind that it was coming toward him. Then up went his signal-flag, and, with a loud hurrah, down went he to shout out the glad news.
Twenty minutes later it was evident to the anxiously peering eyes of every one of the party that the ship was actually approaching the shore, and in the heart of each one of them there was a bounding delight in the feeling that, after all these days of weary waiting, the captain was coming back.