“Midsummer Eve!” said he, and laughed.
“Give it up at once!” She dared not speak loudly, but felt herself trembling with wrath.
“That’s not likely.” He unhitched it from the fish-hook he had spliced to the end of his stick. “And after the trouble I’ve taken!”
“I’ll call your captain, and he’ll make you give it up.”
“The old man’s sleeping ashore, and won’t be down till nine in the morning. I’m alone here.” He stepped to the fore-halliards. “Now I’ll just hoist this up to the topmast head, and you’ll see what a pretty flag it makes in the morning.”
He turned his back and began to bend the petticoat on the halliards.
“No, no ... please ... it’s cruel!”
He could hear that she was crying softly; hesitated, and faced round again.
“There now ... if it teases you so. There wasn’ no harm meant. You shall have it back—wait a moment!”
He came forward and clambered out on the bowsprit, and from the bowsprit to the jib-boom beneath her. She was horribly afraid he would fall, and broke off her thanks to whisper him to be careful, at which he laughed. Standing there, and holding by the fore-topmast stay, he could just reach a hand up to the parapet, and was lifting it, but paused.
“No,” said he, “I must have a kiss in exchange.”
“Please don’t talk like that. I thank you so much. Don’t spoil your kindness.”
“You’ve spoilt my joke. See, I can hoist myself on the stay here. Bend over as far as you can, I swear you shall have the petticoat at once, but I won’t give it up without.”
“I can’t. I shall never think well of you again.”
“Oh, yes, you will. Bend lower.”
“Don’t!” she murmured, but the moonlight, refracted from the water below, glimmered on her face as she leaned towards him.
“Lower! What queer eyes you’ve got. Do you know what it means to kiss over running water?” His lips whispered it close to her ear. And with that, as she bent, some treacherous pin gave way, and her loosely knotted hair fell in dark masses across his face. She heard him laugh as he kissed her in the tangled screen of it.
The next moment she had snatched the bundle and sprung to her feet and away. But as she passed by the trapdoor and hurriedly retwisted her hair before descending, she heard him there, beyond the parapet, laughing still.
Three weeks later she married John Penaluna. They spent their honeymoon at home, as sober folks did in those days. John could spare no time for holiday-making. He had entered on his duties as master of Hall, and set with vigour about improving his inheritance. His first step was to clear the long cliff-garden, which had been allowed to drop out of cultivation from the day when he had cast down his mattock there and run away to sea. It was a mere wilderness now. But he fell to work like a navvy.