Under these trying conditions we were, of course, all anxiously watching for a breeze; and it was with a feeling of exquisite delight that, happening to look abroad toward the north, I saw the horizon strongly marked with a line of delicate blue, indicating, as I believed, the approach of a thrice-welcome breeze.
It promises to be a cold, draughty, comfortless night, and the prospects for supper look gloomy enough in the light of smoky camel-thorn and no samovar to make a cup of tea. Such is the cheerless prospect confronting me after a hard day's run, when, soon after dark, a man arrives with a thrice-welcome invitation from a Russian officer, who he says is staying at the caravanserai.
Another English visitor was Sir Bryan Leighton, a thrice-welcome guest, for he most thoughtfully brought to me half a dozen little jars of devilled ham and potted fruit, which enabled me to summon various officers down to my tent and hold a feast. Count von Gotzen, and a Norwegian attache, Gedde, very good fellows both, were also out.
A vicious cobra cast at her feet would be less alarming, for the reptile could be killed, whilst his venomous fangs would only be used in self-defence. Another tap sounded on their thrice-welcome covering. Evidently the Dyaks would persist in their efforts to get one of those poisoned darts home.
Nothing of the kind, however, happened, and we continued our perilous run to leeward upon a course that was slowly converging upon that of the ship, with a feeling of growing doubt and angry despair at the blindness of those whom we were pursuing rapidly displacing the high hopes that had been aroused in our hearts at the first sight of that thrice-welcome sail.
With a tremulous tongue he asked for Jenny dreading, doubting, expecting he knew not what; and then his cup of happiness overflowed at the thrice-welcome news of her well-being and faithfulness to him, and that she had just returned to her native town. Jenny was not only living and well, but she had never given up looking for him, believing he would some day return to her.
Imagine, then, her relief, when exactly two weeks from the day he had left Schloss Sayn, she saw him coming down the valley. As when she last beheld him, he traveled on foot, leading his horse, that had gone lame. Throwing etiquette to the wind, she flew down the stairway, and ran to meet her thrice-welcome friend.
He emptied the hot and sour wine out of the tin cup, and was about to hand the thrice-welcome draught to Iris when a suspicious thought caused him to withhold it. "Let me taste first," he said. The Indian might have betrayed them to the Dyaks. More unlikely things had happened. What if the water were poisoned or drugged? He placed the tin to his lips.
"Ay, ay, sir," answered Robbins, shambling away with alacrity upon his errand; and a few minutes later one of our guns rang out what I hoped would prove a thrice-welcome message to our shipmates.
I forge ahead in a drenching downpour that makes short work of the thin gossamer suit, which on this occasion barely prevents me getting a wet skin ere I descry a thrice-welcome mehana ahead and repair thither, prepared to accept, with becoming thankfulness, whatever accommodation the place affords.