“It doesn’t worry me now. If I don’t go in, he’s too frightened to sleep, and then he’ll wake Andrew. And if he doesn’t sleep he’s very ill next day. Sleep gets rid of the effects of whisky, you know. Oh just listen to him! Why can’t I do something? You will help me—you must!” she cried, clutching at his hands for a minute. To his intense distress he saw her eyes full of tears, and saw her cover them with her hands as she ran into Louis’s room. He stood on the verandah watching her shut the door. Through the trellis window came sounds of a soft voice and a wild one mingling.
Louis, when he had got over his amazement at hearing that Kraill was his guest, tried frantically to pull himself together. He was indignant with Marcella for asking Kraill to stay in a hut, but he realized that it was only another evidence of what he called the “Lashcairn conceit” and that, if Marcella had thought it desirable to ask the Governor-General to tea, she would have done so unhesitatingly. When he met Kraill he was very nervous and shaky, unable to think coherently because of the fight that was going on within him. When she came back from her work at the Homestead, where the relics of the party had to be cleared away, the two men had vanished. They walked round the rabbit-proof fences and came back in time to welcome a “surprise party” from Klondyke drawn by the magnetism of the “gentleman from England” who had won them the night before. Marcella thought several times of Dr. Angus and wished that he could have been there to see Kraill “getting off the rostrum” as he had done in Edinburgh. But she got no chance to talk to him all that day; there was too much miscellaneous chatter.
“He’s great, isn’t he?” said Louis at bedtime. Marcella was startled. She had never heard him praise anyone but a few doctors at the hospital before.
“I wish I could be like that—not frightened of people,” he said. “I’ve worn my nerves to shreds, now. You don’t understand nerves. You don’t possess any.”
He turned over in his hammock ready to go to sleep. She came across to him and bent over him.
“Louis, what’s going to happen to-morrow?” she asked presently.
“Gorse-grubbing. We’ve to get it all cleared now without delay.”
“You know what I mean, dear. Can’t you—won’t you try not to go to Klondyke at all? Louis, it would be so splendid if we could save all the money for a few months and go home to England so that your mother can see Andrew. Wouldn’t it?”
“Shall I ask Mr. Twist to keep the money, and not give us any for six months? That would be a good plan. We are always so happy except on pay days, and you are so wretched after you’ve been to Klondyke.”
He agreed absolutely, with such alacrity that she was a little doubtful of him. Next morning when she went over to the Homestead at eight o’clock she learned that he had come to Mr. Twist with a tale about wanting the money for a visit to the store, and had gone off at six o’clock. It was three days before he came back, dirty and haggard and despairing almost to the verge of suicide.