“But we manage to get somewhere just the same,” he smiled.
“So did Noah.”
“That was the main thing.”
“For an antediluvian.”
She took another lingering look at the Martha, then turned to Sheldon.
“You are a slovenly lot down here when it comes to boats—most of you are, any way. Christian Young is all right though, Munster has a slap-dash style about him, and they do say old Nielsen was a crackerjack. But with the rest I’ve seen, there’s no dash, no go, no cleverness, no real sailor’s pride. It’s all humdrum, and podgy, and slow-going, any going so long as you get there heaven knows when. But some day I’ll show you how the Martha should be handled. I’ll break out anchor and get under way in a speed and style that will make your head hum; and I’ll bring her alongside the wharf at Guvutu without dropping anchor and running a line.”
She came to a breathless pause, and then broke into laughter, directed, he could see, against herself.
“Old Kinross is setting that fisherman’s staysail,” he remarked quietly.
“No!” she cried incredulously, swiftly looking, then running for the telescope.
She regarded the manoeuvre steadily through the glass, and Sheldon, watching her face, could see that the skipper was not making a success of it.
She finally lowered the glass with a groan.
“He’s made a mess of it,” she said, “and now he’s trying it over again. And a man like that is put in charge of a fairy like the Martha! Well, it’s a good argument against marriage, that’s all. No, I won’t look any more. Come on in and play a steady, conservative game of billiards with me. And after that I’m going to saddle up and go after pigeons. Will you come along?”
An hour later, just as they were riding out of the compound, Joan turned in the saddle for a last look at the Martha, a distant speck well over toward the Florida coast.
“Won’t Tudor be surprised when he finds we own the Martha?” she laughed. “Think of it! If he doesn’t strike pay-dirt he’ll have to buy a steamer-passage to get away from the Solomons.”
Still laughing gaily, she rode through the gate. But suddenly her laughter broke flatly and she reined in the mare. Sheldon glanced at her sharply, and noted her face mottling, even as he looked, and turning orange and green.
“It’s the fever,” she said. “I’ll have to turn back.”
By the time they were in the compound she was shivering and shaking, and he had to help her from her horse.
“Funny, isn’t it?” she said with chattering teeth. “Like seasickness—not serious, but horribly miserable while it lasts. I’m going to bed. Send Noa Noah and Viaburi to me. Tell Ornfiri to make hot water. I’ll be out of my head in fifteen minutes. But I’ll be all right by evening. Short and sharp is the way it takes me. Too bad to lose the shooting. Thank you, I’m all right.”