Ken, in the little hopeless motor-boat, sat straining his eyes beyond the dripping bow, till he saw nothing but flashes of light that did not exist. The Flying Dutchman—the Flying Dutchman—why had he not known that she must be a boat of ill omen? Joe Pasquale—drowned in February. “We got him, but we never did find his boat”—“cur’ous tide-racks ’round here—cur’ous tide-racks.”
The harbor master was really saying that now, as he had said it before. Yes, the tide ran cruelly fast beside the boat, black and swirling and deep. A gaunt something loomed into the light of the lantern, and made Ken’s heart leap. It was only a can-buoy, lifting lonely to the swell.
Far off, the siren raised its mourning voice.
“THE SEA IS A TYRANT”
Ken stumbled into the open door of Applegate Farm at three the next morning. Felicia was asleep in a chair by the cold ashes of the fire. A guttering candle burned on the table. She woke instantly and stared at him with wide eyes.
“What is it?” she said, and then sprang up. “Alone?”
“Yes,” Ken said. “Not yet. I’m going back in a little while. I wanted to tell you how everybody is working, and all.”
She ran to bring him something to eat, while he flung himself down before the hearth, dead tired.
“The fog’s still down heavy,” he said, when she came back. “The coast guard’s been out all night. There are men on shore, too, and some other little boats.”
“But the tide was running out,” Phil said. “He’s gone. Kirk’s—gone, Ken!”
“No,” Ken said, between his teeth. “No, Phil. Oh, no, no!”. He got up and shook himself. “Go to bed, now, and sleep. The idea of sitting up with a beastly cold candle!”
He kissed her abruptly and unexpectedly and stalked out at the door, a weary, disheveled figure, in the first pale, fog-burdened gleam of dawn.
It was some time after the Flying Dutchman parted her one insufficient mooring-rope before Kirk realized that the sound of the water about her had changed from a slap to a gliding ripple. There was no longer the short tug and lurch as she pulled at her painter and fell back; there was no longer the tide sound about the gaunt piles of the wharf. Kirk, a little apprehensive, stumbled aft and felt for the stern-line. It gave in his hand, and the slack, wet length of it flew suddenly aboard, smacking his face with its cold and slimy end. He knew, then, what had happened, but he felt sure that the boat must still be very near the wharf—perhaps drifting up to the rocky shore between the piers. He clutched the gunwale and shouted: “Ken! Oh, Ken!” He did not know that he was shouting in exactly the wrong direction, and the wind carried his voice even farther from shore. His voice sounded much less loud than he had expected. He tried calling Felicia’s name, but it seemed