“Try and go to sleep,” urged Augusta again.
He made no answer, but by degrees he grew quieter, overwhelmed, perhaps, by the solemn presence of the darkness. Augusta laid her head against the biscuit-bag, and at last sank into blissful oblivion; for to the young, sleep is a constant friend. Once or twice she woke, but only to drop off again; and when she finally opened her eyes it was quite light and the rain had ceased.
Her first care was for little Dick, who had slept soundly throughout the night and appeared to be none the worse. She took him outside the hut and washed his face and hands in the stream and then sat him down to a breakfast of biscuit. As she returned she met the two sailors, who, although they were now fairly sober, bore upon their faces the marks of a fearful debauch. Evidently they had been drinking heavily. She drew herself up and looked at them, and they slunk past her in silence.
Then she returned to the hut. Mr. Meeson was sitting up when she entered, and the bright light from the open door fell full upon his face. His appearance fairly shocked her. The heavy cheeks had fallen in, there were great purple rings round his hollow eyes, and his whole aspect was one of a man in the last stage of illness.
“I have had such a night” he said, “Oh, Heaven! such a night! I don’t believe that I shall live through another.”
“Nonsense!” said Augusta, “eat some biscuit and you will feel better.”
He took a piece of the biscuit which she gave him, and attempted to swallow it, but could not.
“It is no use,” he said; “I am a dying man. Sitting in those wet clothes in the boat has finished me.”
And Augusta, looking at his face, could not but believe him.
AUGUSTA TO THE RESCUE.
After breakfast—that is, after Augusta had eaten some biscuit and a wing that remained from the chickens she had managed to cook upon the previous day—Bill and Johnnie, the two sailors, set to work, at her suggestion, to fix up a long fragment of drift-wood on a point of rock, and to bind it on to a flag that they happened to find in the locker of the boat. There was not much chance of its being seen by anybody in that mist-laden atmosphere, even if anybody came there to see it, of which there was still less chance; still they did it as a sort of duty. By the time this task was finished it was midday, and, for a wonder, there was little wind, and the sun shone out brightly. On returning to the huts Augusta got the blankets out to dry, and set the two sailors to roast some of the eggs they had found on the previous day. This they did willingly enough, for they were now quite sober, and very much ashamed of themselves. Then, after giving Dick some more biscuit and four roasted eggs, which he took to wonderfully, she went to Mr. Meeson, who was lying groaning in the hut, and persuaded him to come and sit out in the warmth.