The discussion was respecting the vessels where a passage might be obtained. The cavaliers were to sail in a couple of days for London, but another ship would go out of harbour with the tide on the following day for Southampton, and this was decided on by acclamation by the Hampshire party, though no good accommodation was promised them.
There was little opportunity for a tete-a-tetes, for the young men insisted on escorting the ladies to the picture galleries, palaces, and gardens, and Charles did not wish to reawaken the observations that, according to the habits of the time, might not be of the choicest description. Anne watched him under her eyelashes, and wondered with beating heart whether after all he intended to return home, and there plead his cause, for he gave no token of intending to separate from the rest.
The Hampshire Hog was to sail at daybreak, so the passengers went on board over night, after supper, when the summer twilight was sinking down and the far-off west still had a soft golden tint.
Anne felt Charles’s arm round her in the boat and grasping her hand, then pulling off her glove and putting a ring on her finger—all in silence. She still felt that arm on the deck in the confusion of men, ropes, and bales of goods, and the shouts and hails on all sides that nearly deafened her. There was imminent danger of being hurled down, if not overboard, among the far from sober sailors, and Mr. Fellowes urged the ladies to go below at once, conducting Miss Darpent himself as soon as he could ascertain where to go. Anne felt herself almost lifted down. Then followed a strong embrace, a kiss on brow, lips, and either cheek, and a low hoarse whisper—“So best! Mine own! God bless you,”—and as Suzanne came tumbling aft into the narrow cabin, Anne found herself left alone with her two female companions, and knew that these blissful days were over.
CHAPTER XXIII: FRENCH LEAVE
“When ye gang awa, Jamie,
Far across the sea, laddie,
When ye gang to Germanie
What will ye send to me, laddie?”
Fides was the posy on the ring. That was all Anne could discover, and indeed only this much with the morning light of the July sun that penetrated the remotest corners. For the cabin was dark and stifling, and there was no leaving it, for both Miss Darpent and her attendant were so ill as to engross her entirely.
She could hardly leave them when there was a summons to a meal in the captain’s cabin, and there she found herself the only passenger able to appear, and the rest of the company, though intending civility, were so rough that she was glad to retreat again, and wretched as the cabin was, she thought it preferable to the deck.
Mr. Fellowes, she heard, was specially prostrated, and jokes were passing round that it was the less harm, since it might be the worse for him if the crew found out that there was a parson on board.