Together they began the tortuous ascent, following as closely as possible the course he had taken. They were scarcely able to stand when they at last reached the top. Neither saw the beauty in the view, so eager were they to find rest and nourishment. As they passed painfully down the slope, he told her of the monkeys, the nuts, the cave, the rivulet, and the splendor of the scene, cheering her lagging spirits with what animation he could assume. A few chattering monkeys welcomed them to the woodland, and she was momentarily aroused to interest in her surroundings, uttering little cries of delight. They came to the pile of nuts, and he took up several in his free arm. The cave was reached at last and both sank exhausted to the white sand. It was now so dark that the stars were gathering above them and objects were indistinct to the vision.
“Thank God!” he exclaimed, lying flat on his back, his arms outstretched.
“I am so tired,” she murmured, her head drooping against the wall as she seated herself near the opening. After many minutes he began the task of opening the cocoanuts.
“To-morrow I shall go hunting for something more substantial than these nuts. There must be fruit, berries and vegetables of some kind in the forest,” said he.
“How are we to get away from here, Hugh?” she asked. “Where are we? This may be an uninhabited island, and we may have to stay here all of our lives.” There was an awe in her voice, and he could imagine that the prospect brought horror to her face. By this time it was almost pitch dark.
“Have I not found food, water and shelter within an hour’s time? Can good fortune end with this? Let us sleep peacefully to-night and hope for the best with to-morrow’s developments.”
“Sleep? Where are we to sleep?”
“In this cave and upon the sand. There is no other place. It is safe, Lady Tennys, and you are to have my coat as a pillow for that tired little head of yours.” With this he arose and threw off his coat despite her protests, rolling it into a compact little bundle. Placing this improvised pillow on the sand near the rear of the cave, he said:
“There is your bed, my Lady. It is the very best in the hotel.”
“You are so good to me, Hugh,—much better than I thought you could be after—after—”
“Please don’t say what you started to say,” he interrupted, his voice breaking suddenly. He stood with his shoulder against one of the outer corners of the cave, she sitting quietly behind him. At last he went on, as if the thought came slowly, “Lady Huntingford, forgive my selfishness. I have been bewailing my own misfortune in a most unmanly way, while you have borne your loss bravely, thinking only to comfort me. Forgive me.”
“My loss?” she asked in wonder.
“Lord Huntingford,” he said gently.