“It’s this beastly climate,” he complained. “It upsets me every time— though this is the worst bout I’ve had yet. I really can’t stand it, Debbie. Even in June, when you’d think you were safe—just look at it!”
It was raining slightly as he spoke.
“Well, why do you try to stand it?” said she. “Why not come back to your own country? You’d be safe there, if anywhere.” “I’ve been thinking of it,” said he. “It has been in my mind all winter—the thought of that good, soaking sunshine that we used to have and think nothing of. The Riviera isn’t a patch on it. Aye, I’d get warm there. But what a life—now. I am not like you—I’ve got nothing and nobody to go back to—I should be giving up everything—the little that I have left. And God knows life is empty enough as it is—”
“Well, I’m going,” she broke in. “And am I nobody?”
He sprang up in his chair. “You—you going?”
“Time I did,” she laughed. “I haven’t set eyes on my property and my two sisters since goodness knows when.” He held out his shaking hands. His face was working pitifully.
“Debbie, Debbie,” he wailed, like a lost child, “will you take me? Will you have me?”
She caught him in her strong arms.
“Dearest, we will go together,” she murmured. And he fell, sobbing, on her breast.
It was not in the least what she had meant to say or to do; but the appeal was irresistible. It was too terrible to see him—him, her young prince of such towering pride and beauty—brought down to this.
But she soon had him out of his slough of despond, and climbing the hills of hope again with something of his old gallant air. The rapidity of his convalescence was astonishing. By the end of July he was well enough to be married.
The first letter signed “Deborah Dalzell” was addressed, strange to say, to Guthrie Carey—not to the commander of the SS Aphrodite, via his shipping office, but to Guthrie Carey, Esq., Wellwood Hall, Norfolk.
For a great change had taken place in the circumstances of her old friend.
One day, a few years earlier, he had been called from the sea— somewhere off the coast of South America—to take his place as a land-owner and land-dweller amongst the great squires of England; quite the very last thing he could have anticipated in his wildest dreams. Three sons of the reigning Carey had been capsized in a gale while out yachting. The reigning Carey, on hearing of the catastrophe, had been seized with a fit that proved fatal in a few hours. His eldest son’s wife, as an effect of the same shock, had given birth to a still-born male infant—the sole grandson. One brother had died childless; another leaving daughters only; the third, Guthrie’s father, was also dead. Thus the unexpected happened, as it has a way of doing in this world, and the t’penny-ha’penny mate of old Redford days had become the head of a county family.