“Don’t you know, sir? I think you understand my meaning. Look well after Miss Randall, and tell her to keep out of sight. So long. I hope to see you later.”
The young man sprang into his car, and in another minute was speeding up the road, leaving the captain staring after him, dumb with astonishment.
EBEN MAKES A DISCOVERY
After Eben had eaten his breakfast he sat for a few minutes watching his father as he rowed ashore. He next turned his eyes upon the boats searching for the missing girl. He even smiled, a somewhat unusual thing for him, especially at such an early morning hour. He was sitting upon deck, leaning against the mast full in the glare of the slowly-strengthening sun. Presently his left hand was run through his mass of tousled hair, while his right came down with a resounding whack upon his knee. Something out of the ordinary was amusing this tall ungainly youth which would have surprised his father had he been present.
At length he rose slowly to his feet, yawned, stretched himself, and moved cautiously along the deck toward the cabin. He walked around it once without deigning to look at the open door. The second time he shot a swift furtive glance, and caught a fleeting glimpse of someone in the cabin. His heart gave a great leap and he was about to hurry on his way, when a merry laugh arrested his steps, causing him to turn and peer down into the cabin. Then his cheeks crimsoned as he saw the girl standing at the foot of the steps, her face wreathed with a sunny smile.
“Don’t be afraid; I won’t hurt you,” she told him. “I’m as harmless as a kitten.”
Instantly Eben’s mouth expanded into a grin, and he looked sheepishly around. He knew that he was on forbidden ground, and this added to his embarrassment. At the same time it gave him a certain degree of pleasure, as forbidden sweets are always the most delectable.
“Come on down,” the girl invited. “I want someone to talk to, for it is rather lonesome here.”
“You’d better come up,” Eben found voice to reply. “It’s nicer here in the sun.”
“I know it is,” and the girl’s face became sober in an instant. “But I am afraid.”
“What are ye afraid of?”
“Those men in the boats, of course.”
“That they’ll git ye?”
“But they won’t out there, though,” and again Eben grinned. “I knew ye didn’t drown yerself. Ye’d be a fool to do it, wouldn’t ye?”
“How did you know?”
“Oh, I saw ye last night headin’ fer the ‘Eb an’ Flo.’”
“Did you see me come on board?”
“No, it was too dark. But when dad wouldn’t let me go into the cabin, I guessed what was up. It was nicer down there than floatin’ in the river, wasn’t it? Wonder where ye’d be now, an’ how ye’d feel if ye had drowned yerself.”