But, once more, what should he do? Oh, well, he would follow Coronado’s advice; yes, damn him! follow the scoundrel’s advice; he could think of nothing for himself. He would stay out until late; then he would steal below and go to bed; after that he would keep his stateroom. However, it was unpleasant to remain where he was, for the spray was beginning to drench the waist as well as the forecastle; and, the quarter-deck being clear of passengers, he staggered thither, dropped under the starboard bulwark, rolled himself in his cloak, and lay brooding.
Meanwhile Coronado had amused Clara below until he felt seasick and had to take to his berth. Escaping thus from his duennaship, she wanted to see a storm, as she called the half-gale which was blowing, and clambered bravely alone to the quarter-deck, where the skipper took her in charge, showed her the compass, walked her up and down a little, and finally gave her a post at the foot of the shrouds. Thurstane had recognized her by the light of the binnacle, and once more he thought, as weakly as a scared child, “What shall I do?” After hiding his face for a moment he uncovered it desperately, resolving to see whether she would speak. She did look at him; she even looked steadily and sharply, as if in recognition; but after a while she turned tranquilly away to gaze at the sea.
Forgetting that no lamp was shining upon him, and that she probably had no cause for expecting to find him here, Thurstane believed that she had discovered who he was and that her mute gesture confirmed his rejection. Under this throttling of his last hope he made no protest, but silently wished himself on the battle-field, falling with his face to the foe. For several minutes they remained thus side by side.
The Lolotte was now well at sea, the wind and waves rising rapidly, the motion already considerable. Presently there was an order of “Lay aloft and furl the skysails,” and then short shouts resounded from the darkness, showing that the work was being done. But in spite of this easing the vessel labored a good deal, and heavy spurts of spray began to fly over the quarter-deck rail.
“I think, Miss, you had better go below unless you want to get wet,” observed the skipper, coming up to Clara. “We shall have a splashing night of it.”
Taking the nautical arm, Clara slid and tottered away, leaving Thurstane lying on the sloppy deck.
Had Clara recognized Thurstane, she would have thrown herself into his arms, and he would hardly have slept that night for joy.
As it was, he could not sleep for misery; festering at heart because of that letter of rejection; almost maddened by his supposed discovery that she would not speak to him, yet declaring to himself that he never would have married her, because of her money; at the same time worshipping and desiring her with passion; longing to die, but longing to die for her; half enraged, and altogether wretched.