“A million miles, judging by the way time goes. We’ll be there in twenty days, the captain says.”
“What do you suppose Mr. Veath will say when he hears of our marriage?” This question was propounded after a longer interval of silence than usual.
“Why should we care what Mr. Veath says? If he doesn’t approve, let him go to—” but Hugh checked his fiery speech as abruptly as he began it.
“He will be awfully shocked to learn how we have deceived him,” she went on, as if he had not spoken.
“Well, do you care?” demanded Hugh.
“Yes, I care,” she cried. “I shall be very sorry if he loses the good opinion he may have formed. He is the kind of a man who would not understand such an affair as this.”
“But, then, we are not obliged to tell him. We can get married and leave Manila at once without ever seeing him again. After that we will be Mr. and Mrs. Ridgeway, and he could never find the people known as Hugh Ridge and sister.”
“That would be a shameless way to treat him. He has been so true, so good, Hugh,” she cried reproachfully. For quite a while their eyes lingered upon the dark water without seeing it, their thoughts centred upon the fast approaching end of their relationship with Henry Veath.
“I wish he could be told,” murmured she, her voice far away.
“I couldn’t do it to save my soul. What would he say?” There was an awed anxiety in his voice.
“I don’t care what other people say, but I do care what he says. He seems so honest, so far above tricks of this kind.”
“What’s one man’s opinion, anyhow, especially when he’s to be buried in Manila for years?”
“Oh, Hugh! How lonely he will be in that strange place. And how dreadful it will be in us to sneak away from him like cowards, just as if we cared nothing for him at all. He doesn’t deserve that, does he?”
“No, he doesn’t, that’s a fact. We can’t treat him like a dog.”
“I wish he could be told,” sighed she pensively.
“You might try to tell him at any time,” she said, a perceptible strain in her voice.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” said he, taking her hand in his. “I will tell him the day before we reach Manila.”
“I’m afraid it will be too late,” she cried, all a-flutter.
“Too late? Why?”
“I mean,” she went on confusedly, “he might think we had waited too long.” She was thinking of Veath’s wistful eyes.
“Hello! Here you are,” cried a strong voice, and Veath loomed up through the shadows. Hugh released her hand and dropped back in the chair from which he had half risen to kiss her. “You hide away like a pair of silly lovers. There’s nothing prosaic about this brother and sister. Do you know, I have often marvelled over one thing in connection with you. You don’t look any more like brother and sister than the sea looks like dry land.”