Nights are pretty dark things, sometimes, as most people know; but the darkest thing to be met with at sea, whether by night or by day, is a fog, and Dabney saw signs of one coming. Rain, too, might come with it, but that would be of small account.
“Boys,” he said, “do you know we’re out of sight of land?”
“Oh, no, we’re not!” replied Ford confidently. “Look yonder.”
“That isn’t land, Ford. That’s only a fog-bank, and we shall be all in the dark in ten minutes. The wind is changing, too, and I hardly know where we are.”
“Look at your compass.”
“That tells me the wind is changing a little, and it’s going down; but I wouldn’t dare to run towards the shore in a fog, and at night.”
“Why? Don’t you remember those breakers? Would you like to be blown through them, and not see where you were going?”
“Well, no,” said Ford: “I rather guess I wouldn’t.”
“Jes’ you let Capt’in Kinzer handle dis yer boat,” almost crustily interposed Dick Lee. “He’s de on’y feller on board dat un’erstands nagivation.”
“Shouldn’t wonder if you’re right,” said Ford good-humoredly. “At all events, I sha’n’t interfere. But, Dab, what do you mean to do about it?”
“Swing a lantern at the mast-head, and sail right along. You and Dick get a nap, by and by, if you can. I won’t try to sleep till daylight.”
“Sleep? Catch me sleeping!”
“You must; and so must Dick, when the time comes. It won’t do for us to all get worn out together. If we did, who’d handle the boat?”
Ford’s respect for Dabney Kinzer was growing hourly. Here was this overgrown gawk of a green country boy, just out of his roundabouts, who had never spent more than a day at a time in the great city, and never lived in any kind of a boarding-house; in fact, here was a fellow who had had no advantages whatever,—coming out as a sort of hero.
Ford looked at him hard, as he stood there with the tiller in his hand, but he could not quite understand it, Dab was so quiet and matter-of-course about it all; and, as for that youngster himself, he had no idea that he was behaving any better than any other boy could, should, and would have behaved in those very peculiar circumstances.
However that might be, the gay and buoyant little “Swallow,” with her signal lantern swinging at her mast-head, was soon dancing away through the deepening darkness and the fog; and her steady-nerved young commander was congratulating himself that there seemed to be a good deal less of wind and sea, even if there was more of mist.
“I couldn’t expect to have every thing to suit me,” he said to himself. “And now I hope we sha’n’t run down anybody. Hullo! Isn’t that a red light, through the fog, yonder?”
HOW THE GAME OF “FOLLOW MY LEADER” CAN BE PLAYED AT SEA.