Left alone in the library, the Maestro paced unsteadily up and down. “It is the sea that takes them!” he whispered. “It took my son; now it has taken one whom I loved as my son.”
He sank down upon the piano-stool and gazed at the sheet of music on the music-rack. It was Kirk’s last exercise, written out carefully in the embossed type that the Maestro had been at such pains to learn and teach. Something like a sob shook the old musician. He raised clenched, trembling fists above his head, and brought them down, a shattering blow, upon the keyboard. Then he sat still, his face buried in his arms on the shaken piano. Felicia, lying stiff and wide-eyed in the great bed above, heard the crash of the hideous discord, and shuddered. She had been trying to remember the stately, comforting words of the prayer for those in peril on the sea, but now, frightened, she buried her face in the pillow.
“Oh, dear God,” she faltered. “You—You must bring him back—You must!”
THE CELESTINE PLAYS HER PART
“He’s a deader,” said one of the men, pulling off his watch-cap.
“No, he ain’t,” said another. “He’s warm.”
“But look at his eyes,” said the first. “They ain’t right.”
“Where’s the old man?” inquired one.
“Skipper’s taking a watch below, arter the fog; don’t yer go knockin’ him up now, Joe.”
“Wait till the mate comes. Thunder, why don’t yer wrop somep’n round the kid, you loon?”
The big schooner was getting under way again. The mate’s voice spoke sharply to the helmsman.
“Helm up—steady. Nothing off—stead-y.”
Then he left the quarter-deck and strode rapidly down to the little group amidships. He was a tall man, with a brown, angular face, and deep-set, rather melancholy, blue eyes. His black hair was just beginning to gray above his temples, and several lines, caused more by thought than age, scored his lean face.
“What have we picked up, here, anyway?” he demanded. “Stand off, and let me look.”
There was not much to see—a child in a green jersey, with blown, damp hair and a white face.
“You tink he’s dead?” A big Swede asked the question.
The mate plunged a quick hand inside the green sweater.
“No, he’s not. But he’s blind. Get out with that stuff, Jolak, what d’ye think this is? Get me some brandy, somebody.”
Jolak retired with the pickled cabbage he had offered as a restorative. No one looked to see where the brandy came from on a ship where none was supposed to be but in the medicine chest. It came, however, without delay, and the mate opened the flask.
“Now,” he said, when he had poured some of its contents down the child’s throat, and lifted him from the deck, “let me through.”
The first thing of which Kirk was conscious was a long, swinging motion, unlike the short roll of the Dutchman. There was also a complex creaking and sighing, a rustling and rattling. There was a most curious, half-disagreeable, half-fascinating smell. Kirk lay quietly on something which seemed much softer and warmer than the bottom of the Flying Dutchman, and presently he became aware of a soft strumming sound, and of a voice which sang murmurously: