Two entire interminable days of the voyage elapsed before Edward Henry was clever enough to encounter Isabel Joy—the most notorious and the least visible person in the ship. He remembered that she had said: “You won’t see anything of me.” It was easy to ascertain the number of her state-room—a double-berth which she shared with nobody. But it was less easy to find out whether she ever left it, and if so, at what time of day. He could not mount guard in the long corridor; and the stewardesses on the Lithuania were mature, experienced and uncommunicative women, their sole weakness being an occasional tendency to imagine that they, and not the captain, were in supreme charge of the steamer. However, Edward Henry did at last achieve his desire. And on the third morning, at a little before six o’clock, he met a muffled Isabel Joy on the D deck. The D deck was wet, having just been swabbed; and a boat—chosen for that dawn’s boat-drill—ascended past them on its way from sea-level to the dizzy boat-deck above; on the other side of an iron barrier, large crowds of early-rising third-class passengers were standing and talking and staring at the oblong slit of sea which was the only prospect offered by the D deck; it was the first time that Edward Henry aboard had set eyes on a steerage passenger; with all the conceit natural to the occupant of a costly state-room, he had unconsciously assumed that he and his like had sole possession of the ship.
Isabel responded to his greeting in a very natural way. The sharp freshness of the summer morning at sea had its tonic effect on both of them; and as for Edward Henry, he lunged and plunged at once into the subject which alone preoccupied and exasperated him. She did not seem to resent it.
“You’d have the satisfaction of helping on a thing that all your friends say ought to be helped,” he argued. “Nobody but you can do it. Without you there’ll be a frost. You would make a lot of money, which you could spend in helping on things of your own. And surely it isn’t the publicity that you’re afraid of!”
“No,” she agreed. “I’m not afraid of publicity.” Her pale grey-blue eyes shone as they regarded the secret dream that for her hung always unseen in the air. And she had a strange, wistful, fragile, feminine mien in her mannish costume.
“But can’t you see it’s humiliating?” cried she, as if interested in the argument.
“It’s not humiliating to do something that you can do well—I know you can do it well—and get a large salary for it, and make the success of a big enterprise by it. If you knew the play—”
“I do know the play,” she said. “We’d lots of us read it in manuscript long ago.”
Edward Henry was somewhat dashed by this information.
“Well, what do you think of it?”
“I think it’s just splendid!” said she with enthusiasm.