“Did you hear anything about me while ashore?” the girl asked. “Has anyone any suspicion that I am here?”
“It seems that way.”
“Yes,” the captain continued, “I was talkin’ to a young feller on shore, an’ he sent ye his kind regards.”
“Not Mr. Donaster! Oh, say it wasn’t that man.”
“No, it wasn’t that critter, but another, an’ a fine chap, too. Mebbe ye kin guess his name. He seemed mighty interested, an’ asked me a number of questions.”
“Did he?” The sigh of relief which the girl gave was more expressive than words. The captain chuckled as he watched her, and his eyes twinkled.
“Yes, Miss, he came along in a car an’ tried to pump me dry with his queer questions. An’ he was a mighty nice feller, too, good-natured, an’ handsome enough fer any gal, no matter how pertic’ler she might be. He told me to take good care of ye. Hello! what’s the matter?”
The cause of the captain’s exclamation was the expression of confusion which suddenly overspread the girl’s face. Eben also noticed it, and for the first time in his life a strange feeling began to agitate his heart. He could not account for it, but intuitively he felt a spirit of resentment against the man with the car. This beautiful girl had come into his lonely, misunderstood life like the sweet invigorating breath of spring, and he could not bear the thought that anyone else should have the slightest claim upon her. It was the jealous unreasoning throb of a first great love. The cabin seemed to be unusually close. He must have fresh air, and he wanted to be by himself that he might think. With a bound he was up the stairs to the deck above.
“Well, I declare!” the captain ejaculated, as he stared after his son. “What’s the matter with that boy, anyway? Ye’d think a hull pack of wolves was chasin’ him by the way he left this cabin. I can’t understand him nohow.”
The captain had barely finished speaking when a gust of wind struck the boat, causing the cabin door to close with a bang.
“Guess the breeze has come at last,” he remarked. “It should be a big blow after this long calm. You jist keep close here while I go on deck. By the look of things we should be out of this in a few minutes. How’ll that suit ye?”
“Oh, I shall be so thankful,” the girl declared. “I cannot feel safe while we are so near that search-party. Please get away as soon as you can.”
GIVING MARTHA THE GO-BY
The wind which had come up with the tide was steadily increasing in strength, causing the “Eb and Flo” to scud rapidly forward with every inch of her one big sail stretched to its full capacity. There had been considerable work before the boat was well under way, and as the captain now stood at the wheel he was breathing heavily from his strenuous exertions. But the light of satisfaction glowed in his eyes as he looked straight ahead, and gave a few final orders to his son.