They looked at one another doubtfully when the two little brown men had gone below, where Barnay had immediately retired, tucking his beard in his collar and muttering sedition. If the two strange creatures were twin Robin Goodfellows perpetrating a monstrous twentieth century prank, if they were gigantic evolutions of Puck whose imagination never went far beyond threshing corn with shadowy flails, at least this very modern caper demanded respect for so perfectly catching the spirit of the times. At all events it was immensely clever of them to have put their finger upon the public pulse and to have realized that the public imagination is ready to believe anything because it has seen so much proved. Still, “science was faith once”; and besides, to St. George, charts and compasses of all known and unknown systems of seamanship were suddenly become but the dead letter of the law. The spirit of the whole matter was that Olivia might be there, under the lights that his own eyes would presently see again. “Who, remembering the first kind glance of her whom he loves, can fail to believe in magic?” It is very likely that having met Olivia at all seemed at that moment so wonderful to St. George that any of the “frolic things” of science were to be accepted with equanimity.
For an hour or more the moon, flooding the edge of the deck of The Aloha, cast four shadows sharply upon the smooth boards. Lined up at the rail stood the four adventurers, and the glass passed from one to another like the eye of the three Grey Sisters. The far beacon appeared and disappeared, but its actuality might not be doubted. If Jarvo and Akko were to be trusted, there in the velvet distance lay Yaque, and Med, the King’s City, and the light upon the very palace of its American sovereign.
St. George’s pulses leaped and trembled. Amory lifted lazy lids and watched him with growing understanding and finally, upon a pretext of sleep, led the others below. And St. George, with a sense of joyful companionship in the little light, paced the deck until dawn.
THE PORCH OF THE MORNING
By afternoon the island of Yaque was an accomplished fact of distinguishable parts. There it lay, a thing of rock and green, like the islands of its sister latitudes before which the passing ships of all the world are wont to cast anchor. But having once cast anchor before Yaque the ships of all the world would have had great difficulty in landing anybody.
Sheer and almost smoothly hewn from the utmost coast of the island rose to a height of several hundred feet one scarcely deviating wall of rock; and this apparently impregnable wall extended in either direction as far as the sight could reach. Above the natural rampart the land sloped upward still in steep declivities, but cut by tortuous gorges, and afar inland rose the mountain upon whose summit the light had been descried.