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      But Reuben hardly enjoyed his position as a hero. He succeeded in breaking free from the crowd, now beginning to busy itself once more with Mexico Bill, who was showing signs of returning consciousness, and plunged into the mists that spread their frost-smelling curds over the lower slopes of Boarzell.

      A smothered sob from Isabella, now added to Mary's perplexity, her cheeks and temples became flushed, and, with a bewildered look, she saidAn execration passed between Oakley's teethhe sprang upon Tyler, and had not the smith dexterously raised his left arm and arrested the blow, Black Jack's dagger would have been buried in his bosom.

      [Pg 335]The captain gave the order to cast off the lines. Hardly had the echo of his words ceased before the lines had fallen. Then he rang the signal to the engineer, and the great screw began to revolve beneath the stern of[Pg 49] the ship. Promptly at the advertised time the huge craft was under way. The crowd on the dock cheered as she moved slowly on, and they cheered again as she gathered speed and ploughed the water into a track of foam. The cheers grew fainter and fainter; faces and forms were no longer to be distinguished; the waving of hats and kerchiefs ceased; the long dock became a speck of black against the hilly shore, and the great city faded from sight.

      "There's another river like it in the Pacific Ocean," Frank explained; "it is called the Japan Current, because it flows close to the coast of Japan. It goes through Behring Strait into the Arctic Ocean, and then it comes south by the coast of Greenland, and down by Newfoundland. That's what brings the icebergs south in the Atlantic, and puts them in the way of the steamers between New York and Liverpool.She looked at him a moment with eyes behind which there smouldered a real though a veiled hostility, and he found himself wishing that she would put it into words, and repeat definitely and seriously the accusation at which her dismal little jest about the work of the catalogue keeping him here in Bracebridge, had hinted. Then he could have denied it more explicitly, and with a violence that might have impressed her. But his roughness, his fierce challenging of her stupid chaff had effectively frightened her off any such repetition, and she gave him no opportunity of denial or defence. Only, as she left him, with the intention of seeing Alice before lunch, he noted this intensified situation. It had become more explosive, more dangerous, and now instead of taking it boldly out into the open, and encouraging{184} it to explode, with, probably, no very destructive results, he had caused his wife to lock it up in the confined space of her own mind, hiding it away from his anger or his ridicule. But it was doubtful whether she had detached the smouldering fuse of her own suspicions. They were at present of no very swiftly inflammable stuff: there was but a vague sense that her husband was more interested in Norah than he should be, and had he answered her chaff with something equally light, she might easily have put out that smouldering fuse. But he had not done that: he had flared and scolded, and his attempt to respond in the same spirit was hopelessly belated. She began to wonder whether Mrs Fyson was not right.... True, Mrs Fyson had said very little, but that little appeared now to be singularly suggestive.


      "You do not know me?" asked the latter.



      To-night they would walk and sit on the parade till supper time, then go to some coffee-house, and wind up at a music-hall. It was a gay programme and they discussed it happily, glanced at the passers-by, inspected the empty bandstand, and finally sat down on one of the seats to watch the fishing-boats trim their lamps in the amethyst fog of the sea. For some time they talked about the terrible licking the United had given Rye, arguing about this or that player, and speculating as to what would be the Club's fate at Hythe next week.