“We ought to go over and jolly him up a bit,” suggested Veath, innocently magnanimous. She hated him at that moment.
“He is probably enjoying himself better than if we were with him,” she said rather coldly.
“Lovers usually like moonshine,” he said.
“I did not say he was in love; ‘perhaps’ was the word, I think,” said Grace.
“I believe one of the rules of love is that a brother never confides in his sister. At any rate, she is sure to be among the last.”
“I think Hugh would tell me of his love affairs,” she answered, a merry sparkle coming into her eyes. “He thinks a great deal of my opinions.”
“And I suppose you tell him of your love affairs,” he said jestingly. She blushed furiously.
“He has a whole book full of my confidences,” she finally said, seeking safety in exaggeration.
“Quite an interesting volume. How does it end? With an elopement?”
“Elopement! What do you—oh, ah, I—ha, ha! Wouldn’t that be a jolly way to end it?” She laughed hysterically, recovering quickly from the effects of the startling, though careless question. For a few moments her heart throbbed violently.
Hugh came swinging toward them, his cigar tilted upward at an unusual angle because of the savage position of the lower jaw. His hands were jammed into his pockets and his cap was drawn well down over his eyes. He was passing without a word, ignoring them more completely than if they had been total strangers. He would, at least, have glanced at strangers.
“Hello, Mr. Ridge, going below?” called Veath.
“I’m going wherever the ship goes,” came the sullen reply.
“Hope she’s not going below,” laughed the disturber.
“It’s my only hope,” was the bitter retort from the companionway.
“He’s certainly in love, Miss Ridge. Men don’t have the blues like that unless there’s a woman in the case. I think you’d better talk to your brother. Tell him she’ll be true, and if she isn’t, convince him that there are just as good fish in the sea. Poor fellow, I suppose he thinks she’s the only woman on earth,” commented Mr. Veath, with mock solemnity.
“She may be as much at sea as he,” she said,—and very truthfully.
“Well, if love dies, there is a consolation in knowing that the sea casts up its dead,” was his sage, though ill-timed remark.
Grace slept but little that night, and went early to breakfast in the hope that she might see Hugh alone. But he came in late, haggard and pale, living evidence of a sleepless night. Veath was with him and her heart sank. During the meal the good-natured Indianian did most of the talking, being driven at last, by the strange reticence of his companions, to the narration of a series of personal experiences. Struggle as he would, he could not bring a mirthful laugh from the girl beside him, nor from the sour visaged man beyond. They laughed, of course, but it was the laugh of politeness.