It beckons you to go away with it,
As if it some impartment did desire
To you alone.

... Weigh what loss
If with too credent ear you list his songs
Or lose your heart...
Fear it, Ophelia, fear it.—Hamlet.

IT could hardly be expected that there should be in the mind of Daireen Gerald a total absence of interest in the man who by her aid had been rescued from the deep. To be sure, her friend Mrs. Crawford had given her to understand that people of taste might pronounce the episode melodramatic, and as this word sounded very terrible to Daireen, as, indeed, it did to Mrs. Crawford herself, whose apprehension of its meaning was about as vague as the girl's, she never betrayed the anxiety she felt for the recovery of this man, who was, she thought, equally accountable for the dubious taste displayed in the circumstances of his rescue. She began to feel, as Mr. Glaston in his delicacy carefully refrained from alluding to this night of terror, and as Mrs. Crawford assumed a solemn expression of countenance upon the least reference to the girl's participation in the recovery of the man with the melodramatic name, that there was a certain bond of sympathy between herself and this Oswin Markham; and now and again when she found the doctor alone, she ventured to make some inquiries regarding him. In the course of a few days she learned a good deal.

“He is behaving handsomely—most handsomely, my dear,” said the doctor, one afternoon about a week after the occurrence. “He eats everything that is given to him and drinks in a like proportion.”

The girl felt that this was truly noble on the part of the man, but it was scarcely the exact type of information she would have liked.

“And he—is he able to speak yet?” she asked.

“Speak? yes, to be sure. He asked me how he came to be picked up, and I told him,” continued the doctor, with a smile of gallantry of which Daireen did not believe him capable, “that he was seen by the most charming young lady in the world,—yes, yes, I told him that, though I ran a chance of retarding his recovery by doing so.” This was, of course, quite delightful to hear, but Daireen wanted to know even more about the stranger than the doctor's speech had conveyed to her.

“The poor fellow was a long time in the water, I suppose?” she said artfully, trying to find out all that the doctor had learned.

“He was four days upon that piece of wreck,” said the doctor.

The girl gave a start that seemed very like a shudder, as she repeated the words, “Four days.”

“Yes; he was on his way home from Australia, where he had been living for some years, and the vessel he was in was commanded by some incompetent and drunken idiot who allowed it to be struck by a tornado of no extraordinary violence, and to founder in mid-ocean. As our friend was a passenger, he says, the crew did not think it necessary to invite him to have a seat in one of the boats, a fact that accounts for his being alive to-day, for both boats were swamped and every soul sent to the bottom in his view. He tells me he managed to lash a broken topmast to the stump of the mainmast that had gone by the board, and to cut the rigging so that he was left drifting when the hull went down. That's all the story, my dear, only we know what a hard time of it he must have had during the four days.”

“A hard time—a hard time,” Daireen repeated musingly, and without a further word she turned away.

Mr. Glaston, who had been pleased to take a merciful view of her recent action of so pronounced a type, found that his gracious attempts to reform her plastic taste did not, during this evening, meet with that appreciation of which they were undoubtedly deserving. Had he been aware that all the time his eloquent speech was flowing on the subject of the consciousness of hues—a theme attractive on account of its delicacy—the girl had before her eyes only a vision of heavy blue skies overhanging dark green seas terrible in loneliness—the monotony of endless waves broken only by the appearance in the centre of the waste of a broken mast and a ghastly face and clinging lean hands upon it, he would probably have withdrawn the concession he had made to Mrs. Crawford regarding the taste of her protégée.

And indeed, Daireen was not during any of these days thinking about much besides this Oswin Markham, though she never mentioned his name even to the doctor. At nights when she would look out over the flashing phosphorescent waters, she would evermore seem to see that white face looking up at her; but now she neither started nor shuddered as she was used to do for a few nights after she had seen the real face there. It seemed to her now as a face that she knew—the face of a friend looking into her face from the dim uncertain surface of the sea of a dream.

One morning a few days after her most interesting chat with Doctor Campion, she got up even earlier than usual—before, in fact, the healthy pedestrian gentleman had completed his first mile, and went on deck. She had, however, just stepped out of the companion when she heard voices and a laugh or two coming from the stern. She glanced in the direction of the sounds and remained motionless at the cabin door. A group consisting of the major, the doctor, and the captain of the steamer were standing in the neighbourhood of the wheel; but upon a deck-chair, amongst a heap of cushions, a stranger was lying back—a man with a thin brown face and large, somewhat sunken eyes, and a short brown beard and moustache; he was holding a cigar in the fingers of his left hand that drooped over the arm of the chair—a long, white hand—and he was looking up to the face of the major, who was telling one of his usual stories with his accustomed power. None of the other passengers were on deck, with the exception of the pedestrian, who came into view every few minutes as he reached the after part of the ship.

She stood there at the door of the companion without any motion, looking at that haggard face of the stranger. She saw a faint smile light up his deep eyes and pass over his features as the major brought out the full piquancy of his little anecdote, which was certainly not virginibus puerisque. Then she turned and went down again to her cabin without seeing how a young sailor was standing gazing at her from the passage of the ship's bridge. She sat down in her cabin and waited until the ringing of the second bell for breakfast.

“You are getting dreadfully lazy, my dear,” said Mrs. Crawford, as she took her seat by the girl's side. “Why were you not up as usual to get an appetite for breakfast?” Then without waiting for an answer, she whispered, “Do you see the stranger at the other side of the table? That is our friend Mr. Oswin Markham; his name does not sound so queer when you come to know him. The doctor was right, Daireen: he is a gentleman.”

“Then you have——”

“Yes, I have made his acquaintance this morning already. I hope Mr. Glaston may not think that it was my fault.”

“Mr. Glaston?” said Daireen. .

“Yes; you know he is so sensitive in matters like this; he might fancy that it would be better to leave this stranger by himself; but considering that he will be parting from the ship in a week, I don't think I was wrong to let my husband present me. At any rate he is a gentleman—that is one satisfaction.”

Daireen felt that there was every reason to be glad that she was not placed in the unhappy position of having taken steps for the rescue of a person not accustomed to mix in good society. But she did not even once glance down towards the man whose standing had been by a competent judge pronounced satisfactory. She herself talked so little, however, that she could hear him speak in answer to the questions some good-natured people at the bottom of the table put to him, regarding the name of his ship and the circumstances of the catastrophe that had come upon it. She also heard the young lady who had the peculiar fancy for blue and pink beg of him to do her the favour of writing his name in her birthday book.

During the hours that elapsed before tiffin Daireen sat with a novel in her hand, and she knew that the stranger was on the ship's bridge with Major Crawford. The major found his company exceedingly agreeable, for the old officer had unfortunately been prodigal of his stories through the first week of the voyage, and lately he had been reminded that he was repeating himself when he had begun a really choice anecdote. This Mr. Markham, however, had never been in India, so that the major found in him an appreciative audience, and for the satisfactory narration of a chronicle of Hindustan an appreciative audience is an important consideration. The major, however, appeared alone at tiffin, for Mr. Markham, he said, preferred lying in the sun on the bridge to eating salad in the cabin. The young lady with the birthday book seemed a little disappointed, for she had just taken the bold step of adding to her personal decorations a large artificial moss-rose with glass beads sewed all about it in marvellous similitude to early dew, and it would not bear being trifled with in the matter of detaching from her dress.

Whether or not Mrs. Crawford had conferred with Mr. Glaston on the subject of the isolation of Mr. Markham, Daireen, on coming to sit down to the dinner-table, found Mrs. Crawford and Mr. Markham standing in the saloon just at the entrance to her cabin. She could feel herself flushing as she looked up to the man's haggard face while Mrs. Crawford pronounced their names, and she knew that the hand she put in his thin fingers was trembling. Neither spoke a single word: they only looked at each other. Then the doctor came forward with some remark that Daireen did not seem to hear, and soon the table was surrounded with the passengers.

“He says he feels nearly as strong as he ever did,” whispered Mrs. Crawford to the girl as they sat down together. “He will be able to leave us at St. Helena next week without doubt.”

On the same evening Daireen was sitting in her usual place far astern. The sun had set some time, and the latitude being only a few degrees south of the equator, the darkness had already almost come down upon the waters. It was dimmer than twilight, but not the solid darkness of a tropical night. The groups of passengers had all dispersed or gone forward, and the only sounds were the whisperings of the water in the wake of the steamer, and the splashing of the flying fish.

Suddenly from the cabin there came the music of the piano, and a low voice singing to its accompaniment—so faint it came that Daireen knew no one on deck except herself could hear the voice, for she was sitting just beside the open fanlight of the saloon; but she heard every word that was sung:

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