The tug plunged off the way she had come and was soon only a speck in the gathering twilight. It seemed a bit more lonesome after she had gone, and more than one of the quintette aboard the Catspaw wondered whether, after all, it might not have been the part of wisdom to have accepted assistance. Darkness came early that evening, and by six the lights on the Adventurer and Follow Me showed wanly across the surly, shadowy sea. Han and Perry had already prepared the two lanterns they had found on board and as soon as the cruisers set the fashion they placed them fore and aft, one where it could be plainly seen from the boats ahead and the other on the roof of the deck-house. While they were at that task the darkness settled down rapidly, and by the time they had finished the cruisers were only blotches against which shone the white lights placed at the sterns for the guidance of the Catspaw’s navigators.
The boys ate their suppers in relays about half-past six. Bert had prepared plenty of coffee and cooked several pans of bacon and eggs, and had done very well for a tyro. Later the Adventurer turned on her searchlight and against the white path of it she was plainly visible. A more than usually severe squall of wind and rain broke over them about eight and when the rain, which pelted quite fiercely for a few minutes, had passed on the wind continued. It was coming from the northwest and held a chilliness that made the amateur mariners squirm down into their sweaters and raincoats. The Catspaw, low in the water as she was, nevertheless felt the push of the wind and keeping her blunt nose pointed midway between the two lights ahead became momentarily more difficult. At the end of an hour it required the services of both Joe and Wink to hold the schooner steady. Perry and Han, huddled as much out of the chilling wind as they could be, kept watch at the bow. Keeping watch, though, was more a figure of speech than an actuality, for the night was intensely dark and save for the lights of the towing craft nothing was discernible.
The sea arose under the growing strength of the nor’wester and soon the waves were thudding hard against the rail and the piled lumber and sending showers of spray across the deck. The Catspaw rolled and wallowed and the watchers at the bow soon knew from the sound of the straining cables that the cruisers were having difficulty. Bert crawled forward through the darkness and spray and joined them.
“Joe says they’ll be signalling to cast off the hawsers pretty quick,” he bellowed above the wind and waves. “He says we aren’t making any headway at all now.”
“Gee, it’ll be fine to be left pitching around here all night,” said Perry alarmedly. “If we only had an anchor—”
“I’d rather keep on drifting,” said Han. “It’ll be a lot more comfortable.”
“Maybe, but we’ll be going out to sea again. Seems to me they might keep hold of us even if they don’t get along much.” Perry ducked before the hissing avalanche of spray that was flung across the deck. “There’s one thing certain,” he added despondently. “We’ve got to stay on this old turtle as long as she’ll let us, for we couldn’t get that dingey off now if we tried!”