Dora Jockett was forty-eight when she went to sea. This, her first revolt, brought her great romance.
MARJORIE GRANT COOK
Author of “Latchkey Ladies“ Another Way of Love,” etc.
DORA JOCKETT, the Vicar's daughter, walked down
the High Street of Little Pembley for the last time looking exactly as she had looked any rainy day for the last thirty years.
Her hands were thrust into the pockets of an ancient burberry, a shapeless felt hat was pulled carelessly down
on her somewhat untidy hair which escaped in straggling ends not at all like the “curling tendrils” of gentler heroines, and her heavily shod feet found the ground in a very sure and solid fashion. She had, in fact, the English country lunge which may be observed in strong and efficient gentlewomen walking in any English village to which they are native. It is perhaps not the prettiest method of locomotion, but it propels the body vigorously along and suggests authority. Miss Jockett had unquestioned authority in Little Pembley. She had indeed ruled the village for the past thirty years, and to-morrow she would rule it no longer. This was her last walk through her kingdom, and yet she showed no outward sign of the excitement that filled her. She was on the eve of the greatest event in her life, but nobody could have told that she was not going to the weekly choir practice.
“The last time,” she said to herself, and felt no regret
for what she was leaving only an impatience to be gone. She could hardly wait. She tramped more rapidly through the puddles and exaltation flooded her mind at the thought of what the morning would bring.
“Can it really be the last time?” she said, in grim wonder. Her eyes, sharp as a hawk’s, darted about to see what everybody was doing in the parish this March afternoon.
The rain had stopped but it was wet and windy, all the more reason to know what brought anyone out. It was her duty to know. She was the Vicar’s right hand, his more than curate. Without Miss Dora, the old man would have had to have an assistant long ago, but short of preaching there was little that she did not do for him.
Her face was ruddy and weatherbeaten with big, eager features, and she fitted perfectly into the village scene, with its ancient stone church and its picturesque, uncomfortable cottages.
SHE stopped to speak to a woman coming out of her door with a handkerchief tied round her face, and a child in her arms.
“And how are you getting on, Mrs. Burns?
Toothache gone? That’s right. It was not so bad as you expected having it out, I am sure. I told you it would be nothing under gas.”
She poked an exploring, experienced forefinger into the child’s gums.
The baby wrenched away with a howl, but she satisfied herself that two teeth were through at last, and commended the mother.
“Very good indeed.
Now will you get some sleep at night—if you go to Dr. Jenkins first,” she said.
“Why did I bother about Lizzie Burns and her baby when to-morrow I’ll have forgotten they ever lived?” she asked herself, as she strode on towards the cliffs to look
at the sea. She leaned over the sea wall and stared at the grey, heaving expanse, and listened to the thump and drag of the waves on the steep shingle beach below her.
Hitherto, the sea wall had limited her world. But it would limit her no longer.
“They that go down to the sea in ships,” she said reverently, to herself, turning homeward. To-morrow she would know what that meant too, she thought eagerly.
It must not be supposed, although stranger things have happened and do constantly happen, that Dora Jockett. being in her forty-ninth year, was on the eve of matrimony. It is true that freedom was before her for the first time in her life, but it was not love that pointedtheway. Nor had anyoneleft her a
fortune or even a legacy. Quite otherwise. At forty-eight and a half, Dora Jockett, the Vicar’s eldest daughter, was running away to sea. To-morrow she would be a stewardess of the Striped Funnel Line, Liverpool to Canada. Later she hoped to be sent on other routes, and so she would see the whole world. No wonder her heart beat. She had lived the greater part of her life in Little Pembley, and before that the lesser part of her life in similar villages and the extent of her travels had been Canterbury twice, Glastonbury once for a festival, York once when she and Papa and Mamma had stayed with the Archbishop, and London five times in all. Besides these journeys she had been often to stay with her sister Angela who lived outside Liverpool, and whose children constantly needed nursing and mind'ng while Angela added tothe'r numbers Angela did this with a frequency little short of appalling.
She had scarcely time to get to know the elder children by sight, and never to nurse them through measles and broken legs. That was Dora’s duty.
But it is a long worm that never turns, and Angela, pattern mother, repeated the pattern once too often. Angela first, and then Dr. Jenkins led to Dora Jockett’s revolt. It began at Christmas when the vicarage was overflowing with children, not only Angela s but Fred’s boys from school, and Nettie’s -promising family of five all the way from Aberdeen, and Nettieand Fred and Angela of course, and their respective partners, James, and Lucy and Arnold, for Christmas Day itself. The Vicar and Mrs. Jockett beamed and said they felt wonderfully blessed at the sight of all their children and grand-children, but the burden fell on Dora. However, as usual she made beds, and helped the maids, and soothed quarrels, and punished and taught and nursed the children who overate, and sprained their thumbs, and caught cold ; and she carried on her parish work as well. This had been her life, and it surprised her to find that she was not very fond of any of the children, and to notice that they were all rather greedy and self-centred and not really fond of their grandparents or of her. She sighed with relief when they departed, but Angela, last to go with her brood, sought her out plaintively the evening before she left.
“I can count on you for March, Dora?” she said, with meaning. “The servants are sure toleave!”
“Yes, of course,” Dora said grimly, assenting to both propositions. An-
gela kissed her gratefully, unaware that Dora was saying fiercely to herself, “No, I can’t and won’t do it again!” “Angela is such a good mother,” Mrs. Jockett said
next day. “There is going to be another little one in March, Dora. Perhaps she told you?” She spoke in a hushed voice, partly because she reverenced nature in the nursery, and partly because Dora was unmarried.
THERE came young Dr. Jenkins to the parish, eager in his spare time to give lectures in the parish room on health and sanitation, self-determination, mental suggestion, and psycho-analysis. These efforts did little harm, and the Vicar thinking no evil, warmly thanked him on each occasion for his inspiring talk on Coué, Stopes and Freud. But Dora pondering his words felt excitement mounting within her. People who felt repressed desires ought to let them come out boldly and follow where their fancy led them, disregarding such words as duty and necessity. She analyzed herself in some trepidation and discovered that she was tired of Little Pembley, that she could contemplate leaving her father and mother and the parish without regret, and that she positively hated children, and the old people in the workhouse, and choirpractice, and decorating the church for Christmas, and preparing girls for confirmation. She wanted to go away. She wanted a new field for her activities. She envied Mary Ellen Wright, a war-widow who lost both her children in a winter and went off to be a stewardness. She kept thinking that she would like to be a stewardness and see the world, and live by rule, instead of making rules for other people. Presently she began to seek out Dr. Jenkins to talk to him about points in his lectures.
Dr. Jenkins saw at once that Miss Jockett had inhibitions that he must help to sublimate, but he dragged the well in vain for anything unclean. This eager but composed lady seemed to be healthy, sane, well-balanced and cheerful, had he not known that no one could be all of these things if indeed anyone could be any of them. He sought for repressions. Had she ever loved? No, said Dora truthfully. But she had wished to love, to be loved, had desired marriage? No, Dora replied after reflection, she had never cherished these ambitions, nor had she felt jealous of her sisters. Children then—she had perhaps dreamed of children? Never, Miss Jockett declared with crystal honesty. There had always been too many of them about. Her own younger brothers and sisters first, and then their offspring. What about her dreams? Miss Jockett scarcely ever had a dream that she could remember. The worst one in her life had been that she had left her mother’s old poodle Frank in the middle of giving him a bath because someone called her, and he had caught cold and died as a result.
“I have been quite happy,” Dora said. “But I suddenly want a change. I see that my parents although old are perfectly healthy, and they have granddaughters and even a daughter, (my sister Mabel, a parish nurse in Kent) who can come and look after them. I have done enough, I want to work for strangers. I want to go to sea. The profession of stewardess interests me. Do you think I could be a stewardess? I know how to apply for the position.”
“You must apply at once,” Dr. Jenkins said firmly. “The moral health of your future depends on it.”
Miss Jockett looked at him much as she looked at fidgety choir-boys, and Dr. Jenkins momentarily uncomfortable but versed in the ways of women patients expected her expression of severe rebuke to change to one of sentimentality if not of love for him. It did not.
“I will depend on you for a health certificate then,” she said, “which I must send with my application. And of course, you are to know nothing about me. I will write fully to my parents, though I will not say where I have gone, soon after I leave. Good-morning.”
She took the matter in hand at once, supplied with a character which she wrote for herself and got her father to sign. She had omitted her own name in case he read it, pretending it was a testimonial to a visiting nurse, but the old vicar signed everything she asked without looking at it, and as his signature was undecipherable she had no fear that the relationship would be detected.
THE Striped Funnel people liked her picture and her character. They accepted her, and told her to “.sign on” on a date in March. Dora, without a tremor of conscience, announced to her father and mother that she would go to Angela on that day, and even wrote to Angela to expect her. She ordered her uniforms in London, to be sent to a hotel in Liverpool, where she engaged a room. She withdrew her savings from the bank.
She tramped back now in the dusk, a fine color in her cheeks, feeling adventurous and young. She found supper being laid at the vicarage and her mother reading aloud to her father as she always did at that hour, all the smaller items of news in the Morning Pont. They were a placid, devoted couple, “very hearty” in the village phrase, and Dora felt that they could do very well without her. She mounted to her bedroom and saw her corded box labelled to Angela’s house near Liverpool. She smiled.
“To-morrow I shall go down to the sea in a ship,” she said, adapting the quotation accurately this time to the occasion. At forty-eight, and a half she was behaving like a wild youth of sixteen and running away to sea.
OUR love to dear Angela and the chicks,” her parents said fondly, as Dora kissed them and climbed into the ancient cab. “You will let us know as soon—” they said delicately, blushing faintly.
“Take care of yourselves,” Dora advised, knowing that they would do this adequately. She felt detached already, and her only wonder was why she had not left home before. It seemed quite simple.
She had some hours in Liverpool after transacting her business with the steamship company, before she was to go on board. She spent it arranging her uniforms and repacking her box, presenting some of her Little Pembley clothes to the chambermaid at the hotel. Then she wrote two letters, one to her father and mother stating that she wanted to get away entirely from her usual life and had taken up the profession of stewardess as the only means of doing so, and the other to Angela.
“Let this March baby be your last,” she said, wondering at herself for such views. “You already have too many children, and they are neglected and badly brought up. Your duty is to them. Goodbye. I have no address except the striped Funnel Line.”
SHE trod the decks of the liner as though they had been her native heath, and she sniffed the smells of the Liverpool docks as a connoisseur tastes the bouquet of a fine wine. She shed the past and Little Pembley as a snake sloughs its skin, or a dragon-fly its case, or anything else in nature that gets away from the old and drab, but unlike the so-called lower creatures, no temporary weakness accompanied her transformation. She was more robust, more competent than ever. But she was changed. She was willing to learn and eager to obey where before she had only known how to teach and how to exact obedience. The alley-ways with their red linoleum and their smell of cleaning fluid, the cabins, the companions, the saloons, and even the bar filled her with a sense of rapture. She was in the second cabin of a moderate-sized steamer with a full passenger-list, but the prospect of her first crossing of the North Atlantic at the worst season of the year, with a large number of people suffering from a disagreeable form of illness to be waited on night and day, did not appal but enchanted her. She learnt her way about the ship and the niceties of making up a bunk as if the knowledge had always been dormant in her. She viewed her own close quarters in an inner cabin, as one of three stewardesses occupying it, without so much as a passing regret for her large quiet room in Little Pembley Vicarage.
Nor did her first voyage disappoint her. She was a heaven-born stewardess. She was never ill, never tired, never unpunctual, never clumsy. She kept her footing in the roughest weather and broke fewer dishes than many more seasoned hands. She had just the right firmness with her ladies, brightly urging them up on deck when they wanted to stay in bed, and genuinely astonished by their indifference when she told them how beautiful the sea looked. She was not sympathetic, but on the other hand she was never unkind or impatient, and if they would not get up she brought them whatever they asked for to eat, and did not peep into their cabins and say “What! Not up yet?” more than six times a day.
Dora Jockett had come into her kingdom, and she enjoyed it. She was popular with the ship’s company, and extremely happy in her work. Her efficiency was recognized by everyone. Presently, after six months, it led to promotion. With a due sense of elation she then went aboard the luxury ship, S. S. Vulgarie, as a first-cabin stewardess.
THE passengers were aboard and the ship was sliding past the long quays when Dora made the round of her cabins to see how many people had begun to settle in, and whether anything was needed. Most of them were still untenanted while their owners took a last look at the receding shores of England. Number Four was a luxurious suite of rooms engaged by a bridal couple, and Miss Jockett was not sure that she thought the two brass and enamel beds quite shipshape. She preferred people neatly packed into bunks, in as small a space as possible. But her eyes quickly left the beds and were riveted on a panel in the wall. A slow crimson mantled her cheek turning its cool hard red fiery, and she exclaimed “Oh!” moved by some unaccountable emotion. A small brass frame carried two printed names:
“Stewardess: Miss Jockett Steward: Reardon.”
Never in her life had her name been coupled with any man’s and a curious thrill ran through her. “Steward: Reardon.” Together she and Reardon would look after the bridal pair. She wondered what Reardon was like Irish of course. She admired the Irish. They were independent people and the sea was all round their country.
Something moved her to look at herself in the glass, a thing she had scarcely done with any interest in her whole life. She saw a trim and workmanlike figure, and she could not help thinking that the blue print dress and
starched apron, collar, and cuffs and the smart cap set off her ruddy complexion and keen blue eyes as she could not remember any other clothing doing. She took such a pride in her uniform that unconsciously she had developed a personal neatness that would have surprised Little Pembley. Her hair was firmly pinned up and no longer did loose ends straggle round her face. She had no pockets into which to thrust her hands and therefore her shoulders no longer slouched. Her rubber-soled shoes made her footfall light, and her alert enjoyment of her daily life lent her a cheerfulness that the delinquents of the parish would never have reconized as characteristic of the masterful and severe “Miss Dora.”
“I should have done this twenty-five years ago,” she said, regretting all the years she might have been becomingly starched into a stewardess’s uniform.
THE door opened and a pyramid of flower boxes was propelled across the room and dexterously placed on the table, the motive power disclosing itself as a dapper little steward in a white jacket.
“Reardon,” he announced himself. “Good evening, Miss. I never yet saw a bride who could cross the ocean without taking half of Kew Gardens with her. This means plenty of extra trouble for you and me, but we’ll soon be able to throw them overboard. A nice couple I think we’ve got here. The gentleman seems quite all right.”
“I haven’t seen them yet,” Miss Jockett said, pleased because Reardon had a smart cut about him, and looked every inch a seaman. He was thin and wiry, his age hard to know, except that his thick black hair was plentifully sprinkled with grey, and his smiling face and bright, observant eyes did not look young.
“You have an uncommon name, Miss, if I may say so,” Reardon remarked. “Rhymes with rocket. Very nice indeed. Been long on this route? Not a bad trip in summer, and Quebec is a nice spot although full of foreigners. I’ve been thirty years in the service—all over the world, and mighty near the next world in the war. Torpedoed three times—Red Sea, Pacific, and home waters. I was very near going home to Ireland a drowned corpse on the beach.”
. “I’d love to go all round the world,” said Dora.
“Well now! Just when I’d be thinking of settlingdown,” Reardon said cryptically, upon which the owners of the cabin entered it, and Miss Jockett, purely professional, was called upon to advise the bride about the disposition of her flowers.
THE bride, going out as the second wife of a gentleman rancher in British Columbia, was a sweet-looking willowy person, not in her first youth, and extremely nervous about crossing the ocean. Only devotion to her big, burly husband could have made her leave her dear England, she told Miss Jockett. “You know, Stewardess, I have lived so quietly all my life, in a lovely old vicarage—”
She almost jumped when the stewardess interrupted her brusquely by saying, “I should be only too thankful to get away. The ocean is lovely—and Canada—you will enjoy it.”
“I am so afraid I may not be a good sailor,” Mrs. Bennet said anxiously. “It will be so worrying for Tom.” Dora spoke heartily and firmly to her, but alas, Mrs. Bennet’s forebodings proved only too well founded. For two days Miss Jockett was able to remove her forcibly from her bed, and with the aid of big Mr. Bennet and the cheerful and encouraging Reardon, to instal the poor lady an inert heap in a deck chair. But thereafter it was not within Dora’s power to rouse her. She was fearfully ill. She was so ill that presently it began to be alarming. It was not rough, but Mrs. Bennet was one of those people, fortunately few, who can, and sometimes do, die of the sea. She could not sleep, she could not eat or drink, and presently she could not even be sick. She lay propped up on pillows, scarcely breathing, looking to Miss Jockett’s profesionally-outraged but not unsympathetic eyes like a dissolving gelatine fish. Her big husband was distracted, and the doctor visited her every hour or two, and looked increasingly worried. There came a night when she scarcely seemed alive and Dora knelt beside her putting sips of champagne between her lips and chips of ice into her mouth for hours on end. Reardon hovering full of sympathy about, filled hot water bags, and brought in grapes peeled by the head steward, and occasionally knelt beside Dora and chafed the long limp hands of the unlucky bride. In the background Mr. Bennet wept, and the doctor cursed because shore was not yet in sight. “The sight of land sometimes acts miraculously in these cases,” he said. “I can’t do anything more. Talk to her, Bennet, that might help.” But Mr. Bennet was beyond talking to her.
“Mrs. Bennet,” said Dora suddenly and firmly, “you must really pull yourself together. We are going ashore immediatelv—in the morning. You can smell the land.
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Mrs. Bennet—do you hear me?”
“You’re altogether better, ma’am,” Reardon added, helpfully. “Just open your eyes and see.”
THERE was a slight flicker of the afflicted lady’s eyelashes, and the doctor studying the group found himself thinking that she might after all survive. Reardon and Miss Jockett—what a capable, healthy, splendid woman, thought the doctor admiringly—began a sort of dialogue of encouragement to the inanimate form, assuring it that land was close by, and that she was really quite well.
It would be tedious to recount how by heirs’ breadths Mrs. Bennet reached the safety line and was pulled well over it. Suffice it to say that the night before the Vulgarie made port she was sitting up in bed and laughing, while Miss Jockett and Reardon attended the concert in the dining-saloon. She owed her life to Miss Jockett, ably seconded by Reardon, hut although her husband knew it, and tue doctor, Mrs. Bennet was by no means fit yet to hear what a near thing it had been.
ON THE long programme of miscellaneous items that make up the usual ship’s concert, the names of Miss D. Jockett (of the Ship’s Company) and of Mr. M. Reardon (of the Ship’s Company) occurred; the first for a “Song” and the latter for a “Comic Song.” It had been discovered that the stewardess could sing, and she had been pressed into service. She was fond of singing, and her tuneful soprano was quite as sound as it had even been. So she practised two of her newer songs in the afternoon, and at night stepped on to the platform with perfect composure, folded her hands behind her back, and facing the extremely smart and rich audience assembled, with as little concern as if they had been the dowdy old Duke and Duchess of Rainshire and the rest of her father’s parish, she sang. Her dignity, and something unexpectedly pleasant in the quality of her voice attracted an audience which was not disposed to be critical, and was inclined to give generous applause to any member of the ship’s company appearing among the finer birds of the passenger list. They applauded warmly, and Miss Jockett retired very well satisfied.
Reardon looked at her with sincere admiration. He began to be afraid of his talent, for the first time in his life. He dreaded that Miss Jockett’s taste—of which he had the highest opinion—should he offended. She was quite the lady, and she could not like his sort of music after the beautiful pieces she sang herself. He felt quite miserable until it was time for him to go on, and then, because he was a true artist, he forgot everything except the business of acting and singing. He made his customary effect, and the electrified audience yelled its delight, and would not let him go. Ilis final encore, a long and wandering narrative of a familiar music-hall type, sent the men almost into convulsions. The refrain, long-drawn and melancholy, recounted the fate of all who crossed him in love or business, and ended with the sinister words
“And the body is upstairs ...”
WHEN he at last broke away, entirely breathless, he remembered Miss Jockett, and realized with a terrible shock that he must have made a most distressing impression of vulgarity and cheap comedy on a lady he most deeply respected, and whose respect he found
that he desired above most things. He looked round humbly for her. She was alone, some little way along the passage, leaning against the wall, wiping her eyes, Her cheeks were wet with tears and ruddy with emotion and she felt quite spent and weak from laughing.
“Oh, Reardon—if I could only sing a song like that!” said Miss Jockett. “I wish you would teach me!”
Reardon’s heart lightened, and he felt amazingly relieved. She was not angry with him or shocked.
“It’s a rough thing from the halls, Miss, not at all suitable for a lady to sing,” he said. “Of course, I left some out—”
“Reardon, I want to hear it all!" Miss Jockett exclaimed. “You must teach it to me. And the body is upstairs . . . ” “Oh, Miss,” Reardon exclaimed, shocked himself, “those are not words for you.”
But he and Miss Jockett seemed better friends than ever after that.
ON THE return passage, concerts in the Second Cabin and in the Third Cabin were held quite early on in the voyage. At each Dora sang “I know a lovely garden,” and Reardon gave his famous performance, but whereas Miss Jockett’s “rendition” as the chairman called it, of her song never varied a note, Reardon’s accomplishment was never twice alike. To begin with, the_ actual verses of his songs were different in each Class. Dora heard to her surprise, an even funnier version in the Second than had delighted her in the First. And in the Third Cabin, Reardon’s wit was quit uproariously off-color, and the tempest of joy with which it was hailed half bewildered the uncomprehending Miss Jockett. He was not an educated man, Miss Jockett assured herself, at a loss to account for her eagerness to prolong her morning conversations with him, when they did the cabins. “But what has education ever done for me?” she found herself asking. Once when everybody was at dinner they met by chance on the shelter-deck and walked for half-an-hour together. Dora did all the talking this time. She told him about her life, and confessed with something like shame, that she was a vicar’s daughter. She wished she could have said that her father was a retired seacaptain. But Reardon listened sympathetically.
On the night before they landed the Saloon concert was to take place. Reardon, who had been nursing a bad throat for some days, retired to sick bay that afternoon, and of course no one could be found to take his place. A desire, little short of madness, took hold of Miss Jockett as the hour of the concert approached.
She stood up on the platform, very trim, ruddy, dignified, and sang “Down in the Forest,” which was suitably applauded, and of course encored. She returned, bowed, and hesitated a moment, and then spoke to the pianist who had accompanied her, and took his place on the piano stool. She tried a few bars of a vamped accompaniment, and when she got it right enough she threw back her head and began to sing Mr. Martin Reardon’s famous comic song, “And the body is upstairs.” She did not act it as Reardon did. She delivered each verse without art, clearly indeed, and with emphasis, hut as straightforwardly as if she were reciting a collect in church. Reardon’s fellow stewards and the men in the audience, who were unable to
believe that the words that seemed to salute their ears were really proceeding from the dignified elderly stewardess seated calmly at the piano. Amazement gave way to laughter which rose to a gale as the accompaniment plodded on, and each verse rose and fell with the regularity of a pump handle, and a cumulative effect of audacity that in ten years’ study Miss Jockett could never, consciously, have reached.
THEY were out to sea again before she caught a glimpse of Reardon, and he looked very white and pulled down by his illness. But he said he was as right as rain, and vanished into the kitchen. It was soon obvious that he was avoiding her. He came in to do his share of the cabins when her part was done, and he had no conversation at all. The twinkle had gone out of his bright brown eyes, and he seemed to droop despondently over the work that he never scamped. He answered in a subdued way when Dora spoke to him, and once she caught him looking at her with a sort of sad and puzzled expression.
Illness could not account for it, because he began to look better presently, and Miss Jockett felt misery steal over her life. Life at sea lost its savour.
One night, in a thick fog off the Banks of Newfoundland, she could endure it no longer.
“Mr. Reardon, I want to speak to you,” she said, and took him by the arm and pushed him before her to the shelter deck. The lights were out, and the foghorn boomed every two minutes, eerie, unspeakably alarming and dismal. The taste of salt and of fog was on her lips.
“What is the matter—what have I done? Why are you treating me like this?” Miss Jockett demanded in a broken voice. “Reardon, I miss you. I want to be friends.”
“I heard you made fun of me, Miss, at the concert,” Reardon replied simply. “You sang my song, a thing you didn’t ought to have done.”
“I didn’t think you’d mind. It was not to make fun of you ... oh, how could you think such a thing,” Miss Jockett said with a wail of utter despair. “I am so tired of the silly little songs I know, and yours is so wonderful. They laughed even when I sang it.”
“Oh, Miss—and I respected you so much,” groaned Reardon. “It was your refined, ladylike songs first made me really think of you—oh, I know I had no right, but I have never thought so highly of any lady, I never thought before how nice it would be to retire to a little home of my own . . .”
Miss Jockett, with a wail that blended with the deafening whistle of the foghorn, burst into tears.
“Could you think of me, Miss?” Reardon said eagerly taking her hand and patting her heaving shoulders. “I am not in your station of life, but, if you will overlook it, I ask for your hand in marriage.” Bliss and the fog of Newfoundland wrapped them round. The foghorn might have been the song the sirens sang.
“T HAVE always had a fancy to keep 1 a little pub, somewhere in Cornwall, where the sea would be at our doors, so to speak,” Reardon said some time later, very gently and humbly. “Could you think of that with any pleasure, Miss?”
“I would love it, Reardon,” Miss Jockett said, wondering at the tide of happiness that washed over her when she thought of nursing Reardon’s next attack of quinsy in a home of their own, and of spending the rest of her life with the little steward. “Let us look for it the next time we reach England.”
“That would be according to my fancy, Miss,” Reardon said. “And would it be too much to ask—could you bring yourself to it—after we are married I mean—to call me Martin, Miss?”
Dora’s answer was lost in the blast from the foghorn, and in Reardon’s coat sleeve, but it was something about Reardon’s song and she whispered its title.
“I’ll never sing it again. We’ll bury that body now between us, Miss,” Reardon declared. He kissed her cheek in a quiet, respectful way. “I think we’ll be very well suited and very happy together, Miss,” he said.
“Say ‘Dora’—Martin,” replied Miss Jockett.