Page:In the Roar of the Sea.djvu/232

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224
IN THE ROAR OF THE SEA.

"But, my dear Miss Judith—" the old man was so agitated that he did not know what he was about; he put the stick of tamarisk into his mouth in place of his pipe, and took it out to speak, put down his hand, picked up the bowl of his pipe, and tapped the end of the tamarisk spill with that; "mercy save me! What a world we do live in. And I had been building for you a castle—not in Spain, but in a contiguous country—who'd have thought it? And Cruel Coppinger, too! Upon my soul I don't want to say I am sorry for it, and I can't find in my heart to say I'm glad."

"I do not expect that you will be glad—not if you have any love for me."

The old man turned round, his eyes were watering and his face twitching.

"I have, Heaven knows! I have—yes—I mean Miss Judith."

"Mr. Menaida," said the girl, "you have been so kind, so considerate, that I should like to call you what every one else does—when speaking of you to one another— not to your face—Uncle Zachie."

He put out his hand, it was shaking, and caught hers. He put the ends of the fingers to his lips; but he kept his face averted, and the water that had formed in his eyes ran down his cheeks. He did not venture to speak. He had lost command over his voice.

"You see, uncle, I have no one of whom to ask counsel. I have only aunt, and she—somehow—I feel that I cannot go to her, and get from her the advice best suited to me. Now papa is dead I am entirely alone, and I have to decide on matters most affecting my own life, and that of Jamie. I do so crave for a friend who could give me an opinion—but I have no one, if you refuse."

He pressed her hand.

"Not that now I can go back from my word. I have passed that to Aunt Dionysia, and draw back I may not; but somehow, as I sit and think, and think, and try to screw myself up to the resolution that must be reached of giving up my hand and my whole life into the power of—of that man, I cannot attain to it. I feel like one who is condemned to cast himself down a precipice and shrinks from it, cannot make up his mind to spring, but draws back after every run made to the edge. Tell me— uncle—tell me truly, what do you think about Captain