The ship left Sydney with a fair wind, but soon encountered adverse weather, and made slow progress, being close hauled, which was her worst point of sailing. She pitched a good deal, and that had a very ill effect on Miss Rolleston. She was not seasick, but thoroughly out of sorts. And, in one week, became perceptibly paler and thinner than when she started.
The young clergyman, Mr. Hazel, watched her with respectful anxiety, and this did not escape her feminine observation. She noted quietly that those dark eyes of his followed her with a mournful tenderness, but withdrew their gaze when she looked at him. Clearly, he was interested in her, but had no desire to intrude upon her attention. He would bring up the squabs for her, and some of his own wraps, when she stayed on deck, and was prompt with his arm when the vessel lurched; and showed her those other little attentions which are called for on board ship, but without a word. Yet, when she thanked him in the simplest and shortest way, his great eyes flashed with pleasure, and the color mounted to his very temples.
Engaged young ladies are, for various reasons, more sociable with the other sex than those who are still on the universal mock-defensive. A ship, like a distant country, thaws even English reserve, and women in general are disposed to admit ecclesiastics to certain privileges. No wonder then that Miss Rolleston, after a few days, met Mr. Hazel half-way; and they made acquaintance on board the _Proserpine,_ in monosyllables at first; but, the ice once fairly broken, the intercourse of mind became rather rapid.
At first it was a mere intellectual exchange, but one very agreeable to Miss Rolleston; for a fine memory, and omnivorous reading from his very boyhood, with the habit of taking notes, and reviewing them, had made Mr. Hazel a walking dictionary, and a walking essayist if required.
But when it came to something which, most of all, the young lady had hoped from this temporary acquaintance, viz., religious instruction, she found him indeed as learned on that as on other topics, but cold and devoid of unction. So much so, that one day she said to him, "I can hardly believe you have ever been a missionary." But at that he seemed so distressed that she was sorry for him, and said, sweetly, "Excuse me, Mr. Hazel, my remark was in rather bad taste, I fear."
"Not at all," said he. "Of course I am unfit for missionary work, or I should not be here."
Miss Rolleston took a good look at him, but said nothing. However, his reply and her perusal of his countenance satisfied her that he was a man with very little petty vanity and petty irritability.
One day they were discoursing of gratitude; and Mr. Hazel said he had a poor opinion of those persons who speak of the burden of gratitude, and make a fuss about being "laid under an obligation."