“I wonder if she is in love, too,” shot through his mind, and a thrill of regret grew out of the possibility. Once his eye caught her in the act of pressing Hugh’s hand as it was being withdrawn from sight. With a knowing smile he bent close to her and whispered: “That’s right, cheer him up!” Grace admitted afterward that nothing had ever made her quite so furious as that friendly expression.
But jealousy is jealousy. It will not down. The next three days were miserable ones for Hugh. The green-eyed monster again cast the cloak of moroseness over him—swathed him in the inevitable wet blanket, as it were. During the first two days Veath had performed a hundred little acts of gallantry which fall to the lot of a lover but hardly to that of a brother—a score of things that would not have been observed by the latter, but which were inwardly cursed by the lover. Hugh began to have the unreasonable fear that she cared more for Veath’s society than she did for his. He was in ugly humor at lunch time and sent a rather peremptory message to Grace’s room, telling her that he was hungry and asking her to get ready at once. The steward brought back word that she was not in her room. She had been out since ten o’clock.
Without a word Ridgeway bolted to Veath’s room and knocked at the door. There was no response. The steward, quite a distance down the passageway, heard the American gentleman swear distinctly and impressively.
He ate his luncheon alone,—disconsolate, furious, miserable. Afterward he sought recreation and finally went to his room, where he tried to read. Even that was impossible.
Some time later he heard her voice, then Veath’s.
“I wonder if Hugh is in his room?” she was asking.
“He probably thinks we’ve taken a boat and eloped Shall I rap and see?” came in Veath’s free voice.
“Please—and we’ll tell him where we have been.”
“You will like thunder!” hissed Hugh to himself, glaring at the door as if he could demolish it.
Then came a vigorous pounding on the panel; but he made no move to respond. Again the knocking and a smile, not of mirth, overspread his face.
“Knock! Confound you! You can’t get in!” he growled softly but triumphantly. Veath tried the knob, but the door was locked.
“He’s not in, Miss Ridge. I’ll see if I can find him. Good-by—see you at luncheon.”
Then came Grace’s voice, sweet and untroubled: “Tell him we’ll go over the ship another time with him.”
“Over the ship,” growled Hugh almost loud enough to be heard. “So they’re going to square it by taking brother with them another time—eh? Well, not if I know it! I’ll show her what’s what!” A minute later he rapped at Miss Vernon’s stateroom. She was removing her hat before the mirror, and turning quickly as the irate Hugh entered, she cried:
“Hello, Hugh! Where have you been, dear?”