“I know the rest!” he cried, laughing so loud that the steward looked up reprovingly.
“Is everything ready, Hugh?” she asked anxiously. “The trunks, the tickets,—everything?”
“Yes, dear,” he said tenderly, soberly. “We are ready for the sea.”
“God be with us,” she said wistfully.
MR. AND MISS RIDGE SAIL FOR MANILA
London. A thick fog, and the elopers on board the Tempest Queen, one of the fastest and most palatial of the liners which ply between England and the Far East, and for ten years under the command of Captain Shadburn, formerly of the British Navy. For the elopement was now an established fact, and Hugh, looking back on their Atlantic voyage, hoped that in this new ship fortune would be more propitious.
Excitement, an exaggerated dread of being followed by detectives, together with seasickness, had been too much for Grace, and all those weary days she had scarcely left her stateroom. Alone in her bunk, ticketed to the other side of the world, running away from nothing but a foolish aversion, the girl had felt her heart grow cold with a nameless dread, a clammy fear that she had undertaken something that she could not accomplish. Almost hourly each day of that unending voyage, Hugh would knock at her door and beg to be allowed to do something to alleviate her sufferings; then a thrill of new tenderness would dart into her soul as she thought of her champion for all time.
And Hugh. Never had time seemed such an eternity. Do what he would, he could not escape the Nemesis-like conviction that he had led the girl he loved into the most unheard-of folly; had carried her to the point where ruin stood on equal footing with success, and joy itself was a menace. Yet during all these days of torment concerning her enfeebled condition and his recklessness, he remembered with sardonic satisfaction that he had left in the safety vault, in Chicago, a full statement of their plans and intentions, with instructions to have the seal broken on March 30th, one year after date of deposit. If anything happened to them, this was to be the means of shedding light on the mystery. And when in New York he had deposited a second statement, with instructions to send it to Chicago on April 1st, one year later. In this he had made known their itinerary as fully as he could give it at the time. And although he cursed himself often for being a fool, there were moments, and especially as they neared the foreign shores, when he rejoiced over this maddest, jolliest of frolics.
The fact that the short rest in London had done wonders for Grace, together with the hurry and bustle incident to sailing, sent Hugh’s spirits higher and higher. As the two watched the ship drawn away from the pier and dragged slowly into clearer waters, the knowledge that they were irrevocably consigned to the consummation of their project acted on him like a stimulant. Just before going on board he had asked, half-fearful that she was losing heart, if she still desired to complete the journey. He told her that it was not too late to turn back and that he would agree to any modification of the original plan that she might suggest.