“But what’s this Price tells me—that Madame is going with you?”
I tried to make light of that, but I broke down badly, for his eyes were on me, and I could see that he thought I was concealing the truth.
For some minutes he looked perplexed, as if trying to understand how it came to pass that sickening, as he believed I was, at the sight of my husband’s infidelities I was yet carrying the provocative cause of them away with me, and then he said again:
“I hate that woman. She’s like a snake. I feel as if I want to put my foot on it. I will, too, one of these days—bet your life I will.”
It hurt me to hide anything from him, but how could I tell him that it was not from Alma I was flying but from himself?
When the day came for our departure I hoped I might get away without seeing Martin again. We did get out of the hotel and into the railway station, yet no sooner was I seated in the carriage than (in the cruel war that was going on within me) I felt dreadfully down that he was not there to see me off.
But at the very last moment, just as Alma with her spaniel under her arm, and my husband with his terrier on a strap, were about to step into the train, up came Martin like a gust of mountain wind.
“Helloa!” he cried. “I shall be seeing you soon. Everything’s settled about the expedition. We’re to sail the first week in September, so as to get the summer months in the Antarctic. But before that I must go over to the island to say good-bye to the old folks, and I’ll see you at your father’s I suppose.”
Then Alma gave my husband a significant glance and said:
“But, Mary, my love, wouldn’t it be better for Mr. Conrad to come to Castle Raa? You won’t be able to go about very much. Remember your delicate condition, you know.”
“Of course, why of course,” said my husband. “That’s quite true, and if Mr. Conrad will do me the honour to accept my hospitality for a few days. . . .”
It was what I wanted above everything on earth, and yet I said:
“No, no! It wouldn’t be fair. Martin will be too busy at the last moment.”
But Martin himself jumped in eagerly with:
“Certainly! Delighted! Greatest pleasure in the world.”
And then, while Alma gave my husband a look of arch triumph to which he replied with a painful smile, Martin leaned over to me and whispered”
“Hush! I want to! I must!” though what he meant by that I never knew.
He continued to look at me with a tender expression until we said good-bye; but after the carriage door had been closed and the engine had throbbed, and the guard had whistled, I thought I had never seen his strong face so stern as when the train moved from the platform.
We reached Ellan towards the close of the following day. It was the height of the holiday season, and the island seemed to be ablaze with lights.