[Illustration: The slack length of it flew suddenly aboard]
The lighthouse siren, though still distant, sounded nearer, which meant that the boat was drifting seaward. Kirk realized that, all at once, and gave up his shouting altogether. He sat down in the bottom of the boat, clasped his knees, and tried to think. But it was not easy to think. He had never in his life wanted so much to see as he did now. It was so different, being alone in the dark, or being in it with Ken or Felicia or the Maestro on the kind, warm, friendly land. He remembered quite well how the Maestro had said: “The sea is a tyrant. Those she claims, she never releases.”
The sea’s voice hissed along the side of the boat, now,—the voice of a monster ready to leap aboard,—and he couldn’t see to defend himself! He flung his arms out wildly into his eternal night, and then burst suddenly into tears. He cried for some time, but it was the thought of Ken which made him stop. Ken would have said, “Isn’t there enough salt water around here already, without such a mess of tears?”
That was a good idea—to think about Ken. He was such a definite, solid, comforting thing to think about. Kirk almost forgot the stretch of cold gray water that lay between them now. It wasn’t sensible to cry, anyway. It made your head buzzy, and your throat ache. Also, afterward, it made you hungry. Kirk decided that it was unwise to do anything at this particular moment which would make him hungry. Then he remembered the hardtack which Ken kept in the bow locker to refresh himself with during trips. Kirk fumbled for the button of the locker, and found it and the hardtack. He counted them; there were six. He put five of them back and nibbled the other carefully, to make it last as long as possible.
The air was more chill, now. Kirk decided that it must be night, though he didn’t feel sleepy. He crawled under the tarpaulin which Ken kept to cover the trunks in foul weather. In doing so, he bumped against the engine. There was another maddening thing! A good, competent engine, sitting complacently in the middle of the boat, and he not able to start it! But even if he had known how to run it, he reflected that he couldn’t steer the boat. So he lay still under the tarpaulin, which was dry, as well as warm, and tried to think of all sorts of pleasant things. Felicia had told him, when she gave him the green sweater on his birthday, that a hug and kiss were knit in with each stitch of it, and that when he wore it he must think of her love holding him close. It held him close now; he could feel the smooth soft loop of her hair as she bent down to say good-night; he could hear her sing, “Do-do, p’tit frere.”