“Dear me, that’s serious. Why would she want to drown herself?”
“Oh, some family trouble, I guess. Her folks wanted her to marry a man she had no use for. That’s him standing there on the wharf now.”
“Ye don’t tell!” The captain turned his head and looked shoreward. “Wonder why he isn’t helpin’ to search fer his sweetheart. He seems to be mighty cool about the affair.”
“Oh, he’s afraid of soiling his hands and clothes.” The man spoke in a low voice, for he was now close alongside. “He’s Lord Something-or-Other’s son, an’ wouldn’t think of associating with such common cusses as us. He belongs to the upper-crust, doncher-know.” The man smiled, and his companions grinned. It was quite evident that they were all familiar with the story.
“An’ so ye say the gal yer lookin’ fer is Miss Randall, daughter of Henry Randall, the big lumber merchant?” the captain asked.
“That’s who she is; his only daughter.”
“An’ he wants her to marry that?” and the captain motioned toward the wharf.
“Sure. Is it any wonder she’d want to commit suicide? She’d be a fool if she wouldn’t. But, there, we must get back to work. We just dropped alongside, thinking ye might have seen her drifting around, last night, and heard a scream or a splash.”
“What makes ye think it was around here she done the deed?” the captain asked.
“Because her folks have their summer house a short distance below the wharf, and the boat which was found drifting in South Bay belongs to Bill Sanson up on the hill. Aren’t they reasons enough?”
“It does look reasonable,” the captain acknowledged. “I s’pose her pa an’ ma are about crazy over her disappearance. I know I should be about Flo.”
“Her father isn’t home,” the man explained. “He’s away somewhere on a business trip. As for her mother, well——” He paused, pulled a plug of tobacco out of his pocket, and bit off a chew. Then he turned to his companions. “Come, boys, suppose we get back? We’ve wasted too much time already.”
The captain watched them as they rowed away, and his eyes twinkled with merriment. He was smiling when he returned to the cabin. The girl there was smiling, too, although it was easy to tell that she had been greatly agitated.
“Have they gone?” she asked in a low voice.
“Oh, yes, they’ve gone back to look fer you. Say, Miss, I don’t like this bizness one bit. It’s a mighty spooky affair, an’ gits on me nerves. Don’t ye feel a bit shaky yerself?”
“I suppose I should,” the girl thoughtfully replied. “But under the circumstances I can’t. Don’t you remember what that man told you?”
“About you marryin’ that Lord Fiddlesticks?”
“Yes, though that is not his name.”
“I know it isn’t, but it doesn’t matter. But, thar, I must take some grub to Eben. He’ll be down here soon, I’m sartin, if I don’t head him off. Thar’s nuthin’ like grub to hold that boy in check. I’ve got to go ashore this mornin’ to git some tea. Eben fergot all about it last night.”