“Your will is the law which I obey. He shall not know—not now, at least,” he said. “There are to be but two factions in the struggle, then, your love against mine.”
“You forget the—the other man,” she said, sudden tears springing to her eyes.
“I think only of one woman,” he said softly, lovingly.
She leaned wearily against the staircase, her hands clasping the railing. There was a piteous, hopeless entreaty in the dimming eyes as she turned them to his and tried to speak calmly.
“I have something to say to you—to-morrow. Let us say good-night.”
“Nothing you can say will alter my love. When the storm to-night is at its worst remember that I will give my life for your sake.”
She did not answer, but her hand clasped his arm impulsively. In the doorway they met Hamilton and Gregory, just from the captain, their faces white and fear-stricken. Hugh and Lady Huntingford were hurrying toward them.
THE WRECK OF THE “TEMPEST QUEEN”
“What’s wrong?” asked Veath, alarmed by the agitation of the two soldiers.
“Captain Shadburn estimates that we are two hundred miles out of our course, away to the south. It’s impossible to get our bearings without the sun, and the Lord only knows where we’re running to,” said Hamilton, holding to the door casing.
Hugh and Lady Huntingford had joined the others by this time and were listening with blanched faces to the men in uniform.
“It’s as black as ink outside,” said little Lieutenant Gregory, shivering in a manner most unbecoming in a soldier. “As long as they can keep the boat out of the trough we’ll ride the waves safely, but the deuced danger lies in the reefs and little islands. We may be dashing into one of them at this minute.”
“You’re a cheerful hero,” cried Hugh indignantly. “What’s the use of imagining a thing like that? It’s time enough to think about it when we strike the reef; and, besides, it can’t help us any to cry. We can’t leave the ship for a walk back to dry land. We’re here to see the thing to the end, no matter where it is, and I don’t believe in howling before we’re hurt.”
“That’s right,” agreed Veath. “Possibly we’re out of the course. That happens in every storm that comes up at sea.”
“But there are hundreds of reefs here that are not even on the chart,” cried Gregory.
“Well, there have been thousands of ships to escape them all, I fancy,” said Ridgeway boldly. The two women were speechless.
“And there have been thousands of storms, too,” added Veath, a sort of wild exultation ringing in his voice, plain to Grace if not to the others.
“Do not try to deceive us, gentlemen,” wavered Lady Tennys. “We can be a great deal braver if we know the real situation. I know you are making light of this dreadful storm out of consideration for Miss Ridge and myself, but don’t you think it would be better if we were told the worst? Women are not always the greater cowards.”