She taught him all the lore she had; about bird-life and tree-life and the changing mysteries of the sea. She taught him how to sail a proa, how to hack open a milk-coconut, how to relish bamboo sprouts. Eventually this comradeship (slightly resented by Rollo) reached a point where he could call out from the study: “Hey, Ruth!—come and tell me what you think of this.”
Her attitude now entirely sisterly, he ceased to be afraid of her; there was never anything in her eyes (so far as he could see) but friendly interest in all he said or did. And yet, often when alone, he wondered: had McClintock been wrong, or had she ceased to care in that way? The possibility that she no longer cared should have filled him with unalloyed happiness, whereas it depressed him, cut the natural vanity of youth into shreds and tatters. Yesterday this glorious creature had loved him; to-day she was only friendly. No more did she offer her forehead for the good-night kiss. And instead of accepting the situation gratefully, he felt vaguely hurt!
One evening in September a proa rasped in upon the beach. It brought no coconut. There stepped forth a tall brown man. He remained standing by the stem of the proa, his glance roving investigatingly. He wore a battered sun-helmet, a loin-cloth and a pair of dilapidated canvas shoes. At length he proceeded toward McClintock’s bungalow, drawn by the lights and the sound of music.
Sure of foot, noiseless, he made the veranda and paused at the side of one of the screened windows. By and by he ventured to peer into this window. He saw three people: a young man at the piano, an elderly man smoking in a corner, and a young woman reclining in a chair, her eyes closed. The watcher’s intake of breath was sibilant.
It was she! The Dawn Pearl!
He vaulted the veranda rail, careless now whether or not he was heard, and ran down to the beach. He gave an order, the proa was floated and the sail run up. In a moment the brisk evening breeze caught the lank canvas and bellied it taut. The proa bore away to the northwest out of which it had come.
James Boyle O’Higgins knew little or nothing of the South Seas, but he knew human beings, all colours. His deduction was correct that the beauty of Ruth Enschede could not remain hidden long even on a forgotten isle.
Spurlock’s novel was a tale of regeneration. For a long time to come that would naturally be the theme of any story he undertook to write. After he was gone in the morning, Ruth would steal into the study and hurriedly read what he had written the previous night. She never questioned the motives of the characters; she had neither the ability nor the conceit for that; but she could and often did correct his lapses in colour. She never touched the manuscript with pencil, but jotted down her notes on slips of paper and left them where he might easily find them.