“Off Cape de Gatte
I lost my hat,
And where d’ye think I found it?
In Port Mahon
Under a stone
With all the girls around it.”
“I like that,” said Kirk, in a small voice. “Go on.”
But the singing stopped immediately, and Kirk feared that he had only dreamed it, after all. However, a large, warm hand was laid quite substantially on his forehead, and the same voice that had been singing, said:
“H’m! Thought you’d have another go at the old world, after all?”
“Where is this?” Kirk asked.
“This is the four-mast schooner Celestine, returning from South America. I am Martin, mate of said schooner—at your service. Hungry?”
“That’s funny,” said Kirk; “the boat Ken gave me is called the Celestine. And she’s a four-masted schooner. Where’s Ken?”
“I’m sorry—I don’t know. Hungry?”
“I think I am,” said Kirk.
Certainly the mate of the Celestine had a most strong and comfortable arm wherewith to raise a person. He administered bread and hot condensed milk, and Kirk began to realize that he was very hungry indeed.
“Now you go to sleep,” Mr. Martin advised, after his brief manner. “Warm, now?”
Yes, Kirk was quite warm and cozy, but very much bewildered, and desirous of asking a hundred questions. These the mate forbade.
“You go to sleep,” he commanded.
“Then please sing another tune,” Kirk said. “What was that you were playing on?”
“Violin,” said Mr. Martin. “Fiddle. I was plunking it like a banjo. Now I’ll play it, if you’ll stop talking.”
Kirk did, and the mate began to play. His music was untaught, and he himself had made up the strange airs he played. They sighed fitfully through the little cabin like the rush of wind and water without; blended with it, mingled with the hundred little voices of the ship. The Celestine slipped on up the coast, singing softly to herself, and Kirk fell asleep with the undulating wail of the violin and the whisper of water filling his half-awakened senses.
He woke abruptly, much later, and called for Felicia suddenly; then, recollecting hazily where he was, for Mr. Martin. Hearing no sound, he was frightened, and cried out in remembered terror.
“Steady!” said the mate’s voice. “What’s the trouble?”
“I don’t know,” said Kirk. “I—I think I need to talk to somebody. There hasn’t been anybody for so long.”
“Well, go ahead,” said the mate. “I’m in my bunk. If you think there’s room enough, I’ll put you in here. More sociable, rather.”
There was not much room, but Kirk was so thankful to clasp a human being once more, that he did not care how narrow the quarters might be. He put his cheek against the mate’s arm, and they lay silent, the man very stiff and unyielding. “The Maestro would like to hear you play,” Kirk murmured. “He loves queer tunes like that. He even likes the ones I make up.”