And soon a blow fell that drove the matter out of his head and his heart. Miss Helen Rolleston called at the office, and, standing within a few feet of him, handed Hardcastle a letter from Arthur Wardlaw, directing that the ladies' cabin on board the _Shannon_ should be placed at her disposal.
Hardcastle bowed low to Beauty and Station, and promised her the best possible accommodation on board the _Shannon,_ bound for England next week.
As she retired, she cast one quiet glance round the office in search of Seaton's beard. But he had reduced its admired luxuriance, and trimmed it to a narrow mercantile point. She did not know his other features from Adam, and little thought that young man, bent double over his paper, was her preserver and _protege;_ still less that he was at this moment cold as ice, and quivering with misery from head to foot, because her own lips had just told him she was going to England in the _Shannon._
Heartbroken, but still loving nobly, Seaton dragged himself down to the harbor, and went slowly on board the _Shannon_ to secure Miss Rolleston every comfort.
Then, sick at heart as he was, he made inquiries into the condition of the vessel which was to be trusted with so precious a freight; and the old boatman who was rowing him, hearing him make these inquiries, told him he himself was always about, and had noticed the _Shannon's_ pumps were going every blessed night.
Seaton carried this intelligence directly to Lloyds' agent; he overhauled the ship, and ordered her into the graving dock for repairs.
Then Seaton, for White & Co., wrote to Miss Rolleston that the _Shannon_ was not seaworthy and could not sail for a month at the least.
The lady simply acknowledged Messrs. White's communication, and Seaton breathed again.