“What do these things amount to?” Betty answered impatiently. “It’s in your manner, your attitude. Sometimes it even shows in your eyes. It was there the morning I came across you sitting on Point Old, the day after the armistice was signed. I’ve danced with you and seen you look at me as if—as if,” she laughed self-consciously, “you would like to wring my neck. I have never done anything to create a dislike of that sort. I have never been with you without being conscious that you were repressing something, out of—well, courtesy, I suppose. There is a peculiar tension about you whenever my father is mentioned. I’m not a fool,” she finished, “even if I happen to be one of what you might call the idle rich. What is the cause of this bad blood?”
“What does it matter?” MacRae parried.
“There is something, then?” she persisted.
MacRae turned his head away. He couldn’t tell her. It was not wholly his story to tell. How could he expect her to see it, to react to it as he did? A matter involving her father and mother, and his father. It was not a pretty tale. He might be influenced powerfully in a certain direction by the account of it passed on by old Donald MacRae; he might be stirred by the backwash of those old passions, but he could not lay bare all that to any one—least of all to Betty Gower. And still MacRae, for the moment, was torn between two desires. He retained the same implacable resentment toward Gower, and he found himself wishing to set Gower’s daughter apart and outside the consequences of that ancient feud. And that, he knew, was trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. It couldn’t be done.
“Was the Arrow holed in the crash?”
Betty stood staring at him. She blinked. Her fingers began again that nervous plucking at the blanket. But her face settled presently into its normal composure and she answered evenly.
“Rather badly up forward. She was settling fast when they beached her in the Bay.”
“And then,” she continued after a pause, “Doctor Wallis and I got ashore as quickly as we could. We got a lantern and came along the cliffs. And two of the men took our big lifeboat and rowed along near the shore. They found the Blackbird pounding on the rocks, and we found Steve Ferrara where you left him. And we followed you here by the blood you spattered along the way.”
A line from the Rhyme of the Three Sealers came into MacRae’s mind as befitting. But he was thinking of his father and not so much of himself as he quoted:
is me, in a lonely sea,
And a sinful fight I fall.’”
“I’m afraid I don’t quite grasp that,” Betty said. “Although I know Kipling too, and could supply the rest of those verses. I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
“It isn’t likely that you ever will,” MacRae answered slowly. “It is not necessary that you should.”