THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
ON THE VOYAGE OUT. [Continued.] “I expect those are the Camthers at last,” said one of the Miss Blundells. “ I never yet knew Sarah Caruthers in time for anything,” said Mrs. Blundell. “ You may depend upon it the ship will have to sail without her.” “ But you forget, mamma, she told us they were telegraphed to at the last moment to take charge of some one going out. Very likely that has delayed them,” said one daughter. “ You are altogether wrong, mamma, this time, for there are Mrs. Caruthers and her husband,” cried the other daughter. “Do let uS go out and meet them.”
They went, leaving Dick, Annie, and the doctor talking about some celebrated case going on at that time, the end of which they cannot learn for many months. But Annie’s interest went with the Blundells, and her ear caught all they said. After they had exchanged greetings, she heard Mrs. Caruthers say, addressing someone who had-evidently remained hitherto in the background : “ This is the young lady under my charge. Allow me to introduce you to Mrs. Blundell and her daughters—very old friends of mine. Mrs. Blundell, Miss Adelaide Brand.” As though she had been struck by a blow, Annie heard the name, and shivered with pain. But she kept silence. By no work or look would she betray what she felt.' Dick Bad not heard; he was too much engrossed in
his discussion with the But what would he say ? Did he know ? The party outside moved forward toward their cabins, Mrs. Caruthers leading the way. They had to pass Dick and his wife. Annie’s heart beat and all but stood still as Dick, having finished his argument, turned to her and said : “It is hot and stuffy here ; let’s go on deck.” He rose turned round, and then his eye fell upon Adelaide Brand, who was passing him at that instant. She saw and recognised him. An exquisite smile, expressive of both joy and surprise, shone over her beautiful face, as she exclaimed, offering him her hand to shake :
“ You knew, then, that I was coming ?” “ No,” answered Dick gravely, his face as white as death. “No, I did not.” Then, taking Annie’s hand in his, he said, “Allow me to introduce you to my wife.” A faint “ O !” escaped from Adelaide as the two ladies bowed to each other, and then Miss Brand passed on to her cabin, leaving Dick looking into Annie’s eyes with intense, and mingled feeling. And both their hearts were filled with a sense of undefined dread.
They were silent for a very few minutes; and then Dick whispered huskily : “ Come into the cabin.” Annie followed him. When they were there, he exclaimed in a voicd full of intensity : “ You believe me, don’t you ? I knew nothing of this—of her being a senger.” But Annie could not answer him for passionate sobbing. “ Say you believe me,” cried Dick, kneeling beside her in perplexity and distress. ' “ Yes,” she sobbed—“ Oh, yes. But, Dick, I can’t bear the feeling of it. Forgive , me, but I shall hate—to see her.” And she flung her arms around her husband’s neck as she confessed it toj him.
“ Look here, Annie,” he cried,” starting up. “ There is yet half an hour } say the. word, and 1 11 have everything up from the hold, and forfeit our passages. You shall not go if you don’t like.” “ No, no; I won’t hear of your making such a sacrifice; I’ll bear it. I know I’m foolish, but it’s a feeling I have. I shall never be able to see or think of her without remembering that once she was as near to you as—l am.”
“ Nonsense, Annie! Listen to reason. You are my wife, darling,” he said tenderly; and then he heaped reproaches on his foolishness for having told her anything about Adelaide Brand. “ Forgive me, Dick, darling, and don’t be angry with yourself. It was my fault for being inquisitive. But I promise you from this moment that I will never allude to the subject again.” And with an effort she dried her tears and smiled.
Dick looked at her with a puzzled air, and then was fain to take her at her word, and they went on deck together. They sat on one of the stern sheets, and watched the shore recede from
view. How long would it be before they should see it again ? The thought was not without its vein of sadness, and they were silent. Other passengers soon followed them on deck, and were sitting or walking, as their inclinations dictated. Presently the Caruthers came, accompanied by Miss Brand. Dick was holding his wife’s hand, which trembled and turned cold within his own when Miss Brand appeared. It greatly distressed him to think his wife should suffer, and he determined to let Miss Brand understand that their position towards each other must be that of total strangers throughout the voyage. It was a painful situation for all parties, but there was only one course for him to take.
(le prevailed on Annie to go to her cabin early; and under the plea of smoking a cigar he returned to the deck, where Miss Brand and the Caruthers still were.
Adelaide Brand was sitting in her chair, silent, and a little apart from the others, when Dick passed her. “Mr. Munro,” he heard her call; and he turned round to reply, for this was the opportunity he was watching for. It did not lessen the trying nature of the moment when he looked up and saw that her eyes were full of tears. “ Ah, Dick !” she exclaimed.
“Hush, for God’s sake!” he whispered. “ Listen ! we must be as strangers. I pity you—from my soul I do ; and had I known you were coming, I would have forfeited my passage rather than subjected you or my wife to this ordeal. I leave myself out of the question. I have but one duty, and that you must see and know. For the future we must be as strangers ; it cannot be otherwise, after all that has happened. Forgive me, and pity me ; God knows I feel for you. God bless you !” He spoke in a low, hurried voice. In a few minutes all was said, and he went forward to smoke his cigarette, leaving her in despair. She had seen and read his face, and knew but too well how determined he was. And he was right; she knew that. From first to last the misfortune was hers—the fault not his. She was the prey of the gods, and must submit; that is, if she could without breaking down utterly. “ Strangers !” That was what he had said. There was only one way of obeying him. It might kill her, perhaps, but she would do it—she would never see him again !
It was far on into the dawn when Annie awoke. The ship had made some way during the night, and they were now out at sea ; the morning was glorious, and the sun about to vise. Tempted by the novelty of the sight, Annie got up and sat beside her square, open port. She enjoyed watching the blue-green sea throwing up its crests of white foam. Here and there were other ships, some homeward, others outward bound, and beyond, the long line of English cliffs rose from the’sea and seemed to care not for the love they inspired in the hearts of those approaching them, or those who might never see these shores again. She was about to return to her berth, when her attention was arrested by a sigh that came, as she thought, from without the ship. ' - Bending forward through?the opep.. port, she saw Adelaide Brand, who
4 was leading frbm her port and weeping bitterly. I There was no thought, as there was no fear, of her falling overboard, for her cabin was opposite to the main chains, that hung before her window dr port. Her attitude was evidently one of despair, as if calling upon sea and sky to help and pity herself. At once Annie divined the cause of her sorrow. To her it was no secret. The situation was pitiable in the extreme for both women. At that Dick, who was a troubled sigh in his sleep'. .... '" tmKeeHHMaZy'
Permanent link to this item
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 260, 4 February 1881
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 260, 4 February 1881
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.