He kept silent for a while, then whispered, "I understand."
"I won't be there to see you go," I began with an effort. "The rest
. . . I only hope I have understood, too."
"You have. From first to last"--and for the first time there seemed to
be a faltering, something strained in his whisper. He caught hold of my
arm, but the ringing of the supper bell made me start. He didn't though;
he only released his grip.
After supper I didn't come below again till well past eight o'clock. The
faint, steady breeze was loaded with dew; and the wet, darkened sails
held all there was of propelling power in it. The night, clear and
starry, sparkled darkly, and the opaque, lightless patches shifting
slowly against the low stars were the drifting islets. On the port bow
there was a big one more distant and shadowily imposing by the great
space of sky it eclipsed.
On opening the door I had a back view of my very own self looking at a
chart. He had come out of the recess and was standing near the table.
"Quite dark enough," I whispered.