She regarded him with kindling eyes.
“And so that has been your philosophy.”
“For want of a better, yes.”
“I think it is a splendid one, and it has stood its highest test—it has served you well. Do you know, the first time I had any idea you were interested in the higher things was that day we were in your cabin on the Tampico. Do you remember my looking at your books and exclaiming over the selection? I don’t know, but somehow the Bible impressed me most.”
“I had a pretty good English foundation at Exeter,” replied Dan, “and I kept it up after I left there. That Bible—I think I did grow and broaden after leaving school, but I never grew beyond Psalms and St. Paul; which proves that a little knowledge is not dangerous.”
The girl smiled.
“Most men would be ashamed to say that,” she said. “Most of the men I have known,” she added.
“I never would have said it to any one but you.” He said this with quiet conviction, and the girl inclined her head slightly.
“I thank you. . . . Do you remember that night at the dinner when I told you that if our friendship was to continue it was to be one of limitations? How long ago that seems now—and how absurd!”
“Does it seem absurd?”
“Doesn’t it?” She laughed. “It seems to me you were inclined to regard it so that night.”
“Much to your indignation.”
“Is it so? If you had asked me, I might have admitted that the fact I ever could be indignant with you was the principal reason why that night of the dinner seemed so long ago.” She hastened to qualify. “For, you see, I count you now among my very closest friends.”
“That is saying a great deal,” smiled Dan. “When we get ashore and you are comfortably installed as queen of your father’s drawing-room and Dan Merrithew is—”
An exclamation from the girl interrupted him.
“Dan Merrithew, don’t you dare!”
“And Dan Merrithew is just a—” She had risen, and before he could complete the sentence her hands were pressed tightly over his mouth.
“Will you be good?” she cried. She released her hands and regarded him with mock severity.
“But—” laughed Dan.
Again the hands flew to his face.
“I will,” said Dan.
“And you’ll promise not to say or think such nonsense again?”
“I promise,” said Dan.
And then for a while both fell silent, thinking of the future which lay before them. The girl smiled as her day-dreams opened and expanded. Dan frowned, and the fingers of his well-shaped hands locked and unlocked across his knees.
Suddenly Virginia sprang to her feet with an exclamation.
“Oh, I forgot,” she said, and ran, laughing, to the galley, whence she returned with a large plate of fudge. At Dan’s look of surprise she tossed her head in mock disdain of what he might say or think.