“I’ll bet!” agreed Perry. “You’re to have some coffee and turn in, Han.”
“Coffee!” murmured the other gratefully. “Have you had some?”
“No, I’ll get mine later. Beat it, you!”
Han disappeared in the darkness and Perry, wrapping himself as best he could in the folds of his slicker, settled himself to his task. Now and then he looked back for a glimpse of the friendly light at the stern or for sight of the Adventurer. The wind made strange whistling sounds through the interstices of the lumber and the battered hull groaned and creaked rheumatically. When he stood erect the gale tore at him frantically, and at all times the spray, dashing across the deck, kept him running with water. He grew frightfully sleepy about three and had difficulty in keeping awake. In spite of his efforts his head would sink and at last he had to walk the few paces he could manage, accommodating his uncertain steps to the roll of the boat, in order to defeat slumber.
To say that Perry did not more than once regret his suggestion of rescuing the Catspaw would be far from the truth. He felt very lonely out there on that bow, and his stomach was none too happy. And the thought of what would happen to him and the others if the schooner decided to give up the struggle was not at all pleasant to dwell on. And so he did his best not to think about it, but he didn’t always succeed. On the whole it was a very miserable three hours that he spent on lookout duty that night. Once Bert crawled forward and shared his loneliness, but didn’t remain very long, preferring the partial shelter of the house. No one was ever much gladder to see the sky lighten in the east than was Perry that morning. But even when a grey dawn had settled over the ocean the surroundings were not much more cheerful. As Wink said, it was a bit better to drown by daylight than to do it in the dark, but, aside from the fact that the Catspaw was still afloat, there wasn’t much to be thankful for.
One of the cruisers was barely visible off to the northward, but the other was nowhere in sight. The grey-green waves looked mountain-high when seen from the water-washed deck of the Catspaw, and the wind, while seeming to have passed its wildest stage, still blew hard. There was no sight of land in any direction and Joe pessimistically decided that they were then some forty miles at sea and about off the Isles of Shoals. Soon after the sun had come up, somewhere behind the leaden clouds, they sighted a brig to the southward. She was hardly hull-up and was making her way under almost bare yards toward the west. She stayed in sight less than half an hour.