Chapter 39634369

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39634369
Full Date1896-05-23
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count2779
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Second Cabin Passenger: A Tale of the Atlantic
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TALES & SKETCHES THE SECOND CABIN PASSENGER. A TALE OF THE ATLANTIC. (By Edward Marshall.) CHAPTER I. Morley went to London on a slow steamer, partly because his father had been a friend of its captain and partly because he wanted a long voyage. His mission was the sale of an extremely valuable necklace, whose history we will not go into here. He carried it, wrapped in chamois, in the the inside pocket of his vest. All steamer crowds are sociable, but the party on the Venice was unusually good tempered. Acquaintances were made on the second, instead of the fourth day out. One lady there was, however, who held aloof from the gen eral companionship, and evidently for the reason that she was travelling alone, and felt that, therefore, she must be particularly careful. Morley was the first to gain her acquaintance, and the episode was dramatic. The voyage had, up to the evening of the third day, been a very smooth and uneventful one. Morley, tired by tramp ing the deck, was sitting near to the fair stranger's steamer chair. For half-an-hour he had been watching the procession of passengers, and he had marked one person with some interest. This was first occasioned by the man's clothes. They were so shabby that even in the midst of ocean deshabile Morley was surprised to see them on the first cabin promenade, and idly wondered if the man might not have crossed the rail from the second-cabin deck, or even have come up from the steerage. From the clothes Morley's eyes wandered to the face, and when he saw it he reflected that it did not seem a proper one for even the second cabin or steerage. It seemed to Morley that a gaol would be its only appropriate surrounding. Morley was not surprised to see that a man with so villainous a countenance should be also of uncouth and disagree able manners. The evil-looking man gazed into the face of the lovely girl each time he passed. His stare, and the evil smile which went with it, were so offensive that, had not Morley noticed that the young lady was asleep, he would have been tempted-insomuch as le did not know her, and hence had no right to offer her his own protection -to call the attention of an officer to the affair and have it stopped. An officer had, however, already noticed the illy-dressed stranger and

stopped him just as he was. opposite Morley. It was evident that his atten tion, as well as Morley's, had been at tracted by the incongruity of such soiled and badly-fitting clothes on the i promenade deck. "I beg your pardon, sir," said the officer, tapping the pedestrian on one of his ungainly arms, "are you a first cabin passenger?" The stranger wheeled about rapidly and answered savagely: 'What is that to you?" "Only this," said the officer, convinced by the man's manner that his suspic ions had been well-founded, "that if you are not a saloon passenger we can not permit you to walk on this deck." "Well, I am a saloon passenger," growled the stranger. "What is the number of your cabin?" asked the officer. "None of your business," was the surly reply. The officer was angry. - "See here now, my man," he declared taking a firm grip of the fellow's sleeve, "I don't believe you are a saloon passenger at all. If you are second cabin you'll keep to the second cabin deck, and if you are steerage you'll keep between decks." The stranger had in the meantime shuffled away somewhat, so that he was close to the sleeping girl, and now, be fore answering, lie managed to strike her steamer chair with his foot in a way that might have been a design and might have been accident. Morley, who had watched the whole affair closely, thought it to be design, and rose to his feet. The girl woke up, but did not realise what had roused her until she saw the officer give the ill-manered man a jerk to pull him away. Then Morley thought she started in more serious agitation than the situ ation warranted on the face of it. He fancied that she turned pale when she caught a fleeting glimpse of the man's face. Almost instantly, though Morley's at tention was again attracted to the ill favoured man. He was resisting the officer's attempt to force him away. Morley heard the officer say, "And if the steerage is too good for you, as I fancy it is, we have a place deeper down yet where we can put you with iron bracelets on." Just then the ship rolling, but not heavily, careened slightly, and again Morley believed he saw a design in the stranger's effort to involve the young lady, apparently by accident, in the affair. The stranger added his own strength to the influence of the ship's motion, and evidently tried to throw himself and the officer to the deck so that they would strike the girl in their fall. Morley frustrated this, however, by placing his rigidly braced body so that it was that which met the shock of the stranger's assault, and, two sailors running up just then, the man was dragged away. Scarcely had they gone, followed by a crowd of passengers, when Morley was delighted to have the young lady half rise from her chair, and frankly hold out her hand. Her manner was cordial, although her face was pale. "I thank you so much, sir," she said. As she sank back into her chair, she shudder ingly drew her rug closer around her. "Augh! He tried to touch me!" she said to herself, but audibly, as might one who had just escaped contamina tion at the hands of a leper After Morley had raised his hat and conventionally replied to her thanks as he left her, he devoted a good bit of speculation to this strange episode. Both the man's effort to annoy her by his staring grimaces and afterwards by his attempt to actually touch her, and l the girl's extraordinary agitation over a mater which was apparently only a small affair, seemed to indicate that the pair knew ekch other. But Morley could not believe that. He strolled aft to find out what had become of the fel low, and learned that he was really a second-cabin passenger. The ship's I officers, supposing that it was through ignorance that he had crossed. the rail which divides the second cabin deck from the first cabin deck, had visited upon him no worse punishment than to escort him back to that part of the ship in which he had a right to travel, and to tell him that no further excursion would be tolerated. The next morning Morley saw the girl -and she was really a beautifut crea ture-sitting in the same place on the deck. To his delight, she bowed and smiled at him. He went up, begged for the privilege of arranging her rug, which was granted, and thus begari an acquaintance destined to have an im portant influence on his life. SHe found that she was fron New York, of a name somewhat known to him; that she was on her way to Paris to meet her father, who had been stricken ill there; that hei friends had placed her under the especial care of the captain-which really meant little more than the distinction of a seat, whlich she did not occupy, at his table and that most of the time she was a very jolly young person, indeed. She seemed to be glad to be on the ocean, and Morley judged that her exuberant delight was due not only to the fact that she was soon to see her father again, but also to the mere circumstance that she was leaving America behind. She seemed to feel an aversion for New 'York, and he quickly learned that she did not even like to hear him speak of the city. Her only explanation of this came in the statement that during the last year she had been very unhappy there. It was, perhaps, fortunate for Morley's peace of mind that there were some among his New York friends whom she said she knew well and had heard speak of him; also that the captain was his acquaintance, and told her that he had known his father. These acted in a measure as certificates of good charac ter. They enabled the girl to accept his attentions without fear. Both were good sailors,and while most of the other passengers were ill they were walkingthe rolling deck, enjoying the unparalleled delights of fine weather on the Atlantic. Within 24 hours Morley, although he was far from being supersusceptible, was, figuratively, her humble slave. Her bright manner, frank nature, and lovely face and form completely captivated him. He had been in love before, but never had conquest been so rapid and so thorough. The ship was not in mid-Atlantic before he had actually begun to think of mar riage. Only once did she refer to the episode which had brought them together, and, of course, he could not with modesty

speak of it. Once she asked (and he t thought there was a ring of half-conĀ· cealed anxiety in her voice) whether the man who had annoyed her had tuirned out to be second cabin or steerage, axll, after he had told her, he noticed that she was inclined to turn in their strolls when they were amidships. She would rarely consent to go aft far enough to approach the second cabin rail. Indeed, he fancied that she showed agitation whenever the second cabin or second cabin passengers were mentioned. Morley, remembering the glance of ap parently recognising fright that shot from her eyes when she first saw the interloper, and seeing a connection be tween it and these subsequent puzzling passages, often wondered what it all meant. He could not imagine that there could really be anything in common in the lives of the villainous-looking per son who had created the disturbance, and this gently-bred, sweet-natured maiden, although there was strong cir cumstantial evidence for believing that the scoundrel had an especial reason for trying to annoy her and that she had especial reasons for fearing him. In the fervour of his new-born passion there was no room for suspicions, how ever, and Morley forgot the whole matter in the delight that was his when he began to feel that his pre possession was not wholly unrecipro cated. In fact the magic of youth, congenial companionship, ocean breezes, and moonlight gazings over an almost tropical sea, seemed to have bewitched Madeline Perrine as effectually as they had Morley. The love affair developed with rapidity. They had met on the second day out. On the fourth out Morley was in love, and on the sixth Madeline had begun to give shy, maidenly signs that she, too, was suc cumbing to the darts of the blind archer. On the seventh day Morley told her of his worldly circumstances, and this led -to disclosure of the errand which was taking him to London. They were, somewhat naturally, deeply absorbed in this conversation, and, perhaps, because of her preoccupation, Madeline had per mitted him for the first time to lead her aft, out of the crowd amidships. He leaned unconsciously on the second cabin rail as he spoke of his treasure. The sale of the diamonds would mean a little fortune to him, and he wanted her to share it, so he remarked on it at length, even mentioning the place in which he carried the jewels. She seemed eagerly interested. He declared his love. She did not at once reply. A deep blush enriched her cheeks as she hesi tated. Suddenly she gave a quick glance over his shoulder towards the second cabin deck. Her face changed expression slightly, and he attributed this to maidenly agitation. He felt 1 elated. He believed that her next word would make him the happiest man on L the ship. But it did not. She plucked s his sleeve hurriedly, and begged him to f take her forward. This surprised and I disheartened him, and he kept a gloomy , silence until she turned at the door of f the main companionway, and, before she a disappeared within, whispered, blush - ing: "I-I will give you your answer this e evening." t When evening came and they stood, - hand shyly pressing hand on the rail of the vessel, under the charitable folds of 1 her light. shawl, gazing out over the s phosphorescent summer sea, she whis f pered to him that if he had capitulated to Cupid, she, too, had been taken by y storm. Half-an-hour later, screened y from observation by one of the ship's 1 great ventilating funnels, Morley r snatched his first lover's kiss and held a his sweetheart for the first time to his e bosom. Y She drew back, smiling, and her next t act delighted him. It was her first deed - of sweetheartly thoughtfulness. She i pulled from the bosom of her dress a B small photograph of herself, and shyly 1 gave it to him. "That, is for you to look at, Dick,when I am not with you," she said. He received it with a lover's fervour. Finally he said gaily: "See, I will put it in with my other great treasure," and 1 started to tuck it into the pocket with his diamonds. "No," she interrupted, "I will do it," and with the delightful boldness of a maiden whose love is newly-acknow ledged she pressed it into its position near his heart. Soon afterwards she left him to brood 1 over his happiness in the moonlight while he smoked. It was while he was thus engaged that the evil-looking ,second-cabin passenger again unplea Ssantly attracted his attention. Morley Swas leaning on the outer rail close to 1 I the second-cabin dividing line-so close 1that when the unwelcome person pre Stended to partially lose his balance as Sthe ship pitched, he had no difficulty in clasping Morley about his neck. It - was clear that it was not accident, for Sthe man pulled Morley about a good Sdeal-almost over the rail, in fact--be fore hlie regained his feet. As soon as Sthis rapid episode was ended the man t obsequiously, and with a wicked leer, Sevidently intended to be a propitiatory smile, begged Morley's pardon. Before Sthis came, however, Morley had been jerked and hauled about so that his coat was disarranged and his temper even more unpleasantly rufiled.As thle man's face came close to his during the inge nious assault, Morley felt that hlie could read real hatred in it. This idea he put aside, though,after hlie had reflected that the man had no reason in the world for hating him. It was his first impulse to report the affail to the officers; but he knew that the man could give a plau Ssible excuse to them, and he finally de i cided to say nothing about it unless he had further occasion for complaint. After it was all overl he felt with a vague uneasiness to see if his diamonds were safe. The familiar little bunch made by the chamois bag was instantly apparent to his touch, and with it was that precious photograph. His mind after this reminder was too busily engaged in loving thoughts of Madeline to dwell long on so disagree able a subject as his mysterious enemy in the second cabin, whom lie set down as being nothing more, at the worst, than a mild lunatic. But, half an hour later, when he re tired, not only were his joyous musings changed in one instant into the most acute mental agony, but the second cabin passenger leaped into disagree able but paramount importance in his

mind. It had been his custom to fold his vest, with his treasure undisturbed in its pocket, and place it under his pillow while he slept. To-night, though, he took the photograph out of his pock "@t, and in doing so actually touched perhaps for the first time on the voy age-the precious package of whose safety he had so often assured himself through the comfortable lump it made under the cloth of his waistcoat. That touch affected him as might an electric shock. With huiried, nervous fingers he pulled the packei Qnut, and found not the little chamois bat, but, instead, a worthless dummy. The'-'dliamonds were gone! (To be continued.) -