hem to die an hour before they can help it. Oh, a really big bowl, at once!”
Her residence 鏉窞澶滅敓娲绘鎷胯冻娴磇n an Indian governor’s palace had been short, but sufficient to give Miss Aspasia the habit of command.
Raymond Bethune gave his dry chuckle as he set to work to fulfil her behest.
“I’ve captured a salad bowl,” cried he, almost jovially, when he returned; “and the head steward is in despair!”
“Tell him to steal the cook’s pudding-basins,” said Aspasia, and swept him back with her to the minute sitting-room.
Here sat Lady Gerardine, still wrapped in her cloak but bareheaded, under the shaded light. Leaning back among her cushions, her feet crossed on a 鏉窞姘寸（鎷変笣浼氭墍 footstool, she seemed to have taken full possession of her quarters. The narrow commonplace surroundings had already received her special personal imprint. The flowers, the cushions, a few books, a great cut-glass scent bottle鈥攖he very disorder even of a litter of rich trifles that 鏉窞鐧捐姳鍧婂畼缃?had not yet found their place, removed the trivial impression of steamer upholstery. She received him without surprise, if without any mark of welcome; and Aspasia chattered, ordered, laughed, kept him employed and amused. Now and again Lady Gerardine smiled vaguely at her niece’s outbursts. Bethune could not feel himself an intruder. And certainly it was better than his fourth share of a bachelor’s cabin, better than the crowded saloon and smoking-rooms, with their pervading glare and odour of high polish.
Through the open port-hole came the sound of 鏉窞鍝噷鐜╀綘鎳?the rushing, swirling waters, punctuated by the slap of some sudden wave against the flank of the ship. A wind had arisen, and now and again gusts, cold and briny, rushed in upon the warm inner atmosphere of flowers.
Lady Gerardine held a large bouquet of Niphetos roses, and her 鏉窞娲楁荡涓績 pale long fingers were busy unrolling the bonds that braced them in artificial deportment. Their petals, thought the man, were no whiter than her cheeks.
Presently Aspasia plunged her healthy pink hands down among the languid blossoms and began pulling out the wires.
“I shouldn’t, if I were you,” said Rosamond; and then she held up a spray. “See, the poor flower, all stained, all fallen apart, all broken. Never draw away the secret supports, Baby. It is better to hold one’s head up, even with the iron in one’s heart, and pretend it is not there.”
Bethune 鏉窞澶滅敓娲婚緳鍑よ鍧?looked at her, a little startled. In some scarcely tangible way the words seemed aimed at him; but he saw that for her, at that moment, he did not exist.
For the first time a pang of real misgiving shot through him. He seemed to behold her with new eyes. She struck him as very frail. Could it be true, or did he but imagine it, that that lovely head, once so defiantly uplifted against him, now drooped?
Feeling the fixity of his gaze upon her, she glanced up and then smiled. Strange being! Was he, then, so easily forgiven? His heart gave a sudden leap.
The memory of this first evening was one which haunted him
all his life with a curious intimate sweetness.
* * * * *
Time passed as time will pass on board ship;