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The Mystery of the Sea By Bram Stoker Characters: 12075

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

I think Marjory must have suspected that I had something strange to say, for almost as soon as I came in the morning room I saw that queer little lift of her eyebrows and wrinkle in her brows which I was accustomed to see when she was thinking. She held out her two hands towards me so that I could see them without Mrs. Jack being able to. She held up her fingers in the following succession:

Left index finger, right middle finger, left little finger, right little finger, left thumb, right fourth finger, right index finger, left thumb, right index finger; thus spelling "wait" in her own variant of our biliteral cipher. I took her hint, and we talked commonplaces. Presently she brought me up to the long oak-lined room at the top of the Castle. Here we were all alone; from the window seat at the far end we could see that no one came into the room unknown to us. Thus we were sure of not being overhead. Marjory settled herself comfortably amongst a pile of cushions, "Now" she said "go on and tell me all about it!"

"About what?" said I, fencing a little.

"The news that you are bursting to tell me. Hold on! I'll guess at it. You are elated, therefore it is not bad; but being news and not bad it must be good-from your point of view at any rate. Then you are jubilant, so there must be something personal in it-you are sufficiently an egoist for that. I am sure that nothing business-like or official, such as the heading off the kidnappers, would have such a positive effect on you. Then, it being personal, and you having rather more of a dominant air than usual about you-Let me see-Oh!" she stopped in confusion, and a bright blush swept over her face and neck. I waited. It frightened me just a wee bit to see the unerring accuracy with which she summed me up; but she was clearing the ground for me rapidly and effectively. After a pause she said in a small voice:

"Archie show me what you have got in your waistcoat pocket." It was my turn to blush a bit now. I took out the tiny case which held the gold ring and handed it to her. She took it with a look of adorable sweetness and opened it. I think she suspected only an engagement ring, for when she saw it was one of plain gold she shut the box with a sudden "Oh!" and kept it hidden in her hand, whilst her face was as red as sunset. I felt that my time had come.

"Shall I tell you now?" I asked putting my arms round her.

"Yes! if you wish." This was said in a low voice "But I am too surprised to think. What does it all mean? I thought that this-this sort of thing came later, and after some time was mutually fixed for-for-it!"

"No time like the present, Marjory dear!" As she was silent, though she looked at me wistfully, I went on:

"I have made a plan and I think you will approve of it. That is as a whole; even if you dislike some of the details. What do you think of an escape from the espionage of both the police and the other fellows. You got hidden before; why not again, when once you have put them off the scent. I have as a matter of fact planned a little movement which will at any rate try whether we can escape the watchfulness of these gentlemen."

"Good!" she said with interest.

"Well, first of all" I went on, getting nervous as I drew near the subject "Don't you think that it will be well to prevent anyone talking about us, hereafter, in an unpleasant way?"

"I'm afraid I don't quite understand!"

"Well, look here, Marjory. You and I are going to be much thrown together in these matters that seem to be coming on; if there is any escaping to be done, there will be watchful eyes on us before it, and gossiping tongues afterwards; and inquiries and comparing of notes everywhere. We shall have to go off together, often alone or under odd circumstances. You can't fight a mystery in the open, you know; and you can't by walking out boldly, bamboozle trained detectives who have already marked you down."

"Not much; but it doesn't need any torturing of our brains with thinking to know that."

"Well then my suggestion is that we be married at once. Then no one can ever say anything in the way of scandal; no matter what we do, or where we go!" My bolt was sped, and somehow my courage began to ooze away. I waited to hear what she would say. She waited quite a while and then said quietly:

"Don't be frightened, Archie, I am thinking it over. I must think; it is all too serious and too sudden to decide on in a moment. I am glad, anyhow, that you show such decision of character, and turn passing circumstances into the direction in which you wish them to work. It argues well for the future!"

"Now you are satirical!"

"Just a little. Don't you think there is an excuse?" She was not quite satisfied; and indeed I could not be surprised. I had thought of the matter so unceasingly for the last twenty-four hours that I did not miss any of the arguments against myself; my natural dread of her refusal took care of that. As, however, I almost expected her to begin with a prompt negative, I was not unduly depressed by a shade of doubt. I was, however, so single-minded in my purpose-my immediate purpose-that I could endure to argue with her doubts. As it was evident that she, naturally enough, thought that I wanted her to marry me at once out of the ardour of my love, I tried to make her aware as well as I could of my consideration for her wishes. Somehow, I felt at my best as I spoke; and I thought that she felt it too:

"I'm not selfish in the matter, Marjory dear; at least I don't wish to be. In this I am thinking of you altogether; and to prove it let me say that all I suggest is the formal ceremony which will make us one in form. Later on-and this shall be when you choose yourself and only then-we can have a real marriage, where and when you will; with flowers and bridesmaids and wedding cake and the whole fit out. We can be good comrades still, even if we have been to church together; and I will promise you faithfully that till your own time I won't try to make l

ove to you even when you're my wife-of course any more than I do now. Surely that's not too much to ask in the way of consideration."

My dear Marjory gave in at once. It might have been that she liked the idea of an immediate marriage; for she loved me, and all lovers like the seal of possession fixed upon their hopes:

"Time goes on crutches, till love have all his rites."

But be this as it may, she wished at any rate to believe in me. She came to me and put both her hands in mine and said with a gentle modesty, which was all tenderness in fact, and all wifely in promise:

"Be it as you will, Archie! I am all yours in heart now; and I am ready to go through the ceremony when you will."

"Remember, dear" I protested "it is only on your account, and to try to meet your wishes at any sacrifice, that I suggested the interval of comradeship. As far as I am concerned I want to go straight to the altar-the real altar-now." Up went her warning finger as she said lovingly:

"I know all that dear; and I shall remember it when the time comes. But what have we to do to prepare for-for the wedding. Is it to be in a church or at a registry. I suppose it doesn't matter which under the circumstances-and as we are to have the real marriage later. When do you wish it to be, and where?"

"To-morrow!" She started slightly as she murmured:

"So soon! I did not think it could be so soon."

"The sooner the better" said I "If we are to carry out our plans. All's ready; see here" I handed her the license which she read with glad eyes and a sweet blush. When she had come to the end of it I said:

"I have arranged with the clergyman of St. Hilda's Church in Carlisle to be ready at eight o'clock to-morrow morning." She sat silent a while and then asked me:

"And how do you suggest that I am to get there without the detectives seeing me?"

"That is to be our experiment as to escape. I would propose that you should slip out in some disguise. You will of course have to arrange with Mrs. Jack, and at least one servant, to pretend that you are still at home. Why not let it be understood that you have a headache and are keeping your room. Your meals can be taken to you as would be done, and the life of the household seem to go on just as usual."

"And what disguise had you thought of?"

"I thought that if you went dressed as a man it would be best."

"Oh that would be a lark!" she said. Then her face fell. "But where am I to get a man's dress? There is not time if I am to be in Carlisle to-morrow morning."

"Be easy as to that, dear. A man's dress is on its way to you now by post. It should be here by now. I am afraid you will have to take chance as to its fit. It is of pretty thick cloth, however, so that it will look all right."

"What sort of dress is it?"

"A servant's, a footman's. I thought it would probably avoid suspicion easier than any other."

"That goes! Oh this is too thrilling;" she stopped suddenly and said:

"But how about Mrs. Jack?"

"She will go early this afternoon to Carlisle and put up at a little hotel out of the way. I have got rooms in one close to the station. At first I feared it would not be possible for her to be with us; but then when I thought it over, I came to the conclusion that you might not care to let the matter come off at all unless she were present. And besides you would want her to be with you to-night when you are in a strange place." Again she asked after another pause of thought:

"But how am I to change my clothes? I can't be married as a footman; and I can't go to a strange hotel as one, and come out as a young lady."

"That is all thought out. When you leave here you will find me waiting for you with a bicycle in the wood on the road to Ellon. You will have to start about half past five. No one will notice that you are using a lady's wheel. You will come to Whinnyfold where you will find a skirt and jacket and cap. They are the best I could get. We shall ride into Aberdeen as by that means we shall minimise the chance of being seen. There we will catch the eight train to Carlisle where we shall arrive about a quarter to two. Mrs. Jack will be there ready for you and will have the dress you will want to-morrow."

"Oh, poor dear won't she be flustered and mystified! How lucky it is that she likes you, and is satisfied with you; otherwise I am afraid she would never agree to such precipitancy. But hold on a minute! Won't it look odd to our outside friends on the watch if a footman goes out and doesn't return."

"You will return to-morrow late in the evening. Mrs. Jack will be home by then; she must arrange to keep the servants busy in some distant part of the house, so that you can come in unobserved. Besides, the detectives have to divide their watches; the same men will not be on duty I take it. Anyhow, if they do not consider the outgoing of a footman as sufficiently important to follow him up they will not trouble much about his incoming."

This all seemed feasible to Marjory; so we talked the matter over and arranged a hundred little details. These things she wrote down for Mrs. Jack's enlightenment, and to aid her memory when she would be alone to carry out the plans as arranged.

Mrs. Jack was a little hard to convince; but at last she came round. She persisted to almost the end of our interview in saying that she could not understand the necessity for either the hurry or the mystery. She was only convinced when at last Marjory said:

"Do you want us to have all the Chicago worry over again, dear? You approve of my marrying Archie do you not? Well, I had such a sickener of proposals and all about it, that if I can't marry this way now, I won't marry at all. My dear, I want to marry Archie; you know we love each other."

"Ah, that I do, my dears!"

"Well then you must help us; and bear with all our secrecy for a bit; won't you dear?"

"That I will, my child!" she said wiping tears from the corners of her eyes.

So it was all settled.

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