“Oh, no!” Ruth protested. “I have so much to learn.”
“Aye,” said McClintock, in a tone so peculiar that it sent Spurlock’s glance to his plate.
“All my life I’ve dreamed of something like this,” he said, divertingly, with a gesture which included the yacht. “These islands that come out of nowhere, like transparent amethyst, that deepen to sapphire, and then become thickly green! And always the white coral sand rimming them—emeralds set in pearls!”
“‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever!’” quoted McClintock. “But I like Bobby Burns best. He’s neighbourly; he has a jingle for every ache and joy I’ve had.”
So Ruth heard about the poets; she became tolerably familiar with the exploits of that engaging ruffian Cellini; she heard of the pathetic deafness of Beethoven; she was thrilled, saddened, exhilarated; and on the evening of the twelfth day she made bold to enter the talk.
“There is something in The Tale of Two Cities that is wonderful,” she said.
“That’s a fine tale,” said Spurlock. “The end is the most beautiful in English literature. ’It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.’ That has always haunted me.”
“I liked that, too,” she replied; “but it wasn’t that I had in mind. Here it is.” She opened the book which she had brought to the table. “’A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city at night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!’ ... It kind of terrifies me,” said Ruth, looking up, first at the face of her husband, then at McClintock’s. “No matter how much I tell of myself, I shall always keep something back. No matter how much you tell me, you will always keep something back.”
Neither man spoke. McClintock stared into the bowl of his pipe and Spurlock into his coffee cup. But McClintock’s mind was perceptive, whereas Spurlock’s was only dully confused. The Scot understood that, gently and indirectly, Ruth was asking her husband a question, opening a door if he cared to enter.
So the young fool had not told her! McClintock had suspected as much. Everything in this world changed—except human folly. This girl was strong and vital: how would she take it when she learned that she had cast her lot with a fugitive from justice? For McClintock was certain that Spurlock was a hunted man. Well, well; all he himself could do would be to watch this singular drama unroll.
The night before they made McClintock’s Ruth and Spurlock leaned over the rail, their shoulders touching. It might have been the moon, or the phosphorescence of the broken water, or it might have been his abysmal loneliness; but suddenly he caught her face in his hands and kissed her on the mouth.