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The After House by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Part 4 out of 4

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but felt a board rise up under your knee. A moment or two later,
when you called the prisoner, he was intoxicated, and reeled. Do
you mean to tell us that a drunken man could have made his way in
the darkness, through a cabin filled with chairs tables, and a
piano, in absolute silence?"

The prosecuting attorney was on his feet in an instant, and the
objection was sustained. I was next shown the keys, club, and file
taken from Singleton's mattress. "You have identified these objects
as having been found concealed in the prisoner's mattress. Do any
of these keys fit the captain's cabin?"

"No."

"Who saw the prisoner during the days he was locked in his cabin?"

"I saw him occasionally. The cook saw him when he carried him his meals."

"Did you ever tell the prisoner where the axe was kept?"

"No."

"Did the members of the crew know?"

"I believe so. Yes."

"Was the fact that Burns carried the key to the captain's cabin a
matter of general knowledge?"

"No. The crew knew that Burns and I carried the keys; they did not
know which one each carried, unless -"

"Go on, please."

"If any one had seen Burns take Mrs. Johns forward and show her the
axe, he would have known."

"Who were on deck at that time?"

"All the crew were on deck, the forecastle being closed. In the
crow's-nest was McNamara; Jones was at the wheel."

"From the crow's-nest could the lookout have seen Burns and Mrs.
Johns going forward?"

"No. The two houses were connected by an awning."

"What could the helmsman see?"

"Nothing forward of the after house."

The prosecution closed its case with me. The defense, having
virtually conducted its case by cross-examination of the witnesses
already called, contented itself with- producing a few character
witnesses, and "rested." Goldstein made an eloquent plea of "no
case," and asked the judge so to instruct the jury.

This was refused, and the case went to the jury on the seventh
day - a surprisingly short trial, considering the magnitude of the
crimes.

The jury disagreed. But, while they wrangled, McWhirter and I
were already on the right track. At the very hour that the
jurymen were being discharged and steps taken for a retrial, we
had the murderer locked in my room in a cheap lodging-house off
Chestnut Street.

CHAPTER XXIII

FREE AGAIN

With the submission of the case to the jury, the witnesses were
given their freedom. McWhirter had taken a room for me for a day
or two to give me time to look about; and, his own leave of absence
from his hospital being for ten days, we had some time together.

My situation was better than it had been in the summer. I had my
strength again, although the long confinement had told on me. But
my position was precarious enough. I had my pay from the Ella,
and nothing else. And McWhirter, with a monthly stipend from his
hospital of twenty-five dollars, was not much better off.

My first evening of freedom we spent at the theater. We bought the
best seats in the house, and we dressed for the occasion - being in
the position of having nothing to wear between shabby everyday wear
and evening clothes.

"It is by way of celebration," Mac said, as he put a dab of
shoe-blacking over a hole in his sock; "you having been restored to
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That's the game, Leslie
- the pursuit of happiness."

I was busy with a dress tie that I had washed and dried by pasting
it on a mirror, an old trick of mine when funds ran low. I was
trying to enter into Mac's festive humor, but I had not reacted yet
from the horrors of the past few months.

"Happiness!" I said scornfully. "Do you call this happiness?"

He put up the blacking, and, coming to me, stood eyeing me in the
mirror as I arranged my necktie.

"Don't be bitter," he said. "Happiness was my word. The Good Man
was good to you when he made you. That ought to be a source of
satisfaction. And as for the girl -"

"What girl?"

"If she could only see you now. Why in thunder didn't you take
those clothes on board? I wanted you to. Couldn't a captain wear
a dress suit on special occasions?"

"Mac," I said gravely, "if you will think a moment, you will
remember that the only special occasions on the Ella, after I
took charge, were funerals. Have you sat through seven days of
horrors without realizing that?"

Mac had once gone to Europe on a liner, and, having exhausted his
funds, returned on a cattle-boat.

"All the captains I ever knew," he said largely, "were a fussy lot
- dressed to kill, and navigating the boat from the head of a
dinner-table. But I suppose you know. I was only regretting that
she hadn't seen you the way you're looking now. That's all. I
suppose I may regret, without hurting your feelings!"

He dropped all mention of Elsa after that, for a long time. But
I saw him looking at me, at intervals, during the evening, and
sighing. He was still regretting!

We enjoyed the theater, after all, with the pent-up enthusiasm of
long months of work and strain. We laughed at the puerile fun,
encored the prettiest of the girls, and swaggered in the lobby
between acts, with cigarettes. There we ran across the one man I
knew in Philadelphia, and had supper after the play with three or
four fellows who, on hearing my story, persisted in believing that
I had sailed on the Ella as a lark or to follow a girl. My simple
statement that I had done it out of necessity met with roars of
laughter and finally I let it go at that.

It was after one when we got back to the lodging-house, being
escorted there in a racing car by a riotous crowd that stood
outside the door, as I fumbled for my key, and screeched in unison:
"Leslie! Leslie! Leslie! Sic 'em!" before they drove away.

The light in the dingy lodging-house parlor was burning full, but
the hall was dark. I stopped inside and lighted a cigarette.

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Mac!" I said. "I've
got the first two, and the other can be had - for the pursuit."

Mac did not reply: he was staring into the parlor. Elsa Lee was
standing by a table, looking at me.

She was very nervous, and tried to explain her presence in a breath
- with the result that she broke down utterly and had to stop. Mac,
his jovial face rather startled, was making for the stairs; but I
sternly brought him back and presented him. Whereon, being utterly
confounded, he made the tactful remark that he would have to go and
put out the milk-bottles: it was almost morning!

She had been waiting since ten o'clock, she said. A taxicab, with
her maid, was at the door. They were going back to New York in the
morning, and things were terribly wrong.

"Wrong? You need not mind Mr. McWhirter. He is as anxious as I am
to be helpful."

"There are detectives watching Marshall; we saw one to-day at the
hotel. If the jury disagrees - and the lawyers think they will - they
will arrest him."

I thought it probable. There was nothing I could say. McWhirter
made an effort to reassure her.

"It wouldn't be a hanging matter, anyhow," he said. "There's a lot
against him, but hardly a jury in the country would hang a man for
something he did, if he could prove he was delirious the next day."
She paled at this dubious comfort, but it struck her sense of humor,
too, for she threw me a fleeting smile.

"I was to ask you to do something," she said. "None of us can, for
we are being watched. I was probably followed here. The Ella is
still in the river, with only a watchman on board. We want you to
go there to-night, if you can."

"To the Ella?"

She was feeling in her pocketbook, and now she held out to me an
envelope addressed in a sprawling hand to Mr. Turner at his hotel.

"Am I to open it?"

"Please."

I unfolded a sheet of ruled note-paper of the most ordinary variety.
It had been opened and laid flat, and on it, in black ink, was a
crude drawing of the deck of the Ella, as one would look down on it
from aloft. Here and there were small crosses in red ink, and,
overlying it all from bow to stern, a red axe. Around the border,
not written, but printed in childish letters, were the words: "NOT
YET. HA, HA." In a corner was a drawing of a gallows, or what
passes in the everyday mind for a gallows, and in the opposite corner
an open book.

"You see," she said, "it was mailed downtown late this afternoon.
The hotel got it at seven o'clock. Marshall wanted to get a
detective, but I thought of you. I knew - you knew the boat, and
then - you had said -"

"Anything in all the world that I can do to help you, I will do,"
I said, looking at her. And the thing that I could not keep out
of my eyes made her drop hers.

"Sweet little document!" said McWhirter, looking over my shoulder.
"Sent by some one with a nice disposition. What do the crosses
mark?"

"The location of the bodies when found," .I explained - "these three.
This looks like the place where Burns lay unconscious. That one
near the rail I don't know about, nor this by the mainmast."

"We thought they might mark places, clues, perhaps, that had been
overlooked. The whole - the whole document is a taunt, isn't it?
The scaffold, and the axe, and 'not yet'; a piece of bravado!"

"Right you are," said McWhirter admiringly. "A little escape of
glee from somebody who's laughing too soon. One-thirty - it will
soon be the proper hour for something to happen on the Ella, won't
it? If that was sent by some member of the crew -and it looks like
it; they are loose to-day - the quicker we follow it up, the better,
if there's anything to follow."

"We thought if you would go early in the morning, before any of
them make an excuse to go back on board -"

"We will go right away; but, please - don't build too much on this.
It's a good possibility, that's all. Will the watchman let us on
board?"

"We thought of that. Here is a note to him from Marshall, and -
will you do us one more kindness?"

"I will."

"Then - if you should find anything, bring it to us; to the police;
later, if you must, but to us first."

"When?"

"In the morning. We will not leave until we hear from you."

She held out her hand, first to McWhirter, then to me. I kept it
a little longer than I should have, perhaps, and she did not take
it away.

"It is such a comfort," she said, "to have you with us and not
against us! For Marshall didn't do it, Leslie - I mean - it is hard
for me to think of you as Dr. Leslie! He didn't do it. At first,
we thought he might have, and he was delirious and could not
reassure us. He swears he did not. I think, just at first, he was
afraid he had done it; but he did not. I believe that, and you must."

I believed her - I believed anything she said. I think that if she
had chosen to say that I had wielded the murderer's axe on the Ella,
I should have gone to the gallows rather than gainsay her. From
that night, I was the devil's advocate, if you like. I was
determined to save Marshall Turner.

She wished us to take her taxicab, dropping her at her hotel; and,
reckless now of everything but being with her, I would have done
so. But McWhirter's discreet cough reminded me of the street-car
level of our finances, and I made the excuse of putting on more
suitable clothing.

I stood in the street, bareheaded, watching her taxicab as it
rattled down the street. McWhirter touched me on the arm.

"Wake up!" he said. "We have work to do, my friend."

We went upstairs together, cautiously, not to rouse the house.
At the top, Mac turned and patted me on the elbow, my shoulder
being a foot or so above him.

"Good boy!" he said. "And if that shirtfront and tie didn't knock
into eternal oblivion the deck-washing on the Ella, I'll eat them!"

CHAPTER XXIV

THE THING

I deserve no credit for the solution of the Ella's mystery. I have
a certain quality of force, perhaps, and I am not lacking in
physical courage; but I have no finesse of intellect. McWhirter, a
foot shorter than I, round of face, jovial and stocky, has as much
subtlety in his little finger as I have in my six feet and a
fraction of body.

All the way to the river, therefore, he was poring over the drawing.
He named the paper at once.

"Ought to know it," he said, in reply to my surprise. "Sold enough
paper at the drugstore to qualify as a stationery engineer." He
writhed as was his habit over his jokes, and then fell to work at
the drawing again. "A book," he said, "and an axe, and a gibbet or
gallows. B-a-g - that makes 'bag.' Doesn't go far, does it?
Humorous duck, isn't he? Any one who can write 'ha! ha!' under a
gallows has real humor. G-a-b, b-a-g!"

The Ella still lay in the Delaware, half a mile or so from her
original moorings. She carried the usual riding-lights - a white
one in the bow, another at the stern, and the two vertical red
lights which showed her not under command. In reply to repeated
signals, we were unable to rouse the watchman. I had brought an
electric flash with me, and by its aid we found a rope ladder over
the side, with a small boat at its foot.

Although the boat indicated the presence of the watchman on board,
we made our way to the deck without challenge. Here McWhirter
suggested that the situation might be disagreeable, were the man to
waken and get at us with a gun.

We stood by the top of the ladder, therefore, and made another
effort to rouse him. "Hey, watchman!" I called. And McWhirter, in
a deep bass, sang lustily: "Watchman, what of the night?" Neither
of us made, any perceptible impression on the silence and gloom of
the Ella.

McWhirter grew less gay. The deserted decks of the ship, her tragic
history, her isolation, the darkness, which my small flash seemed
only to intensify, all had their effect on him.

"It's got my goat," he admitted. "It smells like a tomb."

"Don't be an ass."

"Turn the light over the side, and see if we fastened that boat.
We don't want to be left here indefinitely."

"That's folly, Mac," I said, but I obeyed him. "The watchman's boat
is there, so we -"

But he caught me suddenly by the arm and shook me.

"My God!" he said. "What is that over there?"

It was a moment before my eyes, after the flashlight, could
discern anything in the darkness. Mac was pointing forward. When
I could see, Mac was ready to laugh at himself.

"I told you the place had my goat!" he said sheepishly. "I thought
I saw something duck around the corner of that building; but I think
it was a ray from a searchlight on one of those boats."

"The watchman, probably," I said quietly. But my heart beat a
little faster. "The watchman taking a look at us and gone for his
gun."

I thought rapidly. If Mac had seen anything, I did not believe it
was the watchman. But there should be a watchman on board - in the
forward house, probably. I gave Mac my revolver and put the light
in my pocket. I might want both hands that night. I saw better
without the flash, and, guided partly by the bow light, partly by
my knowledge of the yacht, I led the way across the deck. The
forward house was closed and locked, and no knocking produced any
indication of life. The after house we found not only locked, but
barred across with strips of wood nailed into place. The forecastle
was likewise closed. It was a dead ship.

No figure reappearing to alarm him, Mac took the drawing out of his
pocket and focused the flashlight on it.

"This cross by the mainmast," he said "that would be where?"

"Right behind you, there."

He walked to the mast, and examined carefully around its base.
There was nothing there, and even now I do not know to what that
cross alluded, unless poor Schwartz -!

"Then this other one - forward, you call it, don't you? Suppose we
locate that."

All expectation of the watchman having now died, we went forward
on the port side to the approximate location of the cross. This
being in the neighborhood where Mac had thought he saw something
move, we approached with extreme caution. But nothing more ominous
was discovered than the port lifeboat, nothing more ghostly heard
than the occasional creak with which it rocked in its davits.

The lifeboat seemed to be indicated by the cross. It swung almost
shoulder-high on McWhirter. We looked under and around it, with a
growing feeling that we had misread the significance of the crosses,
or that the sinister record extended to a time before the "she devil"
of the Turner line was dressed in white and turned into a lady.

I was feeling underneath the boat, with a sense of absurdity that
McWhirter put into words. "I only hope," he said, "that the
watchman does not wake up now and see us. He'd be justified in
filling us with lead, or putting us in straitjackets."

But I had discovered something.

"Mac," I said, "some one has been at this boat within the last few
minutes."

"Why?"

"Take your revolver and watch the deck. One of the barecas - "

"What's that?"

"One of the water-barrels has been upset, and the plug is out. It
is leaking into the boat. It is leaking fast, and there's only a
gallon or so in the bottom! Give me the light."

The contents of the boat revealed the truth of what I had said.
The boat was in confusion. Its cover had been thrown back, and tins
of biscuit, bailers, boathooks and extra rowlocks were jumbled
together in confusion. The barecas lay on its side, and its plug
had been either knocked or drawn out.

McWhirter was for turning to inspect the boat; but I ordered him
sternly to watch the deck. He was inclined to laugh at my caution,
which he claimed was a quality in me he had not suspected. He
lounged against the rail near me, and, in spite of his chaff, kept
a keen enough lookout.

The barecas of water were lashed amidships. In the bow and stern
were small air-tight compartments, and in the stern was also a
small locker from which the biscuit tins had been taken. I was
about to abandon my search, when I saw something gleaming in the
locker, and reached in and drew it out. It appeared to be an
ordinary white sheet, but its presence there was curious. I turned
the light on it. It was covered with dark-brown stains.

Even now the memory of that sheet turns me ill. I shook it out,
and Mac, at my exclamation, came to me. It was not a sheet at all,
that is, not a whole one. It was a circular piece of white cloth,
on which, in black, were curious marks - a six-pointed star
predominating. There were others - a crescent, a crude attempt to
draw what might be either a dog or a lamb, and a cross. From edge
to edge it was smeared with blood.

Of what followed just after, both McWhirter and I are vague. There
seemed to be, simultaneously, a yell of fury from the rigging
overhead, and the crash of a falling body on the deck near us. Then
we were closing with a kicking, biting, screaming thing, that bore
me to the ground, extinguishing the little electric flash, and that,
rising suddenly from under me, had McWhirter in the air, and almost
overboard before I caught him. So dazed were we by the onslaught
that the thing - whatever it was - could have escaped, and left us
none the wiser. But, although it eluded us in the darkness, it did
not leave. It was there, whimpering to itself, searching for
something - the sheet. As I steadied Mac, it passed me. I caught
at it. Immediately the struggle began all over again. But this
time we had the advantage, and kept it. After a battle that seemed
to last all night, and that was actually fought all over that part
of the deck, we held the creature subdued, and Mac, getting a hand
free, struck a match.

It was Charlie Jones.

That, after all, is the story. Jones was a madman, a homicidal
maniac of the worst type. Always a madman, the homicidal element
of his disease was recurrent and of a curious nature.

He thought himself a priest of heaven, appointed to make ghastly
sacrifices at certain signals from on high. The signals I am not
sure of; he turned taciturn after his capture and would not talk.
I am inclined to think that a shooting star, perhaps in a particular
quarter of the heavens, was his signal. This is distinctly
possible, and is made probable by the stars which he had painted
with tar on his sacrificial robe.

The story of the early morning of August 12 will never be fully
known; but much of it, in view of our knowledge, we were able to
reconstruct. Thus - Jones ate his supper that night, a mild and
well-disposed individual. During the afternoon before, he had read
prayers for the soul of Schwartz, in whose departure he may or may
not have had a part I am inclined to think not, Jones construing
his mission as being one to remove the wicked and the oppressor,
and Schwartz hardly coming under either classification.

He was at the wheel from midnight until four in the morning on the
night of the murders. At certain hours we believe that he went
forward to the forecastle-head, and performed, clad in his priestly
robe, such devotions as his disordered mind dictated. It is my
idea that he looked, at these times, for a heavenly signal, either
a meteor or some strange appearance of the heavens. It was known
that he was a poor sleeper, and spent much time at night wandering
around.

On the night of the crimes it is probable that he performed his
devotions early, and then got the signal. This is evidenced by
Singleton's finding the axe against the captain's door before
midnight. He had evidently been disturbed. We believe that he
intended to kill the captain and Mr. Turner, but made a mistake in
the rooms. He clearly intended to kill the Danish girl. Several
passages in his Bible, marked with a red cross, showed his inflamed
hatred of loose women; and he believed Karen Hansen to be of that
type.

He locked me in, slipping down from the wheel to do so, and
pocketing the key. The night was fairly quiet. He could lash the
wheel safely, and he had in his favor the fact that Oleson, the
lookout, was a slow-thinking Swede who notoriously slept on his
watch. He found the axe, not where he had left it, but back in the
case. But the case was only closed, not locked - Singleton's error.

Armed with the axe, Jones slipped back to the wheel and waited. He
had plenty of time. He had taken his robe from its hiding-place in
the boat, and had it concealed near him with the axe. He was ready,
but he was waiting for another signal. He got it at half-past two.
He admitted the signal and the time, but concealed its nature - I
think it was a shooting star. He killed Vail first, believing it
to be Turner, and making with his axe, the four signs of the cross.
Then he went to the Hansen girl's door. He did not know about the
bell, and probably rang it by accident as he leaned over to listen
if Vail still breathed.

The captain, in the mean time, had been watching Singleton. He had
forbidden his entering the after house; if he caught him disobeying
he meant to, put him in irons. He was without shoes or coat, and
he sat waiting on the after companion steps for developments.

It was the captain, probably, whom Karen Hansen mistook for Turner.
Later he went back to the forward companionway, either on his way
back to his cabin, or still with an eye to Singleton's movements.

To the captain there must have appeared this grisly figure in flowing
white, smeared with blood and armed with an axe. The sheet was worn
over Jones's head - along, narrow slit serving him to see through,
and two other slits freeing his arms. The captain was a brave man,
but the apparition, gleaming in the almost complete darkness, had
been on him before he could do more than throw up his hands.

Jones had not finished. He went back to the chart-room and possibly
even went on deck and took a look at the wheel. Then he went down
again and killed the Hansen woman.

He was exceedingly cunning. He flung the axe into the room, and
was up and at the wheel again, all within a few seconds. To tear
off and fold up the sheet, to hide it under near-by cordage, to
strike the ship's bell and light his pipe - all this was a matter
of two or three minutes. I had only time to look at Vail. When I
got up to the wheel, Jones was smoking quietly.

I believe he tried to get Singleton later, and failed. But he
continued his devotions on the forward deck, visible when clad in
his robe, invisible when he took it off. It was Jones, of course,
who attacked Burns and secured the key to the captain's cabin;
Jones who threw the axe overboard after hearing the crew tell that
on its handle were finger-prints to identify the murderer; Jones
who, while on guard in the after house below, had pushed the key
to the storeroom under Turner's door; Jones who hung the
marlinespike over the side, waiting perhaps for another chance
at Singleton; Jones, in his devotional attire, who had frightened
the crew into hysteria, and who, discovered by Mrs. Johns in the
captain's cabin, had rushed by her, and out, with the axe. It is
noticeable that he made no attempt to attack her. He killed only
in obedience to his signal, and he had had no signal.

Perhaps the most curious thing, after the murderer was known, was
the story of the people in the after house. It was months before
I got that in full. The belief among the women was that Turner,
maddened by drink and unreasoning jealousy, had killed Vail, and
then, running amuck or discovered by the other victims, had killed
them. This was borne out by Turner's condition. His hands and
parts of his clothing were blood-stained.

Their condition was pitiable. Unable to speak for himself, he
lay raving in his room, talking to Vail and complaining of a
white figure that bothered him. The key that Elsa Lee picked up
was another clue, and in their attempt to get rid of it I had
foiled them. Mrs. Johns, an old friend and, as I have said, an
ardent partisan, undertook to get rid of the axe, with the result
that we know. Even Turner's recovery brought little courage. He
could only recall that he had gone into Vail's room and tried to
wake him, without result; that he did not know of the blood until
the next day, or that Vail was dead; and that he had a vague
recollection of something white and ghostly that night - he was
not sure where he had seen it.

The failure of their attempt to get rid of the storeroom key was
matched by their failure to smuggle Turner's linen off the ship.
Singleton suspected Turner, and, with the skillful and not
over scrupulous aid of his lawyer, had succeeded in finding in Mrs.
Sloane's trunk the incriminating pieces.

As to the meaning of the keys, file, and club in Singleton's
mattress, I believe the explanation is simple enough. He saw
against him a strong case. He had little money and no influence,
while Turner had both. I have every reason to believe that he
hoped to make his escape before the ship anchored, and was
frustrated by my discovery of the keys and by an extra bolt I
put on his door and window.

The murders on the schooner-yacht Ella were solved.

McWhirter went back to his hospital, the day after our struggle,
wearing a strip of plaster over the bridge of his nose and a new
air of importance. The Turners went to New York soon after, and
I was alone. I tried to put Elsa Lee out of my thoughts, as she
had gone out of my life, and, receiving the hoped-for hospital
appointment at that time, I tried to make up by hard work for a
happiness that I had not lost because it had never been mine.

A curious thing has happened to me. I had thought this record
finished, but perhaps -

Turner's health is bad. He and his wife and Miss Lee are going to
Europe. He has asked me to go with him in my professional capacity!

It is more than a year since I have seen her.

The year has brought some changes. Singleton is again a member of
the Turner forces, having signed a contract and a temperance pledge
at the same sitting. Jones is in a hospital for the insane, where
in the daytime he is a cheery old tar with twinkling eyes and a huge
mustache, and where now and then, on Christmas and holidays, I send
him a supply of tobacco. At night he sleeps in a room with opaque
glass windows through which no heavenly signals can penetrate. He
will not talk of his crimes, - not that he so regards them, - but
now and then in the night he wraps the drapery of his couch about
him and performs strange orisons in the little room that is his.
And at such times an attendant watches outside his door.

CHAPTER XXV

THE SEA AGAIN

0nce more the swish of spray against the side of a ship, the tang
of salt, the lift and fall of the rail against the sea-line on the
horizon. And once more a girl, in white from neck to heel, facing
into the wind as if she loved it, her crisp skirts flying, her hair
blown back from her forehead in damp curls.

And I am not washing down the deck. With all the poise of white
flannels and a good cigar, I am lounging in a deck-chair, watching
her. Then -

" Come here!" I say.

" I am busy."

"You are not busy. You are disgracefully idle."

"Why do you want me?"

She comes closer, and looks down at me. She likes me to sit, so
she may look superior and scornful, this being impossible when one
looks up. When she has approached -

"just to show that I can order you about."

"I shall go back!" - with raised chin. How I remember that raised
chin, and how (whisper it) I used to fear it!

"You cannot. I am holding the edge of your skirt."

"Ralph! And all the other passengers looking!"

"Then sit down - and, before you do, tuck that rug under my feet,
will you?"

"Certainly not."

"Under my feet!"

She does it, under protest, whereon I release her skirts. She is
sulky, quite distinctly sulky. I slide my hand under the rug into
her lap. She ignores it.

"Now," I say calmly, "we are even. And you might as well hold my
hand. Every one thinks you are."

She brings her hands hastily from under her rug and puts them over
her head. "I don't know what has got into you," she says coldly.
"And why are we even?"

"For the day you told me the deck was not clean."

"It wasn't clean."

"I think I am going to kiss you."

"Ralph!"

"It is coming on. About the time that the bishop gets here, I shall
lean over and -"

She eyes me, and sees determination in my face. She changes color.

"You wouldn't!"

"Wouldn't I!"

She rises hastily, and stands looking down at me. I am quite sure
at that moment that she detests me, and I rather like it. There
are always times when we detest the people we love.

"If you are going to be arbitrary just because you can -"

"Yes?"

"Marsh and the rest are in the smoking room. Their sitting-room is
empty."

Quite calmly, as if we are going below for a clean handkerchief or
a veil or a cigarette, we stroll down the great staircase of the
liner to the Turners' sitting-room, and close the door.

And - I kiss her.

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