“And you mean that you really care about me?”
“Of course I care! I believe I’ll die if you don’t get better,” she said eagerly.
He fumbled in his pockets, lit several matches and put something in her hand.
“Here it is, look. Thirteen pounds, eight and fivepence.”
“What’s that for?”
“It’s all my money. If I have any I’ll be magnetized towards the bar. If I haven’t, it’s much safer. And look here, Marcella, if I come and knock you down with a sledgehammer, don’t let me have that money, will you?”
“I won’t,” she said promptly.
She was thrilled, exhilarated, as they went below after shaking hands solemnly. She was Siegfried, and the dragon had a pock-marked face, and each foot had three claws missing. She thought, as she looked through dream-misted eyes, that the dragon was a very long one, with many legs and many heads. But she had not the faintest doubt that, in the end, he would fall to her trusty sword. And she told Louis so at the door of his cabin as she said good night to him.
Then she turned back to Number 15. She had looked about the deck for Jimmy, but guessing that he had fallen asleep in his own bunk, pushed open the door softly. She was determined that he should not sleep in there with Ole Fred, who was celebrating a great win at poker.
Louis stood at his own door.
“What are you going in there for?” he asked.
“I’m fetching poor little Jimmy. He’s terrified of Ole Fred. He calls him the Beast. I think it’s disgusting that he and the red-haired man sleep in here with a little boy.”
He nodded and smiled at her, but Jimmy was not in the cabin at all. As she came out Ole Fred came along the alley-way. He leered at her but did not speak. She hurried into her own cabin, shut the door and pushed the bolt along instinctively. As she switched on the light she saw a very small amount of exceedingly dirty water in her basin, and Jimmy’s neat pile of tiny clothes folded on the floor. He was fast asleep in the lower bunk.
She started to undress in a golden glow of romance, and realized that, as her clothes came off, her armour was going to stay on, waking and sleeping, visible only to herself. Then she thought of a small, trivial thing. She tapped on the partition.
“Are you hungry?” she called quietly.
“Go and talk to Knollys. He’s very nice. He’ll find something for you.”
“N-no. I c-can’t,” he stammered, frightened immediately.
“Then I shall,” she said, and, slipping on her dressing-gown, went along to the saloon. By luck she found Knollys there and he produced bread and cheese and ship’s biscuit from the steward’s pantry.
“I imagine you are hungry, miss,” he said respectfully when she asked him to be sure to give her a lot.
“No, I’m not. It’s Mr. Farne in Number 8. He hasn’t had a meal since he came aboard.”