“Sea-sick?” he said sympathetically.
“Well—” she began, and realizing that she could not explain, nodded.
“He’s better now, anyhow.”
“I’ll make him some tea if you like, miss,” went on Knollys. She waited until he had made it, and ten minutes later she tapped on Louis’s door, took the tray in, laid it on his bunk and came out.
“I won’t stay to keep you company. When I’m very hungry I like to gobble, but I don’t like anyone to watch me,” she said.
As she came out Ole Fred opened the door of Number 15 and stood watching her until her door closed. Then he hurried on deck.
For the next few days Marcella and Louis were inseparable. They were up very early each morning and did the usual march—seven times round the deck before breakfast. Afterwards she went up on the fo’c’sle and waited for him; for the rest of the day there was nothing to do but talk and read, and there was only a very limited library. Sometimes Louis talked of medicine; he told her things that had happened, that he had seen at the hospital; he explained cases to her, quoted lectures, and she, with all a layman’s rather morbid interest, was fascinated. He, with the aura of travel, of learning, of experience in the ways of men, began to play Othello to her Desdemona. Feeling at his ease with her, and getting strength every day from the fact that yet another day had gone by without a victory to his enemy, he lost his shyness; she began to feel very humble as he talked largely, and her passion for understanding, enlightenment, that had led her to read books she could not understand, to talk to everyone and even to talk to herself, now enveloped him. She opened her mouth to be fed from his stores. Sometimes he would talk of London, a marvellous fairyland to her; tell her of “rags” in which he had played the leading part; of things he had done when he was in Rio for three months—Rio! the very name enthralled her! It smacked of buccaneers and Francis Drake—of his life in New Zealand two years ago, when, snatching himself from the outcasts of Christchurch and Auckland he had flung himself valiantly into the prohibition district of the King Country and lived with the Maoris for six months in the hope of finding the tribal cure for cancer; of the time when, on a girl-chase, he had toured with a theatrical company for a few months while his father thought he was at the hospital working. Her sponge-like eagerness for all the Romance, the Adventure he could give her was insidious in its effect on him; she was flattered that he, with all his cleverness, his “grown-up-ness” that went so queerly with his babyishness, should have so thrown himself on her mercy; to her nineteen years it seemed a wonderful and beautiful thing that a man of twenty-seven should find in her an anchor. Of the three men she had known before, her father had been, even in his weakness, her tyrant; Wullie had