On the way back, Hugh suddenly bethought himself of his financial condition. He was attired in a suit of clothes belonging to Mr. Carruthers and the garments fitted him well. In one of the pockets rested his small leather purse. When he plunged into the sea on that memorable night a year ago it contained a half dozen small American coins and some English money, amounting in all to eleven dollars and thirty cents. Carefully he had treasured this wealth on the island and he had come away with the principal untouched. Now, as he jogged along in the cab, he emptied the contents of the purse upon the seat.
“Eleven thirty,” he mused. “A splendid dowry. Not enough to buy the ring. No flowers, no wine—nothing but pins. My letter of credit is at the bottom of the sea. Borrowed clothes on my back and home-made clothes on hers. I have a watch, a knife, and a scarf pin. She has diamond rings and rubies, but she has no hat. By Jove, it looks as though I’ll have to borrow money of Veath, after all.”
Lady Tennys was in her room, strangely calm and resigned. She was wondering whether he would ever come back to her, whether she was ever to see him again. Her tired, hopeless brain was beginning to look forward to the dismal future, the return to England, the desolate life in the society she now despised, the endless regret of losing that which she had never hoped to possess—a man’s love in exchange for her own. She kept to her room, avoiding the curious stare of people, denying herself to the reporters and correspondents, craving only the loneliness that made the hour dark for her. It seemed to her that she had lived a lifetime since he went forth to find the girl who had waited so long for him.
Then came the rush of footsteps in the hall. They were not those of the slow-moving servants, they were not—a vigorous thumping on the door was followed by the cry of a strong, manly, vigorous voice. Her head swam, her heart stood still, her lips grew white and she could utter no sound in response.
He was coming at last to commit her to everlasting misery.
The door flew open and Ridgeway bounded into the room. Before she could move, he rushed over and drew her limp form from the chair, up into his strong embrace. She heard a voice, tender and gladsome, as from afar off, singing into her ear.
“Look up, darling! This is to be our wedding day—yours and mine! You are mine—mine!”
The glad light slowly struggled back into her eyes, but it was as if she had come from a death-like swoon. He poured into her dull ears the story of the visit to Grace Vernon, but he was compelled to repeat it. Her ears were unbelieving.
“Grace is coming here with Henry Veath,” he said in the end. “By Jove, I am happy!”
She held his face close to hers and looked deep into his eyes for a long, long time.
“Are you sure?” she whispered at last. “Is it all true?”