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most; dark hollows under the eyes, brought about, as I might readily suppose, by exposure and privation in an open boat. I could witness no agitation in him whatever; his nerves seemed of steel, and he confronted Wilfrid's approach haughtily erect, merely swaying to the heel of the deck, passionless and as unmoved in his aspect as any figure of wax.
Wilfrid walked right up to him and said composedly, whilst he pointed to the gangway, “You will be good enough to enter my boat that my crew may convey you at once to the yacht.'
“I shall do nothing of the kind, sir,” answered the Colonel quietly, but in a tone distinctly audible to us who had come to a halt some paces away. “Captain Crimp."
“Sir?” responded the master of the barque, with an uneasy shuffling step or two towards the couple.
“You are the commander of this vessel. It is in your power to order your deck to be cleared of these visitors. I am your passenger, and look to you for protection. I decline to exchange this vessel for that yacht, and request, therefore, that you will proceed on your voyage." He spoke with a fine air of dignity, the effect of which was improved, I thought, by his giving himself slightly the manner of an injured man.
“Sir, I want no trouble," answered Captain Crimp. "I onderstand that the lady you're with is this gentleman's wife. Every man's got a right to his own. The gentleman means to take the lady back with him to his yacht, and I don't think that there's any one aboard this wessel as'll stop him.”
“I mean to take my wife," exclaimed Wilfrid, still preserving what in him was an amazing composure of voice and manner, "and I mean to take you too. Colonel Hope-Kennedy, you are a bloody rascal! You shall fight me—but not here. You shall fight me—yonder;" he pointed to the Bride. “This you must repay." He struck him hard upon the face with the back of his hand.
The cheek that had received the blow turned scarlet, the other was of a ghastly pallor. He looked at Wilfrid for a moment with such a fire in his eye, such a hellish expression of wrath in his face, that I involuntarily sprang forward to the help of my cousin, resolved that there should be no vulgar, degraded exhibition of fisticuffs and wrestling between the men.
But I was misled by the Colonel's looks. He folded his arms, and said-exhibiting in his utterance a marvellous control over his temper—“That blow was needless. I will fight you here or on your own vessel, as you please. But if I fight you yonder the condition must be”-he was now looking at me and addressing me that I am afterwards at liberty to return to this vessel.”
Wilfrid eyed him with a savage smile. I approached the man, raising my hat. He instantly returned the salute.
"Sir," I said, "I am Sir Wilfrid Monson's cousin, and agree to the condition you name. To save any further exhibition of temper before those men there, may I entreat you to at once step into the yacht's boat?”
His eye wandered about the deck for a moment or two; he then said, “I am without a second. That need not signify. But I must be satisfied that the duel in other respects will be in accordance with the practice of such things ashore."
“Oh! certainly," I answered.
“What are to be the weapons ?” he inquired. “Pistols," I replied.
"I have no pistols. I have lost all by the foundering of my yacht.”
"We have pistols," said I.
He bowed, then his eye roamed over the deck again, and he exclaimed, with the air of a man thinking aloud, “I am without a second," adding decisively, “I am perfectly willing to give Sir Wilfrid Monson satisfaction, but I submit, sir, that it would be more convenient to wait until he and I have arrived home"
"No!" thundered my cousin. "I do not mean that you shall arrive home.”
The Colonel glanced at him with a sneer.
"Will you be so good as to step into the boat, sir?” said I.
He hung in the wind with a look at the little companion hatch. “The lady, I presume,” he said, addressing me, “is to be left-'
"Do not mention her name!" said Wilfrid in a trembling voice, approaching him by a stride with a countenance dark with the menace of mad blood.
The Colonel fell away from him with a swiftly passing convulsion of countenance such as might have been wrought by a sudden spasm of the heart.
"This way, sir,” said Finn, moving in a bustling fashion towards the gangway.
I confess I drew a breath of relief when the Colonel, without a word, and with a mechanical step, followed him. There was, indeed, no other course that he could adopt. Captain Crimp had retreated doggedly to the gangway abreast of the one we had entered by, and lay over the rail in a wooden way, with res
olution to give himself no concern in this business strong in his posture. The Colonel saw, therefore, that it was useless to hope for his interference. In a few moments he had descended the side, and was being pulled aboard the Bride, with Finn standing up in the stern sheets and singing out to us that he would return for the rest of the party shortly.
I now missed Miss Laura, and was looking around the deck for her, when she suddenly came up out of the cabin. I was standing close to the hatch at the moment, which was the reason, perhaps, of her addressing me instead of Wilfrid, who was at the skylight gazing at the withdrawing boat with an absent face. “Mr. Monson,” she exclaimed, “my sister will not an
I do not know where she is." “Have you tried all the berths ?"
“I have knocked at every door and called to her. I did not like to turn the handles."
I thought to myself, suppose her ladyship has committed suicide l-lying dead below with a knife in her heart! Truly a pleasant ending of our chase, with a chance on top of it of the Colonel driving a bullet through my cousin's brains! The girl's gaze was fastened on me; her pallor was grievous, her face full of shame, grief, consternation; her very beauty had a sort of passing withered look like a rose in the hot atmosphere of a room.
"Wilfrid!" I exclaimed.
He brought his eyes away from the boat with a start and approached us. "Miss Jennings has been overhauling the cabin below," said I, “and cannot get your wife to answer her."
"Have you seen her, Laura ?” he cried in a half-breath
less way, stooping his face to hers, with his near-sighted eyes moistening till I looked to see a tear fall.
"No," she answered. “She has shut herself up in her cabin. I have knocked at every berth and called to her, but she will not answer me."
His face changed. He shouted to Captain Crimp, who was leaning with his back against the starboard rail near the gangway, watching us out of the corner of his eyes, and waiting for us to take the next step. He came to us.
"Kindly show us," said Wilfrid, "the cabin which the lady occupies.”
"This way,” he answered, and forthwith trundled down the companion steps, we at his heels. We found ourselves in what Captain Crimp would doubtless have called a state cabin, a gloomy dirty interior with a boardlike rude table that travelled upon stanchions so that it could be thrust up out of the road when room was wanted, whilst on either hand of it was a row of coarse lockers, the covers of which were liberally scored with the marks of knives that had been used for cutting up cake-tobacco. The upper deck was low pitched, and, as if the heat and the disgusting smell of the cargo did not suffice, there swung from a blackened beam a lighted globular lamp the flame of which burnt into a coil of thick black smoke that filled the atmosphere with a flavour of hot fat. Yet apparently, to judge by the number of berths this rank and grimy old barque was fitted with, she had served as a passenger vessel in her heyday. There were doors conducting to little cabins forward of the living room, and there were four berths abaft contrived much as the Bride's were, that is to say, rendered accessible by a slender alley-way or corridor.