And she stepped before him on to the upward sloping gangway plank.
WHEREIN DAMARIS MEETS HERSELF UNDER A NOVEL ASPECT
Damaris threw back the bedclothes, her eyes still dim with slumber, and gathered herself into a sitting position, clasping her knees with both hands. She had a vague impression that something very pleasant awaited her attention; but, in the soft confusion of first awakening, could not remember exactly what it was.
To induce clearer consciousness she instinctively parted the mosquito curtains, slipped her feet down over the side of the bed; and, a little crouched together and fumbly—baby-fashion—being still under the comfortable empire of sleep, crossed the room and set back the inward opening casements of the south window. Thereupon the outdoor freshness, fluttering her hair and the lace and nain-sook of her nightdress, brought her, on the instant, into full possession of her wandering wits. She remembered the nature of that charmingly pleasant something; yet paused, before yielding it attention, held captive by the spectacle of returning day.
It was early. The disc of the sun still below the horizon. But shafts of light, striking up from it, patterned the underside of a vast dapple of fleecy cloud—heliotrope upon the back-cloth of blue ether—with fringes and bosses of scarlet flame. Against this, occupying the foreground, the pine trees, which sheltered the terrace, showed up a deep greenish purple bordering upon black.
Leaning out over the polished wooden bar—which topped the ironwork of the window-guard—Damaris sought and gained sight of the sea. This, darker even than the tufted foliation of the pines—since still untouched by sunlight—spread dense and compact as molten metal, with here and there a sheen, like that of the raven’s wing, upon its corrugated surface. To Damaris it appeared curiously forbidding. Seeing it thus she felt, indeed, to have taken Nature unawares, surprised her without disguise; so that for once she displayed her veritable face—a face not yet made up and camouflaged to conceal the fact of its in-dwelling terror from puny and defenceless man.
With that the girl’s thoughts flew, in longing and solicitude, to Faircloth, whose business so perpetually brought him into contact with Nature thus naked and untamed.—By now, and over as sinister a sea—since westward the dawn would barely yet have broke—the Forest Queen must be steaming along the Andalusian coast, making for Gibraltar and the Straits upon her homeward voyage. And by some psychic alchemy, an influence more potent and tangible than that of ordinary thought, her apprehension fled out, annihilating distance, bridging intervening space. For, just as certainly as Damaris’ fair body leaned from the open window, so certainly did her fair soul or—to try a closer and more scientific definition—her living consciousness, stand in the captain’s cabin of the ocean-bound tramp, making Darcy Faircloth turn smiling in his sleep, he having vision and glad sense of her—which stayed by him, tempering his humour to a peculiar serenity throughout the ensuing day.