If Louis had seen her just then he would probably have shied at marrying her.
She went on board to a deserted ship, hating to stay ashore without Louis. Even the passengers who were going on to Brisbane had gone to sleep ashore. Knollys told her that Jimmy had cried desperately because he was being taken away from her, and that Mr. Peters was drunk in his grief at ending his acquaintanceship with Mrs. Hetherington. Later, seeing her standing lonely on deck, watching the lighted ferries go by, Knollys came up to her.
“I beg your pardon, miss,” he said, deferentially, “but it occurred to Jules and myself that you might possibly care to join us in a game of dominoes?” and, rather than appear unfriendly, she played with them for an hour. She was very glad when morning came.
Marcella hurried to her field of Philippi that day. She went up to the station to meet Louis at half-past eleven in alternating moods of trembling softness and militancy, softness to welcome him, belligerency for Ole Fred and the gang, and strange gusts of helpless, blazing, hungry joy at the thought of getting him away from them, all to herself. Almost she wished she could snatch him from life itself. As the train came in she caught sight of him, laughing foolishly, dirty and dishevelled from the long journey. She ran down the clanging platform on feet of wind to meet him. He tumbled out of the carriage with half a dozen draggled men after him.
“Oh—my dear,” she cried, clinging to his hand, her face flushed, her eyes shining.
He stared, his eyes glassy and pale, almost startled.
“Hello, ole girl,” he stammered. “G—g—good of you to mm—mm—meet me.”
He stood awkwardly, undecided, the others edging round him.
“Louis, you’ll never guess how awful it’s been without you! I know what you meant, now, about not being able to do without each other—Uncle gave me the money—let’s get away and talk—” The words all tumbled out breathlessly.
He gazed at her again, as though he scarcely knew her.
“These chaps have been awfully good to me,” he said thickly. “We must—must—s-say good-bye. They s-sail for New Zealand this—safternoon.”
“That’s good. Then say good-bye now, and come away. We’ve a lot to do.”
He stared moodily.
“Look here, where’s my baggage? Did you g-get it th-through the Customs for me?”
She explained about it, and said that he must go aboard for it when the Oriana came alongside during the afternoon.
“Right-o, then. I’ll say good-bye. Wait a minute.”
He went down the platform and stood talking to the others for a few minutes. They looked towards her and laughed several times, and at last trooped off together.
“I think a wash is indicated, don’t you?” he said, looking at himself. “Lord, don’t I want a drink! And don’t I just want to be alone with you a few minutes! What shall we do? Did you book rooms?”