... The man at the table, Arthur Lestrange, was seated with his large, deep-sunken eyes fixed on a book. He was most evidently in consumption--very near, indeed, to reaping the result of that last and most desperate remedy, a long sea voyage.
Emmeline Lestrange, his little niece--eight years of age, a mysterious mite, small for her age, with thoughts of her own, wide pupilled eyes that seemed the doors for visions, and a face that seemed just to have peeped into this world for a moment ere it was as suddenly withdrawn sat in a corner nursing something in her arms, and rocking herself to the tune of her own thoughts.
Dick, Lestrange's little son, eight and a bit, was somewhere under the table. They were Bostonians, bound for San Francisco, or rather for the sun and splendour of Los Angeles, where Lestrange had bought a small estate, hoping there to enjoy the life whose lease would be renewed by the long sea voyage...
...She had smiled.
When Emmeline Lestrange smiled it was absolutely as if the light of Paradise had suddenly flashed upon her face: the happiest form of childish beauty suddenly appeared before your eyes, dazzled them and was gone...
Strangely enough it was Paddy Button who usually found it. He who was always
doing the wrong thing in the eyes of men, generally did the right thing in the
eyes of children. Children, in fact, when they could get at Mr. Button, went for
him *con amore*. He was as attractive to them as a Punch and Judy show or a
German band - almost...
..."I'm thinking about the children," said Lestrange, seeming not to hear the captain's words. "Should anything happen to me before we reach port, I should like you to do something for me. It's only this: dispose of my body without--without the children knowing. It has been in my mind to ask you this for some days. Captain, those children know nothing of death."
Le Farge moved uneasily in his chair.
"Little Emmeline's mother died when she was two. Her father--my brother--died before she was born. Dicky never knew a mother; she died giving him birth. My God, Captain, death has laid a heavy hand on my family; can you wonder that I have hid his very name from those two creatures that I love!"