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Within the Tides by Joseph Conrad

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Within the Tides


The Planter of Malata
The Partner
The Inn of the Two Witches
Because of the Dollars



In the private editorial office of the principal newspaper in a
great colonial city two men were talking. They were both young.
The stouter of the two, fair, and with more of an urban look about
him, was the editor and part-owner of the important newspaper.

The other's name was Renouard. That he was exercised in his mind
about something was evident on his fine bronzed face. He was a
lean, lounging, active man. The journalist continued the

"And so you were dining yesterday at old Dunster's."

He used the word old not in the endearing sense in which it is
sometimes applied to intimates, but as a matter of sober fact. The
Dunster in question was old. He had been an eminent colonial
statesman, but had now retired from active politics after a tour in
Europe and a lengthy stay in England, during which he had had a
very good press indeed. The colony was proud of him.

"Yes. I dined there," said Renouard. "Young Dunster asked me just
as I was going out of his office. It seemed to be like a sudden
thought. And yet I can't help suspecting some purpose behind it.
He was very pressing. He swore that his uncle would be very
pleased to see me. Said his uncle had mentioned lately that the
granting to me of the Malata concession was the last act of his
official life."

"Very touching. The old boy sentimentalises over the past now and

"I really don't know why I accepted," continued the other.
"Sentiment does not move me very easily. Old Dunster was civil to
me of course, but he did not even inquire how I was getting on with
my silk plants. Forgot there was such a thing probably. I must
say there were more people there than I expected to meet. Quite a
big party."

"I was asked," remarked the newspaper man. "Only I couldn't go.
But when did you arrive from Malata?"

"I arrived yesterday at daylight. I am anchored out there in the
bay--off Garden Point. I was in Dunster's office before he had
finished reading his letters. Have you ever seen young Dunster
reading his letters? I had a glimpse of him through the open door.
He holds the paper in both hands, hunches his shoulders up to his
ugly ears, and brings his long nose and his thick lips on to it
like a sucking apparatus. A commercial monster."

"Here we don't consider him a monster," said the newspaper man
looking at his visitor thoughtfully.

"Probably not. You are used to see his face and to see other
faces. I don't know how it is that, when I come to town, the
appearance of the people in the street strike me with such force.
They seem so awfully expressive."

"And not charming."

"Well--no. Not as a rule. The effect is forcible without being
clear. . . . I know that you think it's because of my solitary
manner of life away there."

"Yes. I do think so. It is demoralising. You don't see any one
for months at a stretch. You're leading an unhealthy life."

The other hardly smiled and murmured the admission that true enough
it was a good eleven months since he had been in town last.

"You see," insisted the other. "Solitude works like a sort of
poison. And then you perceive suggestions in faces--mysterious and
forcible, that no sound man would be bothered with. Of course you

Geoffrey Renouard did not tell his journalist friend that the
suggestions of his own face, the face of a friend, bothered him as
much as the others. He detected a degrading quality in the touches
of age which every day adds to a human countenance. They moved and
disturbed him, like the signs of a horrible inward travail which
was frightfully apparent to the fresh eye he had brought from his
isolation in Malata, where he had settled after five strenuous
years of adventure and exploration.

"It's a fact," he said, "that when I am at home in Malata I see no
one consciously. I take the plantation boys for granted."

"Well, and we here take the people in the streets for granted. And
that's sanity."

The visitor said nothing to this for fear of engaging a discussion.
What he had come to seek in the editorial office was not
controversy, but information. Yet somehow he hesitated to approach
the subject. Solitary life makes a man reticent in respect of
anything in the nature of gossip, which those to whom chatting
about their kind is an everyday exercise regard as the commonest
use of speech.

"You very busy?" he asked.

The Editor making red marks on a long slip of printed paper threw
the pencil down.

"No. I am done. Social paragraphs. This office is the place
where everything is known about everybody--including even a great
deal of nobodies. Queer fellows drift in and out of this room.
Waifs and strays from home, from up-country, from the Pacific.
And, by the way, last time you were here you picked up one of that
sort for your assistant--didn't you?"

"I engaged an assistant only to stop your preaching about the evils
of solitude," said Renouard hastily; and the pressman laughed at
the half-resentful tone. His laugh was not very loud, but his
plump person shook all over. He was aware that his younger
friend's deference to his advice was based only on an imperfect
belief in his wisdom--or his sagacity. But it was he who had first
helped Renouard in his plans of exploration: the five-years'
programme of scientific adventure, of work, of danger and
endurance, carried out with such distinction and rewarded modestly
with the lease of Malata island by the frugal colonial government.
And this reward, too, had been due to the journalist's advocacy
with word and pen--for he was an influential man in the community.
Doubting very much if Renouard really liked him, he was himself
without great sympathy for a certain side of that man which he
could not quite make out. He only felt it obscurely to be his real
personality--the true--and, perhaps, the absurd. As, for instance,
in that case of the assistant. Renouard had given way to the
arguments of his friend and backer--the argument against the
unwholesome effect of solitude, the argument for the safety of
companionship even if quarrelsome. Very well. In this docility he
was sensible and even likeable. But what did he do next? Instead
of taking counsel as to the choice with his old backer and friend,
and a man, besides, knowing everybody employed and unemployed on
the pavements of the town, this extraordinary Renouard suddenly and
almost surreptitiously picked up a fellow--God knows who--and
sailed away with him back to Malata in a hurry; a proceeding
obviously rash and at the same time not quite straight. That was
the sort of thing. The secretly unforgiving journalist laughed a
little longer and then ceased to shake all over.

"Oh, yes. About that assistant of yours. . . ."

"What about him," said Renouard, after waiting a while, with a
shadow of uneasiness on his face.

"Have you nothing to tell me of him?"

"Nothing except. . . ." Incipient grimness vanished out of
Renouard's aspect and his voice, while he hesitated as if
reflecting seriously before he changed his mind. "No. Nothing

"You haven't brought him along with you by chance--for a change."

The Planter of Malata stared, then shook his head, and finally
murmured carelessly: "I think he's very well where he is. But I
wish you could tell me why young Dunster insisted so much on my
dining with his uncle last night. Everybody knows I am not a
society man."

The Editor exclaimed at so much modesty. Didn't his friend know
that he was their one and only explorer--that he was the man
experimenting with the silk plant. . . .

"Still, that doesn't tell me why I was invited yesterday. For
young Dunster never thought of this civility before. . . ."

"Our Willie," said the popular journalist, "never does anything
without a purpose, that's a fact."

"And to his uncle's house too!"

"He lives there."

"Yes. But he might have given me a feed somewhere else. The
extraordinary part is that the old man did not seem to have
anything special to say. He smiled kindly on me once or twice, and
that was all. It was quite a party, sixteen people."

The Editor then, after expressing his regret that he had not been
able to come, wanted to know if the party had been entertaining.

Renouard regretted that his friend had not been there. Being a man
whose business or at least whose profession was to know everything
that went on in this part of the globe, he could probably have told
him something of some people lately arrived from home, who were
amongst the guests. Young Dunster (Willie), with his large shirt-
front and streaks of white skin shining unpleasantly through the
thin black hair plastered over the top of his head, bore down on
him and introduced him to that party, as if he had been a trained
dog or a child phenomenon. Decidedly, he said, he disliked Willie-
-one of these large oppressive men. . . .

A silence fell, and it was as if Renouard were not going to say
anything more when, suddenly, he came out with the real object of
his visit to the editorial room.

"They looked to me like people under a spell."

The Editor gazed at him appreciatively, thinking that, whether the
effect of solitude or not, this was a proof of a sensitive
perception of the expression of faces.

"You omitted to tell me their name, but I can make a guess. You
mean Professor Moorsom, his daughter and sister--don't you?"

Renouard assented. Yes, a white-haired lady. But from his
silence, with his eyes fixed, yet avoiding his friend, it was easy
to guess that it was not in the white-haired lady that he was

"Upon my word," he said, recovering his usual bearing. "It looks
to me as if I had been asked there only for the daughter to talk to

He did not conceal that he had been greatly struck by her
appearance. Nobody could have helped being impressed. She was
different from everybody else in that house, and it was not only
the effect of her London clothes. He did not take her down to
dinner. Willie did that. It was afterwards, on the terrace. . . .

The evening was delightfully calm. He was sitting apart and alone,
and wishing himself somewhere else--on board the schooner for
choice, with the dinner-harness off. He hadn't exchanged forty
words altogether during the evening with the other guests. He saw
her suddenly all by herself coming towards him along the dimly
lighted terrace, quite from a distance.

She was tall and supple, carrying nobly on her straight body a head
of a character which to him appeared peculiar, something--well--
pagan, crowned with a great wealth of hair. He had been about to
rise, but her decided approach caused him to remain on the seat.
He had not looked much at her that evening. He had not that
freedom of gaze acquired by the habit of society and the frequent
meetings with strangers. It was not shyness, but the reserve of a
man not used to the world and to the practice of covert staring,
with careless curiosity. All he had captured by his first, keen,
instantly lowered, glance was the impression that her hair was
magnificently red and her eyes very black. It was a troubling
effect, but it had been evanescent; he had forgotten it almost till
very unexpectedly he saw her coming down the terrace slow and
eager, as if she were restraining herself, and with a rhythmic
upward undulation of her whole figure. The light from an open
window fell across her path, and suddenly all that mass of arranged
hair appeared incandescent, chiselled and fluid, with the daring
suggestion of a helmet of burnished copper and the flowing lines of
molten metal. It kindled in him an astonished admiration. But he
said nothing of it to his friend the Editor. Neither did he tell
him that her approach woke up in his brain the image of love's
infinite grace and the sense of the inexhaustible joy that lives in
beauty. No! What he imparted to the Editor were no emotions, but
mere facts conveyed in a deliberate voice and in uninspired words.

"That young lady came and sat down by me. She said: 'Are you
French, Mr. Renouard?'"

He had breathed a whiff of perfume of which he said nothing either-
-of some perfume he did not know. Her voice was low and distinct.
Her shoulders and her bare arms gleamed with an extraordinary
splendour, and when she advanced her head into the light he saw the
admirable contour of the face, the straight fine nose with delicate
nostrils, the exquisite crimson brushstroke of the lips on this
oval without colour. The expression of the eyes was lost in a
shadowy mysterious play of jet and silver, stirring under the red
coppery gold of the hair as though she had been a being made of
ivory and precious metals changed into living tissue.

". . . I told her my people were living in Canada, but that I was
brought up in England before coming out here. I can't imagine what
interest she could have in my history."

"And you complain of her interest?"

The accent of the all-knowing journalist seemed to jar on the
Planter of Malata.

"No!" he said, in a deadened voice that was almost sullen. But
after a short silence he went on. "Very extraordinary. I told her
I came out to wander at large in the world when I was nineteen,
almost directly after I left school. It seems that her late
brother was in the same school a couple of years before me. She
wanted me to tell her what I did at first when I came out here;
what other men found to do when they came out--where they went,
what was likely to happen to them--as if I could guess and foretell
from my experience the fates of men who come out here with a
hundred different projects, for hundreds of different reasons--for
no reason but restlessness--who come, and go, and disappear!
Preposterous. She seemed to want to hear their histories. I told
her that most of them were not worth telling."

The distinguished journalist leaning on his elbow, his head resting
against the knuckles of his left hand, listened with great
attention, but gave no sign of that surprise which Renouard,
pausing, seemed to expect.

"You know something," the latter said brusquely. The all-knowing
man moved his head slightly and said, "Yes. But go on."

"It's just this. There is no more to it. I found myself talking
to her of my adventures, of my early days. It couldn't possibly
have interested her. Really," he cried, "this is most
extraordinary. Those people have something on their minds. We sat
in the light of the window, and her father prowled about the
terrace, with his hands behind his back and his head drooping. The
white-haired lady came to the dining-room window twice--to look at
us I am certain. The other guests began to go away--and still we
sat there. Apparently these people are staying with the Dunsters.
It was old Mrs. Dunster who put an end to the thing. The father
and the aunt circled about as if they were afraid of interfering
with the girl. Then she got up all at once, gave me her hand, and
said she hoped she would see me again."

While he was speaking Renouard saw again the sway of her figure in
a movement of grace and strength--felt the pressure of her hand--
heard the last accents of the deep murmur that came from her throat
so white in the light of the window, and remembered the black rays
of her steady eyes passing off his face when she turned away. He
remembered all this visually, and it was not exactly pleasurable.
It was rather startling like the discovery of a new faculty in
himself. There are faculties one would rather do without--such,
for instance, as seeing through a stone wall or remembering a
person with this uncanny vividness. And what about those two
people belonging to her with their air of expectant solicitude!
Really, those figures from home got in front of one. In fact,
their persistence in getting between him and the solid forms of the
everyday material world had driven Renouard to call on his friend
at the office. He hoped that a little common, gossipy information
would lay the ghost of that unexpected dinner-party. Of course the
proper person to go to would have been young Dunster, but, he
couldn't stand Willie Dunster--not at any price.

In the pause the Editor had changed his attitude, faced his desk,
and smiled a faint knowing smile.

"Striking girl--eh?" he said.

The incongruity of the word was enough to make one jump out of the
chair. Striking! That girl striking! Stri . . .! But Renouard
restrained his feelings. His friend was not a person to give
oneself away to. And, after all, this sort of speech was what he
had come there to hear. As, however, he had made a movement he re-
settled himself comfortably and said, with very creditable
indifference, that yes--she was, rather. Especially amongst a lot
of over-dressed frumps. There wasn't one woman under forty there.

"Is that the way to speak of the cream of our society; the 'top of
the basket,' as the French say," the Editor remonstrated with mock
indignation. "You aren't moderate in your expressions--you know."

"I express myself very little," interjected Renouard seriously.

"I will tell you what you are. You are a fellow that doesn't count
the cost. Of course you are safe with me, but will you never
learn. . . ."

"What struck me most," interrupted the other, "is that she should
pick me out for such a long conversation."

"That's perhaps because you were the most remarkable of the men

Renouard shook his head.

"This shot doesn't seem to me to hit the mark," he said calmly.
"Try again."

"Don't you believe me? Oh, you modest creature. Well, let me
assure you that under ordinary circumstances it would have been a
good shot. You are sufficiently remarkable. But you seem a pretty
acute customer too. The circumstances are extraordinary. By Jove
they are!"

He mused. After a time the Planter of Malata dropped a negligent -

"And you know them."

"And I know them," assented the all-knowing Editor, soberly, as
though the occasion were too special for a display of professional
vanity; a vanity so well known to Renouard that its absence
augmented his wonder and almost made him uneasy as if portending
bad news of some sort.

"You have met those people?" he asked.

"No. I was to have met them last night, but I had to send an
apology to Willie in the morning. It was then that he had the
bright idea to invite you to fill the place, from a muddled notion
that you could be of use. Willie is stupid sometimes. For it is
clear that you are the last man able to help."

"How on earth do I come to be mixed up in this--whatever it is?"
Renouard's voice was slightly altered by nervous irritation. "I
only arrived here yesterday morning."


His friend the Editor turned to him squarely. "Willie took me into
consultation, and since he seems to have let you in I may just as
well tell you what is up. I shall try to be as short as I can.
But in confidence--mind!"

He waited. Renouard, his uneasiness growing on him unreasonably,
assented by a nod, and the other lost no time in beginning.
Professor Moorsom--physicist and philosopher--fine head of white
hair, to judge from the photographs--plenty of brains in the head
too--all these famous books--surely even Renouard would know. . . .

Renouard muttered moodily that it wasn't his sort of reading, and
his friend hastened to assure him earnestly that neither was it his
sort--except as a matter of business and duty, for the literary
page of that newspaper which was his property (and the pride of his
life). The only literary newspaper in the Antipodes could not
ignore the fashionable philosopher of the age. Not that anybody
read Moorsom at the Antipodes, but everybody had heard of him--
women, children, dock labourers, cabmen. The only person (besides
himself) who had read Moorsom, as far as he knew, was old Dunster,
who used to call himself a Moorsomian (or was it Moorsomite) years
and years ago, long before Moorsom had worked himself up into the
great swell he was now, in every way. . . Socially too. Quite the
fashion in the highest world.

Renouard listened with profoundly concealed attention. "A
charlatan," he muttered languidly.

"Well--no. I should say not. I shouldn't wonder though if most of
his writing had been done with his tongue in his cheek. Of course.
That's to be expected. I tell you what: the only really honest
writing is to be found in newspapers and nowhere else--and don't
you forget it."

The Editor paused with a basilisk stare till Renouard had conceded
a casual: "I dare say," and only then went on to explain that old
Dunster, during his European tour, had been made rather a lion of
in London, where he stayed with the Moorsoms--he meant the father
and the girl. The professor had been a widower for a long time.

"She doesn't look just a girl," muttered Renouard. The other
agreed. Very likely not. Had been playing the London hostess to
tip-top people ever since she put her hair up, probably.

"I don't expect to see any girlish bloom on her when I do have the
privilege," he continued. "Those people are staying with the
Dunster's incog., in a manner, you understand--something like
royalties. They don't deceive anybody, but they want to be left to
themselves. We have even kept them out of the paper--to oblige old
Dunster. But we shall put your arrival in--our local celebrity."


"Yes. Mr. G. Renouard, the explorer, whose indomitable energy,
etc., and who is now working for the prosperity of our country in
another way on his Malata plantation . . . And, by the by, how's
the silk plant--flourishing?"


"Did you bring any fibre?"


"I see. To be transhipped to Liverpool for experimental
manufacture, eh? Eminent capitalists at home very much interested,
aren't they?"

"They are."

A silence fell. Then the Editor uttered slowly--"You will be a
rich man some day."

Renouard's face did not betray his opinion of that confident
prophecy. He didn't say anything till his friend suggested in the
same meditative voice -

"You ought to interest Moorsom in the affair too--since Willie has
let you in."

"A philosopher!"

"I suppose he isn't above making a bit of money. And he may be
clever at it for all you know. I have a notion that he's a fairly
practical old cove. . . . Anyhow," and here the tone of the speaker
took on a tinge of respect, "he has made philosophy pay."

Renouard raised his eyes, repressed an impulse to jump up, and got
out of the arm-chair slowly. "It isn't perhaps a bad idea," he
said. "I'll have to call there in any case."

He wondered whether he had managed to keep his voice steady, its
tone unconcerned enough; for his emotion was strong though it had
nothing to do with the business aspect of this suggestion. He
moved in the room in vague preparation for departure, when he heard
a soft laugh. He spun about quickly with a frown, but the Editor
was not laughing at him. He was chuckling across the big desk at
the wall: a preliminary of some speech for which Renouard,
recalled to himself, waited silent and mistrustful.

"No! You would never guess! No one would ever guess what these
people are after. Willie's eyes bulged out when he came to me with
the tale."

"They always do," remarked Renouard with disgust. "He's stupid."

"He was startled. And so was I after he told me. It's a search
party. They are out looking for a man. Willie's soft heart's
enlisted in the cause."

Renouard repeated: "Looking for a man."

He sat down suddenly as if on purpose to stare. "Did Willie come
to you to borrow the lantern," he asked sarcastically, and got up
again for no apparent reason.

"What lantern?" snapped the puzzled Editor, and his face darkened
with suspicion. "You, Renouard, are always alluding to things that
aren't clear to me. If you were in politics, I, as a party
journalist, wouldn't trust you further than I could see you. Not
an inch further. You are such a sophisticated beggar. Listen:
the man is the man Miss Moorsom was engaged to for a year. He
couldn't have been a nobody, anyhow. But he doesn't seem to have
been very wise. Hard luck for the young lady."

He spoke with feeling. It was clear that what he had to tell
appealed to his sentiment. Yet, as an experienced man of the
world, he marked his amused wonder. Young man of good family and
connections, going everywhere, yet not merely a man about town, but
with a foot in the two big F's.

Renouard lounging aimlessly in the room turned round: "And what
the devil's that?" he asked faintly.

"Why Fashion and Finance," explained the Editor. "That's how I
call it. There are the three R's at the bottom of the social
edifice and the two F's on the top. See?"

"Ha! Ha! Excellent! Ha! Ha!" Renouard laughed with stony eyes.

"And you proceed from one set to the other in this democratic age,"
the Editor went on with unperturbed complacency. "That is if you
are clever enough. The only danger is in being too clever. And I
think something of the sort happened here. That swell I am
speaking of got himself into a mess. Apparently a very ugly mess
of a financial character. You will understand that Willie did not
go into details with me. They were not imparted to him with very
great abundance either. But a bad mess--something of the criminal
order. Of course he was innocent. But he had to quit all the

"Ha! Ha!" Renouard laughed again abruptly, staring as before. "So
there's one more big F in the tale."

"What do you mean?" inquired the Editor quickly, with an air as if
his patent were being infringed.

"I mean--Fool."

"No. I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't say that."

"Well--let him be a scoundrel then. What the devil do I care."

"But hold on! You haven't heard the end of the story."

Renouard, his hat on his head already, sat down with the disdainful
smile of a man who had discounted the moral of the story. Still he
sat down and the Editor swung his revolving chair right round. He
was full of unction.

"Imprudent, I should say. In many ways money is as dangerous to
handle as gunpowder. You can't be too careful either as to who you
are working with. Anyhow there was a mighty flashy burst up, a
sensation, and--his familiar haunts knew him no more. But before
he vanished he went to see Miss Moorsom. That very fact argues for
his innocence--don't it? What was said between them no man knows--
unless the professor had the confidence from his daughter. There
couldn't have been much to say. There was nothing for it but to
let him go--was there?--for the affair had got into the papers.
And perhaps the kindest thing would have been to forget him.
Anyway the easiest. Forgiveness would have been more difficult, I
fancy, for a young lady of spirit and position drawn into an ugly
affair like that. Any ordinary young lady, I mean. Well, the
fellow asked nothing better than to be forgotten, only he didn't
find it easy to do so himself, because he would write home now and
then. Not to any of his friends though. He had no near relations.
The professor had been his guardian. No, the poor devil wrote now
and then to an old retired butler of his late father, somewhere in
the country, forbidding him at the same time to let any one know of
his whereabouts. So that worthy old ass would go up and dodge
about the Moorsom's town house, perhaps waylay Miss Moorsom's maid,
and then would write to 'Master Arthur' that the young lady looked
well and happy, or some such cheerful intelligence. I dare say he
wanted to be forgotten, but I shouldn't think he was much cheered
by the news. What would you say?"

Renouard, his legs stretched out and his chin on his breast, said
nothing. A sensation which was not curiosity, but rather a vague
nervous anxiety, distinctly unpleasant, like a mysterious symptom
of some malady, prevented him from getting up and going away.

"Mixed feelings," the Editor opined. "Many fellows out here
receive news from home with mixed feelings. But what will his
feelings be when he hears what I am going to tell you now? For we
know he has not heard yet. Six months ago a city clerk, just a
common drudge of finance, gets himself convicted of a common
embezzlement or something of that kind. Then seeing he's in for a
long sentence he thinks of making his conscience comfortable, and
makes a clean breast of an old story of tampered with, or else
suppressed, documents, a story which clears altogether the honesty
of our ruined gentleman. That embezzling fellow was in a position
to know, having been employed by the firm before the smash. There
was no doubt about the character being cleared--but where the
cleared man was nobody could tell. Another sensation in society.
And then Miss Moorsom says: 'He will come back to claim me, and
I'll marry him.' But he didn't come back. Between you and me I
don't think he was much wanted--except by Miss Moorsom. I imagine
she's used to have her own way. She grew impatient, and declared
that if she knew where the man was she would go to him. But all
that could be got out of the old butler was that the last envelope
bore the postmark of our beautiful city; and that this was the only
address of 'Master Arthur' that he ever had. That and no more. In
fact the fellow was at his last gasp--with a bad heart. Miss
Moorsom wasn't allowed to see him. She had gone herself into the
country to learn what she could, but she had to stay downstairs
while the old chap's wife went up to the invalid. She brought down
the scrap of intelligence I've told you of. He was already too far
gone to be cross-examined on it, and that very night he died. He
didn't leave behind him much to go by, did he? Our Willie hinted
to me that there had been pretty stormy days in the professor's
house, but--here they are. I have a notion she isn't the kind of
everyday young lady who may be permitted to gallop about the world
all by herself--eh? Well, I think it rather fine of her, but I
quite understand that the professor needed all his philosophy under
the circumstances. She is his only child now--and brilliant--what?
Willie positively spluttered trying to describe her to me; and I
could see directly you came in that you had an uncommon

Renouard, with an irritated gesture, tilted his hat more forward on
his eyes, as though he were bored. The Editor went on with the
remark that to be sure neither he (Renouard) nor yet Willie were
much used to meet girls of that remarkable superiority. Willie
when learning business with a firm in London, years before, had
seen none but boarding-house society, he guessed. As to himself in
the good old days, when he trod the glorious flags of Fleet Street,
he neither had access to, nor yet would have cared for the swells.
Nothing interested him then but parliamentary politics and the
oratory of the House of Commons.

He paid to this not very distant past the tribute of a tender,
reminiscent smile, and returned to his first idea that for a
society girl her action was rather fine. All the same the
professor could not be very pleased. The fellow if he was as pure
as a lily now was just about as devoid of the goods of the earth.
And there were misfortunes, however undeserved, which damaged a
man's standing permanently. On the other hand, it was difficult to
oppose cynically a noble impulse--not to speak of the great love at
the root of it. Ah! Love! And then the lady was quite capable of
going off by herself. She was of age, she had money of her own,
plenty of pluck too. Moorsom must have concluded that it was more
truly paternal, more prudent too, and generally safer all round to
let himself be dragged into this chase. The aunt came along for
the same reasons. It was given out at home as a trip round the
world of the usual kind.

Renouard had risen and remained standing with his heart beating,
and strangely affected by this tale, robbed as it was of all
glamour by the prosaic personality of the narrator. The Editor
added: "I've been asked to help in the search--you know."

Renouard muttered something about an appointment and went out into
the street. His inborn sanity could not defend him from a misty
creeping jealousy. He thought that obviously no man of that sort
could be worthy of such a woman's devoted fidelity. Renouard,
however, had lived long enough to reflect that a man's activities,
his views, and even his ideas may be very inferior to his
character; and moved by a delicate consideration for that splendid
girl he tried to think out for the man a character of inward
excellence and outward gifts--some extraordinary seduction. But in
vain. Fresh from months of solitude and from days at sea, her
splendour presented itself to him absolutely unconquerable in its
perfection, unless by her own folly. It was easier to suspect her
of this than to imagine in the man qualities which would be worthy
of her. Easier and less degrading. Because folly may be generous-
-could be nothing else but generosity in her; whereas to imagine
her subjugated by something common was intolerable.

Because of the force of the physical impression he had received
from her personality (and such impressions are the real origins of
the deepest movements of our soul) this conception of her was even
inconceivable. But no Prince Charming has ever lived out of a
fairy tale. He doesn't walk the worlds of Fashion and Finance--and
with a stumbling gait at that. Generosity. Yes. It was her
generosity. But this generosity was altogether regal in its
splendour, almost absurd in its lavishness--or, perhaps, divine.

In the evening, on board his schooner, sitting on the rail, his
arms folded on his breast and his eyes fixed on the deck, he let
the darkness catch him unawares in the midst of a meditation on the
mechanism of sentiment and the springs of passion. And all the
time he had an abiding consciousness of her bodily presence. The
effect on his senses had been so penetrating that in the middle of
the night, rousing up suddenly, wide-eyed in the darkness of his
cabin, he did not create a faint mental vision of her person for
himself, but, more intimately affected, he scented distinctly the
faint perfume she used, and could almost have sworn that he had
been awakened by the soft rustle of her dress. He even sat up
listening in the dark for a time, then sighed and lay down again,
not agitated but, on the contrary, oppressed by the sensation of
something that had happened to him and could not be undone.


In the afternoon he lounged into the editorial office, carrying
with affected nonchalance that weight of the irremediable he had
felt laid on him suddenly in the small hours of the night--that
consciousness of something that could no longer be helped. His
patronising friend informed him at once that he had made the
acquaintance of the Moorsom party last night. At the Dunsters, of
course. Dinner.

"Very quiet. Nobody there. It was much better for the business.
I say . . ."

Renouard, his hand grasping the back of a chair, stared down at him

"Phew! That's a stunning girl. . . Why do you want to sit on that
chair? It's uncomfortable!"

"I wasn't going to sit on it." Renouard walked slowly to the
window, glad to find in himself enough self-control to let go the
chair instead of raising it on high and bringing it down on the
Editor's head.

"Willie kept on gazing at her with tears in his boiled eyes. You
should have seen him bending sentimentally over her at dinner."

"Don't," said Renouard in such an anguished tone that the Editor
turned right round to look at his back.

"You push your dislike of young Dunster too far. It's positively
morbid," he disapproved mildly. "We can't be all beautiful after
thirty. . . . I talked a little, about you mostly, to the
professor. He appeared to be interested in the silk plant--if only
as a change from the great subject. Miss Moorsom didn't seem to
mind when I confessed to her that I had taken you into the
confidence of the thing. Our Willie approved too. Old Dunster
with his white beard seemed to give me his blessing. All those
people have a great opinion of you, simply because I told them that
you've led every sort of life one can think of before you got
struck on exploration. They want you to make suggestions. What do
you think 'Master Arthur' is likely to have taken to?"

"Something easy," muttered Renouard without unclenching his teeth.

"Hunting man. Athlete. Don't be hard on the chap. He may be
riding boundaries, or droving cattle, or humping his swag about the
back-blocks away to the devil--somewhere. He may be even
prospecting at the back of beyond--this very moment."

"Or lying dead drunk in a roadside pub. It's late enough in the
day for that."

The Editor looked up instinctively. The clock was pointing at a
quarter to five. "Yes, it is," he admitted. "But it needn't be.
And he may have lit out into the Western Pacific all of a sudden--
say in a trading schooner. Though I really don't see in what
capacity. Still . . . "

"Or he may be passing at this very moment under this very window."

"Not he . . . and I wish you would get away from it to where one
can see your face. I hate talking to a man's back. You stand
there like a hermit on a sea-shore growling to yourself. I tell
you what it is, Geoffrey, you don't like mankind."

"I don't make my living by talking about mankind's affairs,"
Renouard defended himself. But he came away obediently and sat
down in the armchair. "How can you be so certain that your man
isn't down there in the street?" he asked. "It's neither more nor
less probable than every single one of your other suppositions."

Placated by Renouard's docility the Editor gazed at him for a
while. "Aha! I'll tell you how. Learn then that we have begun
the campaign. We have telegraphed his description to the police of
every township up and down the land. And what's more we've
ascertained definitely that he hasn't been in this town for the
last three months at least. How much longer he's been away we
can't tell."

"That's very curious."

"It's very simple. Miss Moorsom wrote to him, to the post office
here directly she returned to London after her excursion into the
country to see the old butler. Well--her letter is still lying
there. It has not been called for. Ergo, this town is not his
usual abode. Personally, I never thought it was. But he cannot
fail to turn up some time or other. Our main hope lies just in the
certitude that he must come to town sooner or later. Remember he
doesn't know that the butler is dead, and he will want to inquire
for a letter. Well, he'll find a note from Miss Moorsom."

Renouard, silent, thought that it was likely enough. His profound
distaste for this conversation was betrayed by an air of weariness
darkening his energetic sun-tanned features, and by the augmented
dreaminess of his eyes. The Editor noted it as a further proof of
that immoral detachment from mankind, of that callousness of
sentiment fostered by the unhealthy conditions of solitude--
according to his own favourite theory. Aloud he observed that as
long as a man had not given up correspondence he could not be
looked upon as lost. Fugitive criminals had been tracked in that
way by justice, he reminded his friend; then suddenly changed the
bearing of the subject somewhat by asking if Renouard had heard
from his people lately, and if every member of his large tribe was
well and happy.

"Yes, thanks."

The tone was curt, as if repelling a liberty. Renouard did not
like being asked about his people, for whom he had a profound and
remorseful affection. He had not seen a single human being to whom
he was related, for many years, and he was extremely different from
them all.

On the very morning of his arrival from his island he had gone to a
set of pigeon-holes in Willie Dunster's outer office and had taken
out from a compartment labelled "Malata" a very small accumulation
of envelopes, a few addressed to himself, and one addressed to his
assistant, all to the care of the firm, W. Dunster and Co. As
opportunity offered, the firm used to send them on to Malata either
by a man-of-war schooner going on a cruise, or by some trading
craft proceeding that way. But for the last four months there had
been no opportunity.

"You going to stay here some time?" asked the Editor, after a
longish silence.

Renouard, perfunctorily, did see no reason why he should make a
long stay.

"For health, for your mental health, my boy," rejoined the
newspaper man. "To get used to human faces so that they don't hit
you in the eye so hard when you walk about the streets. To get
friendly with your kind. I suppose that assistant of yours can be
trusted to look after things?"

"There's the half-caste too. The Portuguese. He knows what's to
be done."

"Aha!" The Editor looked sharply at his friend. "What's his

"Who's name?"

"The assistant's you picked up on the sly behind my back."

Renouard made a slight movement of impatience.

"I met him unexpectedly one evening. I thought he would do as well
as another. He had come from up country and didn't seem happy in a
town. He told me his name was Walter. I did not ask him for
proofs, you know."

"I don't think you get on very well with him."

"Why? What makes you think so."

"I don't know. Something reluctant in your manner when he's in

"Really. My manner! I don't think he's a great subject for
conversation, perhaps. Why not drop him?"

"Of course! You wouldn't confess to a mistake. Not you.
Nevertheless I have my suspicions about it."

Renouard got up to go, but hesitated, looking down at the seated

"How funny," he said at last with the utmost seriousness, and was
making for the door, when the voice of his friend stopped him.

"You know what has been said of you? That you couldn't get on with
anybody you couldn't kick. Now, confess--is there any truth in the
soft impeachment?"

"No," said Renouard. "Did you print that in your paper."

"No. I didn't quite believe it. But I will tell you what I
believe. I believe that when your heart is set on some object you
are a man that doesn't count the cost to yourself or others. And
this shall get printed some day."

"Obituary notice?" Renouard dropped negligently.

"Certain--some day."

"Do you then regard yourself as immortal?"

"No, my boy. I am not immortal. But the voice of the press goes
on for ever. . . . And it will say that this was the secret of your
great success in a task where better men than you--meaning no
offence--did fail repeatedly."

"Success," muttered Renouard, pulling-to the office door after him
with considerable energy. And the letters of the word PRIVATE like
a row of white eyes seemed to stare after his back sinking down the
staircase of that temple of publicity.

Renouard had no doubt that all the means of publicity would be put
at the service of love and used for the discovery of the loved man.
He did not wish him dead. He did not wish him any harm. We are
all equipped with a fund of humanity which is not exhausted without
many and repeated provocations--and this man had done him no evil.
But before Renouard had left old Dunster's house, at the conclusion
of the call he made there that very afternoon, he had discovered in
himself the desire that the search might last long. He never
really flattered himself that it might fail. It seemed to him that
there was no other course in this world for himself, for all
mankind, but resignation. And he could not help thinking that
Professor Moorsom had arrived at the same conclusion too.

Professor Moorsom, slight frame of middle height, a thoughtful keen
head under the thick wavy hair, veiled dark eyes under straight
eyebrows, and with an inward gaze which when disengaged and
arriving at one seemed to issue from an obscure dream of books,
from the limbo of meditation, showed himself extremely gracious to
him. Renouard guessed in him a man whom an incurable habit of
investigation and analysis had made gentle and indulgent; inapt for
action, and more sensitive to the thoughts than to the events of
existence. Withal not crushed, sub-ironic without a trace of
acidity, and with a simple manner which put people at ease quickly.
They had a long conversation on the terrace commanding an extended
view of the town and the harbour.

The splendid immobility of the bay resting under his gaze, with its
grey spurs and shining indentations, helped Renouard to regain his
self-possession, which he had felt shaken, in coming out on the
terrace, into the setting of the most powerful emotion of his life,
when he had sat within a foot of Miss Moorsom with fire in his
breast, a humming in his ears, and in a complete disorder of his
mind. There was the very garden seat on which he had been
enveloped in the radiant spell. And presently he was sitting on it
again with the professor talking of her. Near by the patriarchal
Dunster leaned forward in a wicker arm-chair, benign and a little
deaf, his big hand to his ear with the innocent eagerness of his
advanced age remembering the fires of life.

It was with a sort of apprehension that Renouard looked forward to
seeing Miss Moorsom. And strangely enough it resembled the state
of mind of a man who fears disenchantment more than sortilege. But
he need not have been afraid. Directly he saw her in a distance at
the other end of the terrace he shuddered to the roots of his hair.
With her approach the power of speech left him for a time. Mrs.
Dunster and her aunt were accompanying her. All these people sat
down; it was an intimate circle into which Renouard felt himself
cordially admitted; and the talk was of the great search which
occupied all their minds. Discretion was expected by these people,
but of reticence as to the object of the journey there could be no
question. Nothing but ways and means and arrangements could be
talked about.

By fixing his eyes obstinately on the ground, which gave him an air
of reflective sadness, Renouard managed to recover his self-
possession. He used it to keep his voice in a low key and to
measure his words on the great subject. And he took care with a
great inward effort to make them reasonable without giving them a
discouraging complexion. For he did not want the quest to be given
up, since it would mean her going away with her two attendant grey-
heads to the other side of the world.

He was asked to come again, to come often and take part in the
counsels of all these people captivated by the sentimental
enterprise of a declared love. On taking Miss Moorsom's hand he
looked up, would have liked to say something, but found himself
voiceless, with his lips suddenly sealed. She returned the
pressure of his fingers, and he left her with her eyes vaguely
staring beyond him, an air of listening for an expected sound, and
the faintest possible smile on her lips. A smile not for him,
evidently, but the reflection of some deep and inscrutable thought.


He went on board his schooner. She lay white, and as if suspended,
in the crepuscular atmosphere of sunset mingling with the ashy
gleam of the vast anchorage. He tried to keep his thoughts as
sober, as reasonable, as measured as his words had been, lest they
should get away from him and cause some sort of moral disaster.
What he was afraid of in the coming night was sleeplessness and the
endless strain of that wearisome task. It had to be faced however.
He lay on his back, sighing profoundly in the dark, and suddenly
beheld his very own self, carrying a small bizarre lamp, reflected
in a long mirror inside a room in an empty and unfurnished palace.
In this startling image of himself he recognised somebody he had to
follow--the frightened guide of his dream. He traversed endless
galleries, no end of lofty halls, innumerable doors. He lost
himself utterly--he found his way again. Room succeeded room. At
last the lamp went out, and he stumbled against some object which,
when he stooped for it, he found to be very cold and heavy to lift.
The sickly white light of dawn showed him the head of a statue.
Its marble hair was done in the bold lines of a helmet, on its lips
the chisel had left a faint smile, and it resembled Miss Moorsom.
While he was staring at it fixedly, the head began to grow light in
his fingers, to diminish and crumble to pieces, and at last turned
into a handful of dust, which was blown away by a puff of wind so
chilly that he woke up with a desperate shiver and leaped headlong
out of his bed-place. The day had really come. He sat down by the
cabin table, and taking his head between his hands, did not stir
for a very long time.

Very quiet, he set himself to review this dream. The lamp, of
course, he connected with the search for a man. But on closer
examination he perceived that the reflection of himself in the
mirror was not really the true Renouard, but somebody else whose
face he could not remember. In the deserted palace he recognised a
sinister adaptation by his brain of the long corridors with many
doors, in the great building in which his friend's newspaper was
lodged on the first floor. The marble head with Miss Moorsom's
face! Well! What other face could he have dreamed of? And her
complexion was fairer than Parian marble, than the heads of angels.
The wind at the end was the morning breeze entering through the
open porthole and touching his face before the schooner could swing
to the chilly gust.

Yes! And all this rational explanation of the fantastic made it
only more mysterious and weird. There was something daemonic in
that dream. It was one of those experiences which throw a man out
of conformity with the established order of his kind and make him a
creature of obscure suggestions.

Henceforth, without ever trying to resist, he went every afternoon
to the house where she lived. He went there as passively as if in
a dream. He could never make out how he had attained the footing
of intimacy in the Dunster mansion above the bay--whether on the
ground of personal merit or as the pioneer of the vegetable silk
industry. It must have been the last, because he remembered
distinctly, as distinctly as in a dream, hearing old Dunster once
telling him that his next public task would be a careful survey of
the Northern Districts to discover tracts suitable for the
cultivation of the silk plant. The old man wagged his beard at him
sagely. It was indeed as absurd as a dream.

Willie of course would be there in the evening. But he was more of
a figure out of a nightmare, hovering about the circle of chairs in
his dress-clothes like a gigantic, repulsive, and sentimental bat.
"Do away with the beastly cocoons all over the world," he buzzed in
his blurred, water-logged voice. He affected a great horror of
insects of all kinds. One evening he appeared with a red flower in
his button-hole. Nothing could have been more disgustingly
fantastic. And he would also say to Renouard: "You may yet change
the history of our country. For economic conditions do shape the
history of nations. Eh? What?" And he would turn to Miss Moorsom
for approval, lowering protectingly his spatulous nose and looking
up with feeling from under his absurd eyebrows, which grew thin, in
the manner of canebrakes, out of his spongy skin. For this large,
bilious creature was an economist and a sentimentalist, facile to
tears, and a member of the Cobden Club.

In order to see as little of him as possible Renouard began coming
earlier so as to get away before his arrival, without curtailing
too much the hours of secret contemplation for which he lived. He
had given up trying to deceive himself. His resignation was
without bounds. He accepted the immense misfortune of being in
love with a woman who was in search of another man only to throw
herself into his arms. With such desperate precision he defined in
his thoughts the situation, the consciousness of which traversed
like a sharp arrow the sudden silences of general conversation.
The only thought before which he quailed was the thought that this
could not last; that it must come to an end. He feared it
instinctively as a sick man may fear death. For it seemed to him
that it must be the death of him followed by a lightless,
bottomless pit. But his resignation was not spared the torments of
jealousy: the cruel, insensate, poignant, and imbecile jealousy,
when it seems that a woman betrays us simply by this that she
exists, that she breathes--and when the deep movements of her
nerves or her soul become a matter of distracting suspicion, of
killing doubt, of mortal anxiety.

In the peculiar condition of their sojourn Miss Moorsom went out
very little. She accepted this seclusion at the Dunsters' mansion
as in a hermitage, and lived there, watched over by a group of old
people, with the lofty endurance of a condescending and strong-
headed goddess. It was impossible to say if she suffered from
anything in the world, and whether this was the insensibility of a
great passion concentrated on itself, or a perfect restraint of
manner, or the indifference of superiority so complete as to be
sufficient to itself. But it was visible to Renouard that she took
some pleasure in talking to him at times. Was it because he was
the only person near her age? Was this, then, the secret of his
admission to the circle?

He admired her voice as well poised as her movements, as her
attitudes. He himself had always been a man of tranquil tones.
But the power of fascination had torn him out of his very nature so
completely that to preserve his habitual calmness from going to
pieces had become a terrible effort.

He used to go from her on board the schooner exhausted, broken,
shaken up, as though he had been put to the most exquisite torture.
When he saw her approaching he always had a moment of
hallucination. She was a misty and fair creature, fitted for
invisible music, for the shadows of love, for the murmurs of
waters. After a time (he could not be always staring at the
ground) he would summon up all his resolution and look at her.
There was a sparkle in the clear obscurity of her eyes; and when
she turned them on him they seemed to give a new meaning to life.
He would say to himself that another man would have found long
before the happy release of madness, his wits burnt to cinders in
that radiance. But no such luck for him. His wits had come
unscathed through the furnaces of hot suns, of blazing deserts, of
flaming angers against the weaknesses of men and the obstinate
cruelties of hostile nature.

Being sane he had to be constantly on his guard against falling
into adoring silences or breaking out into wild speeches. He had
to keep watch on his eyes, his limbs, on the muscles of his face.
Their conversations were such as they could be between these two
people: she a young lady fresh from the thick twilight of four
million people and the artificiality of several London seasons; he
the man of definite conquering tasks, the familiar of wide
horizons, and in his very repose holding aloof from these
agglomerations of units in which one loses one's importance even to
oneself. They had no common conversational small change. They had
to use the great pieces of general ideas, but they exchanged them
trivially. It was no serious commerce. Perhaps she had not much
of that coin. Nothing significant came from her. It could not be
said that she had received from the contacts of the external world
impressions of a personal kind, different from other women. What
was ravishing in her was her quietness and, in her grave attitudes,
the unfailing brilliance of her femininity. He did not know what
there was under that ivory forehead so splendidly shaped, so
gloriously crowned. He could not tell what were her thoughts, her
feelings. Her replies were reflective, always preceded by a short
silence, while he hung on her lips anxiously. He felt himself in
the presence of a mysterious being in whom spoke an unknown voice,
like the voice of oracles, bringing everlasting unrest to the

He was thankful enough to sit in silence with secretly clenched
teeth, devoured by jealousy--and nobody could have guessed that his
quiet deferential bearing to all these grey-heads was the supreme
effort of stoicism, that the man was engaged in keeping a sinister
watch on his tortures lest his strength should fail him. As
before, when grappling with other forces of nature, he could find
in himself all sorts of courage except the courage to run away.

It was perhaps from the lack of subjects they could have in common
that Miss Moorsom made him so often speak of his own life. He did
not shrink from talking about himself, for he was free from that
exacerbated, timid vanity which seals so many vain-glorious lips.
He talked to her in his restrained voice, gazing at the tip of her
shoe, and thinking that the time was bound to come soon when her
very inattention would get weary of him. And indeed on stealing a
glance he would see her dazzling and perfect, her eyes vague,
staring in mournful immobility, with a drooping head that made him
think of a tragic Venus arising before him, not from the foam of
the sea, but from a distant, still more formless, mysterious, and
potent immensity of mankind.


One afternoon Renouard stepping out on the terrace found nobody
there. It was for him, at the same time, a melancholy
disappointment and a poignant relief.

The heat was great, the air was still, all the long windows of the
house stood wide open. At the further end, grouped round a lady's
work-table, several chairs disposed sociably suggested invisible
occupants, a company of conversing shades. Renouard looked towards
them with a sort of dread. A most elusive, faint sound of ghostly
talk issuing from one of the rooms added to the illusion and
stopped his already hesitating footsteps. He leaned over the
balustrade of stone near a squat vase holding a tropical plant of a
bizarre shape. Professor Moorsom coming up from the garden with a
book under his arm and a white parasol held over his bare head,
found him there and, closing the parasol, leaned over by his side
with a remark on the increasing heat of the season. Renouard
assented and changed his position a little; the other, after a
short silence, administered unexpectedly a question which, like the
blow of a club on the head, deprived Renouard of the power of
speech and even thought, but, more cruel, left him quivering with
apprehension, not of death but of everlasting torment. Yet the
words were extremely simple.

"Something will have to be done soon. We can't remain in a state
of suspended expectation for ever. Tell me what do you think of
our chances?"

Renouard, speechless, produced a faint smile. The professor
confessed in a jocular tone his impatience to complete the circuit
of the globe and be done with it. It was impossible to remain
quartered on the dear excellent Dunsters for an indefinite time.
And then there were the lectures he had arranged to deliver in
Paris. A serious matter.

That lectures by Professor Moorsom were a European event and that
brilliant audiences would gather to hear them Renouard did not
know. All he was aware of was the shock of this hint of departure.
The menace of separation fell on his head like a thunderbolt. And
he saw the absurdity of his emotion, for hadn't he lived all these
days under the very cloud? The professor, his elbows spread out,
looked down into the garden and went on unburdening his mind. Yes.
The department of sentiment was directed by his daughter, and she
had plenty of volunteered moral support; but he had to look after
the practical side of life without assistance.

"I have the less hesitation in speaking to you about my anxiety,
because I feel you are friendly to us and at the same time you are
detached from all these sublimities--confound them."

"What do you mean?" murmured Renouard.

"I mean that you are capable of calm judgment. Here the atmosphere
is simply detestable. Everybody has knuckled under to sentiment.
Perhaps your deliberate opinion could influence . . ."

"You want Miss Moorsom to give it up?" The professor turned to the
young man dismally.

"Heaven only knows what I want."

Renouard leaning his back against the balustrade folded his arms on
his breast, appeared to meditate profoundly. His face, shaded
softly by the broad brim of a planter's Panama hat, with the
straight line of the nose level with the forehead, the eyes lost in
the depth of the setting, and the chin well forward, had such a
profile as may be seen amongst the bronzes of classical museums,
pure under a crested helmet--recalled vaguely a Minerva's head.

"This is the most troublesome time I ever had in my life,"
exclaimed the professor testily.

"Surely the man must be worth it," muttered Renouard with a pang of
jealousy traversing his breast like a self-inflicted stab.

Whether enervated by the heat or giving way to pent up irritation
the professor surrendered himself to the mood of sincerity.

"He began by being a pleasantly dull boy. He developed into a
pointlessly clever young man, without, I suspect, ever trying to
understand anything. My daughter knew him from childhood. I am a
busy man, and I confess that their engagement was a complete
surprise to me. I wish their reasons for that step had been more
naive. But simplicity was out of fashion in their set. From a
worldly point of view he seems to have been a mere baby. Of
course, now, I am assured that he is the victim of his noble
confidence in the rectitude of his kind. But that's mere
idealising of a sad reality. For my part I will tell you that from
the very beginning I had the gravest doubts of his dishonesty.
Unfortunately my clever daughter hadn't. And now we behold the
reaction. No. To be earnestly dishonest one must be really poor.
This was only a manifestation of his extremely refined cleverness.
The complicated simpleton. He had an awful awakening though."

In such words did Professor Moorsom give his "young friend" to
understand the state of his feelings toward the lost man. It was
evident that the father of Miss Moorsom wished him to remain lost.
Perhaps the unprecedented heat of the season made him long for the
cool spaces of the Pacific, the sweep of the ocean's free wind
along the promenade decks, cumbered with long chairs, of a ship
steaming towards the Californian coast. To Renouard the
philosopher appeared simply the most treacherous of fathers. He
was amazed. But he was not at the end of his discoveries.

"He may be dead," the professor murmured.

"Why? People don't die here sooner than in Europe. If he had gone
to hide in Italy, for instance, you wouldn't think of saying that."

"Well! And suppose he has become morally disintegrated. You know
he was not a strong personality," the professor suggested moodily.
"My daughter's future is in question here."

Renouard thought that the love of such a woman was enough to pull
any broken man together--to drag a man out of his grave. And he
thought this with inward despair, which kept him silent as much
almost as his astonishment. At last he managed to stammer out a
generous -

"Oh! Don't let us even suppose. . ."

The professor struck in with a sadder accent than before -

"It's good to be young. And then you have been a man of action,
and necessarily a believer in success. But I have been looking too
long at life not to distrust its surprises. Age! Age! Here I
stand before you a man full of doubts and hesitation--spe lentus,
timidus futuri."

He made a sign to Renouard not to interrupt, and in a lowered
voice, as if afraid of being overheard, even there, in the solitude
of the terrace -

"And the worst is that I am not even sure how far this sentimental
pilgrimage is genuine. Yes. I doubt my own child. It's true that
she's a woman. . . . "

Renouard detected with horror a tone of resentment, as if the
professor had never forgiven his daughter for not dying instead of
his son. The latter noticed the young man's stony stare.

"Ah! you don't understand. Yes, she's clever, open-minded,
popular, and--well, charming. But you don't know what it is to
have moved, breathed, existed, and even triumphed in the mere
smother and froth of life--the brilliant froth. There thoughts,
sentiments, opinions, feelings, actions too, are nothing but
agitation in empty space--to amuse life--a sort of superior
debauchery, exciting and fatiguing, meaning nothing, leading
nowhere. She is the creature of that circle. And I ask myself if
she is obeying the uneasiness of an instinct seeking its
satisfaction, or is it a revulsion of feeling, or is she merely
deceiving her own heart by this dangerous trifling with romantic
images. And everything is possible--except sincerity, such as only
stark, struggling humanity can know. No woman can stand that mode
of life in which women rule, and remain a perfectly genuine, simple
human being. Ah! There's some people coming out."

He moved off a pace, then turning his head: "Upon my word! I
would be infinitely obliged to you if you could throw a little cold
water. . . " and at a vaguely dismayed gesture of Renouard, he
added: "Don't be afraid. You wouldn't be putting out a sacred

Renouard could hardly find words for a protest: "I assure you that
I never talk with Miss Moorsom--on--on--that. And if you, her
father . . . "

"I envy you your innocence," sighed the professor. "A father is
only an everyday person. Flat. Stale. Moreover, my child would
naturally mistrust me. We belong to the same set. Whereas you
carry with you the prestige of the unknown. You have proved
yourself to be a force."

Thereupon the professor followed by Renouard joined the circle of
all the inmates of the house assembled at the other end of the
terrace about a tea-table; three white heads and that resplendent
vision of woman's glory, the sight of which had the power to
flutter his heart like a reminder of the mortality of his frame.

He avoided the seat by the side of Miss Moorsom. The others were
talking together languidly. Unnoticed he looked at that woman so
marvellous that centuries seemed to lie between them. He was
oppressed and overcome at the thought of what she could give to
some man who really would be a force! What a glorious struggle
with this amazon. What noble burden for the victorious strength.

Dear old Mrs. Dunster was dispensing tea, looking from time to time
with interest towards Miss Moorsom. The aged statesman having
eaten a raw tomato and drunk a glass of milk (a habit of his early
farming days, long before politics, when, pioneer of wheat-growing,
he demonstrated the possibility of raising crops on ground looking
barren enough to discourage a magician), smoothed his white beard,
and struck lightly Renouard's knee with his big wrinkled hand.

"You had better come back to-night and dine with us quietly."

He liked this young man, a pioneer, too, in more than one
direction. Mrs. Dunster added: "Do. It will be very quiet. I
don't even know if Willie will be home for dinner." Renouard
murmured his thanks, and left the terrace to go on board the
schooner. While lingering in the drawing-room doorway he heard the
resonant voice of old Dunster uttering oracularly -

". . . the leading man here some day. . . . Like me."

Renouard let the thin summer portiere of the doorway fall behind
him. The voice of Professor Moorsom said -

"I am told that he has made an enemy of almost every man who had to
work with him."

"That's nothing. He did his work. . . . Like me."

"He never counted the cost they say. Not even of lives."

Renouard understood that they were talking of him. Before he could
move away, Mrs. Dunster struck in placidly -

"Don't let yourself be shocked by the tales you may hear of him, my
dear. Most of it is envy."

Then he heard Miss Moorsom's voice replying to the old lady -

"Oh! I am not easily deceived. I think I may say I have an
instinct for truth."

He hastened away from that house with his heart full of dread.


On board the schooner, lying on the settee on his back with the
knuckles of his hands pressed over his eyes, he made up his mind
that he would not return to that house for dinner--that he would
never go back there any more. He made up his mind some twenty
times. The knowledge that he had only to go up on the quarter
deck, utter quietly the words: "Man the windlass," and that the
schooner springing into life would run a hundred miles out to sea
before sunrise, deceived his struggling will. Nothing easier!
Yet, in the end, this young man, almost ill-famed for his ruthless
daring, the inflexible leader of two tragically successful
expeditions, shrank from that act of savage energy, and began,
instead, to hunt for excuses.

No! It was not for him to run away like an incurable who cuts his
throat. He finished dressing and looked at his own impassive face
in the saloon mirror scornfully. While being pulled on shore in
the gig, he remembered suddenly the wild beauty of a waterfall seen
when hardly more than a boy, years ago, in Menado. There was a
legend of a governor-general of the Dutch East Indies, on official
tour, committing suicide on that spot by leaping into the chasm.
It was supposed that a painful disease had made him weary of life.
But was there ever a visitation like his own, at the same time
binding one to life and so cruelly mortal!

The dinner was indeed quiet. Willie, given half an hour's grace,
failed to turn up, and his chair remained vacant by the side of
Miss Moorsom. Renouard had the professor's sister on his left,
dressed in an expensive gown becoming her age. That maiden lady in
her wonderful preservation reminded Renouard somehow of a wax
flower under glass. There were no traces of the dust of life's
battles on her anywhere. She did not like him very much in the
afternoons, in his white drill suit and planter's hat, which seemed
to her an unduly Bohemian costume for calling in a house where
there were ladies. But in the evening, lithe and elegant in his
dress clothes and with his pleasant, slightly veiled voice, he
always made her conquest afresh. He might have been anybody
distinguished--the son of a duke. Falling under that charm
probably (and also because her brother had given her a hint), she
attempted to open her heart to Renouard, who was watching with all
the power of his soul her niece across the table. She spoke to him
as frankly as though that miserable mortal envelope, emptied of
everything but hopeless passion, were indeed the son of a duke.

Inattentive, he heard her only in snatches, till the final
confidential burst: ". . . glad if you would express an opinion.
Look at her, so charming, such a great favourite, so generally
admired! It would be too sad. We all hoped she would make a
brilliant marriage with somebody very rich and of high position,
have a house in London and in the country, and entertain us all
splendidly. She's so eminently fitted for it. She has such hosts
of distinguished friends! And then--this instead! . . . My heart
really aches."

Her well-bred if anxious whisper was covered by the voice of
professor Moorsom discoursing subtly down the short length of the
dinner table on the Impermanency of the Measurable to his venerable
disciple. It might have been a chapter in a new and popular book
of Moorsonian philosophy. Patriarchal and delighted, old Dunster
leaned forward a little, his eyes shining youthfully, two spots of
colour at the roots of his white beard; and Renouard, glancing at
the senile excitement, recalled the words heard on those subtle
lips, adopted their scorn for his own, saw their truth before this
man ready to be amused by the side of the grave. Yes!
Intellectual debauchery in the froth of existence! Froth and

On the same side of the table Miss Moorsom never once looked
towards her father, all her grace as if frozen, her red lips
compressed, the faintest rosiness under her dazzling complexion,
her black eyes burning motionless, and the very coppery gleams of
light lying still on the waves and undulation of her hair.
Renouard fancied himself overturning the table, smashing crystal
and china, treading fruit and flowers under foot, seizing her in
his arms, carrying her off in a tumult of shrieks from all these
people, a silent frightened mortal, into some profound retreat as
in the age of Cavern men. Suddenly everybody got up, and he
hastened to rise too, finding himself out of breath and quite
unsteady on his feet.

On the terrace the philosopher, after lighting a cigar, slipped his
hand condescendingly under his "dear young friend's" arm. Renouard
regarded him now with the profoundest mistrust. But the great man
seemed really to have a liking for his young friend--one of those
mysterious sympathies, disregarding the differences of age and
position, which in this case might have been explained by the
failure of philosophy to meet a very real worry of a practical

After a turn or two and some casual talk the professor said
suddenly: "My late son was in your school--do you know? I can
imagine that had he lived and you had ever met you would have
understood each other. He too was inclined to action."

He sighed, then, shaking off the mournful thought and with a nod at
the dusky part of the terrace where the dress of his daughter made
a luminous stain: "I really wish you would drop in that quarter a
few sensible, discouraging words."

Renouard disengaged himself from that most perfidious of men under
the pretence of astonishment, and stepping back a pace -

"Surely you are making fun of me, Professor Moorsom," he said with
a low laugh, which was really a sound of rage.

"My dear young friend! It's no subject for jokes, to me. . . You
don't seem to have any notion of your prestige," he added, walking
away towards the chairs.

"Humbug!" thought Renouard, standing still and looking after him.
"And yet! And yet! What if it were true?"

He advanced then towards Miss Moorsom. Posed on the seat on which
they had first spoken to each other, it was her turn to watch him
coming on. But many of the windows were not lighted that evening.
It was dark over there. She appeared to him luminous in her clear
dress, a figure without shape, a face without features, awaiting
his approach, till he got quite near to her, sat down, and they had
exchanged a few insignificant words. Gradually she came out like a
magic painting of charm, fascination, and desire, glowing
mysteriously on the dark background. Something imperceptible in
the lines of her attitude, in the modulations of her voice, seemed
to soften that suggestion of calm unconscious pride which enveloped
her always like a mantle. He, sensitive like a bond slave to the
moods of the master, was moved by the subtle relenting of her grace
to an infinite tenderness. He fought down the impulse to seize her
by the hand, lead her down into the garden away under the big
trees, and throw himself at her feet uttering words of love. His
emotion was so strong that he had to cough slightly, and not
knowing what to talk to her about he began to tell her of his
mother and sisters. All the family were coming to London to live
there, for some little time at least.

"I hope you will go and tell them something of me. Something
seen," he said pressingly.

By this miserable subterfuge, like a man about to part with his
life, he hoped to make her remember him a little longer.

"Certainly," she said. "I'll be glad to call when I get back. But
that 'when' may be a long time."

He heard a light sigh. A cruel jealous curiosity made him ask -

"Are you growing weary, Miss Moorsom?"

A silence fell on his low spoken question.

"Do you mean heart-weary?" sounded Miss Moorsom's voice. "You
don't know me, I see."

"Ah! Never despair," he muttered.

"This, Mr. Renouard, is a work of reparation. I stand for truth
here. I can't think of myself."

He could have taken her by the throat for every word seemed an
insult to his passion; but he only said -

"I never doubted the--the--nobility of your purpose."

"And to hear the word weariness pronounced in this connection
surprises me. And from a man too who, I understand, has never
counted the cost."

"You are pleased to tease me," he said, directly he had recovered
his voice and had mastered his anger. It was as if Professor
Moorsom had dropped poison in his ear which was spreading now and
tainting his passion, his very jealousy. He mistrusted every word
that came from those lips on which his life hung. "How can you
know anything of men who do not count the cost?" he asked in his
gentlest tones.

"From hearsay--a little."

"Well, I assure you they are like the others, subject to suffering,
victims of spells. . . ."

"One of them, at least, speaks very strangely."

She dismissed the subject after a short silence. "Mr. Renouard, I
had a disappointment this morning. This mail brought me a letter
from the widow of the old butler--you know. I expected to learn
that she had heard from--from here. But no. No letter arrived
home since we left."

Her voice was calm. His jealousy couldn't stand much more of this
sort of talk; but he was glad that nothing had turned up to help
the search; glad blindly, unreasonably--only because it would keep
her longer in his sight--since she wouldn't give up.

"I am too near her," he thought, moving a little further on the
seat. He was afraid in the revulsion of feeling of flinging
himself on her hands, which were lying on her lap, and covering
them with kisses. He was afraid. Nothing, nothing could shake
that spell--not if she were ever so false, stupid, or degraded.
She was fate itself. The extent of his misfortune plunged him in
such a stupor that he failed at first to hear the sound of voices
and footsteps inside the drawing-room. Willie had come home--and
the Editor was with him.

They burst out on the terrace babbling noisily, and then pulling
themselves together stood still, surprising--and as if themselves


They had been feasting a poet from the bush, the latest discovery
of the Editor. Such discoveries were the business, the vocation,
the pride and delight of the only apostle of letters in the
hemisphere, the solitary patron of culture, the Slave of the Lamp--
as he subscribed himself at the bottom of the weekly literary page
of his paper. He had had no difficulty in persuading the virtuous
Willie (who had festive instincts) to help in the good work, and
now they had left the poet lying asleep on the hearthrug of the
editorial room and had rushed to the Dunster mansion wildly. The
Editor had another discovery to announce. Swaying a little where
he stood he opened his mouth very wide to shout the one word
"Found!" Behind him Willie flung both his hands above his head and
let them fall dramatically. Renouard saw the four white-headed
people at the end of the terrace rise all together from their
chairs with an effect of sudden panic.

"I tell you--he--is--found," the patron of letters shouted

"What is this!" exclaimed Renouard in a choked voice. Miss Moorsom
seized his wrist suddenly, and at that contact fire ran through all
his veins, a hot stillness descended upon him in which he heard the
blood--or the fire--beating in his ears. He made a movement as if
to rise, but was restrained by the convulsive pressure on his

"No, no." Miss Moorsom's eyes stared black as night, searching the
space before her. Far away the Editor strutted forward, Willie
following with his ostentatious manner of carrying his bulky and
oppressive carcass which, however, did not remain exactly
perpendicular for two seconds together.

"The innocent Arthur . . . Yes. We've got him," the Editor became
very business-like. "Yes, this letter has done it."

He plunged into an inside pocket for it, slapped the scrap of paper
with his open palm. "From that old woman. William had it in his
pocket since this morning when Miss Moorsom gave it to him to show
me. Forgot all about it till an hour ago. Thought it was of no
importance. Well, no! Not till it was properly read."

Renouard and Miss Moorsom emerged from the shadows side by side, a
well-matched couple, animated yet statuesque in their calmness and
in their pallor. She had let go his wrist. On catching sight of
Renouard the Editor exclaimed:

"What--you here!" in a quite shrill voice.

There came a dead pause. All the faces had in them something
dismayed and cruel.

"He's the very man we want," continued the Editor. "Excuse my
excitement. You are the very man, Renouard. Didn't you tell me
that your assistant called himself Walter? Yes? Thought so. But
here's that old woman--the butler's wife--listen to this. She
writes: All I can tell you, Miss, is that my poor husband directed
his letters to the name of H. Walter."

Renouard's violent but repressed exclamation was lost in a general
murmur and shuffle of feet. The Editor made a step forward, bowed
with creditable steadiness.

"Miss Moorsom, allow me to congratulate you from the bottom of my
heart on the happy--er--issue. . . "

"Wait," muttered Renouard irresolutely.

The Editor jumped on him in the manner of their old friendship.
"Ah, you! You are a fine fellow too. With your solitary ways of
life you will end by having no more discrimination than a savage.
Fancy living with a gentleman for months and never guessing. A
man, I am certain, accomplished, remarkable, out of the common,
since he had been distinguished" (he bowed again) "by Miss Moorsom,
whom we all admire."

She turned her back on him.

"I hope to goodness you haven't been leading him a dog's life,
Geoffrey," the Editor addressed his friend in a whispered aside.

Renouard seized a chair violently, sat down, and propping his elbow
on his knee leaned his head on his hand. Behind him the sister of
the professor looked up to heaven and wrung her hands stealthily.
Mrs. Dunster's hands were clasped forcibly under her chin, but she,
dear soul, was looking sorrowfully at Willie. The model nephew!
In this strange state! So very much flushed! The careful
disposition of the thin hairs across Willie's bald spot was
deplorably disarranged, and the spot itself was red and, as it
were, steaming.

"What's the matter, Geoffrey?" The Editor seemed disconcerted by
the silent attitudes round him, as though he had expected all these
people to shout and dance. "You have him on the island--haven't

"Oh, yes: I have him there," said Renouard, without looking up.

"Well, then!" The Editor looked helplessly around as if begging
for response of some sort. But the only response that came was
very unexpected. Annoyed at being left in the background, and also
because very little drink made him nasty, the emotional Willie
turned malignant all at once, and in a bibulous tone surprising in
a man able to keep his balance so well -

"Aha! But you haven't got him here--not yet!" he sneered. "No!
You haven't got him yet."

This outrageous exhibition was to the Editor like the lash to a
jaded horse. He positively jumped.

"What of that? What do you mean? We--haven't--got--him--here. Of
course he isn't here! But Geoffrey's schooner is here. She can be
sent at once to fetch him here. No! Stay! There's a better plan.
Why shouldn't you all sail over to Malata, professor? Save time!
I am sure Miss Moorsom would prefer. . ."

With a gallant flourish of his arm he looked for Miss Moorsom. She
had disappeared. He was taken aback somewhat.

"Ah! H'm. Yes. . . . Why not. A pleasure cruise, delightful
ship, delightful season, delightful errand, del . . . No! There
are no objections. Geoffrey, I understand, has indulged in a
bungalow three sizes too large for him. He can put you all up. It
will be a pleasure for him. It will be the greatest privilege.
Any man would be proud of being an agent of this happy reunion. I
am proud of the little part I've played. He will consider it the
greatest honour. Geoff, my boy, you had better be stirring to-
morrow bright and early about the preparations for the trip. It
would be criminal to lose a single day."

He was as flushed as Willie, the excitement keeping up the effect
of the festive dinner. For a time Renouard, silent, as if he had
not heard a word of all that babble, did not stir. But when he got
up it was to advance towards the Editor and give him such a hearty
slap on the back that the plump little man reeled in his tracks and
looked quite frightened for a moment.

"You are a heaven-born discoverer and a first-rate manager. . .
He's right. It's the only way. You can't resist the claim of
sentiment, and you must even risk the voyage to Malata. . . "
Renouard's voice sank. "A lonely spot," he added, and fell into
thought under all these eyes converging on him in the sudden
silence. His slow glance passed over all the faces in succession,
remaining arrested on Professor Moorsom, stony eyed, a smouldering
cigar in his fingers, and with his sister standing by his side.

"I shall be infinitely gratified if you consent to come. But, of
course, you will. We shall sail to-morrow evening then. And now
let me leave you to your happiness."

He bowed, very grave, pointed suddenly his finger at Willie who was
swaying about with a sleepy frown. . . . "Look at him. He's
overcome with happiness. You had better put him to bed . . . " and
disappeared while every head on the terrace was turned to Willie
with varied expressions.

Renouard ran through the house. Avoiding the carriage road he fled
down the steep short cut to the shore, where his gig was waiting.
At his loud shout the sleeping Kanakas jumped up. He leaped in.
"Shove off. Give way!" and the gig darted through the water.
"Give way! Give way!" She flew past the wool-clippers sleeping at
their anchors each with the open unwinking eye of the lamp in the
rigging; she flew past the flagship of the Pacific squadron, a
great mass all dark and silent, heavy with the slumbers of five
hundred men, and where the invisible sentries heard his urgent
"Give way! Give way!" in the night. The Kanakas, panting, rose
off the thwarts at every stroke. Nothing could be fast enough for
him! And he ran up the side of his schooner shaking the ladder
noisily with his rush.

On deck he stumbled and stood still.

Wherefore this haste? To what end, since he knew well before he
started that he had a pursuer from whom there was no escape.

As his foot touched the deck his will, his purpose he had been
hurrying to save, died out within. It had been nothing less than
getting the schooner under-way, letting her vanish silently in the
night from amongst these sleeping ships. And now he was certain he
could not do it. It was impossible! And he reflected that whether
he lived or died such an act would lay him under a dark suspicion
from which he shrank. No, there was nothing to be done.

He went down into the cabin and, before even unbuttoning his
overcoat, took out of the drawer the letter addressed to his
assistant; that letter which he had found in the pigeon-hole
labelled "Malata" in young Dunster's outer office, where it had
been waiting for three months some occasion for being forwarded.
From the moment of dropping it in the drawer he had utterly
forgotten its existence--till now, when the man's name had come out
so clamorously. He glanced at the common envelope, noted the shaky
and laborious handwriting: H. Walter, Esqre. Undoubtedly the very
last letter the old butler had posted before his illness, and in
answer clearly to one from "Master Arthur" instructing him to
address in the future: "Care of Messrs. W. Dunster and Co."
Renouard made as if to open the envelope, but paused, and, instead,
tore the letter deliberately in two, in four, in eight. With his
hand full of pieces of paper he returned on deck and scattered them
overboard on the dark water, in which they vanished instantly.

He did it slowly, without hesitation or remorse. H. Walter, Esqre,
in Malata. The innocent Arthur--What was his name? The man sought
for by that woman who as she went by seemed to draw all the passion
of the earth to her, without effort, not deigning to notice,
naturally, as other women breathed the air. But Renouard was no
longer jealous of her very existence. Whatever its meaning it was
not for that man he had picked up casually on obscure impulse, to
get rid of the tiresome expostulations of a so-called friend; a man
of whom he really knew nothing--and now a dead man. In Malata.
Oh, yes! He was there secure enough, untroubled in his grave. In
Malata. To bury him was the last service Renouard had rendered to
his assistant before leaving the island on this trip to town.

Like many men ready enough for arduous enterprises Renouard was
inclined to evade the small complications of existence. This trait
of his character was composed of a little indolence, some disdain,
and a shrinking from contests with certain forms of vulgarity--like
a man who would face a lion and go out of his way to avoid a toad.
His intercourse with the meddlesome journalist was that merely
outward intimacy without sympathy some young men get drawn into
easily. It had amused him rather to keep that "friend" in the dark
about the fate of his assistant. Renouard had never needed other
company than his own, for there was in him something of the
sensitiveness of a dreamer who is easily jarred. He had said to
himself that the all-knowing one would only preach again about the
evils of solitude and worry his head off in favour of some
forlornly useless protege of his. Also the inquisitiveness of the
Editor had irritated him and had closed his lips in sheer disgust.

And now he contemplated the noose of consequences drawing tight
around him.

It was the memory of that diplomatic reticence which on the terrace
had stiffled his first cry which would have told them all that the
man sought for was not to be met on earth any more. He shrank from
the absurdity of hearing the all-knowing one, and not very sober at
that, turning on him with righteous reproaches -

"You never told me. You gave me to understand that your assistant
was alive, and now you say he's dead. Which is it? Were you lying
then or are you lying now?" No! the thought of such a scene was
not to be borne. He had sat down appalled, thinking: "What shall
I do now?"

His courage had oozed out of him. Speaking the truth meant the
Moorsoms going away at once--while it seemed to him that he would
give the last shred of his rectitude to secure a day more of her
company. He sat on--silent. Slowly, from confused sensations,
from his talk with the professor, the manner of the girl herself,
the intoxicating familiarity of her sudden hand-clasp, there had
come to him a half glimmer of hope. The other man was dead. Then!
. . . Madness, of course--but he could not give it up. He had
listened to that confounded busybody arranging everything--while
all these people stood around assenting, under the spell of that
dead romance. He had listened scornful and silent. The glimmers
of hope, of opportunity, passed before his eyes. He had only to
sit still and say nothing. That and no more. And what was truth
to him in the face of that great passion which had flung him
prostrate in spirit at her adored feet!

And now it was done! Fatality had willed it! With the eyes of a
mortal struck by the maddening thunderbolt of the gods, Renouard
looked up to the sky, an immense black pall dusted over with gold,
on which great shudders seemed to pass from the breath of life
affirming its sway.


At last, one morning, in a clear spot of a glassy horizon charged
with heraldic masses of black vapours, the island grew out from the
sea, showing here and there its naked members of basaltic rock
through the rents of heavy foliage. Later, in the great spilling
of all the riches of sunset, Malata stood out green and rosy before
turning into a violet shadow in the autumnal light of the expiring
day. Then came the night. In the faint airs the schooner crept on
past a sturdy squat headland, and it was pitch dark when her
headsails ran down, she turned short on her heel, and her anchor
bit into the sandy bottom on the edge of the outer reef; for it was
too dangerous then to attempt entering the little bay full of
shoals. After the last solemn flutter of the mainsail the
murmuring voices of the Moorsom party lingered, very frail, in the
black stillness.

They were sitting aft, on chairs, and nobody made a move. Early in
the day, when it had become evident that the wind was failing,
Renouard, basing his advice on the shortcomings of his bachelor
establishment, had urged on the ladies the advisability of not
going ashore in the middle of the night. Now he approached them in
a constrained manner (it was astonishing the constraint that had
reigned between him and his guests all through the passage) and
renewed his arguments. No one ashore would dream of his bringing
any visitors with him. Nobody would even think of coming off.
There was only one old canoe on the plantation. And landing in the
schooner's boats would be awkward in the dark. There was the risk
of getting aground on some shallow patches. It would be best to
spend the rest of the night on board.

There was really no opposition. The professor smoking a pipe, and
very comfortable in an ulster buttoned over his tropical clothes,
was the first to speak from his long chair.

"Most excellent advice."

Next to him Miss Moorsom assented by a long silence. Then in a
voice as of one coming out of a dream -

"And so this is Malata," she said. "I have often wondered . . ."

A shiver passed through Renouard. She had wondered! What about?
Malata was himself. He and Malata were one. And she had wondered!
She had . . .

The professor's sister leaned over towards Renouard. Through all
these days at sea the man's--the found man's--existence had not
been alluded to on board the schooner. That reticence was part of
the general constraint lying upon them all. She, herself,
certainly had not been exactly elated by this finding--poor Arthur,
without money, without prospects. But she felt moved by the
sentiment and romance of the situation.

"Isn't it wonderful," she whispered out of her white wrap, "to
think of poor Arthur sleeping there, so near to our dear lovely
Felicia, and not knowing the immense joy in store for him to-

There was such artificiality in the wax-flower lady that nothing in
this speech touched Renouard. It was but the simple anxiety of his
heart that he was voicing when he muttered gloomily -

"No one in the world knows what to-morrow may hold in store."

The mature lady had a recoil as though he had said something
impolite. What a harsh thing to say--instead of finding something
nice and appropriate. On board, where she never saw him in evening
clothes, Renouard's resemblance to a duke's son was not so apparent
to her. Nothing but his--ah--bohemianism remained. She rose with
a sort of ostentation.

"It's late--and since we are going to sleep on board to-night . .
." she said. "But it does seem so cruel."

The professor started up eagerly, knocking the ashes out of his
pipe. "Infinitely more sensible, my dear Emma."

Renouard waited behind Miss Moorsom's chair.

She got up slowly, moved one step forward, and paused looking at

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