Chapter XXI. The Elopement
 

The girls on the yacht had no expectation that Captain Kempt would come back with the two young men. But when, through their powerful binoculars, the girls became aware that Drummond and the Prince were in the small boat, they both fled to the chief saloon, and sat there holding one another's hands. Even the exuberant Kate for once had nothing to say. She heard the voice of her father on deck, giving command to the mate.

"Make for Stockholm, Johnson. Take my men-o'-war's men-- see that no one else touches the ammunition-- and fling the shells overboard. Heave the gun after them, and then clear out the rifles and ammunition the same way. When we reach Stockholm to-morrow morning, there must not be a gun on board this ship, and the ridiculous rumor that got abroad among your men that we were going to attack something or other, you will see is entirely unfounded. You impress that on them, Johnson."

"Oh, Dorothy," whispered Katherine, drawing a deep breath. "If you are as frightened as I am, get behind me."

"I think I will," answered Dorothy, and each squeezed the other's hand.

"I tell you what it is, Captain," sounded the confident voice of the Prince. "This vessel is a beauty. You have done yourself fine. I had no idea you were such a sybarite. Why, I've been aboard the Czar's yacht, and I tell you it's nothing-- Great heavens! Katherine!" he shouted, in a voice that made the ceiling ring.

She was now standing up and advanced toward him with both hands held out, a welcoming smile on her pretty lips, but he swooped down on her, flung his arms round her like a cabman beating warmth into his hands, kissed her on the brow, the two cheeks and the lips, swaying her back and forward as if about to fling her upstairs.

"Stop, stop," she cried. "Aren't you ashamed of yourself? Before my father, too! You great Russian bear!" and, breathless, she put her open palm against his face, and shoved his head away from her.

"Don't bother about me, Kate," said her father. "That's nothing to the way we acted when I was young. Come on, boys, to the smoking-room, and I'll mix you something good: real Kentucky, twenty-seven years in barrel, and I've got all the other materials for a Manhattan."

"Jack, I am glad to see you," panted Katherine, all in disarray, which she endeavored to set right by an agitated touch here and there. "Now, Jack, I'm going to take you to the smoking-room, but you'll have to behave yourself as you walk along the deck. I won't be made a spectacle of before the crew."

"Come along, Drummond," said the Captain, "and bring Miss Dorothy with you."

But Drummond stood in front of Dorothy Amhurst, and held out his hand.

"You haven't forgotten me, Miss Amhurst, I hope?"

"Oh, no," she replied, with a very faint smile, taking his hand.

"It seems incredible that you are here," he began. "What a lucky man I am. Captain Kempt takes his yacht to rescue his son-in-law that is to be, and incidentally rescues me as well, and then to find you here! I suppose you came because your friend Miss Kempt was aboard?"

"Yes, we are all but inseparable."

"I wrote you a letter, Miss Amhurst, the last night I was in St. Petersburg in the summer."

"Yes, I received it."

"No, not this one. It was the night I was captured, and I never got a chance to post it. It was an important letter-- for me."

"I thought it important-- for me," replied Dorothy, now smiling quite openly. "The Nihilists got it, searching your room after you had been arrested. It was sent on to New York, and given to me."

"Is that possible? How did they know it was for you?"

"I had been making inquiries through the Nihilists."

"I wrote you a proposal of marriage, Dorothy."

"It certainly read like it, but you see it wasn't signed, and you can't be held to it."

He reached across the table, and grasped her two hands.

"Dorothy, Dorothy," he cried, "do you mean you would have cabled 'Yes'?"

"No."

"You would not?"

"Of course not. I should have cabled 'Undecided.' One gets more for one's money in sending a long word. Then I should have written--" she paused, and he cried eagerly:

"What?"

"What do you think?" she asked.

"Well, do you know, Dorothy, I am beginning to think my incredible luck will hold, and that you'd have written 'Yes.'"

"I don't know about the luck: that would have been the answer."

He sprang up, bent over her, and she, quite unaffectedly raised her face to his.

"Oh, Dorothy," he cried.

"Oh, Alan," she replied, with quivering voice, "I never thought to see you again. You cannot imagine the long agony of this voyage, and not knowing what had happened."

"It's a blessing, Dorothy, you had learned nothing about the Trogzmondoff."

"Ah, but I did: that's what frightened me. We have a man on board who was flung for dead from that dreadful rock. The Baltic saved him; his mother, he calls it."

Drummond picked her up in his arms, and carried her to the luxurious divan which ran along the side of the large room. There they sat down together, out of sight of the stairway.

"Did you get all of my letters?"

"I think so."

"You know I am a poor man?"

"I know you said so."

"Don't you consider my position poverty? I thought every one over there had a contempt for an income that didn't run into tens of thousands."

"I told you, Alan, I had been unused to money, and so your income appears to me quite sufficient."

"Then you are not afraid to trust in my future?"

"Not the least: I believe in you."

"Oh, you dear girl. If you knew how sweet that sounds! Then I may tell you. When I was in London last I ran down to Dartmouth in Devonshire. I shall be stationed there. You see, I have finished my foreign cruising, and Dartmouth is, for a time at least, to be my home. There's a fine harbor there, green hills and a beautiful river running between them, and I found such a lovely old house; not grand at all, you know, but so cosey and comfortable, standing on the heights overlooking the harbor, in an old garden filled with roses, shrubs, and every kind of flower; vines clambering about the ancient house. Two servants would keep it going like a shot. Dorothy, what do you say?"

Dorothy laughed quietly and whole heartedly.

"It reads like a bit from an old English romance. I'd just love to see such a house."

"You don't care for this sort of thing, do you?" he asked, glancing round about him.

"What sort of thing?"

"This yacht, these silk pannellings, these gorgeous pictures, the carving, the gilt, the horribly expensive carpet."

"You mean should I feel it necessary to be surrounded by such luxury? I answer most emphatically, no. I like your ivy-covered house at Dartmouth much better."

For a moment neither said anything: lips cannot speak when pressed together.

"Now, Dorothy, I want you to elope with me. We will be in Stockholm long before daylight to-morrow at the rate this boat is going. I'll get ashore as soon as practicable, and make all inquiries at the consulate about being married. I don't know what the regulations are, but if it is possible to be married quietly, say in the afternoon, will you consent to that, and then write a letter to Captain Kempt, thanking him for the trip on the yacht, and I'll write, thanking him for all he has done for me, and after that we'll make for England together. I've got a letter of credit in my pocket, which luckily the Russians did not take from me. I shall find all the money we need at Stockholm, then we'll cross the Swedish country, sail to Denmark, make our way through Germany to Paris, if you like, or to London. We shan't travel all the time, but just take nice little day trips, stopping at some quaint old town every afternoon and evening."

"You mean to let Captain Kempt, Katherine, and the Prince go to America alone?"

"Of course. Why not? They don't want us, and I'm quite sure we-- well, Dorothy, we'd be delighted to have them, to be sure-- but still, I've knocked a good deal about Europe, and there are some delightful old towns I'd like to show you, and I hate traveling with a party."

Dorothy laughed so heartily that her head sank on his shoulder.

"Yes, I'll do that," she said at last.

And they did.

THE END