I was thus engaged when a cry rang through the ship: “Land ho!”
THE ISLE OF FORTUNE
I dropped my book and ran on deck. Every one else was already there. I joined the row at the rail, indifferent, for the moment, to the fact that to display so much interest in their ridiculous island involved a descent from my pinnacle. Indeed, the chill altitude of pinnacles never agrees with me for long at a time, so that I am obliged to descend at intervals to breathe the air on the common level.
The great gleaming orb of the tropic moon was blinding as the sun. Away to the faint translucent line of the horizon rolled an infinity of shining sea. Straight ahead rose a dark conical mass. It was the mountainous shape of Leeward Island.
Everybody was craning to get a clearer view. “Hail, isle of Fortune!” exclaimed Miss Browne. I think my aunt would not have been surprised if it had begun to rain doubloons upon the deck.
“I bet we don’t put it over some on them original Argonaut fellers, hey?” cried Mr. Tubbs.
Higher and higher across the sky-line cut the dark crest of the island as the freighter steamed valiantly ahead. She had a manner all her own of progressing by a series of headlong lunges, followed by a nerve-racking pause before she found her equilibrium again. But she managed to wallow forward at a good gait, and the island grew clearer momently. Sheer and formidable from the sea rose a line of black cliffs, and above them a single peak threw its shadow far across the water. Faintly we made out the white line of the breakers foaming at the foot of the cliffs.
We coasted slowly along, looking for the mouth of the little bay. Meanwhile we had collected our belongings, and stood grouped about the deck, ready for the first thrilling plunge into adventure. My aunt and Miss Browne had tied huge green veils over their cork helmets, and were clumping about in tremendous hobnailed boots. I could not hope to rival this severely military get-up, but I had a blue linen skirt and a white middy, and trusted that my small stock of similar garments would last out our time on the island. All the luggage I was allowed to take was in a traveling bag and a gunny-sack, obligingly donated by the cook. Speaking of cooks, I found we had one of our own along, a coal-black negro with grizzled wool, an unctuous voice, and the manners of an old-school family retainer. So far as I know, his name was Cookie. I suppose he had received another once from his sponsors in baptism, but if so, it was buried in oblivion.