Too much of water had'st thou, poor Ophelia.

How can that be unless she drowned herself?

If the man go to this water... it is, will he, nill he, he goes; mark you that.—Hamlet.

STANDISH Macnamara had ridden to the Dutch cottage, but he found it deserted. Colonel Gerald, one of the servants informed him, had early in the day driven to Simon's Town, and had taken Miss Gerald with him, but they would both return in the evening. Sadly the young man turned away, and it is to be feared that his horse had a hard time of it upon The Flats. The waste of sand was congenial with his mood, and so was the rapid motion.

But while he was riding about in an aimless way, Daireen and her father were driving along the lovely road that runs at the base of the low hills which form a mighty causeway across the isthmus between Table Bay and Simon's Bay. Colonel Gerald had received a message that the man-of-war which had been stationed at the chief of the Castaway group had called at Simon's Bay; he was anxious to know how the provisional government was progressing under the commodore of those waters whose green monotony is broken by the gentle cliff's of the Castaways, and Daireen had been allowed to accompany her father to the naval station.

The summer had not yet advanced sufficiently far to make tawny the dark green coarse herbage of the hillside, and the mass of rich colouring lent by the heaths and the prickly-pear hedges made Daireen almost jealous for the glories of the slopes of Glenmara. For some distance over the road the boughs of Australian oaks in heavy foilage were leaning; but when Constantia and its evenly set vineyards were passed some distance, Daireen heard the sound of breaking waves, and in an instant afterwards the road bore them down to the water's edge at Kalk Bay, a little rocky crescent enclosing green sparkling waves. Upon a pebbly beach a few fishing-boats were drawn up, and the outlying spaces were covered with drying nets, the flavour of which was much preferable to that of the drying fish that were near.

On still the road went until it lost itself upon the mighty beaches of False Bay. Down to the very brink of the great green waves that burst in white foam and clouds of mist upon the sand the team of the wagonette was driven, and on along the snowy curve for miles until Simon's Bay with its cliffs were reached, and the horses were pulled up at the hotel in the single street of Simon's Town at the base of the low ridge of the purple hill.

“You will not be lonely, Dolly,” said Colonel Gerald as he left the hotel after lunch to meet the commander of the man-of-war of which the yellow-painted hull and long streaming pennon could be seen from the window, opposite the fort at the farthest arm of the bay.

“Lonely?” said the girl. “I hope I may, for I feel I would like a little loneliness for a change. I have not been lonely since I was at Glenmara listening to Murrough O'Brian playing a dirge. Run away now, papa, and you can tell me when we are driving home what the Castaways are really like.”

“I'll make particular inquiries as to the possibilities of lawn-tennis,” said her father, as he went down the steps to the red street.

Daireen saw a sergeant's party of soldiers carry arms to the colonel, though he wore no uniform and had not been at this place for years; but even less accustomed observers than the men would have known that he was a soldier. Tall, straight, and with bright gray eyes somewhat hollower than they had been twenty years before, he looked a soldier in every point—one who had served well and who had yet many years of service before him.

How noble he looked, Daireen thought, as he kissed his hand up to her. And then she thought how truly great his life had been. Instead of coming home after his time of service had expired, he had continued at his post in India, unflinching beneath the glare of the sun overhead or from the scorching of the plain underfoot; and here he was now, not going home to rest for the remainder of his life, but ready to face an arduous duty on behalf of his country. She knew that he had been striving through all these years to forget in the work he was accomplishing the one grief of his life. She had often seen him gazing at her face, and she knew why he had sighed as he turned away.

She had not meant to feel lonely in her father's absence, but her thoughts somehow were not of that companionable kind which, coming to one when alone, prevent one's feeling lonely.

She picked up the visitors' book and read all the remarks that had been written in English for the past years; but even the literature of an hotel visitor's book fails at some moments to relieve a reader's mind. She turned over the other volumes, one of which was the Commercial Code of Signals, and the other a Dutch dictionary. She read one of Mr. Harwood's letters in a back number of the Dominant Trumpeter, and she found that she could easily recall the circumstances under which, in various conversations, he had spoken to her every word of that column and a quarter. She wondered if special correspondents write out every night all the remarks that they have heard during the day. But even the attempt to solve this problem did not make her feel brisk.

What was the thought which was hovering about her, and which she was trying to avoid by all the means in her power? She could not have defined it. The boundaries of that thought were too vague to be outlined by words.

She glanced out of the window for a while, and then walked to the door and looked over the iron balcony at the head of the steps. Only a few people were about the street. Gazing out seawards, she saw a signal flying from the peak of the man-of-war, and in a few minutes she saw a boat put off and row steadily for the shore near the far-off fort at the headland. She knew the boat was to convey her father aboard the vessel. She stood there watching it until it had landed and was on its way back with her father in the stern.

Then she went along the road until she had left the limits of the town, and was standing between the hill and the sea. Very lovely the sea looked from where it was breaking about the rocks beneath her, out to the horizon which was undefined in the delicate mist that rose from the waters.

She stood for a long time tasting of the freshness of the breeze. She could see the man-of-war's boat making its way through the waves until it at last reached the ship, and then she seemed to have lost the object of her thoughts. She turned off the road and got upon the sloping beach along which she walked some distance.

She had met no one since she had left the hotel, and the coast of the Bay round to the farthest headland seemed deserted; but somehow her mood of loneliness had gone from her as she stood at the brink of those waters whose music was as the sound of a song of home heard in a strange land. What was there to hinder her from thinking that she was standing at the uttermost headland of Lough Suangorm, looking out once more upon the Atlantic?

She crossed a sandy hollow and got upon a ledge of rocks, up to which the sea was beating. Here she seated herself, and sent her eyes out seawards to where the war-ship was lying, and then that thought which had been near her all the day came upon her. It was not of the Irish shore that the glad waters were laving. It was only of some words that had been spoken to her. “For a month we will think of each other,” were the words, and she reflected that now this month had passed. The month that she had promised to think of him had gone, but it had not taken with it her thoughts of the man who had uttered those words.

She looked out dreamily across the green waves, wondering if he had returned. Surely he would not let a day pass without coming to her side to ask her if she had thought of him during the month. And what answer would she give him? She smiled.

“Love, my love,” she said, “when have I ceased to think of you? When shall I cease to think of you?”

The tears forced themselves into her eyes with the pure intensity of her passion. She sat there dreaming her dreams and thinking her thoughts until she seemed only to hear the sound of the waters of the distance; the sound of the breaking waves seemed to have passed away. It was this sudden consciousness that caused her to awake from her reverie. She turned and saw that the waves were breaking on the beach behind her—the rock where she was sitting was surrounded with water, and every plunge of the advancing tide sent a swirl of water through the gulf that separated the rocks from the beach.

In an instant she had started to her feet. She saw the death that was about her. She looked to the rock where she was standing. The highest, ledge contained a barnacle. She knew it was below the line of high water, and now not more than a couple of feet of the ledge were uncovered. A little cry of horror burst from her, and at the same instant the boom of a gun came across the water from the man-of-war; she looked and saw that the boat was on its way to the shore again. In another half-minute a second report sounded, and she knew that they were firing a salute to her father. They were doing this while his daughter was gazing at death in the face.

Could they see her from the boat? It seemed miles away, but she took off her white jacket and standing up waved it. Not the least sign was made from the boat. The report of the guns echoed along the shore mingling with her cries. But a sign was given from the water: a wave flung its spray clear over the rock. She knew what it meant.

She saw in a moment what chance she had of escape. The water between the rock and the shore was not yet very deep. If she could bear the brunt of the wild rush of the waves that swept into the hollow she could make her way ashore.

In an instant she had stepped down to the water, still holding on by the rocks. A moment of stillness came and she rushed through the waves, but that sand—it sank beneath her first step, and she fell backwards, then came another swirl of eddying waves that plunged through the gulf and swept her away with their force, out past the rock she had been on. One cry she gave as she felt herself lost.

The boom of the saluting gun doing honour to her father was the sound she heard as the cruel foam flashed into her face.

But at her cry there started up from behind a rock far ashore the figure of a man. He looked about him in a bewildered way. Then he made a rush for the beach, seeing the toy the waves were heaving about. He plunged in up to his waist.

“Damn the sand!” he cried, as he felt it yield. He bent himself against the current and took advantage of every relapse of the tide to rush a few steps onward. He caught the rock and swung himself round to the seaward side. Then he waited until the next wave brought that helpless form near him. He did not leave his hold of the rock, but before the backward sweep came he clutched the girl's dress. Then came a struggle between man and wave. The man conquered. He had the girl on one of his arms, and had placed her upon the rock for an instant. Then he swung himself to the shoreward side, caught her up again, and stumbling, and sinking, and battling with the current, he at last gained a sound footing.

Daireen was exhausted but not insensible. She sat upon the dry sand where the man had placed her, and she drew back the wet hair from her face. Then she saw the man stand by the edge of the water and shake his fist at it.

“It's not the first time I've licked you singlehanded,” he said, “and it'll not be the last. Your bullying roar won't wash here.” Then he seemed to catch sight of something on the top of a wave. “Hang me if you'll get even her hat,” he said, and once more he plunged in. The hat was farther out than the girl had been, and he had more trouble in securing it. Daireen saw that his head was covered more than once, and she was in great distress. At last, however, he struggled to the beach with the hat in his hand. It was very terrible to the girl to see him turn, squeezing the water from his hair, and curse the sea and all that pertained to it.

Suddenly, however, he looked round and walked up to where she was now standing. He handed her the hat as though he had just picked it up from the sand. Then he looked at her.

“Miss,” he said, “I believe I'm the politest man in this infernal colony; if I was rude to you just now I ask your pardon. I'm afraid I pulled you about.”

“You saved me from drowning,” said Daireen. “If you had not come to me I should be dead now.”

“I didn't do it for your sake,” said the man. “I did it because that's my enemy”—he pointed to the sea—“and I wouldn't lose a chance of having a shy at him. It's my impression he's only second best this time again. Never mind. How do you feel, miss?”

“Only a little tired,” said Daireen. “I don't think I could walk back to the hotel.”

“You won't need,” said the man. “Here comes a Cape cart and two ancient swells in it. If they don't give you a seat, I'll smash the whole contrivance.”

“Oh!” cried Daireen joyfully; “it is papa—papa himself.”

“Not the party with the brass buttons?” said the man. “All right, I'll hail them.”

Colonel Gerald sprang from the Cape cart in which he was driving with the commodore of the naval station.

“Good God, Daireen, what does this mean?” he cried, looking from the girl to the man beside her.

But Daireen, regardless of her dripping condition, threw herself into his arms, and the stranger turned away whistling. He reached the road and shook his head confidentially at the commodore, who was standing beside the Cape cart.

“Touching thing to be a father, eh, Admiral?” he said.

“Stop, sir,” said the commodore. “You must wait till this is explained.”

“Must I?” said the man. “Who is there here that will keep me?”

“What can I say to you, sir?” cried Colonel Gerald, coming up and holding out his hand to the stranger. “I have no words to thank you.”

“Well, as to that, General,” said the man, “it seems to me the less that's said the better. Take my advice and get the lady something to drink—anything that teetotallers won't allow is safe to be wholesome.”

“Come to my house,” said the commodore. “Miss Gerald will find everything there.”

“You bet you'll find something in the spirituous way at the admiral's quarters, miss,” remarked the stranger, as Daireen was helped into the vehicle. “No, thank you, General, I'll walk to the hotel where I put up.”

“Pray let me call upon you before I leave,” said Colonel Gerald.

“Delighted to see you, General; if you come within the next two hours, I'll slip the tinsel off a bottle of Moët with you. Now, don't wait here. If you had got a pearly stream of salt water running down your spine you wouldn't wait; would they, miss? Aw revaw.”

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