Clara stopped at the doorway,
looking backward and forward
distrustfully between the husband
and wife. Entering the boat-house,
and approaching Crayford, she
took his arm, and led him away
a few steps from the place in
which Mrs. Crayford was
"There is no storm now, and
there are no duties to be done
on board the ship," she said,
with the faint, sad smile which
it wrung Crayford's heart to
see. "You are Lucy's husband,
and you have an interest in me
for Lucy's sake. Don't shrink
on that account from giving me
pain: I can bear pain. Friend
and brother! will you believe
that I have courage enough to
hear the worst? Will you promise
not to deceive me about Frank?"
The gentle resignation in her
voice, the sad pleading in her
look, shook Crayford's self-possession
at the outset. He answered her
in the worst possible manner;
he answered evasively.
"My dear Clara," he said, "what
have I done that you should suspect
me of deceiving you?"
She looked him searchingly
in the face, then glanced with
renewed distrust at Mrs. Crayford.
There was a moment of silence.
Before any of the three could
speak again, they were interrupted
by the appearance of one of Crayford's
brother officers, followed by
two sailors carrying a hamper
between them. Crayford instantly
dropped Clara's arm, and seized
the welcome opportunity of speaking
of other things.
"Any instructions from the
ship, Steventon?" he asked, approaching
"Verbal instructions only," Steventon
replied. "The ship will sail
with the flood-tide. We shall
fire a gun to collect the people,
and send another boat ashore.
In the meantime here are some
refreshments for the passengers.
The ship is in a state of confusion;
the ladies will eat their luncheon
more comfortably here."
Hearing this, Mrs. Crayford
took _her_ opportunity of silencing
"Come, my dear," she said. "Let
us lay the cloth before the gentlemen
Clara was too
seriously bent on attaining
the object which
she had in view to be silenced
in that way. "I will help you
directly," she answered--then
crossed the room and addressed
herself to the officer, whose
name was Steventon.
"Can you spare me a few minutes?" she
asked. "I have something to say
"I am entirely
at your service, Miss Burnham."
those words, Steventon dismissed
the two sailors. Mrs.
Crayford looked anxiously at
her husband. Crayford whispered
to her, "Don't be alarmed about
Steventon. I have cautioned him;
his discretion is to be depended
Clara beckoned to Crayford
to return to her.
"I will not keep you long," she
said. "I will promise not to
distress Mr. Steventon. Young
as I am, you shall both find
that I am capable of self-control.
I won't ask you to go back to
the story of your past sufferings;
I only want to be sure that I
am right about one thing--I mean
about what happened at the time
when the exploring party was
dispatched in search of help.
As I understand it, you cast
lots among yourselves who was
to go with the party, and who
was to remain behind. Frank cast
the lot to go." She paused, shuddering. "And
Richard Wardour," she went on, "cast
the lot to remain behind. On
your honor, as officers and gentlemen,
is this the truth?"
"On my honor," Crayford answered, "it
is the truth."
"On my honor," Steventon repeated, "it
is the truth."
She looked at them, carefully
considering her next words, before
she spoke again.
"You both drew the lot to stay
in the huts," she said, addressing
Crayford and Steventon. "And
you are both here. Richard Wardour
drew the lot to stay, and Richard
Wardour is not here. How does
his name come to be with Frank's
on the list of the missing?"
The question was a dangerous
one to answer. Steventon left
it to Crayford to reply. Once
again he answered evasively.
"It doesn't follow, my dear," he
said, "that the two men were
missing together because their
names happen to come together
on the list."
Clara instantly drew the inevitable
conclusion from that ill-considered
"Frank is missing from the
party of relief," she said. "Am
I to understand that Wardour
is missing from the huts?"
Both Crayford and Steventon
hesitated. Mrs. Crayford cast
one indignant look at them, and
told the necessary lie, without
a moment's hesitation!
"Yes!" she said. "Wardour
is missing from the huts."
Quickly as she had spoken,
she had still spoken too late.
Clara had noticed the momentary
hesitation on the part of the
two officers. She turned to Steventon.
"I trust to your honor," she
said, quietly. "Am I right, or
wrong, in believing that Mrs.
Crayford is mistaken?"
She had addressed herself to
the right man of the two. Steventon
had no wife present to exercise
authority over him. Steventon,
put on his honor, and fairly
forced to say something, owned
the truth. Wardour had replaced
an officer whom accident had
disabled from accompanying the
party of relief, and Wardour
and Frank were missing together.
Clara looked at Mrs. Crayford.
"You hear?" she said. "It is
you who are mistaken, not I.
What you call 'Accident,' what
I call 'Fate,' brought Richard
Wardour and Frank together as
members of the same Expedition,
after all." Without waiting for
a reply, she again turned to
Steventon, and surprised him
by changing the painful subject
of the conversation of her own
"Have you been in the Highlands
of Scotland?" she asked.
"I have never been in the Highlands," the
"Have you ever
read, in books about the Highlands,
a thing as 'The Second Sight'?"
"Do you believe
in the Second Sight?"
Steventon politely declined
to commit himself to a direct
"I don't know what I might
have done, if I had ever been
in the Highlands," he said. "As
it is, I have had no opportunities
of giving the subject any serious
"I won't put your credulity
to the test," Clara proceeded. "I
won't ask you to believe anything
more extraordinary than that
I had a strange dream in England
not very long since. My dream
showed me what you have just
acknowledged--and more than that.
How did the two missing men come
to be parted from their companions?
Were they lost by pure accident,
or were they deliberately left
behind on the march?"
Crayford made a last vain effort
to check her inquiries at the
point which they had now reached.
"Neither Steventon nor I were
members of the party of relief," he
said. "How are we to answer you?"
"Your brother officers who
_were_ members of the party must
have told you what happened," Clara
rejoined. "I only ask you and
Mr. Steventon to tell me what
they told you."
Mrs. Crayford interposed again,
with a practical suggestion this
"The luncheon is not unpacked
yet," she said. "Come, Clara!
this is our business, and the
time is passing."
"The luncheon can wait a few
minutes longer," Clara answered. "Bear
with my obstinacy," she went
on, laying her hand caressingly
on Crayford's shoulder. "Tell
me how those two came to be separated
from the rest. You have always
been the kindest of friends--don't
begin to be cruel to me now!"
The tone in which she made
her entreaty to Crayford went
straight to the sailor's heart.
He gave up the hopeless struggle:
he let her see a glimpse of the
"On the third day out," he
said, "Frank's strength failed
him. He fell behin d the rest
waited for him?"
"It was a serious
risk to wait for him, my child.
(and the lives of the men they
had left in the huts) depended,
in that dreadful climate, on
their pushing on. But Frank was
a favorite. They waited half
a day to give Frank the chance
of recovering his strength."
There he stopped. There the
imprudence into which his fondness
for Clara had led him showed
itself plainly, and closed his
It was too late to take refuge
in silence. Clara was determined
on hearing more.
She questioned Steventon next.
"Did Frank go on again after
the half-day's rest?" she asked.
"He tried to
"What did the
men do when he failed? Did
they turn cowards?
Did they desert Frank?"
She had purposely used language
which might irritate Steventon
into answering her plainly. He
was a young man--he fell into
the snare that she had set for
"Not one among them was a coward,
Miss Burnham!" he replied, warmly. "You
are speaking cruelly and unjustly
of as brave a set of fellows
as ever lived! The strongest
man among them set the example;
he volunteered to stay by Frank,
and to bring him on in the track
of the exploring party."
There Steventon stopped--conscious,
on his side, that he had said
too much. Would she ask him who
this volunteer was? No. She went
straight on to the most embarrassing
question that she had put yet--referring
to the volunteer, as if Steventon
had already mentioned his name.
"What made Richard Wardour
so ready to risk his life for
Frank's sake?" she said to Crayford. "Did
he do it out of friendship for
Frank? Surely you can tell me
that? Carry your memory back
to the days when you were all
living in the huts. Were Frank
and Wardour friends at that time?
Did you never hear any angry
words pass between them?"
There Mrs. Crayford saw her
opportunity of giving her husband
a timely hint.
"My dear child!" she said; "how
can you expect him to remember
that? There must have been plenty
of quarrels among the men, all
shut up together, and all weary
of each other's company, no doubt."
"Plenty of quarrels!" Crayford
repeated; "and every one of them
made up again."
"And every one of them made
up again," Mrs. Crayford reiterated,
in her turn. "There! a plainer
answer than that you can't wish
to have. Now are you satisfied?
Mr. Steventon, come and lend
a hand (as you say at sea) with
the hamper--Clara won't help
me. William, don't stand there
doing nothing. This hamper holds
a great deal; we must have a
division of labor. Your division
shall be laying the tablecloth.
Don't handle it in that clumsy
way! You unfold a table-cloth
as if you were unfurling a sail.
Put the knives on the right,
and the forks on the left, and
the napkin and the bread between
them. Clara, if you are not hungry
in this fine air, you ought to
be. Come and do your duty; come
and have some lunch!"
She looked up as she spoke.
Clara appeared to have yielded
at last to the conspiracy to
keep her in the dark. She had
returned slowly to the boat-house
doorway, and she was standing
alone on the threshold, looking
out. Approaching her to lead
her to the luncheon-table, Mrs.
Crayford could hear that she
was speaking softly to herself.
She was repeating the farewell
words which Richard Wardour had
spoken to her at the ball.
"'A time may
come when I shall forgive _you_.
But the man who
has robbed me of you shall rue
the day when you and he first
met.' Oh, Frank! Frank! does
Richard still live, with your
blood on his conscience, and
my image in his heart?"
Her lips suddenly closed. She
started, and drew back from the
doorway, trembling violently.
Mrs. Crayford looked out at the
quiet seaward view.
"Anything there that frightens
you, my dear?" she asked. "I
can see nothing, except the boats
drawn up on the beach."
"_I_ can see
nothing either, Lucy."
"And yet you
are trembling as if there was
in the view from this door."
something dreadful! I feel
it, though I see nothing.
I feel it, nearer and nearer
in the empty air, darker and
darker in the sunny light. I
don't know what it is. Take me
away! No. Not out on the beach.
I can't pass the door. Somewhere
else! somewhere else!"
Mrs. Crayford looked round
her, and noticed a second door
at the inner end of the boat-house.
She spoke to her husband.
that door leads to, William."
the door. It led into a desolate
half garden, half yard. Some
nets stretched on poles were
hanging up to dry. No other objects
were visible--not a living creature
appeared in the place. "It doesn't
look very inviting, my dear," said
Mrs. Crayford. "I am at your
service, however. What do you
She offered her arm to Clara
as she spoke. Clara refused it.
She took Crayford's arm, and
clung to him.
"I'm frightened, dreadfully
frightened!" she said to him,
faintly. "You keep with me--a
woman is no protection; I want
to be with you." She looked round
again at the boat-house doorway. "Oh!" she
whispered, "I'm cold all over--I'm
frozen with fear of this place.
Come into the yard! Come into
"Leave her to me," said Crayford
to his wife. "I will call you,
if she doesn't get better in
the open air."
He took her out at once, and
closed the yard door behind them.
"Mr. Steventon, do you understand
this?" asked Mrs. Crayford. "What
can she possibly be frightened
She put the question, still
looking mechanically at the door
by which her husband and Clara
had gone out. Receiving no reply,
she glanced round at Steventon.
He was standing on the opposite
side of the luncheon-table, with
his eyes fixed attentively on
the view from the main doorway
of the boat-house. Mrs. Crayford
looked where Steventon was looking.
This time there was something
visible. She saw the shadow of
a human figure projected on the
stretch of smooth yellow sand
in front of the boat-house.
In a moment more the figure
appeared. A man came slowly into
view, and stopped on the threshold
of the door.