“Let’s go down to the beach and see the waves to-morrow. It’s Saturday, you know, and the waves pile up tremendous in a storm. Who’s for it!” inquired Sid Waters. There was not a White Shield present who was unwilling to go. Some of them, however, went sooner than they expected.
Toward the morning of the next day, Will Somers was aroused by the ringing of a bell. He opened his ears, opened his eyes, and then he sprang out of bed.
“Fire!” he said. “Fire!”
He rushed to a window, threw it up, and put his head out into the black storm, through which echoed the notes of the bell of old St. John’s. They made such an impression it seemed as if they must be living things out in the darkness walking. So strange, so unreal was this, it was a relief to hear the approaching footsteps of somebody who was actually “flesh and blood.”
“Where’s the fire?” asked Will.
“Fire!” said the man, walking leisurely along. “I should think any booby might know this is not the night for a fire, when things are so wet; but it is the night for a wreck, and the feller pullin’ that bell tells me there is one off Gull’s P’int.”
“Is it? I am going, then, and I should think any one but a booby would be going in that direction,” retorted Will, noticing that the man was not moving toward the quarter where the wreck was. The stranger muttered something about knowing his own business best, while Will pulled in his head and slammed down the window.
“Charlie!” he said, stepping into the boy’s little chamber after lighting a lamp.
“What is it?” asked Charlie, winking his eyes at the blinding glare of the light.
“Do you want to go with me?”
“To see a wreck.”
“O yes! Just wait a minute and let me ask Aunt Stanshy.”
He groped his way to his aunt’s bedroom.
“Aunt Stanshy, may I go with Will?”
In his eagerness he forgot to mention the object of this midnight expedition. Aunt Stanshy was not thoroughly awake, for the angel of sleep visiting Charlie had touched her eyes also. If awake, she might not have granted the request. The idea went confusedly through her brain that Charlie wanted to sleep with Will.
“Y-e-s,” she murmured, drowsily, and then the angel of sleep had her fully again under his control. Charlie stole down into Will’s room, his clothes on his arm.
“Now, dress quick as you can. Have you an overcoat?”
“Yes, but it is up in Aunt Stanshy’s closet.”
“We don’t want to disturb her again. Here, you put on the cape of my cloak and fold it about you.”
Charlie was proud to be thus enveloped. Will then completed his dressing, and looked like a Cape Codder just arrived from a fishing-smack. He took his young companion by the hand and off they started.
“Who’s that?” asked Will, as they turned from Water Street into Beach Street.