“I should not be nervous about it, for unless there is some dark horse I feel sure that your Rosney has got the race in hand.”
“Yes, I feel sure of that, too. We have kept him well back all the season, and never let him even get a place. It ought to be a certainty.”
Then they sat some time smoking in silence.
“By gad, I have half a mind to carry her off,” Carthew broke out, suddenly. “It is the only way that I can see of getting things straightened out. She acknowledged that she liked me before she heard this accursed story, and if I had her to myself I have no doubt that I could make her like me again in spite of it.”
“It is a risky thing to carry a woman off in our days,” Conkling said, thoughtfully, “and a deuced difficult one to do. I don’t see how you are going to set about it, or what in the world you would do with her, and where you would put her when you had got her. I have done some pretty risky things for you in my time, Carthew, but I should not care about trying that. We might both find ourselves in for seven years.”
“Well, you would have as much as that for getting at a horse, and I don’t know that you wouldn’t for bribing a jockey. Still, I see that it is an uncommonly difficult thing.”
For five minutes nothing more was said; then Conkling suddenly broke the silence.
“By Jove, I should say that the yacht would be just the thing.”
“That is a good idea, Jim; a first-rate idea if it could be worked out. It would want a lot of scheming, but I don’t see why it should not be done. If I could once get her on board, I could cruise about with her for any time, until she gave in.”
“You would have to get a fresh crew, Carthew. I doubt whether your fellows would stand it.”
“No, I suppose some of them might kick. At any rate, I would not trust them. No, I should have to find a fresh crew. Foreigners would be best, but it would look uncommonly rum for the Phantom to be cruising about with a foreign crew. Besides, I know men in almost every port I should put into.”
“Couldn’t you alter her rig, or something of that sort, so that she could not be recognised? It seems to me that if you were to take her across to some foreign port, pay off the crew there and send them home, then get her altered and ship a foreign crew, you might cruise about as long as you liked, especially abroad, without a soul being any the wiser; and the girl must sooner or later give in, and if she would not you could make her.”
“That is a big idea, Jim. Yes, if I once got my lady on board you may be sure that she would have to say yes sooner or later. I don’t often forgive, and it would be a triumph to make her pay for the dressing down she gave me this morning. Besides, I am really fond of her, and I could forgive her for that outbreak, which I suppose was natural enough, after we were married, and there is no reason why we should not get on very well together.