During the rest of the voyage Nurse Jennings slept in the steerage; she would send to Number 49 during the day for her several belongings, but she never passed the night there, nor did she see her companion. The case was serious, she told the Stewardess, who came in search of her, and she dared not leave.
The fugitive rarely left the stateroom. Some days he pleaded illness and had his meals brought to him; often he ate nothing.
As the day approached for the vessel to arrive in New York a shivering nervousness took possession of him. He would stand behind the door by the hour listening for her lightest footfall, hoping against hope that, after all, her heart would soften toward him. One thought absorbed him: would she betray him, and if so, when and where? Would it be to the First Officer—the friend of Hobson—or would she wait until they reached New York and then hand him over to the authorities?
Only one gleam of hope shone out illumining his doubt, and that was that she never sent to the stateroom during the Hour of Silence, thus giving him a chance to continue his disguise. Even this ray was dimmed when he began to realize as they approached their destination that she had steadily avoided him, even choosing another deck for a breath of fresh air whenever she left her patient. That she had welcomed the accident to the emigrant as an excuse for remaining away from her stateroom was evident. What he could not understand was, if she really pitied and justified him, as she had done his prototype, why she should now treat him with such suspicion. At her request he had opened his heart and had trusted her; why then could she not forgive him for the deceit of that first night—one for which he was not responsible?
Then a new thought chilled him like an icy wind: her avoidance of him was only an evidence of her purpose! Thus far she had not exposed him, because then it would be known aboard that they had shared the stateroom together. He saw it all now. She was waiting until they reached the dock. Then no one would be the wiser.
When the steamer entered her New York slip and the gangplank was hoisted aboard, another thick-set, closely-knit man pushed his way through the crowd at the rail, walked straight to the Purser and whispered something in his ear. The next moment he had glided to where the Nurse and fugitive were standing.
“This is Miss Jennings, isn’t it? I’m from the Central Office,” and he opened his coat and displayed the gold shield. “We’ve just got a cable from Hobson. He said you were on board and might help. I’m looking for a man. We’ve got no clew—don’t know that he’s on board, but I thought we’d look the list over. The Purser tells me that you helped the Doctor in the steerage—says somebody had been smashed up. Got anything to suggest?—anybody that would fit this description: ’Small man, only five-feet-six; blue eyes’”—and he read from a paper in his hand.