“What’s the difference?” asked Han. “They’ll stick around us until the wind goes down again, and we’re just as well off here as they are on the boats. Bet you the Adventurer is doing some pitching herself about now!”
They relapsed into silence then, for making one’s self heard above the clamour of wind and water and the groans and creakings of the schooner was hard work. They watched the Adventurer for the expected signal for a long time, but it was nearly ten when a lantern began to swing from side to side on the cruiser. A moment later they heard faintly the shriek of the Adventurer’s whistle.
“Cast off!” said Han. “Take this one first, Perry. Gee, but it’s stiff!” They had to fumble several minutes at the wet cable before they got it clear and let it slip over the bow. Then the other was cast off as well and Bert swung the lantern four times above his head as a signal to haul in. An answering dip of the light on the stern of the Adventurer answered, just as Joe joined them.
“All right?” he asked anxiously.
“Yes, both clear,” replied Han. “What do we do now, Joe?”
“Sit tight and wait. Some of us had better get some sleep. Perry, you and Bert might as well turn in for awhile. I’m going to. It’s ten o’clock. I’ll wake you at two, and you can relieve Han. Bert, you might make some coffee when you tumble out again. We’ll probably need it.”
“I’m not sleepy a bit,” protested Perry. But Joe insisted and he and Bert followed the other below and laid down in the bunks in the captain’s cabin. In spite of his disclaimer and the noise and rolling of the ship, Perry was asleep almost as soon as he touched the berth, and the others were not far behind.
Joe had the faculty of waking up at any predetermined hour, and at two he was shaking the others from their slumbers. It was at once evident that the gale had increased, for it was all they could do to keep their feet under them as they made their way to the galley. Bert set about making a fire while the others made their way to the wheel. Wink greeted them cheerfully enough from the lantern-lit darkness there, but his voice sounded weary in spite of him.
“I had Han take the sail down,” he announced. “She steers better without it. The wind’s pretty fierce, isn’t it? Look out!”
A big wave broke over the rail and descended on them in bucketfulls.
“That’s what makes it so pleasant,” shouted Wink. “Guess I’ll take a nap if I can.”
“Bert’s making some coffee,” said Joe. “Better have some before you turn in.”
Perry made his way cautiously forward and relieved Han. “Seen anything?” he asked.
“Not a thing.”
“Hello, where are the boats?” Perry stared ahead in surprise.
“One of them—I think it’s the Adventurer—is back there.” Han turned Perry about until he glimpsed a faint flicker of light far off over the starboard beam. “Don’t know where the other is. Guess they’re having a rough time of it.”