“Dare!” he cried. “You urge me to fight it out and die in the trenches, as it were, and now you ask me why I dare tell you what I’d do under certain conditions. I merely tell you what I could and would do if I could change the conditions.”
“You are a trifle over-confident, Mr. Veath,” she said coldly. “Good-night.”
“Don’t be angry, please,” he cried in humility. “You have spoken to me in a way that has awakened a new spirit—the spirit that men call ’do or die.’ To-night the storm rages and we are all in danger. I feel that in an hour like this and in a place like this I am worth more than I have ever been or could be in any other position. The fierceness of the night and the sting of your advice combine to give life and nerve to my weak heart. I am not the man who begged you a moment ago to listen to the weakness of a despairing lover; it is another man, another Henry Veath who talks to you now. From this instant I shall begin the battle against old conditions and you shall be the spoils of battle. Grace, look at me! I am going to show you what real determination means. I want you and I’ll win you.” His tall figure straightened, his blue eyes gleamed and flashed with the fire of enthusiasm. The timid, fearful Veath was gone, and in his stead stood the valiant, aggressive, inspired contestant.
The rolling of the ship sent her staggering toward him, and he caught her by the arms. Steadying himself against the staircase, he cried in her bewildered ear:
“I love you better than all else in the world. You are a part of my life, all of my joy. Do you think I can give you up now that I have found the courage to begin the struggle? I’ll win my way and I’ll win your love. Nothing but death can stop me now. Come! Don’t look as though you hate me for it.”
“I do not hate you,” she said humbly, almost glaring into his bright eyes, unable to turn from the love which governed them so completely. “But you must not talk like this. I cannot listen to you. Mr. Veath, there is no possible hope.”
“The hope to win and the will to win are two different propositions, and it is the latter under which I am enlisted. To me it is worth fighting for to the end of time.”
“Oh, you must not say these things to me,” she cried fiercely, trying to escape from his eyes.
“I shall not say another word to you after to-night until I am sure I have won the victory. Then I shall ask you to be my wife. To-morrow I’ll tell your brother I am bound to win. He must know my honest intentions.”
“My brother!” she gasped. Her knees grew weak and a faintness assailed her heart, almost to overpowering. “You—you must not—shall not say a word to Hugh. I forbid you—I—”
“Why are you so agitated? Why am I not to speak to him? He is fair-minded, and I know he likes me.”
“You don’t know what it would mean to me. There is something you do not know. No, no! You shall not speak to Hugh.” It was her turn to command, and he wavered.