Lord Huntingford grudgingly mumbled a throttled promise, and Hugh allowed him to regain his feet. At that instant Veath, with Grace and Lady Huntingford, standing behind him, opened the door of the smoking-room.
“Here, Veath!” called out Hugh to the astonished Indianian. “I want you to bear witness that Lord Huntingford has promised to keep absolutely quiet about a little altercation of ours, and—”
The quick gesture of caution from Veath came too late. Lady Huntingford with astonished eyes was gazing into the room at them. Hugh promptly went over to her.
“You must pardon me, Lady Huntingford; I am sorry to cause you any pain or annoyance. In a dispute over the cards with your husband I forgot myself for a moment. Pray forgive me.”
Ridgeway quietly strode away with Grace and Veath. Lady Huntingford directed a look of unutterable contempt at her husband, turned on her heel and left him to slink away as quickly as possible, like a cur that has felt the whip.
Lord Huntingford could not forgive the man who had put his aristocratic nose out of joint in such an effective manner. He was, however, as polite as nature would permit him to be to Miss Ridge and Mr. Veath. As for Hugh, that young gentleman thought it the wiser plan, when unavoidably relating a mild description of last night’s encounter, to abstain from acquainting Grace with Lord Huntingford’s discovery of his name—whether accidental or otherwise. Quite rightly he surmised that it would unnecessarily distress her, and he preferred not to cross the bridge until he came to it.
It was the evening following the conflict. As night approached, the sun fell behind the shores of the Red Sea, the stars twinkled out through the blackness above, and yet they had not caught a glimpse of her Ladyship. At dinner, he and Grace had agreed that she had either renounced them entirely, or had been compelled to avoid him in particular. Veath was less concerned. He was thinking of another woman.
Hugh and Grace again stole away for a few moments of seclusion on deck. They found chairs and sat down, neither very talkative.
“Oh, Hugh, just think where we are,” she murmured at last. “Thousands of miles from home, and no one the wiser save ourselves. Chicago is on the other side of the world.”
“Are you sorry you came, dear?”
“I am glad. But isn’t it awful to consider how far we are from everybody we know? We might just as well be dead, Hugh.” She was very solemn and wide-eyed.
“I am afraid you are losing heart,” he said disconsolately.
“Why, Hugh Ridgeway—Ridge, I mean,—how can I afford to lose heart now? Don’t ever say that to me again.”
“Yes; we are a long way from home, dear,” mused he after a while.
“How far are we from Manila?” she asked suddenly.