from an overturned bottle, Pemberton couldn’t blink the fact that there

had been a scene of the last proprietary firmness. The storm had

come—they were all seeking refuge. The hatches were down, Paula and Amy

were invisible—they had never tried the most casual art upon Pemberton,

but he felt they had enough of an eye to him not to wish to meet him as

young ladies whose frocks had been confiscated—and Ulick appeared to have

jumped overboard. The host and his staff, in a word, had ceased to “go

on” at the pace of their guests, and the air of embarrassed detention,

thanks to a pile of gaping trunks in the passage, was strangely

commingled with the air of indignant withdrawal. When Morgan took all

this in—and he took it in very quickly—he coloured to the roots of his

hair. He had walked from his infancy among difficulties and dangers, but

he had never seen a public exposure. Pemberton noticed in a second

glance at him that the tears had rushed into his eyes and that they were

tears of a new and untasted bitterness. He wondered an instant, for the

boy’s sake, whether he might successfully pretend not to understand. Not

successfully, he felt, as Mr. and Mrs. Moreen, dinnerless by their

extinguished hearth, rose before him in their little dishonoured salon,

casting about with glassy eyes for the nearest port in such a storm.

They were not prostrate but were horribly white, and Mrs. Moreen had

evidently been crying. Pemberton quickly learned however that her grief

was not for the loss of her dinner, much as she usually enjoyed it, but

the fruit of a blow that struck even deeper, as she made all haste to

explain. He would see for himself, so far as that went, how the great

change had come, the dreadful bolt had fallen, and how they would now all

have to turn themselves about. Therefore cruel as it was to them to part

with their darling she must look to him to carry a little further the

influence he had so fortunately acquired with the boy—to induce his young

charge to follow him into some modest retreat. They depended on him—that

was the fact—to take their delightful child temporarily under his

protection; it would leave Mr. Moreen and herself so much more free to

give the proper attention (too little, alas! had been given) to the

readjustment of their affairs.

“We trust you—we feel we _can_,” said Mrs. Moreen, slowly rubbing her

plump white hands and looking with compunction hard at Morgan, whose

chin, not to take liberties, her husband stroked with a paternal


“Oh yes—we feel that we _can_. We trust Mr. Pemberton fully, Morgan,”

Mr. Moreen pursued.

Pemberton wondered again if he might pretend not to understand; but

everything good gave way to the intensity of Morgan’s understanding. “Do

you mean he may take me to live with him for ever and ever?” cried the

boy. “May take me away, away, anywhere he likes?”

(C) 2013