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- The Trespasser, Volume 3. - 10/14 -
Instead of coming round into the channel, he kept straight on past the lighthouse towards the yacht, until he was something to seaward of her. Then, luffing quickly, he dropped sail, let go the anchor, and unshipped the mast, while Andree got the oars into the rowlocks. It was his idea to dip under the yacht's stern, but he found himself drifting alongside, and in danger of dashing broadside on her. He got an oar and backed with all his strength towards the stern, the anchor holding well. Then he called to those on board to be ready to jump. Once in line with the Kismet's counter, he eased off the painter rapidly, and now dropped towards the stern of the wreck.
Gaston was quite cool. He did not now think of the dramatic nature of this meeting, apart from the physical danger. Delia also had recognised him, and guessed who the girl was. Not to respond to Gaston's call was her first instinct. But then, life was sweet. Besides, she had to think of others. Her father, too, was chiefly concerned for her safety and for his yacht. He had almost determined to get Delia on Gaston's boat, and himself take the chances with the Kismet; but his sailors dissuaded him, declaring that the chances were against succour.
The only greetings were words of warning and direction from Gaston. Presently there was an opportunity. Gaston called sharply to Delia, and she, standing ready, jumped. He caught her in his arms as she came. The boat swayed as the others leaped, and he held her close meanwhile. Her eyes closed, she shuddered and went white. When he put her down, she covered her face with her hands, trembling. Then, suddenly she came huddling in a heap, and burst into tears.
They slipped the painter, a sailor took Andree's place at the helm, the oars were got out, and they made over to the channel, grazing the bar once or twice, by reason of the now heavy load.
Warren Gasgoyne and Gaston had not yet spoken in the way of greeting. The former went to Delia now and said a few cheery words, but, from behind her handkerchief, she begged him to leave her alone for a moment.
"Nerves, all nerves, Mr. Belward," he said, turning towards Gaston. "But, then, it was ticklish-ticklish."
They did not shake hands. Gaston was looking at Delia, and he did not reply.
Mr. Gasgoyne continued:
"Nasty sea coming on--afraid to try Point du Raz. Of course we didn't know you were here."
He looked at Andree curiously. He was struck by the girl's beauty and force. But how different from Delia!
He suddenly turned, and said bluntly, in a low voice: "Belward, what a fool--what a fool! You had it all at your feet: the best--the very best."
Gaston answered quietly:
"It's an awkward time for talking. The rocks will have your yacht in half an hour."
Gasgoyne turned towards it.
"Yes, she'll get a raking fore and aft." Then, he added, suddenly: "Of course you know how we feel about our rescue. It was plucky of you."
"Pluckier in the girl," was the reply. "Brave enough," the honest rejoinder.
Gaston had an impulse to say, "Shall I thank her for you?" but he was conscious how little right he had to be ironical with Warren Gasgoyne, and he held his peace.
While the two were now turned away towards the Kismet, Andree came to Delia. She did not quite know how to comfort her, but she was a woman, and perhaps a supporting arm would do something.
"There, there," she said, passing a hand round her shoulder, "you are all right now. Don't cry!"
With a gasp of horror, Delia got to her feet, but swayed, and fell fainting--into Andree's arms.
She awoke near the landing-place, her father beside her. Meanwhile Andree had read the riddle. As Mr. Gasgoyne bathed Delia's face, and Gaston her wrists, and gave her brandy, she sat still and intent, watching. Tears and fainting! Would she--Andree-have given way like that in the same circumstances? No. But this girl--Delia--was of a different order: was that it? All nerves and sentiment! At one of those lunches in the grand world she had seen a lady burst into tears suddenly at some one's reference to Senegal. She herself had only cried four times, that she remembered; when her mother died; when her father was called a thief; when, one day, she suffered the first great shame of her life in the mountains of Auvergne; and the night when she waked a second time to her love for Gaston. She dared to call it love, though good Annette had called it a mortal sin.
What was to be done? The other woman must suffer.
The man was hers--hers for ever. He had said it: for ever. Yet her heart had a wild hunger for that something which this girl had and she had not. But the man was hers; she had won him away from this other.
Delia came upon the quay bravely, passing through the crowd of staring fishermen, who presently gave Gaston a guttural cheer. Three of them, indeed, had been drinking his health. They embraced him and kissed him, begging him to come with them for absinthe. He arranged the matter with a couple of francs.
Then he wondered what now was to be done. He could not insult the Gasgoynes by asking them to come to the chateau. He proposed the Hotel de France to Mr. Gasgoyne, who assented. It was difficult to separate here on the quay: they must all walk together to the hotel. Gaston turned to speak to Andree, but she was gone. She had saved the situation.
The three spoke little, and then but formally, as they walked to the hotel. Mr. Gasgoyne said that they would leave by train for Paris the next day, going to Douarnenez that evening. They had saved nothing from the yacht.
Delia did not speak. She was pale, composed now. In the hotel Mr. Gasgoyne arranged for rooms, while Gaston got some sailors together, and, in Mr. Gasgoyne's name, offered a price for the recovery of the yacht or of certain things in her. Then he went into the hotel to see if he could do anything further. The door of the sitting-room was open, and no answer coming to his knock, he entered.
Delia was standing in the window. Against her will her father had gone to find a doctor. Gaston would have drawn back if she had not turned round wearily to him.
Perhaps it were well to get it over now. He came forward. She made no motion.
"I hope you feel better?" he said. "It was a bad accident."
"I am tired and shaken, of course," she responded. "It was very brave of you."
He hesitated, then said:
"We were more fortunate than brave."
He was determined to have Andree included. She deserved that; the wrong to Delia was not hers.
But she answered after the manner of a woman: "The girl--ah, yes, please thank her for us. What is her name?"
"She is known in Audierne as Madame Belward." The girl started. Her face had a cold, scornful pride. "The Bretons, then, have a taste for fiction?"
"No, they speak as they are taught."
"They understand, then, as little as I."
How proud, how ineffaceably superior she was!
"Be ignorant for ever," he answered quietly.
"I do not need the counsel, believe me."
Her hand trembled, though it rested against the window-trembled with indignation: the insult of his elopement kept beating up her throat in spite of her.
At that moment a servant knocked, entered, and said that a parcel had been brought for mademoiselle. It was laid upon the table. Delia, wondering, ordered it to be opened. A bundle of clothes was disclosed-- Andree's! Gaston recognised them, and caught his breath with wonder and confusion.
"Who has sent them?" Delia said to the servant. "They come from the Chateau Ronan, mademoiselle."
Delia dismissed the servant.
"The Chateau Ronan?" she asked of Gaston. "Where I am living."
"It is not necessary to speak of this?" She flushed.
"Not at all. I will have them sent back. There is a little shop near by where you can get what you may need."
Andree had acted according to her lights. It was not an olive-branch, but a touch of primitive hospitality. She was Delia's enemy at sight, but a woman must have linen.
Mr. Gasgoyne entered. Gaston prepared to go. "Is there anything more that I can do?" he said, as it were, to both.
The girl replied. "Nothing at all, thank you." They did not shake hands.
Mr. Gasgoyne could not think that all had necessarily ended. The thing might be patched up one day yet. This affair with the dompteuse was mad sailing, but the man might round-to suddenly and be no worse for the escapade.
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