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Edward Barry - South Sea Pearler
by Louis Becke
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"Yes, I know he admires you intensely," laughed Barry, "and he makes no secret of it either. He's as simple as a child in some things, but as honest as the day."

In a few minutes they reached the theatre, just in time to see the curtain rise on the first act of "King John." The play was one which interested them both, and until the end of the first act neither of them troubled to look about them. Then Barry, turning to speak to his companion, pointed out to her on the opposite side of the house a striking figure of an old man with white hair—the premier of the colony.

"Yes, I see him; what a fine, powerful face!"

Barry for the moment made no answer, for suddenly he found himself looking into the pale face of a tall, slenderly built woman seated beside a man he knew—old, white-mustached and of a generally military cut. He dropped his eyes at once and turned his head quickly away, but not so quickly that Mrs. Tracey saw his forehead mantle momentarily.

"Poor little Rose," he thought, "I'm glad she didn't see me." Then he saw that Mrs. Tracey, who was looking straight before her, seemed to have suddenly become white.

"Are you not feeling well?" he asked; "the theatre is very hot."

She gave him a swift, penetrating glance. "It is very hot," she said in a low voice. "Do you mind if we leave?"

"Frankly, no," and Barry stroked his beard, and something like a smile came into his eyes; "I don't particularly care about staying." Then he bent his head closer. "There are some people here——"

"I know," she interrupted softly, "and it hurts you to see her."

"Not a bit," he said earnestly; "but, you see, it might not be very pleasant for her to see me—might spoil her enjoyment a little. And as I know the man too, I'll have to bow if we meet going out."

She placed her little gloved hand on his arm.

"Then let us go," she said softly.

When they reached the vestibule, Barry stopped.

"It is not quite nine o'clock. Would you care to come to the Lyceum and see Rignold in 'The Ironmaster'? A cab will take us there in five minutes."

"Do you really want me to go?"

"Very much indeed. Come."

They descended the stairs together, and entering a cab drove off, Alice Tracey's dark eyes sparkling like diamonds as she looked into Barry's calm, collected face.

But not a seat could be obtained, much to Barry's annoyance; then he laughed. "There's nothing worth seeing at any of the other theatres. What is to be done? Would you care to come for a drive round to Lady Marquarie's Chair? The Arrecifos is lying just near by in Woolloomoolloo Bay. It's a pretty drive."

"Oh yes. It will be lovely to be out in the cool, fresh air."

The cabman took them to the Chair, from where they had a good view of the stately little barque as she lay upon the silent waters in a flood of moonlight.

"Let us walk down to the edge of the water and hail old Watson—just to give him a surprise."

"Indeed I have a very great mind to go on board—may I?" she asked as he helped her out of the cab.

"Why not? He'll be off his head with delight. And then I'll get big Joe and some of the hands to pull us round in the boat to the Circular Quay. Here you are, cabby. You need not wait."

Old Watson's astonishment when he heard the captain's hail and saw him and Mrs. Tracey standing on the rocky shore just abreast of the ship may be imagined. In a few minutes he and two hands jumped into the boat and pulled her ashore.

"Well, well, to be sure, this is a surprise, Mrs. Tracey! why——"

"Mr. Watson, don't talk now. Wait till we are on board. I've come to show you my dress."

The old mate uttered his deep, rumbling laugh, as the boat pushed off and quickly drew up alongside. Then, after the steward had brought him and the captain a brandy-and-soda each and a glass of wine for the fair owner of the Arrecifos, he discreetly went below out of the way under the excuse of writing a letter or two, and left her and Barry on deck under the awning.

They sat talking together for some time—of the people in Arrecifos, of Barradas, and of the days on the old Mahina. Then when Barry spoke of the barque's approaching departure she became silent.

"I shall miss you very much, Captain Barry——" she began and then she stopped. He looked at her and saw that her eyes were filled with tears.

"You do me a great honour to say so," he began, and then her eyes met his again; in a moment he took her hand and bent down towards her.

"I don't want you to go," she whispered.

Barry's answer was to slip his arm round her waist and draw her head upon his shoulder.

* * * * * *

An hour later old Watson, still pretending to write, heard them descending the companion way. He stood up, as Mrs. Tracey, her beautiful face radiant with smiles, came in on Barry's arm.

"Mr. Watson," she said laughingly, "this ship is to proceed to Arrecifos under the command of Captain Watson; Captain Barry will remain in Sydney."

"To marry the owner," added Barry, as he looked into her dark eyes, and drew her slender figure towards him.

THE END

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