And here were three of them to meet daily, to study and to ponder over. And types as far apart as the three points of a triangle; the man at her side, young, witty, agreeable; Cathewe, grave, kindly, and sometimes rather saturnine; Breitmann, proud and reserved; and each of them having rung true in some great crisis. If ever she loved a man . . . The thought remained unfinished and she glanced up and met Fitzgerald’s eyes. They were sad, with the line of a frown above them. How was she to keep him under hand, and still erect an impassable barrier! It was the first time she had given the matter serious thought. The joy of the sea underfoot, the tang of the rushing air, the journey’s end, these had occupied her volatile young mind. But now!
“I am dull,” said he gloomily.
“I mean that I am stupid, doubly stupid,” he corrected.
“Cricket will be a cure for that.”
“I doubt it,” approaching dangerous ground once more.
“Let’s go and talk to Captain Flanagan, then.”
“There!” with sudden spirit, “the very thing I’ve been wanting!"’
It was of no importance that they both knew this to be a prevarication about which St. Peter would not trouble his hoary head nor take the pains to indite in his great book of demerits.
But all through that bright day the girl thought, and there were times when the others had to speak to her twice; not at all a reassuring sign.
CATHEWE ADVISES AND THE ADMIRAL DISCLOSES
One day they dropped anchor in the sapphire bay of Funchal, in the summer calm, hot and glaring; Funchal, with its dense tropical growth, its cloud-wreathed mountains, its amethystine sisters in the faded southeast. And for two days, while Captain Flanagan recoaled, they played like children, jolting round in the low bullock-carts, climbing the mountains or bumping down the corduroy road. It was the strangest treasure hunt that ever left a home port. It was more like a page out of a boy’s frolic than a sober quest by grown-ups. That danger, menace and death hid in covert would have appealed to them (those who knew) as ridiculous, impossible, obsolete. The story of cutlass and pistol and highboots had been molding in archives these eighty-odd years. Dangers? From whom, from what direction? No one suggested the possibility, even in jest; and the only man who could have advanced, with reasonable assurance, that danger, real and serious, existed, was too busy apparently with his butterfly-net. Still, he had not yet been consulted; he was not supposed to know that this cruise was weighted with something more than pleasure.