“Thank you,” he said. “You are awfully good to a clumsy wretch who might have crushed you. I shall endeavor to repay you both for your kindness.” He started to arise from Hugh’s chair, but that gentleman pushed him back.
“Keep the chair until you get straightened out a bit. I’ll show you how to walk deck in a rough sea. But pardon me, you are an American like ourselves, are you not? I am Hugh Ridge, and this is my sister—Miss Ridge.”
“My name is Veath—Henry Veath,” the other said as he bowed. “I am so glad to meet my own countrymen among all these foreigners. Again, let me thank you.”
“Hardly a good sailor?” observed Hugh.
“As you may readily guess.”
“It’s pretty rough to-day. Are you going to Gibraltar and Spain?”
“Only as a bird of passage. I am going out for our government. It’s a long and roundabout way they’ve sent me, but poor men must go where opportunity points the way. I assure you this voyage was not designed for my pleasure. However, I enjoyed a couple of days in London.”
“An important mission, I should say,” ventured Mr. Ridge.
“I’m in the revenue service. It is all new to me, so it doesn’t matter much where I begin.”
“Where are you to be stationed?” asked Hugh, and something told him what the answer would be before it fell from the other’s lips.
Mr. Veath’s abrupt announcement that he was bound for Manila was a decided shock to Grace, Hugh escaping because of his intuitive revelation. After the revenue man had gone below to lie down awhile before luncheon the elopers indulged in an animated discussion of affairs under new conditions.
“Well, we can make use of him after we get there, dear,” said Hugh philosophically. “He can be a witness and swear to your age when I go for the license.”
“But, Hugh, he thinks we are brother and sister, and we cannot tell him anything to the contrary. It would be awfully embarrassing to try to explain.”
“That’s so,” mused he. “I doubt whether we could make him believe that brothers and sisters marry in Manila. There’s just one thing to do.”
“It seems to me there are a great many things to do that we didn’t consider when we started,” ventured she.
“We must let him believe we are brother and sister until after we are married. Then we’ll have the laugh on him. I know it’s not very pleasant to explain your own joke, or to tell the other fellow when to laugh, but it seems to be the only way. We can’t escape him, you know. He is to be at his post by the twentieth of May.”
“After all, I think we ought to be nice to him. We can’t put him off the boat and we might just as well be friendly. How would you enjoy travelling to Manila all alone? Just put yourself in his place.”