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The Man

23. The Man
On the Scoriac Harold An Wolf, now John Robinson, kept aloof from every one. He did
not make any acquaintances, did not try to. Some of those at table with him, being ladies
and gentlemen, now and again made a polite remark; to which he answered with equal
politeness. Being what he was he could not willingly offend any one; and there was
nothing in his manner to repel any kindly overture to acquaintance. But this was the full
length his acquaintanceship went; so he gradually felt himself practically alone. This was
just what he wished; he sat all day silent and alone, or else walked up and down the great
deck that ran from stem to stern, still always alone. As there were no second-class or
steerage passengers on the Scoriac, there were no deck restraints, and so there was ample
room for individual solitude. The travellers, however, were a sociable lot, and a general
feeling of friendliness was abroad. The first four days of the journey were ideally fine,
and life was a joy. The great ship, with bilge keels, was as steady as a rock.
Among the other passengers was an American family consisting of Andrew Stonehouse,
the great ironmaster and contractor, with his wife and little daughter.
Stonehouse was a remarkable man in his way, a typical product of the Anglo-Saxon
under American conditions. He had started in young manhood with nothing but a good
education, due in chief to his own industry and his having taken advantage to the full of
such opportunities as life had afforded to him. By unremitting work he had at thirty
achieved a great fortune, which had, however; been up to then entirely invested and
involved in his businesses. With, however, the colossal plant at his disposal, and by aid of
the fine character he had won for honesty and good work, he was able within the next ten
years to pile up a fortune vast even in a nation where multi-millionaires are scattered
freely. Then he had married, wisely and happily. But no child had come to crown the
happiness of the pair who so loved each other till a good many years had come and gone.
Then, when the hope of issue had almost passed away, a little daughter came. Naturally
the child was idolised by her parents, and thereafter every step taken by either was with
an eye to her good. When the rigour of winter and the heat of summer told on the child in
a way which the more hardy parents had never felt, she was whirled away to some place
with more promising conditions of health and happiness. When the doctors hinted that an
ocean voyage and a winter in Italy would be good, those too were duly undertaken. And
now, the child being in perfect health, the family was returning before the weather should
get too hot to spend the summer at their chalet amongst the great pines on the slopes of
Mount Ranier. Like the others on board, Mr. and Mrs. Stonehouse had proffered
travellers' civilities to the sad, lonely young man. As to the others, he had shown thanks
for their gracious courtesy; but friendship, as in other cases, did not advance. The
Stonehouses were not in any way chagrined; their lives were too happy and too full for
them to take needless offence. They respected the young man's manifest desire for
privacy; and there, so far as they were concerned, the matter rested.
But this did not suit the child. Pearl was a sweet little thing, a real blue-eyed, golden-
haired little fairy, full of loving-kindness. All the mother-instinct in her, and even at six a
 
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