Polonius. What treasure had he, my lord?
Hamlet. Why,
“One fair daughter and no more,
The which he loved passing well.”

O my old friend, thy face is valanced since I saw thee last.... What, my young lady and mistress! By'r lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last.... You are all welcome.—Hamlet.

HOWEVER varying, indefinite, and objectless the thoughts of Daireen Gerald may have been—and they certainly were—during the earlier days of the voyage, they were undoubtedly fixed and steadfast during the last week. She knew that she could not hear anything of her father until she would arrive at the Cape, and so she had allowed herself to be buoyed up by the hopeful conversation of the major and Mrs. Crawford, who seemed to think of her meeting with her father as a matter of certainty, and by the various little excitements of every day. But now when she knew that upon what the next few days would bring forth all the happiness of her future life depended, what thought—what prayer but one, could she have?

She was certainly not good company during these final days. Mr. Harwood never got a word from her. Mr. Glaston did not make the attempt, though he attributed her silence to remorse at having neglected his artistic instructions. Major Crawford's gallantries received no smiling recognition from her; and Mrs. Crawford's most motherly pieces of pathos went by unheeded so far as Daireen was concerned.

What on earth was the matter, Mrs. Crawford thought; could it be possible that her worst fears were realised? she asked herself; and she made a vow that even if Mr. Harwood had spoken a single word on the subject of affection to Daireen, he should forfeit her own friendship for ever.

“My dear Daireen,” she said, two days after leaving St. Helena, “you know I love you as a daughter, and I have come to feel for you as a mother might. I know something is the matter—what is it? you may confide in me; indeed you may.”

“How good you are!” said the child of this adoption; “how very good! You know all that is the matter, though you have in your kindness prevented me from feeling it hitherto.”

“Good gracious, Daireen, you frighten me! No one can have been speaking to you surely, while I am your guardian——”

“You know what a wretched doubt there is in my mind now that I know a few days will tell me all that can be told—you know the terrible question that comes to me every day—every hour—shall I see him?—shall he be—alive?”

Even the young men, with no touches of motherly pathos about them, had appreciated the girl's feelings in those days more readily than Mrs. Crawford.

“My poor dear little thing,” she now said, fondling her in a way whose soothing effect the combined efforts of all the young men could never have approached. “Don't let the doubt enter your mind for an instant—it positively must not. Your father is as well as I am to-day, I can assure you. Can you disbelieve me? I know him a great deal better than you do; and I know the Cape climate better than you do. Nonsense, my dear, no one ever dies at the Cape—at least not when they go there to recover. Now make your mind easy for the next three days.”

But for just this interval poor Daireen's mind was in a state of anything but repose.

During the last night the steamer would be on the voyage she found it utterly impossible to go to sleep. She heard all of the bells struck from watch to watch. Her cabin became stifling to her though a cool breeze was passing through the opened port. She rose, dressed herself, and went on deck though it was about two o'clock in the morning. It was a terrible thing for a girl to do, but nothing could have prevented Daireen's taking that step. She stood just outside the door of the companion, and in the moonlight and soft air of the sea more ease of mind came to her than she had yet felt on this voyage.

While she stood there in the moonlight listening to the even whisperings of the water as it parted away before the ship, and to the fitful flights of the winged fish, she seemed to hear some order as she thought, given from the forward part of the vessel. In another minute the officer on watch hastened past her. She heard him knock at the captain's cabin which was just aft of the deck-house, and make the report.

“Fixed light right ahead, sir.”

She knew then that the first glimpse of the land which they were approaching had been obtained, and her anxiety gave place to peace. That message of the light seemed to be ominous of good to her. She returned to her cabin, and found it cool and tranquil, so that she fell asleep at once; and when she next opened her eyes she saw a tall man standing with folded arms beside her, gazing at her. She gave but one little cry, and then that long drooping moustache of his was down upon her face and her bare arms were about his neck.

“Thank you, thank you, Dolly; that is a sufficiently close escape from strangulation to make me respect your powers,” said the man; and at the sound of his voice Daireen turned her face to her pillow, while the man shook out with spasmodic fingers his handkerchief from its folds and endeavoured to repair the injury done to his moustache by the girl's embrace.

“Now, now, my Dolly,” he said, after some convulsive mutterings which Daireen could, of course, not hear; “now, now, don't you think it might be as well to think of making some apology for your laziness instead of trying to go asleep again?”

Then she looked up with wondering eyes.

“I don't understand anything at all,” she cried. “How could I go asleep when we were within four hours of the Cape? How could any one be so cruel as to let me sleep so dreadfully? It was wicked of me: it was quite wicked.”

“There's not the least question about the enormity of the crime, I'm afraid,” he answered; “only I think that Mrs. Crawford may be responsible for a good deal of it, if her confession to me is to be depended upon. She told me how you were—but never mind, I am the ill-treated one in the matter, and I forgive you all.”

“And we have actually been brought into the dock?”

“For the past half-hour, my love; and I have been waiting for much longer. I got the telegram you sent to me, by the last mail from Madeira, so that I have been on the lookout for the Cardwell Castle for a week. Now don't be too hard on an old boy, Dolly, with all of those questions I see on your lips. Here, I'll take them in the lump, and think over them as I get through a glass of brandy-and-water with Jack Crawford and the Sylph—by George, to think of your meeting with the poor old hearty Sylph—ah, I forgot you never heard that we used to call Mrs. Crawford the Sylph at our station before you were born. There, now I have got all your questions, my darling—my own darling little Dolly.”

She only gave him a little hug this time, and he hastened up to the deck, where Mrs. Crawford and her husband were waiting for him.

“Now, did I say anything more of her than was the truth, George?” cried Mrs. Crawford, so soon as Colonel Gerald got on deck.

But Colonel Gerald smiled at her abstractedly and pulled fiercely at the ends of his moustache. Then seeing Mr. Harwood at the other side of the skylight, he ran and shook hands with him warmly; and Harwood, who fancied he understood something of the theory of the expression of emotion in mankind, refrained from hinting to the colonel that they had already had a chat together since the steamer had come into dock.

Mrs. Crawford, however, was not particularly well pleased to find that her old friend George Gerald had only answered her with that vague smile, which implied nothing; she knew that he had been speaking for half an hour before with Harwood, from whom he had heard the first intelligence of his appointment to the Castaway group. When Colonel Gerald, however, went the length of rushing up to Doctor Campion and violently shaking hands with him also, though they had been in conversation together before, the lady began to fear that the attack of fever from which it was reported Daireen's father had been suffering had left its traces upon him still.

“Rather rum, by gad,” said the major, when his attention was called to his old comrade's behaviour. “Just like the way a boy would behave visiting his grandmother, isn't it? Looks as if he were working off his feelings, doesn't it? By gad, he's going back to Harwood!”

“I thought he would,” said Mrs. Crawford. “Harwood can tell him all about his appointment. That's what George, like all the rest of them nowadays, is anxious about. He forgets his child—he has no interest in her, I see.”

“That's devilish bad, Kate, devilish bad! by Jingo! But upon my soul, I was under the impression that his wildness just now was the effect of having been below with the kid.”

“If he had the least concern about her, would he not come to me, when he knows very well that I could tell him all about the voyage? But no, he prefers to remain by the side of the special correspondent.”

“No, he doesn't; here he comes, and hang me if he isn't going to shake hands with both of us!” cried the major, as Colonel Gerald, recognising him, apparently for the first time, left Harwood's side and hastened across the deck with extended hand.

“George, dear old George,” said Mrs. Crawford, reflecting upon the advantages usually attributed to the conciliatory method of treatment. “Isn't it like the old time come back again? Here we stand together—Jack, Campion, yourself and myself, just as we used to be in—ah, it cannot have been '58!—yes, it was, good gracious, '58! It seems like a dream.”

“Exactly like a dream, by Jingo, my dear,” said the major pensively, for he was thinking what an auxiliary to the realistic effect of the scene a glass of brandy-and-water, or some other Indian cooling drink, would be. “Just like a vision, you know, George, isn't it? So if you'll come to the smoking-room, we'll have that light breakfast we were talking about.”

“He won't go, major,” said the lady severely.

“He wishes to have a talk with me about the dear child. Don't you, George?”

“And about your dear self, Kate,” replied Colonel Gerald, in the Irish way that brought back to the lady still more vividly all the old memories of the happy station on the Himalayas.

“Ah, how like George that, isn't it?” she whispered to her husband.

“My dear girl, don't be a tool,” was the parting request of the major as he strolled off to where the doctor was, he knew, waiting for some sign that the brandy and water were amalgamating.

“I'm glad that we are alone, George,” said Mrs. Crawford, taking Colonel Gerald's arm. “We can talk together freely about the child—about Daireen.”

“And what have we to say about her, Kate? Can you give me any hints about her temper, eh? How she needs to be managed, and that sort of thing? You used to be capital at that long ago.”

“And I flatter myself that I can still tell all about a girl after a single glance; but, my dear George, I never indeed knew what a truly perfect nature was until I came to understand Daireen. She is an angel, George.”

“No,” said the colonel gently; “not Daireen—she is not the angel; but her face, when I saw it just now upon its pillow, sent back all my soul in thought of one—one who is—who always was an angel—my good angel.”

“That was my first thought too,” said Mrs. Crawford. “And her nature is the same. Only poor Daireen errs on the side of good nature. She is a child in her simplicity of thought about every one she meets. She wants some one near her who will be able to guide her tastes in—in—well, in different matters. By the way, you remember Austin Glaston, who was chaplain for a while on the Telemachus, and who got made Bishop of the Salamanders; well, that is his son, that tall handsome youngman—I must present you. He is one of the most distinguished men I ever met.”

“Ah, indeed? Does he write for a newspaper?”

“Oh, George, I am ashamed of you. No, Mr. Glaston is a—a—an artist and a poet, and—well, he does nearly everything much better than any one else, and if you take my advice you will give him an invitation to dinner, and then you will find out all.”

Before Colonel Gerald could utter a word he was brought face to face with Mr. Glaston, and felt his grasp responded to by a gentle pressure.

“I'm very glad to meet you, Mr. Glaston; your father and I were old friends. If you are staying at Cape Town, I hope you will not neglect to call upon my daughter and myself,” said the colonel.

“You are extremely kind,” returned the young man: “I shall be delighted.”

Thus Daireen on coming on deck found her father in conversation with Mr. Glaston, and already acquainted with every member of Mrs. Crawford's circle.

“Mr. Glaston has just promised to pay you a visit on shore, my dear,” said the major's wife, as she came up.

“How very kind,” said Daireen. “But can he tell me where I live ashore, for no one has thought fit to let me know anything about myself. I will never forgive you, Mrs. Crawford, for ordering that I was not to be awakened this morning. It was too cruel.”

“Only to be kind, dear; I knew what a state of nervousness you were in.”

“And now of course,” continued the girl, “when I come on deck all the news will have been told—even that secret about the Castaway Islands.”

“Heavens':” said the colonel, “what about the Castaway Islands? Have they been submerged, or have they thrown off the British yoke already?”

“I see you know all,” she said mournfully, “and I had treasured up all that Mr. Harwood said no one in the world but himself knew, to be the first to tell you. And now, too, you know every one aboard except—ah, I have my secret to tell at last. There he stands, and even you don't remember him, papa. Come here, Standish, and let me present you. This, papa, is Standish Macnamara, and he is coming out with us now to wherever we are to live.”

“Good gracious, Daireen!” cried Mrs. Crawford.

“What, Standish, Prince of Innishdermot!” said the colonel. “My dear boy, I am delighted to welcome you to this strange place. I remember you when your curls were a good deal longer, my boy.”

Poor Standish, who was no longer in his sailor's jacket, but in the best attire his Dublin tailor could provide, blushed most painfully as every one gazed at him—every one with the exception of Daireen, who was gazing anxiously around the deck as though she expected to see some one still.

“This is certainly a secret,” murmured Mrs. Crawford.

“Now, Daireen, to the shore,” said Colonel Gerald. “You need not say good-bye to any one here. Mrs. Crawford will be out to dine with us to-morrow. She will bring the major and Doctor Campion, and Mr. Harwood says he will ride one of my horses till he gets his own. So there need be no tears. My man will look after the luggage while I drive you out.”

“I must get my bag from my cabin,” Daireen said, going slowly towards the companion. In a few moments she reappeared with her dressing-bag, and gave another searching glance around the deck.

“Now,” she said, “I am ready.”

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