“But couldn’t you tell him you’d changed your plans, and had a good job in Sydney? We can make up a tale for him. Just think how jolly it will be to be together, darling! I know it isn’t nice to ask people for money, but—it’s worth it, isn’t it? You need never see him again. Anyway, if you went to live with him you’d cost him a considerable amount, wouldn’t you? Why shouldn’t he give you some money now instead of that? After all, it’s up to well-to-do relations to help a girl who’s all alone in the world. Your father’s dead—”
It took him all the morning to persuade her. It was only when he told her how he went all to pieces if he had to worry about money, and a moment later painted glowing pictures of the month they would have together if his orders permitted, before they attempted to do anything definite, that she consented. He very rapidly sketched a tale for her to tell her uncle; Marcella hated the lies, for they seemed unnecessary until Louis told her that no uncle in his senses would let her marry a man she had only known six weeks.
“But if you talked to him, Louis,” she pleaded, “I’m sure he’d like you.”
“I’m not. He’d ask what my job is, and if it was known that I’d given away the fact that a secret service agent was in Sydney I might even get shot as a spy,” he said earnestly, and at last, in a maze of worry, she gave way.
The night before Melbourne she gave him her father’s signet ring—a heavy gold thing that Andrew had given her just before he died, telling her it must never leave her possession. He seemed very pleased with it, and told her laughingly that if they could not afford to buy a ring she would be married with that as a temporary measure.
It was a wet, miserable day when they drew alongside at Port Philip. Louis took the communal eight shillings, Marcella kept sixpence for luck. He went ashore before most of the passengers; she waited on board for her uncle.
When he came he was not at all what she had expected him to be. To begin with, he was very chilly—a queer, nervous man who told her he had not been in Melbourne for ten years and found great changes. He seemed to live so much alone that he was frightened to talk to anyone. His hands were hard with labour, but he told her casually that he had a sheep run bigger than Yorkshire and a hundred thousand sheep. His wife had been dead for five years: his house was run by his three daughters.
“We live seventy miles from a station, and fifty miles from the nearest neighbours,” he said, looking at her doubtfully. “You don’t think you’ll be lonely? It’s a hard life—I had no time to tell your aunt the many disadvantages, for she said you’d started when she cabled.”
Marcella saw quite well that she was not wanted and felt immensely relieved that there was no necessity for her to go to Wooratonga. Haltingly and stumblingly she asked him for the money, without telling him Louis’s chain of lies at all. He took little notice of what she said. Money means very little in Australia where things are done on a large scale. Looking immensely relieved he said it would no doubt be much happier for her to go to stay with her friends—and how much money did she want?