Here they relapsed into their native tongue, and she listened no longer; but, at all events, she had learned that they were going away to the North. And as her nerves had been somewhat shaken, she began to ask herself what further thing this madman might not do. The old stories he had told her came back with a marvellous distinctness. Would he plunge her into a dungeon and mock her with an empty cup when she was dying of thirst? Would he chain her to a rock at low-water; and watch the tide slowly rise? He professed great gentleness and love for her; but if the savage nature had broken out at last! Her fear grew apace. He had shown himself regardless of everything on earth: where would he stop, if she continued to repel him? And then the thought of her situation—alone; shut up in this small room; about to venture forth on the open sea with this ignorant crew—so overcame her that she hastily snatched at the bell on the dressing table and rang it violently. Almost instantly there was a tapping at the door.
“I ask your pardon, mem,” she heard Christina say.
She sprang to the door and opened it, and caught the arm of the old woman.
“Christina, Christina!” she said, almost wildly, “you won’t let them take me away? My father will give you hundreds and hundreds of pounds if only you get me ashore! Just think of him—he is an old man—if you had a daughter—”
Miss White was acting very well indeed; though she was more concerned about herself than her father.
“I wass to say to you,” Christina explained with some difficulty, “that if you wass saying that, Sir Keith had a message sent away to your father, and you wass not to think any more about that. And now, mem, I cannot tek you ashore; is iss no business I hef with that; and I could not go ashore myself whateffer; but I would get you some dinner, mem.”
“Then I suppose you don’t understand the English language!” Miss White exclaimed, angrily. “I tell you I will neither eat nor drink so long as I am on board this yacht! Go and tell Sir Keith Macleod what I have said.”
So Miss White was left alone again; and the slow time passed; and she heard the murmured conversation of the men; and also a measured pacing to and fro, which she took to be the step of Macleod. Quick rushes of feeling went through her, indignation, a stubborn obstinacy, a wonder over the audacity of this thing, malevolent hatred even; but all these were being gradually subdued by the dominant claim of hunger. Miss White had acted the part of many heroines; but she was not herself a heroine—if there is anything heroic in starvation. It was growing to dusk when she again summoned the old Highland-woman.
“Get me something to eat,” said she; “I cannot die like a rat in a hole.”
“Yes, mem,” said Christina, in the most matter-of-fact way; for she had never been in a theatre in her life, and she had not imagined that Miss White’s threat meant anything at all. “The dinner is just ready now, mem; and if you will hef it in the saloon, there will be no one there; that wass Sir Keith’s message to you.”