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was a glimmer of hope. Two boat-loads of passengers had escaped. Boats from other ships on the same course might have picked up such of the shipwrecked men and women as could swim, or keep themselves afloat for a space, in a sea as calm as a pond.' Nay, it was reported that some persons in the emigrant ship at the moment of collision had leapt on board the other vessel, which had taken itself off.
There was no printed list as yet of the passengers saved, but it would be published as soon as authentic intelligence could be procured ; and there would be no difficulty in reaching the little village on the Welsh coast, the nearest point to the scene of the accident.
Sir William made one in a terror-stricken, half-despairing little crowd of relations and friends. Scarcely recovered from the pang of temporary parting, they hurried in hot haste to the locality of the disaster to ascertain if the parting had been for ever in this world, and to exchange the passing pang for the weeping which would not be comforted, for those who were not. The tale conveyed to Liverpool was found
substantially correct. There was still great uncertainty with regard to the fate of individuals; but the many bodies already washed on shore served not merely as grievous confirmation to the heavy loss of life, but bore melancholy testimony to the final chapter in the history of not a few men and women.
Sir William received his answer in the first ghastly row of corpses he inspected. It came to him in the spectacle of a drowned young woman, of fine physique, with a marriage ring on the third finger of one brown hand. She had on a dark dress, with which had been worn a bright - coloured neckerchief still knotted about the throat. The rich colour had been washed out of the cheeks and lips; the grey eyes looked up without speculation in their congealed depths. But there was no disfiguring mark on the still face, and there was eternal peace in the breast which heaved no longer. He had followed her full of justifiable anger, but there was no room for anger or for anything save immeasurable sorrow when he overtook her. Of what use had been the splendid strength which had not preserved the brave life for a little hour ? She had saved another from a more dangerous pond than that pond-like sea, but she could not save herself. Why had he not been at hand to repay the life she had given back to him ? Was it always to be thus in his history, that the women who saved him were to suffer and die as their part in the salvation ?
Old Abe's body was not to be found, and without waiting to search for it, Sir William did indeed carry home his wife to Whitehillsbut it was in her coffin. There was a great talk, much scandal, and some pity excited by her untimely end. There was a funeral at Whitehills to which some of Sir William's neighbours and social equals—among them Mr. Hollis, came uninvited, and to which he himself bade those of the Quarry men who had been Honor's relations and friends. But though the widower, silent and stern in his suffering, ordered that the late Lady Thwaite's remaining kindred and former associates should return with him to the house and have refreshments set before them, he himself did not eat or drink with them, and he took his last leave of his guests on the threshold.
You were no true friends to Lady Thwaite,' he said coldly; she owned it at the last. You know she quitted the country without
saying good-bye to one of you. You are no friends of mine that I should ever seek to see you again-still, I have had you here to-day, because blood is thicker than water, and because, admitting my own misdoings, I bear no ill-will to you. And if you can point out at any time a way in which I can really help you, I will do it, for her sake who was a link between us, since she, my wife, counted kin with you.'
The Quarry folk departed, discomfited and affronted. They wanted none of his help, or his sauce either. What was he to come it over them with his taunts and lectures ? they blustered amongst themselves. They supposed they were not to have another blow out when old Abe's carcase cast up—he was to be buried like a dog. But they would not suffer it. They would bury old Abe like one of themselves, and drink themselves blind in his honour, to shame the turn-coat Squire, with his wet and his dry bouts, his sinning and repenting.
But in spite of Sir William's efforts and offers of reward the remains of old Abe never
cast up,' so as to be disposed of honourably or dishonourably. He either slept as quietly as many another at the bottom of the sea, or
his unidentified body filled a pauper's grave, or it was just possible he escaped, and vanished into obscurity. He had the secretiveness, love of mystery, intrigue, and sensation, the restlessness and fitfulness inherited from an ancient migratory, predatory race, either altogether unsettled, or settled for a time as squatters. He had transmitted some of the traits to his daughter, intermingled with the headstrong impulses of a warmer, more faithful heart, and a more generous temper, a union still more perilous than the tendencies taken singly.
If Abe did survive the destruction of the Geoffrey Hudson his dislike of being looked after, cared for, or, as he would have considered, shelved, and perhaps his apprehension of Sir William's anger, because Abe had abetted his daughter and furthered the scheme which had cost her life, prevented the old man from ever reporting himself to his son-in-law, and claiming his assistance. Like a waif, or the wild, hairy creature of the woods, which the little ex-gamekeeper had first appeared to the master on whom he had preyed, Abe drifted away into oblivion, replaced, as his predecessors the squatters had been, by more reasonable and steadier sons of the soil.