A vivid flash of lightning rent the air, followed almost immediately by a tremendous crash of thunder. From the cabin came a howl of fear, and looking down Eben could see two frightened faces staring up at him.
“For God’s sake, let us up out of this hole!” Donaster pleaded. “We’ll smother here.”
“Jist stay where ye are,” was the reply. “Ye got yerselves into this fix, an’ ye’ll have to make the best of it.”
“But the lightning might strike the boat,” Donaster argued.
“It would serve you divils right if it did. But, heavens, the storm’s upon us!”
He slammed to the cabin door, and securely bolted it.
He next leaped across the deck-load and tore loose the halliard. Instantly the sail came down with a rush, the gaff striking the boom with a bang. Across the hills came the storm. It could be heard a mile or more away, and in a few minutes the first drops of rain pattered upon the deck. Eben struggled to gather together the sail as it flopped in the first fitful gusts of wind and make it secure. But before this could be accomplished the storm was upon him. The thunder was terrific and the lightning incessant. The rain descended in torrents, and the wind whipping across the deck, caught the half furled sail and drove the boom with a thud to the full length of its sheet. In a few minutes Eben was soaked to the skin as he leaned against the mast for support. But he thought little of himself. His only concern was for the “Eb and Flo” as she reeled beneath the storm and strained heavily at her anchor.
IN PERIL OF DEATH
The storm which raged with unabated fury for a full half hour was one of the severest ever experienced on the St. John River. Hail mingled with the rain, and did considerable damage to the crops which happened to be caught in its on-rushing sweep. Trees were blown down, as well as several buildings, and in a number of farm houses the glass in the windows was broken by the fury of the driving hail.
While the storm was at its height, Eben sought shelter in the lee of the cabin. This afforded him some protection, and from here he watched anxiously to see how the boat would bear herself. During vivid flashes of lightning the whole country around became illuminated, and he glanced occasionally toward the shore upon his right. He had never been afraid of a thunder storm, so it did not affect him now. In fact, he rather enjoyed it, for it harmonised with the state of his mind. If only the anchor would hold; that was his sole concern. He thought of his prisoners within the cabin, and chuckled. He knew what a noise the hail was making upon the roof, and he could hear the men pounding at times upon the door and begging to be released.