Look, with what courteous action
It waves you to a more removed ground:
But do not go with it.

The very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain.

Horatio. What are they that would speak with me?

Servant. Sea-faring men, sir.—Hamlet.

WHO does not know the delightful monotony of a voyage southward, broken only at the intervals of anchoring beneath the brilliant green slopes of Madeira or under the grim shadow of the cliffs of St. Helena?

The first week of the voyage for those who are not sensitive of the uneasy motion of the ship through the waves of the Bay of Biscay is perhaps the most delightful, for then every one is courteous with every one else. The passengers have not become friendly enough to be able to quarrel satisfactorily. The young ladies have got a great deal of white about them, and they have not begun to show that jealousy of each other which the next fortnight so powerfully develops. The men, too, are prodigal in their distribution of cigars; and one feels in one's own heart nothing but the most generous emotions, as one sits filling a meerschaum with Latakia in the delicate twilight of time and of thought that succeeds the curried lobster and pilau chickens as prepared in the galley of such ships as the Cardwell Castle. Certainly for a week of Sabbaths a September voyage to Madeira must be looked to.

Things had begun to arrange themselves aboard the Cardwell Castle. The whist sets and the deck sets had been formed. The far-stretching arm of society had at least one finger in the construction of the laws of life in this Atlantic ship-town.

The young woman with the pronounced tastes in colour and the large resources of imagination in the arrangement of blue and pink had become less aggressive, as she was compelled to fall back upon the minor glories of her trunk, so that there was no likelihood of Mr. Glaston's perishing of starvation. Though very fond of taking-up young ladies, Mrs. Crawford had no great struggle with her propensity so far as this young lady was concerned. But as Mr. Glaston had towards the evening of the third day of the voyage found himself in a fit state of mind to be presented to Miss Gerald, Mrs. Crawford had nothing to complain of. She knew that the young man was invariably fascinating to all of her sex, and she could see no reason why Miss Gerald should not have at least the monotony of the voyage relieved for her through the improving nature of his conversation. To be sure, Mr. Harwood also possessed in his conversation many elements of improvement, but then they were of a more commonplace type in Mrs. Crawford's eyes, and she thought it as well, now and again when he was sitting beside Daireen, to make a third to their party and assist in the solution of any question they might be discussing. She rather wished that it had not been in Mr. Harwood's power to give Daireen that information about her father's appointment; it was a sort of link of friendship between him and the girl; but Mrs. Crawford recollected her own responsibility with regard to Daireen too well to allow such a frail link to become a bond to bind with any degree of force.

She was just making a mental resolution to this effect upon the day preceding their expected arrival at Madeira, when Mr. Harwood, who had before tiffin been showing the girl how to adjust a binocular glass, strolled up to where the major's wife sat resolving many things, reflecting upon her victories in quarter-deck campaigns of the past and laying out her tactics for the future.

“This is our third voyage together, is it not, Mrs. Crawford?” he asked.

“Let me see,” said the lady. “Yes, it is our third. Dear, dear, how time runs past us!”

“I wish it did run past us; unfortunately it seems to remain to work some of its vengeance upon each of us. But do you think we ever had a more charming voyage so far as this has run, Mrs. Crawford?”

The lady became thoughtful. “That was a very nice trip in the P. & O.'s Turcoman, when Mr. Carpingham of the Gunners proposed to Clara Walton before he landed at Aden,” she said. “Curiously enough, I was thinking about that very voyage just before you came up now. General Walton had placed Clara in my care, and it was I who presented her to young Carpingham.” There was a slight tone of triumph in her voice as she recalled this victory of the past.

“I remember well,” said Mr. Harwood. “How pleased every one was, and also how—well, the weather was extremely warm in the Red Sea just before he proposed. But I certainly think that this voyage is likely to be quite as pleasant. By the way, what a charming protégée you have got this time, Mrs. Crawford.”

“She is a dear girl indeed, and I hope that she may find her father all right at the Cape. Think of what she must suffer.”

Mr. Harwood glanced round and saw that Mr. Glaston had strolled up to Daireen's chair. “Yes, I have no doubt that she suffers,” he said. “But she is so gentle, so natural in her thoughts and in her manner, I should indeed be sorry that any trouble would come to her.” He was himself speaking gently now—so gently, in fact, that Mrs. Crawford drew her lips together with a slight pressure. “Perhaps it is because I am so much older than she that she talks to me naturally as she would to her father. I am old enough to be her father, I suppose,” he added almost mournfully. But this only made the lady's lips become more compressed. She had heard men talk before now of being old enough to be young ladies' fathers, and she could also recollect instances of men who were actually old enough to be young ladies' grandfathers marrying those very young ladies.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Crawford, “Daireen is a dear natural little thing.” Into the paternal potentialities of Mr. Harwood's position towards this dear natural little thing Mrs. Crawford did not think it judicious to go just then.

“She is a dear child,” he repeated. “By the way, we shall be at Funchal at noon to-morrow, and we do not leave until the evening. You will land, I suppose?”

“I don't think I shall, I know every spot so well, and those bullock sleighs are so tiresome. I am not so young as I was when I first made their acquaintance.”

“Oh, really, if that is your only plea, my dear Mrs. Crawford, we may count on your being in our party.”

“Our party!” said the lady.

“I should not say that until I get your consent,” said Harwood quickly. “Miss Gerald has never been at the island, you see, and she is girlishly eager to go ashore. Miss Butler and her mother are also landing”—these were other passengers—“and in a weak moment I volunteered my services as guide. Don't you think you can trust me so far as to agree to be one of us?”

“Of course I can,” she said. “If Daireen wishes to go ashore you may depend upon my keeping her company. But you will have to provide a sleigh for myself.”

“You may depend upon the sleigh, Mrs. Crawford; and many thanks for your trusting to my guidance. Though I sleigh you yet you will trust me.”

“Mr. Harwood, that is dreadful. I am afraid that Mrs. Butler will need one of them also.”

“The entire sleigh service shall be impressed if necessary,” said the “special,” as he walked away.

Mrs. Crawford felt that she had not done anything rash. Daireen would, no doubt, be delighted with the day among the lovely heights of Madeira, and if by some little thoughtfulness it would be possible to hit upon a plan that should give over the guidance of some of the walking members of the party to Mr. Glaston, surely the matter was worth pursuing.

Mr. Glaston was just at this instant looking into, Daireen's face as he talked to her. He invariably kept his eyes fixed upon the faces of the young women to whom he was fond of talking. It did not argue any earnestness on his part, Mrs. Crawford knew. He seemed now, however, to be a little in earnest in what he was saying. But then Mrs. Crawford reflected that the subjects upon which his discourse was most impassioned were mostly those that other people would call trivial, such as the effect produced upon the mind of man by seeing a grape-green ribbon lying upon a pale amber cushion. “Every colour has got its soul,” she once heard him say; “and though any one can appreciate its meaning and the work it has to perform in the world, the subtle thoughts breathed by the tones are too delicate to be understood except by a few. Colour is language of the subtlest nature, and one can praise God through that medium just as one can blaspheme through it.” He had said this very earnestly at one time, she recollected, and as she now saw Daireen laugh she thought it was not impossible that it might be at some phrase of the same nature, the meaning of which her uncultured ear did not at once catch, that Daireen had laughed. Daireen, at any rate, did laugh in spite of his earnestness of visage.

In a few moments Mr. Glaston came over to Mrs. Crawford, and now his face wore an expression of sadness rather than of any other emotion.

“My dear Mrs. Crawford, you surely cannot intend to give your consent to that child's going ashore tomorrow. She tells me that that newspaper fellow has drawn her into a promise to land with a party—actually a party—and go round the place like a Cook's excursion.”

“Oh, I hope we shall not be like that, Mr. Glaston,” said Mrs. Crawford.

“But you have not given your consent?”

“If Daireen would enjoy it I do not see how I could avoid. Mr. Harwood was talking to me just now. He seems to think she will enjoy herself, as she has never seen the island before. Will you not be one of our party?”

“Oh, Mrs. Crawford, if you have got the least regard for me, do not say that word party; it means everything that is popular; it suggests unutterable horrors to me. No subsequent pleasure could balance the agony I should endure going ashore. Will you not try and induce that child to give up the idea? Tell her what dreadful taste it would be to join a party—that it would most certainly destroy her perceptions of beauty for months to come.”

“I am very sorry I promised Mr. Harwood,” said the lady; “if going ashore would do all of this it would certainly be better for Daireen to remain aboard. But they will be taking in coals here,” she added, as the sudden thought struck her.

“She can shut herself in her cabin and neither see nor hear anything offensive. Who but a newspaper man would think of suggesting to cultured people the possibility of enjoyment in a party?”

But the newspaper man had strolled up to the place beside Daireen, which the aesthetic man had vacated. He knew something of the art of strategical defence, this newspaper man, and he was well aware that as he had got the promise of the major's wife, all the arguments that might be advanced by any one else would not cause him to be defrauded of the happiness of being by this girl's side in one of the loveliest spots of the world.

“I will find out what Daireen thinks,” said Mrs. Crawford, in reply to Mr. Glaston; and just then she turned and saw the newspaper man beside the girl.

“Never mind him,” said Mr. Glaston; “tell the poor child that it is impossible for her to go.”

“I really cannot break my promise,” replied the lady. “We must be resigned, it will only be for a few hours.”

“This is the saddest thing I ever knew,” said Mr. Glaston. “She will lose all the ideas she was getting—all through being of a party. Good heavens, a party!”

Mrs. Crawford could see that Mr. Glaston was annoyed at the presence of Harwood by the side of the girl, and she smiled, for she was too old a tactician not to be well aware of the value of a skeleton enemy.

“How kind of you to say you would not mind my going ashore,” said Daireen, walking up to her. “We shall enjoy ourselves I am sure, and Mr. Harwood knows every spot to take us to. I was afraid that Mr. Glaston might be talking to you as he was to me.”

“Yes, he spoke to me, but of course, my dear, if you think you would like to go ashore I shall not say anything but that I will be happy to take care of you.”

“You are all that is good,” said Mr. Harwood. This was very pretty, the lady thought—very pretty indeed; but at the same time she was making up her mind that if the gentleman before her had conceived it probable that he should be left to exhibit any of the wonders of the island scenery to the girl, separate from the companionship of the girl's temporary guardian, he would certainly find out that he had reckoned without due regard to other contingencies.

Sadness was the only expression visible upon the face of Mr. Glaston for the remainder of this day; but upon the following morning this aspect had changed to one of contempt as he heard nearly all the cabin's company talking with expectancy of the joys of a few hours ashore. It was a great disappointment to him to observe the brightening of the face of Daireen Gerald, as Mr. Harwood came to tell her that the land was in sight.

Daireen's face, however, did brighten. She went up to the ship's bridge, and Mr. Harwood, laying one hand upon her shoulder, pointed out with the other where upon the horizon lay a long, low, gray cloud. Mrs. Crawford observing his action, and being well aware that the girl's range of vision was not increased in the smallest degree by the touch of his fingers upon her shoulder, made a resolution that she herself would be the first to show Daireen the earliest view of St. Helena when they should be approaching that island.

But there lay that group of cloud, and onward the good steamer sped. In the course of an hour the formless mass had assumed a well-defined outline against the soft blue sky. Then a lovely white bird came about the ship from the distance like a spirit from those Fortunate Islands. In a short time a gleam of sunshine was seen reflected from the flat surface of a cliff, and then the dark chasms upon the face of each of the island-rocks of the Dezertas could be seen. But when these were passed the long island of Madeira appeared gray and massive, and with a white cloud clinging about its highest ridges. Onward still, and the thin white thread of foam encircling the rocks was perceived. Then the outline of the cliffs stood defined against the fainter background of the island; but still all was gray and colourless. Not for long, however, for the sunlight smote the clouds and broke their gray masses, and then fell around the ridges, showing the green heights of vines and slopes of sugar-canes. But it was not until the roll of the waves against the cliff-faces was heard that the cloud-veil was lifted and all the glad green beauty of the slope flashed up to the blue sky, and thrilled all those who stood on the deck of the vessel.

Along this lovely coast the vessel moved through the sparkling green ripples. Not the faintest white fleck of cloud was now in the sky, and the sunlight falling downwards upon the island, brought out every brown rock of the coast in bold relief against the brilliant green of the slope. So close to the shore the vessel passed, the nearer cliffs appeared to glide away as the land in their shade was disclosed, and this effect of soft motion was entrancing to all who experienced it. Then the low headland with the island-rock crowned with a small pillared building was reached and passed, and the lovely bay of Funchal came in view.

Daireen, who had lived among the sombre magnificence of the Irish scenery, felt this soft dazzling green as something marvellously strange and unexpected. Had not Mr. Glaston descended to his cabin at the earliest expression of delight that was forced from the lips of some young lady on the deck, he, would have been still more disappointed with Daireen, for her face was shining with happiness. But Mr. Harwood found more pleasure in watching her face than he did in gazing at the long crescent slope of the bay, and at the white houses that peeped from amongst the vines, or at the high convent of the hill. He did not speak a word to the girl, but only watched her as she drank in everything of beauty that passed before her.

Then the Loo rock at the farther point of the bay was neared, and as the engine slowed, the head of the steamer was brought round towards the white town of Funchal, spread all about the beach where the huge rollers were breaking. The tinkle of the engine-room telegraph brought a wonderful silence over everything as the propeller ceased. The voice of the captain giving orders about the lead line was heard distinctly, and the passengers felt inclined to speak in whispers. Suddenly with a harsh roar the great chain cable rushes out and the anchor drops into the water.

“This is the first stage of our voyage,” said Mr. Harwood. “Now, while I select a boat, will you kindly get ready for landing? Oh, Mrs. Crawford, you will be with us at once, I suppose?”

“Without the loss of a moment,” said the lady, going down to the cabins with Daireen.

The various island authorities pushed off from the shore in their boats, sitting under canvas awnings and looking unpleasantly like banditti. Doctor Campion answered their kind inquiries regarding the health of the passengers, for nothing could exceed the attentive courtesy shown by the government in this respect.

Then a young Scotchman, who had resolved to emulate Mr. Harwood's example in taking a party ashore, began making a bargain by signs with one of the boatmen, while his friends stood around. The major and the doctor having plotted together to go up to pay a visit to an hotel, pushed off in a government boat without acquainting any one with their movements. But long before the Scotchman had succeeded in reducing the prohibitory sum named by the man with whom he was treating for the transit of the party ashore, Mr. Harwood had a boat waiting at the rail for his friends, and Mrs. Butler and her daughter were in act to descend, chatting with the “special” who was to be their guide. Another party had already left for the shore, the young lady who had worn the blue and pink appearing in a bonnet surrounded with resplendent flowers and beads. But before the smiles of Mrs. Butler and Harwood had passed away, Mrs. Crawford and Daireen had come on deck again, the former with many apologies for her delay.

Mr. Harwood ran down the sloping rail to assist the ladies into the boat that rose and fell with every throb of the waves against the ship's side. Mrs. Crawford followed him and was safely stowed in a place in the stern. Then came Mrs. Butler and her daughter, and while Mr. Harwood was handing them off the last step Daireen began to descend. But she had not got farther down than to where a young sailor was kneeling to shift the line of one of the fruit boats, when she stopped suddenly with a great start that almost forced a cry from her.

“For God's sake go on—give no sign if you don't wish to make me wretched,” said the sailor in a whisper.

“Come, Miss Gerald, we are waiting,” cried Harwood up the long rail.

Daireen remained irresolute for a moment, then walked slowly down, and allowed herself to be handed into the boat.

“Surely you are not timid, Miss Gerald,” said Harwood as the boat pushed off.

“Timid?” said Daireen mechanically.

“Yes, your hand was really trembling as I helped you down.”

“No, no, I am not—not timid, only—I fear I shall not be very good company to-day; I feel——” she looked back to the steamer and did not finish her sentence.

Mr. Harwood glanced at her for a moment, thinking if it really could be possible that she was regretting the absence of Mr. Glaston. Mrs. Crawford also looked at her and came to the conclusion that, at the last moment, the girl was recalling the aesthetic instructions of the young man who was doubtless sitting lonely in his cabin while she was bent on enjoying herself with a “party.”

But Daireen was only thinking how it was she had refrained from crying out when she saw the face of that sailor on the rail, and when she heard his voice; and it must be confessed that it was rather singular, taking into account the fact that she had recognised in the features and voice of that sailor the features and voice of Standish Macnamara.

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