“I shall have.”
Another silence. This time he felt he would marry her.
The White Star liner, Titubic, stuck out of the water like a row of houses against the landing-stage. There was a large crowd on her promenade-deck, and a still larger crowd on the landing-stage. Above the promenade-deck officers paced on the navigating deck, and above that was the airy bridge, and above that the funnels, smoking, and somewhere still higher a flag or two fluttering in the icy breeze. And behind the crowd on the landing-stage stretched a row of four-wheeled cabs and rickety horses. The landing-stage swayed ever so slightly on the tide. Only the ship was apparently solid, apparently cemented in foundations of concrete.
On the starboard side of the promenade-deck, among a hundred other small groups, was a group consisting of Mr and Mrs Cotterill and Ruth and Denry. Nellie stood a few feet apart, Mrs Cotterill was crying. People naturally thought she was crying because of the adieux; but she was not. She wept because Denry and Ruth, by sheer force of will, had compelled them to come out of the steerage and occupy beautiful and commodious berths in the second cabin, where the manner of the stewards was quite different. She wept because they had been caught in the steerage. She wept because she was ashamed, and because people were too kind. She was at once delighted and desolated. She wanted to outpour psalms of gratitude, and also she wanted to curse.
Mr Cotterill said stiffly that he should repay—and that soon.
An immense bell sounded impatiently.
“We’d better be shunting,” said Denry. “That’s the second.”
In exciting crises he sometimes employed such peculiar language as this. And he was very excited. He had done a great deal of rushing about. The upraising of the Cotterill family from the social Hades of the steerage to the respectability of the second cabin had demanded all his energy, and a lot of Ruth’s.
Ruth kissed Mrs Cotterill and then Nellie. And Mrs Cotterill and Nellie acquired rank and importance for the whole voyage by reason of being kissed in public by a woman so elegant and aristocratic as Ruth Capron-Smith.
And Denry shook hands. He looked brightly at the parents, but he could not look at Nellie; nor could she look at him; their handshaking was perfunctory. For months their playful intimacy had been in abeyance.
The horrible bell continued to insist.
“All non-passengers ashore! All ashore!”
The numerous gangways were thronged with people obeying the call, and handkerchiefs began to wave. And there was a regular vibrating tremor through the ship.
Mr and Mrs Cotterill turned away.
Ruth and Denry approached the nearest gangway, and Denry stood aside, and made a place for her to pass. And, as always, a number of women pushed into the gangways immediately after her, and Denry had to wait, being a perfect gentleman.