Richardson looked uneasily around.
“I ain’t admitting anything, you know,” he said.
“Precisely! Well, what are you going to do now? Are you satisfied with your first reverse, or are you going to renew the experiment?”
“I’ve had enough,” was the dogged answer. “I’ve been made a fool of. I can see that. I shall return home by the next steamer. I never ought to have got mixed up in this.”
“I am inclined to agree with you,” Wingrave remarked calmly. “Do I understand that if I choose to forget this little episode, you will return to England by the next steamer?”
“I swear it,” Richardson declared.
“And in the meantime, that you make no further attempt of a similar nature?”
“Not I!” he answered with emphasis. “I’ve had enough.”
“Then,” Wingrave said, “we need not prolong this conversation. Forgive my suggesting, Mr. Richardson, that whilst I am on deck, the other side of the ship should prove more convenient for you!”
The young man rose, and without a word staggered off. Wingrave watched him through half-closed eyes, until he disappeared.
“It was worth trying,” he said softly to himself. “A very clever woman that! She looks forward through the years, and she sees the clouds gathering. It was a little risky, and the means were very crude. But it was worth trying!”
THE MOTH AND THE CANDLE
“Tomorrow morning,” Aynesworth remarked, “we shall land.”
“I shall not be sorry,” he said shortly.
Aynesworth fidgeted about. He had something to say, and he found it difficult. Wingrave gave him no encouragement. He was leaning back in his steamer chair, with his eyes fixed upon the sky line. Notwithstanding the incessant companionship of the last six days, Aynesworth felt that he had not progressed a single step towards establishing any more intimate relations between his employer and himself.
“Mrs. Travers is not on deck this afternoon,” he remarked a trifle awkwardly.
“Indeed!” Wingrave answered. “I hadn’t noticed.”
Aynesworth sat down. There was nothing to be gained by fencing.
“I wanted to talk about her, sir, if I might,” he said.
Wingrave withdrew his eyes from the sea, and looked at his companion in cold surprise.
“To me?” he asked.
“Yes! I thought, the first few days, that Mrs. Travers was simply a vain little woman of the world, perfectly capable of taking care of herself, and heartless enough to flirt all day long, if she chose, without any risk, so far as she was concerned. I believe I made a mistake!”
“This is most interesting,” Wingrave said calmly, “but why talk to me about the lady? I fancy that I know as much about her as you do.”